As Hippocrates once said, food is medicine. Fueling our bodies with vibrant and nutritious foods helps us to feel more energized, balanced, grounded, and therefore happier in our day to day lives. Consuming fresh juices and smoothies are an easy way to get an instant boost of nutrients from a variety of nourishing fruits and vegetables.
A common question is whether one should juice or blend. The answer is both. Both forms of liquid nutrition contain various vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that can help to cleanse, nourish and detox the body. Juicing and smoothies have been used alongside other protocols to help heal the body in various ways, from reducing inflammation, to aiding in digestion, boosting immunity, enhancing one’s mood, and helping to balance one's hormones. With that being said, there are some notable differences between the two that are worth exploring.
Juices contain a greater quantity of fruits and/or vegetables compared to smoothies. Meaning, they inevitably contain a higher quantity of nutrients. It would be next to impossible to eat all of the produce that you can cram into one juice.
Juicing removes almost all of the fiber content which helps to encourage easy digestion and absorption. The cleansing and detoxifying properties of juices can help to aid in liver detoxification and promote clear, glowing skin. Some fruits and vegetables also contain certain phytonutrients that can help to eliminate sugar cravings.
When juicing, try to stick to the 80% vegetable and 20% fruit rule. Since the fibre is removed during the juicing process, it is best to limit the fruit content to keep blood sugar levels stable. Certain vegetables (like celery and cucumber) contain more water and therefore, are great as a “base”. On the contrary, leafy greens with a lower water content won’t produce a lot of juice, but they’re an excellent source of chlorophyll and vitamins. You can also add “warming” foods such as ginger, turmeric, beets, cinnamon, cacao, or cayenne to your juice.
If you’re juicing fruits and vegetables that are not organic, make sure the skins are peeled prior to juicing them. After juicing, you can use the pulp from your juicer to make soups, veggie burgers, raw crackers, or simply add them to your compost or garden. Lastly, a variety and rotation of fruits and vegetables is the best way to obtain an abundance of varying nutrients. If you do not have a juicer, you can still make juices at home with a blender and a cheesecloth to strain the pulp. It is important to note that juices should not serve as a meal replacement.
Now, onto smoothies! Unlike juices, smoothies can sometimes be consumed in place of a meal due to the fact that high quality fats and proteins can be included. It is possible to include all three macronutrients within a smoothie: carbohydrates (i.e. fruits and vegetables), healthy fats (i.e. avocado, nut butters, coconut oil, and seeds), and protein (i.e. nut butters, seeds, and protein powders). You can also enhance the nutrient content of your smoothie with “superfood boosters” like collagen, adaptogens, cordyceps, medicinal mushrooms, and other herbs.
The produce that is used in smoothies still contains fiber, which helps to balance out the sugar content found in fruit. This prevents cravings, mood swings, and energy crashes while helping to improve one’s gut health and bowel movements.
If you choose to add a protein powder to your smoothie, look for one that contains no added sugar, artificial flavors, or fillers. There are also some great fermented brands on the market. As protein powders can be hard for some to digest, whole-food protein sources may be better, such as nut butters or hemp seeds. Remember to sip slowly in order to enhance absorption and aid digestion.
Below is a general smoothie guide that you can augment to fit your own needs:
1 cup of liquid (i.e. water, coconut water, or alternative milks)
Half a cup to one cup of fruit and/or vegetables (frozen ones are less expensive and make it cold)
Add half an avocado or a handful of cauliflower for a creamy texture
One to two tablespoons of healthy fats (i.e. nut butters, seeds, coconut oil, or avocado)
Half a teaspoon of “superfoods”
A scoop of protein powder or another protein source
Whether you are a juice fanatic and drink one everyday, or you drink them therapeutically for various reasons, remember that it is important to still consume whole fruits and vegetables for their fiber content. While there are a lot of wonderful juice and smoothie bar options around town, make sure that you avoid consuming ones that are filled with added sugar or fillers.
Although juices and smoothies have great health benefits, they are not miracles in a glass. Drinking smoothies and juices should be seen as an accessory to a healthy lifestyle. Happy sipping!