Monday, 7 October 2013

The Anti-Inflammatory Berry Smoothie

Inflammation is grossly underestimated by most doctors and health-conscious people. There is still a common tendency to think that those with cardio-vascular, metabolic, auto-immune and neurological diseases are best off eating a low fat diet that includes grains, vegetables oils and low-fat dairy, and without any concern about processed food. High fat diets are still being blamed for most things in spite of any controlled studies that show this variable to be causative as distinct from others. But there is a lot of evidence pointing the other way. I could ramble on here about this but I think a number of  professional biochemists, physiologists, micro-biologists, and scientifically-informed nutritional experts, have already done a great job of explaining why inflammatory triggers may be the more important things to watch out for in eating well for many forms of chronic disease.  If you have no idea what I mean by "anti-inflammatory" relative to diet, I recommend checking out the research biologist Art Ayer's blog, Cooling Inflammation.

I don't eat a particularly inflammatory diet as it is (in that I eat no vegetable or seed oils, no grains, no processed foods, no sugar, and lots of fresh vegetables, fatty fish and only nutrient-dense low-fructose fruits), but in times of mild gut disorder, fatigue or auto-immune revisitation that can occur from restaurant meals or work stress, I find it helpful to correct imbalance by stepping even further away from things that are usually in my diet that contain omega 6 fats (eg. most nuts and dairy, as well as land-animal fats) or that contain other common inflammatory triggers (eg. eggs and dairy).

When we think of smoothies in our house, we tend to think of creamy, eggy, thick, liquid protein meals. But this lighter non-dairy, non-egg smoothie has its own unique appeal for its anti-inflammatory freshness (anthocyanins and other anti-oxidants in the berries, polyphenols and phytochemicals in the mint and green tea), soothing fats (omega 3 and medium chain triglycerides) and diverse probiotic support in the kefir.

I don't look at the acai here as some kind of "superfood", the way it is often hyped. But it is fantastic for increasing the berry intensity AND lipid content of a smoothie (not many things can make that dual claim!).

Walnuts are my preferred smoothie nut because they have a relatively higher omega 3:6 ratio, ditto chia seeds. Coconut cream is a true godsend for fatty lusciousness on a non-dairy regime.

Kefir grains do a nice job on coconut water, though they need to be left a little longer than milk kefir if you want those micro-organisms to gobble up all the sugars for you. After 2 days in the yogurt incubator I get a nice fizzy, sour kefir, which then keeps for up to a week in the fridge. It works well with the berry tones of this smoothie.

This smoothie is really fresh and delightful.

3 cups of coconut water kefir
300g of frozen raspberries
3 tablespoons of acai berry powder
Small tin of 100% coconut cream
(optional) 2 tablespoons of Upgraded collagen powder
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of pure aloe vera juice
1 cup of cooled sencha or other green tea
A few sprigs of fresh mint
2 tablespoons of chia seed

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