Why Don’t Green Drinks and Smoothies Work For Me?

Posted on June 1, 2013


I’m a big fan of shakes, juicing, and smoothies as a convenient way to get your superfoods for the day. Dark green veggie drinks from fresh or powdered sources can fill in a big nutritional gap that most of us simply won’t manage to get into our bodies any other way.

But the reality is that green smoothies don’t feel right for everyone – especially in the colder winter months.  This means a lot of us feel a little mystified by the green supplement fanatics out there – insisting that the “green rush” is right for everyone!

green-smoothie Common negative effects typically include bloating, gas, belching, diarrhea, cold extremities, nausea, muddy stool, stomach ache, and fatigue. You might ask “Why does this seem to be working for everyone else but not for me?”  The answer is your innate constitutional type – the foundation of most traditional medicine systems including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  As well we must take into consideration the season, any acute illness, and the “energy” of the food or supplement in question.

I’ll discuss this in Ayurvedic terms to keep things as simple as possible:

Ayurveda has 3 major constitutional types; Kapha, Pitta, and Vata.  Green supplements in general have a “cold energy” that does not match well with the “colder” constitutional types, Kapha and Vata.  The people who thrive on green drinks tend to be Pitta types – those with a “hotter” constitution.

Some of the most popular green supplements have and extremely cold energy including spirulina, chlorella, and wheat grass.  Lettuces, cucumbers, watercress, and radishes are some common vegetables with a colder energy.

Some less common options that have a “neutral to slightly warm” energy are all the cabbages, broccoli, parsley, and alfalfa.  Most spices and aromatic herbs have a warm or hot energy; garlic, ginger, black pepper, turmeric, and cinnamon are all in this category.

Raw foods have a colder energy than their cooked counterparts.  Many people have the same experience of discontent with raw food diets for the same reasons.  (For a better understanding about the risks of a raw diet see my previous article: The Raw Foods Conundrum)

Recipes for your constitutional type:

-Pitta (fire) types – traditional green smoothies with popular greens like chlorella, spirulina, wheat grass, cucumber, apple, celery, or grapes. These  ingredients have a cool or cold energy will usually benefit Pitta types. Add the fruit for flavour, not for bulk.

-Vata (air) types – green veggies with a more neutral energy like cabbages, parsley, spinach, kale, and broccoli, combined with peach, apricot, lucuma, or berries. All these have a neutral to warm energy. Veggies can even be lightly steamed for digestibility. Gently warming spices like raw cocoa, aniseed, cardamom, or fennel seed are also good additions.  Drink smoothie at room temperature or even warmer.  Vata may be able to tolerate the colder green supplements like spirulina or chlorella in the warmer months only (above 20°C) – and even then the addition of the right spices will improve digestibility and assimilation.

-Kapha (water) types – stick to Vata guidelines described above using veggies and fruit with a warmer energy, but with the best spices for Kapha being cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg,or even black pepper. All stonefruit and berries are especially good choices.  Drink smoothie at room temperature or warmer.  Kapha may also be able to tolerate the colder green supplements like spirulina or chlorella in warmer weather – but using appropriate spices for digestibility is highly recommended.


I believe that understanding innate constitution is the missing link in biomedicine and many modern western natural health systems. I help my clients determine and balance their constitutional type with completely personalized supplementation advice and inspired dietary change.  I can even make you a totally customized smoothie powder based entirely on your specific needs.

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