Everybody knows that fruits and vegetables are good for you. Even the least health-conscious among us have overcome our childhood aversions to broccoli or spinach or Brussels sprouts and at least occasionally order a side salad with fast food burgers and fries. But nearly everyone finds it takes a real effort to get the five to nine servings of vegetables and fruit the nutritionists tell us we need for optimal good health.

It takes time to buy vegetables, bring them home, wash them, dry them, store them safely in the refrigerator, prepare them in salads, stir-fries, steam them, boil them, eat them, and then clean up afterward. When we eat out, there are not many options for getting five servings of vegetables on your plate to make up for the other meals of the day you just grabbed a coffee and a Danish or ate a fast-food sandwich.

Fortunately, there's a better way to make sure you get your healthy plant foods each and every day. It's juicing.

What's different about juice?

If your only experience of juice is orange juice from a bottle, or a carton, made with oranges from multiple countries, squeezed, concentrated and re-hydrated so it would keep from spoiling during the months it travels from the orange groves to the grocer's shelf, you just don't know what you are missing. Freshly squeezed juice bursts with flavor and provides nutrients in a form you just can't get from any other food.

First, let's consider the flavor possibilities of juices you make at home.

One of the reasons that juices taste better than the fruits and vegetables from which they are made is that they come in contact with the entire tongue. Although the taste receptors for sweet, sour, bitter, and salty flavors aren't strictly segregated to certain areas of your tongue, they do tend to be concentrated on certain parts of your tongue. Unless you take tiny bites that you chew thoroughly and take time to taste each bite, there are certain flavors in plant foods that just don't get a chance to register on your tongue before they go down the hatch. Juices come into immediate contact with your whole tongue and deliver whole flavor.

Juicing also releases the aromas of fruits and vegetables. Through meticulous research, scientists know that different chemicals correspond to different taste notes in food. Pineapple, for instance, contains 12 chemicals that are sensed in the nose, not on the taste buds. These chemicals are associated with fresh and fruity flavors that have to be smelled to be appreciated. Juicing releases the compounds so you can taste fresh juice even before it touches your lips.

Probably the greatest advantage to juicing is convenience. You will still need to go to the market though. You'll need to pick up produce, wash it, and juice it right away. Once you make that juice, however, you can keep it in tightly sealed containers in your refrigerator, in some instances for as long as a week. Just like you can cook ahead, you can juice ahead so you will always have a way to get those five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables per day no matter how busy your schedule.

Most promoters of juicing will tell you that you get more nutrients from juice. That's usually but not always true. But one of the most important health benefits of juicing is probably something you never considered. Juices both reduce your appetite and flip a metabolic switch from fat storage to fat burning.

How can that be?

The stomach expands when we fill it with food or water. Water and diet soft drinks stretch the stomach, but they don't stay in the stomach very long.

Juice, on the other hand, contains countless tiny particles that have to be digested before the water component of the juice can be passed along to the lower digestive tract. When the stomach stays full for several minutes, the stretch receptors in its lining send a message back to the brain that you don't need to eat. Essentially your stomach sends your brain the message "I'm busy" when you drink a tall glass of juice. You feel full for longer on few calories when you drink fruit and vegetable juice.

Juices have the opposite effect, however, when they reach the small intestine. The small intestine also has stretch receptors. Juice doesn't activate these receptors but other foods do. When the small intestine fills up with any kind of digested solid food, even with a big bowl of fiber cereal or a whole head of lettuce, it also sends out a message through the central nervous system, but this message is received by the pancreas. The pancreas releases insulin to store any sugars that may be released by food.

Insulin doesn't just store sugar. It also stores fat, 300 times more efficiently than it stores sugar. When the small intestine receives digested juice, it doesn't send this signal. It also doesn't prime your fat cells to absorb every extra calorie. Juices help your body burn fat rather than store it.

But that's not all. Even if you drink juice with a meal, fresh fruit and vegetable juice helps to cancel out the inflammatory effects of fat and sugar. The antioxidants in fresh juice cancel out the pro-oxidants released as the body burns and stores the fat and sugar so there is less stress on your blood vessels and even in your joints when you drink juice, even if you don't make time for other healthy foods.

Scientists tell us that the more kinds of juices you drink the more intensely you'll be able to taste them. Drinking juices every day or even every meal is a great way to get the plant foods you need, to help control your cravings, to cancel out some of the effects of eating fast foods and fatty foods, and train your taste buds to enjoy juice even more.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Andy Williams is a health nut with a fascination for nutrition. His website JuicingtheRainbow.com discusses the benefits of Juicing for Health and includes detailed information on the nutritional makeup of your juices.

Learn about the vitamins and minerals our bodies need, and also which fruit and vegetables are rich in these nutrients. Follow Andy Williams on Google+