Life & Health

The Juice and Smoothie Phenomenon

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Juices and Smoothies have become a bona fide craze in the past couple of years, and for good reason. These elixirs are a quick and substantial way to deliver nutrients that a stressed body craves and needs. By giving your body the gift of freshly prepared juice, the digestive system receives a break and the body begins to cleanse and detox. The idea of consuming juice to rid the body of so-called toxins is not new. Whether rooted in a religious or cultural tradition, fasting and cleansing rituals have been around for centuries as a way to allow the body to heal and regenerate both mentally and physically.

But as there are advantages to juicing, there are also drawbacks. The benefits are widespread, but it’s also important not to overdo it and to understand why it’s critical to choose the right juices. Occasional juice fasts can be beneficial for your health, but when it’s taken to the extreme by overindulging in cleansing rituals, you may create more health concerns than benefits.

For example, by drinking fresh juice, you will receive a strong dose of disease fighting antioxidants but unless you’re using the whole fruit, you will miss a critical aspect: fiber.  Fiber helps to slow the absorption of sugars and create a feeling of fullness and is necessary for a smooth running digestive tract. So, unless you have serious digestive issues, it’s good not to count on juices as your sole source of fruits and vegetables.

Smoothies do include fiber since they include the whole fruit, but overdoing these can also sabotage any efforts to control blood sugar or lose weight, especially when consistently choosing sweet fruit such as mango and pineapple and even vegetables like carrots and beets, which are relatively high in sugar.  When using sweeter fruit or vegetables, balance them out with greens and fruit such as apple and lemon and don’t forget to add in a bit of anti-inflammatory ginger or turmeric.

To Do a Juice Cleanse or Not?

The truth is that each body is different. Some can handle doing a seven-day juice cleanse while for others, especially those with specific health concerns, it’s important to get professional advice. Either a three-day juice cleanse or even a one-day juice cleanse often is the best bet.

If you do a one-day cleanse, three or four days prior, you’ll want to cut out alcohol including beer and wine, along with coffee, refined sugar in foods such as pastries or cookies and sweet liquids such as soda (diet or regular) and white flour products such as bread and crackers. Instead choose whole grains and beans, soup, fruit and vegetables either cooked or raw as in salads, and simple chicken or fish.  On the day of the cleanse, drink a glass or water with lemon or 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and then drink 4-5 glasses of juice or smoothies throughout the day along with plain (preferably filtered) water. Be sure to include some green juice as well as fruit juice in your liquid repertoire.

You may experience symptoms such as headache, fatigue, emotional shifts, uncomfortable digestion and occasional dizziness. Most of these side effects are not cause for concern but actually a sign that the cleanse is working. Realize that your body is detoxing and any detox is usually uncomfortable especially in the early stages. If any of these symptoms are extreme, please seek professional advice.

After the cleanse is over, gradually reintroduce heavier foods one at a time and be mindful of your food and drink choices overall. Whether you do a cleanse or not, adding juices or smoothies to your daily eating routine will make a big impact on your health and wellbeing.

For Guanacaste residents and visitors who want to purchase a juice or smoothie, there are many options. In Nicoya, Samara and Nosara there are a plethora of juice stands, juice bars and restaurants that offer fresh juices and smoothies. And if owning a juicer or blender is an affordable option, making your own juice at home is a great way to go. Everyone has an opinion on which juicer or blender is the best. While many gringos lug down their Vita-Mix from the States, usually a simple blender will make a perfectly fine smoothie as long as the chunks of fruit are cut small.

Energizing Juice Recipe

This juice recipe will give you energy and will aid with weight loss: 2 carrots, 1 cucumber, 1 handful of greens such as kale, spinach, lettuce or parsley, 1 lemon, 1 apple or 1/2 cup pipa or coconut water and 1/2- to 1-inch cube of fresh ginger or turmeric root.

Green Power Smoothie

1 banana, 1 cup coconut milk, 1 avocado, 1 cup spinach or kale, 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup purified water, 2 tablespoon cacao powder, 1 tablespoon. of honey (optional). Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Pineapple Basil Smoothie

For a simple sweet smoothie with a bite, try pulverizing fresh pineapple in a vita-mix or blender with a generous handful of fresh basil. Pineapple is loaded with minerals and vitamin C and is good for digestion with its enzymes and fiber and basil is detoxifying and helps combat mild symptoms of depression.