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- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Blueberry Blocking Effects of Yogurt

What happened when researchers tried to tease out what’s in dairy that interferes with the health benefits of berries and tea?

A trio of Harvard studies that followed more than 100,000 women for more than a decade found that those consuming the most anthocyanins—the brightly colored pigments found in blueberries, strawberries, and other berries—had an 8 percent reduction in risk of developing high blood pressure. Great, but how many berries? As you can see at 0:22 in my video Benefits of Blueberries for Blood Pressure May Be Blocked by Yogurt, those in the group consuming the most berries every day were only eating about 6 strawberries or just 11 blueberries, which is about a tenth of a cup. Maybe the biggest berry eaters just happened to have other healthy habits that were the real reason they did better? After all, you’re probably more likely to sprinkle blueberries on oatmeal than on bacon and eggs. Yes, but the researchers controlled for intakes of whole grains, fiber, and salt, as well as smoking and exercise habits and a number of other factors, yet the apparent berry benefit still remained. You don’t know for sure about the benefits of berries, though, until you put it to the test. 

The title of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial gives away the thrilling conclusion: “Daily Blueberry Consumption Improves Blood Pressure.” But how can you do a double-blind trial with a food? How can you convincingly create a fake blueberry? A blueberry placebo? In this study, the researchers used whole blueberries—about a cup’s worth—but powdered them. A look-alike placebo powder had the same amount of sugar and calories as the real blueberries but without the actual blueberries. As you can see at 1:26 in my video, those in the placebo control group had no real change over the eight-week study. They started out with a blood pressure of 138 over 79 and ended up with 139 over 80. Those in the real blueberry group, though, experienced a significant drop, going from 138 over 80 down to 131 over 75. Now, a systolic blood pressure level of 131 is still too high; you’d like to see it go down at least to 120 or even 110. So, blueberries alone may not cure you. However, the fact that you can get a clinically significant improvement in a killer disease just “by the addition of a single dietary component” to your diet is quite impressive.

Is more better? What about twice the dose? More like two cups of fresh blueberries a day. Researchers found the same kind of significant drop, as you can see at 2:09 in my video, but increasing the amount didn’t seem to make the blueberries work any better. So, one cup may be all we need. Even less than a cup may work too, but we don’t know because it’s never been tested. 

Overall, there have been five interventional studies to date on the effects of blueberry supplementation on blood pressure. Put all the studies together, and the results do not show any clinical efficacy. Wait, how could this be the case? I just discussed two studies that produced a gorgeous effect. Have I been cherry-picking studies—or rather, berry-picking them? If you read the papers closely, the blueberries in the two studies that detected a significant effect were prepared with water. The researchers simply mixed the blueberry powder with water. “However, the blueberries in the non-significant effect were prepared with yogurt and skim milk-based smoothie…”

You may remember from a video I produced about eight years ago, Nutrient-Blocking Effects of Dairy, that discussed how the absorption of berry nutrients can be blocked by dairy. As you can see at 3:09, if you mix strawberries with water, you get a nice peak in strawberry phytonutrients in your bloodstream within hours of consumption. But, if you instead go for strawberries with cream—mixing the same amount of strawberries with milk instead of water—significantly less of their phytonutrients make it into your system. “The inhibitory effects of milk may be due to…interaction of anthocyanins [the berry pigments] and milk proteins.” Does milk make the same thing happen with blueberries? 

Indeed, the antioxidant activity of blueberries was found to impaired by milk. In the study, volunteers ate a cup and a half of blueberries with either water or milk. As you can see at 3:48 in my video, the milk blocked the absorption of some phytonutrients, but not others. So, did it really matter that much? After consuming blueberries with water, there were spikes in the antioxidants found in the bloodstream, but fewer with milk. When you look at the total antioxidant capacity of the bloodstream, you see that if you eat blueberries with water, antioxidant power shoots up within an hour and remains elevated five hours later. With milk, you’d think there might be less of a bump. In fact, there wasn’t just less of a bump, but less overall—less than where the study participants had even started out! The study subjects ate a whole bowl of blueberries and ended up with less antioxidant capacity just because they ate them with milk. No wonder mixing blueberries with yogurt or milk may abolish the blood pressure–lowering benefits. 

Interestingly, full-fat milk may inhibit nutrient absorption the most, similar to what one finds by adding milk to tea. We’re talking about twice the reduction in in vitro antioxidant values with whole milk compared with skim milk, which is odd because we always thought it was the milk protein that was the culprit. This, however, suggests there may be some nutrient-blocking involvement from the dairy fat as well. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Three Harvard studies followed more than a hundred thousand women for a decade and found that those consuming the most berries (and thereby the most anthocyanins, berries’ brightly colored pigments) each day had an 8 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure, and the quantities were only about 6 strawberries or 11 blueberries a day. Even after controlling for other factors, such as intakes of whole grains, fiber, and salt, and smoking and exercise habits, the benefit from regularly eating berries remained. In an eight-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, participants in the placebo control group had no real change in blood pressure, but those in the real blueberry group, who got about a cup’s worth of blueberries a day unbeknownst to them, experienced a significant drop, from 138 over 80 down to 131 over 75. Two cups of fresh blueberries a day gave the same kind of significant drop, but doubling the amount didn’t make the blueberries work any better than having just one cup. Mixing blueberries with dairy, such as yogurt or skim milk, however, does not result in any clinical efficacy, as dairy has been shown to block the absorption of berry nutrients. Comparing the antioxidant activity of blueberries with either water or milk, researchers found spikes in the antioxidants in the bloodstream after consuming blueberries with water, but berries with dairy not only resulted in less of a bump but actually ended up with less antioxidant capacity than before they had started. The milk appeared to eliminate the blood pressure-lowering benefits of the blueberries, and full-fat milk may inhibit nutrient absorption the most.

What else can berries do? Check out some of my other videos:

Can Cranberry Juice Treat Bladder Infections? Reducing Muscle Soreness with Berries Boosting Natural Killer Cell Activity Flashback Friday: How to Slow Brain Aging by Two Years Inhibiting Platelet Aggregation with Berries Benefits of Blueberries for Artery Function Flashback Friday: Benefits of Blueberries for the Brain Flashback Friday: Benefits of Blueberries for Heart Disease Berries for Inflammation and Osteoarthritis Treatment Best Brain Foods: Berries and Nuts Put to the Test Flashback Friday: Blueberries for a Diabetic Diet and DNA Repair Flashback Friday: The Benefits of Açai vs. Blueberries for Artery Function

But, wait. If we don’t eat dairy, what about our bones? See Flashback Friday: Is Milk Good for Our Bones?.

For a whole diet approach to combat high blood pressure, see How Not to Die from High Blood Pressure.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Guacamole

High-fat plant foods—avocados, peanuts, and walnuts—and olive oil are put to the test.

In the preface of my book How Not to Die, after bemoaning the fact that although Big Pharma offered me countless steak dinners during my medical training, Big Broccoli never asked me out, I wrote that you’ll probably never see an ad on TV for whole natural foods because there just isn’t much of a markup, they aren’t shelf-stable, and you can’t brand them, patent them, or trademark them. Real food just isn’t as profitable as junk. But, I may have to eat those words. As I discuss in my video Flashback Friday: The Effects of Avocados on Inflammation, there was a TV ad for avocados—aired during the Super Bowl, no less—and it wasn’t for avocado-flavored Doritos or something like that. It was an ad for the actual fruit. Thanks in part to the billions of avocados sold every year, the Avocado Board has $50 million—not only for ads but for research, too.

