The latest green smoothie debate! part 1 of 3

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:

Somebody on the internet says they don’t recommend green smoothies because apparently the fiber is too broken down. And the fruit causes blood sugar to spike. Please prove them wrong so I can keep enjoying them.

—Carly

Answer:   We have gotten this question several times this week, via email, but with at least three different sources saying that. The three sources are Caldwell Esselstyn (one of my heroes), a nutritionist, and a new diet plan.

Every time something becomes wildly popular, like green smoothies have, there is eventually a backlash. This happens with everything, from science to religion to pop culture. Critics spring up and evaluate the original claims of a new product, trend, or habit. And through the free flow of information, the truth emerges, although many people are frustrated and become disillusioned before that occurs.

An example is that this week, Matthew forwarded me a link to a five-page New York Times article, as he often does, regarding the dangers of yoga, the serious injuries that can result.   (My take-away, by the way, is not to push yourself in yoga class for the sake of your ego, or hold poses for long periods of time or do the uber-daring ones that push limits. I personally like to warm my muscles up with a little cardio before yoga, too.)

GSG reader Carly asked me to prove her source wrong saying that green smoothies are bad. I’m more likely to be able to do that than the doubters are, as I’ve not seen any data to support the idea that blending greens is not helpful—or even harmful.

My research with 175 green smoothie drinkers, published in The Green Smoothies Diet, shows 95.4% stating there was a noticeably positive impact on their health or quality of life, simply from drinking green smoothies regularly.

The top three health benefits reported were more energy (85%), improved digestion (79.5%), fewer cravings for sweets and processed foods (65%), more positive/stable mood (54%), weight loss (50%), and improvement in skin tone (50%).

If someone has real data on how fiber is “destroyed” in green smoothies, please point me to it. Matter can be neither created nor destroyed. The fiber didn’t go anywhere. The soluble fiber still turns to gel during digestion and slows digestion and impact on the blood sugar of the fruit (or other sugars you may eat with the meal). That soluble fiber binds to bile and removes it.

Insoluble fiber is blended, and could possibly be less effective at sweeping the GI tract, but it is still there, binding to bile increasing stool bulk.

More on this tomorrow.

Portland, part 2 of 3

I met Nita, whose blood sugar dropped 100 points a week after starting her 3-pint-a-day green smoothie habit in September. Her A1C test dropped 3 points, which is HUGE. She’d had bypass surgery, and thanks to 12 Steps habits, she got her energy back. She said the week she bought 12 Steps, she was looking at a program that cost twice as much, to guide her in choosing clothes, hairstyle and jewelry. She said to herself, deciding between the two: “Do I want to spend my money on getting well, or looking good on my deathbed?” Nita, if you’re reading this, you’re beautiful already.

I met Mary, who drove 3.5 hours from Seattle, wearing pink in the photo below with me and her friend. Starting green smoothies, she had no headaches getting off Diet Coke, her depression decreased, she lost 20 lbs., and she stopped retaining water.

I took tons of photos with young moms (see photo on yesterday’s blog entry, and they are popping up on facebook). I guess they got the message loud and clear that THEY ARE MY HEROES….especially when they buck popular trends to do right by their kids. They may feel powerless some days, but they actually wield tremendous power to turn the ship around before it wrecks.

(I am going to do some videos this week, with my 10-year old, showing you how I talk to him about nutrition and health. Stay tuned.)

One of favorite college roommates came to my Sandy class, where I was whisked away to make the drive to Corvallis without getting to chill with her. So she came to my hotel the morning I left (see photo below) with a lovely green smoothie breakfast sendoff. XOXO Paula, I heart you! And Debbie, the green smoothie you made me was HARD. CORE, woohoo!

Back from Portland now, where possibly because I’ve been speaking so much (10 classes in the past 2 weeks), my voice completely quit and I spoke in a squeak the last two classes. I want to move to Portland because you have it so good with health food and composting and organic everything, oh, and the BLUEBERRIES! (I’d miss sunshine, though.)

Spreading the word!

Email from a reader:

 

I just got off the phone with my mom and had some great news! Several weeks ago, I went to my step-sisters pool with my kids and mom. Of course, I toted along my big jars full of green smoothie. I got the usually, “What the heck is that?” comment. I told my step-sister all about them, gave her some simple suggestions and let her taste mine. She loved it. What I didn’t know is that now she is hooked!!! She and her oldest son have become green smoothie drinkers! She started telling my step-dad all about it and how much better they feel even after just a few days. Now, he wants to know more. The best thing is, my once unbelieving mom, is now extrememly interested as well. I would love to see her on start drinking green smoothies. She is a coffee/soda drinker, her diet is poor, she gets constant migraines, has fibromyalgia, and multitudes of other problems.

People think I am crazy when I start singing the praises of this super simple drink, but their minds are quickly changed when they feel it for themselves.

