By Pat Crocker

Juicing has many, almost too many, benefits to list. And you may find that some benefits you just can’t know until you experience them. If you get into the habit of making and consuming fresh juices twice a day, you’ll sense the juice instantly release nourishment into your bloodstream.

Contributing to your daily intake of fruits and vegetables

Many health professionals and institutions tell you how many fruits and vegetables to eat in a day, and as long as their minimum numbers are no less than five, they aren’t exactly wrong. If you eat at least seven and closer to ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily, the antioxidants and other phytonutrients will help reduce the risk of modern diseases such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, asthma, macular degeneration, and diverticulosis.

You can dramatically increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables by drinking smoothies and juices. That’s where juicing comes in. A single glass of juice may consist of one apple, two carrots, one beet, a piece of ginger, and half a lemon. It delivers a full serving of fruit, along with three servings of vegetables — all in one drink.

Preventing modern diseases

People don’t get scurvy nowadays, but from as far back as Hippocrates in 400 b.c., it was a dreaded and fatal disease. Long-voyage sailors ate fresh lemons or limes to prevent scurvy (hence the nickname “limeys” for Englishmen). The action of preventing scurvy was called antiscorbic long before anyone knew about vitamin C.

The discovery of vitamin C around the turn of the 20th century was a major turning point for food research. People have come a long way in understanding just what’s in the foods they eat. Today they know the science behind what the ancients knew from experience — that fruits and vegetables actually prevent diseases. They also know that they need to eat a wide variety to ensure that they get the full spectrum of offered nutrients. Here’s a quick highlight of what juices and smoothies have to offer:

  • Fiber

  • Antioxidants

  • Phytonutrients

  • Vitamins and minerals

Phytonutrients and trace elements are like keys opening the door for vitamins and minerals to be taken up by the body. They’re missing from manufactured supplements, so the body misses out on all the benefits from the vitamin or mineral you thought it was getting.

Building a stronger immune system

Immunology (the study of the immune system) is a growing and dynamic field. The immune system includes the lymphatic organs (thymus, spleen, tonsils, and lymph nodes) and white blood cells, along with other specialized cells. Its prime function is to protect the body against infection and diseases.

Factors that cripple the immune system are stress, free radicals, nutritional deficiencies, sugar, obesity, fats in the blood, and alcohol. So it makes sense to eliminate those factors from your life.

You’ve taken the first step in building a stronger immune system by becoming interested in your health. Optimal immune function requires a healthy diet (including juices), exercise, and a positive mental attitude.

Improving memory

Memory and cognition problems can be a result of many things, including poor nutrition and amino acid balance, allergies, candidiasis (yeast infection), thyroid disorders, low blood sugar, and poor circulation to the brain. However, a general decline in mental performance is caused most often by free radical damage. Juicing with fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants protects all the body’s cells, including the brain, from the ravishing effects of the unstable oxidizing free radicals.

Increasing energy

The process of digestion, something most people never think about, can be so complex and take so much energy. Digestion involves chewing and grinding food, as well as chemical processes that require enzymes to release small nutrients into your system to break food into smaller molecules. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats all require a different set of enzymes to unlock their key components. And the whole process takes energy.

When you present your digestive system with pure raw fruit or vegetable juice, there is no digestive process that has to take place because the nutrients in the water have already been extracted from the carbohydrate and fiber. So you give your digestive system a break and allow the energy that would have gone into breaking down the food go to repairing and ­protecting cells.

Improving sex drive

Hormones hold the key to sexual desire or the ability to function sexually. A healthy, high-fiber, low-fat diet; exercise; and freedom from stress, especially psychological issues, all can contribute to sexual vitality. Raw foods, especially vegetables, contribute to hormone health and healthy libido.

Both vitamin C and zinc have been shown to assist in the production of testosterone and sperm. The best Vitamin C juice sources are cabbage, strawberries, spinach, citrus fruit, broccoli, kale, and peppers. The best zinc juice sources are ginger, turnips, parsley, carrots, garlic, spinach, cabbage, and grapes.

Improving digestion and elimination

As people age, their stomachs produce less acid, and breaking down food becomes a problem — it seems to occur between the ages of 35 and 45. If the body isn’t digesting food properly, the nutrients don’t enter the bloodstream, and all sorts of deficiencies can occur, even if you’re eating normally.

Drinking raw fruit and vegetable juices gives your body a break by delivering ready-to-use nutrients. There are also some excellent digestive enzymes found in some fruits, vegetables, and herbs including pineapple, papayas, fennel, ginger, and licorice.

Fiber is the one key factor in the body’s ability to eliminate waste on a regular basis. Include sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet by opting for plant foods, smoothies, and vegetable juices.

Losing weight

Because it impacts heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, obesity (defined as being 20 percent over the recommended weight) is considered to be a leading cause of heart disease, cancer, and ultimately, death in the United States.

Juice from fresh fruits and vegetables is virtually fat-free, and juice from vegetables is low in sugar. Drink them on a regular basis, and two things happen: You start to lose your appetite for high-fat, high-calorie junk foods, and you start to feel better, with more energy to get up and get active.

Getting clearer skin and healthier nails and hair

Nutritional deficiencies show up first in your hair, nails, and skin, and juicing is the best way to address low levels of nutrients at the cellular level. Here are some vital nutrients for clear skin and healthy nails and hair:

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin E

  • B-complex vitamins

  • Biotin

  • Iron