Last Saturday at the Capitol Hill Whole Foods, over the din of metal blades noisily squeezing the life out of kale, director Joe Cross told Denver residents about his adventures in juicing. In 2011, his documentary film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead followed the then 310-pound Aussie as he traveled the U.S. on a two-month juice fast.

Fasting is nothing new. Historically, most major religions have some element of it in their practice. What’s new is our aversion to eating real, ground-produced food in any sort of moderation. We’re a species who evolved eating mostly veggies. But today, our diets consist of 60 percent processed food, 33 percent animal, and 7 percent vegetables; a diet that may explain why 52 percent of us die from heart disease every year. The sicker we get, the more we spend: pharmaceutical expenditures have more than doubled in the last 10 years. The answer to dropping these costs, cholesterol scores, and extra pounds is eating healthy food and exercising.

During a juice fast, your body takes in the nutrients it needs from the fruit and vegetable juice, but lives off of your body’s fat or “energy” storage. Some people use this as a jumpstart to a major lifestyle change, shocking the system (in a good way) with a flood of vitamins and antioxidants, then gradually adding in blended drinks and transitioning to a diet comprised of mostly fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains.

Cross drops 100 pounds in 60 days on his juice fast. And best of all, he gets off Lipitor and every other drug he’d become dependent upon to live. Juice diets aren’t for everyone (consult your doctor before starting one), but the practice, along with eating a plant-based diet and daily exercise, can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. These are the changes we need to see nationwide.

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