My New Year’s resolution is to share my knowledge of nutrition with addicts trying to heal their bodies. Opiates, stimulants, benzos, other drugs, and sustained high level stress can deregulate the endocrine system and contribute to inflammation in the body leading to weight gain or loss, slowed thyroid response, adrenal suppression, sex hormone suppression, fatigue, sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, blood pressure issues (high and low), and insulin resistance. The medical community approaches these issues with a whole host of prescription medications. Although I see the value of many of these medications, I have seen plant-based diets reverse coronary artery disease in my own practice and since the latest research shows that most chronic diseases are the result of inflammation, it makes sense to me that diets rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals can slow or reverse disease.
About 7 years ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. I was not overweight, ate fairly well, and walked 4-5 miles daily. I was started on a drug called Metformin for the diabetes and required three medications to control my blood pressure. I have a strong family history for both issues but I wanted off the medications. It was during this time that I saw my first personal patient reverse his heart disease with a vegan, whole food diet (please note the focus is WHOLE foods…a vegan diet could mean a white bread, hydrogenated peanut butter and full-sugar jelly sandwich and a Coke which is decidedly garbage). I was intrigued. I spent an entire year reading everything I could on whole food, plant-based diets. What I learned was amazing and I threw myself into it with gusto! Within 1 year, I lost 15 pounds (and freaking looked amazing), my skin glowed, my nails grew strong, my hair was thick, lush and I literally began to look much, much younger. People began to ask me if I had had cosmetic surgery! Everyone wanted to know my “secret.” More importantly, my diabetes essentially went away. I came off my medications for the blood sugar and with time was able to stop my blood pressure pills as well.
Then twoish years ago my personal life got really difficult…you guys have heard much of my story already. But as a result of the stress, I stopped adhering to my whole food, unprocessed diet. My opiate use picked up. My blood pressure issues returned, my blood sugar worsened again, my adrenal insufficiency started and then the thyroid tanked. I gained a lot of weight and felt like shit. When I decided to get off the opiates, I also decided to get back to my healing diet and exercise. I am already losing weight and have been able to eliminate one of my blood pressure medications again. My sex hormones are currently within normal range and my last blood sugar check was much improved. It takes time but this diet does help the body heal itself. I have no doubt that I will be able to be medication free by 2016.
Anyhow, I want to share what I do and why. I am hopeful this will help you heal too. Please feel free to ask questions if I am unclear.
Today I want to teach you about green smoothies. I have mentioned them before. I feel that adding green smoothies to your diet is hands down the single best thing you can do to improve your health. If you change nothing else and simply add green smoothies to your diet you will turn your health around. Why?
Because one quart of green smoothie daily contains 15 servings of raw, enzyme and nutrient rich greens and fruit which exceeds 150% of the US RDA of fruits and veggies in ONE serving!!! It is a fast, easy, and economical breakfast that allows you to eat a vast variety of greens. I regularly drink collards, kale, chard, spinach, romaine, celery, arugula, and beet greens in large amounts (a full quart of greens, fruit & almond milk) and I don’t have to spend an hour chewing the damned things. I also don’t have to drown them in unhealthy, chemical laden salad dressings full of things like cancer causing MSG or rancid oils to choke them down. I mean really…when was the last time you ate a plate full of raw collards??
Green smoothies are processed in powerful blenders that cream the greens and essentially pre-digest them for you. The blenders rupture the cell membranes of the plants extracting the good stuff for you so your body need not work very hard to digest it. The green smoothie is very high in fiber, enzymes (which are catalysts for body functions available only in raw foods), healthy fats, chlorophyll (which is literally energy from the sun that is the plant equivalent of hemoglobin in a human red blood cell), vitamins, minerals, protein, complex carbohydrate, and water.
Green smoothies are fast food. It takes me about 10 minutes to prepare, distribute, and clean up 3 quarts in the morning for my family. I purchase my ingredients from the local farmer’s market each Sunday. I clean them and place the greens & fruits in gallon freezer bags. Each morning I simply dump the contents of the bag into the blender with almond milk, add stevia, flax or chia seed (every smoothie needs a little fat to help absorb the nutrients in the greens) and blend until perfectly smooth. I pour them into containers for each of us, pop in a straw, and we grab and go.
Green smoothies offer many benefits. The fiber will sweep your colon…constipation will be a thing of the past. You will find you sleep better, have more energy, lose weight, nails and hair will be strong & healthy, skin will be clear and literally glow, libido increases, blood sugar stabilizes and as such your cravings for sugar will vanish. The thing that blew me away was my craving for coffee completely disappeared within 2 weeks of drinking them daily. I just didn’t want it anymore…but I began to crave the smoothies. My son sits and waits impatiently for his smoothie each morning! It’s actually quite funny.
I buy my greens at the local farmer’s market for cheap. I freeze them to preserve their nutrients plus I don’t have to worry about them going bad. If I see salad stuff in my fridge starting to look wilted, I simply freeze it and add to smoothies! I buy large bags of frozen fruits at the local warehouse club. I also buy chia seeds and flax seeds in bulk.
You do need a powerful high-speed blender. I own a Vitamix. I also love the Blendtec. Both are very expensive but mine is many years old, is used daily, and still going strong. I just bought my daughter a Nutribullet so she can make green smoothies at college (she is sooo excited!!! As she loves them and misses them) and this small, powerful individual size blender is much less expensive and works well. Trust me that the expense is so very worth it.
The smoothies are delicious. My children, including a picky 9 year old boy, love them. They line up each morning to get their smoothie to drink on the way to school or work. My son’s favorite smoothie is what he calls his “Shrek shake.” It contains a mixture of almond milk, vanilla, spinach, avocado, flax, chia, and frozen bananas. He also likes his “island delight” which is coconut water, spinach, chard, bananas, chia, and frozen pineapples. He digs out his probiotic from the fridge while I make the smoothie.
Basic recipe is:
2- 3 cups of vanilla or plain unsweetened almond milk or water or coconut water
2-5 cups of greens
1 TBS chia, flax or ½ avocado
1 tsp stevia (or more to taste)
1-2 frozen bananas
1-2 cups other frozen fruits (I like to use mixed berries as this makes the smoothie a pretty purple color)
This makes about 8 cups of raw, smoothie goodness!
Have fun with this folks. This is hands down the very best use of your time to help improve your overall health and help your body recuperate from what the drugs have done to your system. If you are looking for a book to follow, I recommend Robin Openshaw’s “The Green Smoothie Diet.” She also has a program called 12 Steps to Whole Foods which was a life changing course for my family.
Tomorrow I will discuss why raw salads should be a daily part of your lunch. Hope this will be helpful and fun for you all. I am doing well and feeling better and stronger each and every day. Love to you.