Green Smoothies For Healing And Wellness

Green Smoothies

 

As you may have read in my recent posts, I have been nursing a fractured hand after a bike accident over the 4th of July weekend.  In fact, yesterday was three weeks from the incident and I went to the doctor and was allowed to remove the splint permanently because the bone is healing well.  I still wrap it in an ace bandage when I’m going out or working in the kitchen and I will be doing some physical therapy to get full motion back, but overall I am very pleased with the progress, almost complete lack of pain, and level of mobilization.  So today I decided to write about the experience and how I’ve encouraged the process through nutrition, exercise, and stress management.

 

When the accident first happened, after the initial shock my first worry was what am I going to do until this injury is healed?  When I am not blogging or cooking, I am a pianist and that is how I make my living.  Almost more painful than the injury itself was the act of calling to cancel an untold number of performances within an indefinite recovery period (the end of which is still unknown).  As you can imagine, I spent the first few miserable days bummed out, depressed, and stressed out.  This was further aggravated by a roller-coaster of events in which the doctors first told me it was not broken, then called me later and said I should go back for another x-ray which ended up confirming that it was actually broken. 

 

The day after I had the second x-ray and understood the ramifications, I surrendered to what I could not change and decided to make the best of it.  Thankfully I could still teach, so I had not lost all my income.  I had been running a mad race lately, working like crazy and hoping for some time off, and well, now I had it.  There had been a time when I meditated daily and did yoga several times a week and it did wonders for my sense of wellbeing.  Now was the time to get back into it.  I was now working only 3-4 hours a day teaching and could not practice or do housework or cleaning (or cooking, initially), so I had the rest of the day to really center myself and just find peace.  I did a lot of reading, meditating, and sitting out in the sun on my patio with my herbs.  

 

Another thing I realized I needed to do was exercise, in order to feel better physically as well as emotionally.  Since I couldn’t ride my bike anymore, I started walking to the studio and out to run errands.  I am lucky I live in a city that is pedestrian friendly and everything I need is within a mile of my house.  It is such a pleasure to just get out and walk.  Especially this time of year, when everything is in bloom and there are flowers and green plants and trees everywhere.  We have become so dependent on our cars most of us don’t even consider walking somewhere anymore.  I believe we would be much healthier and happier on the whole, and much less stressed out, if we got out of our cars and walked more.

 

Before the accident, I had been going to yoga classes every week.  This is one of the things that I think helped my body’s initial response to the accident.  Weight-bearing exercise is very important for maintaining strong bones.  I believe my fracture could have been worse if I wasn’t in good shape – especially considering the amount of force with which I struck the ground.  And not only did I land on my hand, but I jammed my shoulder pretty good.  But after 4-5 days I started mobilizing my shoulder and within a week of the accident, I had full motion of my arm with almost no pain.  Not wanting to lose muscle tone, I decided to start doing an adapted version of my yoga routine.  I could still do all the standing poses, just not the downward dog.  I’ve read that exercise and increased circulation are very beneficial to bone healing, and it made me feel great, too.

 

Finally, the most important thing you can do when you are recovering from an illness or injury is get proper nutrition.  Just because I had limited ability to cook, no way was I going to stop eating healthy!  My husband was an immense help at mealtime.  But one of the things I started doing daily, in addition to juicing vegetables (which I had been doing before), was making green smoothies.  I had been reading other people’s blogs about how they were doing green smoothies for detoxing and energy, and I thought, what a great easy way to load up on antioxidants, vitamins & minerals for healing?  Green smoothies have a lot of the same functions as juicing vegetables while activating the digestive system and providing lots of fiber, preventing the sugar rush that can accompany juicing with the added benefit of colon cleansing.  There are lots of reasons to make green smoothies – to prevent disease & promote good health, improve your immune system, detoxify, increase energy levels – but here is how a green smoothie can help you heal a fracture.¹

 

1. Antioxidants

 

Raw leafy greens and fruits are loaded with antioxidants.  There are a couple of reasons why you want extra antioxidants when you have a fracture.  The first is that when you are getting multiple x-rays, the radiation causes your body to be bombared with free radicals, and more antioxidants than usual are required.  Not to mention that free radicals are generated by the damaged tissue.  Second, antioxidants play a role in combatting inflammation.  Raw antioxidant-rich foods also promote alkalinity, which has been shown to increase growth hormones to encourage new bone tissue formation.

