By Anica Wong

July 19, 2012 4 min read

The winter months, no matter where you live, can be hard on your body. Fewer hours of sunlight grant less opportunity to get vitamin D, an essential vitamin that is not only good for your skin but also helps your body regulate calcium absorption and maintain a healthy immune system. Cold temperatures make it hard to get out and exercise, turning some people into seasonal couch potatoes. And don't get started on the holiday goodies.

But don't let this time of the year deplete all of the good things you have done for your body during the other eight months. Make the decision to be good to your body, and keep it fresh and natural during the winter.

One recently popular method (and easy, too) is juicing, the process of squeezing out the juice of fruits and veggies. Featured in the 2010 documentary "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead," juicing was what the main character, an extremely obese man, did for 60 days. He vowed to only drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice while trying to achieve a balanced lifestyle. As he covers 3,000 miles across the U.S., Joe Cross loses over 80 pounds and cures himself of a chronic illness.

This concept seems to have caught on, with juice companies popping up all over the country, from Pressed Juicery in Los Angeles to BluePrintCleanse, based in New York. Michael Burchard, a Los Angeles resident, was discussing with his friend, who happened to be a trainer, the added benefits of juicing, namely that it might increase his energy and cleanse his system. He decided to give it a try, and six months later, he is touting the affect it has had.

Burchard creates a green drink, a combination of kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, ginger, parsley, apple, lemon and cayenne. For his sweet-toothed girlfriend, he makes a fruitier drink that contains oranges, apples and celery. Burchard drinks his green drink every day.

"I've had the benefits of better sleep, mental clarity and higher energy," he says. Burchard combines drinking the juice with daily smoothies, yoga, resistance training and swimming when he can; juicing is one facet of his healthy lifestyle.

Experts caution, though, that juicing isn't much different than eating a fresh, whole fruit or vegetable. Depending on what kind of juicer you use, juicing can extract the pulp of the veggie or fruit, which provides helpful fiber for your diet and also aids in making you feel full.

According to Jennifer K. Nelson, the director of clinical dietetics at College of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, there's no sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than getting the juice from the fruit or vegetable itself. In an article on the Mayo Clinic's website, she does state that juicing can be a fun way to shake up a boring routine of eating the same veggies and fruits all the time. There are many different combinations that you can try when juicing, which gives you the option to try new foods that you might not normally eat raw but when added to a blended juice, taste good.

Whether you jump on the juicing bandwagon or just eat enough fruits and veggies in your day-to-day diet, your body will most likely thank you for putting in fresh and natural ingredients. And when your body feels good, your outlook will hopefully be positive, even when it's gray and dreary out.

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