Basics Series

Fat-soluble Vitamins

 

Last week, we looked at fats as part of "The Basics" series. Continuing that conversation, today we're going to be looking at fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin D. Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. We're going to be looking at what each of these vitamins is important for, where to find them in our diet, and if supplementation is necessary- what forms to look for in your supplements. Let's dive in! 

What are the fat-soluble vitamins?

Vitamins are the essential nutrients that our bodies need in small amounts (i.e. micronutrients) to perform various tasks. There are two classifications of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are so cool! They are the only vitamins that are stored in our body (thank you liver and adipose tissue), and we need fat present in our foods in order to absorb these vitamins. Since our bodies can store fat-soluble vitamins, we can run the risk of toxicity. Generally, this will not be an issue unless you are using mega-dose supplementation. If this is the case, seek out professional oversight to make sure you do not make yourself sick. 

A look at each vitamin:

Vitamin A

When we talk about Vitamin A, we are really referring to a wide range of fat-soluble nutrients such as retinol and beta-carotene. The bioactive form of Vitamin A is retinoic acid (RA), which acts as a nutrigenomic "hormone" that can alter gene expression and influence many physiological processes in the body. 

Vitamin A is best known for it's influence on vision, but it also supports your reproductive, digestive, urinary, and immune systems. Vitamin A is also essential for healthy bones, skin, and eyes. 

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Vitamin A is 900 micrograms for adult men and 700 micrograms for adult women. Fantastic food sources of Vitamin A include turkey giblets, beef liver, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, collard greens, kale, winter squash, turnip greens, and sweet red peppers. Remember- there are several forms of Vitamin A, so eating a diet with a variety of sources will be the healthiest for you. 

Supplementing Vitamin A: 

The major forms of supplemental Vitamin A include retinol esters and beta-carotene. Retinol forms are mainly found in the animal sources of Vitamin A, see above, and generally, beta-carotene is found in the plant sources. The majority of Vitamin A, natural or supplemental, comes in the form of beta-carotene. After ingestion, beta-carotene is metabolized in the small intestine and reduced to retinol. Natural forms of beta-carotene contain several cis-isomers, while the synthetic form (found in fortified foods, many supplements, etc) only contains a single trans-isomer. If you are not regularly ingesting different types of beta-carotene (or Vitamin A in general) you will become unbalanced. 

If you are concerned about getting adequate levels of all kinds of Vitamin A, but can't bring yourself to cook up some beef liver or turkey giblets- there is good news! There is an alge species, Dunaliella, which is composed of a nearly 50/50 balance of cis and trans Vitamin A isomers. This alge has begun being used in some supplements, often called a "mixed carotenoid". This is the supplementation form that I recommend to my clients, if they are lacking in dietary Vitamin A.  

 

Vitamin D

As I write this post, it is cold, rainy, and grey in England. So, basically on par with our usual weather. It is also January. Did you know that living above the 37th parallel means that from roughly October through March, the sun's rays are not strong enough to deliver any Vitamin D to our bodies? Even on the rare sunny day, we are gleaning no benefit from the sun! That is why many people living in this part of the world are at least mildly deficient in Vitamin D. 

 

IF you feel you need to supplement any fat-soluble vitamin- please first seek out a qualified nutritionist to go over your dietary intake, lifestyle factors, and other components that will affect your intake and utilization. It is important to get a healthy balance with fat-soluble vitamins, as they do accumulate in the body and can cause toxicity. If needed, your nutritionist will suggest a form of supplementation that is highly bioavailable and in a good amount for you.

Vitamin D helps our bodies build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It is also essential to the functioning of our nerves and muscles. More and more research is emerging linking mental health issues such as depression and anxiety to deficiencies in Vitamin D. Additionally, it is crucial to our immune system, and adequate levels are linked to a lower risk of multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and fibromyalgia. 

Many lifestyle and environmental factors can affect our ability to absorb and maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D, including pollution, spending excessive time indoors, and living in larger cities (as buildings tend to block sunlight). When we are deficient in Vitamin D, we often feel fatigued and achey, and have a general sense of just not feeling well. Being overweight or obese increases our bodies' need for Vitamin D. 

