Unless you have the time and ability to prepare and eat large quantities of fresh produce every day I highly recommend you consider juicing or blending.
Juicing involves grinding, pulverizing and squeezing the juices out of the produce while discarding most of the fiber. Juicing makes “juice.”
Blending finely chops up all the plant material in the container without extracting any of the fiber or cell walls that are typically discarded during juicing. Blending makes “smoothies.”
Why Am I A Fan Of Juicing And Blending?
Most of us simply do not consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day (2-3 cups of fruit, 3+ cups of vegetables) that are required to reduce our risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Drinking juice or smoothies can help you reach this goal. In a single 12-ounce glass of juice you are getting on average 2-3 pounds worth of plant nutrients.
Another important point to make is that even if you consume the recommended amount of produce each day, that produce is not nearly as nutrient-rich as the same produce grown 50 years ago. This is mainly due to: 1) soil nutrient depletion from over-farming, 2) nutrient degradation begins immediately after the produce is harvested; it takes most produce a few weeks to make their way to your grocery store. Juicing (more so than blending) can help you make up for this nutrient depletion simply by the fact you are consuming a larger quantity of nutrients in your juice than most people can consume in a day through eating or blending the same produce.
- Many of these nutrients (also known as phytonutrients) have powerful anticancer activity! You want your body to be full of these compounds so you are literally making your tissues more hostile to any hiding cancer cells that may try to grow there.
Here’s a list of the main compounds you get when juicing or blending produce:
- Phytochemicals (such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and many other anticancer compounds)
- Other Unknown Nutrients
Although this may look like all the nutrients your body needs, I do not recommend that you use juice or smoothies in place of your meals unless you are on a ‘physician/nutritionist/dietician-approved’ dietary plan or you are not able to get adequate nutrition consuming whole food (i.e. you have pain or other difficulty swallowing foods, gastrointestinal distress, poor appetite, etc.) I want to emphasize this because whole foods contain quantities of protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber that are not always easily obtainable through juice or smoothies (unless you add additional nutrient supplement powders). Think of juices and smoothies as simply the ultimate anticancer supplement.
The Pros and Cons of Juicing and Blending:
Let’s go through some of them here:
- Without the fiber, your intestines don’t have to work as hard digesting and absorbing the nutrients in the plant material as they would if you ate the produce or blended it. If your intestines are sensitive or are irritated or inflamed from an illness or cancer treatment (i.e. chemotherapy or radiation therapy), I’d recommend juicing over blending.
- You can pack many more servings of produce into your juice than you can a blended drink and you will absorb far more nutrients from each serving of juice than from a serving of a blended drink.
- Fiber is important in slowing down the absorption of the sugars from the produce. Without this fiber, the sugars are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream causing a sharp rise in your blood sugar. Not only can this lead to mood swings and energy loss (as your blood sugar levels eventually drop below their baseline levels), but spikes in blood sugar also cause the pancreas to secrete insulin and the the liver to produce IGF-1. We don’t like this since cancer’s #1 fuel is sugar and insulin and IGF-1 are cancer growth factors!
- Another con is that fibers in the juice help keep you feeling full longer, so juices are not as filling as blended drinks.
- Juicing is more expensive than blending. Juicers are more expensive than blenders (typical range: $60 to $600). You will use more produce for each serving of juice than a serving of a blended drink.
- Juicing takes more time. You will spend more time making the juice and cleaning your juicer than you will with a blender.
- Because the blended drink (“smoothie”) contains all of the plant fiber, the nutrients are more slowly absorbed than with juices, thereby avoiding blood sugar spikes.
- The fiber in smoothies also helps you feel full longer.
- Plant fiber is the main source of prebiotic material which is required for maintaining a healthy flora.
- Faster preparation and clean up time.
- Uses less produce in each drink than with juices.
- Lower cost: Blenders tend to be less expensive than juicers and you use less produce in each drink.
