My personal health journey

August 26, 2020 1 Comment

IMG_3559URBAN JUICE PRESS began with the idea that people can heal themselves and take responsibility for their own health. It was formed from my own lifelong health journey, which began like most people as they mature into adulthood eating the standard Canadian diet. You can imagine what this looks like as we are all familiar with the typical pre-packaged grocery items, highly processed foods stripped of nutrients, and fast food restaurants that give us that quick fix we crave to get through our day-to-day.

I come from a big French-Canadian family, a family of nine to be exact and with busy working parents, it was difficult for them to prepare regular healthy meals and much easier to stop at the grocer to pick up a box of frozen chicken fingers and French fries. A 20-minute cook time made for convenience! Every family seems to have their reasons, whether it’s a lack of meal prep time or limited options in their neighbourhood grocer but what’s worse is that so many families fall into the trap of sneaky nutrition marketing, regardless of how processed the food may be. It becomes a cycle of confusion and people just become lost in the sea of information trying to exercise their best efforts at feeding their families healthy meals. The food business is big business and the mega food companies have the ability to convince us that their products are nutritious while they look to cut costs, severely reducing food and nutrient quality. My family was no different from my neighbours down the street and as I matured into young adulthood, I continued to eat this way not knowing any better. Eventually, years later after moving away from home and graduating from university in Ottawa, I became ill and this is where it began –  my   life-changing health journey.  It started with bizarre cramps in my abdomen. They worsened and I grew increasingly concerned. These cramps were lasting too long and I was shocked at how ruthless my stomach was acting. These were no ordinary cramps. These cramps worsened and I began to lose my appetite and lose weight. I had dropped down to 116 pounds from 150 in a matter of a month! The cramps and weight loss continued for a long time and after about six months of regular visits to the emergency, trying to figure out what the heck was going on, I finally began a series of tests. It was decided by my specialist at the time that these tests “painted a picture” of Crohn’s disease. Yes, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which in western medicine is described as an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the colon to the point where ulcers and open wounds destroy the colon’s lining. It became extremely painful to eat, and at random intervals throughout the day for no reason at all, I experienced incredible abdominal pain, the sort that makes you want to curl into a ball and stay in bed all day. A significant loss of appetite and very poor nutrient absorption forced me into a weakened state. I remember having to stop and walk with my bike up a small hill during a visit to Montreal and noticed that even the walking was a significant challenge. I could feel the weakness in my knees and the intense sensation of body weakness take over. Eventually, my GI specialist prescribed me a cocktail of medications like prednisone and immune-suppressants, which further declined my quality of life. My dose was aggressive and with a total body weight of 116 pounds, you can imagine how immensely difficult this was for my body to handle. Months turned into a year and the reactions of these drugs were horrendous! The prednisone gave me a rapid heartbeat and night sweats. I became extremely anxious in every situation and my quality of life was absent. During one evening in Ottawa, Tyler, my boyfriend of ten years booked a tour at the Ottawa Haunted Walks. At first, the night started off with tolerable pain but by the end of the tour, I’d had hit another roadblock. Bizarre pains in my lower back on both sides of my spine surfaced. It was my kidneys. The pain was a throb-like sensation that began to worsen as the night continued and it seemed as though I was having some sort of adverse reaction to the medication. It was time to walk home and we decided to walk through Major’s Hill Park behind Parliament where I suddenly felt morbidly ill. I fell to the ground and could not get up. I’d had hit the lowest point that I could tolerate and enough was enough. A sudden numbness likely due to shock began to take over and this was the turning point in my life. I needed to do something and figure this out because these treatments were not working for me. I made the conscious decision to take my health into my own hands and explore my options. I was at a crossroads and had no choice but to seek an alternative path. During the next week, I had found a local naturopathic doctor and after a series of treatments and education sessions, I began to notice some positive changes, a feeling of enlightenment. The candle of hope had been lit. I began learning about the power of nutrition and its role as food-as-medicine. Nutrition became the core of my healing journey. Almost overnight, I became a health guru and started a guided health program prescribed by my naturopathic doctor. I began with introducing organic nutrient dense foods, slowly adding raw foods to my diet after my colon began to heal. Then I started juicing at home and life began to blossom. Over a few months, I noticed the cramps began to disappear and I started to feel normal again. I had forgotten the feeling of normal and this was a welcomed change. It became obvious how immense the therapeutic impact that raw juice had on my body. Today, I am happy to say that I’ve been free of any Crohn’s-like symptoms since 2011 and have gained my normal weight back. My body was so impaired by the toxic accumulation of a lifelong of processed and low nutrient foods that my immune system went into attack mode. The lesson learned is a powerful message where we need to pay more attention to the powerful impact that nutrition has on health and disease. The answer was right in front of me. All I needed was to bring it back to the basics, which was to give my body the nutrients it so desperately needed to heal. Without a doubt, there is a direct correlation of what you put in your body and how you look and feel.

