Why does a green smoothie come FIRST as I change what I eat?

I teach classes to people who are beginners in nutrition, eating the Standard American Diet.   I teach intermediate classes to those who are more savvy, and even advanced classes in sprouting and fermented foods.

Regardless of where you are, nutritionally, I have found that in every group, people experience profound health benefits by incorporating the green smoothie into their daily routine.   Even 100 percent raw foodist vegans are often mineral deficient because they don’t eat enough greens!

People get so excited when they begin the green smoothie habit–even people known as the “health food nut” in their families who have juiced vegetables for years and don’t eat meat.

Why?   Because making your green smoothie is the highest and best use of your kitchen time.   How else can you spend only 10 minutes in the kitchen and get 15 servings of raw greens and fruit in one quart?   Not only is the prep time 10 minutes or less, from start to cleanup, but a blended drink is quick to drink, too.

And it lets you get lovely, raw, nutritious things you may have never eaten before in your diet, like what I had today: kale, collards, Chinese celery, bok choy, and alfalfa sprouts.

Tips and strategies for how to make them a part of your daily routine inexpensively is covered in detail in Chapter 1 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods.

Start here, with the green smoothie habit, and this will give you more energy.   Then you’ll want even more and you’ll have that excitement to go on to Step 2 . . . and Step 3 . . . and before you know it, you’ll be a GreenSmoothieGirl or Guy and everyone will be saying, “You look fantastic! You’re like a whole different person! How can I do what you’re doing?!”

And then you’ll be the Evangelist . . . spreading the Gospel of Green.   Because once you convert, you’ll never want to go back.   And you’ll want to help everyone you know.

To Your Health,

–Robyn Openshaw

 

Extra ingredients for green smoothies [part 7 of 9]

Pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice is another very hot product because of a few studies linking it to slowing growth of prostate cancer and arthritis, and reducing breast and skin cancer.   It’s been linked to improvement of several cardiovascular measurements, including thinning the blood and improving blood flow, lowering LDS cholesterol, and increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

I would prefer to see people use the whole fruit, which is available in the winter.   You peel away the red outer peel and the inner white membranes to harvest the seeds, which look exactly like rubies.

It is labor intensive to take apart a pomegranate!   However, it is fun for children because the fruit is so beautiful and because it’s a bit of a treasure hunt.

All juices are concentrated, with high natural sugar content, and also quite acidic.   The whole fruit achieve the same benefit (while in lower vitamin and mineral concentrations) without the downside of a product with all the enzymes killed and high in sugar benefits.

Yogurt or kefir

Yogurt or kefir, particularly homemade, adds a creamy, smooth texture to smoothies.   You can learn more about this topic in Ch. 9 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods, including how to make them at home inexpensively and easily. They are the only animal products I actively promote, as their proteins are predigested and broken down for easy utilization by the body, unlike other animal proteins.  

Even more importantly, they contribute to a healthy gastrointestinal tract by populating it with good micro-organisms that are your main defense against bacterial infections and other harmful micro-organisms.   Most people have 10:1 bad microorganisms to good, and the ratio should be reversed for a healthy colon.   The best way to address this is to eat yogurt or kefir daily and avoid foods (like dairy and meat, and processed foods) that feed the bad bacteria.

If you are going to purchase commercial yogurt or kefir, organic is better, and buy plain flavor rather than the excessively sugar-sweetened vanilla and other flavors.   Goat yogurt is nutritionally superior to dairy (cow milk) products.   It is not mucous forming and easier to digest, due to its smaller fat molecule that permeates human semipermeable membranes without triggering the body’s defense mechanism to flush out with mucous.   People do not experience “lactose intolerance” with goat milk products, and even many who are lactose intolerant with regular milk do not experience those symptoms with dairy yogurt.

foods that help digestion . . . part 5

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:   What are foods that help digestion? Some raw foodists eat raw meat.   Raw meat and milk have enzymes, so aren’t they good foods?

Answer:   We’ll leave the Oxford/Cornell China Project out of this discussion, which shows that animal protein causes many diseases.   (The primary author of that pivotal study, Dr. Campbell, told me he did not study predigested or fermented milk products, such as kefir or yogurt.)   Raw milk has over 35 enzymes.   If you’re going to use dairy products or milk, raw certainly has those many advantages over pasteurized.   One very old study showed the highest morbidity (death) rate in newborns drinking pasteurized cow milk, a much improved rate for those drinking raw milk, and higher still for those who were fortunate to be breastfed by their mothers.

