What Makes Smoothies So Good For Us? Here’s The Facts
Easy to make, tons of variety, and unarguably delicious? That’s pretty much the best way to describe a smoothie, but you could easily add “highly nutritious” to that list. If you’re not very well acquainted to the new world of smoothies, they’re more than chic drinks you can grab at the mall, or a bizarre vegan trend. The reason why you’re seeing them pop up all over the place is that they are not only perfect as treats, they are easy-to-make meals that blow most Western “meals” out of the water in terms of nutrition and our biological needs.
So what does make a smoothie so nutritious? Sure, it’s a bunch of fruits and vegetables, but there’s got to be more to optimal nutrition than that, right?
You’d be surprised.
Let’s first take a look at what we need in terms of nutrition. In this age of fad diets and complex meal plans, we’ve grown accustomed to nutrition being a long-winded subject. It conjures to mind pictures of bizarre dinner recipes that include exotic sauces, fine cuts of meat, expensive condiments, and off-the-wall presentation, all so it can look pretty and sound impressive on Instagram.
This is not necessarily even close to what we need in order to be healthy, however. In fact, most raw foodists and holistic nutrition practitioners agree that the more complex a meal is, the further away it is from being healthy. Real food is simple. Eating is not supposed to be an Olympic sport.
Because human beings are biologically a fruit-eating species, our meals are supposed to be as simple as plucking a ripe fruit off a tree and shoving it in our mouths. That’s literally all there is to it, but we have turned an extremely simple natural process into something needlessly complicated. We are biologically designed to meet the vast majority of our nutritional means by eating fruits. Our diets are then supplemented with green leafy vegetation, roots and tubers, and the occasional nuts and legumes. This is the diet of the bonobo, one of the great apes and closest relative we have in terms of what we’re supposed to be eating, following in close second by the chimpanzee, whose diet is extremely close to this as well, perhaps with a bit more vegetation and the occasional termite.
Why fruit though? Why not vegetables, or even meat? Aren’t we omnivores? I get these questions a lot, and it shows that there is a massive failure in our education system as it applies to human nutrition and biology. We are anything but true omnivores by design. Our digestive tracts are too long, our teeth are too blunt, our senses of smell and sight are far too weak, and we lack any kind of talon or offensive weapon. Even baboons have fangs. We, however, do not.
It’s deeper than that, though. It might be a blow to some people’s egos, but we have to come to terms with the fact that biologically, we are a very docile, “weak” species of animal. We’re not built for speed, or heavy lifting. We’re not built to run fast or perform great feats of acrobatics. We could never run after a gazelle, tackle it, and rend the flesh from its living body with our jaws. It’s very unlikely that even the strongest of our species could duke it out with a full grown chimpanzee or gorilla in the wild for territory. All evidence points toward the fact that our distant ancestors likely had no natural predators. In other words, we likely sat around in trees all day stuffing our faces with fruit, lazily swinging through the branches, sleeping, and having sex, much like the bonobo.
Biologically, we cannot even digest meat. Continuous consumption of it ruins our bodily pH balance and clogs our arteries with fats and cholesterol that we are literally not designed to put into our bodies. Lions, bears, and pigs don’t get heart disease and osteoporosis. This is because they are biologically designed to assimilate and digest animal-based proteins. We are not.
We are also not biologically designed to digest the rough walls and cellulose of adult plant leaves, such as the ones on most trees and grass, like a true herbivore. Though we can happily digest young shoots and tender baby leaves, like the kind enjoyed by the bonobo. Full herbivores have multiple stomachs and certain enzymes that basically do the task of mashing this cellulose up and making it digestible so as to extract nutrients. If we eat grass, we get a stomach ache, because while our bodies could potentially use what’s in a plant like that, we have no ability to break it down.
This leaves us with fruit, the food that we are obviously, and biologically, designed to eat.
See how bizarre it is that some people would insinuate that a fruit smoothie is unhealthy? Fruit is basically the only food we were seriously meant to eat on a regular basis. Everything else is just the appetizer.
Good Sugar and Bad Sugar
One of the other common criticisms vegans routinely hear against smoothies is that they “contain a lot of sugar” – doesn’t everything these days contain tons of sugar though? Random people make this proclamation without really thinking about what they’re saying. Most processed foods and soft drinks contain far more sugar than your average fruit and vegetable smoothie, but there’s nothing like veganism to bring out the fake nutritionists. You could be stuffing a Big Mac in your face while downing an Aspartame-laden Diet Pepsi, and no one around you will bat an eye, but as soon as you want to drink some natural fruits and vegetables, people lose their minds.