There is a lot of controversy surrounding how much Vitamin D we really need. The best way to discover what you need is by performing a simple blood test to check your levels of this important vitamin. Normal blood serum markers range from 50-100 micrograms per deciliter (mg/dL). If you are below this range, you will need to increase your intake of Vitamin D rich foods or supplement. The recommended IU's (international units) of Vitamin D for adults/day is far too low to change your blood serum levels. Currently the RDA is set at 600IU for adults. Depending on your blood serum levels, a dose of 1,000-2,000 will adequately maintain a healthy level and a dose of 5,000 or more may be needed to bring up a deficient level. Blood levels should be checked every 3 months if you are trying to bring up serum levels and every 6-12 months to maintain. Do not begin or alter a supplementation program without the supervision of a qualified nutritionist or medical professional. 

The only 100% natural form of Vitamin D for humans comes from direct sunlight or from the consumption of oily fish such as mackerel or salmon. Other food sources include egg yolks and shrimp. Milk, cereals, and yogurt can all be found fortified, but are often using a sub-par source of the vitamin. The most common supplemental form of Vitamin D is D3. Vitamin D3 is created from the conversion of cholesterol derivatives found in sheep wool lanolin. A superior form of supplementation comes from sustainably caught organic cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is a natural fat that has many other healthful properties. Toxicity with Vitamin D supplementation is rare, but possible, with long term mega doses. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E protects your body organs, tissues, and skin from the damaging effects of free radicals and contributes to their overall health and functioning. Free radicals are formed when your body tries to deal with harmful environmental toxins from UV light radiation, air pollution, tobacco smoke, etc. Like Vitamin A, E is a collection of fat-soluble compounds with distinct antioxidant activities. Naturally occurring, there are 8 chemical forms of Vitamin E, however only one, alpha-tocopherol, is used by our bodies, the others are excreted. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, Vitamin E may prevent or delay chronic diseases that are associated with free radicals. 

Food sources of Vitamin E include: wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, spinach, broccoli, mango, and raw tomatoes. Cooking can help increase the bioavailability of Vitamin E in spinach, broccoli, and nuts. 

A word of caution: Vitamin E is also abundant in many vegetable oils, such as corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil. While I encourage you to get as many nutrients as possible through your diet, I do not recommend consumption of these highly processed and refined oils. Consumption of these increases your bodily inflammation and contributes to many chronic diseases. 

Deficiency of Vitamin E is very rare- most often occurring in premature infants with very low birth weight, but almost never occurring in healthy adults- even when they do not consume many Vitamin E containing foods. It is generally not necessary to supplement with Vitamin E. 

Vitamin K

Derived from the German word koagulation, Vitamin K is named for its first known function- blood coagulation. Vitamin K is a coenzyme required for the synthesis of the proteins involved in hemostasis (blood clotting) and bone metabolism, as well as a myriad of other physiological functions. 

Recommended intakes of Vitamin K for adults is 120mcg and 90mcg for adult men and women, respectively. Food sources of Vitamin K include green leafy vegetables (kale, swiss chard, spinach), vegetable oils (caution!), and some fruits. Our daily needs for Vitamin K are very small, and just 1/2 cup of turnip greens boiled will provide nearly 700% of our needed intake. 

Excessive bleeding or hemorrhage are the classic signs of Vitamin K deficiency, however, these symptoms are relatively extreme. Bone mineralization (resulting in osteoporosis) is another sign of Vitamin K deficiency. Due to these extreme markers, it is wise to simply include modest amounts of Vitamin K rich foods into the diet regularly. There is currently no upper limit for Vitamin K intake. 

Individuals with fat malabsorption issues

Fat malabsorption is caused by your intestines' inability to absorb nutrients from your body. If you have impaired fat absorption, you may also have difficult absorbing and utilizing fat-soluble vitamins! Fat malabsorption tends to be an issue with individuals suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome, those who have had their gallbladder removed, and those on certain medications. If you suffer from any of these, or any other malabsorption, it is imperative that you speak with a qualified nutritionist or healthcare professional to address any deficiencies and work to correct your malabsorption issues.

