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  • Writer's pictureMary Shackelton, MPH, ND


Smoothies are alkalinizing, anti-inflammatory, immune-supporting, and great fiber for our digestion, the true anti-aging diet tip. I’ve promoted a morning smoothie to my patients and my readers for years. So, why am I now saying to “chew your smoothie?”

I know it sounds silly to chew a smoothie. After all, isn’t speed one of the best things about a smoothie? But think about it, we put all of the massive amounts of veggies in the blender, then we pour it down the hatch. We put more in there than we could ever eat with a knife and fork in one sitting.

The great thing about this is that we are getting all of that essential nutrition and key important nutrients in first thing in the morning, but it’s stomach directed! Meaning, it bypasses all of the normal and necessary initial steps of digestion.

Can we really digest and then absorb all that is in there? It is certainly somewhat “pre-digested” before we drink it because the Vitamix chops it all up. This most likely helps the absorption, but there’s only one problem as I see it. Our enzymes don’t have a fighting chance to get into the game. When we see and smell food, our enzyme production goes up, which prepares us for digestion. When we take our first bite and chew, even more enzymes are secreted. Chewing triggers the production of acid in our stomach. Various estimates suggest that we make up to six cups per day of salivary fluid.

When we drink the equivalent of a head of lettuce, 2 cups of blueberries, 1 cup of cherries, 6 leaves of kale, 20 grams of protein, and 1/2 an avocado, digestively speaking, this requires some enzymatic action. Enzyme production signals digestive action further down in the digestive tract. Without the enzymes our intestinal lining is unprepared to absorb the nutrients, which is the whole point of having such a healthy meal. I don’t know about you, but I love the ease and simplicity of a smoothie. However, I am starting to look at it a little bit differently.

It’s an interesting notion: just because we put it in doesn’t mean we are going to absorb and metabolize it optimally. Just because we swallow a 500 mg capsule of Vitamin C doesn’t mean we will absorb 100% of it. And many people do not absorb well in the first place. Slamming your smoothie could result in poor digestion, which may lead to bloating, flatulence, gas, and lack of absorption of minerals, fats, protein and most importantly, nutrients.

But how do you chew a smoothie? Well, you just let it linger in your mouth for a few seconds mixing it around with your salivary enzymes intentionally. I understand this may slow down your morning routine, if you tend to gulp down your smoothie while driving in your car on the way to work. But since you’ve just invested time and money on good food, spend a few moments allowing your digestion to jump in. Optimal digestion of anything requires letting your enzymes do their work, and just as importantly, slowing down in general will allow enzyme production to occur in the first place. Alternatively, you could also take a digestive enzyme before drinking your smoothie.

Enjoy this new smoothie that is super refreshing, and gives you many of the anti-inflammatory and detox nutrients you need to promote optimal wellness!

Breakfast smoothie

Juice of one lemon

1 apple cored

half bunch of parsley

half cucumber (skin optional)

1/2 avocado

4-6 romaine lettuce leaves

2 cabbage leaves (green)

2-3 celery stalks

2 cups almond milk or to taste

Blend all together, add more or less almond milk to taste, and enjoy slowly over 10-15 minutes. Allow the smoothie to linger in your mouth a bit so the enzymes can be mixed with the veggies.

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