I have an older neighbor that lives next door. We talk occassionally and she tells me what’s going on in her life and health, she has not been well lately. She told me she was trying to lose about 15 lbs since her doctor told her she had to. She has been drinking the sugar free Slim Fast drinks. I asked her if I could come over and share with her a way that was much more healthy and more likely to help her regain her health and ideal weight. She agreed. I went over today and she is just so excited. Her son is to have his tonsels burned out!!???!!! because of bad allergies. Plus, he is about 50 lbs over weight. Her grandson and daughter-in-law are both very over weight as well. She wants to get all the information she can so she can share it with them too!

I love that I can freely share this love with some many people and see so many changed by such a simple drink and natural substance that we all take for granted!

One question I have…my neighbor is diabetic. How will the fruit smoothies affect her blood sugar? It’s hard for someone to drink a veggie based green smoothie when they are first introduced to the green smoothie concept. It’s easier to give them the sweeter drinks and let them work up to the stronger greens and no fruit green smoothies. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated!

By the way, I have been religiously drinking my green smoothies everyday for 6 weeks. I drink from one to three quarts everyday. I eat a mostly a vegan diet and very high raw. I have lost 17.5 lbs. I have gained incredible energy. I can now run a mile and sometimes more, which I do every other day. My skin has cleared. My PMS is virtually gone, to the point that my cycle snuck up on me last month. My moods have leveled out and I don’t have severe mood swings anymore. I am so much more calm and things just don’t bother me like they used to. I haven’t gotten sick even though I have been around a lot of sickness. I am just amazed at the difference a whole foods diet is making in my life! :-)

Thanks yall,
Kari

extra ingredients for green smoothies [part 9 of 9]

Bee pollen

Bee pollen has been a fascination of European researchers for a long time.   The dust from the stamen of blossoming plants collected from bees is fairly well documented to improve a lot of things most of us care about.   First of all, it increases your energy throughout the day and stamina for physical activity–it’s a powerhouse nutritionally, with 35 percent protein.

It has natural weight loss properties that have been mimicked chemically in various weight-loss drug remedies.   Bee pollen not only stimulates metabolism, but also suppresses appetite naturally.   It slows aging and prevents cancerous tumors from developing.

It also contains a gonadotropic sex hormone and contributes to improved sexual performance and reduction of PMS symptoms.   Perhaps most interestingly, it may prevent seasonal allergies, like eating raw honey allegedly does, but in a more direct way and without the blood sugar impact.   If you can buy it collected from multiple sources instead of one source, that’s a better product.   Bee pollen is a fantastic ingredient to add to a green smoothie.   I like to get it from All Star Health on Amazon, because (a) the price is good, (b) it’s very fresh and not dry like other sources, and (c) they collect from around the U.S. so it’s not just one geographic area’s bees, which I feel is best for allergy prevention.

Wheat grass juice (fresh or powdered)

Wheat grass was first famously studied and used extensively by Ann Wigmore, founder of Optimum Health Institute and a pioneer of many therapies still used now, 50 years later, in natural healing.   She wrote The Wheatgrass Book, documenting its megapowerful healing properties.

If I had cancer, the first thing I would do is begin growing, juicing, and drinking wheat grass daily.   Nothing compares to it nutritionally, for oxygenating and healing.   I have juiced wheat grass in a few periods of my life (including an early pregnancy, which may have been part of my current problem with it), and I would continue the habit if it weren’t simply the most awful-tasting thing on this planet.   Not everyone agrees with my assessment, fortunately, so give it a try.

In the event you can’t stomach the fresh juice, more and more companies are dehydrating the juice under 118 degrees and selling it as a powder.   While I find this to be too much in a green smoothie, some people like it.   I prefer to see people add this ingredient to water to alkalize their cells and energize throughout the day, since your green smoothie already provides many of the ingredients concentrated in wheat grass, in other green ingredients.

Generally speaking, wheat grass is juiced and the remaining grass discarded because its fiber is not digestible by the human stomach.   The juicers we used ten years ago are less than efficient at getting the juice from the grass, which is digestible only by a four-chambered stomach such as in a cow.   However, completely liquefied wheat grass such as occurs in a BlendTec Total Blender may render unnecessary the expensive, labor-intensive, and messy process we used to go through with specialized wheat grass juicers.

What my research says about how green smoothies change lives!

I once blogged 20 different astonishing ways my health improved when I began drinking green smoothies and eating a whole-foods diet.   Here it is: What Changed, When We Switched To Whole Foods, Part 2

But I wanted to get more scientific when I wrote The Green Smoothies Diet and find out precisely what a newbie can expect!

The results of my poll of 175 regular green smoothie drinkers yielded some interesting results that suggest quite definitively that it’s a 10-minute habit worth adopting!   To participate in the questionnaire, one had to be drinking green smoothies for at least 30 days, a pint a day for 4 days a week.   Many were drinking more, up to my recommended 1 quart daily.

