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Juices: Gateway to Health and Beauty
by Dr. Anjana Maitra

Since time immemorial man has relied on fresh vegetables and fruit to supplement his diet. All of us are aware that vegetables and fruits contain a lot of minerals and vitamins which are beneficial for our health. Recent research has proved that drinking the juice of vegetables and fruits is a better option than having them as such.

Minty, tangy, delicious and cool, juices are a favorite with most people. Come summer and we are inexorably dragged to the corner fruit juice stall and a tall glass of chilled fruit juice instantly peps us up. We are offered a wide range of seasonal fruit to choose from – pineapple, mango, orange, grapes, pomegranate etc.

Earlier only naturopaths used to advise their patients to take juices. But today, with the advent of integrative medicine juices have entered the standard prescriptions of many physicians. This new found belief owes its existence to path-breaking research in the field of antioxidants, and to the discovery of a plethora of vital enzymes and nutrients found in most vegetables and fruits.

Research has showed that there are several advantages of fruit juices. Firstly, to get the amount of nutrients from raw sources would require large quantities of fruits and vegetables to be ingested. But if one takes only the juice, the amount is smaller. Secondly juices help to deliver enzymes to the body which are essential for all metabolic activities taking place in the system.

Thirdly if one consumes a lot of vegetables and fruits the roughage and lignin contained in all plants, while beneficial as ‘fiber’ in moderate quantities, are a burden to the digestive system specially for the ailing or the elderly.

Moreover there are liquids locked inside the tiny cells of plants, specially in vegetables, which get lost as indigestible roughage when taken whole. These organic chemicals which often color the fruits are found in oranges, lemons, tomatoes, cabbage etc. The principal bioflavonoids include several trace elements, vitamin K, ascorbic acid and a crystalline substance called hesperidin, mostly in the peel and pulp. By crushing and grinding the roughable fiber and the rinds of the vegetables, a centrifugal juicer will fully extract the vital nutrients from the plant cells the human stomach cant access.

Also juices are a provider of water, a substance essential for good health. So binging on juices in summer is an excellent way to keep dehydration at bay. Watermelon juice, coconut water, orange/pineapple/lemon juice are ideal to beat the heat. Juices are the best way to keep one’s system cool and light. Juices of carrot, cucumber and mint are also ideal for summer. The raw mango ‘panna’ has been satisfying parched throats down the ages and is very beneficial to combat the heat.

Most fruit juices are absorbed by the system within 15 minutes. Juices contain enzymes and are pre digested in several ways. Hence they provide the starving body with new energy without drawing upon too much of its vital energy for digestion. That is why patients are often advised to have juices. Those who have been fasting often break their fast with a glass of fruit juice.

Fresh citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges and lemon provide healthy portions of vitamin C. Carrot juice contains large quantities of vitamin A, in the form of beta carotene and is recommended for cancer patients. Several green juices are a great source of vitamin E. Also all fruit and vegetable juices are excellent sources of essential minerals like iron, copper, potassium, iodine and magnesium which are bound by the plant in a form that is most easily assimilated during digestion.

Fruit juices also act as cleansers of the human system. They purify the blood and cast out accumulated toxins from the cells. Vegetable juices, on the other hand, are the prime regenerators that help in the production of new cells to replace those which have either depreciated or have been destroyed by disease and faulty dietary habits.

Juices of different vegetables and fruits are used to cure a wide range of ailments including asthma, arthritis, allergies, heart diseases, obesity and even cancer. Juice therapy is the “in” thing today as it enables us to rejuvenate ourselves without the toxic effects of drugs and mega doses of artificial vitamins. With juices one can eliminate or prevent many chronic diseases, revitalize one’s blood, sharpen one’s nerves, rejuvenate glandular activity and restore the acid-alkaline balance of the system.
 
Obese people are often advised to remain primarily on a juice diet for a period of time as it leads to weight loss. However this should be done under expert guidance as every fruit and vegetable has its own combination of vitamins and minerals and every condition requires a customized menu.

Carrot juice is excellent as a general tonic. It combats fatigue, builds resistance to infections and protects the nervous system. It also purifies the blood and cleanses the intestines. Juices of all dark fruits (dark grapes, berry, cherry) are beneficial for those suffering from low blood pressure. The vitamin C found in ‘amla’ is beneficial for those with low blood sugar or those who get fatigued easily. Vegetable juices are better than fruit juices for those who suffer from diabetes as they contain less sugar. The juice of the ‘doodhi’ (water gourd) is not only the perfect antidote for toxins but is also very refreshing.

Most cities and towns today are dotted with juice stalls which attract a lot of eager customers, specially in summer. In fact it is always a better option to drink a glass of fresh juice than opt for a cola or other bottled drinks. Readymade juices in cans or tetra packs are also available and are ideal for travelling. Five star hotels offer a wide range of delicious vegetable and fruit juices both in fresh as well as canned forms. Fruit punches are also a favorite with many.

Fruit and vegetable juices are also excellent beauty aids. As the intake of juices cleanses our system this will first show on our skin, which loses its pale shade and acquires a pink, pristine glow. Lemon juice and honey taken in a glass of warm water every morning helps reduce weight.
 
The juices of sour fruits are often used to heal pigmentation, sunburn and dark patches. Beauty experts prescribe fruity cocktails for different skin problems. Orange juice and water melon juice are good for the skin. Orange juice mixed with crushed ice can act as a natural sunscreen. Extracts of strawberry, apricots, grapes, papaya and pineapple are used in many cosmetics.

A daily dose of carrot, lettuce and spinach juice furnishes vital missing nutrients to the roots of the hair and thereby stops hair loss and restores its natural color. Juice therapy is the only known way to stimulate hair growth in certain cases. This is because only juices can provide a range of vitamins, enzymes, minerals and trace elements that go into the formation of hair.

Thus the therapeutic uses of juices are widely recognized today. Juice therapy is an effective form of alternative therapy available in modern times and is useful both for health as well as for cosmetic purposes. So drink your way to health and beauty!

Image under license witth Gettyimages.com

19-Sep-2010
 
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