Victoria Boutenko, MA: Green for Life, The Updated Classic on Green Smoothie Revolution (North Atlantic Press 2010). First published in 2005 by Raw Family Publishing.
"In more than thirty-five years of practice as a psychiatrist affiliated with the Harvard Medical School, I have learned one thing very well: human behavior is very hard to change.
"Now Victoria Boutenko is persuading me otherwise... Thirty days of green smoothies will change how you feel and how you feel about yourself. That's no small achievement for one small book. [...]
"The green smoothie - or, to be more specific, the quart of green smoothie that Ms. Boutenko recommends we all start our day with - is in and of itself a tremendous injection of chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants into the typical American diet.
"A quart of green smoothie a day also discourages the consumption of denatured and greasy foods. For one thing, it's hard to stuff yourself with refined starches and sugars when you're full of one of Ms. Boutenko's tasty and energizing concoctions. [...] And if another seductive green smoothie is waiting for you in the refrigerator when you get home from work, the dinner you prepare and consume after sipping it will almost certainly be smaller, and possibly healthier, too. [...]
"I salute Ms. Boutenko, I recommend that you take Green for Life very seriously. I believe it can help you change your life."
- A. William Menzin, MD, Harvard Medical School, in the Foreword of 'Green for Life'
There are probably not many modern-day raw foodists alive today who haven't been influenced by Victoria Boutenko's book: 'Green for Life'.
But Victoria, in turn, dedicates her book to Dr. Ann Wigmore, the founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI), whose clinic pioneered the use of wheatgrass juice for curing various ailments. For the benefits of the chlorophyll in wheatgrass, see, for example "Chlorophyll: Supporter of all human and animal life..." at the 'Hippocrates Health Institute' website.
Also, here is a summary of Ann Wigmore's (founder of the HHI) teachings on wheatgrass by 'EdenSong Wheatgrass & Beyond Organic Products':
"Benefits of Wheatgrass Juice, as Taught by Ann Wigmore"
ALL the successful long-term raw foodists I have studied emphasize the importance of chlorophyll and/or greens as a substantial part of the daily diet. The most extreme call themselves 'chlorophyllians', among them Erykah Badu and Supernova Slom. David Wolfe, Queen Afua, and many others recommend at least 1/3 of the diet from greens. As to why greens are so important or what is the magic in them I have not yet received a definite answer, although many theories have been repeatedly offered. What is certain, however, are the documented health benefits and testimonials, which are indisputable.
"Initially, I only wanted to improve the classic raw food diet. Surprisingly, in the process of my research, I found that adding blended greens to anyone's diet makes such a profound health improvement that it may even surpass the benefits of eating a typical all-raw diet with a relatively small amount of greens. In addition, drinking smoothies is far more doable than switching at once to an all-raw diet. At the same time I have discovered that people who incorporate blended greens into their daily meals naturally begin to eat more live foods."
- Victoria Boutenko, p. xiii, Green for Life
Victoria and her family ("The Raw Family") have been on a raw food diet since 1994, so at the time of writing this, for 18 years. Back in 1994 they suffered from various serious illnesses, including heart problems, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, asthma, diabetes and obesity. They have written the book: 'Raw Family: A True Story of Awakening' to tell the story of how they healed themselves.
After healing, however, and approximately after seven years of being raw foodists, the Boutenko family stated feeling discontent of their diet. Small health problems and indications of digestion problems started to appear. First they found that fasts, hikes and exercises helped but at the same time, many of their friends were giving up being 100% raw - in the face of similar challenges - and meanwhile, more small health problems kept creeping in and their appetite for raw foods was diminishing at the same time. So after much research, many wrong turns and dead ends, Victoria decided to look at the diet of chimpanzees, as the animals genetically closest to humans.
Chimpanzee diet, Victoria found out, consisted of approximately 50% of fruit, a little less than 50% of green and, to a small extent, of pith, bark, seeds and insects. Boutenko family's diet at the time, in comparison, did consist of fruit to a large extent but was almost completely lacking of greens. So Victoria experimented with eating large amounts of greens in salads and found that she was, in fact, physically incapable of doing that (she would get heartburn or nausea).
"One day, while reading a book on biology, I became intrigued by the amazingly hardy composition of plants. Apparently cellulose, the main constituent of plants, has one of the strongest molecular structures on the planet. Greens possess more valuable nutrients than any other food group, but all these nutrients are stored inside the cells of the plants. These cells are made of tough material, probably as a means of survival for the plant, to make it difficult for animals to eat. To release all the valuable nutrients from within the cells, the cell walls need to be ruptured, but breaking through these sturdy cells is not easy. [...]
