Juicing is an easy and wonderful way to add some extra vitamins and minerals into your daily diet. It can sometimes be difficult to make sure that you are getting enough nutrients, especially with today’s busy lifestyles. Juicing gives you a powerful package of immune-building, plant-based nutrients in one easy drink.

There are some things to keep in mind when beginning a juicing regimen. Juicing is a great way to detoxify, and because of this it is important to start slowly. I recommend using organic fruits and vegetables as much as you can to minimize pesticides (of course, conventional fruits and vegetables are still beneficial).

For someone who is new to juicing, I always recommend starting with carrot juice. It’s the basis of many juice recipes as it is very therapeutic, tasty and gentle on the gut lining. You can also add in other vegetables and fruits such as apples, celery, greens, beets, pineapple, fresh ginger root and citrus fruits — whatever you like.

Since juicing is quite detoxifying to the body, it is best to begin with a small amount — start with two ounces and then begin to increase this daily. Some common detoxification symptoms include fatigue, headaches, irritability and general achiness (similar to when you are getting the flu). These symptoms generally pass within a few days, but if you introduce juicing slowly you should be able to minimize the impact.

Even though juicing is very healthy and detoxifying the ingredients do contain sugars, so I recommend keeping the maximum per day to two 6-oz. glasses. If you have trouble with blood sugar levels, I recommend eating a protein along with your juice. This will help balance your blood sugar and boost your immunity. Adding in a healthy fat to your juice, such as coconut oil or avocado, is also beneficial.

So why detox? As a holistic nutritionist, an organ that I often address with clients is the health of the liver. Our livers perform literally hundreds of functions each day. One major function is to purify and clear toxins and waste products out of the body. While the liver generally does a great job of keeping toxins at bay, our modern world, lifestyle choices and consumption of processed foods can make it more difficult for the liver to do its job. Keeping the liver healthy and happy is an important component to a wholesome lifestyle, and juicing is an easy tool toward reaching that goal. Since juices are so readily and easily absorbed this gives our digestive system, gall bladder and kidneys a bit of a rest as well.

While it can be impossible to avoid the toxins that are all around us, you do have control over what you put on and into your body. Detoxing should be simple: Our bodies were built to know what to do, and we all have a built-in detoxification system. Keeping this detoxification system healthy is the key and can be done through eating wholesome foods, exercising, and adding in detoxification tools such as juicing, positive thinking and deep breathing exercises.

So what exactly does detoxing do to your body? It allows your liver to do its job more productively. It also gives your digestive system a rest and helps to bring balance and positive change. Since it is cleansing, detoxing can help to eliminate congestion, stagnation and inflammation throughout the body. It may also bring relief for individuals who suffer from constipation (especially when a nourishing fat is added to your juice).

Besides detoxification, juicing provides a nutrient-dense drink. It would be quite difficult to be able to eat, in one sitting, the amount of vegetables and fruits that are in a juiced drink. Besides being highly concentrated in vitamins, minerals and enzymes, juice is easily and quickly absorbed because the fiber is removed — giving your digestive system a bit of a break.

Juicing also provides energy and is a key step toward optimal health. Valuable micronutrients and certain vitamins (such as vitamin C) are retained with juicing as well. These nutrients may become damaged when you heat foods. Fresh juices should be consumed as quickly as possible after you have made them, and within 24 hours.

The longer they sit, the less nutrients they will have.

Before any significant diet change, consult your primary care physician about starting a juice regimen. One caveat to consider when juicing: If you suffer from an autoimmune condition, take extra care when beginning to juice. In these cases, the detoxification symptoms can sometimes be stronger, so I always suggest an even slower introduction to the regimen.

As with anything, it is always best to listen to your body. It truly knows what is best for you. If you experience an upset stomach or feel nauseated, you probably juiced something that you should not be eating, or in too large of an amount. However, the options for juicing are many and the benefits will last a lifetime.

Gail Michalski is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and a Certified GAPS Practitioner living in the Cleveland area with her husband and two teenage sons. She became an RHN after she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and has since used food and lifestyle as “medicine” for her body. In addition, Michalski is also believes that the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) is truly the key to many health concerns.