It’s that time of year, spring cleaning doesn’t just apply to dust bunnies and rearranging furniture.
Cleansing our bodies come spring is a rejuvenating practice that sets us up for more energy and more summer fun in the sun.
There’s no better time of year to focus on rejuvenating the body and releasing stored toxins.
And there’s no better way to do that than incorporating fresh, raw enzyme rich juices. As the seasons change it becomes easier to seek out locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Some seasonal spring vegetables includes:
- sunflower sprouts
- delicate young greens
- garlic scapes
These delights don’t last long, so utilizing their nutritional prowess while they’re here is crucial.
Stock up at your local farmers market, or better yet, grow your own. You’ll have a full kitchen arsenal for cleansing spring time juices in no time.
For me, spring beckons action, the slumber of winter subsides and we’re left with a long to do list. It can be hard to summon the energy needed to complete all of springs pressing tasks.
That’s why doing a gentle juice cleanse is so helpful, not just for increasing energy but also shedding some of the extra winter weight that’s been keeping us warm.
Reasons to Juice
Why is juicing one of the best ways to cleanse the body?
Why is it an optimal addition to any healthy lifestyle?
Well long story short, most of us don’t eat enough vegetables, over time we become nutritionally starved and this is usually when illness takes root.
It can be a long road to wellness if we take the long way, in fact sometimes that road doesn’t even take us there. I’m talking about conventional medicine and all of it’s gaping holes when it comes to addressing truly holistic health.
When we look at the bigger picture there are clear reasons why we as a culture have become so unhealthy.
So what can we do to address that?
We could just simply eat more fruits and vegetables…
But considering the practices of modern agriculture deplete the soil of essential minerals, we aren’t getting nearly as much nutrition from the foods grow in these soils as we should (1).
There are even key soil nutrients that are almost completely missing, such as selenium, an important trace mineral.
The convenience of being able to consume ample amounts of fruits and vegetables in a fresh juice helps us to surmount the obstacle of soil deficiencies.
We may not be able to get everything we need from eating one carrot, but make a juice with 4 or 5 fresh organic carrots and our needs will surely be met.
Added benefits of juicing stem from the amazing effects live enzymes have on healing our tissues.
Enzymes are destroyed when foods are heated and this just means our bodily systems have to work harder to process them. We relieve a huge digestive burden when we consume live enzymes (2).
Fresh juices, unlike smoothies, are incredibly easy to digest, assimilate and absorb. We basically get all the nutrients of fruits and vegetables without the digestive struggle inherent in their fibers.
Healing from the Inside Out
There’s no shortage of media messages trying to sell us more products to make us more beautiful and desirable. The truth is external products will never work to make us glow and shine with radiance.
What is beauty if one doesn’t feel beautiful and vibrant?
When we work towards pin pointing what is holding us back from achieving amazing health, there’s no cream or magic pill to make things all better. There are core principals involved with healing the internal dysbioisis before healing can occur.
Chief among them are getting rid of toxic junk food which offers no nutritional value (3) and replacing those foods with nutrient dense whole foods.
Instead of investing in more beauty products holding empty promises, invest in building up long term health. A juicer and a fridge full of vegetables is a great place to start, and if that’s not accessible there are many wonderful green foods supplements with comparable benefits to fresh juice.
Fresh is Best
Once we’ve made the choice to rebuild our health from the inside out, its really important to replace old habits with new ones. Firstly stocking up on an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Try to stick to organic and preferably locally grown produce for optimal levels of nutrients (4). Some fantastic choices for starting off your juicing regime include plenty of greens.
Not getting too hung up on the sweetness factor of juices is important. Gradually ween down the amount of fruit being used until you can tolerate a juice made of mostly vegetables.
The problem with juices that use a lot of fruit is that they’re still high in sugar and cause a rapid increase in blood sugar (5). This just perpetuates the cycles of sugar addiction which we’re trying to break. Balance is key so adjusting your juice to suit your lifestyle over time will just come naturally.
Grow Your Own Vegetables and Herbs
Growing your own nutrient dense additions isn’t really that complicated, and you don’t have to go all out.
There are so many ways to grow food in small spaces, from embracing the potential of a rooftop garden on your building, to having a small windowsill filled with edible plants.
Growing your own produce is cheap but its also inspiring, its amazing to watch the little plants grow into their own and empowering to know you saw them every step of the way.
Start small, plant a few of your favorite, easy to grow herbs in a good organic soil. Some ideas would be fresh mint, cilantro, chives and basil. You can buy plants that are already started and transfer them to a larger growing space, or you can start them from seed.
For a more detailed guide on growing your own food in small spaces look here (6).
When starting plants from seed you want to start them in a small space and gradually increase the size of their growing space as they get bigger.
For example, you might start a seed in an eggshell filled with organic soil. Once the seed germinates and begins to take root you can transplant to a larger pot. Baby seedlings love sunny and warm spaces.
