Jay Kordich is a man who squeezes the most out of life. Known to thousands as the "Juiceman," Kordich has spent the last 40-some years traveling the country extolling the wonders of drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices as "a means of enhancing health and preventing diet-related diseases."
And while he doesn't work it into his health spiel these days, Kordich has hawked more than his share of juicers over the years _ including his most recent invention, The Juiceman Juice Extractor. It sells for around $289 and was one of the reasons he was in the Tampa Bay area recently. (For information, call 1-800-800-8455).
Kordich's juices and his machine have gotten him featured in newspapers such as the Washington Post and on TV shows such as Late Night with David Letterman.
When he talks about the benefits of juices, Kordich, 69, like the Energizer battery, keeps on going, going, going and going. He's relentless in getting his message across. He wants to make a juice believer of all Americans.
"Raw juices are the richest source of vitamins, minerals and enzymes in in our diets," Kordich said last month as he bounded about the room.
Kordich chug-a-lugged a glass of orange juice and smacked his lips as he continued to wax on about the virtues of living a healthy life.
He's had plenty of time to get his routine down. It is slick, polished and he hopes purposeful. And while there is no specific scientific data to support his claims of the miracle of juicing, he rattles off what he considers encouraging words from the National Cancer Institute, which has been conducting research into the positive and preventive effects of beta carotene (found in carrots, leafy greens, sweet potatoes and other vegetables).
Kordich noted that though the American Heart Association does not focus on juices, it has urged Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. He also pointed out that the National Academy of Science and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) support such a change in eating habits.
And Kordich said that USDA experts are rethinking the four recommended food groups. "They say the best defense against disease is a diet of whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits, and I agree," Kordich said.
Kordich sees the body as one big juice-making machine. "The body is really churning the goods, with all the stomach juices and the gray-green bile from the gallbladder and hundreds of intestinal secretions," he said.
His theory is when you juice fresh celery, parsley, grapes, green peppers, carrots, apples, carrots or whatever, you are separating the juice from the fiber (a pound of carrots will make eight ounces of juice), thereby accomplishing what the body is supposed to do.
"All the body is really trying to do is to turn everything to liquid," he said. "I have a slogan: "It is the juice of the fiber that feeds you.'
"We are fed by the nutrients and vitamins that are unlocked from the fiber of what we eat.
"Drink these as freshly made juices and you get 100 percent of the food value in your body instantaneously."
Kordich said "fiber is essential too.
"But steak isn't fiber, fish is not fiber, neither are doughnuts or cookies." He pointed out there are only six categories of fiber and "they all come from Mother Earth." They are the fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds and legumes, he said.
Labeling himself "a grazer," Kordich said he munches throughout the day, rarely eating a big meal, but rather snacking on cantaloupe (which he declared "the number one fruit for the highest density of nutrients per calorie"), maybe watermelon and nectarines, and sometimes grapes.
He said he nurtures the 10-trillion cells in his body with fresh juices and then consumes the raw food _ the nuts, grains, cantaloupe and so on _ for bulk and fiber.
He also said that when it comes to juice, he is a big believer in "fresh."
"The juices must be drunk immediately," he said. "Oxidation takes its toll. Enzymes change things. You don't want to store it. You want to make it and drink it right up."
Kordich noted he drinks at least a quart of fresh juice made up of all kinds and mixtures of juiced organic fruits and vegetables every day.
Kordich was a college football player at the University of Southern California in 1948 when he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the bladder and given a few months to live. For a 20-year-old who was about to be signed by the Green Bay Packers, he said, things looked grim.
"Up until that time I had eaten the typical American junk food diet, including my favorite _ pork chops and eggs every morning for breakfast," he said.
Rather than accept the "death sentence," Kordich said, he "migrated" to New York to get an opinion from a German doctor named Max Gerson, who had treated humanitarian Albert Schweitzer and other famous people. Gerson prescribed drinking the juices of fresh carrots and apples, Kordich said.
Kordich followed a two-year regimen of drinking 13 glasses of the juice every day (each glass on the hour). He said his only other "food" was a thick broth made with vegetable juices. And though the once-chunky football player's weight dropped from 192 to 109 pounds and his skin took on a yellowish cast, he credits the sweet-tasting juice for the 41 cancer-free years since.
The juice regimen also launched Kordich on a lifelong career. To support himself, Kordich started selling one of the juicers he was using to make his own therapeutic beverage. One day he might be in a major department store, the next at a health show, the next at a state fair. He also sold door-to-door.
"I followed the sun," Kordich said .
From January to April, his travels would bring him to St. Petersburg, where he would "keep squeezing the veggies and fruits" in his juicing routine for the shoppers at the now-defunct Webb's City.
Kordich recalled being in a specially built booth on the first floor from opening until closing _ except for the breaks, when he would head upstairs to "Doc" Webb's famous Mermaid Show. "I had a crush on one of the mermaids," he said.
These days, Kordich is still on the road, but now his emphasis is on health and the juices. He represents Seattle-based JM Marketing, a company that makes and sells the compact, easy-to-clean juicer he helped design 30 years ago.
Since he sold his interest in the company, Kordich has assumed the role of goodwill ambassador. Today he lives in Las Vegas with his 36-year-old wife and two young sons.
His favorite recipes include his own juiced concoctions, such as:
The energy drink: a mixture of beet, carrot, apple, lemon and ginger.
The digestive special: a handful of spinach and six carrots.
The liver mover: two to three apples and half a beet.
The passion cocktail: four strawberries and one apple.
In all the recipes, before he juices, Kordich soaks any unorganically grown produce in a sink filled with water, four tablespoons of salt and the juice of half a fresh lemon, to remove pesticides and surface sprays.