Green Drinks for Maximum Nutrition, by Dr. Millie Lytle, ND, MPH, CNS
"You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency."
– Dr. Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner
One of the greatest nutritional impacts you can make on your health is to increase your daily intake of fresh green vegetables. In 2006, results of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey1 showed that 60% of the American population, including children2, were consuming under the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day1. On average, American children are eating about 80% of the recommended fruit servings per day (mostly in fruit juice), but only 25% of the recommended vegetable servings per day. Low intakes of fruits and vegetables, along with high intakes of total fat and saturated fat, are associated with inadequate amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber3. Vegetables contain healthy pigments that provide beneficial phytonutrients. Bright colors like green, red, orange, blue, brown, yellow, white and purple represent healthy components of those foods such as carotenoids, flavonoids, phytates, lignans and phenols.
Low green vegetable consumption is associated with heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, ADHD, osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, metabolic syndrome, sugar cravings, sexually transmitted diseases, small birth weight babies, periodontal disease, addictions, excess estrogen and more. Research shows that by increasing the intake of Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens and broccoli, one can reduce their risk of America’s biggest killer. Yes, eating more green veggies reduces the incidence of heart attack or stroke by a whopping 20%4. It is recommended that the American public focus on dark green and orange vegetables and legumes when increasing their intake of vegetables overall2.
While most people know they need to eat plenty of greens, the majority are not doing it. It is complicated for researchers to determine what makes some people eat more vegetables than others. One study5 examined the characteristics and dietary behaviors (e.g. consumption of fruits, vegetables, fast food) of 1,201 young adults who reported placing low, moderate, or high importance on healthy alternative food production practices. In this large study, half of the young adults placed moderate to high importance on healthy, alternative food production practices (such as local, biodynamic and organic farming options). Young adults who placed high importance on healthy alternative production practices consumed 1.3 more servings of fruits and vegetables, more dietary fiber, fewer added sugars, fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and less fat than those who placed low importance on these practices. Young adults who placed high importance on alternative food production practices also consumed breakfast approximately 1 more day per week, and consumed fast food half as often as those who placed low importance on these practices. Study findings suggest that nutrition messaging around social and environmental implications of food production practices may be well received by this age group. Experimental studies are needed to investigate whether attitudes toward alternative production practices can be manipulated to improve dietary quality.5
Population health research has shown that we need to eat 9 servings of vegetables per day in order to have a long and healthy life, free of chronic disease. It has also been suggested that upwards of 13 servings of fruits and veggies daily are required to obtain all essential nutrition from one’s food. Consuming high servings of vegetables seems unobtainable for many people for a variety of reasons including limited access, priority, affordability, cooking ability, preference, and convenience. When it comes to education, although many people know they should eat more vegetables, but they simply don’t or don’t know which vegetables are priority.
In the last few years, juicing and blending have become a trend, mostly because they allow you to consume a lot of fruits and veggies in one sitting. While both juicing and blending have their pros and cons, overall, blending is a better option. Both juicing and blending allow the consumer to increase their number of green vegetable servings, but with the exception of detox, blending is clearly the better option than juicing because the overall nutrition is enhanced with less sugar, and the entire vegetable is included in the mix. Juicing, which disposes of the fiber, requires more servings to create volume, therefore, while it increases nutrient levels, sugar levels tend to be higher than ideal for most people.
- High-fiber content is filling and has zero calories
- Promotes regularity
- Contains less sugar and has a lower glycemic index
- Provides enzymes to aid digestion
- Can be mixed with protein and fat to become a complete meal
- Overall vitamin level lower than fresh juice
- Requires a high powered blender in order to mix ingredients.
- Expense and availability of fresh organic produce
- Variety may be lacking
Green powders are popular because they solve a few difficulties involved with fresh juices and smoothies: 1) They provide 2-3 servings of concentrated green food per serving, 2) They include a combination of several vegetables and algae that might be unaffordable or unavailable to people, 3) They are freeze-dried for maximum freshness as well as longer shelf-life.
List of juiceable/blendable greens contained inside InVite’s Greens Hx®:
|Alfalfa Herb||Oregano Seed|
|Arugula||Organic Aloe Leaf|
|Broccoli Sprouts||Organic Green Tea|
|Fresh Herbs||Parsley Powder|
|Green Tea Leaf||Rosemary Herb|
Spirulina: Blue-green algae are used as a source of dietary protein, B-Vitamins, and iron. They are also used for weight loss, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hay-fever, diabetes, stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other women’s health issues6. Spirulina was shown to help type-2 diabetics manage their blood sugar levels. One small study observed that diabetics’ blood sugar improved over a two month period after taking the supplement. Spirulina supplementation also lowered serum triglyceride levels, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (“bad”) while increasing HDL cholesterol (“good”)7.
Organic Barley Grass Juice: The juice of barley grass contains beta carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, pantothenic acid, and folic acid. Minerals present include potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. Other constituents are chlorophyll, amino acids, protein, fiber, and enzymes. Cobalamin, or vitamin B12, deficiency may be avoided in vegetarian diets by supplementation with dehydrated barley grass juice. Barley leaf extract has antioxidant activity, meaning it has the ability to scavenge free radicals and reduce inflammation. It is used for cancer prevention by protecting human tissue cells against carcinogens. It has been suggested that complexes may be formed between the carcinogen and the chlorophyll that may inactivate the carcinogen. In addition, antioxidants, including superoxide dismutase, found in high concentrations in green barley juice protect against radiation and free radicals. Cholesterol-lowering effects have been attributed to the beta-sitosterol components, in part. Many claims have been made regarding thehealth benefits of barley grass supplements including treatment of HIV infection, detoxification of pollutants, and boosting energy and immunity8.
Chlorella Cracked Cell Powder: Cracking the cell wall is important to release the nutrients and to avoid unnecessary chemicals used in the processing. There are so many unique health benefits for chlorella because it is a good source of protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals. As a medicine, chlorella is used for preventing cancer, reducing radiation treatment side effects, stimulating the immune system, improving response to flu vaccine, increasing white blood cell counts especially in people with HIV or cancer), preventing colds, protecting the body against toxic metals such as lead and mercury, and slowing the aging process. Chlorella is also used to increase "good" bacteria in the intestine in order to improve digestion, and to help treat ulcers, ulcerative colitis,Crohn'sdisease, and diverticulosis. Some people also use chlorella for the prevention of stress-related ulcers, treatment of constipation, bad breath, and hypertension. It can also be used as an antioxidant, to reduce cholesterol, to increase energy, to detoxify the body, relieve premenstrual syndrome(PMS), reduce asthma attacks, and as a source of magnesium to promote mental health. It is also used for fibromyalgia. Chlorella is applied to the skin for treating skin ulcers, rashes caused by radiation treatment, and a sexually transmitted disease called trichomoniasis9.
Wheat Grass Juice Powder has a concentrated source of nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, and Amino Acids.Wheatgrass is used for increasing production of hemoglobin, the chemical in red blood cells that carries oxygen. This helps improve blood sugar disorders such as diabetes, prevent tooth decay, improve wound healing, and prevent bacterial infections. It is also used for removing deposits of drugs, heavy metals, and cancer-causing agents from the body, as well as for removing toxins from the liver and blood. Some people use wheatgrass for preventing gray hair, reducing high blood pressure, improving digestion, and lowering cholesterol by blocking its absorption. Wheatgrass is also used to treat various disorders of the urinary tract including infection of the bladder, urethra, and prostate; benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH); kidney stones; and in "irrigation therapy," the use of a mild diuretic along with lots of fluids to increase urine flow. Other uses include treatment of respiratory tract complaints, including the common cold, cough, bronchitis, fever, and sore throat; tendency toward infection; gout; liver disorders; ulcerative colitis; joint pain; and chronic skin problems. Wheatgrass is used for cancer and arthritis in alternative treatment programs. Wheatgrass contains a lot of chlorophyll, the chemical in plants that makes them green and also allows them to make energy from sunlight through photosynthesis. Some people think chlorophyll may have the ability to fight cancer and arthritis10.
Aloe Vera Leaf Powder has a long history of household and traditional use. It is a popular herb used in traditional Indian medicine for constipation, colic, skin diseases, worm infestation, and infections. It is also used on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago for high blood pressure and among Mexican Americans for the treatment of type-2 diabetes mellitus (DM). In Traditional Chinese medicine, it is often recommended in the treatment of internal fungal diseases. Here is the West, where home remedies are rare, Aloe vera continues to one of the few herbal medicines in common usage. It has found widespread use in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries as well. The therapeutic benefits for the topical and oral application of Aloe vera cover a wide range of conditions, with the following being studied in clinical investigation: skin conditions, management of burn and wound healing, constipation, DM, and gastrointestinal disorders.6
While scientific research has not decided if it is actually possible to acquire all our essential vitamins and minerals from our diet, maximizing the mineral-rich nutritional content of your diet by including sea vegetables such as Spirulina, Chlorella, Kelp and sprouted cereal grasses is definitely a good idea for your overall health. If it is indeed possible to eat 13 servings of fruits and veggies on a daily basis, blending freeze-dried veggies with fresh fruits and veggies is a great option. If you are diabetic, be aware of how much fruit juice and servings of fruit you’re consuming at once. Make sure you are blending a maximum of 2 servings at a time, and go for blended veggies more than fruits. If you are relying on juice for your fruit, then realize 1/3 cup is a serving, or 2.5 ounces, rather than 8 ounces that people generally consider a serving of juice.
- 1 serving fruit = ½ cup raw, 1 small fruit, ½ large fruit or ¼ cup of cooked/stewed fruit
- 1 serving vegetables = 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked
- J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Sep;106(9):1371-9. Most Americans eat much less than recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Guenther PM, Dodd KW, Reedy J, Krebs-Smith SM. 2006 Sep;106(9):1371-9.
- J Am BMC Public Health. Watch me grow: a garden-based pilot intervention to increase vegetable and fruit intake in preschoolers. Namenek Brouwer RJ, Benjamin Neelon SE. 2013 Apr 18;13:363.
- Coll Nutr. Fruit and vegetable intake in young children. Dennison BA, Rockwell HL, Baker SL. 1998 Aug;17(4):371-8.
- Ugeskr Laeger. [Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of ischemic heart disease]. 2005 Jun 20;167(25-31):2742-7.
- J Acad Nutr Diet. Positive attitudes toward organic, local, and sustainable foods are associated with higher dietary quality among young adults. Pelletier JE, Laska MN, Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M. 2013 Jan;113(1):127-32.
- Parikh P, Mani U, Iyer U.Role of Spirulina in the Control of Glycemia and Lipidemia in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. J Med Food. 2001 Winter;4(4):193-199.
- Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Chapter 3: Evaluation of the Nutritional and Metabolic Effects of Aloe vera. Meika Foster, Duncan Hunter, and Samir Samman.