Wake, smoothie, move, repeat. Wake, smoothie, move, repeat.
Green juices or smoothies have become part of everyday vernacular, almost as ubiquitous as a daily caffeine hit, among the health conscious anyway. But despite nutritious smoothies being a buzzword for years now (green smoothie is one of the biggest “trending” words in 2015), its widespread fame hasn’t changed the fact it’s rare for daily greens to be well executed.
And, here’s the clincher, because of this, it actually has little or none of the desired effects on your health and energy.
It’s touted as your daily equaliser, an input of nutrient dense and enzyme-rich liquid that can help make you feel great and perhaps help you look it too. It has the potential to deliver easily accessible nutrition to your system and can help you detoxify. If your health is in “credit”, then a green smoothie/juice can further create a bit of a buffer to nutritional and life stresses.
While the idea of grabbing a pre-mixed or pre-powdered greens together with a new, trendy milk or “mylk”, appears to be an efficient way of throwing in the good stuff while getting optimum benefits, the truth is it probably isn’t. There are improvements to be made, and lots of them.
GREEN SMOOTHIE MISTAKES
1. Using pre-mixed, pre-powdered greens and berries
There are an abundance of these fruits and vegetables in their fresh and whole form, with all their intact enzymes and catalysts at your local growers market. A minimal amount of dead, dried, pesticide and chemical farmed green powder is not of any benefit to anyone. Always go fresh when you can.
2. Using low-grade protein powder
Putting awesome fresh produce in your shake and then degrading it by adding a low-grade protein source is not the best way to go.
You’re potentially adding a whole bunch of hidden fillers, inflammatory agents or chemicals to what is supposed to be our remedy against these things! Look out for ingredients like colourings, preservatives and a list of inactive ingredients longer than the active ingredients.
3. Check your superfood blend
Adding superfood blends that only contain micro-doses of the superfoods that you were after is commonplace. Have you considered how much you are going to actually need of that exotic sounding “superfood”?
Some brands contain only contain one tenth or one hundredth of the star ingredient they are promoting, which will do little for your health, even though they are listed on the label and are a selling point for the product.
4. What’s your pre-made blend made of?
Using pre-made blends that have added ingredients for texture, consistency and shelf life need to be scrutinised closely.
Ingredients to avoid are inactive ingredients – they’re inactive because they haven’t been added for use in the nutritional content of the product, but are still put in the product, which means your body still has to process and deal with it.
While some natural sweeteners are OK, again without sourcing them yourself you have little control over their quality. Other sweeteners are flat out terrible for your system – high fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin are the big ones to look out for so avoid these at all costs.
GREEN SMOOTHIES COME GOOD
The main point is, we need to start questioning all ingredients. It doesn’t help anyone if the “healthy” ingredients are produced in an unhealthy way, with unhealthy fillers. The benefits and assurance of using some home ingredients like a quality honey, or some well sourced stevia are more beneficial and harmonious to your body.
The other thing to look out for is food derived from a wholefood.
Most of the beneficial elements, such as vitamins and minerals, found in wholefoods are only used by the body when consumed with the rest of the wholefood. A wholefood contains the needed catalysts and enzymes to help you break down and make use of the nutrients you need to get out of those healthy foods. Nature has already got a great system set up for us and unfortunately separating and prepackaging parts of the wholefood, or synthetically trying to recreate elements of it doesn’t necessarily work.
Yes, it’s a smoothie ingredient minefield out there!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST GREEN SMOOTHIE POSSIBLE
1. Buy fresh, quality produce
Preferably from local markets or growers. This way you know (because you can ask) where your fruit and veg has been, how long it has (or hasn’t) been in storage and what sort of conditions it has been grown in. Go chemical-free, organic, and sustainably grown produce. Buy lots of it and buy variety.
We recommend a variety of colours and particular qualities (for example, avocado for fat, banana for potassium, etc). Mix it up, too; the number of documented benefits to a wide variety of fruit and veg is only made to look dull by the potentials, uses and benefits we haven’t discovered yet.
2. Pick a suspension fluid
All of the produce will be blended into oblivion so you’ll need something liquid to carry them for texture and enjoyment’s sake (even if you are about your hardcore health there’s nothing wrong with having a health dense and tasty smoothie). Try home-made nut milks, hemp milk or coconut water.