"This is why I decided to try to 'chew' my greens using a Vita-Mix [high-powered] blender. First I blended a bunch of kale with water. I was thinking, I will just close my eyes and drink it. But as soon as I opened the lid, I quickly closed it again because I felt queasy from the strong wheatgrass smell. That dark green, almost black, mixture was totally unconsumable. After some brainstorming, I added several bananas and blended again. And that was when the magic began. [...] I cautiously tasted a sip and was exhilarated - it was better than easy!"
- Victoria Boutenko, p. 21, Green for Life
Although Victoria does admit on the next page that she had already learned about mixing blended sprouts, avocados and apples together into an 'energy soup' while visiting the Creative Health Institute (CHI) in Michigan sixteen years ago. The energy soup was originally invented by Dr. Ann Wigmore. But her children had at the time rebelled against the soup and she had stopped making it.
"After about a month of erratic green smoothie drinking, two moles and a wart had peeled off my body. I felt more energized than ever before and started sharing my experience with my family and friends. The next thing I noticed was that those cravings I had occasionally for heavy foods such as nuts and crackers, especially in the evenings, had totally disappeared. I noticed that many of the wrinkles on my face went away and I began to hear compliments from other people about my fresh look. My nails became stronger, my vision sharpened, and I had a wonderful taste in my mouth, even upon waking in the morning [...]
"My dream had come true at last! I was consuming plenty of greens every day. I began to feel lighter and my energy increased. My tastes started to change. I discovered that my body was so starved for greens that for several weeks I lived almost entirely on green smoothies. Plain fruits and vegetables became much more desirable to me and my cravings for fatty foods declined dramatically. I stopped consuming any kind of salt altogether.
"Two weeks later, my husband and I were walking along a trail in California covered with succulent chickweed and dandelions when I suddenly noticed that I was salivating. The dark-green weeds growing in abundance along our path looked so scrumptious. I kept catching myself wanting to grab and eat them. [...] ... I was eating differently lately. Instead of making myself a huge salad of several chopped vegetables, a large avocado, sea salt, lots of onion, and olive oil, I now chopped up a bunch of lettuce with a tomato, sprinkled it with a lemon juice, and enjoyed it tremendously, rolling my eyes and humming with pleasure. I did not miss my former food and felt completely satisfied eating simply. I had learned for sure that the human body can learn to crave greens."
- Victoria Boutenko, p. 23-24, Green for Life
Let me pause here for a note on digestion. I think the fact that Victoria was using a high-powered blender is key here. I have been eating 'raw food on a budget' on and off for over two years now but have not yet experienced the benefits and changes in taste for greens that Victoria describes. But - I am realizing as I write this - it may have been because I was (and still am) using the cheapest possible blender AND I don't make any extra effort to chew my food. I remembered hearing that Vitamix and other high-powered blenders are able to crack cell walls and thus make much more of the nutrients available to humans. Remember that Victoria recalls having trouble eating too many greens in salad form. And as soon as she found a way to make a palatable green smoothie in her Vitamix, she started getting results.
Perhaps this is why I haven't yet experienced the 'raw food high' and extreme levels of energy? This is not a sales prop for Vitamix but as soon as I can afford a Vitamix or an equivalent high-energy blender I will report whether it makes a difference on this site.
Victoria does also mention in 'Green for Life' that chewing food well does break down cell walls, however, she is worried about two things: 1) Our jaws and teeth are not used to chewing well enough anymore (compared to chimpanzees) and 2) Our hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach have been depleted by a lifetime of consumption of cooked foods. Thus, the easiest way to get the greens digested would seem to be by using a high-powered blender.
"According to the research of Julia Ross, a specialist in nutritional psychology, if your body lacks certain amino acids, you may develop strong symptoms of mental and physiological imbalance and severe cravings for unwanted substances. For example, let us consider tyrosine and phenylalanine. The symptoms of a deficiency in these amino acids can cause:
"In addition, the symptoms of a deficiency in these amino acids my lead to cravings for sweets, aspartame, caffeine, starch, alcohol, cocaine, chocolate, marijuana, tobacco." (p. 45-46)
Victoria Boutenko explains that green plants are, in fact, better sources of all the nine amino acids essential to the human body, than animal products. (Amino acids chain up to form proteins.)
"I have looked at the nutritional content of dozens of green vegetables and I was pleased to see that the amino acids that were low in one plant were high in another. In other words, if we maintain a variety of greens in our diet, we will cover all essential amino acids in abundance."
- Victoria Boutenko, p. 41, Green for Life
What is more, Victoria explains, protein from plant sources is easier to use by human body than that from animal sources.
