We could all use a little more green in our life!
Our fantastic naturopath Felicity and I have joined forces to bring you some insight into the 30 day green smothie challenge (uncut). We will both be participating in the challenge to bring you two perspectives, clinical, and me – as the human guinea pig. We are almost certain our bodies will undergo changes and to bring you the true experience we will not leave anything out. Felicity will highlight the incredible health benefits associated with the challenge and we will experiment with recipes to weed out the bad combos and identify some of the most delicious healthy drinks you could possibly think of.
How this came about…
Felicity was inspired by Victoria Boutenko’s book “Green for Life”, where the author and a local GP team up to conduct an experiment on a small group of people in the town of Roseburg, Oregon. One green smoothie is added to the diet of the participants for a month, with no other dietary changes, and the results are monitored.
The great thing about this experiment is that it involves no depriving! It just involves one change – adding in a daily smoothie to your existing diet.
Felicity – “I am a huge fan of adding more healthy things in, rather than trying to take out all the “unhealthy” things and then falling off the wagon (as I inevitably do) and feeling like a massive failure – I mean who needs more of that, right?”
Why green smoothies?
An excellent source of fibre, enzymes, antioxidants and phytochemicals, leafy greens are nutritional superstars and one of the quickest ways to increase the nutrient density of your diet.
Their fibre content can help keep our bowels regular and is a great source of food for our gut bacteria. Keeping the good bacteria well fed will ensure they proliferate and can help to minimise the number of bad bugs lurking about in our digestive systems.
A fascinating insight into the potential of greens to improve our health is made when we look at what primates eat. Chimpanzees share 99.4% of their genes with humans and choose leafy greens for between 25-50% of their diet, with the remainder comprising fruit, seeds and a small amount of insects. Gorillas too, rely mostly on plant sources for their fuel, yet have one of the highest muscles masses of any living creature. We’ll talk more about why this might be so and the benefits of green smoothies over the coming weeks of our experiment.
Tips for starting out
If you don’t regularly eat a lot of leafy greens or dislike the taste, then be kind to yourself at the beginning and do a blend of 50:50 leafy greens and fruit. The sweetness of the fruit will take the edge off the greens and make it more palatable.
Over time your taste buds adjust and we’ve found that after only a week we’re enjoying greens much more. Your body generally knows when it’s on to a good thing and your taste buds will adjust accordingly!
As mentioned, greens are high in fibre and sometimes an increase in fibrous food too quickly can cause digest upsets. If you find you’re going to the loo more or even less frequently, or your stools have changed (not for the better!), then slow down your consumption and make changes more slowly e.g. drink half the amount with more water, or start out by having 2-3 green smoothies per week and build slowly over time.
When NOT to consume green smoothies
If you are currently experiencing any health challenges, then it is best to seek the advice of a qualified physician before embarking on a green smoothie challenge. Whilst greens are a fantastic source of nutrients and antioxidants, some greens do contain substances that can affect thyroid and digestive function in susceptible individuals, and its best to get advice if you have any concerns.
Initial impressions and changes noticed in week 1:
- Increased energy, not so tired at night and in the mornings on waking
- More balanced blood glucose – less cravings at 3pm in the afternoon!
- Skin is looking less dry, more ‘dewy’
- I did however get a few fleeting headaches – nothing bad and cleared up by the end of the first week. I suspect a mild detoxification occurring.
- Increased energy at the gym in the morning when I drink my smoothie before hand. Generally I do not eat or drink before I go to the gym at 5:30 in the mornings, so the addition of this smoothie just made me burp a little through my workout, aside from that and waking my family up in the mornings with the blender; I think I am off to a good start.
- Struggled with bitterness of leafy greens for first few days but taste buds are beginning to adjust now
- Less midday/afternoon energy crashes
- Most significant observation was on day 7 – See notes below..
Day seven smoothie: Spinach, silverbeet, kiwifruit, banana, chia seeds, honey, 1 cup water
“Today I’m feeling a little hungover, I’m not going to lie. My stomach is feeling a bit sensitive and I wasn’t sure whether my food would re-present itself later in the day; however I am determined to not skip my green smoothie today. I decided to add some more leafy greens in the hope that it would make me feel a bit more lively. It tasted very healthy (not like the greasy fish and chip butty that I really felt like) but I genuinely believe it made me feel better, within about an hour. Green smoothie = hangover cure? Might have to test this theory next weekend.”
Recipe of the week
This weeks recipe uses purely greens and fruit. You can keep things really simple and don’t need to invest in expensive ‘superfoods’ if you can’t afford it. But you can be creative and use other ingredients if you choose to.
– 2 kiwifruit
– 1 apple
– 1 handful parsley
– 1 handful chard
– 1 handful kale
– 2 cups water
– Makes 1 L
– Ideally use filtered water, if available
– Spray free or organic produce are best, but if that’s not an option for you, just wash your produce well to minimise the pesticides consumed
Stay tuned for week two of the journey Felicity and I are taking towards a cleaner, greener lifestyle. We will be trialing out some more recipe flavour combinations and noting any further changes to our bodies.