My column for Holistic Scotland Magazine this month focuses on what is the foundation of The Body Toolkit Retreats: juicing. It's what u-turned my own health and I have watched juicing do the same for hundreds of other people at the retreats. Far from being a fad, juicing is a lifeline and a powerful way to regain balance with your health and your life.
Any mention of ‘juicing’ is usually met with questions and some healthy scepticism. My first experience of juicing was a personal one, I’d been dealing with a lot of health issues as a teenager – IBS, acne, depression, PCOS, anxiety – the list was pretty endless to be honest, and I found myself on a desperate search to find something that would make me feel better. As I began researching, I started making small changes to my diet and mindset, but the change that completely turbo-charged things for me was: juicing.
So many of us experience pain, low energy or health conditions during our lives – and yet the link between physical symptoms, lifestyle and diet, isn’t always that obvious. In the UK, lifestyle diseases are the biggest killers – so, the way we live, with stress and suboptimal diets, can often be a trigger for many health problems.
We all know that it’s healthy to eat more vegetables - we know we should, but quite often we don’t – and most of us definitely don’t eat enough raw vegetables. However, when we can harness vegetables in their raw form, the body benefits enormously from the phytonutrients, minerals and enzymes that alkalise our cells and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
This is where juicing can become a game changer. By using a juice-extractor, to separate the insoluble fibre from the vegetables’ juice, we can in essence ‘pre-digest’ a large quantity of raw vegetables, in their most potent and nutritious form. Aiming to include 80% vegetables, with 20% fruit to make the vegetables more palatable, the results people get from including even just one juice a day, on top of a normal diet can be staggering, never mind the powerful results people experience on a juice cleanse or fast over a few days.
Weight-loss is one of the most talked about side effects of juicing, but the list of benefits is a lengthy one. Even just adding one vegetable-based juice in the morning, on top of a regular diet, people begin to notice and report: more energy, less pain and inflammation, better sleep, improved digestion, healthier looking skin and even feeling mentally brighter and calmer. I don’t think we can afford to underestimate the healing power of Mother Nature’s raw fruits and vegetables.
A genuine concern from those new to juicing is the lack of fibre, however, if we’re adding a vegetable-based juice on top of a normal diet, the body still gets all the fibre it needs from our other meals. The beauty of juicing is that it supplies the body with a blood transfusion-like dose of raw, alkalising, anti-inflammatory vegetables – without the fibre, the body can easily soak up and absorb the nutrients with minimal effort. There are also tremendous benefits to be seen from the occasional fast, allowing our digestive system to rest from time to time – we are seeing people prove that to be true with the 5:2 diet for example, where people eat less on two days of the week and report to feel much better.
There’s always a bit of confusion between ‘juices’ and ‘smoothies’. Juices are made with a juice-extractor, that separates the juice from the fibre and Smoothies are made with a blender (e.g. NutriBullet) where you add a liquid (e.g. water, almond milk) and keep all the fibre. Smoothies are generally more economical, as you’re adding another liquid into the mix, however, I nudge people with health conditions towards juicing to get more vegetables into the body. On the whole smoothies tend to be fairly fruit-based – which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that generally we tend to be quite good at eating fruit anyway, so the aim of the game is to get more alkalising vegetables into the body.
As a society we have drastically deviated from a whole-foods diet and we are seeing the change in our health as a result. Many people in first world countries are actually overfed, but undernourished. Now more than ever, we need to step away from dieting and start nourishing our bodies and juicing can be a lifeline for people, as a fast and powerful way to reduce inflammation. Even just making a conscious effort to nibble on raw vegetables throughout the day can make a massive difference to how we feel.
A Juice Recipe to Try:
1 Beetroot (raw, not pre-cooked – fabulous for healthy blood pressure)
2 Celery Stalks (powerhouse of nutrition, an integral part of all my juicing recipes)
1 inch of Ginger (great for digestive health, eases inflammation)
¼ Lemon (peeled, but leaving the white pith)
The Body Toolkit award-winning retreat programmes share simple, yet powerful things we can all do to nourish the body, reduce stress and help ourselves to thrive. For dates, availability and prices for upcoming retreats: www.thebodytoolkit.com/book-a-retreat