Hi everyone, Dr. Junger here.
Shakes are one of the simplest ways to support your body’s natural ability to cleanse and detoxify. They’re also easy-to-make, taste great and are loaded with nutrition.
I love juice and encourage you to have it often, but nothing beats the versatility of the shake.
That’s why I’ve been incorporating them into the Clean Cleanse from the very beginning.
Today, I want to share with you 4 reasons why shakes are a great addition to your wellness toolbox, how to make them taste great, and my favorite ways to incorporate them into daily life.
1. Water + Nutrients + Fiber
Shakes are a simple way to get water, easily digestible nutrients, and fiber into your body all at once. The cell structure of the ingredients in a blended shake is broken down by the liquefying process, so the nutrients are more readily available to be digested.
This is especially beneficial in the morning, when many of us are dehydrated from a night of sleep. Since many people I know don’t like drinking water in the early morning, a shake is a simple and tasty way to get rehydrated.
Using a good protein powder in addition to fruits, leafy greens, healthy fats, and coconut or almond milk, your shake can give you the nutrients needed to to support your energy for hours.
For those who have trouble swallowing supplements, a shake is one way you can get the nutrition offered in nutrient supplements. Look for protein powders that include additional vitamins and minerals. Some patients of mine will even crush their supplement tablets or open their capsules and add them into their shakes. This is a great option if the supplement taste is not too strong or you can mask it with your other ingredients.
And while there has been debate that blending foods can oxidize some nutrients, this should not dissuade you from making shakes. All means of food preparation have both benefits and drawbacks for nutrients. Cooking makes available some nutrients and destroys others.
Oxidizing some nutrients in your shake does not outweigh its benefits especially when you add shakes into a clean lifestyle that includes salads, stews, soups, raw food, cooked food, and all the different ways to prepare whole foods. Diversity is the name of the game.
2. Digestive Rest
The next major benefit of the shake is the break or rest it gives to your digestive system. This is one of the reasons why shakes are such an important part of the Clean Cleanse.
The digestive system uses the most energy of any system in the body after the brain. When you eat food that is already partially “digested” by the blending process, your digestive system has less work to do. The energy that is not used for digestion is then freed up for repair and detox throughout the body.
That’s why I love to have a liquid meal for breakfast or for dinner, because in the morning it gives me the water and nutrients I need without feeling heavy, and in the evening, it’s so easy to digest I feel light before I go to bed.
3. Diversity of Ingredients
I have not found a simpler way to include a diversity of whole food ingredients into a diet than in a shake. From different fruits, leafy greens, herbs, and green powders, to healthy fats like coconut oil, red palm oil, and almond butter, to powerful protein shake mixes full of vitamins and minerals, you can literally make a unique shake everyday.
As our Director of Science and Research Deanna Minich has taught us, “it’s important to eat from all the colors of the rainbow.” And a daily shake can make eating each spectrum of color easier.
In one shake you could add wild blueberries, fresh ginger, a nut butter like almond or hemp seed, and a non-dairy milk like coconut or rice. In another you can focus on red and orange fruits like raspberries and peaches, then go green with some leafy greens or a green powder and a touch of avocado. Each different shake recipe will bring with it a unique profile of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
4. Great for Cleansing and Beyond
I often talk about shakes in the context of doing a 7-Day or 21-Day Cleanse. But shakes are useful during and after a cleanse.
Once you find some great shake recipes, you can use them any time you want to give your body a boost any time of the year
Here are a few of my favorite ways to use shakes:
- Daily breakfast shake: Research has shown that our food choices get worse throughout the day. One way to improve this situation is to start your day off clean with a nutrient-rich shake by itself or in addition to your breakfast. You’ll prime your body to desirer cleaner foods as the day goes on.
- Post-workout: Athletes and weightlifters have been using shakes for years after a workout to give their bodies the nutrients they need. We can take their advice and use a shake post-workout to replenish and recover. Tilt the shake towards more carbs after intense workouts when your body is more able to absorb sugar.
- Late afternoon snack: A major time for cravings is later afternoon. This is the when it can be hard to resist the cookies and candy a co-worker brought in. A late afternoon shake is a perfect time to give your body some much needed nutrition.
- Healthy Travel food: When you’re traveling, it’s not always easy to find clean food. Take a few shake mix packets and a shaker bottle with you for an easy travel food. Shake mix packets are especially useful on planes where it’s easy to get dehydrated.
- For weight loss: There is no magic bullet to weight loss. Each person’s weight loss program must to be tailored to their specific needs. Shakes can be integrated into weight loss programs as a simple tool to include more easily-digestible and nutrient-dense food into the diet. The added nutrients can help to reduce cravings and increase energy.
- For weight gain. For people who are underweight and looking to gain, eating more calories is a must. Shakes can act as a carrier for additional healthy calories and nutrients. Trying having shakes in-between meals to hit your daily nutrient needs.
- To get back on track. When I'm feeling off in my health or haven't been eating well, I use shakes to get me back on track. Shakes help rest your system after a long weekend or vacation and get you back into the habit of eating clean.
To your health,
Alejandro Junger, M.D.