Aging gracefully

Aging gracefully

Discover the fountain of youth at your local juice bar

By Sheila Mendes-Coleman 01/23/2014

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Oscar Wilde said it best: “Wisdom comes with winters.” But it is also true that along with a certain amount of life experience and insight, aging can take its toll on the body and mind and leave even the most self-assured grasping for quick fixes, alternative new-age remedies and current trends in search of the fountain of youth.
Juicing has become a popular trend with both young and old and boasts a loyal following that swears by its restorative, healing and energizing properties. Since our bodies are better able to digest liquid vegetables than in raw form, many who previously eschewed a daily regimen of green vegetables find it much more palatable to consume them in liquid form. While there is still room for speculation on some of the more fanciful claims from juicing devotees, it’s clear that it’s become more than a trendy alternative to dieting. Those who juice report a significant increase in energy and an improved appearance, with healthier skin, nails and hair being among the more widely recognized benefits. 

When combined with certain fruits, vegetable juicing can also be used as a substitution for one or more meals to trim off a few pounds quickly and safely. Since less energy is required to digest foods in liquid form, juicing is often seen as a way to give one’s digestive system a rest, while simultaneously boosting the daily vitamin and mineral intake. Although juicing removes beneficial fiber from the foods consumed in this manner, it is still considered a viable option for the health-conscious. As we age, our bodies may have increasing difficulties consuming and absorbing the nutrients necessary to age well, and juicing offers those on restrictive diets or under a physician’s care a way to maintain their health without supplements or unnecessary medications — a common complaint of those heading towards their senior years. 

Due to the rise in popularity of juicing, juice bars have become de rigueur in the city. In Pasadena alone, there are several devoted solely to offering variations on the standard carrot-and-green-vegetable juice. According to Frank Gonzalez of Rock It Juice Bar in Pasadena, and an avid juicer, “The trend is towards cold press juicing now that customers are becoming more educated about the differences in processing and the increased benefits of cold press juicing.”

When asked about his biggest seller, Gonzalez says “Go Green is our biggest seller. It contains kale, spinach, parsley and chard. Lots of juice bars around add turmeric, but we also add ginger and red bell pepper for an extra kick.” Additionally, juicing equipment is more affordable and offers a wider variety of styles, models and pricing than in previous years. On the lower end, centrifugal juicers grind, then strain the produce in high-speed fashion at 15,000 rpm and may give you the best bang for your buck. But many experts report that this high-speed processing generates too much heat and may break down or remove certain key enzymes in the finished product and often result in a lower finished volume — and lowered general nutritional value. The resulting froth/foam from juicing with centrifugal juicers is from the introduction of air into the juice product (oxygenation), and certain nutrients and/or enzymes are rendered inactive by the addition of this oxygen. Still, for the beginning or occasional juicer, it remains an attractive, affordable option, ranging in price from $100 to $300, depending on the model. 

On the other hand, masticating juicers, also known as “cold press juicers,” typically function with one gear and process the food at a much lower rate of 80-110 rpm in a “chewing” motion and can leave you with more product to consume and less enzyme destruction due to the lower-speed rotation of the blades. The resulting pulp from juicing with a masticating juicer is drier, and thus means more juice and nutrients have been extracted in the process. A key drawback to the masticating juicers is that the user is required to do more chopping and cutting of the fruits and vegetables prior to processing through the juicer, since the single blade and low speed can cause larger pieces to jam and clog. Despite the extra work, masticating juicers are a fabulous mid-priced option, with prices ranging from $200 to $400. 

Triturating juicers, also known as twin juicers with two interlocking augers (or blades) and longer gears, allow the juicing ingredients to move slowly in concert with one another, and offers a more effective juice-pulp separation at about 200 rpm. The user has more options in terms of the types of produce that can be juiced and there is considerably less prep-time. Triturating juicers can also be used to make homemade baby food, butters, pastas and frozen desserts and also leave much less nutrition-killing foam skimming the top. 

These juicers can be a pricey but worthy expenditure, with top models ranging from $300 to $1,000 and up. Regardless of which model you choose, be prepared to promptly refrigerate any unused portion and consume your juice within 10 to 12 hours of juicing for best results, although those with triturating juicers can enjoy several days use from a single portion, since the twin blades cut down on the amount of oxidizing foam substantially, which, in turn, helps it retain more nutrients.

On a personal note, my own experience living with a “juicer” shows me that it can be a wise choice for those who want a healthier lifestyle, but may not necessarily have the time or wherewithal for a drastic diet overhaul or an increased exercise regimen. My husband has been juicing for several years, and he reports a tremendous increase in energy, stamina and strength — particularly directly after consuming the juice. Since being diagnosed with high-cholesterol a few years ago, he’s been able to lower his cholesterol count and his blood-pressure is stable. On a recent juice fast, he’s lost several pounds and the various types of fruits and vegetables available for him to juice keep him from being bored with his liquid diet. 

It’s become a fun game for me as I shop; what types of fruits and vegetables I can get for him to prevent the monotony that many who juice report. According to what is in season (and on sale), I have incredible choice on what types of produce to bring home. I’ve found that many stores are beginning to have sections specifically devoted to juicing products, which makes selection even easier. 

The health benefits of juicing are indisputable, and along with increased consumer interest and an array of new products available, it’s a sound way to drink to your health in our rapidly aging world. 

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