Right now it’s hilarious that I’m writing to you ladies and gents about juicing. I’m on a train travelling to Agra in India and the one thing we’re being instructed not to eat is any raw vegetables – not when they’re whole, or cut, or peeled or even juiced! They don’t have the same strict standards applying to washing produce prior to serving it, and even when the produce is washed…well let’s just say it’s one little extra challenge my immune system doesn’t need. And then there’s the meat, which we’re also not going near – not such a challenge in a country that is so adept at making vegetables the centrepiece of your meal. And you’re never going to have a meat juice let’s face it. Many’s the time I find myself standing next to our juice weaponry in work scratching my head, even with our Vitamix professional blender, our Greenstar masticating juicer, and the Sage Nutri Juicer Pro, I still have unfulfilled juice wants…occasionally, and I recognise how horridly first world that sounds. But when you start to draw your focus towards nutrition, and let’s face it that’s what we’re doing when we’re getting into juicing – you want to apply all your tools to the maximum right?
So when I get the urge, and we’ve exhausted all the pure vegetable and fruit opportunities available to us, my eyes cruise towards the rows upon rows of supplements…nutrients, herbs, superfoods and medicinal mushrooms….CBD??? hmmm this could get interesting.
First off, I do think there should be a sensible approach to this game, or else we’re going to end up with the $20,000 juice, and we’re not here trying to drain our resources for a shot at immortality – all we want is to get the most profound effect out of the most targeted and concise, yet hopefully ridiculously simple, nutritional planning.
To keep your budget in check, we recommend taking our article from last month, that aimed to give you the tools to make a daily juice your reality. Get to that point first. Get cosy with juicing, messing with the available veg from the fridge..and the fruit, well some of the fruit. Juicing as a habit should become second nature before trying to add any more confusion into the regime. Otherwise your kitchen cupboard will end up like some of those I’ve witnessed – an actual graveyard for supplements, unloved and going out of date. Not a waste we endorse or expect you to afford.
It’s a bit like the daily yoga practice agenda…many of us, me included have yoga in our lives, but in order to deepen our practice and make it genuinely useful to our bodies, minds and spirits, I’m aware that we need to get to the point that we come to our mat on a daily basis, not always getting a full 90 minutes but at least having the compunction to sit and get into it. A juice habit is much like this, and once you’ve made the juicer, whatever juicer, a permanent part of your kitchen counter and it’s not just gracing the space where the sandwich toaster usually lives save for two weeks at the start of January – well then it’s time to come into the inner sanctum. So, come with us as we go off the reservation a bit and give you some tips to elevate your juice-craft.
If you’re familiar with our little shop, you’ll know that we are passionate for the plant medicine. Nothing gets us more excited that seeing a new study back up this ancient tradition of herbal medicine. These herbs that have evolved and adapted with our race over the millennia, afford us the ability to raise every part of our physiology, whether ailing or not, to allow us to operate at our peak capacity, to extend our capacity even – to cope with stress, to repel the viruses and bacteria that threaten us and to support those that do the same to us, to strengthen our structures, support our hard working organ systems and to balance our delicate endocrine system, all for the small price of some research and experimentation, to be able to tailor your program to your own state of being. So following you’ll see a few samples of what the garden has to offer you, so take from its bounty and reap the rewards!!
Don’t be fooled by the innocuous sounding name, passionflower holds a wealth of goodness for us on a dull morning. With mood brightening properties that kick in from the first sip, passionflower is a great way to lift the Monday morning blues. Don’t expect a caffeine like kick, passionflower is gentle support, (for those of you who’ve tasted it, it’s something akin to matcha tea) but its effect is profound nonetheless – giving you a sense of serenity that permeates all but the dreariest of moods. Passionflower is known to enhance activity in the pineal gland, which plays a key role in our creativity, and we all should be aiming to bring a little more childlike playtime and freedom into our days. It lifts not just us but those around us too.
