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Have you had your juice today?

Apart from preventing a range of ailments, fruit and vegetable juices give the body essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins.

health and fitness Updated: Sep 25, 2007 17:42 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

Raw fruit and vegetable juices are live, energising foods. Apart from preventing a range of ailments, they give the body many nutrients, minerals and vitamins that it needs.

Our body constantly replaces old, worn-out cells with new ones. An obvious example of this is the visible growth of hair and nails.

The body even builds a new heart, cell by cell, every 30 days. But it must receive the nutrients vital for cell regeneration, especially since the process also prevents degenerative diseases and helps reverse the aging process.

However, if you haven't taken care to provide your body the essential nutrients so far, don't panic. The good news is that it's never too late to start. Start eating right and reap the benefits.

<b1>The nutrients needed for rebuilding healthy cells are found in plenty in fresh fruits and vegetables. The problem is that most people don't eat enough of these.

Also, cooking and packaging destroys many of the nutrients. Canned juices contain artificial colours, stabilisers, thickeners, etc. Most of them are pasteurised and the heat of the process drives out most of the vitamin C.

So if you want a juice full of nutrients, make it yourself. Remember, you must have these foods raw, in the required quantities and regularly (our bodies cannot store large quantities of nutrients and needs a daily supply), to enjoy their benefits.

The amount of nutrients you get from a glass of juice depends on the fruit or vegetable used. Carrot juice, for instance, is packed with beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamins B1, B2 and C, niacin, sodium, calcium, carbohydrates, protein, potassium (especially useful in balancing excess salt in the body) and iron - equivalent to what you would get from two ounces (57 gm) of calf 's liver.

Iron is important since it combines with protein to form haemoglobin.

Pectin is another very beneficial, soluble fibre found in most plants though it is concentrated in apples, plums, currants, black berries, bananas, and citrus fruits like oranges, limes and grape fruits.

Pectin facilitates easy digestion, is used to treat stomach ulcers and has great detoxification and cholesterol-lowering properties.

It is easier to supply your body with the necessary nutrients by drinking fresh juice than eating whole fruits and vegetables.

Do remember that the fresher the juice you drink, the more nutrients you will derive from it. Before extracting the juice, wash the fruits or vegetables thoroughly.

Use skins when possible, but avoid the skins of oranges, apples and red potatoes, which are likely to be dyed.

Very few people realise the importance of consuming raw fruits and vegetables as a part of their daily diet. Many people don't like eating salads since they find it hard to digest. Improperly digested food can definitely be a problem, which is another reason why fresh juice is a good idea.