Juice fasting and intermittent fasting has become very popular in the health conscious community. Many people say that juice fasting has helped them combat colds and the flu, even helped them heal various chronic health problems.
Juicing is definitely healthy as it is one of the best ways to ensure that the body gets a high dose of vitamins and phytonutrients, which most people in the West are lacking in their diet. But is juicing for everybody and can it be done at any time of the year? To answer those questions, Ayurveda, the ancient healing system of yoga, can be very instructive.
Juicing is practiced in order to detox the body of unwanted toxins and that is something everyone is in need of from time to time. But are all juices equal and can we juice anytime of the year?
According to Ayurveda, fall and winter is the vata season, a time that increases the experience of cold and “wind” in our bodies. Traditionally, juice cleanses are not recommended during this time, especially not for people who also have a thin, agile and energetic vata constitution. During the cold season, our digestive system tend to weaken and raw juices may make us bloated and tired. Does that mean it is not good to juice in the winter time? You can still juice, but it is best to follow some important insights from Ayurveda.
One of the profound lifestyle wisdoms of Ayurveda is that “doing the opposite” will balance and eventually cure us. This insight is as simple as it is ingenious. If you are overweight, eat light foods. If you are cold, drink and eat warm foods. If you tend to skip meals, eat three meals a day regularly. If you are stressed and restless, meditate and practice yoga daily.
Another important insight of Ayurveda is that what we eat and how we live is more effective in healing us than simply taking herbs. Since it was a wrong lifestyle that caused someone’s fatty liver in the first place (a problem that effects up to 30 percent of the American population), we need to change our lifestyle to properly heal the liver.
Simply taking liver cleansing herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion, turmeric and ginger will certainly help. But it is more effective if we reduce or give up those high caloric, high fat foods—such as refined sugar, chips, pizza, and fried meats—which caused our liver problem in the first place.
If we start a juice fast, or incorporate juicing in our new and improved diet, we will be even more effective in increasing our digestive power and our health than if we continue eating the same unhealthy foods while hoping a few herbs will do the trick.
When the liver is clogged and can no longer optimally perform its many vital functions, it is in need of an “oil change” in the form of “new” blood. A juice cleanse will vastly improve the quality of our blood by infusing it with alkaline nutrients that are easily digested. This process then allows the liver to rest and detox.
If we want to benefit from the amazing detox and nourishing qualities of juicing in the winter time as part of a lifestyle change, here are a few things to consider:
The best juices for the cold and windy vata season are those that create a warming and calming effect in our body, such as fruits and veggies that reduce blood sugar crashes and nourish all our tissues, herbs that warm us and ignite our digestive fire. Such vegetables and fruits include beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, fennel, apples and pears. Herbs and spices that are great to include in juices and smoothies in the winter are pepper, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, cardamom, chili, and turmeric.
While dense greens, like cabbage, celery, and kale are not recommended, one can mix these in with the above mentioned veggies, fruits and herbs, plus a table spoon of lemon juice, to counterbalance their cooling and “drying” effects.
Finally, make sure you drink your juice at room temperature. And, for an even slower, more meditative experience, “eat” your juice from a bowl with a spoon. Enjoy!
Juice Recipes for the Winter Season
Carrot and Spinach Juice
1 cup spinach
3-4 branches Swiss chard
1 tbs lemon juice
2 apples or pears
1 pinch black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
A handful of spinach
3-4 branches of swiss chard
1-2 cucumbers (without seeds)
1 wedge of lemon with peel
1/2″piece of ginger
1-2 apples or pears
Pinch of cinnamon
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ramesh is the Director of the Prama Wellness Center where lifestyle is considered our best medicine. Ramesh is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurveda at California College of Ayurveda and is a certified yoga detox theraphist from the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of four books, including Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra:The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India).