The Surprising Health Benefits of Potato Juice
Potatoes have been around for centuries. They are loved by farmers and hated by dieters. They are delicious baked, fried, mashed, in a creamy soup, or eaten with a dollop of butter. Historically, this blighted crop almost destroyed the country of Ireland, and yet, they are the sustenance of most of America’s diet. For most people, the potato is peeled and then cooked, but that is not all that a potato is good for. Potato juice is a most-unlikely source of many nutrients and has many healing properties that most people have never heard of to use.
The Humble Potato
The potato is a tuberous plant with seven distinct categories and over 200 varieties. They can be grown in backyard gardens, deep buckets, or in large fields. The seven categories are russet, red potatoes, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite. The most popular potatoes are Idaho potatoes, or russets, which have an overall brown color with a firm texture. They are typically oval in shape but can be circular with a few odd bumps (which are called eyes).
Potatoes, once harvested, can last many months in storage as long as they are kept cool and dry. This ability has helped people for centuries to have food in the cold winter months when nothing can be grown.
Potatoes are more than just empty carbohydrates. They have many nutrients within them that are often forgotten about or destroyed during the cooking process (i.e., tossed in a vat of frying oil to make French fries).
The Health Benefits of Potato Juice
Potatoes are a very healthy vegetable. They contain fiber, vitamin A, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Potatoes also are full of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and copper.
Potato juice has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory compound to relieve pain, swelling, and redness in joints. It was specifically used for those suffering from arthritis. Sometimes, people would even tie pieces of potatoes around their joints to help relieve the pain.
Another inflammatory condition that potatoes may help with is swollen toe joints. For those who have too much uric acid deposits in their toe joint (an inflammatory disease that makes walking very painful), the potato juice works to neutralize the uric acid and relieve the pain and swelling.
For those who suffer from stomach problems like ulcers and heartburn, Manchester University scientists started studying potatoes after hearing about an old-fashioned remedy for stomach ulcers from a co-worker’s grandmother. In their research, they found that stomach bacteria did not become resistant to the anti-bacterial properties in the potato juice as they did with traditional antibiotics. The potato juice helped to heal the ulcers in a similar manner to probiotics. The potatoes most effective were Maris Piper and King Edward potatoes in the United Kingdom. American alternatives would be a Russet Burbank or a Kennebec russett style.
Improving circulation is another surprising effect of potato juice. This is due to the niacin (Vitamin B3) in the potatoes. Niacin helps to increase energy levels and speed up the oxygen delivery to the body. With increased oxygen and blood flow, the entire body’s circulation improves. In addition, healing from infections and bone repair is also sped up because the body is getting increased nutrients.
Weight loss is an interesting positive benefit of potato juice. Many diets exclude the potato because of the high amounts of carbohydrates and starches present in the potato. However, if you were to drink the juice after a meal, it can help slow the production of ghrelin and leptin, hunger hormones, which helps prevent overeating.
How to Make Potato Juice
Potato juice is the juice that comes from juicing a potato. The potato should be cleaned before juicing and ripe (a green potato should not be used). Also, any sprouts or dark spots should be cut off. It is helpful to have a juicing machine to make potato juice. Alternatively, it can be finely chopped and squeezed through a cheesecloth to remove the liquid from the pulp, then put into a strainer and allowed to drip for at least 20-30 minutes.
The nutrients in the potato juice are not stable for very long. At maximum, it should only be stored for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For best results, it should be made and consumed within one hour.
A Few Words of Caution
Potato juice can be a bit harsh to an unprepared stomach. It should not be drunk in excess, as it can cause an upset stomach and vomiting. Keep in mind that it is a starchy vegetable, and those who have blood sugar issues should not drink a lot of it as it can elevate blood sugar levels. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not drink potato juice without consulting their physician first.
Inflammation’s Powerful Effect on the Body
Potato juice may have a vital anti-inflammatory effect, and this is important in today’s stressful world, where stressors often make inflammation worse as the body struggles to respond to the stress.
Inflammation is one of the body’s primary responses to stress. When you cut your finger or get into an argument with your boss, the signal for stress is sounded. The body does not differentiate between physical stress and emotional stress. Both signal the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response for help. The responding help is sent through six different channels: the cardionomic, hormonal, neuroaffect, inflammatory, bioenergetic, and detoxification circuits. They help your body get ready to fight or flee from the stressor.
The inflammatory circuit shows four typical symptoms. These are pain, redness, swelling, and heat.
Inflammation causes increased blood flow to the affected area, which can be felt as pressure and pain from the fluid’s swelling putting pressure on the nerves. The permeability of the cell walls decreases to allow infection fighters, like white blood cells, to pass easily through to fight any foreign invaders. Their death, after fighting, is characterized by the yellow-green pus that may be seen where the infection is present. As the infection is destroyed, the body releases cortisol which slowly reverses the process, cools off the fiery inflammation, and returns everything to normal. The NEM goes back on a quiet alert, ready for the next stressor.
