Juice Revolution: How to Drink Your Way to Better Health

Juice Revolution: How to Drink Your Way to Better Health

Go beyond the cleanse and try juicing to boost your health.

By the time he met juicing chef Craig King, Ramon Lopez’s type II diabetes had spiraled out of control. His blood glucose reading hovered around 400 milligrams per deciliter, several hundred points higher than an average non-diabetic’s. Nearly 100 pounds overweight, he couldn’t see his feet when standing. Because of diabetes-related circulation problems and the resulting foot ulcers, he’d just had several toes amputated.

“I had been trying to lose weight,” Lopez says, explaining that he doesn’t get much exercise on the job.

The two men met by coincidence when King was delivering his Glow Cleanse juices and broth to some clients. The Lumeria Maui resort’s resident organic juice chef parked in the lot where Lopez is the parking attendant. After asking King what he was delivering, King began explaining the health benefits of juice. Noting Lopez’s obvious difficulties, “I offered to gift the cleanse to him if he’d just agree to stick with the process for however long it takes,” King explains. King knew that on his program, Lopez would be able to lose weight and lower his blood sugar level. He knew because he’d seen it time after time.

Craig King has been a raw foods and juicing chef for two decades. Once a young Hollywood actor, he traded in his scripts for a job as a private chef and attaché to the Saudi royal family. “(Acting) wasn’t my heart path,” he says. Instead, he found his true calling in preparing wholesome foods. “I needed something to ground my energy — something that isn’t about me.”

Craig King has been a raw foods and juicing chef for two decades. Once a young Hollywood actor, he traded in his scripts for a job as a private chef and attaché to the Saudi royal family. “(Acting) wasn’t my heart path,” he says. Instead, he found his true calling in preparing wholesome foods. “I needed something to ground my energy — something that isn’t about me.”

Juicing is nothing new, but its recent resurgence in popularity is due in part to Joe Cross’s 2010 documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, in which Cross travels across the country while on a 60-day juice fast. Like Lopez, Cross was looking to reboot his life. The film opens with Cross weighing in 100 pounds over optimal weight and suffering from an autoimmune disease. As he travels and slims down on his all-juice diet, he meets other people who are as unhealthy as he was: overweight, suffering from diabetes, and at risk of heart attack and sudden death. By sharing his story and the stories of those he met, Cross kicked off a grass-roots movement of juicing enthusiasts working to reverse the health complications they experienced as a result of being overweight.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat To Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, believes there’s also been a cumulative effect on the public consciousness as many well-known leaders like former President Bill Clinton have switched to healthier plant-based diets and experts like Dr. Mehmet Oz have gained a larger audience. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I’ve had the same message and been a nutritional physician for my whole career,” Dr. Fuhrman says. “I think the publicity from my work and the works of others has rubbed off; now somebody has heard of someone who reversed their heart disease or diabetes. It’s made it so that now this message (about the importance of diet and nutrition) is becoming more acceptable.”

“The American diet is toxic and, you could say, even deadly,” he adds. “The standard American diet consists of 62 percent of calories from processed foods and 26 percent from animal products. That leaves only just over 10 percent of calories that can come from fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and natural plant fluids. The amount of phytochemicals and antioxidants in the American diet is too low to afford normal cell function.”

Juicing is a relatively simple way to reset your body, and juice cleanses (or juice feasts, as they’re sometimes called) are just one of the many ways to incorporate more antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies into your life. Fresh juice is thought to combat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Many juicing proponents also swear that juice improves energy, digestion, and mental clarity and relieves allergies and even chronic pain. Increasingly, studies also back up these claims. Dr. Fuhrman points to a 2000 study in the journal of the National Cancer Institute that found that 28 servings of cruciferous vegetables each week (versus 14 servings) reduced the risk for prostate cancer by 35 percent. Other medical studies focusing on the health benefits of diets high in fruits and vegetables support these findings.