I’ve touched previously on its burger study, in which the addition of avocado blunted the spike in inflammation one gets within hours of eating meat. Amazing. The burger with more added fat and more calories from the avocado produced less inflammation, perhaps because the added fat and calories were in the form of a whole plant food, which tend to be packed with antioxidants that can inhibit the formation of oxidized fats that are formed when meat is cooked and when it hits your stomach acid.

Do other high-fat, high-calorie whole plant foods have the same protective effect? What about peanuts, for example. Not to be outdone by Big Guac, the Peanut Institute funded a study with the understanding that most of us spend most of our waking hours in a postprandial state—that is, an after-meal state—and the fat from those meals that courses through our systems is “a well-recognized risk factor for atherosclerosis,” the number one killer of men and women, manifesting as “impaired endothelial function.” That means we may have crippled artery function within hours of eating something crappy, like a milkshake, about 1,200 calories of mostly sugar and heavy cream. Well, what if you drank that same milkshake with 3 ounces of peanuts thrown in? 

To mimic the nutritional profile of the added peanuts as closely as possible, the researchers tried to match up the added fat and protein by adding oil, egg whites, and even a fiber supplement to the control. So, as you can see at 2:07 in my video, the two milkshakes had pretty much the same amounts of calories, sugar, protein, fat, saturated fat, and fiber. So, on paper, it would seem the two shakes should cause the same reaction in the body, right? But peanuts are whole plant foods, so what you don’t see listed in a nutrient profile are the thousands of phytonutrients in the peanut milkshake that are missing from the non-peanut shake. Did the phytonutrients make any difference? 

As you can see at 2:44 in my video, within hours of consuming the non-peanut milkshake, all that saturated fat and sugar in the shake clamped down artery function by about 20 percent. Just one milkshake reduced the ability of our arteries to relax and dilate normally by 20 percent! Okay, but what if you consumed the same amount of saturated fat and sugar but with a little real food thrown in? There was no significant drop in artery function! The peanuts helped preserve artery function in response to the endothelial insult, a “cardioprotective effect” presumably due to the active phytonutrients in the peanuts and peanut skins.

Walnuts may work even better. As you can see at 3:23 in my video, after you eat a salami and cheese sandwich with some olive oil, artery function plummets by about a third, but if you replace that olive oil with the same amount of plant fat in the form of whole walnuts, you don’t just blunt the effect of the salami and cheese—you reverse it. You end up even better than you started out.

What about avocados? “Research indicates that energy-dense [calorie-dense] foods increase inflammation and oxidative activity, thereby contributing to the development of vascular [artery] disease. However, it is not clear whether the high kilojoule [calorie] load alone, irrespective of the nutritional content of the ingested food, produces the postprandial [after-the-meal] oxidative and inflammatory activity.” So, researchers compared the impact of “a high-fat, high-sugar, phytonutrient-reduced food (ice cream)” to the effects of the exact same number of calories of a “phytonutrient-rich whole food (avocado).” If it’s just the concentration of calories and fat, the ice cream and avocados should have the same effect. The researchers tested reactions to four different meals: (1) ice cream, (2) avocado, (3) just the fat and protein from the ice cream (to separate out the sugar), and (4) just the amount of sugar in the ice cream (to separate out the effects of the saturated butterfat).

As you can see at 4:43 in my video, the four “food/food components” were ice cream, just the cream, just the sugar (without any fat), and about four avocados, which had, compared to ice cream, about three times the fat and the same amount of saturated fat and calories. What did the researchers find? If you eat the ice cream, just the cream (the sugar-free components), or just the sugar (the fat-free components), the level of oxidative stress in the bloodstream goes up. But, this was not observed after ingestion of a calorie-equivalent whole plant food.

“Unlike ice cream, ingestion of the whole-food avocado, which has the same energy density [calories] and a similar amount of fat, did not produce a rise in oxidative or inflammatory activity. This suggests that the postprandial [after-meal] oxidative stress observed after eating foods such as ice cream may be due to their isolation from non-energy-producing food components such as antioxidants.” Sugar is okay in fruit form because it naturally comes prepackaged with phytonutrients. Similarly, the fat in whole plant foods like nuts and avocados comes prepackaged with “a rich matrix of phytochemicals [and] therefore does not demonstrate the same potential for oxidative damage.”

Want to read more from How Not to Die? Please do! All proceeds I receive from my books are donated to charity. 

I also mentioned Flashback Friday: The Effects of Avocados and Red Wine on Meal-Induced Inflammation.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Adding avocado to a burger blunts the spike in inflammation that normally occurs within hours of eating meat. Despite the avocado adding more fat and calories to the meal, less inflammation is produced, likely because the additions are from antioxidant-rich whole plant foods that can inhibit oxidized fat formation. Most of our waking hours may be in a postprandial (after-meal) state, and the fat we eat may be crippling our artery function soon after consumption. When two milkshakes with virtually the same amounts of calories, sugar, protein, fat, saturated fat, and fiber, but one included peanuts, a whole plant food containing thousands of phytonutrients, were given to subjects, within hours of drinking the non-peanut shake, artery function was diminished by 20 percent. With the addition of peanuts, though, there was no significant drop in the ability of the arteries to relax and dilate normally, and walnuts may work even better. In another study, researchers examined reactions to: (1) ice cream, (2) avocado, (3) just the fat and protein from the ice cream (to separate out the sugar), and (4) just the amount of sugar in the ice cream (to separate out the effects of the saturated butterfat). Oxidative stress levels in the bloodstream increased with the ice cream, just the fat and protein from the ice cream, and just the sugar in the ice cream, but no increase was observed after eating the avocados. Whole plant foods, which are rich in antioxidants, come naturally prepackaged with phytonutrients and do not show the same potential for oxidative damage.

For even more on avocados, check out:

Are Avocados Healthy? Are Avocados Good for Your Cholesterol? Avocados Lower Small Dense LDL Cholesterol  Are Avocados Fattening? Are Avocados Good for You? 

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Probiotics vs. Antibiotics for Autism

What role do antibiotics play in the development and treatment of autism spectrum disorder?

“There are many examples in nature of intestinal microbes altering host behavior. One such example involves the eukaryotic pathogen Toxoplasma gondii when it infects a rodent, causing the animal to lose its innate fear of the odor of bobcat urine.” The brain parasite, infecting the rodent through the gut, finds its way into the brain. Why does the parasite care about what mice are afraid of? Because, by not avoiding predators, they’re more often caught and eaten, and the parasite is “then excreted in the bobcat stool where it is able to infect other rodents.” If you’re a mouse-brain parasite, how are you going to spread? Mice aren’t cannibals, so you have to make sure the mouse you’re in is eaten by something else. So, the parasite evolved a way to alter the mouse’s behavior. 

Given the potential power of microbes to affect behavior, might the disruption of our gut microbiome, our good gut bacteria, be a potential factor in the causation of autism? That’s the very topic I cover in my video The Role of the Gut Microbiome in Autism. As you can see at 1:06 in my video, kids with autism do tend to have altered gut flora, different from those of children without autism. For example, autistic children have significantly less Prevotella, which characterize the healthy gut enterotype that you can foster the growth of yourself with a more plant-based diet. But which came first? Instead of the bad gut flora leading to autism, isn’t it more likely that the autism led to the bad gut flora? Compared with “healthy controls,” children with autism eat significantly fewer daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and their diets are “often characterized by a lack of variety, an inadequate amount of fiber-containing foods”—meaning not enough whole plant foods in general—“and an increased amount of sugar-containing foods.” So, couldn’t that explain the different gut flora?

