- Alyssa Abrahamson
Health Hack: Chew Your Smoothie
I reckon you enjoy a smoothie from time to time?
There are some fabulous benefits to drinking your greens (hopefully your smoothie includes greens!) and I imagine you feel proud of your decision to enjoy a smoothie as part of your healthy lifestyle.
But, guess what? You just might be missing out on some of the nutritional benefits of your produce-packed potion!
How can that be, you ask! Well, because I’m pretty sure you’re not chewing your smoothies!
What?! How? Why?
Of all the seemingly far-out nutrition and eating recommendations out there, how about this one:
Don’t drink your smoothies. Chew them instead!
You might think that because your smoothie is pureed, you do not need to chew it. But smoothies are no different than solid food when it comes to digestion.
When you chew, you send signals to your brain to activate an essential part of the digestive process: adequate production of saliva.
What’s so important about saliva in relation to digestion?
Saliva contains an enzyme called amylase, which is essential in breaking down food and integral to the digestive process.
More specifically, amylase breaks down carbohydrates -- those fruits and veggies in your smoothie.
Chewing your smoothie alerts your brain that food is here. Salivary amylase is secreted, and attaches to your food, thus supporting your body in digestion, and the absorption and assimilation of nutrients.
But wait! There’s more! The signals sent to your brain when you chew also notifies the pancreas and stomach to begin to secrete the digestive juices and enzymes, even before you’ve actually eaten.
It’s kind like when you think about the delicious tacos you’re going to eat tonight and you start to salivate. It’s your brain’s way of getting your gut ready for food.
Okay, but chewing your smoothie is weird!
I hear you!
How in the heck do I chew a smoothie to make sure I absorb all those nutrients?
Take a few deep breaths before you take your first sip to get yourself in a calm, parasympathetic “rest and digest” state. Digestion begins in the brain, folks!
Take a sip of your smoothie.
Move your teeth in a chewing motion multiple times.
One thing that I do to make it easier to chew my smoothie is by (enjoying a smoothie bowl with) adding toppings like unsweetened coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, cacao nibs.
Chewing: it does a body good.
Bottom line, when you don’t chew your food thoroughly or you drink your food, as with a smoothie, you do not trigger the secretion of amylase and those other essential gastric juices.
This puts stress on your body causing it to work harder to produce more stomach acid.
And to review: without the presence of proper stomach acid, your food will not be properly broken down and you will not absorb the nutrients in your food, which can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
Bonus: chewing can help you feel more satisfied after eating, which helps with appetite and maintaining a balanced weight.
Chewing: a simple step to creating a healthier lifestyle and a healthier you!
Pro Tip: Match your smoothie to your dress! Click here for the recipe to my absolute favorite anti-inflammatory carrot, pineapple, ginger smoothie! Yum!