Cristi DeMarco’s Wellness Weblog

Health Info You Should Know.

Get Your Greens On! The Wonders of the Green Smoothie…

Summer is here and the greens are fresh!There is a quick and easy way to get in your greens in addition to salads and side dishes, the deliciously raw and nutrient packed Green Smoothie!Now I am lucky to have had a taste and craving for all veggies, including the bitterness of greens all of my life but many people aren’t so lucky.Because of diets so heavily comprised of sugars in various forms, most people crave sugars and they don’t really relish or crave the taste of greens. The simple brilliance and attraction of the green smoothie is that you blend a bunch of greens along with a healthy serving or two of fruit, and the sweet taste of the fruit makes it palatable.You can take in all the healthy nutrients of raw greens and it tastes good.Now for those of you who are happy to have your greens in a salad and cooked as side dishes, you may be wondering…

Why is it healthier to eat our greens raw and why, for the love of god, is it necessary to blend them into green mush?

One reason is that the smoothie allows us to be able to take in a larger amount of greens than we could normally sit down and eat in the form of a salad.In my acupuncture practice, I see many people who suffer from constipation and who at one point or another were told that they need to eat more roughage, a.k.a. greens. Plant cell walls are made of a tough material called cellulose. Cellulose is not digestible so it is this part of the plant cell that can be helpful in moving things through our digestive tract. Unfortunately for many people who cannot digest and eliminate normally, adding more difficult to digest roughage just continues to clog up the pipes resulting in more gas and bloating and not the desired outcome.Another issue with cellulose is that in order to get the nutrients that are inside the plant cells we have to either cook the plants or do some serious chewing.Cooking the greens, while making them more digestible, also breaks down some of the enzymes and nutrients that are so beneficial for us to take in, and we often do not chew raw greens enough to break apart the cellulose and get the full benefit of their nutrients.Sticking a bunch of greens in a blender or Vitamix blows apart those cell walls, does not damage anything inside of them with heat, and saves our jaws from a lot of unnecessary work.The hard work is done by the blender but the fiber is retained, so the green smoothie should be much more effective than solely gnawing on salad greens to help you get nutrients and help you poop.

Onto the nutrients…

The green parts of vegetables such as carrots and beets have a much higher nutritional content than their roots which are mostly sugarAfter consuming green smoothies for a while, you may find that cravings for sugar and other heavier proteins, fats, and salt decrease because you will be taking in more nutrients to naturally balance out your diet.Taking in less sugar reduces cravings for sugar, many greens such as beet greens, celery, kale, and chard naturally contain a healthy 3:1 ratio of potassium to sodium so you should crave less salt, and greens in their raw form provide you with essential amino acids or protein so meat and animal product cravings may decrease as well.Most greens mentioned in this article contain anywhere from 50-100+% of the RDA of folic acid, B vitamins, Vitamins A, C, K, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and the 9 essential amino acids.

The importance of amino acids.

Amino acids make up neurotransmitterswhich govern emotions, moods, behavior, and sleep. You do get essential amino acids from meat, and incidentally, I am a carnivore, but as a responsible carnivore, I need to let you know that the amino acids in animal protein are part of complex proteins that are difficult to break down by the body while the amino acids in greens are individually available and therefore easy to use in the body.So it is important for meat eaters like myself to round out their diet with greens, and it is important for vegetarians to eat their greens, especially if they notice mood instability and sleep problems.

And the final magic ingredient is…Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is the green color in leaves and is responsible for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a process where plants use the energy of the sun plus carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) to make food for themselves, and oxygen for us.Chlorophyll is similar in structure to red blood cells, it is a ring-shaped molecule surrounding a central atom. The difference is that In red blood cells the atom is iron, and in chlorophyll the atom is magnesium.The similarity is that the ring in both molecules serves to attract oxygen atoms so both red blood cells and chlorophyll have the ability to carry oxygen in our bodies.The presence of oxygen keeps our bodies in optimum health by maintaining the proper pH of the blood, we want our blood to be relatively more alkaline than acidic.

Converting glucose into energy is an aerobic process in the body meaning it requires the presence of oxygen.If oxygen is not available, we do have a back-up plan to make energy anaerobically (without oxygen) but the result of this reaction is lactic acid.Lactic acid is familiar to us as the substance that causes pain as a result of strenuous exercise.Having lactic acid build-up sporadically from strenuous exercise is normal, but continuous lactic acid formation in the day-to-day due to lack of oxygen is not normal and lowers pH making the blood more acidic.Low pH disrupts normal cell division and abnormal or uncontrolled cell division can lead to cancer conditions.

Now of course we do not go straight from low blood pH to cancer.I am not meaning to be alarmist and to stress people out, especially since stress also lowers blood pH.We do have safety mechanisms for when our blood is too acidic, one of the main ones being that alkalizing minerals such as calcium and magnesium are leached from the bones.While this is a safety mechanism, you can logically deduce that leaching minerals from bones and not having them available for other important functions could cause other problems.

In conclusion

So, fresh raw greens blended into a smoothie are a great source of fiber to help the intestine move smoothly, are full of nutrients that can help curb unhealthy food cravings, and are a great source of chlorophyll and other minerals and nutrients that serve to keep our bodies oxygenated and alkaline.

Scroll down or look under Recipes for Green Smoothie recipes.

I owe a special thanks to a good friend of mine for introducing me to the green smoothie.Adrienne Martin of Abundant Living, is a Wellness Counselor, an Acupuncturist, certified Raw Food Chef and all around fabulous person.You can watch her make a green smoothie on her youtube tv show, Abundant Living Today, http://www.youtube.com/abundantlivingtoday.

 

Sources:

Green For Life, Victoria Boutenko

Healing With Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford

http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/chlorophyll/chlorophyll_h.htm

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June 27, 2008 Posted by | health info you should know, nutrition | , , | 1 Comment

Green Smoothie Recipe

Green Smoothie Recipe

Basics of the recipe:

  • Work up to using a large handful of greens meaning approximately half of blender but you can start with the amount that you can stand
  • Add fruit, a banana plus 1-3 more
  • Water, very important, fill halfway to the level of the greens and fruit
  • Vitamix – choose a medium setting and throw everything in
  • Blender – best to core your apples, cut up your fruit, chop your greens, blend on low 1 min. and high for 1-2 minutes going for a pureed consistency
  • Add orange juice as part of your water amount or agave for additional sweetness

#1The Starter Kit

Large handful spinach or flat leaf parsley or combo of both

1 cup frozen or fresh berries

1 banana

1 orange

1 kiwi

Water/o.j. and splash agave

#2Movin’ On Up

Large handful of chard or kale or combo of both

1 banana

1 apple

8 mint leaves (optional but recommended for tastiness)

Water, splash agave

#3Master of the Green

Large handful +of any not so bitter green

1 banana

Water

Goal is to get up to a quart/day.You can bring it with you to sip on through the day, which is a great use of a travel coffee mug.Tastes best when made fresh daily but is rumored to keep for several days.  Feel free to contact me by email or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cristi-DeMarco-Acupuncture-Kingfield-ME/100192136726487?ref=hl) with any questions about recipes or if you come up with a super yummy one of your own!

June 27, 2008 Posted by | health info you should know, nutrition, recipes | , , | 1 Comment