- Since the fibrous material takes up more volume, you will not consume as many cups of produce in a blended drink as you will in a similar serving size of juice. Therefore you will not absorb as many nutrients per serving in blended drinks.
- Smoothies require your intestines to work harder than juices to digest and absorb. If your intestines are upset, irritated and inflamed juicing will be easier for you to consume.
- Smoothies are more pungent in flavor and thicker in consistency than juices made from the same produce. This can be a ‘con’ for those who prefer the flavor profile and thinner consistency of juices.
Doc, What Do You Prefer?
When my patients ask me what I prefer to do, I tell them that it depends on what ingredients I would like to consume (i.e. vegetables or fruits or both) and what my palate desires (i.e. am I very hungry, do I want thin or thicker consistency, etc.) In general, I prefer to juice vegetables and blend fruit. If I’m really hungry I’ll favor a thicker and more filling smoothie over a juice. If I’m planning to also eat a more filling meal shortly after drinking my juice or smoothie I will probably opt to have a juice. These are just my personal preferences, however I suggest you watch this video to hear what some of the more well-known raw food experts have to say:
Which Juicers And Blenders Do I Recommend?
New units are coming out all the time, so it is important to do your research. You have to figure out what you can afford to spend as there is a wide range of prices and quality from which to pick. My suggestion is that if you intend to use your juicer or blender more than a couple of times per week invest in a higher quality unit. You’ll actually spend less money in the long run since you won’t have to replace or repair a cheap unit that breaks down too quickly. Additionally, higher quality units are much more efficient so you will get a larger yield of juice or smoothie from your produce. If you buy a good product expect it to last you for years.
There are many different types of juicers on the market (i.e. centrifugal, centrifugal ejection, masticating, manual press, single auger, dual stage single auger and twin gear press juicers.) As of 2014 the two types of juicing units I recommend are the following:
- If you are looking for a juicer that can juice both vegetables and fruit equally well, make juice quickly and are the easiest juicers to clean get a vertical single auger juicer (such as the Omega VRT400HD, Tribest Slowstar SW-2000). Important caveat: these don’t juice leafy greens (i.e. wheatgrass) very efficiently.
- If you want to mainly juice vegetables and leafy greens (i.e. wheatgrass) get a horizontal single auger juicer (such as the Omega NC900) or double auger juicer (such as the Green Star GSE-5000) as they are more efficient in juicing these harder to juice produce than the vertical single auger types.
If you plan to use your blender more than a couple times per week I’d recommend you get a blender that is durable, easy to clean, BPA-free and has more power than most home blenders (which are rated about 350 watts). The model most raw food experts recommend is the Vitamix 1732 Turboblend VS (1380 watts).
Dr. Lawenda’s Juicing Tips:
Drink juices and smoothies on an empty stomach:
- Drinking juice or smoothies on an empty stomach allows the vitamins and minerals in the drink to go straight to your bloodstream. Having fiber or a meal already in your stomach prevents your body from quickly absorbing the nutrients from the juice. A good general rule of thumb to follow is to wait at least 2 hours after a meal to drink your juice and wait 20 mins after drinking a juice or smoothie to consume a meal.
Don’t wait too long before you drink your juice or smoothie:
- When your juice or smoothie is exposed to air its enzymes and nutrients oxidize and they begin to degrade, therefore decreasing the nutritional content. To make sure you are consuming the highest levels of nutrients and live enzymes I recommend always consuming your drink within 15 mins of making it.
- If you want to drink your juice or smoothie later, make sure to store it in an airtight container (filled to the top with no air gap) and in a refrigerator for a maximum of 24 hours.
Do not use too many sweet fruits and vegetables in your juice:
- Juicing produce with a high sugar content will cause a rapid rise in your blood sugar and an insulin spike since the fiber is removed in juicing (less of a problem with smoothies since the fiber is not removed and slows the absorption of sugar). As mentioned above, this is not a good combination.