However, you run many bacterial risks with the way milk and meat will be raised, handled, and transported to you.   Meat in particular is troublesome, and I would not recommend eating it raw, even if you go to all the trouble of finding truly range-fed, organic chickens or beef.   The shockingly lax U.S. standards for poultry allow virtually anything to be legally given labels like “natural” and “range fed.”   We can obtain live enzymes through plant food, much more safely.

That said, I believe much evidence shows kefir or yogurt to be an excellent food with its natural probiotics.   If you can find a source you trust of raw milk, and can obtain kefir grains, you can use the raw milk and predigest the casein proteins with the action of the live kefir grains.   Raw goat milk is preferable to cow milk, with its smaller fat molecule that is not mucous forming like cow milk is.   (Vegans can make kefir with coconut liquid.)

I’m visiting my grampa in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, for the rest of the week and may be offline.   (He is in a home, and I am flying out with my aunt.)   After that I’ll talk about what enzymes supplements to take.   Happy Thanksgiving!

what enzymes do to make food digestible . . . part 3

We don’t think of our stomach as being two-chambered, but Howell goes to lengths to document all the experts and studies (including Gray’s Anatomy) saying that it does, in fact, have two distinct parts.   And in the upper stomach, or “food enzyme stomach,” gastric juices are not released, and peristalsis is not yet churning the food.   Most nutritionists don’t know this.   But that’s where the digestive enzymes inherent in raw foods do their work for about 30-60 minutes before the lower stomach opens and stomach acid must begin to work.   If the food is cooked, it sits there doing nothing, with any bacteria you swallowed with it getting a foothold.   Or, the predigestion that can take place there only with raw food makes the draw on the body’s supply much less when that food continues on through the digestive tract.

 

Think of a snake, for instance, who eats a rat.   That rat is so large that it can’t enter the snake’s stomach for some time to be broken down by stomach acids, until the natural enzymes that came inside the rat break it down.   The healthy ancient meat eaters of various cultures ate not just meat and dairy products, but fermented products–foods that are broken down into component parts by live food enzymes.   Some bizarre examples are Eskimos who eat the contents of a caribou’s stomach (and a number of other putrefied foods) as a “salad,” and Indians of the Amazon River basin, who chew boiled yucca, spit it into jars, and let it ferment with the amylase enzyme in saliva.   This food is their main nourishment, with the average person drinking a gallon a day!

 

Because of the terrible draw on our enzyme processes when we don’t supply exogenous food enzymes, all metabolic activity is affected.   Consequently we have dental cavities, baldness, thinning hair, and breaking nails, allergies, acne, headaches, constipation, cancer, energy problems, and so many more diseases.   Animals in the wild simply don’t have the hundreds (thousands?) of diseases that modern man does as a result of destroying the enzymes in our food.   Even the “healthy” among us tend to have many of the smaller ailments that no animal eating raw food in the wild has.   Dr. Howell says that the idea that “nature cures” we’re all familiar with can refer only to metabolic enzyme activity, because “there is no other mechanism in the body to cure anything.”

 

In 1943, Northwestern University established the Law of Adaptive Secretion of Digestive Enzymes through experiments on rats.   Dozens of other research teams later strengthened this law’s premise with similar findings.   Researchers studied the amount of digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas.   What researchers found was that an organism values its enzymes highly: it will make no more than are needed for the job.   So, if raw food containing exogenous enzymes are provided, the body has to manufacture very little, leaving its resources and energy well allocated to metabolic processes.

Many studies from the first half of the 1900’s prove that when an animal eats lots of starch, amylase is primarily produced.   A meat-eating animal is found to produce mostly protease.   A whale’s stomach has no amylase in it, because a whale eats no carbohydrate.   And people? When we bring in lots of exogenous enzymes in our food, our body produces very little, leaving those capacities free for other metabolic work.   Scientists missed knowing this, and Medicine and even Nutrition, as disciplines, have misunderstood or ignored these discoveries.   By and large, those charged with guiding us to good health have ignored the critical factor of helping us avoid enzyme burnout.

