Boost Your Juice: Simple Ingredients With Major Benefits
Everyone has reasons to stay healthy, whether it’s to feel good, increase energy or just enjoy life. Yet, even those with the best intentions can encounter bumps and hurdles along the way. Maintaining your health is more like a marathon than a sprint. It’s what you do most of the time that really matters.
How can you create a routine to follow for the long-term and keep it simple?
Know Your Why
“It’s so important to know your ‘why,’” says Meryl Fury, MS, RN, a registered nurse for almost 30 years, working with underserved populations, whose personal mission is to make healthy habits accessible to everyone.
“Once you say it the first time, ask yourself why again, and keep trying to go deeper,” she explains. “So many people can find a reason that is deeply important to them, and it’s usually not just to fit into a dress, but something like to see a grandchild walk down the aisle or to raise your children without the burden of dealing with health issues like diabetes or high blood pressure.”
The “why is super important and it can change over time,” she encourages.
Whether it’s you or someone you know eating a standard American diet, Fury recommends starting by adding one more serving of vegetables a day, whether that’s a salad, juice or topping your favorite food like pizza with some extra vegetables.
“Just add one,” Fury says. “And then make it two. Start with one meal. Something not too threatening and keep adding from there.”
Fury is also president and CEO of Plant-Based Nutrition Movement, a Chicago-based non-profit with a mission to educate people about nutrition to sustain the health of the planet.1
Another way to sustain your health for the long-term is to drink more juice. If you’re getting bored with the same old green drink, it might be time to mix it up and get more creative in the kitchen.
Start with a little inspiration from whatever is happening in your life to inspire new flavors and ingredients.
Feel a cold coming on? Juice more citrus and vitamin C-rich foods and add a kick of ginger.
Wish you had more energy? Pick a super green juice full of chlorophyll. This plant pigment found in green vegetables is part of the process of photosynthesis, which creates energy and research has found it can help give us energy too.2
You don’t have to get fancy or complicated. In fact, you can easily boost your juice with simple ingredients to help you feel your best.
AN ENERGY BOOST
Many people want to maintain their energy throughout the day without major slumps. It’s a great goal that can easily happen as you add more plants to your diet.
“I don't often have people tell me that they’re feeling dips in energy when they start eating a more healthful diet,” Fury says. “Usually what they tell me is, ‘Oh my goodness, I never knew that I could feel this much energy.’ In fact, the research shows that people generally start feeling more energetic and want to start taking more walks or start a whole exercise program once they get more appropriate nutrient levels in their diet.”
It’s also no secret that the use of computers, smart phones, televisions have pulled many adults and kids from the natural world, which research has found to be a major energy zapper.3
“It is increasingly normal to spend little time outside,” according to the 2017 report.
Fury encourages going out and walking in nature as a way to naturally increase your energy.
“Absorb and be part of nature,” she says. “Go spend time in the woods, a nearby lake or river, or just a park. If that’s not an option, take a walk around the block. Not all neighborhoods are safe so walk places where you feel safe or walk in groups or with a friend, if that's what’s most appropriate, but start working to build your energy.
She says building your energy is just like building any muscle.
“If you can only do one walk around the block one time, that’s fine.” Fury says. “If you can go two times, go two and weeks later, you might work up to five, and then eventually 20.”
One ingredient that can naturally up the ante in your wellness routine is wheatgrass. Besides being full of energy-giving chlorophyll, it provides a powerhouse of nutrients and minerals such as vitamins A, C and E, along with iron, magnesium, calcium and 17 amino acids.4
Wheatgrass pairs well with pineapple in this Sweet Wheatgrass Wellness Shot or try a shot of wheatgrass juice with an equal amount of coconut juice.
IMPROVE GUT HEALTH
“Tending your gut bacteria is one of the most important parts of keeping your immune system strong and your whole body functioning well,” according to Dr. Frank Lipman, in his book The New Rules of Aging Well: A Simple Program for Immune Resilience, Strength, and Vitality. “And yes, this becomes a little more challenging as you get older.”
Lipman says that one reason for this shift is that as you age, digestive secretions such as gastric acid and pancreatic enzymes decrease, making digestion more difficult and creating imbalance in your microbiome. For those not familiar, the microbiome is a collection of microbes, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses that naturally live both on and inside our bodies.5 In fact, we have as many microbes as human cells.6
One way to help improve gut health and keep the microbiome happy is to try a shot of bitters or apple cider vinegar before meals. One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (you can dilute it with water) or a serving of Swedish bitters can naturally stimulate digestive enzymes.7 Apple cider vinegar also boasts other nutrients like amino acids, probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.8
You can also add these ingredients to a juice!
