Green smoothies are all the rage, and are promoted as one of the best things you can do for your health. In case you’re one of the rare few who has never had one, green smoothies are usually made up of about 40% leafy greens, 60% fruit and sometimes contain a bunch of other goodies to make them tastier or more nutritious such as chia or flax seeds, maca or camu powder, cacao nibs, hemp protein, spirulina or coconut oil…
At first glance, the power-packed hit of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fiber you get from a green smoothie seems indisputably healthy… so why on earth would you avoid them? It may go against what you have been programmed to think from an early age – the idea that eating salads will aid in weight loss, and “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” – but according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a system of medicine that has been around for 2000 to 3000 years, raw foods may actually be hindering, rather than helping, your wellness goals.
They unnecessarily tax your digestive system
Green smoothie recipes sometimes call for chilled water or the addition of ice cubes. On top of this, the majority of the fruits and veggies added to them are cold in quality (they have a cooling post-digestive effect). Even if you’re adding some warming ginger to your smoothie the overall quality of smoothies is still usually cold. Leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach and cabbage; veggies like broccoli and celery; as well as a number of fruits are also dry and rough in quality if consumed raw.
In Chinese Medicine the temperature of the food you eat plays a very important factor in determining how beneficial it is. Raw foods, eggs, tofu, whole wheat, and green teas have a “cooling” effect on the body regardless of whether the food or beverage is hot or cold when consumed. Foods like dates, chicken, squash, cinnamon, and ginger have a “warming” effect on the body.
Foods that are cold, dry and rough aggravate your digestive system, which must first warm up the foods in order to break them down and assimilate the nutrients. In Chinese Medicine it is said that too many cooling foods put out or weaken the digestive fire akin to putting out the fire under the cooking pot. This can be experienced as variable appetite; gas or pain after eating; dry constipation or loose motions (increased mobility); dry/rough skin and hair; variable energy; poor circulation and pain.
So how can you make your smoothies healthier:
If you’re already addicted to green smoothies and are determined to keep having them for whatever reason, try the following adjustments to make them slightly more digestive friendly: