Smoothies? Or Roughies?

My question is about green smoothies. As you know, they are all the rage now and the concept is pretty appealing. BUT as vata, with all the “fun” digestive issues that entails, I have wondered if they are something to embrace or avoid.
1. They are cold. 2. They are raw. Got a take on this?
– Karen, South Carolina

Awesome question. Okay, raise your hands if you’ve heard of incorporating green veggie smoothies for good vitamins, good energy, good veggies, and good digestion. Alright, now leave your hands up if you’ve eaten green smoothies as part of your daily meals/snacks. Now, leave your hands up if you are drinking these smoothies during the fall, vata season. Those of you with your hands up will definitely want to read the below.
We already know vata’s qualities are cold, dry, light, mobile and rough. Therefore, vatas need to keep warm, unctuous (oily/moist), heavy, static, and smooth to stay balanced. A reminder that in Ayurveda, like increases like, while opposites balance. The other fact about vata is their digestive fire is variable and during vata season, it tends to be very weak. If digestive fire is weak, they have a hard time digesting their food which can result in constipation, bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, even headaches!
In the case of smoothies, raw green veggies and usually a raw apple are blended to create a smooth, liquidy, green drink packed with nutrients. Which is totally true! Nutrients there are. But let’s look at the rest of it. Raw veggies are cold, dry, light and rough. ALL vata! Remember, like increases like? These smoothies are likely going to rough up a vata person’s insides instead of making them flow smoothly. Vatas need a real smoothie, like ghee or oatmeal or something smooth in texture. Raw veggies are actually very rough on the digestive system and Ayurveda does not promote raw foods. Bottom line, if you are a vata, raw veggies and even some raw fruits (apples & pears) are going to hamper your digestion especially during the fall and winter. There is no heat in nature and there is no heat in the food, therefore there is not much agni (fire!) in our bodies or in the nature around us to help digestion. Because our bodies are influenced by nature, this double whammy will leave us puffy-bellied, gassy, and even crampy.
If you have digestive issues definitely avoid smoothies in fall and winter. You can try them again in summer when it’s warm outside and if your digestion can handle the raw veg then, fine. But if not, don’t be sad. It’s not the end of the world. Just throw your smoothie into a pot and call it soup. You’ll still be cool in my eyes. :)

12 Responses to Smoothies? Or Roughies?

  1. Jess says:

    I was searching ‘smoothies’ on your blog after having a smoothie this afternoon. The vata side of me was worrying whether or not it was a good choice. However, this one didn’t have raw veggies at all. In fact, it had all vata-pacifying ingredients but I do worry that they were all too heavy for my digestion. It was with strawberries, avocado, coconut milk, and a date.

    • Monica says:

      Smoothies are OK if you have strong agni and/or if it’s an afternoon snack and/or if it’s warm outside. This one sounds amaaaaaazing and Ok for vata in summer too! The strawberries are astringent and cooling (they absorb water) so they would not be a great choice in winter. But duh, strawberries don’t grow in winter either…so there’s that. Nature is always taking care of us ;)

      • Jess says:

        Thanks Monica! I did have another question though that doesn’t seem to be addressed much in Ayurveda, though I can understand why and you’ll see in a moment…What would ayurveda say about protein/smoothie powders? You see, I use them sometimes but don’t like to because they are highly concentrated and not a whole food. There are some that do include “whole foods” but again, they are powdered and I imagine these will all imbalance vata. I do use them sometimes, however, to boost up the calories of drinks and such. Plus, some have enzymes, vitamins, minerals, etc. What do you think?

  2. Anon says:

    Hi Monica!

    I’ve been following your website for a while and have learned so much! So thanks for all the time and thought you put into this. I was wondering if you could do a post on what to do if you are a vatta having trouble with constipation and headaches. This has been an issue for me for a long time, and I just can’t seem to change it, although I am pretty good about keeping up all-around healthy habits. I’d love to hear your advice for this type of situation whenver you might have the time to respond. Thanks!!!

    • Monica says:

      Hi Anon! I’m so glad you are learning! I will absolutely answer your question. It’s an important one and the most interesting thing is that headaches and constipation are linked. I’ll explain in the post. Thanks for the question! xoxo

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks Monica…that’s funny that johnnyhead was asking the same thing. I need to do some more experimenting. The old agni is for sure not very strong. I think I’ll see what happens when I cut out all uncooked food.
    I did a 5 day kitcheri cleanse & it was very nice. However, I still didn’t poop much (TMI), but I was eating raw fruit between meals (like apples). I’m gonna try again without the fruit.

    Later!

    • Monica says:

      Hey Sarah! I know right?! I love that too because that means you guys are learning how to apply this stuff – awesome! Did you drink enough water during your cleanse? Fruit between kitchari meals is ok – shouldn’t have constipated you that much. However, next time try juicy and sour fruits like grapefruit or oranges. Banana would be ok too. Gator!!

  4. Sarah says:

    Hi Monica!
    Are there spices & seasonings that can help with the digestion of raw fruits & veggies?

    It has been very counterintuitive for me to stop eating uncooked fruits & vegetables in the fall & winter. I feel like I’m seriously missing out on nutrients & enzymes (it’s hard-coded in me & a hard habit to break). Like what do you think about having that occasional green smoothie or juice but throwing in some ginger & cinnamon or cardamom….would that help?

    Thanks so much! Love you!

    • Monica says:

      Hi Sarah! Love and miss you! Let’s catch up soon :) Yes! As you can see from Johnnyhead’s question, he uses fresh ginger in his smoothies which help aid digestion. The other thing, could you partially steam the veggies (depending on what they are) before blending AND add the ginger? Steaming doesn’t strip nutrients too much. The problem happens when we boil something like broccoli until it’s lost it’s green color and then dump out the water. Euu…just the thought of cold soggy broccoli makes me so sad. Does that help?! I mean, if you are digesting them your agni is probably strong enough! But if there is constipation, headaches, anxiety, acid reflux, gas, bloating, etc., it could be the smoothies are too roughie ;) xoxo

  5. johnnyhead says:

    NO wait. I’m not a Vata got my dosha mixed y’all I’m definately pitta so is that why I can deal with the cold veggies in the a.m. with ginger?

    • Monica says:

      Hi Johnnyhead! Great questions. If you add ginger to the mix, ginger helps digestion considerably! And you are correct in thinking that ginger adds heat – nice job and way to use your tools! Yes, you are a mix of vata and pitta. However, you also have strong digestion/agni of a pitta, so you will fare much better than those who have weaker agni or vata digestion. Basic rule of thumb in Ayurveda…one size does not fit all. If you have smoothies and you are pooping, not bloated or gassy, and you feel good, then keep doing that. If you get to a point where your guts feel a gassy vata imbalance OR if you suddenly get a bitter taste in your mouth (a pitta friend of mine had that happen after having too many smoothies) lay off for a while. Does that help? Thanks for your insightful question!!! xoxo

  6. johnnyhead says:

    as a total dry light rough Vata – I’m wondering what if you ad a raw hot item like ginger to a smoothie? I usually drink carrot juice mixed with ginger which makes it spicier. Is this creating the same fire as say oatmeal?

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