Over the years, good old fashioned nutrition has become sorely overlooked. Too often we focus on trying to improve our health using confusing and elaborate fitness programs, fad diets or mysterious supplements. In reality though, the key to good health is very simple:
Get lots of sleep
Get lots of exercise
Spend time outdoors
Eat your fruit and vegetables
The problem is that most of us fail on every single one of these factors. And to be fair, we are not entirely to blame. Our modern lifestyles actually make it very difficult for a lot of us to meet these goals and simply aren’t conducive to a well-balanced diet or getting lots of activity.
In terms of exercise, activity and time outdoors, we need to contend with our working schedule. Most of us will get up in the morning and head straight into work by taking some form of public transport or driving. When we do this, we are sitting.
We then get to work and what do we do there? We continue to sit of course! Sit in the dark. While being stressed out.
We come home (sitting) and then we crash out in front of the TV because we’re so exhausted from all the stress of the day. We stay there until bed, having gotten no sunshine and no exercise.
And what are we using to fuel ourselves through all of this? For the most part, the answer is garbage. Most of us live on primarily processed foods, which include things like sausage roles, shop-bought quiche, ready-meals, crisps, chocolates and soda drinks.
These foods are high in calories but they’re low in actually useful nutrients. These are what we call ‘empty calories’ because they don’t actually contain anything that is particularly useful for the body. You can gain weight with them easily, spike your blood sugar with them easily and generally impact your health negatively. But what you won’t get is any positive effect from filling your body with vitamins and nutrients. Thus your hair, skin, teeth and nails start to become grey and brittle. You don’t sleep as well. You gain weight. Your hormone production gets out of balance. You feel listless and depressed…
Why are we eating like this? Because these are the foods readily available. Sure, there are all kinds of amazing superfood seaweeds, legumes and wild berries out there – but you just try and make these a part of your regular diet and you’ll quickly find it’s not so easy. You’ll quickly find that preparing these foods takes a lot of time and that you don’t have the money to keep buying new fresh fruits from exotic organic shops.
The answer is simple: smoothies.
Smoothies give us a convenient, tasty and affordable way to add a ton of extra nutrition to our diet. Instead of trying to improve your entire set of eating habits, you’re instead getting a sharp ‘hit’ of nutrients in one bottle.
And as we will see, smoothies can completely transform your health in more ways that you can possibly realize…
The Endless Health Benefits of Smoothies
We all know that we’re supposed to eat our five fruit and veg a day. What less of us understand is why that is so important and how precisely this helps to improve our health.
The answer is that eating your five a day provides you not just with the ‘fuel’ to power you through your activities but also the raw materials that your body uses to build and maintain your body. This is what you are made out of.
When you don’t get enough of the crucial nutrients that are found in fruits and vegetables, you start to see your mental performance deteriorate, you become more likely to get ill, you feel hungry throughout the day and even your mood takes a hit. But what’s worse, is just how much long-term damage is caused when you continue to be malnourished for long periods of time. If you have a deficiency in any major micronutrient and you don’t do anything to fix it, then the damage will build up cumulatively over time.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate this, is just to show you what some of those crucial nutrients actually do for you…
Vitamin C is something we all know is highly good for us. But do you really know why it is so good for you?
For starters, vitamin C does amazing things for the immune system and this makes your body more fortified against outside invaders. In real terms, that means you’re less likely to get colds, flus or any other type of illness. And in turn, that means you’re less likely to have to take long periods of time off of work or exercise. This also means you’re less likely to see the damaging effects of ‘pro inflammatory cytokines’ that are released when we’re ill. These make us experience ‘brain fog’.
You are probably aware that you have brain fog when you’re unwell. But what about those ‘lower level’ infections and illnesses that affect you the rest of the time and that you’re probably completely unaware of? You might not see the physical symptoms of being ‘ill’ but that doesn’t mean you’re performing optimally. Vitamin C can help that.
Moreover, vitamin C is also a great option if you want to get antioxidants in your diet. Antioxidants are substances that move around the body and combat the action of ‘free radicals’. Free radicals are meanwhile compounds that damage the cell walls when they come into contact with them and this can lead to the visible signs of ageing like wrinkles and age spots! Vitamin C will help to protect you against these and that means you look more youthful over time.