How to Grow Your Own Micro Greens
- Simply find a tray that is up to 2 inches deep and fill it with either soil or a combination of coconut husks (sold at garden stores) and worm castings. Make sure your growing medium is nice and moist before spreading your favorite seed over the surface.
- Lightly sprinkle some of the medium over the seeds, and cover with an equal sized top to retain moisture while the seeds germinate, this process will usually take a few days.
- Once the seeds have germinated, uncover them and store in a sunny warm spot until they’ve reached the desired size, usually after about 2 weeks.
- Keep them nice and moist, using a spritzer to avoid damaging the small plants. When the micro greens are ready for harvest, snip them at their base and enjoy within a few days.
Some fantastic types of micro greens include
Benefits of Eating Sprouts
Sprouts are a great addition to fresh juices as they are chock full of enzymes and nutrients. They’re also the easiest way to start growing some of your own food! All you need to make sprouts is your favorite seed or seed blend and a jar with a piece of fine mesh covering the top. There are plenty of fancy sprouting products on the market but they aren’t truly necessary.
How To Grow Sprouts
- Soak the seeds in 3 times their amount of water for 6-12 hours. Ex. 2 Tbs seeds soaked in 6 Tbs of water.
- Drain and rinse well a few times. Store the seeds in a sunny warm spot upside down in a small bowl where excess water can drain out.
- Within 2-3 days your sprouts will start to grow, keep rinsing them 2-3 times daily until they’ve reached their desired size. Depending on the type of sprout you may have to remove the seeds hulls before you eat them.
- Store in a plastic bag lined with some paper towel and consume within a few days.
Some of my favorite sprouts are broccoli sprouts, the reason being not just that they’re delicious but they also contain high levels of sulfuraphane.
This potent cancer killing antioxidant is more abundant in broccoli sprouts than any other food. The therapeutic value of sulfuraphane is not to be discounted in a world ridden with harmful free radicals.
It’s been found to be particularly protective against hormonal cancers such as breast cancer (7) and prostate cancer (8). Sulforaphane also has neuroprotective properties in treating people who’ve experienced spinal cord injury (9).
All sprouts have their unique benefits, not only are they a tasty addition to your diet they contain incredible anti-inflammatory properties.
Most of the studies done on sprouts are on broccoli sprouts, however findings do show that buckwheat sprouts are effective in reducing inflammation in lipopolysaccharide activated human colon cancer cells and mice (10).
Daikon radish sprouts and mung bean sprouts seem to have some therapeutic value in treating diabetes (11) (12). Mung bean sprouts have also been shown to have anti-tumor properties (13). Nearly all sprouts contain Isoliquiritigenin (ISL) compounds which are chemoprotective and high in antioxidants (14).
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
For those of us looking to increase energy and drop a few pounds, juicing is a great option as are green smoothies. Juice fasts have been popularized in mainstream media but they aren’t necessarily the right approach.
Most of us lead high demand lifestyles and getting everything we need from juice just doesn’t work out. However, fasting has long been a component of a healthy human diet, thinking back to our ancestors it makes sense that they wouldn’t constantly have access to food.
We’ve grown used to consuming food all the time, some people even adhere to the six small meals a day principle. The truth is, if we want to function optimally its a good idea to fast for short periods.
Fasting actually has been shown to promote longevity and lengthen lifespan (15). It gives the body a chance to recalibrate and rest and digest, it also is an opportunity for the body to use up stored fat.
This is what happens when the body enters ketosis. Intermittent fasting is a short term fast, typically in conjunction with some sort of nourishing and easy to digest fuel source.
Using juices to fuel the body for short spurts of intermittent fasting is more sustainable than going for days without food, and just as effective.
How to Practice Intermittent Fasting
Start by getting a great nights sleep, in the morning make a big fresh pressed juice mainly composed of vegetables. Here’s a great stand by recipe to start off with, you can adjust it to what is seasonal and abundant in your area.
Morning Juice for Intermittent Fasting
- 3-4 kale leaves
- handful spinach leaves
- handful of fresh cilantro
- handful fresh sprouts or micro greens
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger
- 1 lemon, skin removed
- 1 green apple
- 3 celery stalks
- 2 carrots
- 1 beet
Cut everything small enough to fit through your juicers opening. Process and stir well before consuming.
For the rest of the morning don’t consume anything, this will bring the body into a state where it can use up fat stores but you’ll still have energy from the juice.
Gradually you can lengthen the amount of time in the fasting state but for most people you’ll want to have a good meal around lunch time with plenty of fat and no sugar.
Fasting in general, as well as intermittent fasting has been associated with lower improved insulin sensitivity (16) and lower oxidative stress markers (17), its a neuroprotective (18) and anti-inflammatory (19) practice as well as an obvious aid with weight loss.
Beat Cravings with Juicing
Juicing is an ideal way to boost energy and give our bodies the nutrients they really need. Often we experience food cravings because our bodies are lacking a vital nutrient in the diet (20). For example when we crave sugar, often its because we’re lacking in the mineral chromium. Juicing a wide array of fruits and vegetables ensures we get the nutrients we need and helps with the incessant cycle of food cravings.