Smoothies have a stellar reputation among health-conscious people and this is not without reason. These drinks are full of fresh greens, juicy fruits, colourful vegetables and superfood supplements, such as maca and wheatgrass powder. Since the food is blended up, it is easy for your body to absorb all the vitamins and minerals from the smoothie, leaving you feeling instantly recharged. However, for many people drinking smoothies can cause bloating, diarrhoea, cramps and other digestive issues. Does that mean smoothies are unhealthy? Well, that really depends on your physical constitution.
Traditional Chinese Medicine tells us that all foods have different energetic properties that are either yin or yang. Yin properties are interior, deficient and cold. Yang properties are exterior, excessive and hot. When it comes to smoothies, the hot/cold properties are of particular interest. Foods with the heat property warm up the body and get it moving. Foods with the cooling property cool and calm the body. Certain foods have cooling properties, such as many fresh fruits, most greens, and yoghurt. Moreover, eating food raw and eating food at room temperature further increases the cooling properties of a meal. It is thus easy to see that smoothies generally have cooling properties.
A yin constitution
Cooling foods are not bad for you intrinsically. However, for someone with a yang (heat) deficiency eating cooling foods may not be the best option. People with a yin constitution (and thus yang deficiency) lack heat in their body and tend to have cold hands and feet, weak digestion systems and a lack of energy. They can experience achy joints and stomach pains. Eating even more yin (cooling) foods is not a great option for people with a yin constitution. This tends to make them even more bloated. A great analogy to understand this is by thinking of cooling foods as extinguishing the digestive fire (yang) that is already lacking in your yin body. Without the digestive fire, foods will not be properly digested, leaving you feeling bloated and cramped. So before you jump on the smoothie bandwagon, ask yourself if this is doing yourself any favours or making your digestive issues worse.
Adding warming foods to smoothies
That doesn’t mean smoothies are unhealthy. They remain a great way to get a big dose of vitamins and minerals into your system at once. If you insist on having smoothies regularly with a yin constitution, there are a few things you can do to increase the warming properties of your morning drink. Certain fruits are more warming than others, so try adding a few of these warming fruits the next time you make a smoothie: dates, mangoes, nectarines, coconut milk, and peaches. Furthermore, warming spices, such as ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne chili pepper can have a warming effect on your digestion. If you struggle with the plant fibers of raw foods, it is a good idea to add cooked foods to your smoothies, such as cooked beetroots or homemade applesauce.
Give it time
Don’t try to force down the smoothies over and over again if they continue giving you digestive problems, even after you have added warming fruits and spices. Try strengthening your digestion by eating warming meals and adding probiotics to your diet. If you increase your yang over time by eating for a yin constitution, your digestive fire will get stronger and you can start adding smoothies to your diet again. There is no point in drinking a healthy smoothie, from which you don’t get much nutritional benefit because your body cannot digest it properly.
The current obsession with smoothies and raw foods is great in theory but should be placed in the context of individual people’s constitution. If you are suffering from indigestion after drinking smoothies, then adding warming foods to them or laying off the raw food completely for a while can be way more beneficial for your overall health than gulping down a daily smoothie. So always listen to your body when making decision about your diet!
**Please keep in mind that I am not a Doctor or nutritionist, so please consult an appropriate professional before making any changes to your diet.