The Ultimate Brain Boosting, Gut Health Smoothie Recipe
Vegetables for Breakfast?
We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? However, there’s one caveat that your mom or doctor may have forgot to mention: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day… to not f$%k up!
Breakfast cereal was invented by Seventh-day Adventist named John Harvey Kellogg in the late 19th century. Prior to that there was no such thing as “breakfast food”, it was simply known as… FOOD. Like leftovers from the day before or fresh eggs laid by backyard hens that morning.
Clever marketing efforts designed to benefit select few interested parties wildly succeeded at convincing the American population that starting the day off with processed carbs and sugar was the cool thing to do. And as these things typically go – the overall public health suffered.
Aside from the dilemma of what to eat for your first morning meal, many struggle to even find the time to eat. Intermittent fasting is a popular strategy that has proven to be effective for some, but it’s not for everyone. When dealing with underlying blood sugar or hormone imbalances that affect brain function and mood, our recommendation is to NOT skip breakfast until metabolism has been stabilized and vital reserve has been fortified.
All of us fast every day while we sleep, but the danger in extending the fast for 14 - 18 hours without sufficient metabolic flexibility can be an unintended drop-off in fuel supply to the body and brain. The result can be a blood-sugar or stress-hormone roller coaster, “hangry” mood swings, and productivity-zapping brain fog. Prolonged caloric restriction can also increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies and metabolic consequences.
So, until then, what’s a cool cat to do? Bear with me while I explain why a daily green smoothie may just be the ticket to stable blood sugar, better brain function, and improved body composition. As we always teach, getting to the root cause eliminates the need to chase and cover up symptoms.
Macronutrient & Food Sensitivity Concerns
We’re all familiar with the 3 macronutrients – carbs, protein, and fat. Every diet attempts to address, in one way or another, the balance of these 3 macros. And we’re all familiar with micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. And then we get into things like probiotics and prebiotics. Still with me? Thought so ;-).
How about this one: post-biotics? Heard of those? I’d wager many of you have not.
At the risk of allowing my chemistry-geek self run away on wildly fascinating (to me, haha) tangents, I’ll share our Ultimate Brain Boosting, Gut Health Smoothie Recipe first and then will take the time to explain what these “postbiotics” are, where they come from, and WHY you NEED them.
The bulk of this smoothie consists of vegetables, because vegetable diversity translates directly to microbial diversity in the gut. Typical and familiar smoothie ingredients, such as fruit, milk, ice cream, dairy yogurt, and honey, all appease our taste buds but do us no favors in terms of health benefits. In fact, they can even contribute to gut dysbiosis, inflammation, and a river of symptoms flowing downstream of that.
Even an allegedly healthy “Brain-Boosting Smoothie” recipe like this one from Dr. Oz contains known immunogenic items like cow's milk dairy and wheat, phytoestrogenic flax seeds, only one vegetable, and loads of high-sugar fruit juice. This is fine for palatability, but the skewed macro- and micro-nutrient ratios still miss the mark if the goal is gut and brain health, reduction of inflammation, and favorable body composition.
Sorry Mehmet, but we can do better 😉
Our Ultimate Gut & Brain Smoothie Recipe
While the selection of included items in this recipe is an exact science, which specific ingredients and amounts you choose are suggestions that can be modified to taste and consistency. As with many of our other recipes, we offer a variety of choices and encourage our clients and readers to build the recipe that works for them.
The essential macronutrient balance of this smoothie maintains a 4-to-1 ratio of vegetables to fruit, low overall sugar content, and sufficient quantities of protein and fat. If you're working with time/budget constraints, the more crucial items are listed in bold.
Cut up veggies into small chunks, put into a high-powered blender, add the rest of ingredients, and blend!
We don't typically recommend adding ice because digestion can be compromised if the food or liquid is very cold. Refrigerated vegetables and approved liquids as well as frozen berries or fruits can create the familiar chilly smoothie taste if that's what you crave. Alternatively, you're welcome to blend it for a longer period of time to cook up a tasty warm soup.
Should you end up with extra smoothie, we recommend storing it in the fridge in a glass jar filled to the top and sealed. The size of jar will vary depending on how much you have left over, the important part is to leave as little room for air as possible.
