Getting in all your fruits and veggies each day can be a challenge even for the most fit-conscious among us.

“Juicing can be one way to receive the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that plants have to offer,” said Jeanne Nemec, a clinical dietitian at Liberty Hospital.

But beware, Nemec said, as standard juicers will not only extract the juice, but also remove much of the pulp and skin of fruits and vegetables – a rich source of the vitamins and minerals needed for our diet.

“Adding the byproduct of the juicing process back in your meals — either by adding back into the juice, into soups/casseroles etc. — can help you recover some of the lost goodness,” she said.

Stacey Stephens has seen firsthand how helpful juicing can be. The owner of Juice Box 816 in St. Joseph retains some pulp in all her handcrafted juices.

“I’ve noticed amazing benefits, such as better skin, weight loss and my energy levels increasing,” said Stephens, who has been juicing for five years.

“Juicing is powerful for the immune system and digestive health,” she said. “Many people as they age get various auto-immune diseases and it usually links with bad gut health.”

She recommends doing a juice “cleanse” or simply drinking one juice a day to help improve gut health. A cleanse is when solid food is replaced by juice for three days to several weeks.

Nemec suggests that if it’s something you enjoy, juicing is safe as an occasional meal replacement.

If you juice at home, make small batches that can be consumed relatively quickly, since bacteria can grow easily in juice that has been sitting around for a few days, Nemec added.

If you don’t like eating fruits and vegetables, juicing can be an easy way to incorporate them into your diet or to get a taste of fruits and vegetables you otherwise might not try.

“Juicing is one way to get fruits and vegetables in your diet, but simply eating them will, too,” Nemec said.

The current federal recommendations for adults are at least 1½ to 2 cups of fruit per day and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables.

Presently, Stephens’s business is online only and orders can be placed at juicebox816.com. She also has a Facebook page (Juice Box 816) and plans to have a brick-and-mortar business opening in St. Joseph within the next two years.

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