 

Did I give you all the information you could possibly want on fat-soluble vitamins? Do you have any questions regarding these important micronutrients? Is there something you'd like to see me cover in the future? Leave a comment and let me know! I love hearing from my readers! 

Erica 

Carbohydrates 101, Part One

   Nutrition focus is almost always shifting. From fats are the worst (hello 1980’s) to fats are the best! (a current swing in the dialogue). When we demonize one macronutrient, we glorify another. Currently, it seems like the trend in ‘popular nutrition’ is tending toward low carb and higher healthy fats and moderate protein. I can’t say I’m upset about this trend, because it’s great to see healthy fats on the table again! But, the downside to that trend is that we are collectively avoiding carbohydrates! With that being said, I believe carbohydrates are the one macronutrient that fall into the extreme more often than the other two- folks tend to go REALLY high carbohydrate or REALLY low carbohydrate. We cannot totally hate on one macronutrient- all three are important to balance a healthy lifestyle!   That’s why today, I’m sharing the first macronutrient-focused post in my  The Basics  series, Carbohydrates 101. Some points on the agenda for today include: what are carbohydrates? How do our bodies use carbs? How do we digest carbs? How many carbohydrates do I need? Then, in part two we will talk about some dysfunctions with carbohydrate usage and storage, and what that might mean for your health and I’ll give you some great examples of whole food carbohydrates to include in your diet. Let’s get going!  What are Carbohydrates?  Simply speaking, carbohydrates are the sugars, starches, and fibers found in food. Carbohydrates are made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms. They are also known as saccharides (which translate to ‘sugar’) and are categorized into four groups: monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides. Each type is based off of how many molecules make up each saccharide. Monosaccharides and disaccharides are digested very quickly because their  simple  structure is easy to break down, while oligo and polysaccharides digest more slowly because they are more  complex.    How are Carbohydrates used in our body?   Unless taught differently (I’m looking at you, Keto fans!), carbs are our body’s preferred fuel source. Carbs tend to be a quick and easy burn, creating nearly immediate energy for our brain, muscles, cells, etc. Each gram of carbohydrate is approximately 4 calories of useable energy for our bodies.  Your body on carbs:   Brain : Our brain uses about 120g glucose per day and prefers carbohydrates, as they easily convert to glucose!   Muscle:  Our muscles use carbs as fuel, but can also convert ketone and fatty acid bodies into fuel for use. Excess carbohydrates are stored in our muscles as glycogen. Generally speaking, we can store up to 1200 calories worth of carbs in our muscles!   Fat Cells:  If our 1200cal of storage is full, we store excess carbohydrates (known as triglycerides) in our fat cells (adipose tissue) for use later. This storage was used primarily for preventing starvation during famine times, now; we have an overabundance of easily accessible food and rarely need to worry about famine conditions!   Kidneys:  Your kidneys are very busy little organs! They are responsible for removing waste (as urine) and reabsorbing what we can use again, like sodium, minerals, etc. This constant filtering requires a lot of energy!   Liver:  Our liver uses glucose constantly to fuel its metabolic functions. Our liver produces proteins that are vital for blood clotting, breaks down old and damaged blood cells, breaks down fats for metabolism, and is continuously secreting bile for proper digestion!  Additionally, a discussion on how our bodies use carbohydrates would be incomplete without talking about insulin, glycogen, and gluconeogenesis, and a few other “G” terms. In the simplest terms, I’d like you to understand these important components:   Insulin:  our storage hormone! Insulin is created in the pancreas when there is too much sugar in our bloodstream from an intake of carbohydrates that is too high for our current needs. Insulin wants our blood sugar to stay level, and if our muscles and organs cannot immediately use ingested carbs, insulin tells our body to store the extra for later needs.   Glucagon:  our release hormone! Glucagon is the opposite of insulin, it is also created in the pancreas and senses when there is too little glucose in our blood stream. Glucagon tells our liver to release stored carbohydrates and convert them into glucose to bring our blood glucose level back to normal.  Think of insulin and glucagon like the thermostat in your home. If you have the thermostat set at 75 degrees, it will work to stay there. When the temperature dips below 75, the heat will kick on. If the temperature rises above 75, your air conditioner will engage. Always keeping your home at 75. Our blood sugar balance works much in the same way. If there is too much sugar in our bloodstream, insulin will tell your body to store the excess glucose. If there is too little, glucagon will tell the liver to release stored carbs to raise the blood sugar levels. Keeping homeostasis, or keeping balance, is critical for proper body functioning.   Glycogen:  the storage form of carbohydrates.   Gluconeogenesis:  the act of making glucose from alternative sources (i.e. not carbohydrate sources) such as proteins and fats (amino acids and fatty acids).   Glycogenolysis:  the breakdown of glycogen in the muscles and liver tissues as directed by insulin or glucagon.   Glycogenesis:  the making of glycogen.  Was that too scienc-y for you? I hope not! It’ll get a little better from here :)  Digestion of Carbohydrates  The digestion of carbohydrates begins in our mouth, with the amylase enzyme. This enzyme is specifically in charge of breaking down carbohydrates, and then follows a roller coaster of stomach acid and chyme in our stomach and digestive enzymes in the small intestine to break down the carbohydrates into their simplest form, monosaccharides. Once they are in this form, they can be absorbed and utilized. Ultimately, glucose will head to the liver to be utilized or stored. Any carbohydrates that are not yet absorbed, will flow through to the large intestine and colon. Fiber from our food cannot be absorbed or digested, and contributes to our stool, helping remove waste products from our body.  How many carbohydrates do we need?  Trick question, technically none! Our bodies love using carbs because they are so easy to break down and such a quick source of energy, however, we can create glucose from amino acids and fatty acids if we need to! The amount that you will function best with depends on a lot of factors such as: age, genetics, lifestyle, activity level, injuries/illnesses, and your body’s ability to break down and utilize carbs. We can look at your specific needs in an initial intake based off of your goals and functioning!  I think that’s enough for one day and one post! I hope you found this entry enlightening and understandable. I know we got a little scienc-y for a few minutes there, but I promise you’re a better person for knowing more! You can never be overdressed or overeducated!   In Carbohydrates 101 Part 2 we will look at dysfunctions with carbohydrate usage and storage, types of carbohydrates, and examples of good, whole food carbohydrates to incorporate into your diet!  Are there any other topics you’d like to see me cover in Carbs 101 Part 2?  Erica