"Since most people are not aware that greens have an abundance of readily available essential amino acids, they try to consume protein from other food groups known for their rich protein content. However, let me explain the difference between the complex proteins found in meat, dairy, and fish, and the individual amino acids found in fruits, vegetables and especially greens. It is clear that the body has to work a lot less when creating protein from the assortment of individual amino acids from greens rather than from the already-combined long molecules of protein that are assembled according to the foreign pattern of a totally different creature such as a cow or a chicken."
-Victoria Boutenko, p. 43-44, Green for Life
She also references Prof. Colin Campbell's famous book: 'The China Study', where he argues that high-protein diets cause cancer. Campbell goes on to argue that the American Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is greatly overestimated. More on: Thechinastudy.com
Victoria Boutenko also quotes two fellow raw foodists on the topic of proteins in greens: Tonya Zavasta and Joel Fuhrman:
"The lack of research on the nutritional content of greens has lead to great confusion among the majority of people, including many professionals. As Dr. Joel Fuhrman writes in his book Eat to Live, 'Even physicians and dietitians ... are surprised to learn that ... when you eat large quantities of green vegetables, you receive a considerable amount of protein. In her lectures, author and teacher Tonya Zavasta shares a clever observation: It is a known fact that milk is rich in protein, but, she says, we never question how the milk becomes full of protein. Do cows produce such large quantities of protein daily out of thin air? In Russia, dairy farmers often brag about the quality of their milk saying, 'This milk is so fresh that only four hours ago it was still grass!"
- Victoria Boutenko, p. 42, Green for Life
Indeed, how do horses, cows and gorillas build all their muscles while being vegetarian?
If you are still doubtful whether greens, together with nuts and seeds, can provide enough protein, and would like more direct evidence, see the vegan body builders and fitness experts at links below:
Noel Polanco, the Vegan Fitness Star
Jim Morris, 72-year old raw vegan body builder
Chris Califano, raw vegan for 10-years
Vegan Body Building & Fitness
List of benefits Victoria Boutenko attributes to eating green smoothies in her book, 'Green for Life':
For more information, read:
"The Ode to Green Smoothie" on Greenforlife.com
The rest of 'Green for Life' includes testimonials from green smoothie drinkers, where they report to have healed the following conditions by drinking green juices as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle: obesity, chronic allergies, chronic bronchitis, bladder infections, arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps, muscle aches, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach cramps, lethargy, rosacea, cravings for cooked food, anxiety, sore on a hand, sinus infection, bowel control problems, gas, stroke, skin conditions, hypoglycaemia, constipation, low energy, problems with skin, nails and unclear eyes, breathing machine, hormonal problems, unstable moods, problems caused by radiotherapy, high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea, B12 deficiency, candida, hiatal hernia, chronic fatigue syndrome, hypothyroidism, eczema, pancreatic cancer, indigestion, sweet cravings, and low stomach acid. One person also reports regressed cataract and many tell of increased energy, improved skin and sleep, better moods, etc.
"Dr. Ann [Wigmore] discovered the many healing benefits of blending foods, especially greens. She lived the last several years of her life almost completely on blended foods, a large part of which consisted of greens. She noticed that blended foods assimilated into her system more easily. For instance, she would say about fruit, 'If I have an apple, I will blend it instead of munch it, because I don't want to waste its energy or mine.' She observed that eating blended food gave her superior health and cut her hours of sleep down to two hours per night."
- Victoria Boutenko, p. 114, Green for Life
Victoria herself writes how, after many years as a raw foodist, she was able to overcome nutritional deficiencies which manifested as cravings and not feeling satisfied after eating:
"I realize now that for a number of years I was fanatical about being a 100 percent raw foodist. I believed that anything raw was better than anything cooked. When I learned about the benefits of raw food, I didn't think twice - I was going to do it all the way. While in the beginning of my raw food diet (which consisted of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) I felt completely satisfied, several years later I started to feel that something was missing. I developed cravings that continued to grow stronger and more frequent until at last I felt constantly hungry. I enjoyed eating fruits and I could eat a pound or two of them in one sitting but after I was done, I was still hungry, which is a symptom of deficiency. Carrots, broccoli and other such vegetables were not very appealing to me, especially when they were prepared with any kind of dressing made with oil. I had developed a strong dislike for any oils and after about ten years of being a raw foodist, I couldn't tolerate even a drop of oil in my food. [...]
"It wasn't until I came up with the idea of green smoothies in 2004 and began drinking them daily that I experienced a profound improvement in my health and lost some weight. I understand now that I had added the necessary omega-3s to my diet but still had not reduced the omega-6s. [...]
"For a long time I couldn't find an explanation for my body's rejection of nuts and didn't know what to do about my diet until I read the very latest research about the dangers of overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids that could cause a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids. [...]