There are some perinatal risk factors for the development of autism, including premature birth, low birth weight, and, particularly, delivery by caesarean section. What does a C-section have to do with the microbiome? “There may be a protective value offered by the maternal vaginal microbiome” that infants miss out on when they are delivered through a surgical incision instead. During a C-section, sometimes the mothers are placed under general anesthesia, and it’s possible that the anesthetics could affect the babies’ brains before the infants are disconnected from the maternal blood supply. To differentiate between the two scenarios, we’d need a study that compared autism risk between C-sections where the moms got an epidural or spinal block versus caesareans when the moms were under general anesthesia, and we got just that. 

“This study examined the incidence of autism in neonates delivered vaginally, by C-section with regional anesthesia (RA), and by C-section with general anesthesia (GA),” and only those infants delivered by C-section under general anesthesia had a higher risk, not those delivered vaginally or by C-sections with RA where moms got just an epidural, for example. This suggests the C-section connection is related to anesthesia drug exposure rather than involving the lack of vaginal flora exposure. This wasn’t an interventional trial, though, in which mothers were randomized to the various groups; it was just an observational study. It’s possible the increased autism risk had less to do with the anesthetic itself than the pregnancy complications that may have led to having to put the mother under. Either way, there doesn’t seem to be a microbiome connection.

Researchers have tried probiotics for children with autism, but, so far, they don’t seem to have helped much. Some families, in desperation, have tried fecal transplants. They aren’t FDA-approved, though, so families are forced to go on the “brown” market. (Ahem.)

Where did this idea come from? It can all be traced back to a remarkable study published in the Journal of Child Neurology. “Several parents of children with regressive-onset autism”—that is, kids who started out acting normally before the autism struck—noted that the change in behavior seemed to start after their child had taken antibiotics. They had gotten chronic diarrhea, suggesting that the antibiotics had mucked with their gut flora. Then came the loss of language, play, and social skills. It all could have been a total coincidence, but it led a group of pediatric gastroenterologists to speculate that maybe there was some cause-and-effect link. Maybe by wiping out the good bugs, some bad, neurotoxic bugs took hold, which led to the autism. If this were true, perhaps they could clean the slate once again with another dose of antibiotics, but this time to try to clear out any bad bugs. Might “appropriately targeted antimicrobial therapy…reduce autism symptoms in these individuals”? That would be groundbreaking.

As you can see at 5:17 in my video, after researchers put the kids on a powerful antibiotic called vancomycin, 80 percent of the children got better. But, within a few weeks after the treatment, most of them slipped back toward their baseline, suggesting that perhaps the bad bugs got pushed down but not out. The study was conducted nearly 20 years ago and only had an “n” of 11, meaning it only looked at 11 kids. (The letter n is research-speak for the number of subjects in a study.) Surely, by now, lots of larger studies have been done, right? In reality, only a single follow-up study has been published, and it had an n of 1. 

“An n = 1 case report of a child with autism improving on antibiotics and a father’s quest to understand what it all may mean” was written by the father himself, describing a dramatic improvement in his child’s autism after taking amoxicillin. When he talked to other parents of autistic children, he “discovered, much to [his] surprise, that many…routinely give their children antibiotics to improve their symptoms.” He also heard from other parents, though, who “felt that their children’s autism symptoms became worse when they received antibiotics” or believed that antibiotics were to be blamed for the emergence of the disorder in the first place. All of that speaks to the potential role of the gut flora, however, reinforcing the notion. 

When he scoured the medical literature to learn more, all he could find was that study I mentioned with only 11 children. How is it possible there haven’t been follow-up studies? Right before his eyes, he witnessed the evidence in his own child of what that study had shown. He saw this seemingly intractable condition rapidly and dramatically ameliorated in response to an antibiotic—at least in his child. Surprisingly, there have been no attempts to repeat that study. I think most parents would count their blessings that it at least worked on their child and leave it at that, but not this parent. He started his own autism research foundation, the N of One, “with the mission of encouraging, sponsoring, and communicating breakthrough autism research.”

I referred to my video Flashback Friday: What’s Your Gut Microbiome Enterotype?, which you may want to check out. The more important one, however, is How to Change Your Enterotype.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

One example of intestinal microbes altering host behavior is Toxoplasma gondii, a eukaryotic pathogen that infects the guts of rodents and causes them to lose their innate fear of the odor of bobcat urine. The rodents infected by the brain parasite don’t avoid predators and are more likely to become prey, and the parasite is able to spread by being excreted in the bobcat stool where it can infect other rodents. Autistic children tend to have altered gut flora that differs from kids without autism. They have, for example, significantly less Prevotella, which characterize the healthy gut enterotype that can be fostered with a more plant-based diet. This follows since autistic kids typically eat significantly fewer fruits and vegetables each day, and their diets often lack a diversity of foods and inadequate servings of foods with fiber, yet increased amounts of sugar. Perinatal risk factors for the development of autism include premature birth, low birth weight, and delivery by caesarean section, particularly C-section under general anesthesia. Probiotics for children with autism do not appear to be helpful. A study published in the Journal of Child Neurology introduced the idea of fecal transplants, which are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Parents of children with regressive-onset autism noted behavior changes in their kids after taking antibiotics for chronic diarrhea, suggesting the medicine altered their gut flora, which was followed by loss of language, play, and social skills. Pediatric gastroenterologists speculated a cause-and-effect link and investigated whether “appropriately targeted antimicrobial therapy…[might] reduce autism symptoms…” The study, conducted nearly two decades ago, only included 11 kids. Eighty percent of them got better after taking a powerful antibiotic, but most slipped back toward their baseline within a few weeks after the treatment. Only one follow-up study has been published, and it included only one child. The father wrote the case report, describing dramatic improvement in his children’s autism after taking amoxicillin. Some parents of autistic children routinely give their kids antibiotics to improve their symptoms, while others feel the symptoms worsen on antibiotics or even blame antibiotics for the disorder’s emergence in the first place.

For more on sprucing up your friendly flora, see:

Flashback Friday: Prebiotics: Tending Our Inner Garden Flashback Friday: Paleopoo: What We Can Learn from Fossilized Feces Flashback Friday: Gut Dysbiosis: Starving Our Microbial Self

If you’re interested in trying to prevent or treat autism—which I completely respect not everyone is—you may want to check out:

Best Foods for Autism  Pros and Cons of Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diets for Autism  Flashback Friday: The Best Foods for Fighting Autism and Brain Inflammation The Role of Pesticides and Pollution in Autism Heavy Metal Urine Testing and Chelation for Autism Dietary Supplements for Autism Alternative Treatments for Autism The Role of Pesticides and Pollution in Autism Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diets for Autism Put to the Test Pros and Cons of Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diets for Autism Autism and Casein from Cow’s Milk

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Spinach and Berries to Prevent Muscle Soreness

What are the effects of spinach and berries on oxidative stress, inflammation, and muscle soreness in athletes?

Higher fruit and vegetable consumption was “positively associated with muscle power” in adolescents, but they aren’t the ones who really need it. What about the consumption of fruits and vegetables and the risk of frailty in older adults? Researchers found that higher fruit and vegetable consumption was “associated with a lower short-term risk of frailty in a dose-response manner,” meaning more fruits or vegetables and less frailty. Those were observational studies, though, which, alone, can’t prove cause and effect. What happens when you put foods to the test?