Better yet, antioxidants help to protect your DNA – which can also be damaged by free radicals. This means that you’re less likely to get cancer if you have enough of it.
Another great thing about vitamin C, is that it is a precursor to serotonin – meaning that the brain uses it to make serotonin. Serotonin of course is our feel good hormone – so it can make you feel happier and combat bad moods. Oh and it also gets broken down to create melatonin – the sleep hormone. So it can help you to sleep better too!
Vitamin C can be found in a ton of fruits and this particularly includes citrus fruits.
This is just one vitamin that you can get in smoothies and already you’re happier, more energetic, less prone to illness and less prone to cancer…
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Found in nuts (of which there are plenty in a lot of smoothies) as well as avocados, omega 3 fatty acid is an essential fatty acid that does a ton of good for us yet again.
For starters, omega 3 fatty acid has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men. It’s also known to help with joint problems and be protective against neurodegenerative disease.
Omega 3 is also great for combating inflammation. That’s because inflammation is caused (in part) by omega 6 fatty acid. Omega 6 fatty acid isn’t bad for you – in fact you need both in your diet. The problem is that most of us get tons of omega 3 and not nearly enough omega 6. That’s particularly true because omega 6 is a fat that is commonly used in ready meals as a way to keep them edible and fresh for long periods of time.
The issue is that omega 6 and omega 3 compete with one another. That is to say that when you have more omega 6 in your diet, you automatically have less omega 3 in your system and vice versa. This means most of us have way too much omega 6 and barely any omega 3, which causes inflammation. Inflammation, by the way, is likely to cause a range of problems including joint problems and possibly even depression.
But the biggest benefit of omega 3 is that it can make you smarter. That’s because omega 3 is used by the brain to create cell walls. Omega 3 just so happens to be an ideal fit for brain cells too because it is highly permeable (using omega 3 improves what we call ‘cell membrane permeability’). All this means is that things can pass through the walls more easily – including signals from other brain cells. Thus your brain becomes better at quickly communicating over long distances and you become objectively smarter.
Honey is commonly used in smoothies as a way to sweeten them, as it is delicious and healthier than sugar.
But it’s also great for you in a range of other ways. For example, it is thought by many that honey might actually be effective in treating symptoms of many allergies – especially hay fever. Like many other things, there’s a good chance once again that allergies are affecting you even if you aren’t aware of them. Feel groggy and rough in the morning? There’s a fair chance that that is a result of breathing in allergens overnight!
Honey is also good for us because it contains fructose and sucrose. These are two different forms of sugar that release at different rates. That means you get an immediate ‘kick’ of energy that is going to make you feel instantly more awake and alert, as well as a follow up supply of energy that will give you more sustenance throughout the day. This is perfect for ‘morning smoothies’because it ensures you won’t be hungry before lunch.
Finally, honey is actually a perfect hangover cure. That’s because the fructose can combat acetaldehyde, which is the primary toxin that alcohol leaves in the blood leading to the symptoms of hangover!
Resveratrol is an incredibly potent ingredient for improving your energy levels. That’s because it can help you to improve the function of your mitochondria – the small ‘energy factories’ that live in our cells and power our movements.
Resveratrol also has the added bonus of being protective against free radicals once again, as well as being particularly good for the heart. In fact, resveratrol is given credit as one of the main reasons that the French have particularly good heart health and live well into old age!
Resveratrol can be found in red grapes, which is why those in Europe get a lot of it. You can get more of it by dropping a few into a smoothie!
Zing, Magnesium and Vitamin B6
These have been clustered together because they have a great synergistic effect when you consume them that way. And it’s easy enough – just have a smoothie with banana, kiwi and peanut butter (a tasty mix!).
The great thing about these three is that they can together enhance sleep and at the same time, improve testosterone production in men. In fact, this result is so potent that the three are often sold together as a supplement called ‘ZMA’. This is purchased by bodybuilders as a way for them to increase their muscle mass and lose fat at the same time – you can do those things naturally with a smoothie and save yourself a lot of money in the process!
At the same time, all three of these ingredients are incredibly good for the brain. That’s because they aid ‘brain plasticity’, which is the ability of the brain to form new neural connections and to strengthen existing ones. This is how we lay down new memories and in short, it makes us into better learners. Vitamin B6 meanwhile is just useful for creating a large number of different neurotransmitters which helps with a wide range of cognitive functions. It also happens to be great for helping you to get more
energy from carb sources. This means that adding B6 to your smoothie will mean you get even more of an energy kick from them!
