Smoothies have a reputation as a healthy drink. They’re refreshingly cool, come in fun, fruity flavors. They’re so popular that you can now find them at fast-food restaurants, grocery stores - even coffee shops. However, experts tell us smoothies aren’t always as healthy as you might expect, pointing to tooth decay and high sugar intake as risk factors.
Smoothies could be high in sugar
If you blend fruit, the natural sugars are released from within the cell walls of the fruit and become “free sugars”. Free sugars include any added sugars (including honey and maple syrup) and are the kind we should all be cutting down on to protect our teeth as well as lower our energy intake to help maintain a healthy weight. Even if they have some added vegetables like spinach or kale, they are still likely to be high in sugar.
Mind the portion
According to the UK national Eatwell Guide, a serving of smoothie (or juice) is ONLY 150ml. That’s the same as a “mini” can of cola and less than half the size of a standard can of soft drink. It’s smaller than the little smoothie bottles you can buy and almost certainly a lot smaller than one you’d buy in a café.
TCM's view on smoothie
In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen and Stomach are the major systems for digestion. It is in charge of transporting & transforming all that you eat and drink into energy and blood. The Spleen and Stomach system particularly dislikes things that are cold, raw and heavy because they are much more difficult for your body to process. There is a ‘digestive fire’ in each of us that needs to stay lit to provide the warmth necessary for digestion to work smoothly. The concept is similar to the compose in our garden. The warmer the temperature, the easier it is to break down the substances.
When we eat something cold, raw or heavy, it lessens our ‘digestive fire’ and the Spleen and Stomach have to spend extra energy to compensate. It often results in fatigue, bloating/gas, loose bowel movements, foggy/unclear thinking, lack of motivation and concentration, etc.
A TCM healthy smoothie
If you really love your smoothies so much, here are some tips to think about:
Don’t use ice and use as little raw fruit as possible;
Drink at room temperature;
Try not to drink it first thing in the morning;
Add some warmth by using fresh ginger; [Read more about ginseng and its health benefits]
Avoid dairy and replace with almond milk, rice milk or soy milk;
Moderate/lessen your smoothie intake during the winter months. [Read more about Winter Breakfast for Cold Winter Mornings]
When you have a smoothie, balance it with other warm drinks and cooked foods that day
What to eat for breakfast instead of Smoothies?
Porridge with millet or rice with corn, sweet potato, egg, raisins, beans or vegetables and meat at your preference. You can make it sweet or salty depending on the ingredients;
Bread with butter, jam, eggs, hummus, sesame or other nuts paste, fish paste, ajvar or a little bit of preserved meat;
Asians actually eat rice or noodles for breakfast, though this is rare in the West. [Read more about The Japanese Diet And Why It Is Good For Health] [Read more about the importance of breakfast]