As I discuss in my video Flashback Friday: Foods to Improve Athletic Performance and Recovery, there was “no positive influence of ingesting chia seed oil on human running performance,” but an effect was found for “spinach supplementation on exercise-induced oxidative stress.” Spinach supplementation? That just meant researchers gave some guys fresh, raw spinach leaves—one gram per kilo of body weight, which turned out to be about a quarter of a bunch a day—for two weeks and then had them run a half marathon. They found that “chronic daily oral supplementation of spinach”—like eating a salad—“has alleviating effects on known markers of oxidative stress and muscle damage…” 

As you can see at 1:16 in my video, when you run a half marathon without supplementing with spinach, you get a big spike in oxidative stress and blood malondialdehyde levels that stay up for hours or even days later. In the spinach group, there isn’t much change before and after two weeks of spinach, but you can really see the difference after you put the body under pressure. After the rigors of a half marathon, your body, supplemented with spinach, is better able to deal with the stress.

What happens when you look at muscle damage, as measured by creatine kinase (CK) leakage from the muscles? (CK is an enzyme that should be in your muscles, not leaking out into your blood.) Researchers found that levels started at about 100 U/L and went up to 200 U/L right after the half marathon, two hours later. The next day is when you really feel that delayed onset-muscle soreness, though. Without spinach supplementation, CK levels reached 600 U/L the day after the half marathon before coming back down. But on spinach? You get a similar immediate post-race bump in CK leakage, but spinach really shines that next day: You don’t get the same next-day spike. So, for a competitive athlete, that quicker recovery may get you training harder again even sooner. The researchers attributed this to spinach’s anti-inflammatory effects. 

As you can see at 2:36 in my video, the same effects were found with black currant juice. After some hardcore weight lifting, muscle damage indicators went up and stayed up, whereas they went up but came right back down when that same weight lifting was paired with drinking berries. These were just measures of a biomarker of muscle soreness, however. What about actual soreness?

If you look at the effects of tart cherry juice on recovery following prolonged, intermittent sprints in soccer players, you see the same kind of reduction in biomarkers of inflammation. But, more importantly, you see less resulting muscle soreness, which I show at 3:08 in my video. The soreness reported by the athletes in cherry group in the days following running those sprints was only about half of that in the placebo group. Researchers then measured maximum voluntary isometric contractions of the leg muscles. They understandably took a hit in the days after the intense workout, though not in the cherry group. The researchers concluded that participants who supplemented with a tart cherry concentrate “were able to maintain greater functional performance,” but that was in testing how high participants could jump vertically. They didn’t look at whether the athletes were able to play soccer any better, but a study on purple grape juice actually showed “an ergogenic effect in recreational runners by promoting increased time-to-exhaustion.” Participants ran on a treadmill, and the researchers measured how long they could go before collapsing. As you can see at 3:56 in my video, after a month of drinking either a grape Kool-Aid-type placebo control drink or real grape juice, there was no real change in performance in the placebo group, but those in the real grape group got a whopping 15 percent improvement, hanging on for an additional 12 minutes before reaching exhaustion.

These studies used juice, so the researchers could make matched placebo control drinks, but you can buy fresh Concord grapes or tart cherries that are fresh, frozen, or water-packed in a can. I mix them with oatmeal, cocoa, and mint leaves for a chocolate-covered-cherry-type sensation. You may want to try that for a few days before participating in your next big sporting event. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Observational studies have found that greater intake of fruits and vegetables is positively associated with muscle power in teens and a lower short-term risk of frailty in older adults. Although chia seed oil has no positive influence on running performance, researchers found that eating spinach each day (about a quarter bunch daily) had “alleviating effects on known markers of oxidative stress and muscle damage” in half-marathoners, compared with runners who did not supplement with spinach. Creatine kinase (CK) is an enzyme found in muscle that leaks into the blood when muscle has been damaged. When researchers measured the runners’ CK levels before, immediately after, and the day after the half marathon, they found that those who supplemented with spinach did not get the same next-day spike indicating muscle damage that those who did not take spinach experienced. For competitive athletes, this quicker recovery attributed to spinach’s anti-inflammatory effects may enable you to resume training more quickly and more intensively. Similar effects were found with black current juice’s effect on muscle soreness in weight-lifters. Tart cherry juice also results in reduction of biomarkers of inflammation, as well as less muscle soreness following prolonged, intermittent sprints in soccer players. A study with purple grapes showed that a month of drinking their juice resulted in a 15 percent improvement compared with those drinking a grape Kool-Aid-type placebo control. The real juice drinkers were able to run an additional 12 minutes on a treadmill before reaching exhaustion.

For research on other natural athletic interventions, see:

Reducing Muscle Fatigue with Citrus Reducing Muscle Soreness with Berries Preventing Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress with Watercress Fennel Seeds to Improve Athletic Performance Coconut Water for Athletic Performance vs. Sports Drinks Doping with Beet Juice Enhanced Athletic Recovery Without Undermining Adaptation The Gladiator Diet: How Vegetarian Athletes Stack Up Ground Ginger to Reduce Muscle Pain Vegetarian Muscle Power, Strength, and Endurance

If you’re wondering about the oxalates in spinach and other greens, see Oxalates in Spinach and Kidney Stones: Should We Be Concerned? and Kidney Stones and Spinach, Chard, and Beet Greens: Don’t Eat Too Much.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
An Apple a Day May Keep the Pharmacist Away

Which would save more lives: eating an apple a day or taking statin drugs?

Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? That’s a public health message that’s been around since 1866, but is it true? You don’t know, until you put it to the test. As I discuss in my video Flashback Friday: Does an Apple a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?.

The objective of “The Association Between Apple Consumption and Physician Visits,” an article published in the American Medical Association’s internal medicine journal, was simple: “To examine the relationship between eating an apple a day and keeping the doctor away.” 

The message has been “promoted by the lay media and powerful special interest groups, including the US Apple Association”—a force so powerful that it spent a whopping $7,000 lobbying politicians during the 2017-18 election cycle. (Okay, so maybe Big Apple is more like an itty bitty appletini.) At any rate, the beneficial effects of apple consumption may include facilitation of “weight loss, prevention of neurologic degradation [protection of the brain], cancer suppression, reduction in asthma symptoms, and improved cardiovascular health.” So, apple consumers ought to require less medical care, right? “Although some may jest, considering the relatively low cost of apples…a prescription for apple consumption could potentially reduce national health care spending if the aphorism holds true.” 

Researchers compared daily apple eaters to non-apple eaters and asked if they had been to the doctor in the last year, been hospitalized, seen a mental health professional, or took any prescription medication within the last month. More than 8,000 individuals were surveyed, and only about one out of ten reported they had eaten an apple in the last 24 hours. The finding? “Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away…” Maybe it takes more than an apple a day? Maybe we need to center our whole diet around plant foods. “However, the small fraction of US adults who eat an apple a day do appear to use fewer prescription medications.” Given that, perhaps we should “update the well-known proverb to clarify that, if anything, apple eating may help keep the pharmacist away.” 

But, based on the average medical prescription cost, the researchers estimate that “the difference in annual prescription medication cost per capita between apple eaters ($1697) and non-apple eaters ($1925) to be $228”—hundreds of dollars saved. So, if all U.S. adults were apple eaters, we could save nearly $50 billion. Of course, if you factor in the cost of the apples themselves, our net savings would be closer to $19 billion, but that’s still a hefty chunk of change. If this all seems a bit like tongue-in-cheek-apple-polishing, you may be tickled to learn this study was published suspiciously close to April Fool’s Day. Indeed, this was in the tradition of the British Medical Journal’s annual Christmas issue that features scientifically rigorous, yet light-hearted, research. In fact, the BMJ itself took on the apple issue to model the effects on stroke and heart attack mortality of all older adults prescribed either a cholesterol-lowering statin drug or an apple a day.

