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Juice Guru Lianna Sugarman: Fiber Is the Bouncer of Your Body

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Manhattan (and Brooklyn's) green juice scene has exploded seemingly overnight, with chains like Juice Press, Organic Avenue, and Liquiteria multiplying across all neighborhoods. Add LuliTonix to that growing list, which specializes in super-charged raw blended concoctions of kale, spinach, romaine, avocado, figs, chia, and much more from nature's "miraculous pharmacy."

Founder Lianna Sugarman knows that shots of wheatgrass can (literally) be hard to swallow, so she makes drinks that appeal to both die-hard green-juicers and novice sippers. And like most people, Sugarman believes that enjoying actual food is important too, which is why one of her most popular cleanses encourages eating what makes you happy—whether that's a clean dinner or tacos.

LuliTonix can be found at fitness studios like Lyons Den Power Yoga and Bikram Yoga LES, retailers like Brooklyn Running Co., and restaurants like Mulberry and Vine. Below, get schooled on the difference between blended and cold-pressed juices, why fiber is one of the most important ingredients out there, and which toxin is the worst for your body (hint: it's not what you'd think).

Can you explain the differences between blended and cold pressed juices?

My juices are raw—like truly raw. I don't subject them to high pressure processing like a lot of the raw, green juices that you see in Whole Foods. They're subjected to enormous amount of pressure to slow down the bacterial growth that permits them to have a 30-day shelf life. Whereas people like me or like Juice Press, we're truly, truly raw—that's the raw distinction!

But the blended versus cold pressed: cold pressed is a means of extracting just the liquid from the vegetable or fruit, and leaves the fiber behind. I don't think that's a bad thing—I think cold pressed juice is wonderful. But where there was a hole in the market was for true blended greens, which can also be called green smoothies. I veer away from that phraseology because I think smoothie makes people think of things that aren't as healthy.

Image via LuliTonix/Facebook

The benefits are keeping the fiber. Fiber is really important for a number of reasons. First of all, you need it to keep everything going in your body. You need fiber to grab on to all the toxins that are unearthed by all this detoxification that we're supposed to be doing by drinking all these greens. They can often be reabsorbed into the blood stream.

That's why sometimes, if you do a whole pressed juice cleanse, you might get lightheaded, you might get brain fog. Part of it is not detoxification, part of it is also the reabsorption of toxins. So its really, really important to have fiber because that's like your bouncer, grabbing on to all those things you don't want in your body and getting them out.

The other thing about fiber is that it keeps your blood sugar level which helps to prevent insulin spikes. When I drink pressed green juice, I never, ever drink fruit in it because without the fiber that fruit just spikes your blood sugar, because there's no fiber to slow it down. Fruit is really good for you but you don't want those sugar spikes.

That all makes a lot of sense.

The main reason I created this was that I wanted something that could seduce people who didn't like green juice. It's really easy when you have someone who's like, "Oh my god, four ounces of wheatgrass, yum!" because they'll drink anything. What you find is that the drinks that cater to seducing the novices are nowhere near strong enough for people who want the real thing.

What I've tried to do is create something that is so abundant in dark leafy greens that the biggest green badass in the world is happy drinking them, but I've also seduced my parents with it, my boyfriend who never likes green. People who hate green will still like it. That's really what I was trying to do.

Mulberry & Vine at at LuliTonix tasting. Image via LuliTonix/Facebook

What do you think a good intro juice would be for someone who isn't into greens?

The best intro one is Kick, that's our go­-to green. It has tons of greens in it, tons of kale and everything, but it has mango and figs and it's very minty and lemony. All those flavors really work well together to make it incredibly accessible to someone even though its super green.

Could you elaborate on the Cleanse Til Dinner concept? Is that something you think is good to do often during the week?

To be honest, the Cleanse Til Dinner concept is something that I feel is great to incorporate as often as you can, and people obviously don't have to buy my cleanse [to try it]. This all came about around Thanksgiving, where we were sitting around and so many people were saying, "I love your stuff. I can't wait to do a cleanse, but I'm going to wait until January."

I'm as subject to that kind of thing as anyone else—this kind of black and white, good and bad, evil and good kind of thinking where you're just like, "Oh screw it. I have so much going on. I'm just going to let it all go and then come January 2nd it will be brand new year and I'm gonna cleanse." I think we got a hundred orders of cleanses for January 2nd.

I understand that, but we all talk about balance so much. Yes, it's cold, we're all going to stress eat, we're all going to want to have filling things, we all have cocktail parties, we all have stress, we're going to be eating way more cupcakes and pizza, whatever our personal issue is—but why should we just let ourselves feel like crap for two months?

A morning chia bowl. Image via LuliTonix/Facebook

You want to do away with a lot of that toxicity where you're just hating yourself all the time and feeling like crap. It's not just that you know that you're eating "bad" foods. I try not to say that, but those things really effect your mood. It's not just about how you look.

[The cleanse is you] infuse your body with all this goodness for "two meals a day," and then you let yourself do whatever you want the third meal. If you want to eat clean, that's great—make yourself a good, healthy dinner—but if you're out, that's fine, enjoy yourself. It's not giving you license to freebase pepperoni, because it's all about balance.

In the space of the day you've taken care of yourself and given your body time to cleanse and you've infused it with so many detoxify supportive elements that yes, maybe you're eating pizza or drinking too many margaritas. Just relax.

How often do you do the cleanse?

I aspire to do it a good four days a week. That's the way I feel best. It's called Cleanse Til Dinner, but if you're a person who really prefers to eat your large meal at lunch, which a lot of people think is healthier, than its cleanse 'til lunch.

Happiness is something that a lot times falls by the wayside. Enjoying your life if so important, whether that means indulging sometimes or not, but it also to me means you should enjoy your "medicine," which is another reason I created these. The whole thing is about enjoyment.
· LuliTonix [Official Site]
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