Smoothies are a fabulous way to get your daily dose of fruits and veggies, especially for those that are opposed to chowing down on greens. In fact, studies show as many as 90% of people do not get enough fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Getting the correct amount of vitamins and nutrients is always vital to your health, especially while undergoing treatment for cancer. However, cancer and the effects of chemotherapy can leave a person battling waves of nausea and fatigue, leading to an essentially non-existent appetite. Instead of trying to force down full meals when, many people have found sipping on a nutritious smoothie works as a nutrious alternative. Plus, some smoothies may even be able to combat side effects from chemotherapy. Smoothies only require a blender, fruits, veggies, a little love, and a touch (or ton) of imagination.
But what makes smoothies so special? What are the best smoothies for chemo side effects? And can smoothies prevent cancer? Read on to learn how to make the perfect smoothie!
Why Drink Smoothies? Why Not Just Eat Fruit and Vegetables Whole?
Of course, eating fruits and vegetables whole is a great and delicious way to get nutrients, and we should all incorportate whole fruits and veggies in our diets—but it can be tricky to eat the recommended amount of fruits and veggies. According to the American Heart Association, the average person should get about four servings of fruits and five servings of vegetables per day for a grand total of nine servings. When making a smoothie, you can incorporate several servings of fruits and veggies into one easy-to-consume meal. Eating a smoothie for breakfast is a great way to knock out half or more of your daily fruit and vegetable recommendations.
Additionally, for those undergoing chemotherapy, nausea can be unbearable, and eating fruits and vegetables can be especially difficult. A smoothie drink is easier to stomach because it can be sipped at leisure and does not need to be chewed.
Another bonus of smoothies? The liquid component helps you stay hydrated!
Making the Perfect Smoothie
Smoothies are composed of several elements that make it both nutritious and delicious. After all, having just one or the other would take the magic out of smoothies altogether. But the real question is: How does one go about making the ideal smoothie? Below is a list of the ingredients needed to make a truly superb smoothie.
1. The Fruit
For your first fruit, choose a fiber-rich fruit such as mangos, bananas, apples (with the peels!), or pears. Each fruit brings something different to the table. For instance, adding bananas can create a smooth, creamy texture. Toss in a handful of berries such as strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries (all of which are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants). Add a peach or some watermelon. Be as creative as your heart desires! The more the merrier!
2. The Liquid Component
The liquid you choose will help all your ingredients blend together nicely. Just splash in a cup or two of water, milk (skim, low-fat, or whole), all natural juice, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, or soy milk (and this is just to name a few).
3. Leafy Greens and Other Vegetables
Adding veggies can help you add more fiber, iron, and vitamins to your diet. Kale, spinach, and chard are great options. On top of a leafy vegetable, consider adding in other vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, celery, and beets. Best of all (especially for notorious veggie haters), the added fruits will easily help mask the taste of any vegetables added in.
4. Protein (Optional)
If you need a little help adding protein to your diet, you can protein-pack your smoothie. Try adding a scoop of protein powder, some plain greek yogurt, or nut butter. This also helps to thicken up the smoothie.
Toss in ice for a thicker, colder smoothie.
Freeze fruits and veggies before blending to get an icy smoothie.
Want to thicken up your smoothie and make it more filling? Just add oatmeal, chia seed, or flax seed!
Taste a little too bitter or just not sweet enough? Add a spoonful of honey!
Smoothies for Chemo Side Effects
Incorporating certain ingredients in your smoothies can help reduce some of the side effects of chemotherapy. Take a look:
Upset stomach and Nausea: Try adding some ginger, mint, or lemon to your smoothie.
Diarrhea: Incorporate oatmeal, bananas, and greek yogurt.
Constipation: Add apples, pears, flaxseed, greek yogurt, oatmeal, and extra fluids.
Weight Loss: Add fats to your smoothie in the form of nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Fatigue: Incorporate leafy greens, chia seeds, oats, and nuts.
Inflammation: Spice it up. Add a spicy kick with a dose of red pepper or a sweet touch with cinnamon. Turmeric is another great addition. Turmeric is considered an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant with properties shown to improve the symptoms of depression and arthritis.
Can Smoothies Prevent Cancer?
While there are many ongoing studies on various nutrients that could shrink cancer cells or potentially prevent cancer altogether, the results are still inconclusive. It is hypothesized that super foods such as berries may have the potential to fight cancer. Furthermore, several studies show that getting enough fruits and vegetables greatly reduces your chance of getting certain cancers, as well as a lower chance of recurrence.
Eating healthy is key to a better, more fulfilling life in general. Introducing smoothies into your diet can make sure your body has a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin A, C, and E (each of which is said to potentially help prevent cancer). Adding berries, cinnamon, turmeric, and flax seed can give you all this and more. Keep an eye out for more cancer related studies and results.
A Winning Combination
To jumpstart your smoothie journey we’ve included a few recipes below to get you going. Add and subtract any ingredients to the recipes to figure out what you like and get the nutrients you need!
Smoothies for Cancer Patients #1: Blueberry Banana Blast Smoothie
2 cups frozen unsweetened blueberries (do not thaw)
1/2 cup orange juice (calcium-fortified preferred)
3/4 cup low-fat or nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/2 medium frozen banana
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Smoothies for Cancer Patients #2: Green Avocado Peach Smoothie
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen peaches
1/4 large avocado (about 1/4 cup chopped)
1 cup spinach or greens of choice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (1 small lime or 1/2 large lime)
3/4 cup coconut water
2 ice cubes if using frozen peaches or 4 ice cubes if using fresh peaches
Smoothies for Cancer Patients #3: Lovely Greens Smoothie
1 cup Pineapple
2 cups Spinach
1/2 cup Grapes
1 cup water or coconut milk
1/2 cup Orange Juice
Smoothies for Cancer Patients #4: Simple Summer Green Smoothie
2 cups cold water
1 peeled banana (fresh or frozen)
1 cup of mango chunks (fresh or frozen)
1 cup spinach
¼ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
Smoothies for Cancer Patients #5: Tropical Delight
1/2 cup pineapple
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 cup frozen papaya
coconut water (enough to cover ingredients)
honey, as needed
To Sum Up…
Smoothies are a simple way to get a nutritious meal with oodles of vitamins and minerals, even if your appetite is non-existent. Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? Tell us in the comments section below!