 

2. Vitamin C

 

One antioxidant in particular, vitamin C, not only promotes bone collagen growth but also has very high anti-inflammatory properties.  This kind of anti-inflammatory vitamin is very helpful in relieving pain.  The first doctor who looked at my hand gave me 3 ibuprofen – I initially took two but swallowed the 3rd one after she protested.  I do not like to take pain relievers, even when I am in pain.  However I was in a lot of pain that day, so I agreed.  But after icing the injury for 24 hours, I was able to reduce the ibuprofen dosage to 400mg twice a day and after the 3rd day completely stopped.  The other doctors asked me what I was taking for the pain and were shocked when I said nothing.  Friends told me wow, you must have a high tolerance for pain.  But after the first 4 or 5 days, I really didn’t feel that much pain, especially when I was immobilized.  Later on I read that it is better if you do not take pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin after a fracture because they block these things called prostaglandins, which cause the pain and inflammation but are part of the healing process.  Natural vitamin antioxidants such as vitamin C do not block the prostaglandins but still reduce pain and inflammation.  Most fruits and leafy greens such as spinach and kale are high in vitamin C.

 

3. Vitamin K

 

Vitamin K, which is found in all the dark green leafy vegetables – kale, collards, spinach, etc. – is especially important to bone health.  This vitamin is an essential part of the biochemical process that binds calcium to bone and is used in bone protein formation.  When you have a fracture, the vitamin K in your blood all gets sent to the site of the injury to aid in healing, while the vitamin K level gets depleted through the rest of your body.  That’s why it’s important to replenish it often until your body is back in balance.  Vitamin K has natural blood-thinning properties and regulates the clotting function.  It is very good for circulation and improved blood flow.

 

4. Vitamin B6

 

Vitamin B6 modulates the effects of vitamin K on bone health.  Bananas are high in vitamin B6.  B vitamins, especially vitamin B6, help your body respond to stress and promote healing.

 

5. Calcium

 

Ah, finally, there it is.  I am sure that my mother is lying awake at night worrying that I am not getting enough calcium because I don’t drink milk.  But those same dark, leafy greens that are high in vitamins C and K are also excellent sources of absorbable calcium.  Most people believe that eating lots of dairy products are the best way to get calcium.  But dairy products are very acidic, and eating a diet that is highly acidic will actually pull calcium out of your bones to compensate.  Calcium from vegetables is much more alkaline.  Eating foods that are more alkaline will help preserve the calcium in your bones.

 

6. Protein

 

Your body needs extra protein and calories when healing a fracture.  I like to put nuts or seeds in my green smoothies for extra energy and protein.  High protein diets can also leach calcium out of your bones.  But again, vegetable protein will keep your body in a more alkaline state.

 

Basic Green Smoothie Recipe

 

Alright, so here is my basic recipe for a green smoothie.  You don’t need a Vitamix – I have a crappy Hamilton Beach blender that I bought 5 years ago for about 20 bucks and thought was going to burn out on me several times but for some reason it still works.  Soak the nuts and dried fruit ahead of time to rehydrate and release the beneficial digestive enzymes.  Tear up the greens into 2-inch pieces, add all ingredients and water and blend until smooth.  You can throw in a few ice cubes for a thicker, colder smoothie, although I usually make it without.  Use fruits, greens and nuts of your preference but don’t use the same ones every day.  You get a more balanced nutrition if you change it up, and that keeps things interesting.

 

2-3 cups chopped leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, collards, chard)

1 banana

1 apple, pear, peach, or handful of berries

1/4 cup dried fruit (apricots, dates, figs), rehydrated

1 large handful nuts or seeds (hempseed, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.), pre-soaked

1-2 cups filtered water, as necessary

 

 

There are so many benefits from making green smoothies.  You won’t get sick very often.  You will have tons of energy.  It will improve your mood.  And your skin.  I usually still break out before my period but this time it did not happen.  As I was writing this I ended up focusing more on the healing of the fracture than all of the other benefits, but they are definitely real!  Whether you are recovering from an illness or injury, trying to strengthen your immune system, detoxing, or just want more energy, you will greatly benefit from drinking a green smoothie regularly.  I know it can sound intimidating at first, but really they are quite sweet and you mostly just taste the fruit.  Try it out for yourself and see!  I am going to keep making them long after I am well.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Leave a Reply