Like many Americans, Candace Reston, hates eating vegetables and fruits. A child of the 1970s, Reston remembers long hours at the dinner table, refusing to eat Brussels sprouts, lima beans, and broccoli, but unable to leave until she cleaned her plate.
"It was always a battle of the wills," Reston, 43, laughs. "My dad wanted me to get those vegetables down, but anything green made me think of aliens or stuff no kids should have to eat. Some nights I was there until 9 or ten o'clock at night."
But what Reston learned later was that the body's need for fresh fruits and vegetables had nothing to do with age and everything to do with proper nutrition. Fortunately for Northwest resident, her own children, ages 14 and 9, have an escape-hatch to eating the recommended daily allowance of vegetables and fruit. Juicing.
Juicing is a process of putting fruits and vegetables—with skins intact—into a machine that extracts the pulp from the produce leaving a fresh, raw liquid packed with most of the vitamins, minerals, and varying amounts of its fiber.
Reston began juicing fresh carrots, ginger and oranges for a quick breakfast treat after receiving a juicer for Christmas a few years ago. She said her children marveled at the taste of fresh juice, but never identified the carrots. She soon worked up to adding juicing spinach and cucumbers and was surprised that the kids actually liked it.
"I think they were initially fascinated with the idea of annihilating those bulky vegetables in liquid, but they began coming home from school with new recipe ideas and ones they saw the internet. Turns out, the kids loved drinking beets and carrots, though I couldn't force them to eat them, period," Reston said.
One of those websites Reston's sons visited was Ava the Juice Doctor. Ava Hall, 43, a Bowie, Md., resident said she got her name from a friend who used her fresh juices to aid her chemotherapy sessions. The name stuck.
"People are always coming to me for advice on juicing and I tell them to start simple. There's a lot of information out there but I ask them if they want to feel more energy, or if they want their skin to glow, I tell them why it happens. Juicing has tangible benefits."
Hall, whose book, "Memoirs of a Juice Doctor," published April 2013, has traveled the country offering demonstrations and lectures on the benefits of juicing fresh organic fruits and vegetables.
"The body is becoming hydrated by the best source of fresh organic juice, and being provided an insurmountable amount of vitamins and minerals," Hall said. "We're living beings and we're putting living materials in our bodies."
To Hall, juicing is more beneficial than blending since it extracts additional materials from the fiber and "you're getting everything." Since juice is liquid, it delivers hefty amounts of antioxidants to the body, which help build the immune system. It's a personal choice, however.
The Indiana-raised television executive began her journey as the juice doctor when, in her 20s, doctors thought she had the autoimmune disease lupus. In trying to heal her body, she became "ultra-intentional" about food. She did nutritional research, met iridologists (those who analyze the iris of eyes to find inflammation), and holistic doctors. She studied juice therapy and read avidly. She began to make significant noticeable changes.
"I became a health nut," said Hall who has a communications degree. "I was on the soapbox, getting everyone on the healthy bandwagon. Juicing became my health point."
Hall launched her website, www.avathejuicedoctor.com, where she builds awareness on the benefits of juicing. She advocates for green-colored juices, rich in plants' green substance, chlorophyll, and other phytonutrients—nature's superheroes, she said. "It's the foundation of my juice therapy."
Dr. Broderick Franklin, a Howard University-trained physician who now practices in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, said people shouldn't consider juicing as a "magical elixir" or as a substitute to eating fruits and vegetables.
"It's not as good as the real thing as the whole fruit is an excellent source of fiber," said Franklin, 53, a physician for 20 years. "And it's not directly responsible for weight loss, which only comes from losing more calories than you consume." He said juicing isn't recommended for diabetics either as the additional sugar can be problematic.
Still, Hall said that those who want to fast and forgo food during the Christian season of Lent, the ongoing 40-day period, which began Ash Wednesday on Feb. 13, and ends Easter Sunday on March 31, can start slowly by using different juice mixtures—maybe with a three-day juice fast.
Juicing, she said, detoxifies the system so it's best to try it for fewer days. If it's too overwhelming, she suggested a one-day fast.
"But you'll get energy, you'll feel light," Hall said. "You're rebuilding yourself and your body. You need to incorporate it into your lifestyle."
And for parents like Reston, juicing is a source of overall family happiness.
"There are no more last-stands at the dinner table in my home. My kids play an active role in their own health. Juicing gives us family time together, as well as the rewards of good health." Reston said.