Essentially, researchers took studies like the one I show at 3:06 in my video, where we see a nice dose response indicating the more fruit you eat, the lower your stroke risk appears to fall, as well as similar data found for heart disease compared to the known drug effects, and concluded that prescribing an apple a day “is likely to have a similar effect” on population stroke and heart attack mortality as giving everyone statin drugs instead. Bonus that apples only have good side effects. “Choosing apples rather than statins may avoid more than a thousand excess cases of myopathy [muscle damage] and more than 12 000 excess diabetes diagnoses” (because statins increase the risk of diabetes). And, this article was from the UK. In the United States, one would expect five times those numbers. Ironically, though, the cost of apples is likely to be greater than that of statin drugs. (Generic Lipitor is only around 20 cents a day.) So, yes, “with similar reductions in mortality, the 150 year old health promotion message [of an apple a day] is able to match modern medicine and is likely to have fewer side effects,” but apples are a few pennies a day more expensive, not to mention they “require the more complex and time consuming process of coordinated mastication and swallowing.” Just one gulp with the drug compared to all that time-consuming chewing…

Should we see our doctors every year regardless of how we’re feeling? See my videos Is It Worth Getting Annual Health Check-Ups?, Is It Worth Getting an Annual Physical Exam?, and Flashback Friday: Worth Getting Annual Health Check-Ups and Physical Exam?.

Do you like the thought of taking a more food-based approach to treatment? If so, you’ll love lifestyle medicine. Check out Lifestyle Medicine: Treating the Causes of Disease.

Sadly, Physicians May Be Missing Their Most Important Tool.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The public health message an apple a day keeps the doctor away has been circulating since 1866. Benefits of apple consumption may include facilitation of weight loss, protection of the brain, cancer suppression, reduced asthma symptoms, and improved cardiovascular health. When researchers compared daily apple eaters to non-apple eaters, they found that evidence does not support the well-known proverb, although those eating an apple a day do appear to use fewer prescription drugs. Given average medical prescription costs, researchers estimated that each person could save hundreds of dollars annually just by eating apples. In fact, if all U.S. adults ate apples, we could save about $19 billion after factoring in the cost of the fruits themselves. The more fruits we eat, the lower our stroke risk appears to fall. Researchers concluded that a daily apple may have a similar effect on stroke and heart attack mortality as statin drugs, and apples only have good side effects, unlike statins, which increase the risk of diabetes.

For more on apples, see:

Apple Peels Put to the Test for Chronic Joint Pain Dried Apples vs. Cholesterol The Antioxidant Effects of Acai vs. Apples For Flavonoid Benefits, Don’t Peel Apples

What about apple cider vinegar? Check out Flashback Friday: Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Weight Loss?.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Sources of Oxidized Cholesterol

Chicken, fish, and egg powder in processed foods present greater risk from cholesterol oxidation byproducts, but there are things you can do to reduce exposure.

“A significant body of evidence indicates that oxidized cholesterol, in the form of oxysterols, is one of the main triggers of AD [Alzheimer’s disease].” But, that’s not all. Cholesterol oxidation products (COPs) “are associated with the initiation and progression of major chronic diseases,” including heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure. COPs are produced when animal products are heated. All forms of cooking can do it, since you can get “maximum cholesterol oxidation and COP production” at only about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but are there any types of cooking that are worse than others? As I discuss in my video How to Reduce Cholesterol Oxidation, if you look at “foal meat”—baby horse meat—higher levels of oxidation in general were found in microwaved meat, as you can see at 0:40 in the video.

Indeed, microwaving chicken or beef appears to produce about twice as much cholesterol oxidation as does frying. If you look at bacon, though, raw bacon didn’t have any oxidized cholesterol. Like all animal products, it has cholesterol, but it’s not oxidized until you cook it. Grilling seems to be the safest if you eat the meat right away, but if you put leftovers in the refrigerator and reheat them later using the same method, all the oxidized cholesterol levels shoot up, as you can see at 0:58 in my video.

It’s not just heat, though. Although levels in raw meats are usually low, “their concentrations tend to increase dramatically after exposure to proxidant [or, pro-oxidation] agents such as light.” Okay, but it isn’t like you can crawl inside the pig and eat bacon from the inside. Isn’t meat always exposed to light? Well, but you could wrap the meat in red plastic wrap. Clear plastic wrap doesn’t seem to work, but red film blocks some of the light waves and can delay cholesterol oxidation—at least it worked for “horse meat slices.” The problem is worse with sliced meat products, because more of the meat is exposed to air and light. It’s the same with ground meat—it’s just so much more exposed.

Unless you keep meat in some kind of vacuum pack, the oxygen exposure alone can shoot up oxidation levels even in a dark refrigerator or the freezer. As you can see at 2:04 in my video, cooking raw fish can boost cholesterol oxides levels from 8 μg/g to 18 μg/g, but, after a few months, frozen fish—even frozen raw fish—starts out about ten times higher and just goes up from there.

In terms of which meat is the worst, chicken was twice as bad as beef, whether microwaved or fried. It seems the reason has to do with the polyunsaturated fat content of the muscle, which “decreases in the order fish [with the highest content] > poultry > pork > beef > lamb.” So, white meat is more susceptible to cholesterol oxidation. Red meat has more saturated fat, but fish and chicken tend to build up more oxidized cholesterol. So, chicken and roasted salmon have been shown to generate greater amounts of cholesterol oxidation products than other types of meat. Surprisingly, though, the highest increase of oxidized cholesterol in salmon was found through steaming, mainly because it’s just exposed to heat longer. Cholesterol oxidation increased after each cooking procedure, but “steaming increased the total amount by more than 1000%.”

There are two ways chicken meat may pull ahead, though. One is if you feed the chickens rancid fat. Unfortunately, all manner of substandard “fat by- and coproducts” may end up at the rendering plants to be turned into animal feed. The second way is irradiation. As you can see at 3:28 in my video, when chicken meat is irradiated to improve its food safety from an infectious disease standpoint, it may diminish food safety from a chronic disease standpoint—but, hey, It’s better than dying from Salmonella.

In terms of dairy, you may recall that I talked about the potential dangers of ghee in my video Oxidized Cholesterol as a Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease, which made me wonder about UHT milk. UHT stands for ultra-high temperature processing. It’s used to make those little Half & Half “no refrigeration needed” coffee creamers. As you can see at 4:00 in my video, UHT appears to boost oxidized cholesterol levels by about 50 percent, which is more than regular pasteurization. Interestingly, however, if you can find goat milk Half & Half, that would be safer.

Same problem with eggs. Egg powder in processed foods is good for shelf life, but it may not be so good for human life. Some examples of packaged foods with egg products include some pastas, many baked goods, and mayonnaise. So, even people who stay away from eggs out of the egg carton may still be exposed unwittingly through processed foods if they don’t read the ingredients label.

If it’s all about oxidation, why not just add synthetic or natural antioxidants to the animal products themselves? The meat industry has certainly tried—for instance, adding lemon balm tea to hamburger patties. It didn’t work, but that’s likely because they couldn’t add enough without affecting the taste. What about adding cherries? They’re red, so they would blend right in. As you can see at 5:00 in my video, cherries worked! Two different types of tart cherries significantly reduced the cholesterol oxidation, but meat with a cherry on top seems a little odd. How about just good old garlic and onions? The amount of oxidized cholesterol in a plain pork chop significantly dropped by adding onion or garlic, as you can see at 5:13 in my video. Interestingly, though, in chicken, cholesterol oxidation was helped by sage but not garlic. In fact, garlic may even accelerate chicken fat oxidation. 

