There are many powdered green drinks out on the market right now, some will give you a boost of energy, some will bump up your protein, and some contain extra vitamins…but where is the digestion love? If you love greens, and digestion is your main concern, there are certain ingredients you should look for in your green drink. Look for blends that include ancient grains, seeds, grasses, and spirulina. This mix of these healthy ingredients provides a natural, gentle prebiotic for healthy digestion, which is the foundation for whole body wellness. Before we further dissect each of these ingredients, let’s take a look at the importance of prebiotics.
You may have just read the word prebiotic in the paragraph above and thought…was that an error, isn’t it spelled “probiotic?” Nope, that wasn’t a typo! Probiotics are important, and thanks to effective marketing and education over the past decade, it’s obvious to most people that these friendly bacteria provide a host of benefits for the gut, brain, immune system and more. But as it turns out, probiotics alone don’t represent the whole story. Prebiotics are just as important for whole body wellness.
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that serve as food for probiotics. Typically found in high-fiber foods such as whole grains, bananas, greens, onions, garlic, soybeans and artichokes, prebiotics are necessary for probiotics to grow and multiply. The problem? Most people don’t get enough fiber, or the variety of fibers needed to feed a diverse community of bacteria, which is emerging as the key to a healthy microbiome. Prebiotics and probiotics are better together. When paired with probiotics, prebiotics have been shown to improve the survival of probiotics as they pass through the digestive tract and support the growth of probiotics1 (Mayo, 2019).
Now that you’ve had a brief glimpse into the importance of prebiotics, let’s explore some ingredients to consider in your green drink for optimal digestive health. One ingredient that should be high on your list are ancient grains. You can think of “ancient grains,” as kind of a sub-type of the whole grain, and this sub-type includes varieties of quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, chia seeds, farrow, spelt, and flax. We can trace the roots of grains back to the beginning of time but unlike wheat, which has been constantly bred and modified; these grains have largely been unchanged over the past several hundred years. Many ancient grains are actually gluten free, making them a good choice for those who have gluten allergies. Ancient grains contain lot’s of essential vitamins, particularly B vitamins, minerals like magnesium and potassium, more amounts of iron and they also, most importantly, contain protective elements like fibers and antioxidants, which keep your gut healthy and balanced2 (Palmer, 2014).
When we talk about “seeds and grasses”, we are thinking pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, etc. And the grasses we are referring to are barley grass and wheatgrass. These seeds are great sources of dietary fiber. In fact, shelled seeds provide 1.1 gram of fiber in a single 1-ounce serving3 (Brown, 2018). These seeds also contain antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals. Grasses like barley grass and wheatgrass, on the other hand, provide rich amounts of vitamins and minerals, many of which are antioxidants. Chlorophyll, the substance that gives these grasses their green color, may also provide numerous health benefits, like promoting healthy blood production, detoxification, and wound healing. In terms of digestive benefits, these grasses contain digestive enzymes, which help reduce toxic and indigestible materials in food4 (McLaughlin, 2018). These enzymes may also improve wellness in people with indigestion and food allergies.
Spirulina, a blue-green algae, is a freshwater plant that is probably one of the most talked about superfoods today. This immune-strengthening superfood detoxes the body of heavy metals like arsenic, may help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and also helps to eliminate candida5 (Edwards, 2019). By eliminating candida, spirulina promotes the growth of healthy bacterial microflora in the intestines.
Next time you are looking for a quality powdered green drink blend, try and pack as many of these healthy prebiotic ingredients into your drink as you can, and enjoy optimal digestive benefits.