Green smoothies have become a staple in pop culture. In fact, I have one every morning. Brooke has even blogged about some of our favorite recipes HERE. But what if I told you that your favorite green smoothie could actually be doing you harm…that's right, not all green smoothies are created equal!
When we make a smoothie, we are breaking down the particles of the ingredients to make them easier to absorb. Blending is like chewing your food but WAY more effective. By blending, rather than chewing, we are effectively opening the nutritional floodgates to allow everything our food contains into our body. The danger with this increased bioavailability can be that if the smoothie is too sugary, it will cause rebound hypoglycemia. This happens when our body gets a sudden rush of sugar and then has to pump massive doses of insulin into the bloodstream to try and regulate the huge uptick. As a result, our overall blood sugar level initially goes up (“the sugar buzz”), then goes down lower than it started (“the crash”) to try and bring us back to homeostasis, a.k.a normal. We want our blood sugar levels to look more like the Blue Ridge Mountains (soft and rolling) than the Rocky Mountains (sharp and jagged).
So what's the answer to finding a delicious smoothie that doesn’t cause these peaks and valleys in our body? Follow these five tips to make sure your smoothie empowers you to conquer the day!
- Add fiber. It can come in the form of ground flaxseed or the skin/pulp/seeds of your favorite veggies, but having fiber present helps prevent rebound hypoglycemia. Because fiber doesn’t get absorbed, as it leaves our bodies it helps pull away the bad stuff (i.e. sugar) from our digestive tract preventing the bad stuff from absorbing as we well.
- Add fat. Nuts, avocado, and coconut milk/oil are some of my favorite choices. They are filling and also allow our bodies to better absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in veggies.
- Use berries. Berries not only help counteract the dip in blood sugar, but actually help improve our body’s insulin sensitivity. In other words, they help make us more efficient at sending out the right amount of insulin to process blood sugar so we don't get the rebound effect. In addition, berries are some of the lowest calorie yet have some of the highest antioxidant content.
- Use a straw. Straws help protect our tooth enamel from the corrosive effects of sugar. If you are a habitual smoothie drinker like me, use a straw or do a quick mouth rinse with water immediately after finishing.
- SLOW DOWN. On average it takes 17 minutes to eat 2 cups of fruit, yet only 90 seconds to drink the same 2 cups in smoothie form. By going slower we not only give our bodies time to process the nutrients we’re consuming, but we also allow them to tell us when we're full. That feedback system takes about 20 minutes, which is why your grandma used to yell at you to not shovel the food in your mouth.
When done correctly, green smoothies can be one of the best ways to start your day. They are filling, energizing, and the fuel your body wants. Share your favorite recipes and I’ll try them out as part of my morning ritual!
With love and good health,