 

Just like people have enlarged livers or enlarged hearts when those organs are heavily taxed, the pancreas becomes enlarged when a body is fed lots of enzyme-free (cooked or processed) food.   Lab mice eating a cooked, enzyme-free food have a pancreas two to three times heavier than wild mice eating a raw-food natural enzyme diet.

Phytates . . . part III

When making baked goods, get in the habit of putting the flour in the blender or bowl with the liquids (with a bit of a fermented dairy product like kefir), and just leaving it all day (or night) before completing the recipe.   You’ll also find that your baked goods are lighter, with a lovely texture, as you take this additional step that creates natural leavening.   You can often cut by half or even leave the baking powder out when you have presoaked flour with kefir/yogurt added.

This extra step of soaking grains or flour, while requiring you to think ahead, doesn’t add time to your preparation, since the dish is then ready, or nearly ready, when breakfast or dinner is served.

You don’t always have to make soaked-grain breads and grain products from scratch.   At your health food store, you can buy sprouted-grain tortillas, English muffins, and manna bread with several varieties like sunflower seed, carrot-raisin, and more.

Don’t be frustrated if you just learned about phytates for the first time and now wonder if whole grains are good for you!   If you’re stumped about whether eating whole grains (even unsoaked) is better than white flour, the answer is a definitive yes!

First of all, white flour robs your body of minerals, too, at a faster rate–and is virtually devoid of fiber and nutrition.   Second, remember that literally hundreds of studies document the link between whole grains and blood sugar control, among many other health benefits.   That one benefit alone–that fiber dramatically slows the release of sugars into your bloodstream–is critically important to your future.

Third, the phytate issue, while worth discussing here, is by no means settled science.   In fact, Reddy and Sathe published a book in 2001 called Food Phytates that surveys the growing body of research on phytates.   They claim that phytates are free-radical scavenging antioxidants that may reduce blood glucose as well as risk for high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, kidney stones, and some forms of cancer.

So, the jury is still out on the precise role of phytates.   Whether or not they are friend or foe remains a hotly debated controversy, so perhaps the best strategy is to soak, sprout, or ferment wherever possible, and enjoy eating unsoaked grains sometimes, too

Phytates . . . part II

The phytate issue is fiercely contested in the nutrition world, with some believing that soaking grains is critical, and others believing it’s unnecessary.   I have studied compelling evidence on both sides, leading me to the following recommendations.

Regardless of whether phytates in whole grains lead to mineral deficiencies, soaking and slightly fermenting your grain clearly aids in digestion.   It costs nothing and doesn’t really add time to a recipe’s preparation, although you do a portion of the work in advance.

Most adults in the Western world need to be kind to their digestive systems.   That’s because before most of us get serious about treating our bodies right (which you’re doing if you’re reading this), we have abused our bodies with the modern lifestyle.   In particular, we’ve damaged our digestive systems.   Some of us have developed chronic digestive problems, and many of us have decades of damage to undo.    Part of a whole-grain habit, then, is to as often as possible soak your flour or grain for up to 24 hours, and add a bit of whey, kefir, or yogurt.   Even 8 hours of soaking is very helpful.   Many  12 Step recipes (in Ch. 9) call for soaking the flour or grain.  

The grain with the highest phytate content is oats, so if you like oatmeal, put the boiling water in the rolled oats right after eating breakfast, add a Tbsp. or two of yogurt or kefir, cover with a lid, and just reheat it for breakfast the next morning.   It can sit for 24 hours and will be just fine, so don’t worry.   If you like sourdough, you’ll probably like the slightly fermented taste.   If it’s too much for you, soak it only 8 hours and use a very small amount of yogurt.   This habit requires thinking ahead but is worth developing.    

Unlike oats and wheat, brown rice, millet, and buckwheat have low phytate content, so you can soak them just overnight, for shorter periods of time.   When I am serving brown rice for dinner, I put boiling water in it in the morning.   I cover it and leave it to steam all day in the oven preheated to 350 degrees (and then turned OFF).   The rice is perfectly cooked at dinnertime.   When making kasha (buckwheat cereal), I put the boiling water in the night before, letting it steam overnight.   All of this is in Step 9.    

Part III (the end of this topic) tomorrow.