Specific juicing trends come and go, but the practice remains to be a cornerstone of clean eating. And while there's no perfect way to pulverize (and drink) your produce, there are some juicing mistakes to avoid if you want to reap the maximum benefits of this healthy habit.
Whether you're new to the scene or you've been juicing for awhile, you may be surprised to learn that variety, timing, and the source of your ingredients can all impact the efficacy of your liquid boost. Luckily, with a little prior knowledge, you can tweak your routine to pack as many nutrients into your drink (and body) as possible. After all, you want to get the most vitamins from your fruits and veggies — and of course, the most bang for your buck.
Ahead, two nutritionists-slash-health gurus uncover the biggest juicing mistakes people make, along with a few common misconceptions. So, whether you're preparing for a cleanse, jumping on the celery juice bandwagon, or you have a healthy recipe of your own, these practical tips are easy to apply. Better yet, they'll help you get the most nutrients out of your glass, no matter what you're drinking.
Drinking Day-Old Juice
While it may be tempting to prepare your week's worth of juice ahead of time for so you can grab it and go, Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, the chef and nutritionist behind The Healthy Voyager, advises against it. "It is imperative to drink your fresh juice immediately to be able to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients," she says. "As time wears on, the juice loses its properties due to oxidation, so drink it as soon as it's juiced."
Assuming That Juicing Is Expensive & Time Consuming
With that said, making fresh juice every day doesn't have to take too long or break the bank, so don't let these misconceptions deter you. "Pre-portioning your fruit and veggies ahead of time will help when it comes time to juice, saving you lots of time," suggests Scott-Hamilton. And as far as affordability goes, "so long as you plan ahead for your week of juicing, you can take advantage of sales on produce at your local grocer or farmer's market as well as shop seasonally to stay within your budget."
Drinking Juice With Or After Meals
Tempting as it is to pair a refreshing juice with lunch, you'll get more benefits if you sip it before you eat. "If you want to get the most out of your healthy, fresh juice, drink it on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before a meal," recommends Karina Hammer, a certified wellness coach and the lead student advisor for the International Association of Wellness Professionals. "Your body will be able to absorb all of the amazing nutrients of the juice quicker and give your digestive system a rest."
Assuming Juice Is A "Cure-All"
Yes, juice can be a healthy supplement to your diet. But for maximum benefits, you may need to tweak some other aspects of your lifestyle. "Juicing isn't the magic bullet," explains Scott-Hamilton. "It must be paired with a clean diet, regular exercise, and good sleep." She adds, "If you aren't experiencing good benefits from your juicing, be sure to take a look at the whole picture."
Not Using Organic Produce
"I would really like to emphasize the importance of using only fresh and organic ingredients for juicing," says Hammer. "One of the amazing benefits of drinking juice is that the nutrients are absorbed within minutes of being ingested. When fruits and vegetables are juiced, the vast array of phytonutrients are concentrated. If the produce being juiced is not organic, all the other chemicals in or on the plant (pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers) will also be concentrated. So, isn't this the most important time to use organic ingredients?"
Forgetting To Mix It Up
Got a juice recipe you love? That's great ... but don't get stuck on using the same few ingredients, day in and day out. "Variety is the spice of life," says Hammer. "Increasing the assortment of fresh, whole foods helps to round out nutrition and ensure that you get a balance of important vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Remember to eat the rainbow. Rotate the colors that you are juicing to get an array of phytonutrients."
What's more, it's critical to customize recipes to your individual needs. "It is very important to listen to your body when juicing," she points out. "There may be an ingredient in the juice that you are sensitive to. One person’s food can be another’s poison, so find which fruits and vegetables are right for you, and in what amounts."
Juicing Rookie? Try This Recipe
If you're not sure where to start, try adding green ginger juice to your rotation. "Ginger is one of my all-time favorite superfood herbs that I recommend to nearly every client because of its powerful ability to improve our digestive function, reduce inflammation, and boost our immune system," Hammer explains. "It is a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme, which means that it helps your body absorb and utilize all the other nutrients better." She shares her recipe, below:
- 6 kale leaves, stemmed
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1/2 cucumber
- 4 celery stalks
- 1 apple
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger (or more for added immune and digestive health benefits)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Wash and cut the ingredients (as needed to fit through the chute of your juicer)
- Juice the ingredients (except the lemon juice)
- Stir in the lemon juice and serve immediately