A freshly-made juice contains a valuable payload of nutrients, much more so than a pasteurised, packaged juice.
This is crucial because if we have gut problems our digestive system isn’t working properly, so we tend to be deficient in lots of important nutrients that our body needs to function properly.
When we drink a fresh green juice like this one, our body uses these nutrients to heal and repair itself. This soothes and reduces inflammation, including in the delicate lining of our gut, which has a calming effect.
This in turn helps to decrease permeability in the gut lining (the dreaded ‘leaky gut‘).
It’s also better sometimes to consume a high dose of nutrients without the fibre that comes with eating whole veggies and fruit, although this might sound counter-intuitive!
Fibre is essentially the part of food that we can’t break down. We can only unlock the nutrients inside fibre with the help of our friendly gut bugs. Every time we eat something high in fibre, it’s feeding time for those friendly microbes! That’s why fibre is also known as ‘prebiotics’ (not to be confused with probiotics).
This fibre helps to support a healthy, rich, diverse ecosystem of gut bugs in our microbiome. Diversity of species is one of the key indicators of a healthy microbiome.
Scientific studies show time and again that reduced diversity of microbes goes hand-in-hand with health issues all over body, including autoimmunity, overweight, depression and dementia.
So there’s no question that fibre is important for long term gut health. However something unexpected happens if we don’t have enough friendly gut bugs to break down the fibre: the fibre irritates our gut and can actually make our symptoms worse.
This means that we need to gradually improve the state of our microbiome before adding more fibre into our diet.
We look at this more in The 3 Things You Need To Know About Fibre
- 1 apple
- 1/2 a cucumber
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- 5 leaves of fresh mint
- half a lemon (including rind)
For best results use a juicer, not a blender. The process works best if you start with the juiciest ingredients first (apple and cucumber), followed by the spinach. Finish with the lemon and mint.
You don’t need to be precise with the amounts. Play around and find what works best for you.
Fresh juices are best taken on an empty stomach for maximum absorption of nutrients, so drink it at least half an hour before eating or 2.5 hours after eating.
Green veggies like spinach and cucumber are high in nutrients like potassium, magnesium and iron, as well as antioxidants that counter the damaging effects of free radicals in our body.
Fresh mint has been used for thousands of years to help digestion and calm irritated tummies.
Lemon also helps digestion and is full of vitamins. Lemon rind has even more nutrients than the flesh, including vitamin C, vitamin A, beta carotene, folate and calcium. The rind also gives the juice an extra zesty freshness!
The sweetness of the apple makes the juice more appealing to those who aren’t crazy about consuming veggies (hello kiddies, we’re looking at you!)
A fresh juice like this is believed to stimulate our digestive enzymes, making our gut work better. And remember, anything that helps our gut helps our entire body.
This juice also has a powerful cleansing and detoxifying effect (more on this below).
As mentioned above, the high dose of nutrients provided by the juice helps our body’s healing and repairing processes, which reduces inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to a huge number of illnesses, as well as weight gain and dementia.
Inflammation is closely connected to the state of our gut and microbiome. For more on this, check out Inflammation: Putting Out The Fire
Organic ingredients are even better if you can afford them, as they come without the residue of gut-bothering herbicides and pesticides. However regular fruit and veggies will also do just fine.
freshly pressed vs processed juices
A juice made fresh at home or in a juice bar is vastly different to a typical shop-bought, processed juice. For a juice to be kept in a package for days or weeks, it first needs to be pasteurised (heated to high temperature) which removes many of the benefits.
We’re also consuming our freshly-made juice immediately, while the nutrients are at the their most potent.
Another major difference is that packaged juices often contain added sugar, whereas when we make our juice, we know exactly what’s going into it. Reducing our sugar intake is an important part of the gut-healing equation.
Take a look at Gut Health Begins With Cutting Back Sugar
If you don’t have the time, energy or equipment to make a fresh juice, find a local juice bar. If that’s not an option either, look for shop-bought juices that are ‘cold-pressed’, meaning that they have not been pasteurised. ‘Cold-extracted’ means the same thing.
In the world of natural nutrition, juicing is a time-honoured way to cleanse and detox. It also combines well with fasting.
At Gut Geek we’re into natural nutrition but we’re also science-based. We don’t think those two things are incompatible. In fact the reason we’re so obsessed with natural stuff is that, when it comes to gut health, it’s what works best for most people.
There is no pharmaceutical drug or magic bullet to repair our microbiome. In fact a recent scientific study¹ found that pharmaceutical drugs can negatively affect our microbiome.
This doesn’t come as a surprise as everything we know about our microbiome suggests that it depends upon an ecological balance that is vulnerable to disruption, just like the ecology of a coral reef or a rainforest. Once diversity is lost, the whole community can collapse. This is known as ‘dysbiosis’, and we explain it in more detail in this post on probiotics.
It’s true that you’ll struggle to find peer-reviewed scientific studies demonstrating the efficacy of freshly made vegetable juices. There’s no commercial incentive for food and drug companies to fund this kind of research.
However it would be a huge mistake to dismiss the benefits of juicing because of the current absence of scientific studies.
There is a vast amount of anecdotal evidence from people who have incorporated juicing into their daily regime and seen enormous improvements in their symptoms. People who drink a freshly made green juice every day often report huge improvements in their gut health and related issues.
I personally found fresh green juices to be very revitalising when I was feeling stressed and burnt-out doing long hours in the law firm.
Later when I started following the GAPS gut-healing protocol I also noticed a big difference on the days that I made a fresh juice: my energy levels were more stable, my digestion was calmer and I had a clearer head.
No need to detox?!
It’s true that the mainstream medical position is that there’s no such thing as ‘needing to detox’.
We believe that’s misguided. It’s not disputed by anyone that the human body has detoxification processes, the by-products of which go into our sweat, breath, urine and poop. In our daily life we can take steps that either help or hinder those processes.
So for example eating junk food and smoking cigarettes hinders our body’s detox process and increases our toxic load.
On the other hand, drinking freshly made green juices and going to the sauna supports our body’s detox processes and decreases our toxic load. Check out 5 Steps to Successful Detox
It’s also now understood from scientific studies that bad bacteria in our gut produce toxic by-products. These toxins can pass through our leaky gut wall and into our body, setting off chronic inflammation. The worse the state of our gut, the more we need to detox.
So a freshly made juice like this delivers a huge quantity of healing nutrients and helps with much-needed detoxification. At the same time our digestive system has virtually no work to do because the fibre is removed, so it’s ideal for folks with a damaged gut.
- Lisa Maier, Mihaela Pruteanu, Michael Kuhn, Georg Zeller (2017) Extensive impact of non-antibiotic drugs on human gut bacteria, Nature volume 555, pages 623–628