WHEN I TOLD some friends that I was going to Smoothie Club on Monday night, they just about fell on the floor laughing. In their minds, a club dedicated to smoothies was in the same league as the clubs that’d be mocked in a Revenge Of The Nerds movie – chess club perhaps, or maybe stamp collecting club (not that there’s anything wrong with those clubs of course).
It was probably the image of a 105kg 6’2” South African bloke hanging out at Smoothie Club that did their heads in the most, but let’s be honest here – of all the Doctor Feelgood team, there’s no one as keen on smoothies as me. Actually, if we’re being really honest, I’ve got a bad case of smoothie OCD, drinking at least three a day and feeling bloody amazing for it, so of course I was going!
Tauranga’s Smoothie Club runs once a month. It was set up by Kim Renshaw of Kimmithgone, a local retailer of hempseed oil, organic superfoods and smoothie accessories. The thinking behind the club is sound; healthy people tend to congregate in their own little groups but this is a chance to network and meet like-minded folk while enjoying a healthy discussion around relevant topics, and trying a new and interesting healthy smoothie recipe at the same time.
This month’s Smoothie Club was billed as follows:
“This time it’s all about taking care of you. We’re going to watch an inspiring Ted X talk and then discuss ways to keep yourself calm & sane… for your hormones’ sake!
The wonderful naturopath & herbal medicine practitioner Jules Brunton from Tincture will be joining us for the discussion.
Then we’ll make a delicious smoothie to relax us.”
Now that sounded a little feminine to me but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. As it turned out attendance was good – around 30 ladies showed up, with me being the sole male. Did I mind? Are you crazy?
The Ted X video was The Pace of Modern Life vs. Our Cavewoman Biochemistry by the increasingly well-known Dr. Libby Weaver. Despite being firmly aimed at a female audience, I found it be extremely interesting seeing as it dealt with the effects of stress, specifically the stress of our modern lifestyles and how our primitive bodies still react in the ways they were programmed to. After all, we’re basically nothing more than cavemen or cavewomen with delusions of grandeur, living in a world our bodies aren’t at all adapted for.
In particular, stress messes with the hormones, affecting everything from body fat retention to fertility. The best will in the world, coupled to extreme dedication in nutrition or fitness sometimes just isn’t enough to overcome the effects of stress, and that’s not good news at all, even in a room full of healthy people. So after the video, the group discussed the symptoms of stress along with stress reduction methods. My suggestion was to just get rid of the stressors, which is obviously far easier than it sounds, especially when a family is involved; not all of us can just throw away a career in big city to move to being a mendicant bum (or freelance writer depending on your perspective).
However, done right, getting rid of stressors can have a profound effect. The most obvious example of this in my own history can be found on my midlife crisis overseas trip of 2011. I’ve been having regular blood tests since around 2004 – full blood panels with a few extras just to keep an eye on my overall health. So I’ve got a pretty good idea where various levels tend to be.
My testosterone in particular fluctuates through a fairly narrow range, which is above the middle of the scale. I thought that was pretty good given my age, and was happy with the fact that it wasn’t declining precipitously as I got older. After packing in my jobs and plonking everything I owned into storage in early 2011, I hit the road. For many months, my biggest stress was where to travel next, or where I’d find the next bottle or three of Kombucha.
I felt utterly amazing on many levels but it was only when I got back and had a blood test that I registered exactly how being stress-free had affected me. My testosterone levels had climbed to the top of the scale and had actually pushed up above it – an increase of well over 50 percent. And I could feel it, believe me when I say that.
After a year or so of being in the big city and dealing with the day to day stresses of family, work, relationships, traffic and the myriad annoyances of life, my testosterone levels dropped right back to where they were before the trip, and once again, I noticed it in no uncertain terms. My body was effectively telling me that I was going to be functioning at less than optimal levels if I kept on keeping on, and that’s when the “stress-free” seed was planted, which one way or another led me to where I am today – far less stressed than I was last year. Suffice to say that I left Smoothie Club even more motivated to cut my stress levels to their lowest ever.
Also, I certainly did get an insight as to how stress affects women, which is quite different to the way it affects men. The stress topic is so big that it’s worth an article of its own, perhaps with the assistance of some holistic practitioners like Jules from Tincture, so watch this space.
As they say, that’s not all folks! After the video and the chat, Kim whipped up a smoothie for the group to try. And what a smoothie it was. I’m really into smoothies but I’m Captain Boring when it comes to making them – lots of dark green stuff, a banana, water and protein powder. Maybe add some avo and a scoop of green powder, then hit the switch and blend that sucker.
This smoothie was nothing like that, in fact, it had mung beans in it! There’s nothing wrong with new experiences, so why not mung beans I asked myself. As it turns out, you can make a delicious smoothie with mung beans. And with chamomile tea or warming spices for that matter.
The recipe is as follows:
½ cup cashew nuts
1 cup blueberries
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mung beans
1 cup chamomile tea
½ cup water
Yes I can assure you that not only is this smoothie entirely drinkable, it really is delicious. Well worth a try, and I for one will be getting a little bit more funky with my smoothies – of course I’ll still be doing my green monster two or three times a day but there will be some innovation happening round chez Kramer too. ASHLEY KRAMER
The Dr. Libby TedX talk can be found here:
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