Juicing has become big business in the last few years. In fact, it’s estimated that around half of young people drink at least one juice a day. Though the same can’t be said for the older generation. Sure fruit can be high in sugar, but can this be outweighed by the health benefits that juicing brings?
As we age, we could all do with an extra boost of vitamins. While juicing shouldn’t replace eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet for seniors, there are many benefits to consuming them in their liquid form. But first, let’s look at exactly what juicing is.
What is juicing?
Juicing is simply the process of extracting the juice from fresh fruit and vegetables. The liquid contains most of the vitamins and minerals found in the fruit, but it may also contain plant chemicals (phytonutrients) too. It’s recommended all adults eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to help keep us healthy, and some believe that juicing is better than eating whole fruits and vegetables because your body can absorb the nutrients better. However, whole fruits and vegetables also have healthy fibre, which is lost during most juicing.
What are the health benefits of juicing for older adults
Fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. And they’re an easy way to incorporate more fruit, and more importantly, more vegetables into your diet. This is especially important as seniors’ can often lose their appetites and lack vital nutrients, so a glass of juice, high in antioxidants, can help improve overall health if they’re unable to consume a large meal.
Here are some of the many health benefits juicing can bring:
- Helps maintain a healthy immune system
- Increased energy levels
- Can help ease pain and reduce inflammation
- Improves hydration and digestion
- Can improve concentration and mood
- Helps maintain healthy hair, skin and nails
Which fruit and vegetables contain the most nutrients?
You may be wondering, which fruit and vegetables are best to juice. Although you can juice just about any fruit or vegetable, and all contain vital nutrients, some are better for us than others.
- Kale – This superfood is a must for your shopping list. It’s extremely high in vitamin K (be careful if you take certain medications), and it’s also rich in vitamins A and C. If consumed regularly, it has been found to decrease blood pressure and the risk of diabetes.
- Apples – By far the most popular fruit in the UK, they’re a great option for a tasty, sweet juice. Apples are packed with antioxidants, which help to cleanse your digestive system, and lower cholesterol. They even give your immune system a good boost too, to help keep those pesky bugs at bay.
- Carrots – As they’re slightly sweet, carrots make a great juice ingredient. They’re a good source of vitamin A, potassium, and biotin, and they really are good for your eyes (that’s because they contain carotenoids). They’re usually pretty cheap to buy, and can be mixed with a variety of other fruit and vegetables to make an array of delicious juices.
- Citrus – Perhaps the easiest fruits to juice, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, etc) are rich in vitamin C. They can also help to reduce inflammation, and can play an important role in preventing conditions such as diabetes, cancer and neurological disease.
- Beetroot – This ingredient may be a surprise to some, but they have amazing benefits. They’re rich in folate, potassium, and manganese, and consuming regularly has been proven to lower blood pressure and reduce overall risk of heart disease. Combine with any green fruit or veg for a truly nutritious drink.
- Berries – Packed with antioxidants, berries come in all shapes and sizes, and all have a host of great benefits. Blueberries can help with urinary tract infections and digestion issues, and strawberries help your cardiovascular system. They’re also delicious, and will make a yummy juice whatever you decide to combine them with.
- Wheatgrass – This popular juicing vegetable is packed with vital nutrients, providing plenty of iron, phosphorus and magnesium. Although it can be a little on the pricier side, it can be added to just about any juice to give it a real nutritional boost.
What simple juices can I make?
While drinking juices can’t magically make all your ailments disappear, the natural nutrients found in fruit and vegetables can help to ease pain, reduce inflammation, and boost your immune system. And certain juice combinations can have a targeted and overall beneficial effect on the body. Why not give some of these juices a try?
- Good for joint pain – Juice together carrots, ginger, parsley and leeks. Ginger and leeks are high in antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals that can help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
- Immune system & cardiac health – Combine pomegranate, orange and garlic. Pomegranates lower cholesterol and blood pressure and increase the speed at which heart blockages dissolve.
- Best for digestion – Team papaya, kale, cabbage, ginger and lemon to make a juice which can help with digestive issues. Papaya contains papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins, while ginger relaxes the intestinal tract and reduces gas. And cabbage helps clean waste from the stomach and upper bowls to reduce constipation.
- Energy boosting – If you have a dip in energy mid-afternoon, then try a simple juice to give you a little boost. A delicious blend of watermelon, fresh mint and ginger is super refreshing. And watermelons contain the highest concentration of lycopene of any fruit or vegetable. This powerful antioxidant can improve heart health and can even lower the risk of certain types of cancer.
What type of juicer is best?
You don’t need to rush out and buy the most expensive juicer to get your daily juice fix. You can buy a juicer for as little as £20, but it’s good to understand the three main types: Slow juicers, centrifugal juicers, and citrus juicers, before you make your decision.
- Citrus juicers – This is your bog standard, classic juicer which you’ll likely be the most familiar with. These are the simplest and easiest to use, but they can only be used for citrus fruits. They are small so only require minimal space, and you don’t have to peel your fruit or remove seeds beforehand. Although if you’re juicing a lot in one go, remember to empty the strainer periodically as they are prone to build up, which will only slow the process down.
- Centrifugal juicers – These fast juicers throw fruit and vegetables into a spinning sieve basket with sharp blades on the bottom. They quickly separate the juice from the pulp, and tend to be cheaper and easier to clean than slow juicers. But they are often noisier, and not as good for juicing greens and soft fruits.
- Slow juicers – Also known as masticating or cold press juicers, slow juicers use a slow-moving rotating screw or gears to gently crush fruit and vegetables and squeeze it through a strainer, while the pulp is dispensed from another spout. The slow, gentle process is believed to preserve nutrients better than high speed juicers that generate heat. But they do tend to be more expensive, and trickier to clean. You’ll usually need to chop fruit and veg into small pieces too.
What are the dangers of juicing for older adults?
Although there are many benefits to juicing, it’s important to be aware of some of the dangers too. It’s recommended that you only consume one 150ml glass of juice a day, which counts as one of your five portions of fruit and veg a day. The other four portions should be made up of whole fruits. This is because fruit juice contains high sugar levels which if consumed too much, can lead to weight gain and obesity. This in turn can cause high blood pressure, hypertension, stroke and diabetes. So everything in moderation!
You also need to watch those leafy greens, as many green juices can interact with medications. If you’re taking blood thinners, or cholesterol or diabetes medication, consult a healthcare professional to make sure it’s safe to consume green juices.
It’s always advisable to consult a GP or nutritionist before making big changes to your diet. But, juicing carrots, apples, pears, oranges, and berries are safe for most seniors, as long as they are not diabetic. And this extra dose of nutrients can be vital in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.