 

Nutrition focus is almost always shifting. From fats are the worst (hello 1980’s) to fats are the best! (a current swing in the dialogue). When we demonize one macronutrient, we glorify another. Currently, it seems like the trend in ‘popular nutrition’ is tending toward low carb and higher healthy fats and moderate protein. I can’t say I’m upset about this trend, because it’s great to see healthy fats on the table again! But, the downside to that trend is that we are collectively avoiding carbohydrates! With that being said, I believe carbohydrates are the one macronutrient that fall into the extreme more often than the other two- folks tend to go REALLY high carbohydrate or REALLY low carbohydrate. We cannot totally hate on one macronutrient- all three are important to balance a healthy lifestyle!

 That’s why today, I’m sharing the first macronutrient-focused post in my The Basics series, Carbohydrates 101. Some points on the agenda for today include: what are carbohydrates? How do our bodies use carbs? How do we digest carbs? How many carbohydrates do I need? Then, in part two we will talk about some dysfunctions with carbohydrate usage and storage, and what that might mean for your health and I’ll give you some great examples of whole food carbohydrates to include in your diet. Let’s get going!

What are Carbohydrates?

Simply speaking, carbohydrates are the sugars, starches, and fibers found in food. Carbohydrates are made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms. They are also known as saccharides (which translate to ‘sugar’) and are categorized into four groups: monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides. Each type is based off of how many molecules make up each saccharide. Monosaccharides and disaccharides are digested very quickly because their simple structure is easy to break down, while oligo and polysaccharides digest more slowly because they are more complex.

