Are Green Smoothies Healthy?

by | | Eat for a Healthy Gut

Meet a lucky little girl who couldn’t drink green smoothies

She was born with health challenges which led her to be in and out of children’s hospital.  Green smoothies with raw spinach were being given as a way to get iron and other nutrients to her.  She wasn’t eating much.  I say she’s lucky because her mother was tireless in her search for the cause of this discomfort.  When children’s hospital gave her little more than sleep training manuals, she came to me.

With a background in holistic nutrition, this mother was also an athlete and a school teacher.  Everything she knew about nutrition was being turned upside-down by her child who had no appetite and couldn’t sleep.  Imagine being the mother of a child who is in constant pain and no one can tell you why!  She suspected autism may be part of the picture.

Yesterday I received a call from her.  She reported that her daughter is now waking up with a smile for the first time in her life!  The pain is no longer constant and so she can express when it hurts.  She can sleep for longer than 15 minutes and is asking for food!  There are no longer inconsolable tantrums several times an hour.  In fact tantrums are rare now.  She’s able to socialize and attend a preschool.

So what happened to create these changes? 

First we removed two foods that she was reacting to.  This showed incredible improvements in both her mood and appetite.  Next we tested her gut, neurotransmitters and detoxification pathways.  There was an imbalance in gut flora and she had two infections which were starting to have an systemic impact.

There is a growing understanding that gut health plays a role in autism spectrum disorder.  Discovering and treating this early has a big impact on outcomes.  The result of her impaired gut health on her cellular metabolism and neurotransmitters was not looking good.  She was malnourished, unable to connect emotionally and had some key micronutrient imbalances.

Next we increased Nutrient Density. 

The way we did this completely went against what her mom had learned in terms of nutrition.  As a raw foodist and vegan triathlete she had been making spelt and other grain based snacks for her daughter.  We replaced these with healthy proteins and fats.  Green smoothies had been a part of her daily routine.  The lab work showed very high oxalate levels which is not good.  Removing the green smoothies will help her recover and bring down the inflammation.

Within a few weeks of treatment we saw remarkable changes.  Now her mother is asking how about self-care.  The lack of sleep and high stress require some acknowledgement.  The doctors they saw said told her more than once that she was over reacting.  Her daughter wasn’t losing dangerous amounts of weight so there wasn’t much they could do.

Given this new treatment plan we may see the metabolite markers that are related with autism spectrum improve.  Young children are incredibly resilient and responsive to treatment so I’m looking forward to the next report.

The Best Science Questions Itself

What I love about this story is how this mom was able to adjust her ideas about nutrition and medicine. She also trusted her gut in the face of constant pressure from the people around her who were supposed to be helping.  I’m excited to watch this little girl grow up and thrive thanks to her mom mostly.  Success stories like this are why I practice Functional Medicine.  Our healthcare system needs to and is evolving to one that is responsive and preventative.

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