"... the available nutritional data shows that greens are the second highest vegetarian source of omega-3s after flaxseed oil, they are very clearly important for helping us get enough essential omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. Considering all the benefits we can get from omega-3s, green smoothies are simply a miraculous healing drink."
- Victoria Boutenko, p. 104 & 110-111, Green for Life
Victoria Boutenko has also made studies, based on questionnaires, and found that in fact over 90% of Americans have low stomach acid. She has also found green smoothies to help tremendously with this condition.
According to Victoria, you can test yourself for low stomach acid by drinking a quarter cup of beet juice. If your stool or urine, as a result, changes even slightly towards the colour of beet, you have low stomach acid.
As a result of her initial findings, Victoria Boutenko performed a study with Dr. Paul Fieber, which came to be called the 'Roseburg Study'. In the study volunteers drank one quart of freshly made green smoothie each day for one month, in addition to their regular mainstream American diet.
Dr. Fieber explains: "Out of the [...] twenty-four participants, we had sixteen of the group who showed improvement in their production of HCl. It was remarkable to me that 66.7 percent of the participants showed such vast improvement. I did not expect to see this much progress in such a short period of time. The fiber content and nutrient value of the green smoothies made for an incredible success. All the participants also noted many other improvements in health, some of which were dramatic changes."
He continues: "I would also like to give my own personal testimonial, as my wife and I had been drinking green smoothies for about two months before the study was conducted. My blood pressure, pulse rate, and cholesterol readings all improved substantially. We lost all cravings for cooked food, and the green smoothies were both delicious and fulfilling. The most significant change for me concerned a small growth that had appeared on my nose. After one month on the green smoothies, the growth fell off and left a small hole where it had been. This proved to me the tremendous healing properties of the green smoothie."
- p. 71, Green for Life
Do note, also, that Dr. Paul Fieber explains that while many of his patients complain of excess stomach acid (e.g. gastric reflux), the problem usually is NOT too much acid but an inappropriate timing of the stomach acid, which can produce symptoms of irritated or inflamed digestive tract. He states that in this case, also, too low stomach acid is in fact most often the problem: "For many, reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus has more to do with inadequate secretions of stomach acid leading to the putrefaction of food and the accompanying symptoms of gas, bloating, reflux and belching."
- p. 70, Green for Life
This is Victoria's account of the results of the Roseburg Study (testimonials from participants are also included at the back of the book):
"After consuming green smoothies for just one month, Roseburg Study participants noted the following health improvements in addition to improved stomach acid: increased energy, depression lifted and suicidal thoughts gone, less blood sugar fluctuation, more regular bowel movements, dandruff cleared up, no more insomnia, asthma attacks stopped completely, none of the usual PMS symptoms, stronger fingernails, fewer coffee cravings, sex life improved, skin cleared up, and many more. It was interesting to see that most of the participants who wanted to lose weight lost anywhere from five to ten pounds, and a couple of people who wanted to gain weight were able to gain one or two pounds."
- Victoria Boutenko, p. 72-73, Green for Life
At the back of the book, recipes for green smoothies are also provided.
And for the end, a warning from Victoria:
"I strongly believe, now more than ever, that it is safer to go on raw food for two weeks to see for yourself how you feel than to read ten books and follow their recommendations without having any idea why. Through our careful observations we all have the ability to clearly see the results of our actions.
"Dear reader, with this book I hope to inspire you to start observing which of your actions make you feel and look the healthiest, and as a result to create a personal plan that will work for you in the best way. You are your own best expert."
- Victoria Boutenko, p. 5, Green for Life
You can follow the image link below to preview this book, to read the customer reviews or to purchase from Amazon.
This is Victoria Boutenko's and her 'raw family's' website: Rawfamily.com
Victoria Boutenko, together with her family, has published many other books and they conduct 'Joy for Life' retreats in Canada, Sweden, Thailand and Australia.
The Raw Family also has various videos available on YouTube under the channel: BoutenkoFilms.
They have recently collaborated with Vitamix to bring green smoothies to Africa.
Other books by Victoria Boutenko:
Green Smoothie Revolution: The Radical Leap Towards Natural Health
Raw Family Signature Dishes: A Step-by-Step Guide to Essential Live-Food Recipes
The Green Smoothie Prescription: A Complete Guide to Total Health:
Green Smoothie Retreat: A 7-Day Plan to Detox and Revitalize at Home:
Victoria Boutenko and her family members have written the above and many more important books on the raw food diet.
"Inspirations: Victoria Boutenko on the Healing Power of Green Foods", video, in conversation with Lisa Garr. This title can be viewed on Gaiam TV (currently there is a 10-day free trial):
"Good Life Meals: Inspiration on how to eat and live healthy anywhere, while not restricting your life. My daily meals recorded. Good health makes good life!"
Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.