Few people realise that underlying many diseases is chronic inflammation. Take your pick, diabetes II, arthritis, arterial plaque (atherosclerosis) with subsequent risk of heart attack, or a stroke… a list longer than you or I can shake a stick at. The answer is not half an Aspirin a day, nor is it non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs unless you’re keen on gastro-intestinal side effects. Instead use nutrients cleverly. A dastardly clever beetroot smoothie is one example of where ‘the cure is in the kitchen’ comes into its own and research in PubMed backs this up.
The only thing that can go wrong with a dastardly clever beetroot (beet for Americans) smoothie is you spilling a drop of it on your shirt/dress and ruin it forever (the pig of pigments). This is safe to do for everybody! Our clever smoothies are not the prettily coloured, beautifully layered smoothies you see in blogs. No Gucci smoothies here, instead we make them so they kick bottom (Johnny English), they inhibit the activity of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes (including both COX-1 and COX-2), support Phase 2 detoxification and much more… Here’s what builds very robust health:
|Ingredient||How Much||What Effects Its Benefit|
|Water Kefir||½ pint first in||Boosts gut microbiota with a far wider spectrum of bacteria than yoghurt would and is fine even for those who’re lactose-sensitive/intolerant; microbiota specific functions are host nutrient metabolism; xenobiotic and drug metabolism; maintenance of structural integrity of the gut mucosal barrier; immunomodulation and protection against pathogens.|
|Organic Sour/Tart Cherries stoned||1 cup full (i.e. more than shown in header picture)||Next to vitamin C and Anthocyanins they contain Perillyl alcohol (POH) Limonene and Ellagic acid which are particularly protective against breast lung liver skin and colon cancers; anthocyanins and bioflavonoids slow down cyclo-oxyygenase enzymes COX-1 and COX-2 and this helps inflammatory conditions (laboratory tests at Michigan State University found that tart cherry compounds are at least 10 times more effective than aspirin in reducing inflammation without any of aspirin’s side effects); you need to put them in first with that ½ pint as they’ll rattle around before everything becomes smooth and only then you can add the next ingredient!|
|Carrots||1 left in fridge scrubbed and chopped||Carotenoids in carrots not only help prevent oxidative damage inside our body they prevent oxidative damage to their Polyacetylenes (falcarinol and falcarindiol) that inhibit growth of abnormal cells in the colon; also 50-75g/day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease; vitamin A represents highest % of vitamins; inorganic minerals Mb-K-Mn-Cu-P.|
|Spinach stalks||I’m post-war waste-not want-not generation so stalks are used||Invariably stalks do not contain the same nutrient levels as our home-grown spinach leaves do (used in a smoothie yesterday) and they will contain lots of fibre; but given that nutrients travel up the stem from the soil they will contain lots of nutrients bar the photosynthesis dependent B vitamins. More fibre causes a smoothie to thicken so add water kefir (unless you like chewing your way through a smoothie).|
|Apple||only 1 quarter left in fridge||Significantly alters colon microbiota (notably the amount of Clostridiales and Bacteriodes); apple polyphenols ease the regulation of your blood sugars (Quercetin inhibits alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase); malic acid improves hepatobiliary flow i.e. fat-soluble detox. Obviously too little apple to do much good but it looked forlorn so in it went.|
|Beetroot||1 top tail scrub and slice that’s all||Raw beetroot (don’t buy the cooked ones!) provide antioxidant anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. Beetroot pigments have been shown to lessen tumour cell growth through a number of mechanisms.|
|Freeze Dried Cherry Powder||1 heaped soup spoon||Anthocyanins and bioflavonoids (e.g. Queritrin and Isoqueritrin) -but not as many as in the sour/tart cherry- of course they give your smoothie a lovely flavour.|
|Organic Goji Juice Powder||1 heaped soup spoon||Increases subjective feelings of general well-being and improves neurologic/psychologic performance and gastrointestinal functions; its antioxidant Zeaxanthin is a powerful vision protector that accumulates in the macula (the prominent bright yellow spot in the centre of the retina that allows you to distinguish fine detail).|
