Juice cleanses are becoming more and more popular day by day. As a nation that loves novelty, we embraced the newly found panacea and categorically proclaimed that juicing will save the health of the sick and overweight nation.
Very few people making juices or writing about juice cleanses consider the unique, individual nature of people. Does juicing work for everyone? Is it safe to do in the same way as your friend (same vegetables, same times of the day, same quantities)?
According to Ayurveda, an ancient science of health, what is nectar for one can be poisonous for another. It all depends on your inborn constitution, your current state of health and digestion, seasonal changes, and emotional state. Very few recommendations are generalized across the board in Ayurvedic science. Same goes for juicing.
I asked seven of my favorite Ayurvedic experts about their opinion on Juicing and Ayurveda. I asked them two questions:
• Do you juice and if yes, what, when, and how?
• What do you think about the new trend of juicing and juice cleanses?
The answers are very diverse and thought-provoking! I covered the first question on Spinach and Yoga and will share the 2nd one exclusively on my favorite wellness website, MindBodyGreen.
Question: What do you think of the current growing trend of raw foods and juice cleanses?
Claudia Welch - Ayurveda recommends tailoring diet according to each person’s individual proclivities, strengths and challenges. There is no one diet routinely prescribed for all people. Cleanses are at least initially depleting to the body and should be undergone with care and caution. First of all, we would want to consider which is stronger: the person’s constitution, or their disorder. Raw food and juice cleanses could be beneficial for folks who are pretty strong to begin with, and under appropriate guidance of an experienced health care practitioner.
Claudia has been a huge inspiration for me. You can learn about her work here and check out her must-read book for women Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life.
Felicia Tomasko - When it comes to the current craze for juices and juice cleanses, overall I love them—with a note of caution. Many juices (even veggies) can deliver an intense dose of sugar to the body that is quickly absorbed (because of the lack of fiber in juices). Also, some juices can increase or provoke the vata (air/ether or space) dosha. A diet that is limited to juice by its very nature will increase the vata dosha, because juice is light and cold, so overindulging or an extended juice fast can provoke the vata dosha. Alternating with warm teas or adding a bit of oil to juice can mitigate this effect a bit. Choosing a season or climate that is conducive to juice fasting is also important. While we can remember the old adage of everything in moderation, we can also remember that it is always important to listen to the body. If the spacey factor starts to increase and we begin misplacing our keys, having trouble falling asleep at night, or feel extra cold, it might be time to switch up our cleanse a bit. Remember that even the freshest fresh-pressed juices are only one component of a healthy, balanced diet—no matter the philosophy.
Felicia Tomasko, RN, is the editor-in-chief of LA YOGA and Find Bliss. She serves on the board of directors of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine and the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and teaches in the studio and online at Yogaglo.
Ivy Ingram - I believe the current trend towards juicing reflects our culture’s attraction to quick fixes, using detox strategies to “undo” eating habits that we recognize are not very healthy in the first place. Ayurveda advises detoxification through periodic monofasts (simple cooked foods of very limited variety) and eating well-cooked, seasonal, whole, organic foods as a general practice. For those who like juicing, the following suggestions may reduce the negative effects:
• Add fresh ginger (to increase agni).
• Do not combine fruits and vegetables.
• Keep the juice room temperature, not ice cold.
• Eat some solid food as well. Do not do juice-only fasts for very long.
• Engage in Vata-pacifying practices throughout the day, like seated meditation, gentle yoga, and self-massage with oil. Reduce over-stimulation of the mind and senses by turning off the TV and the Internet, and spend time immersed in the rhythms and sounds of nature.
Monica Bloom – Overall, I think juicing is a good way to sneak in veggies and fruits if you otherwise skip out on them! If people can fit in their veg and fruits in a juice and feel amazing, then by all means do it. Listening to our bodies and how they respond to what we are eating is the best tool we have. One thing I would caution is having raw juices first thing in the morning, because our digestive fire is just waking up. Putting anything cold, damp, uncooked on our tiny fire, especially in the morning, will put it out and hamper digestion for the entire day. It's better to have the juice as a snack at 10 am or at noon before lunch when our digestive fire (and the sun, that big fire in the sky!) is the strongest.
Monica is the creator behind heymonicab.com, Your Modern Guide to Living Healthy Through Ayurveda. Check it out! Her blog is full of amazing information and resources!
Linda Gobindoss - Just like Ayurveda would suggest, I believe that juicing, as well as a raw diet, should be done with regard to one’s constitution, the time of the year, the time of the day and while using vegetables and fruits which are locally grown and seasonal, as they contain the right dosage of vitamins and nutrients suitable to individuals living in that particular environment. If fresh vegetables/fruits are not naturally available in one’s region at a particular time of the year, one should not consume them. I am not a big fan of an exclusively raw diet throughout the year, and this is something that I would not recommend to everyone.
Gwen Nagano - In Ayurveda, raw foods are viewed as drying and draining on the digestive organs. When the intention is to build the tissues, raw foods will be a drain. When the intention is to reduce accumulation, then the use of raw foods and juices can be of benefit. Each body type needs to approach raw foods and juice cleansing with a unique approach. This is the beauty of Ayurveda as it provides us the system to understand our unique needs.
Gwen is a Certified Ayurvedic Wellness Consultant and Postpartum Doula. To learn more about Gwen's work, visit her website at gwennagano.com.
Eric Grasser - Juicing is a valuable part of cleansing since it provides adequate nutrients in a form which is easy to digest, absorb, and assimilate, while giving the digestion a rest from heavier, denser, more difficult-to-digest foods. Again, however, careful consideration must be given to one's overall constitutional imbalance when deciding how often and for how long to remain on a raw food only diet. If there is agitation in the nervous system, for example, such a diet can cause further imbalance.
Dr. Grasser is the founder and medical director of Unity Medicine, and is a primary care physician practicing Integrative Medicine. Dr. Grasser supports his patients through his extensive experience in Western Medical practice as well as his deep knowledge of the alternative healing systems of Ayurveda, Yoga and Functional Medicine. More at drgrasser.com
Do you juice? How and why? Please share what worked for you!