Quick and easy to prepare, this amazingly coloured smoothie provides a mildly spiced, warming start to the day, perfect for chilly Autumn/Winter mornings! The cucumber and coconut water give a refreshing and quenching base to the smoothie and the body and punch comes from the pineapple, ginger and turmeric. If you’re not sure about having turmeric for breakfast then add a little less and gradually build up the quantity you use, allowing your system and tastebuds to get used to it. If you’re keen to add more veggies to your diet, then throw a handful of spinach in as well!
This recipe was developed to support joint and bone health as part of my Diploma in Culinary Medicine. You can read on at the end to see what benefits each ingredient may bring. If you can get fresh root turmeric, peel and finely chop a generous teaspoonful instead of the powder, but be careful, it stains everything in sight! If your pineapple is really ripe, consider using the core, as this contains more of the beneficial enzyme, bromelain, see below to find out why this is so important.
1in piece fresh root ginger
200g fresh ripe pineapple, prepared weight
½tsp ground turmeric
freshly ground black pepper
200ml coconut water
Peel the root ginger and grate or finely chop. If necessary, remove any little eyes from the pineapple and cut into chunks. You need 200g prepared weight. Chop the cucumber into similar sized pieces.
Place the prepared pineapple and cucumber in a blender with the ginger, flaxseed, turmeric, 1tbsp lime juice and a few grindings of black pepper.
Add 4 or 5 ice cubes and the coconut water. Blend until smooth. You may need to blend longer than other smoothies to help break down the fibres in the pineapple and ginger. Pour into a glass to serve.
Fresh root ginger
Arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis can cause extensive inflammation in the joints. Ginger has a strong, warm, spicy flavour and the essential oils that give it these properties are amazingly powerful anti-inflammatories. They interrupt chemical reactions that occur when inflammation is triggered. Ginger is also great for the circulation, which can help ease the discomfort in stiff joints.
Pineapple contains a powerful enzyme called Bromelain, which can help to effectively reduce inflammation by blocking part of the body’s inflammation response. This is beneficial in reducing the swelling in joints caused arthritis. The core contains the highest quantities of this bromelain so if possible use a really ripe pineapple and include the core.
Cucumber is a great source of silica, a mineral that supports the strength of connective tissues. These tissues include muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone. In osteoarthritis the wear and tear of a joint leaves areas of bones and joints exposed causing damage and inflammation. Including silica will help prevent bone decalcification and deterioration of connective tissue.
Also known as linseeds, flaxseeds contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids which are known to help reduce inflammation by stimulating production of the body’s own anti-inflammatory compounds. When suffering from inflammation of the joints, upping omega 3 is a brilliant way to help reduce inflammation. Flaxseeds are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids for vegetarians, however to reap the benefits we need to eat vast amounts as the conversion rate isn’t great. They also have antioxidant properties which help protect against oxidative stress, particularly in rheumatoid arthritis.
Wherever you look there is a wealth of information about the incredible benefits of including turmeric in the diet. Relating to the health of bones and joints, it’s the anti-inflammatory properties that are of interest. Turmeric contains curcuminoids, which give it the bright yellow colour. Clinical trials have shown that these compounds have incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory properties comparable to some pharmaceutical drugs! The curcuminoids are able to block the activity of enzymes responsible for a stage in the metabolism of fats into series 2 prostaglandins. These 2 prostaglandins activate inflammation so, preventing this conversion, can help reduce inflammation and therefore reduce discomfort in the joints.
There is some evidence to show that using black pepper alongside turmeric can significantly increase absorption and bioavailability of curcuminoids. This will enhance the effects of turmeric mentioned above.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient in the production of collagen. It’s found in bones, joints and connective tissues, such as cartilage, and gives it strength and elasticity. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage breaks down and the exposed bones rub together. By keeping a diet rich in vitamin C we are increasing the chances of keeping the integrity of these connective tissues.