- I recommend keeping the sugary fruits and vegetables in your juice to a maximum of 1 per serving. Examples of sweet fruits and vegetables: like watermelon, apples, pears, carrots and beets.
Don’t always juice or blend the same produce:
- Variety is important when juicing and blending so you get different nutrients while also reducing your risk of over-consuming some that can cause problems. For example, if you do not rotate the greens (kale, chard, spinach, mustard greens, collards, dandelion, arugula, etc.) in your juice or smoothies each week you run the risk of consuming to much oxalic acid (which can affect the thyroid gland).
Keep your drinks cold during juicing or blending:
Heat is generated when making juice or smoothies and this heat may decrease the nutritional value of the drink as heat breaks down many of the healthful compounds (primarily the natural enzymes). Most of the enzymes will not start to degrade until about 118 degrees Fahrenheit (this is much higher than your juice or smoothie will likely get to in usual circumstances.) Nevertheless I still recommend you take the following precautions to reduce the amount of heat generated during juicing or blending:
- Use cold produce. Leave the produce in the fridge before juicing or blending.
- Do not overload your juicer. Feed in only a little produce at a time. Overloading causes the juicer to work harder which produces more heat.
- Chop up your produce into smaller pieces so the juicer doesn’t have to work as hard.
- While juicing, occasionally juice an ice cube, which will help to reduce the temperature of the blade/auger and the juice. It will also dilute the juice.
- Replace dull blades or cutters since they generate excess heat due to friction.
- Juice in small batches, rather than “juice marathons”. The longer the juicer runs, the warmer things get.
Buy organic whenever possible:
- Studies show that organic produce contains more nutrients than conventionally grown produce and has far fewer toxins.
- If money is an issue, make sure to buy produce on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list as organic. You can save your money and buy produce on the EWG’s “Clean 15” list as conventionally grown.
- Local Harvest.org can help you find local organic farms, farmers markets and other organic retailers in your area.
Supplementing Beyond Just The Produce:
If you don’t have time to juice every single day but you still want to massively increase your intake of cancer-fighting phytonutrients, I recommend you consume one “green drink” per day (i.e. Green Vibrance, etc.) These are highly concentrated green extract powders that contain tons of natural whole plant food ingredients, enzymes and pre- and pro-biotics.
You simply take a scoop of the green powder and mix it in a single 8 oz cup of water, stir and drink.
I wish I had time to juice or blend everyday but I don’t, so I drink one green drink every morning to boost my intake of these powerful anticancer compounds.
Dr. Lawenda’s Bottom Line:
If you are in great health, you consistently eat at least 2 cups of fruit per day and 3 cups of vegetables per day (organic and lots of variety) and you are not actively undergoing or preparing to undergo rigorous cancer therapies which can significantly deplete your body of essential micronutrients then you may not need to juice or blend.
However, if you want to massively turbocharge your body with anticancer phytonutrients then I highly recommend you start juicing or blending (or both)!
Consider joining the IOE Premium Program today and learn how Dr. Lawenda uses juicing and blending as part of the his integrative approach to cancer care.
Dr. Lawenda’s Recommended Books:
- The Big Book of Juices: More Than 400 Natural Blends for Health and Vitality Every Day
- The Juicing Bible
- The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies: More Than 400 Simple, Delicious Recipes!
- 101 Juice Recipes
- Foods To Fight Cancer: (This is one of my favorite anticancer books. Use this beautiful and informative book as a guide to help you pick ingredients that are a MUST to add to your smoothies or juices)
Charlotte Gerson On Cancer And Disease (although the Gerson Therapy does not support conventional cancer treatments, the nutritional concepts are still worth introducing)
The Amazing Value Of Juicing For Cancer Patients: (Nicholas Gonzalez, MD)
Is Juicing Natural: (Dr Mercola)
Dr. Mercola Interviews Cherie Calbom (“The Juice Lady”) About Juicing
How To Select The Best Produce For Juicing At The Grocery Store
How To Best Store Your Fresh Juice Made With Your Juicer