Which is Better: Smoothies or Juices?

 

This is a confusing question, isn’t it? For instance, smoothies have been around for a long time, but we keep hearing about how many of them are unhealthy because they are high in sugar.

 

Juices, on the other hand, are newer to the health scene. Stores dedicated to juicing are opening and it seems like a new juicing health revolution is starting. Have you seen the film Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead that is all about one man’s journey across the US drinking only fresh juice?

 

But then we hear about how juicing is ALSO high in sugar AND is missing all the fiber found in the whole foods used to make the juice.

 

The advice to eat more fruits and vegetables is valid. So, are these drinks healthy or not?

 

The short answer is yes and no. Yes, they can be healthy, but not if too much fruit or sweeteners is included. Also, it’s important to use each at the right time of day, for the right purpose and in the right quantity.

 

Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of each. Then I explain how I use each of them in my own diet.

 

 

Smoothies
Pros:
  • Include the whole foods so they retain all the fiber. The fiber keeps you full and also slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream
  • Provide an opportunity to included sources of fat (such as avocado) and protein (such as hemp seeds or protein powder) making your smoothie a complete meal. Healthy fats and protein also slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream
  • Require only a blender, which is a common appliance in your kitchen

 

Cons:
  • Can be too high in sugar if too much fruit or sweeteners are used

 

 

Juices
Pros:
  • Removes all the fiber so that the nutrients in the fruits and vegetables are absorbed quickly by the body

 

Cons:
  • Can spike your blood sugar quickly since there is no fiber to slow absorption
  • Are not a complete meal since they don’t contain any protein, healthy fats or fiber
  • Require a specialized appliance that most kitchens don’t already have
  • Are expensive to purchase commercially

 

So, how do I use them?

 

I use smoothies as a complete breakfast. Some of my favourite ones that have a balance of macronutrients and are very low in sugar are:

Blissful Blueberry Smoothie

Supergreen Breakfast Smoothie

Strawberry Beet Smoothie

 

I use juices only when they do not contain fruit (except lemon or lime) and only on an empty stomach. This is so that the nutrients can be absorbed quickly into my body. Also, I use juice as a snack and don’t use it to replace a meal.

 

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to use these nutrient-rich beverages. If you would like some further ideas on how you can eat for energy and weight loss, I have 2 free recipe e-books to offer you.

5 Day Sugar-free Meal Plan and Guide

20-minute Blood Sugar Balancing Dinners

Lift Your Mood with These 5 Foods

 

We all agree that what you eat can affect how you feel, right?

 

Our mental and brain health are complex. And how the foods we eat impact us is complex too. While we don’t know all the mechanisms of how food and nutrition create change in our bodies, we do know some ways that food and specific nutrients impact our moods.

 

  • What we eat becomes the raw materials for our neurotransmitters (the biochemical messengers that allow our nerve cells to communicate – serotonin for example). Neurotransmitters are important not just for thinking and memory, but also for mental health.
  • What we eat affects our blood sugar. And having unstable blood sugar levels can negatively contribute to mood swings.
  • Some nutrient deficiencies can present as mental health problems. This includes deficiencies in B-vitamins, vitamin D, and the mineral selenium.

 

So, getting enough nutrients and antioxidants are key. They reduce inflammation and fuel the biochemical reactions in our bodies including those that create neurotransmitters. In fact, studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are the happiest.

 

But let’s not get overwhelmed and try to change everything at once!! Start by including this list of 5 foods and avoiding the 3 below and observe the difference in how you feel.

 

5 Foods to Eat

 

 

  1. BRAZIL NUTS: Selenium is an essential mineral for mental health. It is found in high quantities in Brazil nuts, walnuts, cod, and poultry. Try to add some of those to your weekly diet.
  2. PROTEIN: This is your body’s main supply of amino acids. Amino acids help your mood because they are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Protein also helps to regulate blood sugar. I recommend eating protein with every meal; this includes dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, poultry, and meat.
  3. SWEET POTATO: Complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and quinoa are great. They allow better absorption of key amino acids like tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by your body to make serotonin (your “happy hormone”) and melatonin (your “sleepy” hormone). So, if you want to relax, try these in the evening.
  4. FISH: Fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and algae oil) are mood-boosting. Omega-3s are “brain food” and may help to ease some

 

NOTE: One study showed that giving one multi-vitamin and one omega-3 fish oil tablet per day to prison inmates reduced the incidence of violent behavior by 35%!

