Gail Maytin gets some help from her son, Jason, 10, in making a fruit and vegetable juice.
Gail Maytin gets some help from her son, Jason, 10, in making a fruit and vegetable juice.
Posted: Tuesday March 20, 2012, 10:58 AM
Juicing Up: A health-promoting habit

Co-workers often wonder about the neon green bottles of juice that Gail Maytin keeps in the office refrigerator.

"Who's drinking that?" they ask.

A Wyckoff mom, Maytin is unfazed by the attention paid to her homemade vegetable and fruit concoctions. "The nutrition per calorie is through the roof," said Maytin, who in an effort to lose weight over a year ago started supplementing her diet with fresh juices.

Maytin is among the newest converts to juicing — not the sort that gets pro athletes in trouble, but the making of fresh-squeezed vegetable and fruit juices at home. There's a growing movement of people who swear by its benefits.

Jack LaLanne first popularized juicing in American households with his Power Juicers, which came out in the 1980s. "Giving your body the right food is like giving your car the right fuel," he would say, according to his widow, Elaine LaLanne.

These days you can't flip through cable channels late at night without seeing the likes of Montel Willams or some health guru selling their turbo-powered juicers and peddling the juicing lifestyle.

Yes, juicing, like veganism, yoga or rock climbing, has come to represent both an activity and way of life.

Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek swear by a more extreme form of juicing — juice cleanses, where dieters drink nothing but juice for multiple days — and extol its health and beauty effects. Nutritionists caution that prolonged cleanses can be unhealthy and an ineffective way to keep off weight.

"If someone is just juicing and not eating anything else, they're not getting enough calories, protein, fiber, calcium and vitamins," said Susan Kraus, a clinical dietitian at Hackensack University Medical Center. "They're losing weight but not losing it properly. It's probably more of a stress to the body."

Most devotees like Maytin fall into another category. They use juicing as an addition to their daily diet to ensure they're getting the required daily requirements of leafy greens and fruits.

"I'm always amazed about how much nutrition I can get in a couple hundred calories of vegetables," said Maytin, who suffers from colitis and finds juice easier to digest than raw vegetables.

The trend coincides with the growing interest in consuming raw and unprocessed foods.

Tracy Flaherty, a healthy eating specialist for Whole Foods Market in Ridgewood, has been juicing for more than 15 years. "When I juice in the afternoon in place of a cup of coffee, it gives me energy. I feel really good," she said.

Like many serious juicers going for a nutrition punch, Flaherty focuses on using dark leafy greens, and includes only a bit of fruit to balance the flavor. Many juicers are proponents of alkaline diets, believing that alkaline-rich foods such as leafy greens balance the body's pH and reduce inflammation.

"Greens are alkaline. And when you juice, they are already pre-digested, and its one of the best ways to get nutrients in the body," Flaherty said.

Most juice machines work by extracting the liquid of fruit and vegetables and discarding the skin and flesh, which contain key vitamins, minerals and fiber. Nancy Cooper, a holistic nutritionist at the Center for Integrated Healing at Englewood Hospital, recommends looking for a juicer like a Vitamix that processes the whole fruit or vegetable.

Daily juice drinkers, particularly those who consume a lot of fruit, should also be aware of the extra calories they are consuming.

And juicing is really not for everyone, Kraus added. Diabetics who drink fruit juices should be concerned about regulating their blood sugar. A patient with kidney problems should watch out for consuming too much potassium. "I think people need to read between the lines, and look how it applies to them," said Kraus.

Stephanie Byers, a registered dietitian from Wyckoff, juices only in the warm weather months, when local produce is in season. She follows the Eastern medicine concept of yin and yang, believing that in the summer you should consume more yin (cooling foods) such as fruit and vegetable juices.

"I do it mainly because research says the more serving of fruits and vegetables you consume, the better your health and the risk for disease goes down. I can't get in more than seven servings of vegetables and fruits a day, and juicing allows me to do it," said Byers.

Maytin has her juicing regimen down to a routine. She shops about twice a week for fresh produce and buys only organic. She spends about $7 to $10 daily to create 35 ounces of juice, which she shares with her husband.

Her kids have gotten into the practice as well. After she washes and chops the fruit, her 10-year-old son feeds the produce into their Omega juicer. The kids prefer fruit juices, she said, but let her throw in a few handfuls of spinach.

Email: fujimori@northjersey.com

Juice Recipes

Beginning juicers should ease their way in slowly, advises Stephanie Beyers, a registered dietitian. She suggests the following easy recipe.


1 bunch of kale or spinach

5 large carrots

1 apple

Wash and dry all ingredients, then insert into juicer.


Tracy Flaherty, healthy eating coach for Whole Foods, likes to include ginger in her juice for easy digestion.


1 apple

4 or 5 carrots

3 stalks of celery

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled

Wash and dry all ingredients, then insert into juicer.

Email: fujimori@northjersey.com