Smoothies for good health (and also pleasure) are drinks that one makes in a blender. They contain raw fruit or vegetables – and sometimes both. And they use a liquid base such as water, milk, or yogurt.
They will typically include other ingredients, such as whey powder, and many others that we cover elsewhere in this series of posts.
A series of posts on smoothies
This is part of a series of posts on smoothies. Here is the full list you can click on:
What is a smoothie?
A smoothie is a creamy drink made with fruit or vegetables, or a combination, blended with a liquid such as water, milk, or juice.
There is some overlap between them, but there are 3 main types of smoothie:
The green smoothie is dominated by leafy green vegetables. These get blended with water, fruit juice or milk. And many people will add some fruit for sweetness and better palatability.
The fruit smoothie is dominated by one or a combination of different fruits. These are blended with water, milk, or fruit juice.
The protein smoothie typically starts out as a fruit or green smoothie but a protein source like yogurt, tofu, or protein powder gets added
What’s the difference between a juice and a smoothie?
The main difference between a juice and a smoothie is that smoothies contain fiber but a juice typically has none or very little.
When you look at a typical juicer, you can see that the pulp or fiber is deliberately stripped out, trapped, and removed. And fiber is something that we must have for our digestion.
Another big difference is that a juice will contain proportionately far more sugar than a smoothie.
In our opinion (and the opinion of others), a smoothie is hands-down better than a juice when it comes to our nutrition.
Are smoothies good for you?
In discussing smoothies for good health we have to answer the question: Are smoothies good for you?
Most people find their way to the Smoothie Lifestyle as a means to lose weight. And that is perfectly fine.
But in fact a smoothie a day can actually transform your health in many other ways.
In this and related posts, you will find why smoothies are really good for you. And you will also find easy smoothie recipes with the nutrients you need to boost immunity, fight stress, improve athletic performance, help digestion, build muscle, ward off cancer, and much more – including losing weight.
So, why the emphasis on nutrients?
It is not enough to say that our diet is just the food we put in our mouths. It is a great deal more than the source of calories or the energy that our bodies need to stay alive and move through the day.
Beyond calorific energy, we need a diet that is dense and rich in nutrients. It needs to contain the raw materials that can provide us with enhanced health and physical and mental performance.
We are what we eat
There is an old saying: “We are what we eat.” And it is true. “We” includes our muscle, bone, hormones, brain cells, nervous system, immune system, all the way down to our digestive enzymes, and everything else. All of it is made from the nutrients within our food.
When we eat meat, vegetables or fruit, our body goes to work to break them down into their constituent parts. It then uses these parts to replenish the various components of our system. This process helps us grow, develop, fight infection, and function optimally.
We need these nutrients not just to live but to thrive. Without them, we start to deteriorate. We start to see signs of poor health in our poor sleep, weaker bones, lack of muscle tone, and brittle hair and nails. Our eyes aren’t quite as bright. We lose the spring in our step. Our hormones get out of balance. And eventually, we can get seriously ill.
The illnesses of old age
Many of the illnesses and diseases that affect us in old age are highly avoidable degenerative diseases. Our bodies were designed to last. And we should in theory be able to stay healthy, active, and engaged until we ultimately die.
But malnutrition allows all kinds of problems to gradually creep up on us. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, weak bones, and dementia.
Now, obviously, we can’t avoid all of these conditions. But in many cases we could, had we only given proper attention to our nutrition. And this brings us to problems inherent in our modern diet.
The problem with the modern diet
Unfortunately, our modern diets are suboptimal in the way they deliver necessary nutrients to our bodies. This is because processed foods add sugar and subtract nutrients from the food in the course of the processing.
Our modern diet is problematic in many ways. And this is best explained by using some concrete examples.
How about these sausage rolls?
Not good. The pastry likely contains trans fats. And the meat they contain is likely an accumulation of all the cast-offs from meat processing operations blended together in sausage.
This is the gristle and other parts of meat that nobody would eat other than in a sausage. On top of that, they add lots of sugar, salt, and fat. These help preserve the sausage and make sure it looks and tastes appetizing enough when you come to eat it
What about a health food bar?
Sorry. The fruits contained in this bar have been “freeze-dried.” They have been subjected to vacuum and sub-zero temperatures. What this does is remove all moisture from the fruit along with important nutrients. (image)
What about dried fruit?
Sounds like a good idea. But, aside from anything else, when you eat something containing vitamin C, you need moisture in order to absorb it.
Vitamin C is a ‘water-soluble vitamin’ and it can’t be used if it’s not presented correctly. So they will go ahead and add lots of sugar and other additives to make your dried fruit look colorful and remain edible. But it’s not really going to do you much good.
Empty calories are in food and drink that contain added sugar and solid fats. They supply food energy but little in the way of minerals, protein, fiber, vitamins, or essential fatty acids.
Empty calories generally take the form of simple carbs. Because there’s nothing ‘real’ left in them, they get digested fast. And this results in a spike in blood sugar. It will provide a short energy burst but that runs out just as fast, leaving you craving real food.
On top of that, you’ll be malnourished and fail to get the vitamins and minerals you need. And what’s more, this will eventually translate to the build-up of more serious diseases and conditions.
Failure to get proper nutrition in your diet is also what causes snacking behavior and weight gain. This is partly due to the fact that blood sugar troughs very soon after it spikes. And it is partly because the body will still ‘crave’ the things it needs
So fat happens.
Store bought food is a problem
Of course, the common denominator of empty-calorie food is that it is all factory-made and/or store-bought. Empty calorie foods include:
- Donuts, cookies, cakes, pastries, and donuts (contain both solid fat and added sugars)
- Pizza (contains solid fat)
- Drinks like fruit drinks, sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks (contain added sugars)
- Ice cream (contains both added sugar and solid fat)
- Cheese (contains solid fat)
- Sausages, bacon, ribs, and hot dogs (contain solid fat)
Smoothies, macronutrients, and micronutrients
Finally, we get into smoothies for good health. But first, let’s take a detour into the world of macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that we need for energy. Examples are meats, eggs, and grains.
Micronutrients are elements our bodies need in small quantities. They are essential for our enzymes, hormones and, autoimmune system. Examples are vitamins B, C, D, and E. And you have minerals like magnesium and zinc.
Fruits and vegetables are very high in many of the micronutrients our bodies need. They also provide them in a way that is convenient and easy for the body to absorb.
And so, when we drink our fruits and vegetables in smoothies, we get a solid ‘hit’ of the good stuff that will help power us through the day.
Let’s look at the alternatives to smoothies.
Cooking it all ourselves
Of course, there are alternatives to smoothies for good health. For example, we could just do more of the old-fashioned home preparation of fruits and vegetables for inclusion in our table meals. This will certainly provide the same nutrients. But here are the downsides of this:
- The food prep is a lot of hard work, especially to be consistent.
- The actual process of cooking can also “cook out” many of the nutrients, so they lose much of their beneficial impact..
- This does not easily achieve the famous ‘5 a day’ portions of fruits and vegetables recommended by the health authorities across developed nations.
- And CDC tells us only 1 in 10 adults meet federal fruit or vegetable recommendations of 1.5 to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables.
- So this conventional approach to getting our allotted fruits and vegetables is pretty much doomed to failure.
Eat it raw
Another alternative is to take an individual raw fruit or vegetable and just eat it. And that is just fine with, say, an apple or an orange or an avocado. But chewing on raw kale is nobody’s idea of fun!
Vitamin and supplement pills
And then we could take a bunch of vitamin pills.
But this is no substitute for what comes naturally in fruits and vegetables. Some vitamins are best absorbed with fats, whereas others are better absorbed with water. Some get absorbed almost immediately, but others take longer to digest. And some vitamins and minerals work best when taken at the same time.
Unfortunately, many supplement manufacturers don’t take these things fully into account. And as a result a lot of the goodness in supplements just gets flushed down the toilet.
