Veggie Juicing, A Practical How-To Get Started

In my last post, I promised an intro­duc­tion to juic­ing as a way to entice you into par­tic­i­pat­ing into Where’s Your Heart?‘s first event — Cleanse for Your Cause™.

This post is both a prac­ti­cal approach AND my per­sonal experience.

In Decem­ber 2008 I was bored with food. I was never hun­gry, but always hun­gry. You know that feel­ing? Intu­itively, I knew/realized I wasn’t eat­ing prop­erly. Specif­i­cally, I knew I needed to eat more fruits and veg­gies. I just didn’t know how to work them into my diet, with­out too much fuss. And, I don’t have the brain to study some­thing new just so I can learn to eat right. If I had to fig­ure out how much pro­tien, starch, etc. I was eat­ing I’d be doomed.

Coin­ci­den­tally, the week I started explor­ing and talk­ing to friends I went to din­ner with my friend Keith (the award-winning film-maker), and he announced “I just bought a juicer and it’s awesome.”

I went home, did some research on my own, and the next night was cre­at­ing my own juice. I’ll tell you what I bought, why, and how I got started… but first, the punchline.

Aside from being “bored with food”, I also had a weak immune sys­tem. I’d always get sick, and when I did it went straight to my chest. It would often take weeks to shake some­thing once I got it, and that was after spend­ing days in bed. I was totally over­do­ing the antibi­otics (a sep­a­rate but related prob­lem). In the win­ter of ’07/08 instead of my chest it became throat infec­tions, which meant more antibi­otics, and once steroids to keep my throat open, and more down time.

I’m ath­letic, and very active. Always have been. But as a result of busi­ness travel and a fan­tas­tic metab­o­lism my diet was hor­ri­ble. And, my cho­les­terol was start­ing to show the results. It was only in the 2-teens (mean­ing about 215 or so), so tech­ni­cally not high, but not at 126 any­more like when I was in my 20’s! (Update Decem­ber 2010: With­out any other diet changes and still eat­ing out a lot more than most, my cho­les­terol has dropped to 171 in the most recent test.)

I started juic­ing by replac­ing one meal a day (break­fast) with juice. I focused mostly on veg­etable juic­ing. After about six months or so I had the fol­low­ing incred­i­ble results:

  1. I hadn’t got­ten sick the rest of that winter.
  2. My cho­les­terol dropped over 10%.
  3. I had enough energy to kick a very bad red-bull dependency.
  4. I felt trim. Like my body liked it.

In fact, my doc­tor (Dr. Daryl Isaacs of “Super Size Me” fame) said some­thing along the lines of “your cho­les­terol is great… I don’t know what you’re doing, just keep doing it.” (He’s like that.) I hadn’t changed any­thing in my diet other than replac­ing break­fast with juice.

Just recently (about 14 months later) I caught a cold. The type that would have taken me out for weeks. 6 days later I’m totally over it… and in those 6 days I did a round trip to Cal­i­for­nia (from NY).

There’s a dra­matic dif­fer­ence in my health.

So, how did I go about get­ting started?

Again, punch­line first.

Just do it. Sounds obvi­ous, but don’t worry. Just put stuff in the juicer, and drink what comes out.

Seri­ously, vari­ety rocks. Mix it up. Your body will love the vari­ety, and you won’t get bored with the same tastes over and over.

The juicer I have is the Bre­ville JE95XL. (Update 12/2010: The JE95XL is not made any­more, but the JE98XL is, and it looks great!) I got mine from J&R in NYC which had a good price and I could get on the spot. Keith had got­ten the BJE200XL and really liked it. Both are top ranked by con­sumer reports. I went with the 95XL because I always break things, and wanted some­thing that was stur­dier. I haven’t been dis­ap­pointed. After about a year of daily use I had to get a replace­ment cut­ting disk piece / mesh screen but that was an easy order off the Bre­ville web site.