How are Carbohydrates used in our body?

Unless taught differently (I’m looking at you, Keto fans!), carbs are our body’s preferred fuel source. Carbs tend to be a quick and easy burn, creating nearly immediate energy for our brain, muscles, cells, etc. Each gram of carbohydrate is approximately 4 calories of useable energy for our bodies.

Your body on carbs:

Brain: Our brain uses about 120g glucose per day and prefers carbohydrates, as they easily convert to glucose!

Muscle: Our muscles use carbs as fuel, but can also convert ketone and fatty acid bodies into fuel for use. Excess carbohydrates are stored in our muscles as glycogen. Generally speaking, we can store up to 1200 calories worth of carbs in our muscles!

Fat Cells: If our 1200cal of storage is full, we store excess carbohydrates (known as triglycerides) in our fat cells (adipose tissue) for use later. This storage was used primarily for preventing starvation during famine times, now; we have an overabundance of easily accessible food and rarely need to worry about famine conditions!

Kidneys: Your kidneys are very busy little organs! They are responsible for removing waste (as urine) and reabsorbing what we can use again, like sodium, minerals, etc. This constant filtering requires a lot of energy!

Liver: Our liver uses glucose constantly to fuel its metabolic functions. Our liver produces proteins that are vital for blood clotting, breaks down old and damaged blood cells, breaks down fats for metabolism, and is continuously secreting bile for proper digestion!

Additionally, a discussion on how our bodies use carbohydrates would be incomplete without talking about insulin, glycogen, and gluconeogenesis, and a few other “G” terms. In the simplest terms, I’d like you to understand these important components:

Insulin: our storage hormone! Insulin is created in the pancreas when there is too much sugar in our bloodstream from an intake of carbohydrates that is too high for our current needs. Insulin wants our blood sugar to stay level, and if our muscles and organs cannot immediately use ingested carbs, insulin tells our body to store the extra for later needs.

Glucagon: our release hormone! Glucagon is the opposite of insulin, it is also created in the pancreas and senses when there is too little glucose in our blood stream. Glucagon tells our liver to release stored carbohydrates and convert them into glucose to bring our blood glucose level back to normal.

Think of insulin and glucagon like the thermostat in your home. If you have the thermostat set at 75 degrees, it will work to stay there. When the temperature dips below 75, the heat will kick on. If the temperature rises above 75, your air conditioner will engage. Always keeping your home at 75. Our blood sugar balance works much in the same way. If there is too much sugar in our bloodstream, insulin will tell your body to store the excess glucose. If there is too little, glucagon will tell the liver to release stored carbs to raise the blood sugar levels. Keeping homeostasis, or keeping balance, is critical for proper body functioning.

Glycogen: the storage form of carbohydrates.

Gluconeogenesis: the act of making glucose from alternative sources (i.e. not carbohydrate sources) such as proteins and fats (amino acids and fatty acids).

Glycogenolysis: the breakdown of glycogen in the muscles and liver tissues as directed by insulin or glucagon.

Glycogenesis: the making of glycogen.

Was that too scienc-y for you? I hope not! It’ll get a little better from here :)

Digestion of Carbohydrates

The digestion of carbohydrates begins in our mouth, with the amylase enzyme. This enzyme is specifically in charge of breaking down carbohydrates, and then follows a roller coaster of stomach acid and chyme in our stomach and digestive enzymes in the small intestine to break down the carbohydrates into their simplest form, monosaccharides. Once they are in this form, they can be absorbed and utilized. Ultimately, glucose will head to the liver to be utilized or stored. Any carbohydrates that are not yet absorbed, will flow through to the large intestine and colon. Fiber from our food cannot be absorbed or digested, and contributes to our stool, helping remove waste products from our body.

How many carbohydrates do we need?

Trick question, technically none! Our bodies love using carbs because they are so easy to break down and such a quick source of energy, however, we can create glucose from amino acids and fatty acids if we need to! The amount that you will function best with depends on a lot of factors such as: age, genetics, lifestyle, activity level, injuries/illnesses, and your body’s ability to break down and utilize carbs. We can look at your specific needs in an initial intake based off of your goals and functioning!

