Only 25 percent of the British population meets the daily recommended intake of five or more one-half cup servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Failing to meet the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables not only means that we miss out on much needed nutrients; it also indicates we are filling up on something else, specifically junk food. In the words of author Michael Pollan, we have found a way to make ourselves overfed yet undernourished at the same time.
Reaching This Target May Be Easier Than You Think
Smoothies are a great way to meet the daily recommended intake of fruits and vegetables in a fun, tasty way. They are fast, require minimal prep, are portable, and aid in many health benefits, such as;
- replenishing low nutrient levels
- improving digestion
- satisfying your sweet tooth in a healthy way
Some of your favorite foods can be blended together with more healthful foods and in most instances you won’t even know the difference!
Detoxing with Smoothies
Detoxing is a process used to eliminate toxins from the body. Toxins can come from both internal and external sources, such as poor diet, stress, pollution and chemical or cleaning products.
Although many doctors will disagree with the need to detox in the first place as they feel the body was designed to naturally flush toxins out daily, just think how much extra burden we are placing on the body with when in the last 100 years alone, over 70,000 new chemicals have been brought into commercial production and released into the environment.
Logically speaking, being exposed to this many new chemicals is bound to affect the body and cause a build-up of toxins as when the first humans walked the planet, there would have been minimal chemical exposure which of course the body could have coped with.
Ignoring this build-up of toxins in the body creates a host of health problems, such as toxicity or acidosis. Acidosis occurs when the pH level in blood is more acidic than alkaline, which can be a direct result from toxins.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider a smoothie detox, even just for one day once a month:
- Backaches, aching or swollen joints
- Digestive problems
- Depression and anxiety
A smoothie detox can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks. The goal is to eliminate the consumption of junk food and replenish the body with healthy fruits and vegetables. Some people may find a smoothie detox easier to cope with when compared to a juice detox as the fibre in a smoothie will help keep you fuller, and can help keep blood sugar levels from dropping too low.
The Behaviour of a Toxin
Toxins present themselves in the form of free radicals in the body by attaching themselves to other cells, which can slow down metabolic processes and prevent organs and tissues from doing their job.
Antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, prevent free radicals from binding to other atoms and eliminate bad cells from causing the above mentioned symptoms. Toxins will eliminate from tissues and organs through several methods, including respiration, bowel movements, sweat and urine.
Benefits of Smoothies
If detoxing isn’t on your to-do list, try supplementing with smoothies as a way to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Smoothies work great on children who may otherwise turn their nose up at anything green on their dinner plate.
Blend together dairy-free coconut yoghurt (sugar free), spinach or kale and organic raspberries for a surprisingly healthy treat most kids won’t turn down. Smoothies offer quick energy as they require less digestion and can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Foods that have not already been partially broken down can cause gastrointestinal discomfort during the digestion process. Giving your digestion system a break for a few days or even a few meals can make the difference between a happy gut and an upset stomach.
Smoothies have the potential for healthful benefits that you can see and feel, provided you add the right foods to your diet.
The benefits for coconut oil are many, but visually you can expect to see healthier hair, skin and nails. Essential fatty acids deficiencies have been linked to dry skin. A recent study found that virgin coconut oil effectively improved bone structure and prevented bone loss in an osteoporosis animal model (Hayatullina et al, 2012).
Healthful Foods to Add to Your Smoothie
Consider the following healthy liquids for the base of your smoothie (and remember to always add the liquid ingredients first to a smoothie recipe):
- Almond, coconut, rice, oat or hemp milk
- Organic whole-fruit juices
- Purified alkaline water
Next, add a thickening agent, such as a banana or avocado. Nut butters are also great for adding thickness to smoothies. To that, consider adding in one cup of fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, pineapple, or mangoes, or a cup of vegetables, such as dark leafy greens (kale and spinach work great.)
If using a sweetener, be sure to use a natural source, such as whole leaf stevia powdered, raw honey, maple syrup, and coconut or date sugar.
For an added nutritional boost, consider adding the following to your smoothies:
- Coconut oil - an anti-inflammatory that fights off bacteria, fungus and other harmful pathogens. It also aids in weight loss, immune function, improved digestion, and hair, skin and nail health.
- Flax seeds - full of omega fatty acids and fiber. It also aids in immune health, digestive support, and brain and joint function.
- Spirulina - an algae made up of protein and essential fatty acids. It can be used for immune and digestive health, and is high in vitamins B, C, D, A and E, potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.
- Raw Cocoa Nibs - high in antioxidants for immune health and flavorful chocolate taste!
References: Hayatullina, Z., Muhammad, N., Mohamed, N., & Soelaiman, I. (2012). Virgin Coconut Oil Supplementation Prevents Bone Loss in Osteoporosis Rat Model. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 1-8.