Green smoothies: health, convenience and vitality

Green smoothie in cup 4
A green smoothie – it tastes much nicer than it looks, honest!

I like to change my diet now and again, but one thing that never changes is my practice of drinking two 500ml green smoothies every day.

I’ve been doing this since 2012 – four years.

What are green smoothies?

A smoothie is a drink made from fruit blended with water or fruit juice. A green smoothie is just a smoothie with greens added – any leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale or chard.

If you use a blender that is powerful enough to pulp the leafy greens to a smooth consistency, you’ll probably find the taste a lot more delicious than you expect. By combining the greens with sweet fruits like banana, mango, apple and/or orange the “vegetable” taste is completely masked.

If you can ignore the fact that your drink is bright green, you might find that you absolutely love your greens!

I was a big fan of juicing and smoothies before I discovered green smoothies. I bought my first juicer in the late 1990s, mainly to satisfy a craving for carrot juice.

It made delicious carrot juice, but cleaning the thing was a nightmare. It had umpteen parts, including little wheels and cogs, that had to be dissembled after each use, washed, and then somehow reassembled again. Eventually I got rid of it.

If only I’d kept it – it would probably be worth a bit nowadays due to curiosity value!

Carrot and orange juiceMy interest in juicing waned after that, though I still continued to love freshly-made vegetable juice, when I could get my hands on it. One opportunity came when I visited friends, a family with two small boys, in London about 10 years ago.

They’d been given a juicer for Christmas, and they made a breakfast juice for the whole family, of carrot, celery and apple juice.

It was delicious! I had to hold myself back from guzzling the lot.

Juicy diet

About a year or so later, when I was working long hours in an office and not feeding myself properly, I began to notice various unpleasant though not life-threatening health symptoms, including eczema, insomnia, and weight gain. It wasn’t surprising as I was living mainly on crisps, chocolate and ready meals. I just didn’t have time to shop for healthy food, and certainly not to cook.

Eventually I decided that enough was enough – I would have to find a healthy diet. The diet I found was Jason Vale’s Juice Yourself Slim. I bought the juicer he recommended – which was much easier to use than the old relic I’d been struggling with earlier – and a ton of organic fruit and veg.

I was serious about this.

After a week of living on fruit and vegetable juices and soup, I was astonished to find that I’d lost my target weight of 7lbs! But in case it went back on again, I continued to make myself lots of healthy juices, and I took them to work every day in flasks, in a backpack.

Running a juice bar

At this time my career was clearly heading downhill. I decided to make a complete change, and started to plan my own juice and smoothie cafe. I achieved my dream when I was made redundant a few years later, and I ran my cafe, The Flavour Co, for five years.

But it was in a tiny location so we often struggled to get customers – and when we did have a lot of customers, only a handful of them could fit into the place. It was hard work and a lot of fun.

It was while running my juice bar that I learned about green smoothies from one of my staff. He recommended Victoria Boutenko’s books Green for Life and Green Smoothie Revolution.

This was in 2012, and green smoothies were a bit of a novelty then!

3 small juices contacts blurredWe put them on the menu, and found that they were much more popular than we had expected them to be in Glasgow, the fabled home of the deep-fried Mars Bar.

I started to experiment with green smoothie recipes, initially drinking just one 500ml green smoothie each day. Green smoothies are so high in fibre that many people who are used to a typical stodgy Western diet find that high fibre smoothies have a dramatic impact on their digestion.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. The healthy fibre in a green smoothie can have a purging effect, rapidly eliminating starchy or stodgy food from the digestion. For people who are not used to having very many bowel movements, this can be a bit of a shock. If you have this type of reaction, it’s best to start small, with a 250ml green smoothie every day. Once you’re comfortable with that, move up to 500ml, and so on.

Take it one step at a time

Don’t increase your intake of green smoothies until you know your digestion is comfortable with that amount. Once you’ve eliminated the stodgy stuff and your gut flora starts to adapt to the healthy fuel flooding your system, your digestion should adapt, and you should find that you are having more regular and settled bowel movements.

Personally speaking, I have found that 1 litre of green smoothies (2 x 500ml) per day is the optimal amount. If I go above this amount my digestion makes it clear that it’s not happy.

Green smoothies won’t cure every ill, but they will help boost your immune system. They are full of vitamin C and magnesium, vitamins which are essential for your body to function properly. They are high in fibre, and will therefore have a prebiotic effect on your gut flora, providing fertile ground for friendly bacteria to flourish.

They are easy and cheap to make (recipe here), and very convenient to consume – you can sip them while you’re at your desk or carry them about with you when you’re on the move.

I’ve had some unrelated health issues since I started drinking green smoothies, but I believe that they have helped me to tackle these health issues without my whole system breaking down. I rarely get colds, and when I do, I hardly notice them – a bit of a sniffle and a twinge in my throat for a couple of days, and that’s it! (This may also be because I take a regular vitamin D supplement.)

Another thing you’ll probably notice if you take up a green smoothie habit is more compliments on your skin!

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