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Smoothies, Juices + Detoxing; essential or unnecessary in a modern, healthy diet?

It’s hard to escape the message that smoothies, juicing and detoxing are essential elements to a healthy diet these days. If you buy any cookbook or follow any of the big names in healthy eating on social media, smoothies and juices are a prominent feature, as is the promotion of regular detoxing to systematically cleanse the body of the toxins and the effects of a modern lifestyle. There is a lot of hype, but is in there any truth in this message and is it worth buying in to?

My answer would be yes, sort of 😉 A lot of the arguments that you would hear against smoothies and juicing and detoxing is that humans have survived just fine without these modern incarnations of food and that the body detoxes itself regularly without the assistance of a 3 day juice cleanse. And there is scientific and research based facts to back all of those arguments up.  However, there is myriad anecdotal evidence out there from people who have incorporated smoothies and juicing into their regular diets and have definitely felt that it improved their health. There are also lots of examples of people, myself and my clients included, who have undertaken juice cleanses and have felt amazing after them.

However, as with everything in life, I think it is important to lead from a mindset rooted in balance and love. For example, rather than replacing a meal with a smoothie because there are less calories in a smoothie and you’re trying to lose weight, it would probably serve you better to first work on developing a healthy relationship with food as a whole. Likewise, if you are relying on a juices to give you nutrients but restricting calories, a healthier way to approach juicing is as a supplement to an already robust and healthy diet full of whole, home cooked foods.

Detoxing deserves a little more consideration because we have been sold this idea that it is ok, even glamorous, to party hard, over indulge and basically put our bodies’ natural detoxification systems under duress, because ultimately we can undo all of this by going on a detox. But take a step back and think of how damaging this mindset can be to your deeper Self. It is essentially promoting the idea that it is ok to behave badly, because you can always say you’re sorry. This is true, but it’s not really a message that we would teach to our children right? Taking a more measured approach to life in general is always the healthier option. Swinging from one extreme to the other only serves to confuse your body and your mind and ultimately this rollercoaster will become unsustainable and can make a person feel pretty empty.

A Healthy + Balanced Approach

Smoothies

Smoothies are high in fiber, easy to digest, can be “boosted” with super foods, and are a convenient way to be healthy on the go or when your short on time. Obviously, as above, we should not think of smoothies as a permanent solution to being too busy to cook or sit down and have a meal, they are definitely a great option when your on the move. They can also be a particularly good source of easily digestible energy before or after your yoga practice. A perfectly balanced smoothie will contain the following ingredients:

  • 1 scoop of plant based protein powder
  • 1-2 tblsp of healthy fat (nut butters, coconut oil, avocado)
  • 1/2 cup of fruit (berries are the best for a low sugar option, frozen makes the smoothie more creamy)
  • 1 cup of liquid (coconut water, nut milks, coconut milk, dairy milk)
  • Optional booster:
    • Maca (to support reproductive healthy)
    • Cacao (full of antioxidants)
    • Chia seeds (omega 3, amino acids, fiber)
    • Hemp Hearts (protein, antioxidants)
    • Green powder (full of vitamins and minerals)
    • Spirulina (full of protein and amino acids)
    • Turmeric (take with black pepper) (anti-inflammatory)

Juices

Fresh vegetable juices, sweetened with green apples, are an excellent way to boost your nutrient intake everyday. Green juices are particularly good as they help the body’s PH level to alkalize and this in turn reduces inflammation in the body. When the body is too acidic, as a result of alcohol, caffeine, red meat, inflammation can arise causing symptoms like sore joints, low energy, difficulties digesting and left unchecked can lead to more serious diseases. The following is a great, entry level 😉 green juice that is easy on the palate (organic ingredients are best):-

  • 1 Golden Delicious Apple
  • 2 Sticks Celery
  • 1/2 Cucumber (skin on)
  • 1/2 Courgette (skin on)
  • 1 whole lime, peeled
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • 1/2 Thumb Fresh Ginger

Place the cucumber in the juicer first, then add the lime, spinach and ginger and put the apple in on top (cut in half if it doesn’t fit), push through the juicer and then add the rest of the ingredients and juice. Drink immediately or store in a stainless steel container in the fridge for up to 12 hours.

Detoxing

There is definitely a place for a “detox” in a modern lifestyle. As I said above, I don’t believe that a detox should be used as a sort of panacea to an unhealthy lifestyle. However, there are always periods where things get a bit hectic, the social calendar might be a little more full than usual and a period of rest and consciously making “lighter” choices is a great way to get the body and the mind back on the right track.

Christmas is an excellent example of a period of indulgence that’s hard to avoid and going into the holiday season with a mindset of “enjoyment without guilt” and knowing how you can get back on track is quite simply, empowerment and that totally has a place in a modern lifestyle!

So what to do when you don’t have the time/money/inclination for a fancy retreat, think light, simple, small meals and/or juices and smoothies if that’s your thing. Bolstered by a light schedule, some pampering (again, nothing fancy or expensive, a long soak in the tub is sufficient), less digital and quiet internal reflection for a day, 2 days or 3 is perfect to balance things out in your mind, body and soul. A sample “Detox” day might look something like this:-

  • Wake up
  • Warm lemon and water
  • 15 minutes of light yoga and breathing
  • 15 minutes of inspirational reading and or journaling
  • Small bowl, gluten free porridge with cinnamon and 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Herbal tea (detoxing herbs like fennel, milk thistle and mint is good)
  • Mid morning snack  – Green juice (as above)
  • Lunch – homemade soup made with vegetable stock, courgettes, green beans, peas, brocolli and spinach, leave chunky
  • Afternoon snack – herbal tea, gluten free oat cakes with coconut oil and a couple dates
  • Dinner – steamed vegetables with brown rice, grilled chicken or tempeh and a dressing of tahini, lemon juice and tamari
  • Evening: No digital. Do some restorative yoga pr yin yoga or just some forward folds and twists with some breath work. Reflective journaling, Long, candlelit soak in the tub. Sleepy tea (at least an hour before bed)
  • In bed listen to Yoga Nidra or read something spiritual.

Repeat for 1 or 2 days after and you should be right back on track.

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Alexandra Carey is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT 200 Yoga Teacher, Nutritionist, Health Coach and owner of Carey Yoga + Nutrition and Aislinn Yoga Lodge. For more information on becoming a client. attending a yoga class, or collaborating as a health professional contact careyyogaandnutrition@gmail.com or call 0876861844.

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