|Turmeric||1 heaped tea spoon||Among the most potent anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative agents in the world. It is currently being tested in 16 clinical trials on cancer (prostate breast colon osteosarcoma). For absorption it’s best to combine fat-soluble turmeric with a dash of extra virgin olive or coconut oil and a pinch of black pepper (piperine increases turmeric’s absorption). More often than not I use a heaped soup spoon full of turmeric (buying in 1kg from buywholefoodsonline.co.uk makes this dirt cheap) but you MUST buffer this amount of turmeric with enough (e.g. 250ml) nourish milk kefir to keep it palatable!|
|Extra Virgin Oil||tea spoon||Helps absorption of turmeric (curcumin) but milk kefir also provide the lipids of course; no real need to do both.|
|Milk Kefir||last in fill jug to top||Milk kefir has a much broader probiotic spectrum than yoghurt or water kefir and it also provides lipids for turmeric’s absorption.|
The detoxification of lipid-soluble toxins happens in the liver where Phase I creates an intermediate substance that then needs to through Phase II in order to make it water-soluble, so your kidneys/bladder can excrete it. Beetroot’s pigments (betacyanins in red beetroot used in this smoothie) trigger Phase II via glutathione-S-transferase (GST). Those familiar with Dr. Max Gerson MD will immediately recognise that this is what palmitic acid does in coffee enemas. Facilitating clean-up improves your chance of cells replicating without error and function normally. The ample Manganese in beetroot is a necessary component for the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) that protects cells from damage induced by free radicals, notably the mitochondria (every cell’s energy creator). Increased expression of MnSOD has been found to suppress the malignant phenotype of human breast cancer cells suggesting that MnSOD is a tumour suppressor gene in human breast cancer [Li,J.J., Oberley,L.W., StClair,D.K., Ridnour,L.A. and Oberley,T.D. (1995) Phenotypic changes induced in human breast cancer cells by overexpression of manganese-containing superoxide dismutase. Oncogene, 10, 1989–2000].
Beetroot’s anti-inflammatory properties are thanks to betanin, isobetanin and vulgaxanthin that inhibit the activity of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes (including both COX-1 and COX-2). Such enzymes are messenger molecules that cells use to trigger inflammation; a useful functional mechanism when it’s triggered short term, a destructive mechanism when it’s triggered long term. Next to betacyanins in red or betaxanthins in yellow beetroot, and carotenoid phytonutrients, beetroot gives you betaine (made from choline, which is a vitamin B-complex, and it helps keep inflammation-causing homocysteine at healthy levels). Betaine itself is associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. Now you know why I regularly add beetroot to my smoothies…
The inorganic nitrate in beetroot is associated with a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure [Source: J Nutr. 2013 Jun;143(6):818-26. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.170233. Epub 2013 Apr 17], inorganic nitrate in beetroot also helps oxygen to get into your red blood cell (oxygen saturation). It works via the ‘nitrate‐nitrite‐nitric oxide (NO) pathway’. It’s worth remembering that Viagra (nitric oxide – phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor PDE5i) started life as an anti-angina drug until of course other effects were noted and the rest is history! Beetroot doesn’t mimic the blue pill but its NO will help your circulation and cardiac architecture.
Kindly note that some people pass red/pink urine after consuming beetroot. It’s called beeturia which points to unmetabolised betalain pigments which normally lose their colour via oxidation by hydrochloric acid, ferric ions and colonic bacteria. So, if you pee is reddish after a beetroot smoothie, then you either have hypochlorhydria (not enough stomach acid), or a problem with iron metabolism, or a problem with gut bacteria balance. Not everybody has the capacity to absorb (so combine aloeride + milk kefir) and metabolise enough betacyanins and betaxanthins to get full antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, Phase II triggering benefits. It is however completely harmless, so there’s nothing to worry about if the No#1 or No#2s become reddish after a good helping of beetroot.
Bottom line is that by reducing chronic inflammation you reduce the chance of diseases that follow in its wake.
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