Choosing Health

“My name is Angela, and I’m here for the muffins.”

That was my opening line.

I don’t even like muffins.

I was sitting uncomfortably in a room full of smiling strangers. Mostly women. We all had little plates of snacks, although this wasn’t the cheesy goodness I was used to from my Pampered Chef days. This was fruit, hummus, and muffins. Come to think of it, most of the people here looked like they worked out eight days a week.

We were taking turns introducing ourselves, and how we’d come to be there that Thursday night at a Juice Plus meeting. Obviously, I couldn’t say that my best friend Julie, who’d brought me, wouldn’t shut up about the stupid stuff with the stupid name and so I came to get her off my back. Hence the muffin comment. 

I liked the women I met afterwards as we awkwardly drank water and mingled, but this was the most boring product I’d ever heard of. There were no freebies, just juiced and dehydrated fruits and vegetables in capsule form. I am all about a plant-based diet, but it made no sense to me to buy it in a pill. “Shouldn’t people just eat healthy?” I asked. “They should, but most people don’t, or won’t. It’s really expensive to buy enough good produce to meet our nutritional needs, and Juice Plus fills the gap between what we need and what we actually eat.”

Meh. I wasn’t convinced. Julie raved about the fact that her kids had been taking it for free with the Children’s Health Study and hadn’t been sick all winter. They were even eating much healthier because their bodies were starting to crave the good nutrients.

Then she raved about all the peer-reviewed clinical research.Did I mention we live together? 

One study did capture my attention,  I will admit. They tested blood vessel constriction on people who’d eaten a fatty fast food meal and found that the arteries constricted about fifty percent for two to six hours afterwards. This, apparently, is the reason some people experience chest pain, heart attack, or stroke after a big meal (think holiday season). They did a double blind placebo test where some people received placebo sugar pill, some received the Orchard (fruit)  and Garden(veggie) blend Juice Plus, and the rest got the Trio: Orchard, Garden, and Vineyard (berry). They all took the capsules for twenty-eight days, and then came the true test. All participants ate the fast food meal and then thad their arteries measured. Those on the placebo pill had normal arterial constriction, but those on O &G had sixty percent LESS constriction in their blood vessels. Even more amazing was that the people who took the Juice Plus trio had ninety-nine percent less constriction: their blood vessels remained open, allowing normal blood flow.

Here’s why this matters to me: I had a TIA a few years ago at work, which is basically a mini-stroke. It was a really stressful time, and I’m sure my poor diet and weight didn’t help. That alone puts me at a one-in-three chance for a bigger one later in life. I thought it might not be a bad idea to take something that would help my blood to flow properly. 

 I had already recently begun cleaning up my act when it came to diet, but if taking extra fruits and vegetables could help keep my body as healthy as possible, it couldn’t hurt. It’s just food, after all. It comes with a nutrition label, not a supplement label. But still..I wasn’t convinced.

I decided to go to another potluck thing. I needed to hear people’s personal stories before I gave this thing actual credibility. Research is great, and I’m glad it’s there, but I’m relational. I want to know how it affected you or your mom, or your best friend. The potluck ended up being cancelled so we met two of the ladies at Panera. The fact that both Stephanie and Heather were women of faith helped to ease my mind, and listening to their personal stories of lifelong allergies, eczema and gut issues disappearing was encouraging. They also talked of people they’d met: cancer survivors healing without chemo, or choosing the chemo route but being able to ride a bike the same afternoon. One lady had a family of seven who were constantly in and out of the doctor’s office. After taking JP, they eventually came off seventeen medications between them. When they finally did go back to the doctor, he said he thought they’d moved because they hadn’t been in quite a  while. They told him no, they’d just been healthy, and he demanded to know what they were doing. Just Juice Plus, they said. The doctor started taking it and recommending it to other patients. 

I was becoming less skeptical. From what I was hearing, Juice Plus wasn’t claiming to be a magic pill. It wasn’t a pharmaceutical. It was just quality nutrition that helped your body do what it was supposed to do: be healthy. The people sharing it didn’t even seem to be in it for the money. They just genuinely believed this product could actually help people.

Afterwards, I felt more trusting of JP but it wasn’t until I listened to message after message in a recorded phone series where people shared of more cancer gone, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Lyme’s Disease symptoms greatly alleviated, fertility issues resolved, etc., etc.,etc. that I realized how much I want everyone I love to be taking this stuff.

It was starting to make sense. It’s just using what God gave us to give us a fighting chance. I can believe in that. When we pump our bodies full of garbage: processed food, animal products, sugar, and chemicals, of course things will start to go haywire! That’s a given! I know not everyone will be willing to give up meat or dairy or Sweet Frog. I get that it’s hard. I ate truffle oil grilled cheese sticks last night. It’s a process. 

The key is to get less bad and more good, and keep moving in that direction.If taking encapsulated fruits and veggies will kick start my journey to healthy, I’m all for it. I’d already noticed, just from eating better lately that my lower back pain (a possible sign of heart disease) had disappeared, along with my heartburn, sinus pressure, and bad cramps. I’m excited to see what adding thirty more fruits and veggies a day does for my energy level and future health.

So I guess I’m in. I’ve been taking it for a couple weeks now, I begged my dad to do it (he ordered some!), and I’m praying my mom will start. I want her body and brain to work as well as possible, and the anti-inflammatory, free-radical killing nutrition will do that! Aging doesn’t have to suck, not if we’re taking care of ourselves. I read enough nutrition books to know that’s true.

I signed up as a rep to get the discount,  but my heart is changing as I learn more and now I am excited  about helping others and I can’t wait to see people feel better!


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