The dangers of Raw Juices
En FRANCAIS ici
Ah, a new trend again. This one seems to last a bit.
It is very common today to see people investing a lot of money in extractors, juicers, blender, in order to make those so-called healthy drinks claimed to be the cure for almost everything from cancer to arthritis to digestive disorders. And it is so imprinted now that is seems to be an absolute unshakable general truth.
Well, Ayurveda has another and opposite point of view on this, and here is why it is important to reconsider the topic.
In Ayurveda, our Agni or digestive fire is one of our most precious treasure. It is said that 99.9% of diseases starts with a disturbed digestion, assimilation and elimination. Chinese medicine also keep in high regards our digestive system, considering it as a sacred fire. To keep that fire burning and maintaining your health and life you need to provide it appropriate food. Raw juices do not fall into that category. Here is why.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEMS
- It is mostly served cold or chilled, which is a disaster for the digestion and for the weight gain.
- It contains the very essence of the food making it very heavy to digest. “Svarasa” or juice of a plant is considered one of the heaviest formulations to digest in Ayurvedic pharmacology. I will take the example of a vessel on a stove. The fire of the stove is our Agni, our digestive fire. The vessel is our stomach, waiting to receive the food. If we put cold, heavy food, it will take long time to cook. And if, once it starts cooking, we add more, it will slow down the whole process even leading to a lower fire that will take hours to eventually cook the meal. Similarly is our digestive system. Ensure your previous meal or previous juice is digested before eating/drinking again, and avoid at all cost ending a meal with a juice/smoothie.
- Food combination is often improper ( such as sweet and sour fruits, greens and fruits, etc while fruits should be taken alone), making if even more complex to digest and requiring a lot of energy to break it down. For a meal to be properly digested it requires that food marry together ( that is why before it was cooked for long time over fire or low heat so that the flavors and inherent properties of each food combine harmoniously ), that it is chewed ( yes, drinking is not eating and the necessary enzymes are not secreted the same ). Putting a lot of different things with different properties on a blender at high speed does not allow that magic to occur and the subtle transformation and marrying of qualities, which are crucial. All that leading to indigestion and fermentation, providing a feeling of fullness which is not something to look for actually. All this improperly digested food and wastes will accumulate and eventually sit deep in the channels and tissues ( dhatus , such as blood, bones, fat, muscles…) of the body leading to more complicated disease.
- Smoothies are often made with bananas which are sweet ,cold and heavy in Nature. Not suitable for sensitive digestive system, or if livin in cold climate, and if taken on empty stomach they have the property to block the subtle yet vital channels of the body.
- Often, some “Superfood” are added such as flax/chia seeds, goji berries, coconut oil ( which is heavy to digest and not suitable at all for people living in cold climates ) , spirulina/chlorella ( which is not advised in any liver trouble as anything from the sea is prohibited in that case in Ayurveda), adding up to the complexity.
- Its qualities/attributes are mostly cold, dry, rough ( due to the fruits and vegetables having this post digestive -Vipaka- properties ) which are similar to Vata qualities hence aggrating Vata Prakriti ( Constitution ) or Vata Vikriti ( health state ) people. Also, sometimes the attribute ( Guna ) is heavy which in that case will aggravate the Kapha, very bad news for people having toxins or looking for weight loss. Unfortunately, often people indulging into raw juices do it because of a troubled digestive system or because of underlying Vata or Kapha disorders that they want to fix, not realizing it can to impair it more in the long term. One could experience gas,bloating, diarrhea or constipation, variable mood and energy, variable digestion, toxins accumulation ( ama ) , joints disorders and looseness, lack of focus, insomnia, nervous problems, hormonal issues, infertility, depletion of vital energy and decay, fatigue. It is more important to look on the attributes rather than on the content. It is the the key to understand the Ayurvedic approach of food and nutrition, ensuring we make our meals our allies for life and health.
- They can dis-balance the metabolism creating problems of either catabolism/anabolism or both, showing by fluctuations in the body, in term of appearance, weight, and energy.
FINDING THE BALANCE
For sure, raw food contains more minerals, anti-oxidants, micro-nutrients and vitamins compared to cook food ( though some food like tomatoes and its lycopene see their content increase upon cooking ) . But, what is the point in taking it if it is not assimilated and digested in the end? The balance resides in an appropriate cooking method, enough to keep the digestive fire burning, not overheated to keep the essence of the food.
Do not mix cooked and uncooked/raw food in the same meal. The enzymes required for digesting one or the other are not the same and incompatible.
Spices, are also our great help to counteract the inherent qualities of the juices and raw food as well as enhancing the flavor. Use dry ginger powder, some cinnamon, some cardamom, turmeric, fennel, ajwain, etc.
Serve it warm or room temperature.
Keep it simple ( a carrot/beetroot juice, an apple/pear one etc.) it will ease up the dense and heavy qualities.
Avoid it if you are in winter, or if your digestion is not strong enough.
Eat your veggies in a light soup instead 🙂
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-Dr. Manan Soni & Emmanuelle Dessaigne