The smoothie craze is nowhere near slowing down. They are quick to make, easy to eat on the go and you can throw just about anything in. But did you know that there are a few reasons why smoothies may not be good for you – at least according to Ayurveda? Here are a few reasons why and what you can do about it.
1. Smoothies are cold
Solution: take out the ingredients the night before so everything is room temperature when you blend it, or if there are ingredients that are not as stable overnight, take them out first thing in the morning. Once you do this for a while, if you go back to a cold smoothie, you will likely feel the difference!
2. Too much sugar
Most people like smoothies because they taste good. Especially the ones loaded with banana, dates and fruits, in juice. The problem is you can be getting way too many grams of sugar in one smoothie (even if you are not adding any 'sugar') which will shoot up your blood sugar and put stress on your entire system. Even if you are not diabetic, dysglycemia, or imbalanced blood sugar is becoming a leading health concern and can make you more prone to diabetes and weight gain.
Solution: limit your fruits. Berries and apples are a better choice than banana, and ensure that you have some source of protein such as protein powder, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, tahini. Protein and healthy fats will help slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream. Use water or alternative milks (almond, coconut) as a base instead of juice.
3. Kitchen sink phenomenon
It seems great because you can throw in everything that is supposedly good for you: greens, fish oil, proteins, antioxidants, turmeric etc. In Ayurveda, food that is a medicine works differently depending on when you take it, what else with it and how you take it. A herb with water vs with honey will act differently in your system. So just because you have everything in the smoothie, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be good for you.
Solution: Sometimes less is more. Try rotating ingredients in your smoothies and limit putting more than 5 different ingredients at a time. Work with your practitioner to see when is the best time to take your supplements.
4. Improper food combining
According to Ayurveda certain foods shouldn’t be taken together because they digest differently. For example meat and melon are a bad combination – melon digests quickly and the sugars break down and ferment quickly leading to gas and meat takes longer to digest, so you are setting yourself up for a digestive disaster. If you are busy or don’t have a sensitive digestive system, you may not notice symptoms. In smoothies, a common combination to avoid is milk and fruits.
Solution: stick to 1-2 types of fruits (avoid banana & orange juice) in a base of nut milk, plus a protein source and spices (cinnamon, ginger) for digestive strength.
5. Incompatable with your body type
If you are familiar with your Ayurvedic body type, now’s the time to customize your smoothie! If you are a Vata type which is generally cold and has weak digestion, a cold smoothie will be a digestive nightmare. A Pitta type which has stronger digestion may get away with it. A Kapha type has slow metabolism to begin with and craves for sweeter foods but generally does better with lighter smoothies or green juices which are bitter and cleansing.
Vata: room temperature smoothie with lots of ginger, cinnamon, clove or nutmeg. These are warming spices that can help your digestion. Since they have quick metabolisms, vatas can generally get away with more naturally sweet foods (like bananas or fruits in smoothies – but in moderation). In the winters, vatas should generally avoid smoothies altogether and go for warm liquidy foods such as oatmeal, soup or gangi (congee).
Pitta: tend to have a more heated up constitution so may often crave cold foods, but they should still stick with room temperature smoothies. Instead they can do cooling digestive spices like cardamom. They can do green powders (if they don’t get enough greens in their diet) and moderate fruit if they are active. Hydration is crucial for pittas, so a base of coconut water can be refreshing for them.
Kapha: to prevent weight gain which is common in this body type, Kaphas should avoid sweet smoothies. They do better with fresh green juices (celery, kale, spinach) or a smoothie without fruits. While nuts are good for protein, they tend to be heavy and fatty for kaphas, so use them sparingly. This body type does the worst on dairy so avoid milk or yogourt in smoothies for Kaphas. They need food that is light and fresh.
Still not convinced that you are able to give up your smoothie? There are ways you can make tasty and healthier combinations. Check out one of my colleague’s blog here for more recipes
If you are still confused, work with your Ayurvedic practitioner to help give you customized ideas on what to it. There can be a lot of information out there and the only ‘right diet’ is the one that is customized to you!