24 Jul Skip the Fancy Drinks, Chew Your Food
Skip the Fancy Drinks, Chew Your Food
Smoothies and juicing have been growing in popularity over the past few years. Bright juices and blended smoothies can be spotted in the hands of many celebrities and public figures. Green juices and green smoothies are thought to go hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle. From coffee shops, to grocery stores, and even to restaurants, these drinks are served almost everywhere! The colorful beverages are often featured in healthy lifestyle magazines, blogs, and infomercials. I’ve even discovered some grocery stores that are starting to carry fruits and vegetables solely for the purpose of juicing.
Both my parents and my grandparents were really into juicing when I was younger. I can remember helping to put the fruits and veggies into the machine and being mesmerized by the hue of the flowing juice. At that point, we all believed that the fruit and vegetable juice was the key to optimal health.
Due to the amount of fruits and vegetables used, juices and smoothies seem like they would be really good for you. Many people make smoothies or juice their fruits and vegetables because they feel as though when they do, they get all of their servings and benefits for the day. Often times, these drinks are made to disguise the taste of fruits or vegetables. By popping them in the juicer, plain fruits and veggies might taste more appetizing or at least they know that they’ll be able to quickly drink it.
A huge benefit we expect to be getting from our fruits and vegetables is fiber. A few the benefits of fiber include reaching a healthy weight, lowering cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar levels, and keeping your digestive system regular. Fiber is found in a variety of foods including whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits—the foundation of a plant-strong diet!
All juicers work in the same way and it’s no secret that the juicer separates the fiber from the juice. All of the pulp in the little basket that you end up throwing away is the fiber. Smoothies, unlike juices, contain the entire fruit so the fiber is not removed. Instead, the metal blades of the machine disrupt the fiber. The fiber is actually what we want to be consuming, not throwing away or disrupting!
A few years ago, I made a green smoothie nearly every day. I crammed my blender with some fruit and as many greens as the container would allow, threw the lid on, and watched it swirl into a color that somewhat resembled green. Like many people, I thought I was doing myself a favor by overflowing the blender with greens because, surely, I couldn’t sit down and eat the same amount.
It wasn’t until I read Rip’s book, My Beef With Meat, that I stopped drinking smoothies. Like most people, I was unaware of the benefits of chewing your food. It sounds so simple, chewing your food, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world, it seems as though everything is made and marketed for quick eating.
In his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Esselstyn places special emphasis on the lining of the heart and blood vessels—the endothelium:
“The endothelial cells make nitric oxide, which is critical to preserving the tone and health of the blood vessels. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator: that is, it causes the vessels to dilate or enlarge. When there is abundant nitric oxide in the bloodstream, it keeps blood flowing as if the vessels’ surfaces were coated with the most slippery Teflon, eliminating the stickiness of vessels and blood cells that is caused by high lipid levels and that, in turn, leads to plaque formation.” (p. 38-39)
Dr. Esselstyn knows how important it is to eat your greens. In fact, he advises his patients to chew 6 handfuls of cooked green leafy vegetables a day. The action of chewing the greens eventually creates nitric oxide. Swallowing green smoothies made with blended up greens is simply not the same as chewing them. By drinking juices and smoothies, we miss the health benefits of chewing our food. By removing and disrupting the fiber, smoothies and juices become simple sugars (or simple carbohydrates). Drinking a juice or smoothie injures the endothelial lining because the simple sugars are rapidly absorbed. A common goal all diabetics work towards is keeping their blood glucose levels stable. Dramatic increases or decreases in blood glucose levels are cause for concern and not favorable. Triglycerides also respond to these simple sugars by significantly increasing.
In the end, it all comes down to where you are in your journey. Enjoying an occasional plant-strong smoothie or juice is really not a big deal. Having a glass every once in a while or for a treat is much different from slurping one down everyday as a meal replacement. Don’t be fooled the next time you step foot inside a grocery store or coffee shop and see the display of colorful juices. Skip the fancy drinks and chew your food!
Dr. Esselstyn Q&A: http://www.heartattackproof.com/qanda.htm
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.