The vast majority, or 97 percent, said green smoothies noticeably improved their health or quality of life.   Wow!

Very exciting to me is the fact that 84 percent of those drinking green smoothies are so enthusiastic about the positive health benefits that they’ve told others about or taught them the habit!

These are the positive health effects people experience, listed in order of their frequency among the research respondents:

85.4 percent experience more energy.

79.2 percent experience improved digestion (more regular and/or complete bowel movements, no straining, soft/formed stool, etc.).

65 percent experience fewer cravings for sweets and processed foods.

52.3 percent experience a more positive, stable mood.

51 percent experience an improvement in skin tone, or fewer blemishes

50 percent experience weight loss.   The average reported pounds lost is 17.3 lbs.!

(Keep in mind when considering this very impressive statistic that some of the respondents had been drinking green smoothies only 30 days, and some of them did not have any weight to lose!

48.5 percent experience an increased desire to exercise.

44.6 percent experience improved sleep (need less of it, decreased insomnia, more alert in the mornings, etc.).

41.5 percent feel less stressed out.

40 percent experience blood sugar stabilization.

39 percent experience people telling them they look better.

35 percent say their fingernails are stronger or grow faster.

26 percent say their hair is shinier or their dandruff gone.

18.5 percent experience a decrease in PMS symptoms.   (Consider that some of the respondents in the survey are not females of menstruating age.)

17 percent report an improved sex drive.

Other positive health benefits reported by survey respondents include these:

7 people said: Arthritis symptoms/pain gone or reduced

3 people said: Hyperthyroid condition improved (reduced or gone off meds)

2 people said: Seasonal allergies gone or decreased

2 people said: Reduced asthma symptoms

2 people said: Migraines gone or reduced by 80 percent

2 people said: Acne improved or gone

2 people said: Eczema or dry skin cleared

2 people said: Gray hair returned to original color

Decreased blood pressure

No more hypertension

Was able to go off cholesterol meds

Was able to go off Prilosec

Haven’t gotten sick in a year like I always do

Moles disappeared

Deep facial wrinkles “barely noticeable”

Less nasal congestion

Lump on leg getting smaller

Liver spots fading

Tendonitis gone

Muscle soreness gone

Hypoglycemia improved

No more bloating, gas, indigestion, constipation

Avoided a hysterectomy, lifelong menstrual problems returned to normal

Easier to breastfeed

Don’t sunburn any more

Gallstones gone

Depression symptoms gone

Lifelong bad breath gone in two weeks

Ended coffee addiction

Just feel better

The risks of a new green smoothie habit are limited to an 18.5 percent chance of a short-term, uncomfortable cleansing reaction that include the following symptoms:

headaches, skin breakouts, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, intestinal gas, cramps, constipation, vertigo, dizziness, fainting, lethargy or weakness, runny nose, mucous in the back of the throat, liver pain, mood swings, depression, emotional crisis

The top six benefits that people experience when starting a green smoothie habit are, in order, more energy, improved digestion, fewer cravings for sweets and processed food, a more positive/stable mood, improved skin, and weight loss.

It’s hard to look at this data without being compelled to give green smoothies a try!

Jump in with us and let us know here what your experience is after 30 days:

 

To Your Health,

–Robyn Openshaw

p.s.   Join us in 12 Steps to Whole Foods to get on the path to achieve all these health benefits. Step 1 is all about the why and how of green smoothies!

PCOS and protein

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: I have PCOS and I have battled weight for years.   I am currently 275 lbs and 5’10”.   I believe that what we eat does impact our health dramatically.   I was on a green smoothie a day for over a month and started to feel better.   Then I was told that it was too high in carbohydrates by my doctor and that I needed more protein to combat insulin resistance that accompanies my PCOS.   The recommendation: eggs, butter and meat.   I had been eating a green smoothie consisting of 1 c carrot juice, 1 c collard greens, 1 c. kale, 1/2 c. spinach, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 c. frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries.   I would sweeten with stevia if needed.     They want me to cut out the carrot juice, the banana and the berries.   I like greens but I need the fruit to cut the grassy taste.

 

I cannot believe that more and more dead animal and factory farmed animal product is better for me, but I am desperate to regain my health.   Do you have any experience with PCOS or insulin resistance and can you offer me any hope or education about what to do?

 

Answer:   I can’t advise you about specific health problems.   Doctors, however, mostly don’t know that higher-protein foods aren’t limited to animal products.   Higher amounts of legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts) and nuts will increase proteins and decrease any quick-to-the-bloodstream carbs.   And in your green smoothies, you’re already using stevia for sweetener, but you may want to use the mixed berries (lower in sugar) and use lemon and very little fruit (maybe a small apple).   As fruits go, bananas are very high in sugar.