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“I watched my grandparents wither away in a storage facility for eight years with Alzheimer’s,” says Juice Press CEO and Founder Marcus Antebi, without blinking. “Their diet basically consisted of morphine patches, white bread, dead vegetables.... They were basically comatose for eight years of their lives. That’s not the lifestyle that I want.” So begins this week's FR Interview.

“I watched my grandparents wither away in a storage facility for eight years with Alzheimer’s,” says Juice Press CEO and Founder Marcus Antebi, without blinking. “Their diet basically consisted of morphine patches, white bread, dead vegetables and drinking fucking pasteurized shit. They were basically comatose for eight years of their lives. That’s not the lifestyle that I want.” The remark, made while we stand in a basement pantry of one of his six NYC juice bars, was not meant as callous. It’s how the former competitive Muay Thai boxer expresses himself: Direct, oftentimes forceful, facts-forward. And it’s facts, about the way society eats (poorly), that get the 43-year-old entrepreneur out of bed each day.

Raised on a typical American diet of white sugars and animal proteins, Antebi found himself a “depressed mess” in need of change. This led the admitted obsessive to dive into the science of weight-control and anti-aging, fostered by Dr. Fred Bisci — a 40-year raw foodist and a man Antebi considers a second father. The eventual shift to a diet of salad and juice, and Bisci’s Yoda-like presence, were so impactful that Antebi went into the business of salad and juice — very high-quality salad and juice, as I found out while sipping a bottle of pineapple juice. It was sweet, though brighter and slightly more acidic than the syrupy canned product you last found mixed in a Mary Pickford cocktail. I wanted to learn more about this juice, which was cold-pressed — a more healthful process that crushes, rather than blades, the produce. I also wanted to learn more about the whole not dying a miserable death part too.  

So, $7.50 for a bottle of pineapple juice?
It’s a lot of money.

That is a lot of money for pineapple juice. You can get a couple of those big cans
for that.

If you drank this on a regular basis, you’d also feel a tremendous difference in your own electrical and vital forces. It’s a completely un-scientific approach to anything, but raw juice is alive.

OK, I’ll cut to it. How can a guy sustain on salads and juice?
I can answer that question in a very scientific format. You just asked the question that if you look at from a chemistry and scientific perspective, the real question is, “How can a guy sustain and live on processed foods, overeating, bad food combinations and not be sick and overweight and suffer?” When you look at the movement I’m involved in, we are basically pulling all of that out of the equation and sustaining ourselves on pure, clean nutrition without any kind of consequence or repercussion. When you don’t understand nutrition from a scientific perspective, that seems like a prevalent question. When you look at juice and food and produce, it contains every aspect of nutrition that you need to live.

Live, and be happy, too? On juice alone?
Well, it depends. If you grew up and grandma was feeding you meatballs and pasta and the only memories you have of happiness are sitting around a table of 30 family members and eating until you were ready to collapse, and that’s still the way you eat now. You see, human beings’ primary addiction is to feel good. Processed and chemical foods and things like coffee and processed sugars are all food addiction. If you’re going to get rid of the food addiction, you’re not going to feel good. You have to go through a detox period. It’s like saying, “Well, how can a guy stop drinking alcohol and shooting heroin and feel good?” From where he is sitting, he is actually right. It’s a process of detoxification.

How do you deal with that as a company  basically saying that there will be an unpleasant detox period?
I don’t focus on that at all. I think that the vast majority of people that I am selling product to just want to feel like they are doing something healthy for themselves. They drink a juice, they eat a salad, they have a smoothie, they slowly get into it. Maybe now they are drinking two juices a day, or whatever they can afford. Sometimes, people get into it because they want to lose a couple of pounds and they figure that they can stop eating big meals and stuff like that. I do put a lot of information out in this peripheral stuff that I produce, and you’ll see that I impose some of that information, but that I make it fun. I don’t preach, “You’ve got to do this,” or “You’re not worthy.”

I’m skeptical of the idea of the cleanse, because I think it’s something people do to talk themselves into a lifestyle that they will ultimately break and revert back to their ways. But your business is not built specifically around a cleanse…
I’m going to talk candidly to you. Your background clearly has nothing to do with nutrition. You have an extensive background in food. I can go very, very deep into this, which would clearly challenge everything in science and nutrition. What is a cleanse?

What is a cleanse?
The way most people are selling it is recreational. It’s hobbyist because it’s relative – no two chemistries are in the same place at the same time. It’s relative to how sick or how healthy the individual is. The idea is very simple: the human body is an aggressive healing machine, with incredible God-given remedial capabilities. What prevents it from actually working on that level are lifestyle choices that the individual makes.

Let’s say a person is eating too much protein and develops a fatty liver. The solution wouldn’t be to have the liver removed, or to scrape it out, it would be to leave out too much protein [in the diet]. The liver would then heal itself, unlike a vehicle. When you break a part in a vehicle, it needs to be replaced. When you have a cut, it’s not permanent and it heals itself. When we talk about a cleanse, what we are really talking about is leaving out the mistakes and allowing your body a chance to heal itself from the mistakes that you commonly make.  What a juice fast really does is allow you to leave everything out while still taking in nutrition.The ultimate fast would be a water fast.

But you would die, no?
People wouldn’t do very well on that and we would have lawsuits everywhere. The reason a water fast is so effective is that you are leaving everything out, including nutrition. Your body would go into a rapid healing crisis. You’d be on your back and essentially near death. If you were being supervised properly, you could actually do it for 40 days.

Forty days? Have you ever done this?
No, no. I have not done a water fast yet, but I will eventually get involved in them. I’ve done two or three days.

Can you market this somehow? I’ve observed that you are a master marketer.
You can’t because you would actually kill people. Water fast is too dangerous. It’s a healing crisis that could potentially kill you. You don’t want to run around teaching people water fasts and have a bunch of schmucks running around trying to lose weight and doing it and putting themselves into hospitals.

My response to all that is that food and drink are a big part of joy in life. And a water fast is, well, fucking terrible…
A big part of joy in life is being in a wheelchair, being senile, having back problems, having gallbladder issues, having kidney stones, getting cancer. That’s tremendous enjoyment in life, right? I can bring all the science in that 99% of illnesses have their trace origin in inflammation, which has its trace origin in a dirty upper GI tract, which has its trace origin in a broken digestive system. Food is simply the cause of 80% of the illnesses that exist in the world.

Not genes?
It depends who you are talking to. If you talking to somebody who understands this, they will say that the study of genes and how it works is a thing called genetic expression. It gets very complicated but I will make it quick. Genetic expression simply means that just because your grandfather did not have hair, does not mean you are doomed and you don’t have hair. Just because your grandfather had clogged arteries and died of a heart attack does not mean that you are doomed and have to have that. There is something that happens and it’s simple to explain in science: your genes need to mutate into a disease, that can skip a generation. What they now understand is that you, through lifestyle choices and the thoughts that you keep and maintain, have an ability to turn on and off genes from expressing themselves.

The concept is, “What do you want out of your body?” Are you a high-performance athlete who wants to swim the English Channel at 87? Do you want to be getting laid when you are 96? These are all choices that you make. Do you want to be sedentary on a couch? 

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