Have you ever woken up in the morning, perhaps after a little too much [insert kryptonite of choice here] and felt the need to redeem yourself with a really healthy breakfast?
You might head to the fridge, pull out everything green in sight and prepare something like a smoothie that’s loaded with kale, spinach, spirulina, chia seeds and coconut water; all blended together and served on ice… Healthy? Yes! There’s absolutely no denying the fact that these ingredients offer health benefits and are nutritionally dense. When it comes to making food choices, it’s really important to listen to your body; consider your cravings, your level of hunger, your digestion, your stress levels and of course, the seasons. Why? Because healthy or not, a cold smoothie or juice can be counterintuitive.
I’m a big fan of smoothies and do generally have one every day during Summer, but I have to stress the need to be considerate of;
- the actual way in which you consume your smoothie
- the season/ climate in which you’re sipping
Digestion is an amazingly complicated process. It’s incredible to think that everything you put into your mouth travels through the digestive tract, fuels the body and allows it to replenish its nutrient supplies, all before coming out the other end (sorry for the visual). Digestion has many phases, all of which work together synergistically. If one phase is compromised, it can throw-off the whole digestive process. Chewing is an incredibly important digestive phase; it helps to increase saliva production and trigger the release of enzymes that start the digestive cascade and provide messages to the stomach that food is coming!
The word smoothie infers its texture; smooth. The problem here is that a smooth texture doesn’t naturally make you want to chew. That being said, without chewing, we’re not activating this important digestive phase! Whether you’re drinking a smoothie, or munching on some nuts, it’s really important to chew both. If chewing each mouthful of your green smoothie feels a little weird, try topping it with some chopped nuts, coconut flakes or cacao nibs to allow this process to come a little more naturally.
When it’s warmer outside we crave more watery, hydrating foods like cucumbers, lettuce and watermelon to give us a spring in our step. When it’s cold, we crave hot tea, soups, curries and roasted vegetables to nourish and warm our bodies from the inside out. A cold smoothie in the middle of Winter, despite being healthy can often make us feel even less energetic than usual on a cold day. Cold liquids are more taxing on the digestive system; their temperature alone extinguishes the body’s digestive fire. If you’re in a rush and a smoothie is the most logical way to cram in as much goodness as possible, consider having it at room temperature rather than ice-cold.
For some digestive-friendly, warming inspiration, check out these AHARA HEALTH recipes.
Article Written by Kate Levins : AHARA HEALTH nutritionist