Are Smoothies *Actually* Healthy?
I learned so much in the Plant Based Nutrition certification course which caused me to rethink some of my nutritional choices for sure. A couple of examples are the use of supplements and eating smoothies as a healthy way to get nutrition. Nutrients are best absorbed in the whole foods, plant-based form and not from a supplement which is a broken down/processed form of a nutrient.
Omnivores are becoming more deficient too due to the industrialization of cattle farming and production and also of large scale vegetable farming that often contain pesticides and soil depleted of benifical nutrients, including microorgasms, of which Vitamin B12 is a by product of. Some plant-based physicians/biochemists might also say Omega 3s, but supplementing with them is a bit controversial (another topic for another post). The supplement industry is a huge money maker and taking supplements is largely a waste of our money, with a few exceptions of course.
On the topic of smoothies, there are great benefits in chewing our food. For example, the process of breaking down nitrates from things like leafy greens and beets starts with an anaerobic bacteria in our mouth that mixes with the nitrates during the chewing process which then converts the nitrates into nitrites. In the stomach, gastric acid then converts the nitrites into nitric oxide which is then absorbed through the gut. Nitric oxide is an enzyme which assists in the release of endothelial relaxation factor (EDRF) which helps prevent intracellular stickiness, creates vessel dilation, prevents hypertension, prevents plaque build up, in addition to other processes.
This process is part of the reason greens are so good for us and for those already with heart disease. Another issue with juicing/smoothies is the absorption rate by which the ingredients can occur. Again, there is benefit in the chewing process and utilizing our full gastrointestinal system as it is meant to be used. Ingesting a smoothie or juice essentially "dumps" nutrients into our system quickly, therefore there are more likely to be issues with absorption and potential blood sugar spikes, depending on the ingredients.
Who knew that smoothies really aren't all that "healthy?" Certainly not me! The take away for me is that I know I could do a lot worse than eating a green smoothy with good ingredients, but they certainly won't be a "go to" for me anymore. The idea really is to eat foods in their whole food plant-based form as much as possible for maximum benefit and to obtain all the essential nutrients that our bodies need for good health and prevention of disease.
I invite questions, comments, and thoughts anytime!
In good health,