Why Smoothies Can Be Difficult To Digest

Social media is filled with people touting the health benefits of smoothies.  The attraction is that they satisfy several servings of fruits and vegetables in one easy-to-slurp-down-meal.

While I don’t disagree, if made correctly, they can pack in a lot of plants and fiber.  What is never mentioned is that they can be difficult to digest if drunk cold and are quickly consumed.

Smoothies are often made with frozen bananas or berries.  The cold and damp properties of these can slow down digestive fire.  Based on Eastern tradition warming foods and spices promotes digestion and calms the gut.

Smoothies are also often consumed quickly and as a meal replacements.  When we bypass chewing our body doesn’t get the appropriate signals to produce digestive enzymes.  What make matters worse is we drink a smoothie quicker than we could chew and swallow the same amount of fruits and vegetables in it.  For example, a smoothie made with a banana, a handful of spinach, a 1/4 cup blueberries, 2 TBS of walnuts and almond milk can be slurped down in a couple of minutes but, if we sat down to eat and chew well each item separately, it would take twice or three times as long to consume.

How can you make a smoothie easier to digest?

  1. Use room temperate fruits and vegetables.
  2. Use warm liquids.  Gently heat coconut milk, almond milk or water before blending.
  3. Use warming spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg.
  4. Drink only 4-6 ounces at one meal. That may mean you pair it with something else like scrambled eggs.
  5. Drink slowly.  Try taking one sip, hold it in your mouth for a second, then swallow.

Here on some tips on how to curate your own smoothie:

  • It is best to use a high powered blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec for a smoother consistency, especially when using leafy greens.
  • Vary your ingredients to include different fruits, vegetables, fat and protein.
  • To add creaminess add a banana or avocado (1/8th is low-FODMAP) or almond butter (up to 1 TBS is low-FODMAP)
  • Add ingredients in this order:
    • Liquid first (warm almond milk, water, coconut milk).
    • Add any special ingredients, powders or spices such as cacao powder, chia seeds, hemp seeds, collagen or protein powder, cinnamon, ginger, etc..)
    • Softer ingredients and leafy greens (banana, spinach, kale, pumpkin puree)
    • Harder ingredients (such as berries, raw nuts)
    • Finally, blend well. Possibly up to 3 minutes adding more liquid as needed.
    • Serve 4-6 ounces and store the remainder in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Try my warming sweet potato smoothie for the ultimate easy to digest smoothie bowl.

Wishing you a happy gut!


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