Why a Vegetable-Diverse Diet is Essential
Now that we’ve got the recipe out of the way, let’s dive into the reasons behind all the ingredients. Why do you NEED to drink this smoothie; why is it worth the effort?
What you throw down the hatch matters for reasons deeper than just body composition. The gut microbiome is finally gaining recognition as a dynamic organ that influences everything from immunity to mood to energy levels to brain health and more. You can find some introductory info on the connection between gut and brain here in one of our previous articles.
In addition to all the vitamins and minerals that assist with various metabolic processes and the fats and proteins that build muscle tissue and feed the brain, the fiber-rich plants in this smoothie offer a critical fuel source for the microbes in the gut to produce something called short-chain fatty acids.
What’s the deal with short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and why have you never heard of them before? The microbiome that co-evolved to have a symbiotic relationship with a human body is a never-ending research project. As new research comes out, understanding of our inner workings continues to grow. Functional medicine is always on the cutting edge of research to figure out the root cause of illnesses that plague the modern human. Read on to learn more.
Short Chain Fatty Acid (SCFA) Health Benefits
The three types of the aforementioned biotics are involved in an intimately balanced dynamic. It goes something like this:
It has been reported that hunter-gatherers consumed around 100 grams of indigestible plant fibers per day. Modern-day humans consume an average of only 10-20 grams of plant fibers which leads to starvation of our little microbial friends, gut dysbiosis and inflammation, and greatly reduced production of SCFAs. Inflammation in the GI tract can cause harm in a variety of ways such as leaky gut, Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Autoimmunity, not to mention Anxiety and various other mood disorders.
SCFAs serve a number of roles in making our engines run smoothly.
New research is continuing to corroborate benefits of high-fiber diet and the importance of SCFAs on human health. If you've been taking loads of supplements and are still sick, increasing microbiome diversity through targeted probiotics and prebiotics to activate and produce postbiotic compounds can be a game-changer. Suffice it to say, when your grandma told you to eat your vegetables - she was right. 😉
Special Considerations for SIBO
It is our goal to provide you with the most relevant and helpful information to boost your health. To to that end, we feel obligated to add a disclaimer to our bad-a$$ smoothie recipe.
Should you find yourself experiencing bloating or abdominal distension after consuming high-fructan and high-starch foods, you may have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: a condition in which bacteria that aren't inherently harmful migrate into the small intestine where they don't belong.
At its root, SIBO is caused by loss of tone in the ileocecal valve due to consumption of inflammatory foods. The valve is what keeps the microbes from roaming free between the large and small intestines, so when the gate loosens, opportunistic bacteria colonize the small intestine where they then ferment starchy foods, producing excessive gas which can feel painful and make you look bloated.
Smoothie Veggies and fruits to avoid with SIBO: brussel sprouts, mangos, peaches, cabbages, beets, green peppers, lettuces, apples, blackberries, cherries, other sweet fruits and honey.
Safe fruits and veggies with SIBO: bok choy, chards, cucumbers, rutabagas, squashes, zucchinis, radishes, carrots, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, lemons, grapefruits.
When chronic SIBO is suspected, breath-testing the exact quantities of gases like hydrogen and methane with functional lab testing is something we offer our clients when needed. Tracking symptoms and eliminating foods are a great place to start to determine the need for this type of testing. Until your condition is treated, SCFA supplements can be crucial because starchy vegetables should not be consumed.
Efficiency in everything we do is a priority for us here at Anabolic Aces. This smoothie recipe is a perfect example of that. In one simple process you can blend (quite literally) a wide variety of nutrient-dense plants, healthy fats, and satiating proteins for a complete meal ready in minutes. Bam! A rich serving of vitamins, minerals, macros, and optional immune boosters coming your way, customized to your palate.
If you need more dedicated help to overcome your chronic gut issues, read more here about the advanced Gut Health and Microbiome DNA Testing we offer. It's hard to overstate the the power of matching your personal gut test results to a customized lifestyle and supplement protocol to speed the healing of your gut and brain.
Enjoy this recipe and please share your version of the smoothie in the comments below!