Turkey Tracks: May 27, 2011
My niece, Lauren Howser Black, is starting to experiment with juicing–which she shared on Facebook.
I am trying to figure out juicing myself and am slowly coming to some conclusions.
First, all food is made up of three ingredients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Protein and fat are the building blocks of the body. They are absolutely necessary for ideal human health. Carbohydrates are, apparently, not, since one can get every single nutrient, vitamin, enzyme, etc., one needs from meat alone. (This information comes most recently from Gary Taubes in WHY WE GET FAT–which I covered in Tipping Points Essays 29 and 30.)
We eat carbs to give ourselves energy. And, they taste really good for the most part as most are yummy fruits and vegetables. But, the plant kingdom has been vastly misunderstood for some time. Plants are chemically based, and they can pack a powerful punch. For instance, all the major drugs that really work come from plants. And, plants have chemicals that are absolutely addictive for humans. Sugar and grains are an example.
Second, humans do not handle cellulose well at all. Unlike cows, we don’t have four stomachs full of bacteria specifically meant to break down cellulose, in the form of grass. Our system is much closer to dogs. We have a single stomach, longer intestines, and bacteria specializing in processing meat and fats. When we overload them with cellulose, we set up gut conditions that make us sick since all that bulk in the gut, according to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who wrote GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME, starts preventing the absorption of the good nutrients we need.
Third, humans really do not handle sugars well at all. Sugars of all kinds throw off the delicate balance of our digestive system–which, in turn, causes the host of chronic diseases associated with people who have settled in one place and are growing, particularly, grains. You’ll recognize some on the following list: arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, schizophrenia, and cancer. Autoimmune and inflammatory conditions abound. These all appear alongside developmental degradation, like crooked teeth and bad eyesight. Hunter-gatherers and nomad herders, on the other hand, have been and are (yes there are still some in the world) disease free. [This kind of assessment is widely discussed. Here, I’m using Lierre Keith’s recounting of this history in THE VEGETARIAN MYTH (139+). She is, in turn, drawing on the work of Dr. Loren Cordain, who has worked extensively with archeological evidence of what earlier people ate and how it affected their bodies.]
Given this information, one might avoid all carbs. I think that would be hard, and most hunter-gatherers and nomadic herders foraged for greens, tubers, seasonal fruits (which were much less sweet than our fruit today), and the like. Plus, we are surrounded with eye-catching produce all year around. AND, one has to consider, also, that juicing has long had a place in healing circles. Maybe it works to detoxify the body–short term–but long-term health requires nutrient dense foods. Vegetables are not nutrient dense. Period.
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride absolutely holds a place for juicing in the GAPS diet. (I wrote about GAPS in Tipping Points 31.) But, she is dealing with a population of sick people (autism, in particular) who have significant gut issues. (There is a growing recognition that autism almost always has a particular profile of an impaired digestive system AND that autistic people crave carbohydrates and have very limited diets.) I know I have a gut issue–it was the root cause of my food allergy issues. I suspect most Americans today do, given all the grains, other carbs, processed food, and chemicals they’re eating.
Dr. Max Gerson was one of the pioneers of healing the body through, among other practices, juicing. But, he also used infusions of raw liver as well.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has an interesting web page and who wrote THE NO-GRAIN DIET, juices–but mostly green vegetables.
So, how to think about this issue?
It’s pretty clear that fruit juices are really high in sugar and offer a terrible jolt to the system. Fructose sugars are particularly difficult for the body to handle and cause elevated insulin levels. No one should ever drink commercial fruit juices. If one is struggling with obesity, too much fructose can and does lead straight down a road that has stops at diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and so on. But, what about vegetable juices?
I have a Vita-Mix, which pulverizes whatever goes in, so I have to think about all the added cellulose as well. I’ve decided I need to strain whatever I am going to mix up.
Let’s start with a seemingly balanced approach. Campbell-McBride says juicing is a great way to get nutrients without all the cellulose. She advocates about a 50-50 ration of fruits to vegetables. The sweet in the fruits make the good of the vegetables drinkable–especially for picky eaters. And, the GAPS work shows that some fruits help heal the gut. She recommends two cups of juice a day total. Here are some of her suggestions:
Pineapple, carrot, and a little bit of beetroot (5% total) in the morning prepares the digestive system for the coming meals.
Carrot, apple, celery, and beetroot cleanses the liver.
Green juices from leafy veggies (spinach, lettuce, parsley, dill, carrot, and beet tops) with some tomatoe and lemon chelate heavy metals and provide magnesium and iron.
Here’s a list of vegetables she uses: carrot, beetroot (5% of mixture only), celery, cabbage, lettuce, greens (spinach, parsley, dill, basil, fresh nettle leaves, beet tops, carrot tops, white and red cabbage)
And, her list of fruits comes from the GAPS approved fruits. She also really likes black elderberry as an immune builder.
The Green Approach. Dr. Mercola does not permit fruit juice because of the elevated levels of sugar. I’m not sure I see the difference between eating an apple and juicing it, however, especially since I have this new sensibility about all the cellulose in the apple itself. Anyway, his juicing is confined to green vegetables. He avoids carrots, beets, and squashes.
Here’s his beginner green drink: 2 stalks of celery, 1 cucumber, 2 stalks of fennel.
He recommends starting with 1 or 2 ounces and adding to that until you are drinking 12 ounces at a time.
He recommends mixing mild greens (lettuces, but not iceberg; endive, escarole, spinach, cabbage) with stronger veggies (kale, collard, dandelion greens, mustard greens), and adding herbs, eggs (1 to 4), and some flavorings (1 Tablespoon coconut that is whole fresh grated or unsweetened dry from a health food store, 1 Tablespoon fresh cranberries, 1/2 lemon, 1 inch ginger root).
Hmmmm. I’d have to work up to liking these green mixtures. But, it’s something about which to think. I would caution that spinach and chard have high levels of oxalates which can give you kidney stones if eaten in excess. Also, I really like the cookbook THE GARDEN OF EATING, Rachel Albert-Matesz and Don Matesz. She has a few juiced drinks as well, but has a Vita-Mix and one eats everything.
CAUTION: YOU MUST USE ORGANIC PRODUCE! If you want to be healthy, you cannot consider eating anything that is full of poisons. Juicing for health when you’re using a tainted food defeats your whole purpose. The Environmental Working Group now has a web site listing what poisons are on our foods: http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/
I juiced a mixture of fruits and veggies today, and we drank it for lunch. I used too many fruits. It was sweet and good, but I had a headache an hour later. I think for the moment I’m going to stick with my homemade yogurt, egg, coconut oil, fruit smoothies for the moment, with more limited fruit included. And, a tonic of raw eggs, lemon juice, and honey. Maybe I’ll play around with Mercolas more green suggestions. But, we eat so many fresh, locally grown greens and bone-broth soups, that maybe I don’t need the juicing thing. I am worried about too much fruit and weight loss, which I need to do. Hey! I just read that cinnamon is MAGIC for getting tired, insulin-resistant cells to give up fat. Will add it to my smoothie in the morning. I do like Campbell-McBride’s suggestions–just have to curb the urge to put in more fruit.