Very often I am asked questions regarding juices and smoothies, where do they differ? Are they an important inclusion to the diet for everyone? That seems like a waste of good/expensive fruit/veg, are you mad? How can I make them taste good/add more nutritive content? etc
Lets start with juices. I know juice fasting is popular, but i would really recommend that it is only undertaken with the assistance of a Holistic Practitioner, (this means credentials and experience). Juice fasting with home-made, cold pressed, organic fruit and veg can be beneficial for some, but its something that makes me nervous to see people doing for themselves, only after reading a few blog posts. Theres a lot to take into account with such methods, and its better to pay some money to a professional in this case, find out if it is safe/beneficial for you in the first place, get the info on how to do this the right way for *you*, and then you have that specific knowledge on hand for the rest of you life. Moving on..
Fruit and vegetable juice should always be cold pressed and preferably from organic produce. Cold pressed allows the enzymes and vitamins to stay ‘live’ and not oxidise. Organic and local means there are more enzymes, vitamins and minerals to begin with, and you are also not going to ingest chemicals in a super absorbable, direct to liver and other organs, paradoxical to the point of juicing, kind of way. Juices are the product of squeezing the very lush liquid quality out of whatever it is you have stuck in your juicing machine, it completely removes the fibre and complex carbohydrate. I prefer to always use a mix of more vegetable to fruit ratio, this is my personal preference as I feel this is more nutritive and doesn’t create too much of a blood sugar spike, if you are susceptible to that. Juices should be thought of as health improving, additions to your diet, not meal replacements. In this regard anyone of any age can enjoy juices in their diet and reap the many benefits. Here are some benefits of juices:
- They are alkalising to the body (this in itself has numerous benefits)
- They require no energy from the body to absorb the nutrients, when ingested, as they are void of digestible fibre
- They directly introduce nutrients and energy into the bodies cells via direct pick up from the stomach into the blood stream (think electrolytes etc) due to being pure liquid
- They are blood building and blood cleansing
- They are fantastic to use as nourishment when sick or convalescing from illness
- pre-workout they keep the body well hydrated and the cells energised, so prevent muscle fatigue, and allow for better recovery
- post workout or after sun exposure they replace electrolytes and optimal hydration to the body
- Adding herbs, like coriander, parsley or ginger increases the medicinal value and taste
I’m not going to add recipes in this post, as there are so many great blogs out there for resource. One of my favourites for tasty juicing and smoothie recipes is This Rawsome Vegan Life, check out the dessert’s too! But a quick google search will have you up to your ears in ideas to try.
Smoothies! Who doesn’t like smoothies? They are way more fun, you can create a lot of variety, and yes, in some cases, if you fill it with enough variety, it can be an on the go meal (for a quick first breakfast, or a snack, it doesn’t count as one of your three square!).
As smoothies are a whole food, liquidised, they offer way more nutritional punch. They can be as high in protein and complex carbohydrate as you wish to make them. And, because they are liquid, they require less energy from the body to digest them and process the nutrients into your system. This is a boon for a few reasons, more nutrients are absorbed, they are absorbed faster, and it leaves your body with more energy to utilise those nutrients in an optimal way. You might now be thinking ‘that sounds great, we should be ingesting *all* of our food this way!’, but not so, I’m afraid! In the complex, wonderful and sometimes oxymoronic world of human physiology, our digestive system is sensitive, and it needs variety. The process of chewing solid food is not only super necessary for our dental health, but it triggers our whole digestive process. Enzymes in saliva are where carbohydrates and proteins start to be broken down, and this creates a trigger effect for the rest of the digestive glands (stomach, pancreas, small intestine, liver) to prepare for incoming food breakdown. The longer your teeth masticates your food, the less of a struggle the stomach has to break up all that dense matter, the stronger your teeth and jaw get, and due to neuro feedback and a super happy blood glucose raise, your body feels full and satisfied quicker. Ingesting liquid food *only* or *mostly* will switch off the digestive process. However, humans can benefit extremely from liquidised whole foods, once a day is enough, a smoothie or a soup, and if you want to be cautious, eat a mouthful of whatever you’re blending, before you blend it.. but lets not get too pedantic! The point is to have fun here, and trust in our bodies own ability to know what to do with good wholesome foods!
Get the most out of your smoothies by:
- Drinking them after working out or other sport activity, to help alkalise, build/repair muscle, rehydrate as well as re-fuel. You will notice your energy increase, and have less muscle pain.
- Drinking them during and after sickness, to nourish the body and support the immune system.
- Adding your favourite super foods, and nutritional boosters; Coconut water/flesh/oil, goji berries, raw cacao, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, maca powder, spirulina, chlorella, sprouted green powders, powdered unicorn horn, whatever
Some other reasons to include them in your diet:
- if you have poor digestive absorbency, low energy, blood deficiencies including anaemia (add lots of greens to your smoothies, but also take the right supplements)
- Smoothies are great for pregnant and lactating women, who need more calories, but who can also easily lose the desire and will to eat, due to all the fun pregnancy stuff.. additions of smoothies to the diet can make this a little easier (and soups!)
- Drink them if you’re elderly. The elderly tend to have less aggressive digestive systems, and a daily smoothie can help support their nutritional input. I also would recommend a soup every day, perhaps the smoothie first thing in the morning, before breakfast, and the soup as part of the last daily meal.
- if you have any chronic illness, liquidsed whole foods can really help support your body and immune system. Look at using the right foods in your smoothies (and soups/stews), to coincide with the specific healing you need.
Finally, just to confuse you possibly even more.. lets look at the weather! Look out your window. If there’s snow on the ground, it’s probably winter, right? So your body is cold, and craving lots of warm comforting, strengthening foods. In traditional Chinese medicine, the stomach contains the bodies ‘fire’, it needs to be stoked and kept aflame. During the winter months, it is easy for the body to become too cold, so we need those warm, strengthening, foods, that will keep our stomach fired up to digest what we put in it, and keep us nourished and energised. If we get too cold, by eating too many uncooked, raw foods during the winter, we become sluggish, depressed, we gain weight, our liver has to work too hard and becomes ‘congested’. Winter is the time for less smoothie, more soup! In contrast, summer is the time for more raw foods, more smoothies and juice, and less soups, stews, roasts etc. We need to vent the excess heat our bodies absorb in summer, raw foods do that for us, to keep us vital and energised.
But above all else, what does YOUR body tell you it wants? If it’s the middle of winter and you want a smoothie, its best to honour that instinct. If its steamy tropical summer where you are, yet you’re obsessing about a good hearty stew, make one, eat it, and feel your body regain its balance.
Happy whole food liquidising!
Sami Lou xx