So, “there are several measures that can be taken to reduce cholesterol oxidation in foods: reducing the total cholesterol content of foodstuffs by not cooking food with cholesterol-containing fat [like butter or lard], feeding animals with antioxidants, adding antioxidants to food, processing food at low temperatures, using oxygen-excluding packs [opaque vacuum packing, for example], and storing food in the dark.” But, if you take a step back, you see that only foods starting out with cholesterol can end up with oxidized cholesterol. So, in terms of reducing cholesterol oxidation in foods, the primary method may be to “reduce the total cholesterol content of the food”—that is, don’t just avoid adding extra butter; instead, center one’s diet around whole plant foods, which don’t have any cholesterol to get oxidized in the first place.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

In the form of oxysterols, oxidized cholesterol is thought to be a primary trigger of Alzheimer’s disease, and cholesterol oxidation products (COPs) have been associated with the initiation and progression of such major chronic diseases as heart disease, kidney failure, and diabetes. COPs are produced when animal products are heated, and all methods of cooking can do it, but some are worse than others. Microwaving chicken and beef appears to produce about twice as much cholesterol oxidation as frying, and grilling seems to be the safest if the meat is eaten immediately. If leftovers are refrigerated and then reheated in the same method, the oxidized cholesterol levels jump up. Concentrations also tend to increase dramatically after exposure to light and other pro-oxidation agents, though red film (as opposed to clear plastic wrap) blocks some light waves and may delay cholesterol oxidation. Red meat has more saturated fat than white meat, but white meat is more susceptible to cholesterol oxidation, particularly through steaming. Dairy and eggs also play a role. Ultra-high temperature processing (UHT) of milk makes, for example, “no refrigeration needed” coffee creamers. UHT appears to boost oxidized cholesterol levels by about 50 percent, which is greater than regular pasteurization. Egg products in packaged foods, such as pastas, baked goods, and mayonnaise, are also problematic. To reduce cholesterol oxidation, the meat industry has tried to add antioxidants to animal products, such as lemon balm tea, cherries, and onion, but the best way to reduce cholesterol oxidation in foods is by reducing the total cholesterol content in foods—namely, centering one’s diet around whole plant foods that don’t have any cholesterol to begin with.

One of the main triggers of Alzheimer’s disease? Indeed. Check out my video Oxidized Cholesterol as a Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease.

This reminds me of Reducing Cancer Risk in Meat-Eaters, my video about lowering exposure to cooked-meat carcinogens called heterocyclic amines.

Other than cholesterol oxidation, are microwaves a good idea? See Are Microwaves Safe? and The Effects of Radiation Leaking from Microwave Ovens.

Is unoxidized cholesterol a problem, too? See Cholesterol Crystals May Tear Through Our Artery Lining.

What’s the Flashback Friday: Optimal Cholesterol Level?

Watch the video to find out! 

Is it just the small dense cholesterol particles we should be concerned about? Check out  Flashback Friday:Does Cholesterol Size Matter?

Want to see through egg industry propaganda? Check out How the Egg Board Designs Misleading Studies.

You may also be interested in my video Oxidized Cholesterol 27HC May Explain Three Breast Cancer Mysteries.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Oxidized Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease

Oxidized cholesterol can be a hundred times more toxic than regular cholesterol, raising additional concerns about foods such as ghee, canned tuna, processed meat, and parmesan cheese.

Too much cholesterol in the blood “has long been considered to act as a primary risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease and, possibly, Parkinson’s disease.” Striking images on autopsy show that the brain arteries of Alzheimer’s victims are clogged with fat and cholesterol, compared to non-demented elderly controls, as you can see at 0:16 in my video Oxidized Cholesterol as a Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease. But “cholesterol cannot be directly exported across the blood-brain barrier,” so it can’t get directly into—or out of—the brain. What if the brain has too much cholesterol and needs to get rid of some? As a safety valve, an enzyme in the brain can oxidize cholesterol. So, in that form, it can exit the brain and eventually the body. There’s a catch, though. “Although this fact means that the brain can eliminate excess amounts of these oxidation products,” it could be a two-way street. “[I]t could conversely allow toxic amounts of oxysterols [oxidized cholesterol], present in the blood stream, to accumulate in the brain”—that is, to go the other way. 

This is not just a theoretical concern. An elegant study showed that by measuring oxidized cholesterol levels in the blood coming off the brain, collected from the jugular vein in the neck, compared to the levels going into the brain through the artery, you could determine the difference. The researchers found that if you have too much oxidized cholesterol in your bloodstream, it can end up in your brain. This is a problem, because research shows the accumulation of oxysterols can be “cytotoxic, mutagenic, atherogenic and possibly carcinogenic”—in other words, toxic to cells, toxic to DNA, and contributing to heart disease and maybe also cancer. Yes, samples from atherosclerotic plaques on autopsy contain 20 times more cholesterol than normal arteries, but they contain 45 times higher levels of oxidized cholesterol. 

Cholesterol oxidation products may be up to a hundred times more pathological, more toxic, than unoxidized cholesterol, contributing not only to heart disease, but potentially also to a variety of different major chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, as you can see at 2:03 in my video. How can we cut down on the amount of these oxysterols in our body? One way is by not eating them. 

Oxidized cholesterol is found in “milk powders, meat and meat products (including fish), cheese, eggs and egg products.”

“Until recently, our understanding…has been limited by the lack of analytical procedures [testing methods] to analyse foods with sufficient sensitivity and accuracy”—until now, that is. As you can see at 2:39 in my video, oxidized cholesterol can be found throughout animal products. Canned tuna was surprisingly high, but ghee takes the cake. 

Ghee, clarified or boiled butter, is commonly used in Indian cooking. Its method of preparation appears to multiply oxidized cholesterol levels tenfold. This dietary exposure to oxidized cholesterol may help explain why the subcontinent of India is ravaged by such heart disease, even though a significant proportion of the population stays away from meat and eggs. (A number of Indian dairy-based desserts are also made in a similar way to ghee.)

Oxidized cholesterol in the diet is a source of oxidized cholesterol in the human bloodstream, where it can readily cross the blood-brain barrier into the brain. This could then trigger inflammation inside the brain and the buildup of amyloid “years before the impairment of memory is diagnosed.” Early studies showing the buildup of oxidized cholesterol in the blood of those fed meals rich in oxidized cholesterol, causing a spike in the bloodstream a few hours after eating, as you can see at 3:45 in my video, were done with things like powdered egg, which can be found in a lot of processed foods, but you typically don’t sit down to a meal of it. You get the same types of spikes, though, from eating “ordinary foodstuff.” Give folks some salami and parmesan cheese, which are naturally rich in cholesterol oxidation products (COPs), and later that day, COP is circulating throughout their bodies, as you can see at 4:04in my video

