Why Juicing Works: A Cardiologist Explains by Dr. Joel Kahn

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Click on image to visit Dr. Kahn’s website.

Tonight my head is spinning like a centrifugal juicer after attending a lecture by Joe Cross, star of the documentary Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. The movie, which chronicles one man’s journey to health through juicing, moved me a few years ago to purchase my first juicer. It began what is now a regular practice of making fresh green juice several times a week and purchasing fresh cold pressed juice around town regularly.

Joe’s presentation on both using juicing as a method to “reboot” a sick body and mind and also as a supplement to an overall plant-based, whole foods diet was inspiring and medically very accurate. But why is it that juicing is an effective means of redirecting one’s health—whether the goal is vitality, weight loss, or even disease reversal?

Cells in the body require nutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals) to function optimally. Many of these are referred to as micronutrients, to distinguish them from the macronutrient classes of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. When cells receive adequate micronutrients, you feel energized and full. On the other hand, many foods provide calories from macronutrients, but are devoid of the essential micronutrients cells crave. These are calorie-dense, nutrition-poor foods and this characterizes most processed foods.

Let’s look at a few more reasons why vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts are so powerful. They provide:

1. Fiber.

This is the indigestible portion of plants. Diets high in fiber are associated with lower risks of heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and obesity. In the Nurses Health Study, one of the longest-running studies of women’s health, women who ate more fiber were more likely to live longer. There is fiber in broccoli, beans and other members of the vegetable and fruit families, but none will be found in bagels, burgers and almost all other processed foods.

2. Phytonutrients.

These are a family of chemicals found only in plants that often give the color to v vegetables but also confer many health benefits. Many of these plant-based chemicals are anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer, such as the sulforphane found in broccoli. There are perhaps 10,000 of these health-promoting chemicals in the edible plant world. (You’ll never find phytonutrients in a bagel.)

3. Antioxidants.

Many chemicals found in plants confer a resistance to the damage that can occur to the human body from oxygen and the process of metabolism. Just as rust can destroy metal, oxidation can lead to diseased arteries or brain cells, and contributes to diabetes and other conditions. Within plants are chemicals such as carotenoids, polyphenols, and flavonoids that are natural antioxidants.

4. Omega-3 fatty acids.

These essential fatty acids, including DHA and EPA, are taken into cell membranes and used for the internal workings and repair of cells throughout the body. While seafood can provide Omega-3 fatty acids, they’re typically absent from other animal products. Flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, algae and soy are some of the plant-based foods rich in this nutrient class.

So …. how does this get us back to Joe Cross and juicing?

The USDA recommends five or more servings of vegetables and fruits daily while Canadian authorities set the bar higher, saying 10 servings a day is optimal.

In order to consistently ingest this large amount of plant-based material, we need to do some planning.

Some ideas to get your greens: preparing large salads, adding greens in soups, and blending smoothies with berries and greens for a power breakfast or a snack. Juicing is just one more tool you can use to build a plant-based nutrition program rich in phytochemicals, and it can make it easier to reach your goal of 5 to 10 servings a day of vegetables.

As Joe Cross said, “If you let people in white lab coats design your food, you’ll see people in white coats to treat your disease.”

Happy juicing!

DrJoelKahn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Dr. Joel Kahn

Dr. Kahn is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Medical Director of Preventive Cardiology at the Detroit Medical Center. He is a graduate Summa Cum Laude of the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He lectures widely on the cardiac benefits of vegan nutrition and mind body practices.

Food Safety Tips

Food-Safety

To avoid microbial food-borne illness: Clean hands, food contact surfaces, and fruits and vegetables. Meat and poultry should not be washed or rinsed. Separate raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or storing foods. Cook foods to a safe temperature to kill microorganisms. Chill (refrigerate) perishable food promptly and defrost foods properly. Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, unpasteurized juices, and raw sprouts.

Fruits, Veggies, and Other Goodies

 

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It seems like these days, healthy eating has become such a multi-billion-dollar industry that everyone knows what it’s like to get bombarded by ‘The New Health Food!’ ads for Acai whatnot and Goji Berry thingamajig. It’s an unfortunate aspect of our pharmaceutical culture that we’ve learned to look for cures for specific ills, and we treat food the same way. Cranberries for UTIs, carrots for vision problems, prunes for constipation…we’re treating food like it’s medicine, and it’s failing us. We need a new health food regimen.

It’s true that Hippocrates said “Make food your medicine and medicine your food”, but that’s not what he meant. By eating right in general — every day — we prevent far more illnesses than we could ever hope to treat. The point is not to respond to conditions by seeking a super food, it’s to prevent conditions by getting proper nutrition.

Consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables while staying within energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables per day are recommended for a reference 2,000-calorie intake, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level.

Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. In particular, select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.

Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day, with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products. In general, at least half the grains should come from whole grains.

Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.

Let’s Get Physical!

Click on Photo to go to the Mayo Clinic Website for more information.

Click on Photo to go to the Mayo Clinic Website for more information.

 

Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.

To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.

For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.

To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.

To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. Some people may need to consult with a healthcare provider before participating in this level of activity.

Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.