By JEAN HAVENS
Throughout the U.S. these days, making fresh juice has become a popular way station on the road to better health. People get into “juicing” for many reasons, and Tahlequah residents are no exception.
Juicing is the extraction of juice from fresh vegetables and fruits. If done properly, juicing can improve health, but there are drawbacks as well.
“Juicing is not healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables. The resulting liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals [phytonutrients] found in whole fruit,” said Jennifer K. Nelson, director of clinical dietetics at the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com). “However, whole fruits and vegetables also have healthy fiber, which is lost during most juicing.”
Heather Winn, OSU Extension educator for Family and Consumer Sciences, agrees with Nelson. She said many fruits and vegetables, including the skins, contain fiber.
“The more you process fruits and vegetables, the less fiber,” she said.
Fiber aside, there are many benefits to juicing.
“It is better to eat whole vegetables and fruits, but juicing helps incorporate nutrients,” Winn said. “But it should be done along with eating whole fruits and vegetables. You can use pulp if you like when juicing. It’s still processing the fruit and vegetables, but the thicker the juice, with pulp, the more nutrients you’ll keep.”
Juicing, according to Winn, is a good way for families with children who don’t eat lots of vegetables and fruits to put the nutrients and vitamins in their diet.
“Make it fun for the kids,” Winn said, recommending that children become involve in the process. “You get to choose and combine the fruits and vegetables that you prefer to flavor the juice.”
Winn said she has tasted juices that contain spinach, zucchini, strawberries and bananas, and they were delicious.
There are many health benefits attributed to juicing, which is why it’s become so popular.
“Most people do it to become healthier,” said Winn. “Like losing weight.”
Weight loss, controlling blood sugar, and clearing up rashes are among the reasons people juice.
Jason Sharp, employee at Oasis Health Food Store, has many customers who juice.
“Diabetics have said that juicing helps with their blood sugar level,” Sharp said. “People with stomach problems say it helps with their digestion.”
Sharp also mentioned detoxification. Toxins are considered responsible for mild ailments, as well as more serious ones.
“A lot of people who have rashes, sometimes those unexplained skin conditions, say juicing clears up their skin,” said Sharp.
Dana Smith has been juicing for almost 11 years. She refers to documentaries, such as “Forks Over Knives” and “Fat, Sick and Almost Dead,” to back up her belief about health benefits from regular juicing. The films focus on juicing as a source for weight loss, which controls blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, among other things.
“I juice once a day,” Smith said. “My daughter juices with me. She doesn’t like it but tolerates it.”
Smith herself is not so picky.
“I like everything,” Smith said. “I try to incorporate kale because it’s the most nutrition-dense of the green stuff.”
Once she made juicing a daily habit, Smith noticed positive changes.
“I had more energy, clear skin and shiny hair,” she said.
Robin Jackson, Smith’s friend and fellow juicer, started the process last fall and has found she also has more energy.
“I’m not afraid to juice anything,” Jackson said. “I’ll eat anything that doesn’t eat me.”
Jackson likes the fact that there are no preservatives in the juices she makes. She also makes nut butter with her juicer.
The price of juicers ranges from $35 to more than $400.
Both Smith and Jackson use the pulp left over from their juicing.
“Put it in your compost. Through it in your garden or under your rose bushes,” said Smith. “I feed it to my chickens.”
Linda Axley has been thinking about starting a juicing regime because she wants to be healthier.
“I have a friend, who’s a nutritionist, and she told me eating lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as exercise, helps diabetes,” Axley said. “I am learning what a carbohydrate is and have found out many dark-green vegetables are low carbohydrate.”