I think that’s enough for one day and one post! I hope you found this entry enlightening and understandable. I know we got a little scienc-y for a few minutes there, but I promise you’re a better person for knowing more! You can never be overdressed or overeducated!

 In Carbohydrates 101 Part 2 we will look at dysfunctions with carbohydrate usage and storage, types of carbohydrates, and examples of good, whole food carbohydrates to incorporate into your diet!

Are there any other topics you’d like to see me cover in Carbs 101 Part 2?

Erica

Juicing 101

Welcome to the Erica Zellner Nutrition Blog. Today we are taking a look at the basics of juicing. What is juicing? What kind of juicer should I get? How do I get started? All of this and more will be answered in this short blog post! Let's get started.   What is juicing:  Juicing is the process of extracting the natural water, vitamins and minerals from raw fruits and vegetables. Juicing strips away the solid and fibrous parts of the plant and leaves only the liquid. This is liquid gold that you are left with! This beverage is loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, enzymes, and phytonutrients, in addition to the vitamins and minerals found in the fruit or vegetable. Juicing is the best ‘fast food’ you can consume! When you drink a fresh juice, it only takes about 15 minutes for your body to absorb and begin putting to use all those beneficial compounds!  Different Types of Juicers:  Before you go out and buy a juicer, it’s best to become familiar with the different types and which type will best suit your needs. Some factors to consider when deciding on a type of juicer include how the juicer produces juice, how long the juice will stay fresh (read: nutritionally intact), and the variety of produce your juicer can process.  There are five types of juicers that we will discuss today: centrifugal  juicers, masticating juicers, triturating juicers, and manual juicers.   Centrifugal Juicers   Centrifugal juicers are probably the most widely available types of juicers. You will see them in department stores such as Macys or JC Penny as well as places like Target and Wal Mart. They are generally, very affordable and can be easily found under $100.  Centrifugal juicers are named for the way they work. These juicers use a cutting blade to chop the produce and then spin the produce at very high speeds through a strainer to separate the pulp from the juice.  This rapid spinning action makes this type of juicer less efficient at extracting juice than other types, leaving the discarded pulp quite moist and the high speed produces heat and friction, which will inevitably oxidize the fresh juice. The result can be a degradation of the taste and compromise of the quality of nutrients produced. Juice from this type of juicer cannot withstand storage due to the oxidation and degradation of the nutrients.  Centrifugal juicers are generally easy to use and to clean and are the quickest method of producing fresh juice.  The take away: This juicer is a good choice for someone who is looking for the quickest way to make a fresh juice and will be consuming the juice immediately. This is also an economical option, as centrifugal juicers tend to be less expensive than other types and can be found in many different stores.   Masticating Juicers   I am a little biased here, because this is the type of juicer I personally own and use, and I believe is the best option for most people. Masticating juicers have a single gear (called an auger), that crushes the fruit and vegetables into pulp and slowly releases the juice as a result. Unlike the centrifugal juicer, the masticating juicer runs at a much lower speed, limiting the oxidation and preserving most of the vital enzymes and nutrients. This juicer is also much more efficient than a centrifugal juicer, producing a dry pulp and maximizing the amount of juice that is collected. Thanks to the minimization of oxidation, this juice can safely be stored (air tight and refrigerated) for up to 72 hours without major nutrient loss. This means you can make larger quantities of juice to sip on throughout the week, with less of an overall time investment. These juicers tend to be around the $250-$350 range.  The take away: This type of juicer will produce the most juice from your fruits and veggies and will preserve nutrients for storage up to 72 hours. It is a higher initial investment than a centrifugal juicer, but these juicers tend to last longer than other types.   Triturating Juicers   Also known as twin gear juicers, these are the top of the line and champions of the juicer world. These juicers extract fresh juice from produce using twin gears that interlock with each other while rotating inwards - crushing everything you put between them into a very dry pulp. Triturating juicers operate at a very low speed, producing no heat and ensuring thorough juicing of all produce while simultaneously preventing air getting trapped in the juice and causing oxidation. This is the best option for someone for whom price is not an issue as they tend to be in the $1,000 and up price range.  The take away: These juicers are very versatile, the top of the line. They are some of the best juicers available but that does not mean they are the best choice for you. Just as you wouldn't buy a Limo when all you plan on doing is driving to and from work, there's no need to spring for a triturating juicer unless you really have use for it.   Manual Juicers   Just like their name suggests, these juicers are operated by hand and are relatively inexpensive. Most of the manual juicers you will see on the market will either be for citrus or wheatgrass. Manual juicers are limited in the variety of produce they can process. They are a worthwhile investment if you are looking to just try out juicing without wanting to invest too much financially upfront.  The take away: Manual juicers need elbow grease! Depending on your strength and endurance, you can juice relatively quickly, or not so quickly. Harder produce, such as carrots or celery, may be difficult for you to juice with a manual juicer, so you may be limited as to what kinds of juices you can create for yourself.   What To Juice   Try to always choose organic, and if you cannot shop exclusively organic, at least adhere to the dirty dozen for produce.  Vegetables:   ·            Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, romaine, mustard greens, dandelion greens, swiss chard, etc.   ·            Herbs such as mint, basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.   ·            Carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, beets, celery, ginger root, etc.  Fruits:   ·            Citrus such as grapefruit, oranges, limes, lemons, etc   ·            Kiwi, apples, pears, pineapple, berries, watermelon, etc  How to Juice:  Remove any inedible skin (such as the hard skin on lemons) and thoroughly wash all other fruits and vegetables.  Dice produce to fit the size of your juicers chute. Slowly pass produce through the juicer, alternating leafy greens with other fruits/veg if applicable.  Drink immediately or store in an air-tight container and refrigerate.     Easy Juicing Recipes:   ·            Three organic carrots, two organic green apples, one thumb of ginger   ·            Three stalks organic celery, ½ large organic cucumber, one organic green apple, one organic pear   ·            Two medium organic beets with green tops, one cup organic blueberries, one cup organic strawberries   ·            One bunch organic spinach, two organic yellow delicious apples, 1 organic lemon peeled, two organic oranges, one thumb ginger peeled, eight stems organic mint  I hope this blog post gave you a great introduction to the world of juicing! Stay tuned for future juicing recipes that I love and use often.  Erica

