You’ve probably heard your whole life how important it is to eat your vegetables. And it’s still true. But getting in the daily recommended amount of whole vegetables can be difficult.
If you’re falling short, you’re definitely not alone. Here’s a look at how many people are consuming the recommend servings of vegetables each day:
- Less than 1% of men & 4% of women ages 18 to 24
- Less than 6% of men & 9% of women ages 25 to 34
- Less than 14% of men & 16% of women ages 35 to 49
- Less than 24% of men & 22% of women ages 50 to 64
With so many people needing to up their vegetable intake, can supplementing with greens powder be considered a viable alternative to eating whole vegetables?
Much like protein powders, greens powders are powdered veggies that you can mix with water, milk, juice, etc. to help make up for a dietary lack of vegetables.
But it turns out that greens powders cannot properly replace eating whole vegetables for these three main reasons…
- Greens supplements might be full of concentrated vegetables, but most companies don’t formulate their products to meet essential vitamin and mineral levels.
- Greens powders may not retain some of the important enzymes needed for absorption.
- Greens powder shouldn’t be considered a source for fiber because the amount of the product consumed is so small and concentrated.
So… greens powders are useless? No, not entirely. They have one major benefit.
The main benefit of greens powder is the alkalizing effect it has on your diet. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that greens supplements can be an efficient way to tip the acid/base status in your body to an optimal balance.
On average, people tend to consume a lot more protein than fruits and veggies. This can create an acid load in the body and potentially cause acidosis. Green leafy vegetables and greens supplements are alkaline, or basic, and one of their main benefits is their ability to improve your body’s acid-base balance.
When you have acid buildup, a variety of problems can occur including accelerated aging, demineralization (loss of the body’s mineral stores), fatigue, impaired enzyme activity, inflammation and organ damage. There can also be a rapid increase of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, molds, yeasts and viruses.
To find out what pH your body has, you can test your saliva or urine at home using litmus paper strips purchased at any local health food store. You’ll need to test yourself first thing in the morning, before your eat.
If you choose to test your saliva, do it before brushing your teeth. Fill your mouth with saliva and swallow. Repeat, then spit directly on the pH test strip.
If you choose to test your urine, collect a small sample of your first morning urine in a clean glass container. Dip the pH strip in.
The strip will turn a color and you’ll match it to the associated color on the package the pH papers came in. Ideally you’d want to be in the 7.2-7.4 region. That’s usually a dark green or blue, depending on what brand of litmus papers you buy.
If your numbers are lower, you have a higher level of acidity. If your number is higher, you have a higher level of alkalinity.
Greens supplements come in handy for those who are acidic and have test results below 7.2. Ideally you’d want to increase your intake of alkalinizing greens such as spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens, rapini, water cress and bok choy, but having a greens replacement drink is an effective alternative.
When shopping for greens powder, look for one that is at least 50 percent organic and was processed with protection from UV light, heat and moisture. You’ll want to avoid brands that use a lot of fillers like lecithin, fibers, whole grasses, pectin, rice bran or flax. Quality powders are raw and dehydrated, so remember to store them in cool, dry places to prevent mold or nutrient loss from light and heat exposure.