A bowl of cereal? Slice of toast? How about two cucumbers, four carrots, a few handfuls of spinach, half a bag of kale, an apple and lemon?
That’s what I had. I didn’t eat it — I juiced it.
Juicing has become the buzzword in diet and nutrition. Forget Dukan or the paleo diet, juicing is so now it makes the 5:2 look old fashioned. Celebrity advocates never hurt a diet’s profile and juicing certainly has a famous following.
Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyoncé, Jennifer Anniston, Drew Barrymore, Ben Affleck, Christy Turlington, Kylie and Rihanna have all done juicing diets and no wonder, since advocates say it’s an effective way to loose weight, boost energy, improve your nutrition and generally make your body sing.
Juicing is even more topical in the light of a new study from University College London arguing that our five-a-day rule is inadequate, and instead recommending seven to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
As a single woman, I know my diet consists of too many ready meals, takeaways, alcohol (and I’m fond of a social ciggie), so a five-day kick start juicing diet sounded like the reset I needed to up my fruit and veg intake and breaking bad habits.
I jumped right in and signed up for a five-day Purifyne cleanse (€436 plus p&p), basically the idiot-proof way to juice. All your organic, cold-pressed juices — mine included carrot, apple, celery, spinach, beetroot and ginger — are delivered to your door with a list of instructions, so all you have to do is drink them throughout the day and take the supplements provided.
Simple? Sort of.
While not having meals to punctuate your day makes life dull, I only experienced a few real pangs of hunger (plus a few cravings for pasta and bread), which passed. I did encounter some of the side effects listed on the instruction sheet (tiredness, headaches) and I felt colder than normal, but it was all manageable. My biggest struggle was watching my social life go down the drain — no coffee breaks, no punctuation in your working day to eatlunch, saying no to dinners — but, on the plus side, it felt like my body was having a party.
The juices themselves, which are mainly veggie based, tasted a little like swamp water but none were so wretched that I couldn’t drink it all. By day five I was bored of juice and dying to wean myself back onto salads and soups as recommended, but I felt amazing.
I was leaping out of bed, sleeping soundly, my skin was bright as a light bulb, but the biggest difference was in my belly — no bloating, no discomfort, just one very happy gut. Weight loss wasn’t my motive for detox, but loosing 6lbs in five days was an added bonus.
However, the best thing of all is that for at least three weeks afterwards my cravings for bread were gone, I didn’t touch caffeine, nor was I tempted to order a pizza, so you could say I’m now a juicing fan.
Joe Cross is more a fanatic than a fan and has just written The Reboot with Joe, a book about juicing with three to 30-day juicing plans. Cross was living a high-flying life style “focusing on wealth not health” when he was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease.
For three years he says he outsourced his health, “handing money to experts”, but on his 40th birthday, at 22 stone, on life-long medication, a pre-diabetic “walking time bomb” he decided to do something himself.
His argument for juicing is convincing. “Very simply, there are three things you can put in your body, processed food, animal products and plant food — that’s fruit, vegetables, seeds, beans and nuts”.
For most of us, Cross explains, 60% of our diets today are processed, 33% is animal and only 7% is plant-based and there, he says, is our problem. If you want to be healthy, fight disease and live longer you have to change those percentages and juicing could be a good way of helping.
As a drastic measure, Cross ramped his percentage of juice intake up to 100%, only taking in the nutrients he needed through juicing. After 60 days, he was medication-free and in five months he was in the best health of his life. Today, about 40% of his diet comes from plants.
Cross is not looking to convert the world to juicing: “I’m not an extreme nut running around saying you have to only eat plants for the rest of your life, I live in the real world.”
Not everyone aggrees that juicing is such a good thing.Many dieticians and doctors have warned that consuming fruit and vegetable juice is not a nutritionally equivalent replacement for eating whole fruits and veg. The consensus from experts online seems to be consistent: juicing is a good way to boost your consumption of essentials nutrients, but there is no scientific evidence showing that juicing-only diets are effective for losing weight long-term, or as a means to ‘detox’.
Cross is up-front about the perceived cons. Yes, about 30% of the nutrients are lost when you juice fruit and vegetables, simply because a juicer can’t do what your stomach does, but you are left with 70% to drink, and Cross says there are two ways to look at that. Firstly, you are loosing goodness. Secondly, if you consider that “an inch of celery involves 70-80 chews by the average person” then juicing makes sense considering the time and effort it takes to consume three cucumbers, five sticks of celery, three beetroots, two apples, half a lemon and some ginger in one sitting.
As for fruit juices and smoothies, also blasted in the news recently for alarmingly high sugar content, Cross says you need to make juices that are 80% veg and only 20% fruit.
Even if you continue to eat and drink as normal, but add two glasses of micronutrient-packed veggie juices every day, he argues that you are turning your percentages around and helping your body fight disease.
The researchers reporting on the seven-a-day study seem to agree, finding that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help fight off cancer, heart disease and other lifestyle related illness. Seven to 10 servings of fruit and veg a day may sound like a lot, but juicing makes it easier to swallow.
As for me, I’ve swapped my old morning ritual of pain au chocolate and a jumbo coffee for an energising celery, spinach, kale and apple concoction. The only snag is cleaning my juicer.
Each recipe makes one serving.
½in of ginger root.
A few celery sticks
Handful of spinach Squeeze of lime
Some mint leaves.
4 celery sticks
8 kale leaves
1in piece of ginger.