Although needed only in small amounts, micro-nutrients are essential for the proper functioning of every system in the body and are vital for good health. There are two classes of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Each vitamin and mineral has a specific role in bodily function.
Our bodies cannot make all of these micro-nutrients, so they must be supplied through the diet. Different foods contain different levels of vitamins and minerals, so it's important that you eat a wide variety of foods from the different food groups and a variety within each food group, to make sure you get an adequate supply of all the micro-nutrients your body needs.
Vitamin A is an important micronutrient needed for healthy eyesight and gums, Vitamin C for a healthy functioning immune system, and Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which helps fight free radical damage in the body. We need vitamin D for strong bones and immune function, and our B vitamins for energy production, nervous system health and for proper digestion.
There are also essential minerals that play important roles in the body such as iron needed for red blood cell production, calcium for strong healthy bones and teeth, magnesium for nervous system health, and zinc for healthy skin, reproductive and immune function. Selenium is also an important mineral which acts as an antioxidant to protect the body from chronic diseases and premature aging.
Manganese promotes bone formation and energy production, and helps your body metabolize the macronutrients, protein, carbohydrate and fat.
- Magnesium helps your heart maintain its normal rhythm. It helps your body convert glucose (blood sugar) into energy, and it is necessary for the metabolization of the micronutrients calcium and vitamin C.
- Iron helps your body produce red blood cells and lymphocytes.
- Iodine helps your thyroid gland develop and function. It helps your body to metabolize fats, and promotes energy production and growth.
- Chloride helps regulate water and electrolytes within your cells, as well as helping to maintain appropriate cellular pH.
Blending and juicing both disrupt the mechanical structure of plant cells, which increases the accessibility of many micronutrients. Many beneficial micronutrients – carotenoids, polyphenols, and folate for example — are often bound to structural components or large molecules within the plant cell like fiber, proteins, and starches. Processing, heating, and chewing break down these cellular structures to increase the availability of the bound micronutrients; however, many may not be accessible for our absorption by chewing alone. Blending increases our likelihood of absorbing these nutrients. Importantly, the micronutrients that are bound to fiber within the plant cell may be removed with the fiber by juicing and therefore be more available via blending than juicing.
Also, with smoothies, you are often adding nuts or seeds as a healthful fat source. Although blending alone increases the accessibility of carotenoids, since the presence of fats is known to increase carotenoid absorption from leafy greens, it is possible that nuts and seeds in a smoothie could increase absorption further.
For those who have nutrient absorption problems, gastrointestinal conditions, or other medical conditions, vegetable juices (especially cruciferous vegetables) are often useful as a supplement to a healthful diet, providing additional beneficial nutrients to promote healing.
GUIDELINES FOR JUICING AND BLENDING:
- By blending, you get everything that you would get in juice, so juicing is not a necessary component of a healthful diet.
- Whereas a green smoothie can be a meal, think of a vegetable juice as a supplement to add extra leafy green-derived nutrients to a healthful diet.
- If you do juice regularly, make sure that you are not replacing your leafy green salads and whole raw vegetables with juices.
- Whether you are juicing or making smoothies, be sure to put a greater focus on vegetables than fruit; use only a small amount of fruit to add flavor, so that you maximize nutritional value and limit glycemic effects.
- Limit smoothies and green juices to one per day, and remember that this does not remove the necessity to utilize your teeth to eat a raw salad every day.
Here is a website with a list of examples of nutrient dense foods: www.sunwarrior.com