That bitter flavor is fundamental to better digestion, according to Urban Moonshine, a company that specializes in liquid herbal extracts like digestive bitters and herbal tonics.9 When you taste the flavor of bitterness, it helps strengthen your digestive response.
You can add more bitterness to your life by incorporating more dark leafy greens, drinking dandelion tea or adding bitters to your water and juice. Bitter flavors can help with a variety of digestive issues including occasional heartburn and indigestion, along with helping reduce gas and bloating.
Also, if you’ve made a juice that tastes a little too bitter, you can easily mellow out the flavor by adding a generous squeeze of lemon or lime to your glass.10
SUMMER SKIN CARE
When the weather warms up, maintaining healthy skin can be a top priority, especially if you exercise more outside. While it’s great to enjoy the fresh air, you also may get more sweaty, which can create more clogged pores and breakouts.
Thankfully, there’s an easy solution.
“Staying hydrated is an important goal in maintaining clear skin,” according to Miami-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Loretta Ciraldo in an article, noting that dehydrated skin cells are much more likely to get stuck in our pores.11
Of course, adding hydrating seasonal ingredients to your juices can help too, such as watermelon, pineapple, cucumber and celery, as what you consume plays a huge part in your skin health.
Environmental stressors, such as sunburns, can also cause free-radical damage to your cells, which can cause an inflammatory trigger resulting in dull or blotchy skin.
One ingredient that can help is fresh ginger root, a spice known for both its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show ginger can offer a soothing effect for damaged skin.12
Another important ingredient is a compound present in green tea known as EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). A 2018 study found it had antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, all of which can help with skin health.13
You can enjoy green tea in the morning or add iced green tea to your juice. Research shows that vitamin C can help increase antioxidant benefits of the green tea, so consider adding it to a juice with lemon or pineapple.14
Of course, a diet rich in vitamins and minerals along with proper water intake for your body is always a great way to keep your skin glowing.
SLEEP MORE SOUNDLY
These days, almost everyone is looking for more zzz’s. About one-third of U.S. adults struggle to get a good night of sleep, according to a 2022 sleep report.15
“Sleep does improve with an appropriate diet,” Fury says.
But many habits can get in the way of a restful sleep, such as late-night snacking or consuming too many stimulants like caffeine or sugar, or drinking alcohol, which can interrupt sleep cycles.
“If someone talks to me about sleep, whether it’s not getting enough rest or waking up feeling tired, I always recommend removing chemicals and refined foods from the diet,” Fury says. “I tell them instead to go for whole foods that have a more calming effect on the body.”
She also recommends a few herbs for better sleep, including chamomile and hibiscus flower tea.
“Another one that has a very strong odor, but is effective for sleep would be valerian root,” she recommends. “It’s not particularly nice to smell but works well for calming the system.”
Valerian is considered safe most adults for short-term use of about 28 days, according to The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.16
You can find these herbs in tea bags or as loose-leaf tea, and experiment with making your own sleepy-time juice mixture by combining one of these teas with juice a few hours before bedtime to help you relax.
Try a juice with kale or any leafy green rich in calcium, as this mineral helps sleep hormones do their job, according to the American Sleep Association.17 Studies also suggests that tart cherry juice (from sour or Montmorency cherries) may also help people sleep.18
Our Favorite Produce Available in July
BEST VEGGIES AND HERBS IN SEASON
This peppery green has a bitter flavor (good for gut health) and is great paired with sweet summer fruits in salads or juice. An early summer star, arugula is rich in folates and vitamins A, C and K.19
• Shopping tip: Look for firm leaves that are vibrant green and stay clear of bunches that have yellow or wilted leaves.
• Varieties: Many times, you will find arugula labeled as “baby arugula” with smaller leaves in a plastic bag and a more mild flavor. “Wild arugula” is a different variety with a more assertive flavor profile.
• Storage tip: Arugula is a tender green that can easily wilt only a few days after purchase. Plastic bags can seal in moisture and make this green mushy so wrap arugula in a paper towel instead and rinse right before using it.
