Power With Greens!

Does a nutrient blast to your system sound good? What about increased energy, clearer mental focus, and improved sleep? These are a few of the numerous health benefits associated with green juices. Since starting on my own “green juice” journey, I have experienced similar amazing health benefits, which I’ll share with you.

What is a Green Drink?
A green drink is a vegetable juice, made from fresh, optimally ripe vegetables. The base of such a juice is usually a leafy green, such as spinach, giving the juice a vibrant green colour, and hence, its name. There’s no hard-and-fast recipe to produce a “real” green juice, which makes it simpler if you are making these yourself, as there isn’t a strict list of must-have ingredients. Ingredients are also selected based on outcome (for instance, if you’d like to start a greens-based liver detox, you would add different ingredients, like beet and spinach, to your green drink, than you would if you were interested in an anti-inflammatory boost for arthritis or stiff joints, where pineapple would figure more prominently).

Health Benefits of Greens
The best way to describe what a green juice does to your body is a “nutrient blast” to your cells. Individual nutrients in their natural chemical form (not lab synthesized, as is the case with the nutrients in the majority of standard multivitamins available) have higher absorption potential, since these nutrients are often found in their activated (think ?ready-to-use?) form. Additionally, with a green drink boosting our day’s vegetable intake several-fold, there is the added bonus of excess nutrients flooding the body. A fresh green drink is also loaded with plant enzymes, aiding in digestion (think digestive enzymes, many of which have plant origins).

Higher intakes of fresh vegetables on a daily basis, research shows, leads to reduced risk of chronic disease, including cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

Do I need a juicer?
No, you don’t. Although the name “green juice” might imply the mandatory use of a juicer, I don’t personally use one, and don’t necessarily recommend the sole use of a juicer over a blender for certain juice blends. For a basic green juice, a juicer will extract the liquid and leave the fibre behind. However, a good-quality blender will blend this fibre into the drink, until it is imperceptible (if you are noting fibre in your drink, you may need to sharpen your blender’s blade, or purchase a higher performance blender). The benefit of fibre in the drink improves bowel function and regularity, as well as assists in blood sugar balance (even if You’re not diabetic).

How do I make a green drink?
Probably the simplest green drink to make is that of spinach + water. Spinach is the mildest-tasting of all greens, and this mild flavour is also imparted to the juice. However, you may want to add a handful of berries or mango (fresh or frozen), or a small serving of orange juice to the mixture if you wish to liven the taste up a bit. A green drink is a very adaptable item; you can mix and match whichever greens and whatever fruits you like, depending on your tastes. Some prefer a banana undertone (add ½ banana to the mixture); others prefer a “greener” taste and toss in a part of lettuce, or broccoli (although certain flavours, like broccoli, tend to exhibit flavour override), or kale (imparts a gentle sour-bitter taste to the shake), beet greens, or ¼ raw beet, cut into small chunks. I recommend the use of organic greens since certain greens (spinach, for instance) have been noted to contain higher levels of pesticides and herbicides.

A note regarding dry “greens” powders vs fresh green juices: the greens powders, depending on the company of origin, have the capacity for health benefits. I use the powder when traveling, since it eliminates my need for blender and grocery stores! However, when at home, I prefer the fresh juices since the nutrient content is higher, with the additional naturally occurring enzymes (the powdered greens contain digestive enzymes, but these are added to the mixture after the fact).

No Time?
No worries! Powering your body with green fuel in the morning doesn’t need to be laborious. My morning’s green “power shakes” actually take 3 minutes to complete. It’s as simple as dropping a handful of spinach or other greens into a blender, adding water and berries (note that the latter is optional), and blitzing with the blender. In my opinion, It’s a minimal time expenditure, with maximum returns.

Try two weeks of daily green drinks; you will be pleasantly surprised to notice positive changes in energy, skin health, and possibly sleep. I can truly say I was fascinated at the results in my own life.

Katie D?souza is an AU graduate and a licensed naturopathic doctor. She currently practices in Ontario.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for personal interest only; it is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Readers are always encouraged to seek the professional advice of a licensed physician or qualified health care practitioner for personal health or medical conditions.

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