Eating your daily recommended fruits and veggies isn’t always easy, but instead of trying to get in three salads a day, there’s a quicker way to get the nutrients you need. Juicing is a great way to reduce your cancer risk, boost your immune system, cleanse your body of toxins and even help you lose weight. Read more below!
Before you go all in and replace meals with sips, know this about taking juicing for health to the extreme:
- You’re not flushing anything out. Your body runs on an auto-cleanse system that’s managed by your kidneys, liver, and intestines, and there’s no evidence that juice improves the process. If you feel “lighter,” it’s probably because you’re eliminating junk food, not toxins. (See this complete breakdown of what happens to your body on a three-day juice cleanse.)
- You won’t see lasting results. You may lose weight, but most of it’s likely to be water weight. When you cut calories as you would in a “cleanse,” your body gets energy by releasing glycogen, a type of carb that holds on to water. As soon as you stop the cleanse, you gain back any weight lost. Lasting weight loss comes from long-term changes.
- You might feel as if you have the flu. Fatigue, nausea, insomnia, and headaches are some of the possible side effects of drinking only juice. And if you have a history of eating disorders, a juice fast can trigger a recurrence.
How to Juice for Health — Plus, Recipes to Try
That’s not to say that juicing for health isn’t possible — but it needs to be done in moderation. Just remember: Because juice doesn’t contain fat or protein to sustain you long-term, pair it with other foods, such as a slice of whole-grain toast and peanut butter for breakfast or with almonds or string cheese as an afternoon snack. And make it veggie-focused (Dr. Katz advises a ratio of two parts vegetables to one part fruit for just a hint of sweetness) to keep sugar in check.
Here, nine fresh (and actually healthy) juice recipes to try. To make each juice, first wash your produce, then simply juice ’em up!
Stress, free radicals, and lack of exercise and sleep can lead to visible aging. Try incorporating antioxidant-packed fruits and veggies to your juices, recommends Patty James, certified natural chef and author of More Vegetables Please!
- 1 1/2 cups liquid of your choice (water, any kind of milk, or aloe vera juice)
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 1 large leaf kale (thick stem removed)
- 1/2 medium beet
While oysters and chocolate are a delicious way to get you and your partner in the mood, they’re not so appealing juiced. Thankfully, there are some other libido-boosting foods that are delicious in liquid form, notes James. “Celery contains an ingredient that increases those well-known pheromones in men that send out signals to women saying ‘here I am,'” she explains. “Watermelon helps to relax the blood vessels that increase sex drive, and avocados contain a B vitamin said to boost male hormone production,” adds James.
- 2 cups coconut water or aloe vera juice
- 2 stalks celery
- 1/2 banana
- 1 small piece ginger
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 handful basil
- 3 figs
Instead of reaching for a coffee, try a green juice instead. “Chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants, helps oxygenate the blood, creating increased brain function and physical energy,” says Judita Wignall, author of Going Raw. (But coffee does have its perks, so don’t cut it out entirely!)
- 1 large cucumber
- 8 stalks celery
- 1 handful kale
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 handful parsley
- 1/4 lemon (with rind if organic)
- 1-inch piece ginger
Sweet Tooth Juice
“Celery juice helps balance out the sweetness of this juice while providing electrolytes and alkalizing minerals, as well as helping to reduce sugar cravings,” says Wignall. Also, cinnamon contains compounds that help regulate blood sugar. The ultimate juicing for health equation: Stable blood sugar equals fewer sugar cravings.
- 2 apples
- 8 stalks celery
- 1 dash cinnamon
Sip on this to stay well all year. “Broccoli is very high in vitamin C, which increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells,” notes Wigmall. Plus, “garlic contains sulfur-containing compounds that have powerful immune-boosting antimicrobial properties,” she adds.
- 1 small beet
- 3 carrots
- 8 stalks celery
- 1 stalk broccoli
- 2 cloves garlic
If you want to try juicing for health without investing in a juicer, try coconut water. It delivers a dose of electrolytes similar to those that balance out your blood. Coconut water is available in many stores and restaurants, or you can make one for yourself. Cut it open and drink the water straight out of the coconut!
- 1 young, green coconut
When Eat Naked author Margaret Floyd, N.T.P., needs to wind down after a long day, she turns to spinach. “Spinach is high in the amino acid tryptophan, which helps elevate your mood and promotes better sleep,” notes Floyd. “It’s also high in magnesium, which helps to relax nerves and muscles,” she adds.
- 2 large handfuls spinach
- 3 to 4 stalks broccoli
- 3 to 4 stalks celery
- 1 large or 2 small carrots
Digestive Aid Juice
Floyd turns to the well-known digestive aid, papaya, when having stomach issues. The fruit contains papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. But it’s not the only powerful ingredient in this juice for health recipe. “Ginger relaxes the intestinal tract and reduces gas; also often used to quell nausea,” says Floyd. And cabbage helps cleans waste from the stomach and upper bowels, which improves digestion and reduces constipation.
- 1/2 small papaya
- 3 leaves kale
- 1/8 head cabbage
- 1 thumb-sized piece ginger
- 1 wedge lemon
Eric Helms, the founder of Juice Generation, likes juicing for health during cold season and drinks a 1-ounce “Vital Shot” consisting of ginger, lemon, and cayenne pepper. (The latter is one of the 12 spices you should always have in your kitchen.) “Ginger stimulates the digestive system and has long been used as a natural treatment for colds and the flu,” says Helms. Cayenne pepper contains a high concentration of beta carotene, which helps rid the body of free radicals that cause cell damage and protects against infection. Finally, the high content of vitamin C in lemon juice can help safeguard your immune system from infection and the common cold, he explains.
- 1 ounce organic ginger
- 1 squeeze lemon
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper