Health Expert Alison Smith, PhD's Self-Discovery Lesson on the Value of Juicing

"I want to start juicing but I have no idea where to start" was a common thought I had running through my head last Fall following a conversation with a friend.

Juicing seemed like a wonderful way to add more fruits and vegetables into my diet. Through doing my research and trying out my friends juicer, I decided I should get one of my own (I bought a Breville Juice Fountain Plus) and kept learning about the process.

Alison Smith, PhD, a health mentor and juicing advocate. ** Coming Soon

Along the way, I decided to reach out and ask a fellow Canadian blogger &  juicing advocate Alison Smith, PhD to share her thoughts to my questions. I have shared my thoughts on self-love on her site here. Today, I'm excited to share Alison's interview with all of you!

Alison Smith is a health mentor, juicing advocate, and trained neuroscientist on a mission to promote self-care and self-love to those battling back to abundant health and happiness. Schooled by her own health journey, following an 8-year battle with Lyme Disease, Alison is the creator of Sweet Liberation, 30-Days to Kick Sugar to the Curb: a one-on-one coaching program that teaches women how to live a sweet sugar-free life. She also hosts the free, annual Get Your Juice On: 21-Day Juicing Challenge, every August. Alison lives and breathes by the motto: Live healthy. Live happy. Live now. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Thank you Alison for all your help. I learned a lot from you! Read Alison and mine's thoughtful conversation below and leave your thoughts in the comments. Let's talk about Juicing!

(c) Alison Smith, PhD.
(c) Alison Smith, PhD.

When did you start juicing? And why?

I started juicing 8-years ago out of pure necessity. I became extremely ill in 2006. I was so sick that I rarely left my house: I was experiencing extreme fatigue, pain, weakness and numbness throughout my muscles and joints, along with vertigo and breathing difficulties. It was not until 2011 when I received a clear diagnosis of Lyme Disease, through blood testing. (Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection contracted from the bite of a tick.)

Since I was left without diagnosis and treatment for 5-years, I took it upon myself to transform my diet and lifestyle, in hopes of regaining my health. I started to juice because it is an excellent way to saturate the body with raw, plant-based nutrients that help the body to heal. I truly believe that the practice of juicing, along side all of my other diet modifications, helped me to stabilize my body until I was able to receive diagnosis and treatment for Lyme Disease.

What is the best benefit of juicing?

As I mentioned, above, juicing is the best way to saturate the body with raw, plant-based nutrients. Our bodies operate on vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and phytochemicals. If you have a deficiency is any nutrient, your body will suffer. And, if you have a chronic illness, you need more nutrients than the average person because your body is in the process of healing. To expose your body to the necessary nutrients for vibrant health and healing, juicing is an excellent strategy, and it’s so easy!

I now use juicing to support my treatment and recovery process. I specifically focus on consuming sugar-free green juices to help my body to cleanse, reduce inflammation, and produce energy. I would recommend juicing to anyone who is experiencing a chronic illness or low energy. Fresh juices that contain very little fiber are easily assimilated and absorbed in the gut. And, for that reason, juicing is highly recommended for individuals with a chronic illness that have difficulty absorbing nutrients from food. Juicing also allows an individual to easily consume 3-4 times the daily recommended intake for fruits and vegetables. Now, that’s a lot of plant power for a healing body!

Has juicing impacted how you feel about your self?

I would say: yes, yes, yes! Juicing has definitely impacted the way that I feel about myself. I don’t need to wait around for anyone to help me recover. I can take drastic action for myself. I feel incredibly empowered by the fact that I can take charge of my health by changing the way that I eat. Juicing has become a symbol for becoming the captain of my own ship. I have the power to navigate my recovery, simply by making a glass of green juice. And, that makes me feel strong and in control.

Many people think they are too busy to incorporate juicing into their schedules. What advice would you have for them?

Time management issues and juicing usually occur when a person does not have access to an easy-to-clean juicer. When I started juicing, I had a very cheap centrifugal juicer that required at least 10-15 minutes of cleaning, afterward. The juicer contained a mesh, metal, circular net that easily became encrusted with juice pulp. The idea of spending 10 minutes cleaning the machine deterred me from wanting to juice.

If time is an issue, I recommend the purchase of a horizontal, masticating juicer. Round, vertical juicers are more difficult to clean. However, masticating juicers, like the Omega 8000 series, only take 2-minutes to clean. I merely rinse the machine components under running water. With an easy-to-clean juicer, time constraints vanish. From start to finish, I can have a large glass of green juice in 5 minutes – and that is a wonderful end-of-the-day treat.

(Omega masticating juicers are in the mid-price range: $220-$300.)

How do you make the juicing habit stick?

For me, I always need a reason to propel me forward. So, with any endeavor, I start with stating what my reason or intention is for starting something new. Maintaining the habit of juicing, for me, revolves around my desire to heal and recover the energy level that I once had. I remind myself of that goal, each day. My reason for juicing, fuels my fire.

I believe that the reason needs to be directly related to your inner desires. It cannot be linked to anything external. For example, the habit of juicing will not stick if you are only doing it because your friends are juicing. So, here’s the question: why do you want to start juicing? Is your desire strong enough to propel you forward?

Do you recommend using juice as a meal replacement? Or just as a supplement to your days?

At this point, I would not recommend replacing meals with juice only. I strongly believe that juicing is an amazingly, health inspiring supplement. I believe that we need to be gentle with our bodies, especially if you don’t feel strong or energized. Instead, I recommend focusing in on a clean diet: one that does not contain processed foods, chemicals, GMOs, or excessive sugar consumption. I recommend real food for real people, with gentleness and compassion all the way.

I'm trying to go sugar-free in my life but fruits are full of sugar. How do go sugar-free and juice?

This is a great question! During my initial stage of treatment, I had to live completely sugar-free, including fruit, for 2-years (sugar and antibiotics don’t mix!). Since, I didn’t have access to fruit of any kind, I focused in on green juices. Now, creating a tasty all green juice can be tricky. Some juices can be down right nose-pinching. But, I learned, finally, that sugar-free juicing is absolutely possible and delicious. Here’s how you do it:

  • Stick to using 3-4 ingredients, only. I like cucumber, romaine lettuce or parsley, lemon, and ginger or turmeric.
  • Start-off with a cucumber base. Cucumbers contain a great deal of delicately flavoured juice.
  • Add a leafy green. I like to use romaine lettuce or parsley.
  • Add fresh turmeric root. It has an incredible taste; I add it to all of my juices.
  • Add lemon, without the rind or ginger root.

It is possible to use fruit in juices, while keeping the sugar content low. For example, if you use low glycemic index fruits like apples or pears, you can experience the gentle sweetness of this fruit in your juice, without having a great deal of sugar.

  • My favorite low-sugar juice recipe is zucchini, red apple, and fresh turmeric root.

Lastly, if you are not concerned with sugar from fruits. I have a handy-dandy How to Start Juicing Infographic that will show you all the ins and outs of creating a lovely tasting juice without a recipe. I also host a free, annual 21-Day Juicing Challenge, which is a great opportunity to enjoy juicing with people from all over the world.

(c) Alison Smith, PhD
(c) Alison Smith, PhD

What is your favourite recipe? Can you share it?

Yes, indeedy! I do have a favorite juice recipe. I am back to eating fruit, now, since living completely sugar-free. And, my favorite recipe is great as an anti-inflammatory elixir:

  • 1 medium sized zucchini
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 thumb-size piece of fresh turmeric root
(c) Alison Smith, PhD
(c) Alison Smith, PhD

What is your record worthy practice (i.e. a daily strategy that you do to feel your best)?

I feel my best, and most inspired, when I focus in on the practice of gratitude. I keep a gratitude jar to remind myself of all the wonderful, yet small, things that happen to me each day. I also track my recovery progress through the jar as well. I kept a gratitude jar for the first time, last year. At the end of the year, when I got to re-read all of my entries, I cried. I got to re-live each amazing moment, and it made me feel so strong and hopeful. It also made me realize how far I have come in my recovery: a blessing that I’m truly grateful for.

Thanks for speaking from your heart and empowering others, Alison! Keep up the fantastic work supporting people to live their best lives!

My favourite juice is carrot, apple, ginger. What's yours? Have any questions about juicing that we didn't mention here?

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!