What do smoothies do for you? Well, one single smoothie is not going to do anything much, irrespective of what you put in it. The same goes for the optimistic 3-day detox in a 365-day year… In matters of natural healthcare it is not the ‘incidentals’ but the ‘what you do repeatedly’ that shapes the outcome. When you use smoothies consistently (minimum 1 pint 3 times a week, maximum 1 pint 3 times a day every day) then your body – almost without exception – will respond favourably: from digestion, to hormones, energy levels, physical movement, skin complexion, pain levels, with improved laboratory tests to quantify positive change… Because making smoothies takes elbow grease, I recommend that you keep things simple and thus sustainable. The smoothie below is what I made for my family last Sunday, another easy-peasy example of ‘open the fridge and let’s see what we’ve got’. Of course thanks to a clever, one-woman buying department, I found that I had quite a choice…
|Ingredient||How Much||What Effects Its Benefit|
|Milk Kefir||200 ml||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||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 the enzymes Cyclo-oxyygenase-1 and -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 then you can add the next ingredient|
|Sliced Curly Kale||1 mug full||Vitamin A/K/C/B6; Inorganic Minerals Mg-Ca-Cu-K-Mn; Omega-3 alpha linolenic acid; 45 different flavonoid antioxidants including Quercetin and Kaempferol; Isothiocyanates inhibit growth of abnormal cells and fuel detox via Glutathione S-Transferases|
|Carrots||4 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|
|Apple||1 washed quartered and only pips removed||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|
|Avocado||cut lengthwise twist to open use ½ and peel||High levels of monounsaturated fat i.e. Oleic acid (polyunsaturated omega3:omega6 ratio is about 1:10) increase absorption of lipid-soluble vitamin ADEK and lowers risk of Cardio Vascular Disease; most phytonutrients are in the dark green pulp on the peel so scrape and include in smoothie|
|Freeze Dried Cherry Powder||1 heaped table 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 table 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 table spoon||Among the most potent anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative agents in the world and has benefits also for depressive disorder (MDD) and Diabetes Mellitus Type 1; kindly note that, without the milk kefir buffer, a heaped table spoon (soup spoon) full of turmeric would make this smoothie completely unpalatable, add a few turns of the black pepper mill as this improves turmeric absorption|
|Water Kefir||Top jug up to the top||similar to milk kefir but not nearly as broad spectrum, very easy to make yourself|
As I was making this smoothie, I noticed that our Moulinex jug blender seemed to struggle a teensy bit. Before I proffer the easy solution, let me say this: the single most important thing when buying a smoothie maker is not its revs per minute, or its blades, or its pre-programmed settings, but how often you use the ruddy thing. Just like in other aspects of life, it’s not what you’ve got but what you do with it that counts. Let’s move on! The deep whirring of our Moulinex meant that my smoothie was getting thick (there’s avocado for you!) which is why I added the water kefir that we make ourselves from water kefir cultures. This sorted things out for the dyed in the wool, hardened smoothie aficionados section of this family (honestly, we’re not as hardy as Tom and Barbara in the ‘Good Life’).
Our youngest daughter however complained that my smoothie had ‘too much taste’. Despite me watering it down with water kefir to ameliorate its consistency, she wanted a rescue ingredient. When it comes to smoothie rescue remedies nothing tops ‘banana to the rescue’ and, for those fretting about Glycaemic Index, just think how fabulously well a ripe banana compares to a Mars bar or a glass of Fanta… As a rule of thumb you should aim to keep smoothies at the bitter end of sweet. The bottom line is, that all the above nutrients found their way in meaningful quantities into each family member. Well worth the elbow grease it took, considering that it much increases their chance of making their life’s journey unimpeded by health issues (notwithstanding trauma or injury). A never failing array of reasons why one should make use of raw nutrients is found in research published in http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed and other peer reviewed sources.