Welcome to the Erica Zellner Nutrition Blog. Today we are taking a look at the basics of juicing. What is juicing? What kind of juicer should I get? How do I get started? All of this and more will be answered in this short blog post! Let's get started. 

What is juicing:

Juicing is the process of extracting the natural water, vitamins and minerals from raw fruits and vegetables. Juicing strips away the solid and fibrous parts of the plant and leaves only the liquid. This is liquid gold that you are left with! This beverage is loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, enzymes, and phytonutrients, in addition to the vitamins and minerals found in the fruit or vegetable. Juicing is the best ‘fast food’ you can consume! When you drink a fresh juice, it only takes about 15 minutes for your body to absorb and begin putting to use all those beneficial compounds!

Different Types of Juicers:

Before you go out and buy a juicer, it’s best to become familiar with the different types and which type will best suit your needs. Some factors to consider when deciding on a type of juicer include how the juicer produces juice, how long the juice will stay fresh (read: nutritionally intact), and the variety of produce your juicer can process.

There are five types of juicers that we will discuss today: centrifugal  juicers, masticating juicers, triturating juicers, and manual juicers.

Centrifugal Juicers

Centrifugal juicers are probably the most widely available types of juicers. You will see them in department stores such as Macys or JC Penny as well as places like Target and Wal Mart. They are generally, very affordable and can be easily found under $100.

Centrifugal juicers are named for the way they work. These juicers use a cutting blade to chop the produce and then spin the produce at very high speeds through a strainer to separate the pulp from the juice.  This rapid spinning action makes this type of juicer less efficient at extracting juice than other types, leaving the discarded pulp quite moist and the high speed produces heat and friction, which will inevitably oxidize the fresh juice. The result can be a degradation of the taste and compromise of the quality of nutrients produced. Juice from this type of juicer cannot withstand storage due to the oxidation and degradation of the nutrients.  Centrifugal juicers are generally easy to use and to clean and are the quickest method of producing fresh juice.

