New year, new you. Maybe you’ve decided that 2018 is the year you’re finally going to take your health seriously. So you signed up for a gym, revamped your diet, and are having a nice healthy smoothie for breakfast every morning. You packed that smoothie full of leafy greens and berries for antioxidants. Maybe you have some coconut milk in there to make sure you get healthy fats. You might add some nut butter for its protein content. Perhaps you even threw some greens powder or turmeric in there. Great job! Sounds like you’ve got a healthy breakfast that you can drink on the go. But have you ever thought about the way you drink your smoothie? Did you know that you’re supposed to chew it? Yes, you read that correctly. You’re supposed to chew your smoothies. Read on to find out why.
Why you should chew your smoothie
When you chew your food, this helps to prepare the gut for what’s coming. The action of chewing signals your brain to tell the stomach and intestines to release gastric juices. These gastric juices contain all-important enzymes, which are what help to break down and digest your food. When you are slurping down a smoothie, your stomach and intestines may not be told to release as many gastric juices or digestive enzymes. This can lead to numerous problems, which I’ll get into next.
What happens when you don’t chew your smoothie
When you don’t chew your smoothie, you might not be secreting enough gastric juices and enzymes. Since your body isn’t as effective at digesting when it doesn’t have those enzymes, you might experience some indigestion, bloating, or nausea. Also, if your food isn’t broken down into basic macronutrients, it won’t be absorbed in the intestines. This means you might not be getting the full nutrient potential from your smoothie. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having a nice, healthy smoothie for breakfast in the first place?
Does this apply to other drinks?
The bottom line is this: If you’re not chewing, you’re not releasing as many digestive enzymes. So if you’re drinking something like water or coffee, this doesn’t apply (because we don’t need enzymes for those). But if you’re having a protein shake as a meal replacement, then you need to chew, chew, chew! The same principle applies to soups. I’ve even heard people suggest you chew your juices. Even just swishing the liquid around in your mouth can help to signal for more release of digestive juices.
Can’t I just take a digestive enzyme pill?
The short answer is no. If you start to pop an enzyme pill every time you drink a smoothie, this could have negative consequences in the long run. If you keep giving your body digestive enzymes, it will start to think it doesn’t need to make any of its own anymore. This can lead to an enzyme insufficiency and symptoms like indigestion, bloating and nausea. I tell my patients with a known enzyme deficiency (e.g. lactose intolerance) to keep enzyme pills at home. They should only take them if they really can’t avoid the culprit food (e.g. lactose). Taking digestive enzymes daily is something that you definitely want to avoid.
If you have any questions about digestive health, that is the special focus of Dr. Corina Kibsey, ND. Click here to book your appointment with her today.
Image courtesy of:Joanna Kosinska