Ayurvedic Take on Smoothies
3 Ways to Make your Smoothies Digestible
Who doesn’t like cold, juicy smoothies? Refreshing and satisfying, smoothies are truly the complete meal in our current organic, clean-eating health movement. The more protein and superfoods we pack into a smoothie makes it nourishing or detoxifying, right? For instance, almond butter, acai berries, pea-protein powder, oat milk, raw vegetables, kale are considered healthy in smoothies according to the modern generation. However, per Ayurveda, the ancient 5,000 year old Vedic holistic medical system, this method can actually overwhelm your gut. Rather than placing precedence on macro and micro nutrients, Ayurveda stresses how well one digests food, especially protein and fats.
Ayurveda emphasizes a strong agni (digestive fire) because how well you digest your food will determine nutrient absorption and development of all the subsequent tissues of your body. Easily digestible foods tend to be basmati rice, mung beans, and fruits. Protein and fat require a strong agni, otherwise the undigestible materials can accumulate into toxins, which is called ama. While some people are lucky to have a strong agni, many of us deal with bloating, indigestion, or constipation; all signs of a weak agni. The question then becomes how to have smoothies that are easy on your gut, especially in the summer. Read below for easy practices to apply to your favorite smoothies!
1. Keep it Simple
· This may seem difficult, and you may feel the need to pack everything you have in your fridge for a nutritious post-workout smoothie. However, making your smoothies with fewer ingredients can make it easy on your digestive fire and reduce issues with food incompatibility. Combining high protein foods and raw vegetables with easily digestible foods such as fruits can lead to development of undigested toxins (ama).
· Keep it as either a vegetable or fruit smoothie, rather than combining the food groups.
· If you want to add a protein pick one choice; such as 1 tsp of chia seed powder, moringa powder, or pea-protein. Consider also decreasing the amount of protein if you have bloating episodes.
· If you are planning on using fruit or vegetables in your smoothies, for a liquid base consider coconut water, filtered water, or if you want a thicker consistency, a non-dairy milk such as oat milk. Due to cooling properties of coconuts, coconut water is best to use in the summer season, when pitta (energy of fire) is dominant. The use of cow’s milk with fruits (especially bananas) is considered a major no-no due to the opposite post- digestive nature of both foods; fruits with dairy increase acidity, which produces undigested toxins (ama) over time.
· While Ayurveda favors cooked vegetables, due to the fact this allows your gut to easily digest the raw fiber, this would end up being a soup rather than a smoothie. If you have to use raw vegetables, consider reading the tips below.
2. Avoid Ice-Cold Smoothies and Timing
· Keep your fruits and vegetables out of the fridge at least an hour before making the smoothie. Avoiding ice-cold beverages are one of the main ways you can make an Ayurveda approved smoothie. Cold beverages, per Ayurveda, inhibit the proper metabolism and absorption of foods due to a weakened digestive fire.
· Try to not drink your smoothie one hour before or after workout. According to Ayurveda, exercise diverts your body’s agni and circulation to the peripheral systems ( rather than your gut) due to high energy utilization of your muscles. When you eat immediately before or after exercise, the agni in your gut is already on the weaker side, due to the active metabolism happening in your muscles and other tissues. Basically, this confuses your body and your gut is not able to” perform” in the best way it would have if you had given it some time to digest food properly.
3. Add Digestive Spices, especially with a Vegetable smoothie
· Mint and Fennel seeds: Both act as cooling digestive aid, which is beneficial to use in the summer. You can add ¼ tsp to your drinks and even use it as a garnish.
· Cardamom Powder: Slightly warming but great as an energizing spice in the morning, to which you can add ¼ tsp to a fruit smoothie is cardamom powder.
· Ginger: One of my favorites, ginger acts as an anti-flatulent, and kindles your digestive fire. Adding ¼ piece of fresh ginger along with lime juice not only makes your vegetable juices tasty, but also allows your intestine to digest the fiber.