 

 

  1. WATER: Make sure you’re hydrated. Mild dehydration can cause mood issues as well.

 

3 Foods to Avoid

 

  1. PROCESSED FOODS: You won’t be surprised to hear me say processed foods are mood-busters, right? One study suggests that eating a lot of processed foods devoid of nutrients can increase your chances of becoming depressed by as much as 60 percent! And don’t forget, sugar as an ingredient is processed, messes with your blood sugar and can worsen inflammation.

 

“But I like to eat processed foods!”

 

Yes, some of these mood busters can make you feel better temporarily. Some big food companies study how to maximize the “pleasure” centers with the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat. Not to mention the color, texture, and taste; they can light up our taste buds and make us feel good… for now.

 

 

  1. ALCOHOL: It is a nervous system depressant
  2. CAFFEINE: This can worsen anxious feelings and ability to sleep

 

Bottom Line

 

The foods we eat are intertwined with our mood. Bad moods can lead to bad eating habits. And vice versa, bad eating habits can lead to bad moods. The same holds true for good moods and good eating habits. So, stick to minimally processed nutrient-dense whole foods and start yourself on a positive upswing. Things like fresh fruit and vegetables (including leafy greens), nuts and seeds, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat.

 

And avoid common mood-busting foods like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. Those “feel good” junk foods, only make you feel good temporarily.

 

If you’re experiencing mood swings or irritability and are wondering if the foods you’re eating could be a factor, you may consider contacting a nutrition practitioner for help. Click here to book a free discovery call with Bonnie to discuss whether nutrition services could be right for you.

What’s Blood Sugar Got To Do With It?

 

Do you only think that blood sugar matters if you have been diagnosed with diabetes or metabolic syndrome??

 

Well, it actually matters to everyone, not just those with diabetes or inflammation. For example, do you struggle to maintain a healthy weight? Are you eating healthy and exercising, but still don’t have the energy you need to get things done? Then you’ll want to read on to learn more.

 

What is Blood Sugar?

 

Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. And you need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.

 

The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.

 

Your body works to balance it between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood.

 

When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body then keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin takes excess sugar out of your bloodstream and puts it into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy (or for storage if your body doesn’t need it right away).

 

Why Does Blood Sugar Level Matter?

 

Your body aims to keep your blood sugar at an optimal level. High enough, so you’re not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable and low enough that your body doesn’t require excess insulin to remove sugar from the blood.

 

Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels can lead to “insulin resistance.” This is when your cells are so tired of responding to insulin that they start ignoring (or resisting) it. In the long term, this ultimately this leads to diabetes.

 

 

What does all this have to do with weight loss and energy levels?

 

Well, when you eat excess sugars or refined starches, your blood sugar rises too much. The result is that your body overreacts with insulin. This causes the subsequent crash in energy (causing fatigue) and cravings (making weight loss challenging).

 

In this case, your cells aren’t getting the glucose they need at the rate they need it to sustain your hunger and keep up your energy levels. So, let’s look at nutrition and lifestyle factors that will help to keep your blood sugar stable so that you can achieve your goals.

 

Nutrition recommendations

 

 

REDUCE REFINED SUGARS AND STARCHES that you eat. You can start by eliminating sweet drinks and having smaller portions of dessert.

 

INCREASE FIBER to help slow the pace of sugar being absorbed from your meal (i.e. reduce the “spike” in your blood sugar). Fiber is found in plant-based foods (as long as they are eaten in their natural state since food processing removes fiber).  Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fiber intake.

 

CINNAMON has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar.

 

Want some inspiration? Sign up to receive my blood sugar balancing dinners recipe book here.

 

 

Lifestyle recommendations

 

EXERCISE also helps to improve your insulin sensitivity; this means that your cells don’t ignore insulin’s call to get excess sugar out of the blood.  Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood.

 

MANAGE STRESS because it also affects your blood sugar levels. If you think about the “fight or flight” stress response, what fuel do your brain and muscles need to “fight” or “flee”? Sugar! When you are stressed, your body uses cortisol to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels. This can lead to a similar spike and crash in blood sugar as eating refined starches causes! Simple tips to manage stress are meditation, deep breathing, or gentle movement.

 

GET ADEQUATE SLEEP since it goes hand-in-hand with stress. If you don’t get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is a crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority – it will do your blood sugar (and the rest of your physical and mental health) good.

 

 

Bottom Line

 

Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest to keep your blood sugar stable. The body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get tired (resistant).  Long-term blood sugar issues can spell trouble.

 

There are many nutrition and lifestyle factors you can use to help keep your blood sugar stable. Minimizing excessive carbs, eating more fiber, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar (and achieving your goals).

 

Not sure where to begin? That’s perfectly normal! Click here to book a FREE discovery call with Bonnie to learn more about how you can get the help you need.