However, as most people know, not all stressors are as simple as a cut or a brief disagreement. When the stress lasts for a long time, then chronic inflammation can start to develop. The once-friendly inflammation process that should have quickly resolved the issue is now chronically activated, and symptoms begin to worsen.
Stress and Chronic Inflammation
Emotional stress, as stated previously, can cause chronic inflammation because the body is on high-alert status and is not able to calm down or relax. The four hallmark signs of inflammation are present, but they may not be apparent. They are insidious in nature and can show up as an upset stomach, bloating, dizziness, new food allergies, pain, brain fog, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Individually, these symptoms are annoying, and it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of them. But when looked at collectively as a whole, this unbalanced state can look a lot like Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
AFS is a condition where, due to a hormone imbalance, chronic inflammation can make the body progressively sicker and sicker. In the inflammation process, the cortisol production is in high demand. The body produces cortisol to manage stress, but over time, the increased demand for cortisol can become too much, and eventually, the adrenal glands (that produce the cortisol) start to tire out.
If the body is not able to reverse the effects of inflammation or produce enough cortisol, then worsening symptoms begin to occur. These include:
- Low blood sugar
- Menstrual changes
- Heart palpitations
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Thinning hair
- Feelings of coldness
Without properly addressing the causes of inflammation, the body will progressively get worse as it attempts to fight stress without rest. Tiredness turns into exhaustion, food allergies become more severe, and the body begins to shut down as the later stages of AFS take hold.
How to Reduce Inflammation
To stop inflammation, it is important to focus on the source of the inflammation. This often means taking a look at the stressors on your body. Don’t blame all your symptoms just on food allergies or needing to get more sleep at night. You need to consider your entire body and lifestyle for stress-causing factors.
- Diet – Are you eating foods that are processed, full of sugar, and fatty? Do you eat a diet that is full of fast food, gluten, and alcohol? You may need to take inflammatory foods out of your diet.
- Medications – Have you recently been on antibiotics or steroids (such as prednisone). Do you take a lot of antacids (prescription or over-the-counter)? It could lead to imbalances in your gut and microbiome.
- Stress – How many hours of sleep do you get a night? Would you consider yourself to be stressed out with family or work situations? Do you have a way to work through stress-related problems with professional help? Do you feel tired and wired at the same time? You may need to make some decisions to reduce stressors.
- Hormones – For women, are you on birth control or hormone replacement? Are your cycles regular or irregular with heavy bleeding? For men, are you low in testosterone? Do you have heavy weight gain in your stomach area with decreased energy? You could have a hormone imbalance.
- Infections – Have you been tested for parasites or H. Pylori? Are you prone to get yeast infections or jock itch? Stealth infections could be stressing out your body.
- Exercise – Do you consider yourself a “couch potato” or someone who works out on a consistent basis? Not getting enough exercise can put you at risk for a slew of health problems, including inflammation.
The more that a person is able to identify and address factors that create stress in your body and potentially lead to inflammation, the more you can reduce those stressors and allow your body to heal.
Potato juice can be part of an overall plan to reduce inflammation in the body. It is full of vitamins and nutrients. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help start your road to adrenal fatigue recovery. Potato juice is an old-time remedy that still works today to decrease inflammation and speed up healing. Get a glass today!
Potato Juicing Recipe
As healthy as it is, it doesn’t taste fantastic. In fact, some would say potato juice is bland and chalky in taste. For this reason, it is best to always serve potato juice with other fruits and vegetables to make it palatable.
- 4 small potatoes
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 1 apple
- 1-inch ginger
- 1-2 slices lemon (optional)
- Wash potatoes carefully to remove all traces of dirt.
- Cut away any sprouts, eyes, bruises, or bad spots.
- Clean and peel the carrot and cut into small chunks that will fit into your juicer.
- Clean the apple. Cut away any bruises and remove the stem.
- Cut one inch of ginger off the root (more or less depending on taste). Trim the bark-like edges off with a sharp knife.
- If using lemon, clean the lemon and cut into fourths. Use 1/4 of lemon in the juicer.
- Once the ingredients have been prepared, insert them into the juicer. Alternate putting the potatoes with the other fruits and vegetables to ensure proper mixing.
- Once completed, pour juice over ice and enjoy!
- If not drinking immediately, store in airtight container for a day.
- A film of potato starch may be on the surface after storage. Do not throw this away, simply stir it back into the mixture and drink.
Potato juice is an old-fashioned remedy that scientists are discovering is still useful today. While the flavor of potato juice is not that delicious, you can easily mix it with other flavors to make it taste great. Its health benefits help assist the NEM stress response in decreasing inflammation and help return the body back to health.
© Copyright 2012 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
How can potato juice help your health?
Potato juice is full of vitamins and nutrients. It is an old-time remedy that still works today to decrease inflammation and speed up healing by increasing circulation. It helps increase feelings of fullness to help weight loss and may have antibacterial properties that help reduce ulcers.