When did we all start losing our chops for food and think everything was a drink? Look at the way a lot of popular are consuming food now and you’d be forgiven for thinking we were all on fluid only diets.
This obsession with juices and smoothies, Nutri-bullets and blenders, may have started as an attempt to be healthy but it’s actually so anti-health and the opposite of what a good diet should be, that it’s a huge concern.
We were given teeth for a reason – to chew.
When a client comes to me and asks if, instead of eating a salad, can he just blend it all and turn it into a drink, my response is always, a firm No. The retort is that it’s easier, more convenient and fast. This is the new fast food and it’s about as nutritionally poor as the more famous versions.
As soon as you grind fibrous food into minute particles, the fibre is essentially rendered useless. When you’re drinking food, you’re playing havoc with your insulin levels and you may think you’re consuming fibre-rich plant foods but the fibre has been ground to such tiny pieces that it no longer works in the way that fibre should. The fibre in fact has already been digested by the time it reaches your gut. There’s nothing left to add to or benefit the gut and it doesn’t even act like fibre anymore. You’re also likely to guzzle a smoothie, consuming it much more quickly than you would if you were chewing all of that celery, spinach, cucumber and parsley, explaining the massive spike it causes in insulin levels.
Food was meant to be chewed, savoured, enjoyed.
Fibre plays a really important role in digestion. Give it a chance. If you grind it all up, you’re depriving your digestive system of this wondrous, most crucial superfood.
Fibre is so integral to good health and so tragically ignored in most western diets. We can’t do without it and need at least twice as much than most of us are consuming. It’s a wonder food, a super food and I absolutely love it. I can’t praise it enough in fact. It’s just as important for children as it is for adults of all ages.
I’m amazed at how little fibre people eat because it very quickly causes a whole range of issues. Poor digestion, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, diverticulitis, dysbiosis, bowel cancer and overweight and obesity are all linked to low fibre levels in the diet.
But most Australians consume, at best, 15g of fibre a day when the recommended dosage is 25g+. If you do your sums, that means a lot more plant foods than you are probably consuming. I always recommend clients include at least five plant foods with every single meal. Fill the plate with beautiful greens, throw in some raw nuts, seeds, avocado and you’re starting to get somewhere.
Tips such as leaving the skin on your vegetables will help because that’s where the insoluble fibre lives and it’s a great gift to your digestive system. Soluble fibre is also crucial, helping to lower LDL, or bad, cholesterol and it acts as bulk.
You’ll know when you’ve eaten fibre because that’s what keeps hunger at bay and your skin will probably start to glow from being completely uncongested. Fibre is known to help eliminate toxins and kill off the bad bugs that impede health in so many ways. None of us want to retain waste matter. Fibre acts as a type of sweeping system internally.
Insoluble fibre also slows down the digestive process, forming a gel like substance in the stomach, reducing the amount of time it takes for food to travel from the stomach through the rest of the digestive organs. It’s also very important in preventing constipation and weight gain.
Vegetables are the perfect package of insoluble and soluble fibre and our body badly needs a lot of fibre. I’m amazed by what people eat when they embark on my program but once they start adding in the right foods, the results can come very quickly. Well, that’s as soon as recovery happens after the melt down that takes place in the gut. The sudden arrival of all these glorious, fibre rich foods can be a shock to the gut for a few days because there aren’t enough friendly bacteria already inhabiting the gut. The body can adapt once it’s being fed fibre and an influx of good bugs but going from 5g of fibre a day, which is about the amount most people consume, to 40g will be too much of a shock so we aim to introduce the fibre-rich foods more gradually.
There are a range of guides on how much fibre we all need but I tend to suggest that at least 25g a day is a healthy level for men and women. A National Library of Medicine Study from 2009 found that Americans consumed less than half the recommended levels of fibre a day but the benefits from the right levels of the nutrient were so far-reaching. Aside from the benefits already mentioned, fibre also lowers blood pressure, risk of stroke, duodenal ulcers, reflux, glycemia and hemorrhoids. Having more beneficial gut bacteria boosts immunity.
It’s going to help a lot by not drinking your food. Smoothies and juice are not, in any way, an advisable fast food or even a slow food. Chew up everyone. And remember to take 20-30 minutes to complete a meal. What’s the rush? It takes time to purchase the food, think about how to prepare it and then cook it so why not give it the credit it deserves and slow down its consumption.