Are Green Smoothies Making You Sick?

Green Smoothies are still pretty popular. They can be a great way to get a good hit of nutrients and fibre but for some people a green smoothie may not be the best choice, in fact they may be doing more harm than good. I know this can be really frustrating when you think you are doing the right thing by your health but the reality is we are all a little different and there is never one solution to health that fits everyone.

 

So What is a Green Smoothie?

 

For those of you unfamiliar, a green smoothie is a smoothie (not necessarily green) consisting of a base such as coconut water or some type of milk, leafy greens such as spinach, some fruit, and possibly some healthy boosters like spirulina, maca powder or bee pollen, all blitzed together.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of green smoothies. Despite looking like Shrek juice they are actually pretty delicious, a great way to cleanse, a hit of fibre, nutrition and they generally make you want to high five yourself for doing something good.  I drink green smoothies myself in summers and I love them, however there are times when drinking a green smoothie is the worst thing I can do for myself.

 

And I know for a lot of my clients, at certain times of the year or with certain body types, green smoothies (or any cold drinks, or blended fruit/veggies drinks) can be doing more harm than good.

 

Let me explain! 

 

How Can a Green Smoothie Be Harmful?

 

Think of your digestion as a transformative fire (this is how we describe it in Chinese Medicine). Food and drink, medications, herbs etc. go into your stomach and are acted upon by this fire and assimilated into Qi and blood. Qi and blood them go on to  nourish cells and manifests as energy, vitality, mental clarity, balanced hormones, fertility, and the functions of the organ systems.

 

Qi and blood also gives energy to all your organs, including the digestion to be able to begin the process all over again. It is a positive cycle.

 

When we eat things that are either downright unhealthy or too cold or raw for our constitutions, it can be like putting a damp blanket over this digestive fire. As you can imagine, it is not going to achieve the heat it needs to properly transform what you eat, so your body looses out on nutrition, and the un-transformed food hangs around in the body creating what is referred to in Chinese Medicine as dampness.

 

This can manifest as…

  • fatigue,
  • weight gain,
  • a feeling of fogginess and heaviness in your brain and body
  • inflammation
  • Impaired absorption
  • hormone imbalance
  • digestive symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, pain
  • increased mucous production and allergies (for a lot of people there is a distinct cough that happens when you drink/eat something cold and damp forming)

…to name a few.

 

There are certain body types that would find green smoothies hard to digest because of their raw, cold qualities. This is especially so in a colder climate when you have cold ingredients that you have just taken out of the fridge, or for people who are sensitive to the cold and crave warm foods or just have a weaker constitution.

 

When I lived in Queensland, I found it easy to do a smoothies everyday, but now that I live in a colder climate, if I drink a green smoothie in winter I feel really cold, it feels like my body is just shutting down and I feel my energy drain away in minutes.

 

What is the Solution?

 

If any of the above sounds like you, eating seasonally and eating for your climate is always a good idea and generally a great principle to stick to anyway. If you can grow it now in your climate, then eat it now. But you can also include things such as fermented foods, pineapple, papaya, avocado, dates, figs and apricots in your diet can help naturally boost digestive enzymes and this may help your digestive fire.

 

If you feel the cold and are craving warm foods, putting a small piece of fresh ginger into hot water and drinking it as tea can also help restore your digestive fire as well as including aromatic foods like ginger, turmeric and cardamon in your cooking. If it continues or these things are not helping, consult with your health care professional because chances are you feel crappier than you need to.

 

“Everyone’s body is different, so listen to what your body is telling you.”

 

Pay attention to your body and how it feels. If something is making you feel bloated, tired and generally crappy, stop doing it and chat to a professional that can look at your individual constitution and guide you in what your body needs. Trust your gut (and be kind to it).

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