Don’t be put off by the name, far from it – ashwagandha is hindi for strength of 10 horses, and has powerful tonic effects for our nervous system in particular. Studies have demonstrated its ability to support and modulate our output of cortisol in particular, a powerful stress hormone that, although necessary and designed to peak in the mornings to aggravate our body and wake it up for the days exigencies, has an unfortunate susceptibility to become dysregulated when the body comes in for long term exposure to stress, including not just job stress, but also exposure to environmental stressors such as high noise volumes, air borne mould pathogens and even excess blue light exposure. Recent exciting studies which were released just last year, have shown that ashwaganda increases the expression of interesting signalling molecules called “heat shock proteins” – these little guys are the reason why sauna use is so good for us, and are usually saves for release during “phasic hyperthermia”. Basically when your body gets too hot, and thinks it’s under threat, it releases these guys as a protective measure, and they in turn trigger glutathione production, one of our body’s primary antioxidant enzymes, which protects our DNA from damage.
We’ve all heard of bitters right? Nope? Well Angostura bitters are the best known of these guys as these days all that bitters are known for in the mainstream is their use in cocktails. This feels a lot like a demotion, as bitters are the cornerstone of many herbal medicine traditions. We’re rather large proponents of the old Hippocrates adage, that all disease begins in the gut, and what bitters do is tone your digestive system to regulate what bugs can and can’t live there...and even tell which good bugs where to go to do their best work. “Bad” bacteria in our gut are a lot like weeds in our garden – they’re just plants growing successfully in a place where we’d rather they didn’t. So essentially what we just want to do is keep them in their pen, taming the wild little microbes so that they go about their synergistic processes without disrupting the overall ecological balance.
Essentially, bitters tone and regulate our entire digestive system – stimulating nearly every process to assist digestion -from the production of saliva in the mouth that starts the chemical breakdown of whole foods, to the stomach acid that puts up the barrier to prevent bugs on our food from penetrating and disrupting the stability of the ecosystem in our gut, all the way to the peristaltic rhythm that ensures smooth and safe passage out of the gut at the far end of the cycle. We recommend adding bitters to every juice you have and a lot of wholefoods contain them too so how about trying the ollowing blend to perk up your digestive process –
Pineapple (about 100g a good 1 inch thick cross section, celery (this time mostly the leaves), lemon (1 whole, we want the pith and the skin for their bitter properties), a good bunch of rocket, and a good 30 drops of A.Vogel Yarrow Bitters Complex or Nature’s Answer Ginger Bitters – the pineapple acts as a functional sweetener in here as this is a hardcore bitter complex, perhaps you only knock back 1-200mls of this in the morning. But if you do just watch and see the digestive benefits accrue. And if it’s still too bitter, then just add half an apple. You don’t have to go hard on yourself here unless your digestive system is suffering or out of whack. If you’re in a state where your absorbing, eliminating and most importantly not bloating or cramping on a regular basis then this doesn’t have to be a regular juice. For me and most of our customers who give these sorts of protocols a go, it’s great to give yourself a concentrated window in which to focus on things like bitter juices. Say 3 weeks every three months. Even this is enough to give you long term benefits.
What is totally normal inside our health bubble that still activates the gag reflex in any outside audience? Not much any more, but when you start talking about mushrooms that are harvested from the heads of ants, it still has the power to raise a few eyebrows!
Medicinal mushrooms are so so fascinating to me. In nature, the mushroom is our ecosystem’s great regulator - read more about that in our blog all about medicinal mushrooms here – where they help plants to access and convert inorganic minerals into organic forms that they can take up, but where they also act as biodigesters to help break down that plant matter when it dies to make it into a better class of worm food, all so that the worms can make a better humus so that the plants can get easier access to…okay you get it it’s the cycle of life and mushrooms are perched RIGHT at the centre of it. So when mushrooms go to work in our bodies it’s not as simple as other medicinal herbs, they don’t demonstrate a simply phytochemical action (although they do this too), but they have this immense facilitatory action. Just go and ask the oncology treatment centre in Japan where medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, shiitake and cordyceps are used as an adjunct therapy to enhance delivery and effectiveness in a chemotherapy regimen. Now we’re not in a position to make any claims here, but…well the Japanese are not known for indulging in pseudo-science or snake oil sales – Mr Varadkar please take note.