The truth is, though, that you’re not going to get fat and diabetic off of the sugar found in fruits and vegetables. This is a different kind of sugar.
Sugars come in many forms, and the form that it exists while a part of fruit is far different than the isolated artificial sugars found in candy and soft drinks. You also have to take into account that the sugars inside of fruit come equipped with water, fiber, and healthy vitamins and minerals attached. It’s not a concentrated and isolated compound that goes directly to your blood. There is a mountain of difference when these substances enter the body.
The reality is, sugar is actually a required substance for us. It’s literally the vehicle of our cellular energy. If you listened to nothing but mainstream medical propaganda, they would have you thinking sugar is somehow our enemy and it’s best to be avoided as much as possible. Well, yes, artificial sugars devoid of nutrients are dangerous, but the sugar found in fruit? That’s actually healthy, and our primary means of getting carbs.
As frugivorous animals, we’re certainly not supposed to get the bulk of our carbs from bread, rice, and noodles. These foods can be healthy to a degree, but they are not natural, and definitely not what we would be eating in the wild. In a more natural setting, the lion’s share of our carbs would be coming from the sugars in the fruit we eat, and certain vegetation. Don’t let these quacks sell you up a river to push an agenda.
Artificial Sugar is Toxic For Our Body
It’s actually a misnomer to call the “sugar” found in soft drinks and processed foods the same name as the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. It’s such an alien compound that our body’s hardly know what to do with it. As evidence of this, it is processed almost entirely by the liver, which means the body basically treats it as a foreign containment or toxin that needs to be filtered out of the body. Think about that the next time you think about swigging down some soda.
What’s worse is that now modern day consumerism has forced the hand of these food manufacturers, who are always looking to make cheaper and cheaper products so they can keep making a profit. The result has been increasingly modified “versions” of sugar found in processed foods. The industry mainstay now is High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is about as processed as you can get when you’re talking about artificial food. And it’s problematic for people who insist on eating processed foods. Corn syrup is bad enough – though chemically it is 100% glucose, it is devoid of most of the natural compounds around it, making it rather unhealthy for your body to consume on a regular basis. High Fructose Corn Syrup conversely, is more concentrated and is half fructose due to a change in its enzymes. The result is an ultra cheap, ultra sweet chemical byproduct of the corn industry that in all honesty is not food.
Just because you can digest something without getting immediately nauseous or needing to get your stomach pumped, doesn’t mean our body’s were ever meant to consume it. High Fructose Corn Syrup is an extremely artificial substance, and because of the way it is chemically structured, it goes right to the blood stream. It also places a heavy burden on the liver, which is the punching bag for most of these artificial sugars. Substances like High Fructose Corn Syrup ravage the body’s natural reactions, so concepts like appetite, fullness, and insulin levels go out the window. It is also extremely acidic, so every time you consume it, your cells are forced to leach minerals from the bones in order to maintain a healthy bodily pH.
The result is your body will become greatly impaired over time.
It’s important to note that “artificial sweeteners” should be avoided at all costs as well. Most of them are actually worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup. At least it has the honor of being derived from somewhat natural sources, even if the end result is not natural at all. Artificial sweeteners on the other hand, are chiefly artificial, made in labs to “simulate” the taste and use of sugar. This is done by replacing three specific hydrogen-oxygen groups on a molecule of sugar and replacing them with – get this – Chlorine, thereby creating a calorieless substance that is 600 times sweeter than sugar, and doesn’t get properly digested. It goes straight through the liver and is treated like a toxin, most of which passes out through the urine.
One must wonder, if something doesn’t even have calories, and there’s no water in it, how can it be considered food?
Exactly. It’s not. Artificial sweeteners were the industry’s attempt to create a sugar substitute at any cost that would appeal to people trying to lose weight. The result is more chemicals in the body, worse insulin reactions, belabored pancreases and livers, and poor nutrition across the board. Oh, and soaring cancer rates.
There is nothing in common with the sugars found in nature and these chemical compounds created and synthesized in labs. Don’t let anyone confuse the two.
