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Drink Your Vegetables! Guide to the Best Vegetable Juice Options

Drink Your Vegetables! Guide to the Best Vegetable Juice Options

Experts recommend that we get 9 servings of fruit and vegetables each day in order to stay healthy and reduce our likelihood of a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. An evaluation of long-term studies conducted in Europe and the US found that those who ate more than 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke and coronary heart disease than those who ate fewer than 3 servings per day.

Although fruit is very healthy (it provides lots of vitamins and fiber), it contains a lot of sugar in the form of fructose. This is why experts say that about three-fifths of those 9 servings of fruit and vegetables should be comprised of vegetables. But it’s not easy for a lot of people to get those all-important servings each day, given our increasingly busy schedules. Luckily, it’s relatively simple to get your daily veggies from drinking juice.

Just to be crystal clear on this point—it is generally better for you to eat whole vegetables either raw or very lightly cooked as often as possible. Vegetable juices are generally pretty low in fiber, depending on the juice (or juicer) you get. Fiber is important for digestive health, reducing the risk of constipation and keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level. Nevertheless, drinking vegetable juice is far better than getting little or no vegetables at all!

Juicing can be a particularly useful option for people who have digestive issues. To get the most nutritional value from your vegetables (or from any other food you eat, for that matter), your body must first break them down during digestion. Generally speaking, the simple act of chewing and swallowing our food so that it can be dissolved elsewhere along the digestive tract should be sufficient to release the nutrients in whatever we eat. However, some people (including the elderly, whose digestive enzymes may not be as powerful as they once were) have digestive problems that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Since juice has had most of the vegetables’ cellulose removed or broken down, it’s easier for the digestive system to absorb all those important nutrients.

For veggie juices with the highest nutritional content, consider juices featuring some of the following vegetables:

  • Tomatoes – Possibly the best vegetable to juice, tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer and is supportive of heart health.
  • Kale – Chock full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B, C and K, calcium, copper and magnesium, kale also is high in cancer-fighting phytonutrients.
  • Cabbage – Helps protect against ulcers, and its indoles help to regulate metabolism and the balance of estrogen.
  • Peppers – Red bell peppers in particular are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Adds a refreshing flavor to any vegetable juice.
  • Celery – High in potassium, celery helps to regulate blood pressure. It also reduces uric acid in the blood, which is good news for anyone with gout.
  • Spinach – High in the cancer-fighting antioxidant lutein, spinach is also high in vitamins A, C and E, and is a good source of calcium, folic acid, iron and potassium.
  • Carrots – These contain large amounts of beta carotene, good for the skin, eyes, brain and arteries. They blend well with other vegetables as well. Just be sure to use them somewhat sparingly, as they are also quite high in sugar.
  • Parsley – Cleanses the liver and kidneys and is supportive of heart health. It is also high in vitamin C.

So drink up, and enjoy the health benefits you can gain from these wonderful vegetables!

  • Special Note: Using a high-powered blender such as a Blendtec or Vitamix Blender allows you to get your juice and fiber as well! Not everyone can afford one but for those that can, it can be a wonderful investment!

 

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion

A well-functioning digestive system is crucial to maintaining your body’s overall health. Without it, you are likely to have bowel problems and suffer from digestive upsets, not to mention a host of other conditions that can result from not getting enough nutrients from the food you eat. The digestive system affects all the other systems of the body, so it’s important to do what you can to be sure it’s working the way it should. Following are the top 5 things you can do to help improve your digestion.

Eat more fiber – Soluble and insoluble fiber are both essential for moving food through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber, such as that found in oatmeal, beans, nuts and apples, turns to a gel in your intestines and slows digestion, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels. It absorbs water, softening the stool, and promotes the health of the good bacteria in your gut. Insoluble fiber, such as that found in the skins of fruit and vegetables, speeds digestion, adds bulk and passes primarily intact through the digestive tract. Both are important in preventing constipation and can improve conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Drink more fluids – Insufficient water intake can harden the stool, increasing constipation. You should be sure to drink at least 1.2 liters of fluid per day, which is about 6 glasses. Some people need more, based on their activity level and the ambient temperature. However, do not drink more than about 6 ounces of liquid during a meal (taking the occasional sip), as it can dilute your stomach acid, making digestion more difficult. Aim to get most of your fluid intake 15-30 minutes before a meal or at least an hour afterward.

Take probiotics – Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are the good bacteria that populate our digestive tract. Eating yogurt with a variety of helpful live cultures as well as fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir can help promote the production and health of these beneficial bacteria.

Eat more fat – Although increasing your fiber intake can improve your digestion that fiber does not move through the digestive tract so easily if you are not getting enough fat in your diet. Good fats will not raise your cholesterol and in fact are a healthy part of your diet when eaten in moderation. Some healthy sources of fat are olive oil, coconut oil, butter and avocados.

Reduce stress – When you are under stress, your digestive system slows down and circulation to the digestive tract is reduced, lowering your body’s ability to efficiently break down and utilize the food you eat. Do not rush through meals, and be sure to sufficiently chew and savor your food when you eat. If you must eat while under stress, be sure you eat foods that are simple to digest, such as broth or yogurt.

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