Interest in the consumption of raw foods and whole foods has been steadily increasing in recent decades as the real food movement gains popularity.
The key message of the movement is simply to encourage people to consume more fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods and drinks. The problem is that not everyone enjoys fruits and vegetables, and there is a limit to how much we can take at each meal. Some less palatable fruits and vegetables are also unpopular because of their taste or texture, although they are high in phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Examples include bitter gourd, green leafy vegetables, celery and others.
The easy solution to this is to take them in liquid form via juicing or blending. Juicing and blending allows faster absorption and the opportunity for a more diverse diet, because you can add some fruits and vegetables that you would normally not eat. Even if you love eating fruits and vegetables, juicing or blending them provides you additional benefits as they are more easily bioavailable in their liquid form.
This means they are better absorbed into the body and creates less stress on the digestive system. A word of caution though – although most vegetables can be taken raw, some are more beneficial when cooked. Avoid vegetables such as mushrooms, potatoes and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli for juicing or blending. Although juicing and blending both produce health benefits, blending is a better option for various reasons. Here’s why:
Sweet but short-acting juices
Juicing removes all the pulp and fibre from fruits and vegetables, leaving only a refreshing and potent juice extract from your favourite fruits and vegetables. Without the fibre and pulp, your digestive system doesn’t have to work so hard and can easily access the nutrients in the fruits and vegetables in their liquid form. This provides your immune system an immediate boost, helping your body to detoxify and reducing acidity, as well as toxicity, in the body.
Variety is key, not only to provide your body with diverse phytonutrients, but also to keep boredom at bay. However, not all fruits and vegetables work well in combination, and some combinations might cause digestive problems such as bloating or nausea. The easiest way would be to use apples, which can be safely combined with most fruits or vegetables.
Juicing allows you to take the nutrients from many sources all at once – such as five carrots, an apple, a kale and one cucumber – saving you the time to eat or process them. The problem with juicing is that the sugar in fruits is quickly absorbed, which makes you hungry very soon after. This might defeat your health programme by making you snack. Juices are also not suitable as meal replacements as they do not contain other essential nutritional elements, such as protein, fats and carbohydrates.
Don’t make the mistake of grabbing a fruit juice instead of having a proper meal when you are in a hurry or on a weight-loss diet. Diabetics also need to practise caution with their ingredient choices when juicing, as the fast absorption of fruits and vegetables with high sugar content, such as carrots, apples and pineapple, may cause a spike of blood glucose in the blood.
Yummy healthy smoothies
Blending fruits and vegetables means chopping them to a puree-like condition, complete with their skin and fibre. This makes it a good option as a meal replacement, because it contains all the nutrients you need and the fibre keeps you full for a good few hours. The fibre holds the nutrients together and provides a slow release into the bloodstream, making it safer for diabetics at risk of sugar spikes.
The best part is that it allows you to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into the daily diet, creating a balance you otherwise might not achieve. One way of achieving this is to create delicious thick soups and smoothies for days when your appetite is poor or you are rushing for time. Aim for a wide selection of ingredients for the most nutrient-dense smoothie ever.
Add some delicious fruits and top it up with a sprinkling of fibre, such as rice bran or wheat germ, and boost the taste with soy milk or coconut water, instead of normal water. Sugar is not necessary if you have included fruits such as mango, grapes, berries, pineapples or apples. For a tangy difference, use oranges, grapefruit or lemons.
Juices and blends can also be used as fruit or vegetable fasts in detoxification programmes to clear the body system from toxin overload. However, it is advisable to seek medical advice before you begin a fast of any sort. A freshly-made smoothie taken one hour before meals on an empty stomach helps clear the digestive system before food intake. If it is chock-full of nuts, oatmeal and other fibrous content, you find yourself eating less or skipping your main meal because you’re still full from your nutrient-filled smoothie.
The next time you want a quick healthy fix, skip the fruit juices and opt for blended smoothies instead. There’s no better way to literally drink your greens!
APRIL 4, 2015
BY DATUK DR NOR ASHIKIN MOKHTAR