In This Article
The Science on Cold Foods
During my Ayurvedic training in India, back in the 80s, one of the Ayurvedic doctors was asked whether or not ice cream was okay to eat. The doctor quickly responded, “Sure, as long as you heat it up.”
Yup, Ayurveda has a thing with cold foods, and so does western science. Cold foods aren’t great for supporting healthy digestion.
But before I teach you how to heat up your smoothies (ha), let’s look at the what the science says about eating cold foods.
A 2018 study showed that the temperature of the intestinal tract was significantly lowered for up to three hours after ingesting cold water. Other studies have found that any change in core body temperature can significantly alter the balance of your gut microbiome.
Cold food has also been linked to tummy pain, heartburn, and indigestion. A 2012 study compared the effect of drink a cold liquid meal to a hot liquid meal, sort of like a cold or hot smoothie. The cold meal increased stomach pressure, bloat, and discomfort, while lowering blood circulation to the lining of the stomach wall. The cold meal was also associated with stomach discomfort due to reduced stomach expansion, or the ability to comfortably eat a full meal.
See also Bieler’s Broth Recipe
The Best Ayurveda Food Combinations for Smoothies, Shakes, or Juices
Beyond avoiding cold foods, you should consider how combinations of fruits, vegetables, protein powders, and more affect your digestion.
Your body digests the fats, protein, and carbs in fruits, vegetables, grains, and animal products on different timelines. Combining these foods together can make it more difficult to efficiently digest them.
For example, your stomach quickly digests fruits, while other foods like grains, meats, dairy, and vegetables take much longer to digest. The different digestion speeds can cause indigestion. The state of ones agni, or digestive fire, will determine whether these combinations will be problematic.
The intensity of the tastes matter, too. Super sweet fruit combined with dense and harder-to-digest grains and dairy, may be cause for concern. Less sweet fruits, like berries and sour apples, are generally okay with other foods.
Vegetables are generally okay because they are predigested in your blender. The predigesting benefits of a blender also aid in digesting the fiber in raw foods.
While I am not a fan of drinking all your meals, smoothies and protein shakes do have their place as they are a great delivery system for proteins, micronutrients, and minerals—often missing in our foods or incompletely digested because of weak agni.
See also Ayurvedic Food and Fruit Combining Guidelines
5 Juice, Shake, and Smoothie Rules
Rule #1: Skip the ice—add room temperature water.
Rule #2: Pull your ingredients out of the fridge a half hour before blending. Root veggies can be taken out the night before.
Rule #3: Do your best to blend sweet fruits with other fruits—spices and some veggies are okay, too. Protein powders blend best with spices and grains.
Rule #4: Choose your smoothie recipe based on your Ayurvedic body type.
Rule #5: Change Your smoothie recipe with the seasons to accommodate local harvests.
See also Should You Eat for Your Ayurvedic Body Type (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) or the Season?