Smoothies usually taste like a treat, are ready to head out the door. Plus, they typically pack more nutrients than that under-seasoned chicken, broccoli, and rice you meal prepped five days ago. Smoothies can make a great post-workout recovery meal or afternoon snack to fight energy slumps. Still, with how easy they are to make, we’re partial to starting the day off with these nutrient-dense drinks.
Besides how easy they are to make, one of our favorite benefits of smoothies is the ability to concoct a mixture of different ingredients and supplements to support your unique health and wellness goals.
Hormone health can be traced back to the gut, thanks to certain types of bacteria in the gut, like estrobolome, which can help synthesize estrogen in the body. So we asked our partner, The Fairy Gutmother, for a gut and hormone health-supporting smoothie recipe.
The recipe she developed is truly a gift from the candy craving gods thanks to its chocolate peanut butter flavor profile and is chocked full of superfoods known to support hormone and gut health.
But first, the smoothie basics…
WHAT SHOULD A BASIC SMOOTHIE INCLUDE?
The key to falling in love with smoothies is to make sure you are packing them with everything your body and taste buds need to feel fulfilled, maintain steady blood sugar levels, and help you power through to your next meal.
If you’re wondering what boxes you need to check, it’s easier than you think; all you need for a smoothie that’s sure to please is a source of protein, fat, carbs, and fiber.
Protein: Stick with high-quality protein powders and/or collagen.
Fats: Look for foods and fat sources that provide other benefits like the fiber in avocados, or the selenium in Brazil nuts. We’re also big fans of some adding some MCT Oil to the mix.
Carbs: Say it with us… Carbs are good. While we don’t encourage adding pure cane sugar to your smoothie (that’s milkshake territory and a different recipe post), we do encourage complex carbs that will feed your body and your gut microbiome. From bananas to pureed pumpkin, don’t be afraid to experiment.
Fiber: Have we mentioned lately that we love fiber? Well, we love fiber, and so does your gut (but remember to ease into it if you’re fresh on your fiber journey). We’re always looking for smoothie ingredients that bump up the fiber and some of our favorites are chia seeds, flax seeds, or even frozen cauliflower rice (yes really).
DO I NEED TO ADD ICE?
Ultimately, adding some ice is truly up to you. We find that adding some ice to the mix (without overdoing it) can help some of the other ingredients incorporate better. We can also speak from experience in saying that a warm smoothie is not a fun experience. So if you are working with ingredients that are not frozen, it may be worth adding a few cubes.
IS THERE A CORRECT WAY TO ADD INGREDIENTS?
Smoothies (and pina coladas) are the true test of your blender’s capabilities. If you’re confident that your blender can tackle the job, you can likely add your ingredients without a care. But, if, like many of us, you find yourself fighting with your ‘trusty’ appliance, here is the order we like to follow to give old faithful a helping hand and ensure the end product is smooth enough for any straw.
- Nuts and seeds
- Greens (skip if you’re not using greens)
- Soft ingredients (think yogurts and nut butters)
- Fruits and veggies
- Ice (optional, especially if your fruits are frozen)
Now back to our Hormone Balancing Smoothie…
Our favorite hormone-supporting ingredients:
Camu camu, is a sour berry, native to the Amazon rainforest that is super high in vitamin C which has been shown to help lengthen the luteal part of your cycle, and even strengthen progesterone levels too. Vitamin C has also been shown to support the adrenals which drive all of our sex hormones, our stress hormones, making these little berries pretty good in our book.
Maca is a South American tuber that is great for women’s health in supporting healthier menstrual cycles and has been known to ease menopause symptoms. Maca’s ability to support hormonal balance may be due to its ability to regulate the hormone-stimulating hypothalamus and pituitary glands in the brain. This can help with symptoms like hot flashes, low libido, and PMS. On top of all that, maca is extremely high in calcium, potassium, iron, fiber, and protein.
Please note: Maca may have a subtle androgenic effect and should not be consumed by women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
The ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers that’s native to India and Southeast Asia. An adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha has been shown to support the adrenals by reducing the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a system in your body that regulates the stress response. In times of increased stress, our adrenals may become overworked and need a little extra support.
Flax seed contains lignans, which are a plant-based estrogen-like substance that is much weaker than the estrogens we make in our bodies. Research has shown that flax can contribute to a longer luteal phase (the second half of the menstrual cycle, from ovulation to the start of the next period), reduction in cyclical breast pain and lowering estrogen and testosterone in postmenopausal individuals at risk for breast cancer. Flax seeds also support hormone health by supporting gut microbiome balance, thanks to the amount of fiber packed into such a small package.
Thyroid health is crucial to balancing hormones and Brazil nuts are high in selenium, an important nutrient in supporting thyroid health. The thyroid gland uses selenium to convert thyroxine hormone (T4) into its active form, triiodothyronine hormone (T3). Obtaining enough selenium from dietary sources may prevent or help regulate thyroid problems, such as hypothyroidism. While a selenium deficiency can not only cause hormonal imbalances but also negatively affect sleep, mood, concentration, and metabolism.
Simply put, your body needs fatty acids to create your sex and adrenal hormones. That’s why the healthy fats in avocados, combined with their fiber, make them a smoothie ingredient that will keep you full longer. Plus, they feed your gut and provide your body with what it needs to balance your hormones and fuel your good gut bacteria.
Berries are rich sources of vitamin C, which has been shown to regulate progesterone levels. If you’re wondering if you struggle with a progesterone imbalance, a common symptom is rough PMS. They are also packed with powerful antioxidants that decrease inflammation and can help manage cortisol.
Leafy green veggies like kale, chard, broccoli, and spinach are all rich in dietary fiber and are great hormone balancing foods due to their ability to normalize sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone by improving your hormone metabolism. They are also packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and a unique sugar that is essentially rocket fuel for the good bacteria in your gut.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie Recipe:
- 1 large banana
- 2 dates (pitted)
- 1TBS cocoa powder
- 1tsp maca powder
- 1tsp camu camu powder
- 1C coconut milk
- 1/4C peanut butter
- 1/2tsp ashwagandha
- 2TBS flax seed
- 1/2tsp cinnamon
- 3 Brazil nuts
- 1-2C ice
- Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth. Enjoy!
Carley is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) and Certified Gut & Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Practitioner (CGP) as well as a 200-hour Registered Yoga Instructor (RYT). Her health and nutrition journey began when she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. After struggling with the negative effects of the disease and long-term antibiotic use, she sought out more answers to reclaim her health. A firm believer in the words of Hippocrates that ‘All disease begins in the gut,’ Carley is on a mission to share her story and help others become proactive about their health.