Sweet basil is a fragrant summer herb that thrives in the heat. It also has specific health benefits for skin health. A 2011 study showed that basil contains properties that may contribute to skin health, as scientists found that a topical skin cream with basil extract helped improve skin hydration and reduced wrinkles.20 Just one tablespoon of fresh basil contains significant amounts of beta carotene, B vitamins and vitamin K.21
• Growing tip: If you are growing basil in your garden or in a container, be sure to prune and harvest it regularly to promote continuous growth. Always harvest from the top of the plant first.
• Varieties: Popular types include sweet, holy basil (also known as tulsi) or Thai.
• Storage tip: This herb keeps better at room temperature. Simply, trim the bottom of the stems and place a bunch of basil in a glass or mason jar of water, just like a bouquet of flowers.
Zucchini and yellow squash are versatile summer vegetables that can be enjoyed raw as noodles or added to juices, or cooked on the stove, grill or in an air fryer. Their mild flavor helps them soak up any sauce or dressing. Zucchinis are a plentiful source of carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin.22 The source of these powerful antioxidants is the skin, and yellow zucchinis may contain slightly higher levels than green ones.23
• Shopping tip: Look for squash with bright, shiny skin, free of cuts or bruises. Smaller zucchinis tend to have more flavor that larger ones.
• Varieties: Yellow and green are solid go-tos to consume all summer long.
• Storage tip: Store your squash in the crisper drawer and wash just before using.
BEST FRUITS IN SEASON
This tropical fruit thrives in warm weather. Many pineapples are imported from Central and South America throughout the year, but it gets a mention in July as the hot weather is an optimal time to enjoy it.24 In the U.S. varieties are grown in Hawaii, Florida and Puerto Rico.
Pineapple is loaded with vitamin C and manganese.25 It also contains significant amounts of bromelain, an enzyme that helps breaks down protein and one study suggests that bromelain could be helpful in treating osteoarthritis and other anti-inflammatory conditions.26
• Shopping tip: Finding a ripe pineapple can feel a bit mysterious, but there are a few clues that can help. Look for a pineapple that feels heavy, smells sweet and that you can easily pluck a leaf from the top.
• Prep Tip: Check out this 30-second video from Utah State University Extension to see how to cut a fresh pineapple.
• Storage tip: Pineapples are best kept at room temperature and laying on their side so all the juices don’t absorb in the bottom.
The perfect summer fruit, watermelon is refreshing, hydrating and full of good-for-you nutrients. One of its star compounds is lycopene, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that helps protect the body from free-radical stress known to damage cell structures.27 And don’t spit out the seeds if you can. One study found that they are high in protein, magnesium and good fats.28
Shopping tip: Just like pineapple, a ripe watermelon should feel heavy. See a yellow spot on your fruit? That’s a good sign. This spot, known as the field or ground spot is where the watermelon laid on the ground before harvest. The larger the spot, the more time it spent ripening and getting sweet.
Varieties: Look for wild berries. Berries that grow wild in the woods tend to be smaller and sweeter. Cultivated berries tend to be larger and grown on farms.
Storage tip: The USDA recommends leaving these melons at room temperature for best flavor and to maintain nutrients. You can keep it on the countertop out of direct sunlight. If you decide to cut it up, make sure the slices are tightly wrapped, in an air-tight storage container to preserve its texture and juiciness.
5 INGREDIENTS TO JUICE RIGHT NOW
- Arugula: use it to spice up your green juice
- Basil: a flavorful, antioxidant-rich summertime herb
- Zucchini: add this summer squash to any juice
- Pineapple: brings a little bit of sweetness and acidity to juices
- Watermelon: the perfect, hydrating summertime treat
JUICING TIPS FROM OUR COMMUNITY
We asked our community member, Elissa Goodman for her top two simple juicing tips for July:
1. When it comes to juicing, always use organic produce. How your food is grown can significantly impact your mental, emotional, and physical state. Organic foods are not only better for the environment, but they have more beneficial nutrients, fewer pesticides, and are often fresher than non-organic produce.
2. I always start my mornings with 16 ounces of water and a green juice! My go-to juice recipe always includes lemon, cucumber, and ginger. Cucumbers are full of vitamins and nutrients. They help with hydration, cleansing, and detoxing the body. Lemons help with digestion, regulate blood sugar, and are an excellent source of vitamin C. Ginger helps with immunity, digestion, upset stomach, and more.
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