Doctor’s Tip: If greens are good, are green smoothies even better?
Last week’s column was about greens, which Dr. Michael Greger says in his book “How Not to Die” are the healthiest food on the planet. They are one of his daily dozen — foods that we should be eating every day.
Store-bought green smoothies are not healthy, because they contain too much sugar. But homemade smoothies are a relatively easy way to provide your body with the daily recommended servings of greens. In the past, some respected plant-based nutrition experts have emphasized that we should chew rather than drink our nutrients, and some of these weekly health columns over the past seven years reflected this advice. However, more recent information supports green smoothies to prevent and reverse disease, and many of the skeptics have been won over.
As an example, let’s look at autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Sjogren’s disease and type 1 diabetes, which are caused by a malfunctioning immune system, which turns on its host. Scientists have known for a long time that populations that consume a plant-based, whole food diet have a much lower incidence of autoimmune diseases.
“Goodbye Autoimmune Diseases, how to Prevent and Reverse Chronic Illness and Inflammatory Symptoms Using Supermarket Foods,” was published in 2019 by Brooke Goldner, M.D. Her first book was “Goodbye Lupus,” in which she described curing her lupus diagnosed 12 years earlier, and later lupus in many patients. In her new book, she talks about her success in reversing other autoimmune diseases. She recommends the following six steps: 1) Eliminate animal products. 2) Eliminate added oils. 3) Eliminate processed food. 4) Consume omega-3 every day. 5) Drink 1/2 ounce of water per pound daily. 6) and hyper-nourish yourself with raw plant foods through what she calls “The Smoothies Solution.”
The blended green smoothies that Dr. Goldner recommends include: 75% or more of tightly-packed fresh leafy greens; 25% or less fruit; flax or chia seeds for omega-3 and as a fat to help absorption of fat-soluble vitamins; and 40 ounces of water. Some of the greens should be cruciferous vegetables such as kale, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens or water cress. In order to avoid bloating, people who aren’t used to eating lots of vegetables should start with small amounts of green smoothie and gradually increase over a few weeks.
For people trying to lose weight, there are some caveats regarding any type of smoothie, because it’s possible to drink hundreds of calories in a smoothie over a few minutes before realizing you’re full. In his book “How Not to Diet,” Dr. Greger points out that studies have shown that the longer people chew their food the more weight they lose. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, be sure you stick to the ratio of 75% veggies and 25% (or less) fruit, and drink your smoothie over 30 minutes, which allows your body to let you know you’re full and also prevents blood sugar spikes.
We’re fortunate to have a local physician with special expertise in treating and reversing autoimmune diseases: Christina Miller, M.D., in Carbondale. She can be contacted through plantbasedtelehealth.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. She notes that she is “a huge fan of green smoothies,” and finds them helpful for her own health and that of her patients because of the following:
• “They are fast.” Many working or otherwise active people simply don’t have time to eat greens all day (they take some time to chew).
• Many people only get 10% of the nutrients they could be getting from greens because they don’t chew adequately, whereas with a smoothie they get 100%.
• For people with an abnormal gut microbiome and/or leaky gut, “a blended smoothie is easier to digest and less gas-inducing.”
Bottom line: Eat lots of greens every day, one way or the other. Some people find that green smoothies are the easiest way to do that. And the huge doses of micronutrients achievable through green smoothies may be necessary to reverse autoimmune and other chroinic diseases. As an aside, Dr. Fuhrman says in “Eat to Live” that you must “earn good health.” Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can do that with any of the pill or powder supplements out there that make unproven claims.
Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email email@example.com.
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