Besides, the vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables are more readily accessed in a ‘bioavailable ‘ form. So the body is much better at using what is in fruits and vegetables than it is in using supplements. Taking our fruits and vegetables in the form of smoothies solves these problems.
What can you expect from smoothies for good health?
Here’s what we and others have found with their smoothies.
- We feel more energy, drive, and focus.
- We feel healthier.
- We sleep better.
- We lose weight
- We feel less compulsion to snack during the day
- We know that we are reinforcing our health for the long term, making us less likely to develop debilitating diseases in later years.
Smoothies have the potential to change your life. So should we make smoothies for good health? The answer is a resounding YES!
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Consider adding probiotic and prebiotic powder to your smoothies.
Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria (living organisms) that can enhance the health of the gut. They are found in a natural state in such foods as kimchi, yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut. They can also come in supplements. They compete with harmful bacteria and prevent them from settling in the gut.
You can get Probiotics here.
Prebiotics are plant fibers that are a source of food for the probiotics in your gut. Prebiotics are found in many vegetables and fruits.
You can get Prebiotics here.
Many smoothie ingredients already contain probiotics and prebiotics naturally but you might want to add to them for effect. This is entirely up to you.
Note: you don’t want to overdo it with prebiotics and probiotics. Doing so can cause bloating and other discomforts. So, for example, if you are specifically making a digestive smoothie that is heavy on kimchi, you should probably skip these. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Smoothies and your diet
We do not recommend a diet of smoothies. Smoothies are not the be all and end all of a good diet. And drinking a smoothie a day, which is highly beneficial, does not compensate for a junk food binge the rest of the day!
So, in addition to a smoothie a day, we personally follow a modified Paleo diet as an unbeatable combination for a sustainable diet. By “modified paleo” we mean the inclusion of some grains, legumes, and dairy.
For example, for breakfast, aside from our “smoothie du jour,” we like a bowl of Swiss muesli, yogurt, and blueberries.
And by “sustainable,” we mean that a long term diet that excludes nutritious food groups is neither sustainable, nor particularly good for you.
For example, we believe that the Keto diet is a great way to go for weight loss. But once you have achieved your weight goals, you should modify it.
We would say the same about the 21-Day Smoothie diet (see below). But note that its author recommends reintroducing a regular diet (along with smoothies) after the 21-day period.
You can’t make your smoothies for good health without the right equipment. So here are some things to have on hand. Make sure you have sharp knives for cutting, a good cutting board and the following.
Blenders for smoothies
The blender is at the center of the smoothie universe.
We like the Nutribullet Pro as having the best individual overall value for money out there. But it is not really big enough for making smoothies in bulk, which is what we recommend here. Click on the red Nutribullet Pro link below.
The Vitamix is the Top of the line premium choice but, in our opinion, there is no need to spend so much. Click on the red Vitamix link below.
Our best overall choice is the Ninja BL770. Click on the red Ninja BL770 link below.
Mason Jars for smoothies
As explained elsewhere, we don’t like the “smoothie pack” prep. technique. We know it’s popular but, for us, It’s just inefficient.
We much prefer to make smoothies in bulk (at least a week’s supply) and freeze them in individual wide-mouth, “ready-to-drink” Mason jars.
Remember to leave an inch or so at the top to allow for expansion of the liquid as it freezes.
We like the jars that have holes for straws. And you can travel with them too.
Click on the red link below
Spatula for smoothies
You must have a long, flexible spatula to make sure you scrape all of the good stuff out of the blender.
Click on the red link below.
Reusable Smoothie straws
You don’t want to be throwing all those used straws away. Click on the red link below for the reusable kind.
Smoothies for weight loss
Many of us (maybe even most of us) started out with smoothies as a way to lose weight. So, while we are not advocates of crash or fad diets, here is a great fast start introduction to smoothies and losing weight.
in the 21-Day Smoothie Diet by Drew Sgoutas, Drew returns you to a regular diet that includes smoothies, after the 21-Day period.
Click on the red underlined link below. The program is digitally delivered. And it has a 60-day money-back guarantee. So there is no risk to you.
And, just below the link, you can see what Amanda has to say about it.