Oh and zinc can also enhance your sense of smell!
Lutein, found in carrots among other sources, is a great nutrient for improving eyesight and is particularly useful for prevent macular degeneration. It is commonly recommended for elderly individuals as a way to keep their vision strong as they age.
At the same time, lutein has recently been found to be highly beneficial in some other capacities. In one study, lutein was given to rats and they were found to increase their activity on the wheel with no extra incentive. In short, they had more energy and drive and as a result lost a lot of weight while gaining muscle mass!
Lutein can be found in carrots (another common smoothie ingredient) but it is best absorbed when consumed with some form of fat – such as whole milk or avocado.
Bromelain is a digestive enzyme found in pineapple. This is a great addition to any smoothie because it helps to improve your digestion by breaking food up in your stomach. This enhances your digestion of the nutrients in your smoothies and it helps you to avoid ingestion.
There are many other ingredients that can improve your digestion and this is something that a lot of us need to concern ourselves with. The best of these ingredients work by improving our gut ‘flora’, which is a term for the good bacteria that lives in our stomach and that helps us to produce enzymes.
Bromelain also happens to be very good for your teeth and is included in a number of different toothpaste products. So if you’re concerned about the effect your smoothies have on your teeth, this is a good way to counteract that to some degree!
As you can see then, the benefits of these nutrients are practically limitless and these are just a very small selection of the kinds of things you can get from smoothies. When you add all these and many more together and take them regularly in smoothie form, the positive impacts on your health are practically immeasurable!
How to Start Making Delicious Smoothies
So now you understand the benefits of smoothies, the next question is how you make them a part of your life.
Fortunately, this is pretty straight forward…
The first thing you need to do, is to get yourself a smoothie maker/blender. Any model will do but a good piece of advice is to shop around for one that will be easy to clean. In order to see the full benefits of smoothies, you need to stick with them. That means you need to reduce the amount of work involved in making them and you need to make sure that you can fit them easily into your routine.
Washing up takes time and isn’t particularly fun. Thus, it makes sense to keep it to a minimum if you want to maximize your chances of sticking with your smoothie drinking! The NutriBullet is one good example of a product that you can use to drink more smoothies and save time because it allows you to simply take the container off when you’re done and use it like a water bottle!
Next, you need to choose the ingredients you want for your smoothie. You can do this by finding recipes and if you check out our full ebook, you’ll see that it contains a huge selection of different smoothie recipes for you to try.
But you don’t necessarily need a recipe – you just need an understanding of what works together and you need to make sure you know what affects you’re trying to achieve.
Find the fruits that offer the benefits you’re looking for and then ask yourself what would go with them. Likewise, think about your personal preferences and your concerns.
Want to avoid sugar that can damage your teeth? Then make a green smoothie. Want something that will fill you up? Then perhaps go with avocado to start with.
You can then apply a little smoothie science to know what else you need to put in.
Most smoothies will start off with a liquid for instance. This can be water, it can be juice or it can be milk. The more you put in, the more runny your smoothie is of course going to be and it is ultimately up to you how runny you like it.
From here, you’ll then want to add a ‘base’. This is what is going to provide you with the main texture for your smoothie and it is what will make it a smoothie rather than a fruit cocktail! This should be something that is thick and creamy. Examples include:
You can pick which one you want based on what you enjoy and on what you want the benefits to be. And from here, it will become increasingly easy to work out what else will taste good in your mixture. Banana and strawberry is a classic mix for instance, so choosing a banana base is great if you want potassium but also if you want to get calcium or magnesium from the strawberries.
(Actually though, strawberries are great for potassium too!)
Put it all in your blender, make sure that the top is firmly sealed down and then press blend!
As you can see, smoothies are very easy to make then and even easier if you have access to the ebook with all our amazing recipes in. These include recipes that can fight stress, boost energy, enhance your libido, help you get over a cold, build muscle, beat hangovers and much, much more! You’ll also learn tips to make it easier to stick with your new smoothie regime and to help you learn to make your own recipes!
Give that a go, or get started with your own concoctions. Either way, you’ll find you start waking up with more energy, you get ill less often and you generally begin to thrive. People will tell you that you’re glowing and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start drinking smoothies years ago!