Are Green Smoothies and Juices YOUR friend?

Is green juice your friend imageDrive anywhere around my neighborhoods of San Diego’s North County and you will see a plethora of juice bars, shops, stores and workout studios selling detox drinks to the masses. Everyone seems to dig green smoothies.

Fans say they increase energy, detoxification, weight-loss and overall health.  Parents and non-enthusiastic vegetable eaters love that they can sneak a few servings of greens into their kids or their own diet.

There are endless combos of liquid green concoctions!  Some go hardcore and blend a variety of greens like kale, dandelion, collard, chard, or parsley.  Some add a little spinach to their fruit smoothie and some prefer using green powder to their favorite shake or juice.

The ubiquitious vegetable juices and green smoothies- Should we question our passion or is it actually what it’s cracked up to be?

Well, it depends really on who is drinking.  For most of the people that I see in my practice there are a few considerations on the type and amount of green beverages consumed.  Let me explain.

With all due respects, green juices are not a whole food.  Juicing actually removes most of the fiber and has the effect of making the sugars more absorbable.  Additionally, some of the vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants are going to be more absorbable but some are going to be lost in the pulp.

Green smoothies are definitely a better way to go because you’re going to get the fiber.  The problem is, that drinking your food can actually be harder on your digestion.  The simple act of chewing is an important signal to your body to increase stomach acid secretion, which in turn turns signals the secretion of bile from the gall bladder.  If you are replacing a meal with a smoothie,  your body’s ability to digest the nutrients in that smoothie is also inhibited.

Drinking “on the run”?  Even worse!  When you are moving or stressed, the body prioritizes that and not digestion.  It’s a lose-lose situation.

Digestion (and assimilation), as I have mentioned before, are the cornerstone of health.  Eating healthy food, working out, and minding your mindfulness are all great, but if you aren’t properly digesting for one reason or another your entire body is not capable of growth, or repair of organs cells, and tissues.

Remember, 70-80% of your immune system cells are lining the gut.  Gut problems are not only immune system problems, but affect the nervous system and adrenals as well.   A number of people that I come across that drink a ton of greens have a weakened digestion and adrenals and think that drinking raw vegetables, chock full of enzymes will help them recover and feel better.

Consuming some vegetables in their raw form can play a positive role in your diet to help with digestion, mental clarity, and reversal of some chronic symptoms, but for most, there will be a tipping point where the ‘cleansing’ reaches the end of its benefits, and the raw greens begin to contribute to depletion of health..

It is well documented (and often debated) that the nutrients of many vegetables are more easily absorbed by the human digestive tract when cooked.

Ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine it has been known for centuries that too many raw fruits and veggies will damage the digestion, creating symptoms of gas, bloating, poor absorption, depression, fatigue and more.

Got a Thyroid Condition?

You should be aware that goitrogen containing greens like: kale, mustard greens, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, and spinach can have a negative effect on the health of your thyroid gland.  The way around it is to cook these foods to lessen the effect that they have.  There are many goitrogen-containing foods and you can learn more right here. Since these vegetables are so good for us, instead of eliminating them from your diet, you can cook them. Cooking actually removes most of the compound responsible for thyroid hormone production.

What you can do…

Easy.  Just be sure to eat your greens cooked.  Cooked green smoothies?   Not too bad actually!

Would You Like Some Fat with That?

A Swedish study showed that consumption of fruits and vegetables was associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, but only when combined with full-fat dairy consumption.

Increasing the surface area by juicing for blending may help absorption, but you are likely to get maximum usage of the nutrients in the veggies if you include some fat too.

What you can do…

Add some coconut oil, or soaked nuts or seeds to your garden blends.

Prone to kidney stones?

If you have ever had kidney stones or are prone to develop them, you should be careful of dietary oxalates.  The most common type of kidney stone is made up of calcium oxalate.  Avoiding foods containing oxalic acid or oxalates has traditionally been recommended for kidney and gallstone sufferers.

Many foods contain oxalic acid, especially leafy greens such as spinach, kale, chard, parsley, collards and beet greens. Spinach has the highest levels of oxalic acid – 750 milligrams per 100 gram serving.

What you can do….  Simply use a lower oxalate green like collard, arugula, most lettuce, watercress or cabbage OR boil your higher oxalate greens, squeeze out the water (add to your plants) and use.  (A smoothies made from romaine, avocado, mint, ginger, coconut butter and a little coconut water is pretty delicious!)

Green smoothies can be delicious, invigorating and refreshing.  By taking the above points into consideration you might have a better chance of making the best of some beautiful and natural treats our gardens and markets offer us!


Cat Dillon

This blog is my journal, where I share everything wellness. From tips on healthy lifestyle to creating as much deliciousness in your life as possible.

Cat Dillon is the Cat in Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.

Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness is a unique combo of nutrition, fitness and cooking coaching all in one pretty package. Read more about Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.

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