You can use any medicinal mushroom in powder form to enhance most body processes, for instance all of them contain a rich bounty of beta glucans which are a great aid to immune system health, but they also have a host of individual benefits, of which only a few have been significantly studied in western medicine but have thousands of years of traditional use in plant medicine practices across the world - so to make it simple here’s a super snappy bullet point guide –
Tastes foul, does great things. That’s spirulina for you. What hasn’t been written about this powerful superfood probably isn’t worth saying. Save perhaps for a little refresher – the reason everyone goes mad about spirulina is because it is a hyperaccumulator (it soaks up and concentrates all the lovely stuff in its environment) and offers up its store of nutrients in a super absorbable form, being as it has no cell wall, which is especially interesting in relation to its protein content as this makes it the fastest absorbing high protein food on the planet! Add that to it’s phycocyanin content, a powerful pigment protein antioxidant, which assists your body’s antioxidant defence system in a uniquely powerful way, helping to take the pressure off your immune system. So what should you try dipping your spirulina in? Well if you’re trying to convert anyone other than yourself to a juice plan, leave the spirulina in the cupboard, or opt for a capsule form. But if you’re aiming to maximise effect and don’t mind leaving flavour at the door, then shove the spirulina into anything and everything, but still we recommend building the doses slowly and masking it with either orange or apple juice or a good coconut water. ‘Cos nobody needs to see that toilet bowl turn green right?
The peruvian superfood which has been the “hormone fix” in natural health circles for at over a decade in this part of the world, has been part of the plant medicine culture in Peru for centuries, having originally been used to nourish the goat herds as it was believed to improved their fertility. All this time later and science has really caught up with the craze, having demonstrated its ability to support fertility and also serve as an adrenal tonic. Maca, you’ll be happy to hear after the spirulina, has a mild, earthy flavour, which mixes well with most juices, the only issue here is the texture. But since we’re focused on fertility, maybe try out the following – blitz a couple of figs (they have a strong historical tradition of use for fertility), add some apple to keep everything familiar, and pop in some avocado oil – fats form the foundation of hormone synthesis and animal studies have shown that giving the body abundant fats can have the effect of kickstarting a sluggish cycle in the female of the species!! Then stir in a heaped teaspoon of your favourite organic maca powder and sip your juice support.
What’s not to love about cayenne – it’s basically your body’s dream food, even if your tastebuds complain a bit when they breath fire…we’ve written about cayenne a hundred times before but to put it in brief, cayenne is a neuronal protective antioxidant, and systemic anti inflammatory, and a circulatory tonic to boot. If you’re trying to quit caffeine and no amount of Rooibos tea is doing the trick (how could it replace that sweet sweet nectar after all *sigh*), then try the following concoction to get from neutral to fifth gear in gig time. Take 10-20 drops Nature’s Answer Cayenne tincture, and drop it into a glass of coconut water, mixed with aloe vera juice. Then juice a whole lemon and decent chunk of ginger and see just what the day has to offer – whatever it is, you’ll be ready for it!!
You can’t forget these little power houses if you want your diet to pack more punch – we’re especially fond of the more sharp/sour and dark coloured varieties – bathing your body in anthocyanins and other beneficial alkaloid compounds, that all serve to support many body systems as antioxidants to prevent damage to your eyes, for instance, or improve repair to the lining of capillary walls - great if you're suffering from spider veins, thread veins, or even the dreaded varicose veins. Sure, freezedried fruit isn't your only way to save your veins, but when you extract 90% of the water out of an already healthy blueberry, your body gets access to a whole PILE of nutrients and antioxidants. Try unloading about 10 freezedried cherries into a fresh organic orange juice, that tart tang along with all the hippuric acid, OPC antioxidants and naturally occurring melatonin will have your body screaming for a double dose!!