The take away: This juicer is a good choice for someone who is looking for the quickest way to make a fresh juice and will be consuming the juice immediately. This is also an economical option, as centrifugal juicers tend to be less expensive than other types and can be found in many different stores.

Masticating Juicers

I am a little biased here, because this is the type of juicer I personally own and use, and I believe is the best option for most people. Masticating juicers have a single gear (called an auger), that crushes the fruit and vegetables into pulp and slowly releases the juice as a result. Unlike the centrifugal juicer, the masticating juicer runs at a much lower speed, limiting the oxidation and preserving most of the vital enzymes and nutrients. This juicer is also much more efficient than a centrifugal juicer, producing a dry pulp and maximizing the amount of juice that is collected. Thanks to the minimization of oxidation, this juice can safely be stored (air tight and refrigerated) for up to 72 hours without major nutrient loss. This means you can make larger quantities of juice to sip on throughout the week, with less of an overall time investment. These juicers tend to be around the $250-$350 range.

The take away: This type of juicer will produce the most juice from your fruits and veggies and will preserve nutrients for storage up to 72 hours. It is a higher initial investment than a centrifugal juicer, but these juicers tend to last longer than other types.

Triturating Juicers

Also known as twin gear juicers, these are the top of the line and champions of the juicer world. These juicers extract fresh juice from produce using twin gears that interlock with each other while rotating inwards - crushing everything you put between them into a very dry pulp. Triturating juicers operate at a very low speed, producing no heat and ensuring thorough juicing of all produce while simultaneously preventing air getting trapped in the juice and causing oxidation. This is the best option for someone for whom price is not an issue as they tend to be in the $1,000 and up price range.

The take away: These juicers are very versatile, the top of the line. They are some of the best juicers available but that does not mean they are the best choice for you. Just as you wouldn't buy a Limo when all you plan on doing is driving to and from work, there's no need to spring for a triturating juicer unless you really have use for it.

Manual Juicers

Just like their name suggests, these juicers are operated by hand and are relatively inexpensive. Most of the manual juicers you will see on the market will either be for citrus or wheatgrass. Manual juicers are limited in the variety of produce they can process. They are a worthwhile investment if you are looking to just try out juicing without wanting to invest too much financially upfront.

The take away: Manual juicers need elbow grease! Depending on your strength and endurance, you can juice relatively quickly, or not so quickly. Harder produce, such as carrots or celery, may be difficult for you to juice with a manual juicer, so you may be limited as to what kinds of juices you can create for yourself.

What To Juice

Try to always choose organic, and if you cannot shop exclusively organic, at least adhere to the dirty dozen for produce.

Vegetables:

·         Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, romaine, mustard greens, dandelion greens, swiss chard, etc.

·         Herbs such as mint, basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.

·         Carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, beets, celery, ginger root, etc.

Fruits:

·         Citrus such as grapefruit, oranges, limes, lemons, etc

·         Kiwi, apples, pears, pineapple, berries, watermelon, etc

How to Juice:

Remove any inedible skin (such as the hard skin on lemons) and thoroughly wash all other fruits and vegetables.

Dice produce to fit the size of your juicers chute. Slowly pass produce through the juicer, alternating leafy greens with other fruits/veg if applicable.

Drink immediately or store in an air-tight container and refrigerate.

 

Easy Juicing Recipes:

·         Three organic carrots, two organic green apples, one thumb of ginger

·         Three stalks organic celery, ½ large organic cucumber, one organic green apple, one organic pear

·         Two medium organic beets with green tops, one cup organic blueberries, one cup organic strawberries

·         One bunch organic spinach, two organic yellow delicious apples, 1 organic lemon peeled, two organic oranges, one thumb ginger peeled, eight stems organic mint

I hope this blog post gave you a great introduction to the world of juicing! Stay tuned for future juicing recipes that I love and use often.

Erica