Why smoothies and not juicing
One of my heroes in Medicine is Dr. Max Gerson MD, a German physician who treated critically ill patients with a dual approach: clean up serum, extracellular and intracellular environment and simultaneously bombard the body with known-to-be-useful nutrients so it can stand up for itself, fight back and conquer. Next to one particular detox method, Dr. Gerson only used juicing and this is because in his protocol absolutely everything that was ingested by mouth had to be filled with nutrients. Throughout 24hrs in any day, nobody on the Gerson approach would drink water, they’d drink freshly pressed juices. His is the extreme end of nutritional intervention (called hypernutrition) and the frequency of fluid ingesting dictated juicing rather than smoothies (for how much fibre can anyone tolerate). Optimally juiced raw vegetables (grinding followed by high-pressure pressing) create a fluid that is as swiftly absorbed into the blood stream as alcohol is i.e. it completely bypasses the digestive system and any shortcomings thereof. That is why Max Gerson advocated hypernutrition juicing. For preventative, run of the mill looking after your health, smoothies are great. Excellent equipment for smoothies (we bought a Nutribullet after the aforementioned jug blender died) is a lot less expensive than excellent equipment for juicing (Norwalk). Horses for courses.
Beyond the obvious Dr. Max Gerson nutrients bombardment benefit, I like smoothies for these reasons: this affordable-to-all approach provides fibre that helps prevent colorectal adenoma, helps protect against breast cancer, helps lower blood cholesterol levels, helps your stools be softer. My goodness why did I say that? Because it’s statistically worrying quite how many heart attacks and strokes occur during defeacation and this happens, in most cases, as a result of straining. Because raised inter-abdominal pressure to get things out the back door proves too much for the vascular pipework in either the heart or the brain. So sad because constipation is utterly avoidable with clever smoothies so, logically from there on, you should be able to meet your Maker under happier circumstances than whilst visiting the porcelain.
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Guidelines for smoothies
Below are the guidelines Han van de Braak BSc LicAc MCSP MBAcC (Retd.) uses for making smoothies. Nothing particularly fancy, just common sense with the objective being improving and maintaining health:
- We put ingredients into the nutribullet in such a sequence that the smoothie becomes as smooth as it can be (hard veggies or those with lots of fibre invariably make a smoothie bitsy).
- We offset very bitter vegetables with the sweetness of fruit, be mindful to keep the overall concoction to the bitter end of sweet i.e. keep your smoothie low glycaemic index
- When we add a significant amount of spices (a heaped tbsp turmeric in VDB’s case) or herbs (dandelion or stinging nettle – doesn’t sting in a smoothie) or use very bitter veg (arugula), we offset this with Nourish milk kefir (to taste e.g. 150-200mL in the 1.6 pint -32oz- nutribullet jug). This is similar to using a cucumber raita with a spicy Indian meal.
- We never use protein powder (in smoothies or otherwise) nor chocolate powder (Nutribullet provided a sachet of the latter when we bought the machine, it tasted weird if not awful in a vegetable smoothie).
- At the height of VDB’s auto-immune disease problem we added 1 tbsp of C-Reactive Protein lowering powders each: Organic Sour Cherries 500g (Sussex Wholefoods), Freeze-Dried Cherry Powder 100g (Healthy Supplies), Organic Goji Juice Powder 150g (Sussex Wholefoods).
- We never use ice in smoothies.
- We use food rotation i.e. we rarely use the same ingredients in a smoothie two days running, the obvious advantage is that one gets a wider variety of nutrients entering the body.
- We exercise a sense of humour when it comes to our smoothies… not all qualify for a Michelin star.
- We do smoothies most days but definitely not all days, we just don’t manage it every day (e.g. fridge content unappealing, or in winter it’s too cold and we’ll have porridge, or we got out of bed too late and need to dash to the avalanche that is working life)
- We have Juice Plus Premium every day which helps to bridge a gap between what we eat and what our bodies need.