Higher levels are not only associated with mild cognitive impairment, but they’re linked to Alzheimer’s disease as well. “Increased oxysterol concentrations in the brain may promote cellular damage, cause neuron [nerve cell] dysfunction and degeneration, and could contribute to neuroinflammation [brain inflammation] and amyloidogenesis,” the formation of amyloid plaques. You can show the boost in inflammatory gene expression right in a petri dish, as you can see at 4:30 in my video. You can grow human nerve cells in vitro and drip on a little cholesterol, which causes a bump in inflammation. According to a blog on neuropathycure.org, if you add the same amount of oxidized cholesterol, it gets much worse. What’s more, if you look at the changes in brain oxysterols at different stages of Alzheimer’s disease on autopsy, you can see how the three main cholesterol oxidation products appear to be building up, as I show at 4:48 in my video. Levels have been shown to dramatically increase in Alzheimer’s disease brains, adding to the evidence that oxidized cholesterol may be “the driving force behind the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Cholesterol gets oxidized when animal products are exposed to heat. Are there some cooking methods that are less risky than others? Find out in my video How to Reduce Cholesterol Oxidation.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

A primary risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s and possibly Parkinson’s diseases is too much cholesterol in the blood. Although cholesterol can’t be exported directly across the blood-brain barrier, it can be oxidized by an enzyme in the brain and, in that form, exit the brain. However, oxidized cholesterol present in the bloodstream may be able to enter the brain through this two-way street. Accumulation of these oxysterols can be toxic to cells and DNA, as well as contribute to heart disease and possibly cancer. Samples from atherosclerotic plaques on autopsy contain 20 times more cholesterol than normal arteries and 45 times higher levels of oxidized cholesterol, which can be 100 times more toxic than regular unoxidized cholesterol. Oxysterols are found throughout animal products, including dairy, meat (including fish), and eggs, and one way to cut down on the amount of them in our body is by not consuming them. The preparation of ghee, clarified or boiled butter that is commonly used in Indian cooking, appears to multiply oxysterol levels tenfold, which may help explain why heart disease is so rampant on the Indian subcontinent despite a significant percentage of Indians avoiding meat and eggs. The presence of oxidized cholesterol in the brain can trigger inflammation inside the brain and the buildup of amyloid, far before memory impairment is diagnosed.

For more on diet and Alzheimer’s disease, see: 

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease with Plants Reducing Glycotoxin Intake to Prevent Alzheimer’s Alzheimer’s May Start Decades Before Diagnosis Alzheimer’s and Atherosclerosis of the Brain Flashback Friday: Alzheimer’s and Atherosclerosis of the Brain Flashback Friday: Preventing Alzheimer’s with Lifestyle Changes and Diet Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease The Alzheimer’s Gene: Controlling ApoE How to Prevent Alzheimer’s with Diet

You may also be interested in my video Oxidized Cholesterol 27HC May Explain Three Breast Cancer Mysteries.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Whole Food Plant-Based Brownies? Yes!

A couple months ago, I emailed a recipe for Oatmeal Cookie Dough Bites, and they were such a hit that I wanted to share another healthy sweet treat. These brownie cookies have a date-sweetened creamy filling and are a great way to get a serving of beans—yes! beans!—while satisfying a sweet tooth. Check out the recipe here, and watch a video on how they’re made on our Instagram.

 

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Key Takeaways: Autism

April is World Autism Month. Many families with a child on the autism spectrum pursue dietary and nutritional approaches as components of treatment. There are some dietary interventions that appear to be successful in helping to manage the troublesome symptoms of autism. One is sulforaphane, which is formed almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables. Check out the topic page for a summary and a list of all of my autism videos, including Alternative Treatments for Autism and Best Foods for Autism.

 

 

Flashback Fridays Get a Refresh

Flashback Fridays are becoming Friday Favorites. I love resharing oldie-but-goodie videos for people who may have missed them the first time around, and those videos are getting a new look starting in May. 

 

 

Top 3 Videos of the Month

assorted fruit and nuts

 

Why Don’t People Eat Healthier? The so-called optimism bias may get in the way of a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

wooden bowls containing legumes and grainsHow to Boost FGF21 with Diet for Longevity Fasting and exercise can boost the longevity hormone FGF21, but what can we eat—or avoid eating—to get similar effects?

 

 

 

a pile of fresh foods on a grey counterHow to Keep Your Microbiome Healthy with Prebiotic Foods We co-evolved a symbiosis with our good gut bacteria, but we are not holding up our end of the bargain.

 

 

 

In health, Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
The Public Health Concerns of Weed Legalization

There are some serious public health concerns about the legalization of marijuana, but they’re probably not what you might expect.

Regarding marijuana legalization, “opinions range from regarding this as a landmark human rights advance granting access to a miracle medication, to one of a disastrous, anarchic profiteering sham.” Most may agree, though, that the trillion-dollar war on weed has been a failed policy, “a vehicle for the hideous expression of American society’s racism,” diverting law enforcement resources away from violent crime, yet having “no appreciable effect on the availability of illegal drugs.” Yes, legalization might free up law enforcement, but opponents “argue that it will increase marijuana use among youth”—not because they couldn’t get it before, but because legalization “will make marijuana more available at a cheaper price and reduce the perceived risks of its use.” Less expensive and more socially acceptable. In other words, the argument goes, think about the children.

What happened in states like Washington and Colorado after they legalized marijuana? Among teens in Washington state, “perceived harmfulness of marijuana use decreased and marijuana use increased,” doubling from 2 to 4 percent. In contrast, there was no change in Colorado, but, presumably, that’s because Colorado had five years of commercialized medical marijuana before recreational use became legal. And, indeed, with the original liberalization in Colorado, perceptions of risk among teens dropped more than elsewhere and rates of dependence went up, as you can see at 1:24 in my video Will Cannabis Turn Into Big Tobacco?.

“A frequently cited concern with legalization is that it will allow the rise of Big Cannabis, similar to Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol.” After the cannabis industry successfully beat back pesticide regulations in Colorado, public health advocates experienced a feeling of déjà vu trying to “mitigate the adverse public health consequences” in the face of an industry that just “aims to maximise profit.” 

The biggest concern, however, may not be Big Cannabis turning into Big Tobacco, but rather Big Tobacco turning into Big Cannabis. “Marijuana legalization advocates have not considered the potential effects of the multinational tobacco companies entering the market,” and, indeed, internal memos show that Big Tobacco has just been waiting in the wings for the right time to strike. The fact that Big Tobacco created cigarettes, perhaps the leading cause of preventable death in the world, shows how much they care about people compared to profits—so that should raise some red flags.

Big Tobacco is expected to profit from marijuana legalization whether or not it takes over, though, as frequent cannabis use is a predictor of future cigarette addiction. “For teen non-smokers…weekly cannabis use in the teens predicted a more than eightfold increase in the odds of later initiation of tobacco use”—moving from just joints to joints and cigarettes. This may be because “tobacco is mixed commonly with cannabis in large part to ensure it burns more smoothly. Thus, cannabis use may indirectly bring exposure to tobacco,” which may be seven or eight times more addictive than cannabis.

Or, it may just be that teens who use marijuana hang out more with a crowd that tends to smoke more cigarettes. But, even after controlling for peer use, cannabis does still seem to be a gateway drug to tobacco, perhaps as a way to deal with cannabis withdrawal. Either way, “one of the most potentially harmful and under-appreciated effects of cannabis use is the ‘reverse gateway’”—that it may lead to nicotine addiction, which wipes out nearly 5 million lives every year, about 24 times more than all illegal drugs combined.