Many cleanse masters first solved their own health problems through juicing before turning to lead others down the path. Cherie “The Juice Lady” Calbom was just 30 when she was sidelined by chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Conventional Western doctors weren’t able to solve her health crisis, and, unable to work, she was forced to quit her job. Feeling desperate, she started reading every book she could get her hands on. Twenty years ago, there were far fewer books on juicing than there are today. But Calbom stumbled upon one juicing passage in a book about whole foods and thought, Maybe juicing is the solution for me. She designed her own program and began with a five-day juice feast, then added raw vegan foods back into her diet. Within three months, she was well again. In order to tweak her methods and offer her healing program to others, Calbom headed back to school for a master’s degree in nutrition.

Like King, Calbom has hundreds of stories about clients who have turned their lives around. With many of her clients referred by Western doctors, she’s helped countless individuals lower their blood sugar, boost their energy levels, and lose weight through juice feasts. “Our bodies were designed to heal,” she says. She says that getting back on a healthy track is simply about recognizing what aspects of our lives need to change — and about investing in and committing to healing. Dr. Fuhrman agrees and warns that isolated juice cleanses without larger knowledge and commitment to nutrition is pointless. “I want people to study about nutrition. Then if they want to fast or add juice to their otherwise excellent diet, great. But they shouldn’t be doing juicing as the substitute or to take penance for their bad eating,” he says.

Green juices are an especially popular way to get into daily juicing, as drinking fresh juice can provide an early morning energy boost. They typically include a green vegetable base, such as spinach, cucumber, and celery, and include apple, ginger, or a squeeze of lemon for sweetness. They’re also an easy and tasty way to get extra servings of leafy greens, root vegetables, and fruits. Other juice blends can help combat allergy symptoms, revitalize the lungs, and cleanse the colon.

While not essential, it’s recommended that you juice with organic fruits and veggies whenever possible to avoid creating what King refers to as “a toxic slurry of pesticides, chemicals, and herbicides.” Drinking any of those things in a concentrated form will only serve to counteract the healthful properties of the juice. When organic produce isn’t available, Calbom recommends peeling fruits and veggies.

Stephanie Pedersen, a nutritionist, weight loss consultant, and certified holistic health counselor who owns High Impact Health based in New York, says juicing doesn’t have to be daunting. It can be done at home with little preparation and without investing in a big, expensive juicer. As she’s welcomed new clients into her practice over the years, she explains, “I noticed that people were letting the technicalities get in the way.” Her suggested solution? Start juicing with a conventional blender to get a feel for the process. She offers plenty of simple recipes to clients getting started and even suggests waiting to purchase a juicer until people feel fully committed. “Juicing really is for everyone,” she says. “Start where you are.

”Of course, not everyone will have the same guidance and results as Ramon Lopez. Nearly two months into his Glow Cleanse, he’s lost 45 pounds and brought his blood sugar down 250 points. “I can see my feet now,” he says with a chuckle. “I think Craig King is my guardian angel.”


Want to kick-start your health with a juice feast or cleanse? These juicing retreats offer not just bodily nourishment but help cleanse and heal your whole self.

Lumeria Maui Glow Cleanse
Yoga Fusion Experience
Lumeria, Maui
Led by Chef Craig King
Pricing and registration, email [email protected] or call 808-579-8877

Features individualized Glow Cleanse, daily yoga class, daily gentle hikes, and daily Hawaiian lomilomi massages. Day trips to beaches and heiaus, ancient Hawaiian sacred sites, with meditation, chanting, and educational component included.

Trinity Wellness Juice Health Retreats
The Pecos, New Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey and Benedictine Monastery
Led by Cherie Calbom, Father John Calbom, and Dr. Nina Walsh
September 16-22 and October 14-20
Single room with private bathroom, $1,095; shared room, $895
More information at

Features daily juicing demonstrations, as well as various herbal teas and juices at mealtimes. Includes time for daily private meditation and prayer, vespers, and compline.

American Yogini Hohm Juice Cleanse Retreat
American Yogini, Jamesport, New York
Flexible dates; come and go as you like
Private rooms with private bathrooms start at $275 for five days; shared rooms/bathrooms from $175
More information at

Features flexible light meal plans and juice cleanse options. Includes daily yoga classes. Silent time between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. daily. Healing arts and massage therapy also on-site.

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