With continued research and because I’d had gone for so long without the ability to absorb an effective amount of nutrients, juicing was having an incredible positive impact on my health. My body began to heal even faster. I noticed markedly quicker results and I could even see positive changes in my skin and overall complexion, an indication that nutrients were flooding to all tissue areas. What’s great about juicing is that the fibre is stripped from the juice and all of the highly bioavailable phytonutrients, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins are easily absorbed by the gut and immediately transported to the blood stream to feed all body organs, tissues, and cells. I became so aware of the health benefits of juicing that I juiced daily and spread the word to all of my friends and family as I personally reaped the benefits. Soon after, I learned about cold-pressing as a method of juice extraction and how it was a much better way to keep the juices fresh longer and maintain a high plant nutrient profile, even days later. I went to New York City for fun and during my week’s stay I discovered local juice shops with cold-pressed juices. I had my first taste and I was hooked. Cold-pressed juices tasted so much more delicious and so fresh because of the higher quality. On my train ride back to Ottawa, I entertained the idea of opening my own company. I was feeling healthier and decided to take it to the drawing board and not long after, URBAN JUICE PRESS was born.

Juicing is really a flawless way to reap the benefits of many vegetables and fruits in a single serving. All nutrients are readily bioavailable and quickly absorbed by the gut. There is no fibre to slow down and block the rate of absorption. It is a fantastic way to markedly increase daily requirements of vegetables and fruit consumption in order to optimize health and wellbeing. You can’t comfortably eat several raw carrots, beets, and heads of kale at any one time. It won’t digest well, it will take a long time to chew, and it won’t taste that great. Juicing became the key to improving my health and continuing to heal my intestinal lining. Blood tests finally revealed a restored nutrient profile and the level of C-Reactive protein, which is an indication of level of inflammation in the body had reduced to normal levels. Fibre is an absolute necessity for good health as it keeps you regular, and sweeps your colon clean but when you’re looking to give your body that high plant nutrient boost, raw cold-pressed juices will do the trick. You’ll be able to absorb a much higher amount of plant nutrients than if you were to consume it with the fibre. Cold-pressed juices give you a nutrient-dense package that literally feeds your cells the fuel they need to function optimally!

There are two types of juicing, one, which extracts juice by way of a centrifugal juicer (your typical at-home-juicer) and the other by way of hydraulic pressure known as cold-pressing. Dr. Norman Walker, who in the 1930’s paved the way for cold-pressing through his invention of the “Norwalk” juicer became a huge inspiration to me. The Norwalk juicer was the world’s first cold-pressed juicer and it remains top-notch even today. I began to read a series of books detailing Dr. Walker’s contributions and the principles of cold-pressing to extract juice for its incredible therapeutic properties to fight chronic diseases including cancer. I became even more fascinated with juicing, especially since his contributions were from a therapeutic lens and from the 1930’s! Cold-pressing as I previously mentioned is by far the best way to extract juice. One, because there is no heat generated by a high spinning blade and two, there is much less exposure to oxygen from the high-speed spin. When you expose freshly extracted juice to oxygen and heat, there is a large decline in the amount of micronutrients and the quality diminishes rapidly. Cold-pressing does not give off heat nor does it expose the plant material to nearly as much oxygen the way a centrifugal juicer does. I became incredibly knowledgeable about the principles of juicing and how to further enhance the quality of cold-pressed juices that even now, I hold this rule where juices need to be filled to the bottle’s brim and sealed, capped, and immediately refrigerated.

People are sick and tired of being sick tired. I know that sounds cliché but it’s absolutely true and my story holds testament to this statement. People are looking to take charge of their own health just as I once did and continue to do so. It is imperative that people take a real hard look in the mirror and ask themselves, “what am I really doing to take charge?”, “What does my diet consist of?”, “Am I eating organic or non-organic and genetically modified foods?” The fundamental principle that I can’t stress enough is to bring it back to the basics just as Mother Nature intended. All of these genetically modified (GMO) foods, pesticide covered fruits and vegetables, nutrient deficient fruits and vegetables due to poor soil conditions resulted from conventional and unsustainable agricultural practices takes a toll on the body and renders the body ill. All of these unnatural and toxic substances are unrecognizable by the body and so they cannot be processed. They accumulate and create a toxic mix in tissues all throughout the body and suddenly, chronic diseases appear. Somebody like me, who had all of these irritations and active immune responses (for good reason by the way because the body is only trying to do what it needs to do to fight foreign bodies) in the gut was able to heal myself with the helping hand of my naturopath and through my self-taught learning journey of high density plant-based foods and raw organic juicing. Remove the bad stuff and put in the good stuff!

URBAN JUICE PRESS was a way to for me to put everything together that I learned from my own health journey and develop this product that could be conveniently available to anyone here in Ottawa who is looking to take charge of their health. Our juices are never pasteurized whatsoever including HPP (high pressure processing) and we take pride in ensuring that all juices are of the highest quality possible. That means that we take meticulous care of the entire production process, from using a hydraulic cold-press to filling juices to the bottle’s brim, sealing and capping, and immediately refrigerating.

As a society, we really need to re-think the standard of juice. Right now the standard is cooked sugar water that is devoid of nutrients. The standard really should be organic, unpasteurized, raw juice that contains its natural high nutrient profile with a shelf life no longer than 5 days. The standard really should be the basic pure form of freshly squeezed juice that would be were it not for big food business looking to increase shelf life and cut corners and sacrifice food and nutrient quality. Understand the power of what you’re putting in your body and take charge of your own health!

 Justin Gauthier, President & CEO


1 Response


April 21, 2015

Wow, what a journey, Justin! I applaud you!

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