3. Pick the right protein
If you are going to add a protein source, or a powder, do your research. Know your products. Do they use proprietary blends? Then guess what – it’s impossible to know what the hidden ingredients are. Are they transparent with the sourcing of their ingredients? If not, why not? Are they traceable sources? There are companies out there making the effort to nail these crucial factors in the products they deliver. It’s worth finding them and using them.
4. Get yourself an easy to clean, simple blender
You will make the money back on the cash you don’t spend on pre-packed, potentially low quality juices, and you will hit more variety and therefore more nutrition!
Red Hippo, run by Nick Dawe and Mitch and Ryan Barraclough, is an Australian company that provides synergistic protein blends, supported by science, and road tested by Olympians.
If you want to eat for long-term health, lowering inflammation is crucial.
Inflammation in the body causes or contributes to many debilitating, chronic illnesses — including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease,Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer.
That’s why, as a doctor and founder of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, I recommend my patients eat a diet focused on anti-inflammatory principles.
Recent research finds that eating this way not only helps protect against certain diseases, but it also slows the aging process by stabilizing blood sugar and increasing metabolism.
Plus, although the goal is to optimize health, many people find they also lose weight by following an anti-inflammatory eating pattern.
Here, I’m sharing the 11 principles I recommend everyone incorporate into their diet for optimal health:
1. Consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day.
A fiber-rich diet helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods.
To get your fill of fiber, seek out whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The best sources include whole grains such as barley and oatmeal; vegetables like okra, eggplant, and onions; and a variety of fruits like bananas (3 grams of fiber per banana) and blueberries (3.5 grams of fiber per cup).
2. Eat a minimum of nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
One “serving” is half a cup of a cooked fruit or vegetable, or one cup of a raw leafy vegetable.
For an extra punch, add anti-inflammatory herbs and spices — such asturmeric and ginger — to your cooked fruits and vegetables to increase their antioxidant capacity.
3. Eat four servings of both alliums and crucifers every week.
Alliums include garlic, scallions, onions, and leek, while crucifers refer to vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts.
Because of their powerful antioxidant properties, consuming a weekly average of four servings of each can help lower your risk of cancer.
If you like the taste, I recommend eating a clove of garlic a day!
4. Limit saturated fat to 10 percent of your daily calories.
By keeping saturated fat low (that’s about 20 grams per 2,000 calories), you’ll help reduce the risk of heart disease.
You should also limit red meat to once per week and marinate it with herbs, spices, and tart, unsweetened fruit juices to reduce the toxic compoundsformed during cooking.
5. Consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis — conditions that often have a high inflammatory process at their root.
Aim to eat lots of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like flax meal, walnuts, and beans such as navy, kidney and soy. I also recommend taking a good-quality omega-3 supplement.
And of course, consume cold-water fish such as salmon, oysters, herring, mackerel, trout, sardines, and anchovies. Speaking of which:
6. Eat fish at least three times a week.
Choose both low-fat fish such as sole and flounder, and cold-water fish that contain healthy fats, like the ones mentioned above.
7. Use oils that contain healthy fats.
The body requires fat, but choose the fats that provide you with benefits.
Virgin and extra-virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed canola are the best bets for anti-inflammatory benefits. Other options include high-oleic, expeller-pressed versions of sunflower and safflower oil.
8. Eat healthy snacks twice a day.
If you’re a snacker, aim for fruit, plain or unsweetened Greek-style yogurt (it contains more protein per serving), celery sticks, carrots, or nuts like pistachios, almonds, and walnuts.
9. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars.
This includes any food that contains high-fructose corn syrup or is high in sodium, which contribute to inflammation throughout the body.
Avoid refined sugars whenever possible and artificial sweeteners altogether. The dangers of excess fructose have been widely cited and include increased insulin resistance (which can lead to type-2 diabetes), raised uric acid levels,raised blood pressure, increased risk of fatty liver disease, and more.
10. Cut out trans fats.
In 2006, the FDA required food manufacturers to identify trans fats on nutrition labels, and for good reason — studies show that people who eat foods high in trans fats have higher levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker for inflammation in the body.
A good rule of thumb is to always read labels and steer clear of products that contain the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated oils.” Vegetable shortenings, select margarines, crackers, and cookies are just a few examples of foods that might contain trans fats.
11. Sweeten meals with phytonutrient-rich fruits, and flavor foods with spices.
Most fruits and vegetables are loaded with important phytonutrients. In order to naturally sweeten your meals, try adding apples, apricots, berries, and even carrots.
And for flavoring savory meals, go for spices that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, including cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, sage, and thyme.