Question: Hi Atreya,
I have been meaning to ask you this question for some time. What are your thoughts on smoothies. Could you use them if you only put a few ingredients in them that might be useful for the person concerned. Do they affect the Agni? Would it be better to add ginger or other warming spices for Vata and even possibly adding oil or even just warming up the whole drink? My take on it is that it is not how we were meant to eat this food but many people seem to feel well on them. Are they ok for a short while? I would be really interested in your thoughts.
Smoothies are good daily when we follow the normal dietary rules of Ayurveda:
Adding spices has two sides to it. On one hand it will increase your agni and help digest the smoothie; on the other hand a fruit smoothie is meant to cleansing and is very mildly nourishing; a Veggie smoothie is less cleansing and more nutritious than a fruit smoothie.
This means that adding spices and oils and stuff to "balance out" a smoothie actually lessens the real purpose of drinking a smoothie - which is to cleanse the digestive system and provide a mild amounts of nutrients with something that tastes good. In other words it is trying to change the nature of the fruit or veggies.
The more you add fresh ginger root or other spices, the more you are confusing the Jathar Agni. It is correct to take ginger and spices to increase Agni, but why do that when you are cleansing the GI tract with a delicious smoothie? Let the smoothie do its work and enjoy it. If you want to increase agni after the smoothie, or before the next meal then use a Dipana mix of spices, or simply drink a tea of fresh ginger root.
Essentially, Agni gets confused when things of opposite natures (Gunas) are mixed together and eaten or drunk at the same time. So using cooling, cleansing fruit with pungent spices does help the immediate state of the Agni, but it is also slowly weakening the Agni over time. If this is done daily then after one or two years the person will have trouble to digest anything unless there is some kind of assistance (e.g., spice, probiotic, Dipana, etc.) because Agni has been weaken by mixing too many opposites together.
Having a smoothie daily as part of a balanced diet - means at least two cooked meals per day - is a healthy practice. When smoothies begin to replace balanced meals then the whole diet becomes light, and cleansing (Shodhana) which cause tissue loss; useful for short periods of time, of say up to several months for a Kapha type. During this process Vata will increase as it always does during Shodhana therapies. Thus, if there is Vata Vriddhi (high Vata) the person should avoid trying to live on smoothies as it will continue to increase Vata no matter what you put in it. This is because of the nature of raw, juiced fruit or veggies - they will always increase Vata no matter what you try to add it. A cat will still be a cat even if you train it to bark like a dog. The result will be short term gain of energy - long term loss of Bala (stamina). Short term balancing of tissues - long term loss of tissues and Bala. Short term increase of Prana - long term loss of Prana as Prana is stored in Dhatu or tissues.
I love smoothies - my favorites are:
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