It’s not everyday an pre-med biochemistry student contacts me about their thesis research. But Sara Mata Stevens, studying at Arizona State University is researching something a little different: Healthy Juicing.
As part of her research, Sara invites you to complete an anonymous Juicing Survey detailing your experiences with juicing. You can respond to the survey here: https://asuhealthpromotion.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_d73TmV0XcmwsexL
Neil Martin: When did you first start juicing and how did you first learn about the idea?
Sara Mata Stevens: I discovered green juices during the 2014 Hay House World Summit. Kris Carr gave a beautiful presentation about healthy living and mentioned green juices. The HHWS had many other inspiring speakers who mentioned green juices and green smoothies to increase nutrition in your daily routine. I began with green smoothies. Eventually, I purchased a very inexpensive juicer just to try out juicing.
Neil Martin: What made you decide to start juicing?
Sara Mata Stevens: In 2009, at 20 years old, I suffered a debilitating back injury. I was hospitalized for 2 weeks. I was unable to move with excruciating pain all over my body. I was given several medications and a dilaudid pump to self-administer pain medication into my bloodstream every 15 minutes. When leaving the hospital, I was completely disabled: unable to walk on my own, shower on my own, or even turn over in bed. I was bed ridden for 18 months. Before this injury, I was Miss Teen Arizona and very active in the community. I had every hope of going to a top rated medical school based on grades, medical experience, and extracurricular activities.
Slowly over 2 years I gained the strength to move on my own and eventually stand up, sit down, shower, walk, etc. These basic activities caused great pain and look months to accomplish. When I found juicing in the summer of 2014, I decided to give my body the opportunity to be well nourished so my back could heal.
“I saw ten specialty doctors for my chronic pain and none of these medical professionals mentioned nutrition as an option for healing.”
Thanks to healthy green juices, I was finally able to return to college this semester. I am committed to conducting my honors college thesis research on healthy juicing because I want to gather information about how juicing has effected the health of individuals in the online juicing community.
I am very committed to bringing awareness about nutrition to western medicine.
I dealt with chronic pain for the past 5 years, only surviving each day instead of truly enjoying my life. I gained ~100 lbs from my injury and I have been prescribed a myriad of medications to manage back pain, neurological pain, back spasms, hormone imbalances, acne, eczema, sciatica, vitamin deficiencies, anxiety, and insomnia. My recovery has been very slow and filled with constant pain. This obstacle has taught me about the flaws of western medicine and pushed me toward learning about nutritional medicine.
In my journey to health, I saw ten specialty doctors for my chronic pain and none of these medical professionals mentioned nutrition as an option for healing. In fact, when I told them about my interested in juicing, some doctors promised me it would not work. I am so glad they were wrong.
Neil Martin: What have you found to be the biggest changes / benefits you’ve experienced since you started juicing?
Sara Mata Stevens: I am happy to report I have been loving each day of my life without constant chronic pain. My acne has cleared up, my eczema is gone, my irritability is gone, insomnia is gone, anxiety is gone, my skin looks radiant, my hormones have balanced out, my sugar levels are in normal range, vitamin levels are in normal range, and most importantly my pain levels have significantly decreased.
“I believe anyone can heal their life by supporting their body with proper nutrition and positive affirmations”
For the first time in five years, I have been able to drive to doctor appointments, the grocery store, the movies, run errands, and even exercise on my own! Fear of pain crippled my daily life for so long. I believe anyone can heal their life by supporting their body with proper nutrition and positive affirmations. I have incorporated both these key ingredients to achieve weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.
I plan to continue my juicing journey to heal myself completely of all pain and illness so I can finish my medical education. I have decided I will be a healer who focuses on nutritional science and functional medicine.
Neil Martin: Since you started juicing what have you found most challenging and how did you deal with this challenge?
Sara Mata Stevens: For me, the biggest challenge was only being able to stand for only 15 minutes at a time. I would prep vegetables and then lay down in bed to rest for 30 minutes. Next I would juice as much as I could in 15 minute increments while resting best for 30 minutes in-between each session. Cleaning the juicer was especially challenging. The juicing process from prep to cleaning would take several hours. Over time, I gained more energy and strength to stand for longer periods of time.
During difficult moments, I say positive affirmations to flood my thoughts with encouraging words instead of focusing on the pain. When feeling discouraged, I list small victories. For example: “I am grateful to be able to….turn over in bed, get out of bed, walk to the bathroom, stand up on my own, take a shower, lift my arms to wash my hair, get up from a sitting in a chair, ect.” I remember when I was unable to complete any of these tasks without assistance. Therefore, I am filled with great joy and gratitude knowing my recovery has been successful and continues to progress.
Neil Martin: Any juicing tips you have picked up along the way?
Sara Mata Stevens: Prep all vegetables/fruits first. Plastic Bag in the pulp container. Add lemon for taste. Drink juice within 15 minutes of making if possible. Clean juicer parts as soon as possible. Only buy enough ingredients for a week to ensure the produce is fresh.
Neil Martin: What has been your biggest juicing mistake and why?
Sara Mata Stevens: Buying too much produce at one time and having the vegetables go rotten before I can use them. Also, putting large amounts of ginger, garlic and turmeric in one juice. Never again will I make this mistake!
Neil Martin: Which do you think is more essential to health and wellbeing, exercise or diet and nutrition?
Sara Mata Stevens: For me nutrition was the foundation of my success. Since I was physically unable to exercise, I relied heavily on nutrition to provide pain relief and energy. Once I began having more energy, I was able to commit to small 5 minute walks. This lead to 10 minute walks and eventually swimming.
Neil Martin: How much and what kinds of exercise do you regularly do?
Sara Mata Stevens: Swimming, stretching, and physical therapy exercises in the Jacuzzi.
Neil Martin: Is your diet completely vegetarian / vegan?
Sara Mata Stevens: No
Neil Martin: What do you eat / drink on a typical day?
Sara Mata Stevens: Green juice / green smoothie, nuts / berries, turkey, salmon, as much water as possible
Neil Martin: What are your thoughts on caffeine and alcohol?
Sara Mata Stevens: In my experience all forms of caffeine (coffee, soda, etc) are detrimental to my physical health. I do not drink alcohol during any stage of a juice cleanse. However, at special events (weddings, holiday parties, etc.) I will drink small amounts of alcohol followed by large amounts of water the next day.
Neil Martin: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about adding juicing to their life?
Sara Mata Stevens: My advice is to love yourself enough to commit to healthy nutrition. I believe everything we eat is an opportunity to nourish our bodies. Everything meal is a choice to eat food that will help heal your body or perpetuate illness. Give your body the proper nutritional ingredients to heal.
Neil Martin: If you were stuck on a desert island with a working juicer and blender and an unlimited supply of just 6 ingredients, what would those ingredients be?
Sara Mata Stevens: Parsley / cilantro (coriander), kale / spinach, cucumber, celery, lemon, pineapple.
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