It’s very easy to clean — I men­tion that because it’s the most com­mon objec­tion to juic­ing. It also seems to make a lot of juice out of what I put in. About $5 – 6 of (NYC priced) veg­gies makes about 40 – 50 oz of juice very quickly. Though, it’s the only juicer I’ve ever used, so none of these state­ments are com­par­a­tive. You can find more about Bre­ville on Twit­ter and Face­book.

Another alter­na­tive is the Vita­mixer. A dif­fer­ent friend has it, and she loves it. The vita­mixer is a dif­fer­ent type of machine, in that it just takes what­ever you put in, and liqui­fies it. That’s “bet­ter” if you want to add things like mint or pars­ley, etc. that don’t juice as well. You can find Vita­mixer on Face­book too.

I can also rec­om­mend some books. The two that I’d highly rec­om­mend are:

  1. The Juice Fast­ing Bible.
  2. The Com­plete Book of Juic­ing.

Both have great lists of recipes, with the for­mer focus­ing more on why/how to juice fast and the lat­ter dis­cussing why juic­ing is so nutri­tious and the nutri­tional value of var­i­ous ingredients.

With regard to veg­etable vs fruit… A good book to read on this topic is Alka­lize or Die. It’s best to eat fruit on an empty stom­ach because of the way we process those sug­ars. Oth­er­wise… I would rec­om­mend more veg­eta­bles than fruits based on my per­sonal expe­ri­ence (less sugar, less calo­ries, and more vari­ety of vit­a­mins and other good stuff). How­ever, fruits are good and tasty, and the sugar is a good energy. I often juice fruits as well. In par­tic­u­lar, one that comes to mind is 2 oranges, 3 kiwis, and a 10oz bag of spinach. (That juice gives me good energy as a pick-me-up in the afternoon.)

I started by juic­ing a lot of beets because I felt that they really cleaned me out well. OK, maybe too much infor­ma­tion! I’m just try­ing to be helpful.

All that said, I’m not a nutri­tion­ist and this all seems like one of those things where every­one dis­agrees. My advice… do what feels right. Try a few dif­fer­ent things, it’s not like any of it’ll kill you.

Slight tan­gent and inter­est­ing com­ment made by Mark Bittman on his TED video. I don’t nec­es­sar­ily agree with the con­spir­acy the­ory angle, but early on he says (some­thing like) “your body doesn’t like the beta carotene, it likes the car­rot.” I feel in my cells that he’s spot on with that comment.

Sum­mary

There you have it. Sim­ple. Go for it.

Seri­ously, if you have any ques­tions… the com­ments below are a good place for some dis­cus­sion. I’ll try to answer, and bet­ter yet, I’ve got some friends that I’ll get to answer with respect to nutri­tional infor­ma­tion too. A few peo­ple have emailed me, and that’s awe­some too if you want some pri­vacy. (By the way, I’ll be away first two weeks of March and won’t be able to answer ques­tions until I return.)

A few take-aways if you will:

  1. If you’ve stum­bled across this post as an  intro to juicing/juice-fasting, please check out our event, Cleanse for Your Cause and con­sider participating.
  2. If you’re intrigued, even if you have no inter­est in juic­ing, keep track of Where’s Your Heart? by becom­ing a fan on Face­book.
  3. Cleanse for Your Cause par­tic­i­pants can also do a mas­ter cleanse. I’ve never done one myself, but I’ll share some infor­ma­tion on that in the future.
  4. Please re-post (link to it) this intro­duc­tion to juic­ing on twit­ter, face­book, or where-ever if you found it help­ful (on Face­book, click share just below; to retweet just click “retweet” up at the top of the article).

Next post will be a lit­tle light humor on the chal­lenges of hav­ing punc­tu­a­tion in the com­pany name as my last post before a two week adven­ture in the Ama­zon. Stay tuned.

PS Any affil­i­ate dol­lars earned through the links on this post will be donated to Where’s Your Heart? Foun­da­tion, a reg­is­tered US 501©(3) non-profit orga­ni­za­tion whose mis­sion is to improve people’s lives through altru­is­tic living.