Eat How You Would in Nature
Let’s be honest here, even most hardcore whole food plant-based vegans aren’t eating exactly how we would in nature, because this would clash too much with our modern lifestyle. Most animals are in some form another “grazing” throughout the day. This means that they don’t really eat meals. They just eat at any time, whenever they feel like it, which is often. The great apes, for example, will casually pluck fruit off trees and munch on leaves multiple times per hour. This is the way we too are biologically designed to eat. “Meals” are an artificial construct of our society, and don’t really match our biology.
But who has time while they are working to just continuous chow down on fruits and other foods? We don’t really have the luxury of being able to just casually graze whenever we want.
However, fruit and vegetable smoothies created with an emulsifier can go a long way in mitigating this problem. We may not be able to snack on fruits and vegetables at all hours of the day, so why not puree them into a more digestible form and drink them whenever you want?
This is the beauty of smoothies: concentrated nutrition that is also convenient. There are multiple great reasons why being able to “drink” our food throughout the day or at least to make a meal easier if you’re busy. The first is simply mimicking how we would be eating in nature. Instead of trying to stuff yourself with a dozen fruits for “breakfast,” which is unnatural and would likely lead to a stomach ache, you can instead sip them over the course of a couple hours, not unlike what we would be doing if we were monkeys sitting in the tree tops munching on fruit.
The next benefit is that we can add to smoothies certain foods that we normally wouldn’t find all that appetizing since our palettes aren’t developed properly. For example, we don’t exactly know what kinds of leaves we would be eating in the wild. Possibly young bamboo, and similar plants. We don’t typically have access to such plants, so we have to settle for alternatives like kale. Well, because the Western diet is full of unnatural tastes that we grow accustomed to at a young age, some foods like kale and broccoli aren’t that appealing to everyone until they develop their palette. Smoothies provide a way to “stealthily” add vegetables to fruit and make them all taste great. This works especially well on fussy kids who are picky eaters.
Another great aspect of smoothies is the ability to add foods that we simply would have trouble consuming in a typical meal otherwise, yet are very healthy. Turmeric and chia seeds are two foods that come to mind, that aren’t the easiest things to incorporate into a meal yet fit perfectly into a smoothie. This is incredible, because these foods are extremely healthy. This tactic can be used for all kinds of exotic plant-based foods, such as certain herbs, spirulina (blue-green algae), seaweeds, ginger root, and even advanced healing minerals such as colloidal silver. You can create something effortlessly delicious, like a strawberry banana smoothie, add a dash of vitamin-rich greens and some turmeric and ground seed, and all of a sudden you have a supercharged health tonic on your hands that is also a calorie dense meal full of everything your body needs to go about the day. As an added bonus, you don’t have to “eat” it all at once, just sip on it (graze) through the course of an hour or two.
Smoothies are also extremely versatile, ranging from extremely sweet fruit-based “dessert” like concoctions (which are still very healthy, mind you), to rich, savory vegetable-based ones that are more focused on nutrients and exotic tastes than dessert qualities. The sky is truly the limit, since there are easily thousands of smoothie recipes out there. We have a few signature smoothies of our own, such as the Sage Blast Smoothie. These drinks are also highly adaptable. You can add turmeric, chia or flax seed, plant-based protein powder, and spirulina to most smoothies and it will only add to their taste and nutrient content, so there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t make them a staple in your diet.
The bottom line is, don’t let anyone try and say that smoothies are bad for you or that they are just a “treat.” Right now smoothies are popular in places like fast food restaurants and malls, because they act like a dessert or a snack rather than a meal. This is simply marketing and the prevalent belief that fruity creations are typically desserts. There’s a reason why fruits taste so good to us: they are meant to be our primary source of energy.
Their nutrient qualities speak for themselves however. Fruit and vegetable smoothies can and should be a dietary staple for everyone, including the overweight and diabetic. Just be sure to stay away from dairy and artificial sweeteners in the process. Nothing worse than creating a wonderful nutrient-packed smoothie with dairy as its base: that defeats the purpose. You should be striving to make the smoothie as natural and as alkaline as possible. There are certainly delicious dairy alternatives like almond milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk for giving smoothies that rich, creamy texture.
Getting plenty of fruits and vegetables is the literal key to health, and smoothies make that process as easy and streamlined as possible. If you need help putting together some recipes, definitely search around on our blog in the Recipes section, or shoot us a message below and ask! We’d be more than happy to recommend some of our favorite recipes.