For more on cannabis, check out my entire video series on marijuana here.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The marijuana legalization debate features opinions ranging from it being “a landmark human rights advance granting access to a miracle medication, to one of a disastrous, anarchic profiteering sham.” Opponents also argue it will increase cannabis use among young people by making it less expensive and more socially acceptable. After legalization in Washington state, marijuana use among teens increased and “perceived harmfulness” decreased. In Colorado, medical marijuana was legalized five years before recreational use, and perceptions of risk of use among teens dropped while rates of dependence went up with the original liberalization. A common concern with legalization is the possible rise of Big Cannabis, like Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco, but a larger issue may be Big Tobacco turning into Big Cannabis. Frequent use of cannabis is a predictor of future cigarette addiction. Indeed, weekly marijuana use in non-cigarette-smoking teens predicted a more than eightfold increase in the odds of later using tobacco, which may be seven or eight times more addictive than cannabis. Even after controlling for peer use, it appears that cannabis does still seem to be a gateway drug to tobacco. In fact, “one of the most potentially harmful and under-appreciated effects of cannabis use is the ‘reverse gateway’”—leading to nicotine addiction, which takes nearly five million lives every year, about 24 times more than all illegal drugs combined.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Topical Aloe Vera Gel for Lichen Planus

We shouldn’t ever swallow aloe vera, but how does using it topically for a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease compare to steroids?

Lichen planus is a chronic autoimmune disease, typically of our moist membranes, such as the inside of our mouth, but it can also affect other body surfaces, like our “skin, hair, nails and genitalia.” It isn’t that rare. Its prevalence is around 1%, which “makes it one of the commoner conditions seen in oral medicine clinics.” 

Current treatments are not curative but rather palliative, aimed at relieving pain. We’ve tried steroids, antibiotics, chemotherapy, and surgery, and none appears to be particularly effective. So, even for palliative pain relief, we don’t have great options, which is why a case report like this one is so exciting: After drinking two ounces of aloe vera juice a day and applying aloe topically, improvement was seen, which you can see for yourself at 0:46 in my video Is Aloe Vera Gel the Best Treatment for Lichen Planus?. These types of treated cases have led to journal articles with titles like “Aloe Vera as Cure for Lichen Planus.” But, is ingested oral aloe vera a “potion or poison?” “Internal use of aloe may cause acute hepatitis,” liver inflammation, and electrolyte imbalances, and you definitely should not inject aloe, as “deaths have occurred after aloe was injected in humans, but oral use is also not recommended.” 

This is primarily because of case reports of aloe-induced hepatitis. Ironically, aloe “is presented as a detoxifying product” but can actually end up causing liver damage. In one case, for example, a guy who had been trying to protect his liver ended up in the hospital. How do we know it was the aloe, though?

The assessment of suspected herbal-induced liver injury is challenging, because there are hundreds of things out there that can damage your liver. As you can see at 2:01 in my video, there is a long checklist you have to go through as a doctor to rule out other causes before you blame it on the plant. Do you have some kind of viral hepatitis or another kind of liver infection? Or, could it have been caused by any one of various drugs, toxins, or diseases? Maybe the liver injury could have been caused by one of these other things, and it was just a coincidence that the problem started after drinking aloe. How do we know? In terms of trying to prove cause-and-effect, the gold standard is a positive re-exposure test. That’s how you can diagnose drug-induced liver injury, for instance: Liver inflammation disappears when you remove the drug and reappears when you add the drug back, which “is rarely performed due to the risks involved,” obviously. Has there ever been a re-challenge case published for aloe? Yes. As you can see at 2:45 in my video, aloe-induced toxic hepatitis shot up again after stopping and then restarting aloe ingestion.

Aloe consumption has also been linked to thyroid dysfunction. A woman with lichen planus started swallowing 2 teaspoons of aloe vera juice a day. She started feeling “unjustifiably tired,” and labwork showed her thyroid function was low. But, she perked right back up after stopping the aloe, and her thyroid function returned to normal. Instead of swallowing, though, what if she just swished the aloe around in her mouth to try to help the lichen planus and then spit it out? Excellent question. We didn’t know, until it was put to the test.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 54 patients were randomized to receive a topical aloe vera gel or placebo gel for eight weeks. Eighty-one percent in the aloe group got better compared to just 4 percent in the placebo group. “Furthermore, two patients treated with AV [aloe vera]…had a complete clinical remission.” That’s rare. Remember, lichen planus is considered to be a chronic condition. Yet, after a few weeks applying aloe, the erosive lesions disappeared, as you can see at 3:51 in my video.

How about compared to a steroid ointment? Topical aloe vera gel was found to be superior—more effective than the steroids and causing a significant difference within two weeks, as you can see at 4:05 in my video. So, “although corticosteroids are still the gold standard, aloe vera shows promising results especially with no adverse effects [when applied topically] compared with various adverse effects of corticosteroids.” 

That’s for oral lichen planus, though. What about the efficacy of aloe vera gel in the treatment of lichen planus of the genitals? “Vulval lichen planus is quite common, affecting 1-2% of the population.” And, lichen planus of the vulva may be even harder to treat. “There are flares and partial remissions but no tendency for complete remission.” Indeed, that’s what researchers saw in the placebo group. As you can see at 4:45 in my video, one woman had a good response, but most had little or no response. However, of those applying aloe vera gel, nine out of ten responded, and one woman had a complete clinical remission. The researchers concluded that aloe vera gel is “a safe and effective treatment for inducing remission in vulval lichen planus.”

Is Aloe Effective for Blood Pressure, Inflammatory Bowel, Wound Healing, and Burns? Great question! Check out the video to find out. You may also be interested in:

Aloe for the Treatment of Advanced Metastatic Cancer Can Aloe Cure Cancer? Aloe Vera for Psoriasis

I’ve talked about lichen planus before. Check out Diet and Lichen Planus for more.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Current treatments for lichen planus, a chronic autoimmune disease, are palliative, rather than curative. Steroids, antibiotics, chemotherapy, and surgery have not been found to be particularly effective. A case report claimed that improvement was seen after drinking two ounces of aloe vera juice daily and applying aloe topically, but internal oral use of aloe may cause liver inflammation, electrolyte imbalances, and acute hepatitis, and injection may result in death. Although aloe “is presented as a detoxifying product,” it can cause liver damage. When tested, aloe-induced toxic hepatitis shot up again after stopping and then restarting aloe ingestion. Consumption of aloe has also been linked to thyroid dysfunction. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found improvement in 81 percent of participants with lichen planus in the aloe group, who received a topical aloe vera gel for eight weeks, compared to just 4 percent in the placebo group. And, despite lichen planus being considered a chronic condition, the erosive lesions disappeared after a few weeks of aloe application. Topical aloe vera gel was found to be more effective than a steroid ointment and has no adverse effects, “compared with various adverse effects of corticosteroids.” Aloe vera gel has also been found to safely and effectively induce remission in lichen planus of the vulva.

Interested in other topical alternative therapies? See:

Eczema Treatment with Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Oil vs. Hempseed Oil Eczema Treatment with Coconut Oil, Mineral Oil vs. Vaseline Topical Honey for Canker Sores Flashback Friday: Topical Honey for Canker Sores Does Oil Pulling Help with Cancer?  Oil Pulling Benefits for Plaque and Gingivitis Oil Pulling for Teeth Whitening and Bad Breath Tested The Risks of Oil Pulling

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Viagra-Type Drugs and Melanoma Skin Cancer

What is the role of erectile dysfunction drugs like Cialis and Levitra in the promotion and progression of prostate cancer and melanoma?

Of the half-dozen Viagra-type drugs on the market now, Viagra itself may have “the greatest efficacy but also the highest rate of overall adverse events,” or side effects. It’s still a pretty safe drug, though. For instance, one guy swallowed 65 tablets in “an unsuccessful suicide attempt,” but it didn’t work. The most commonly observed acute side effects include headache, flushing, stomach upset, runny nose, and vision abnormalities, but now that it’s been around for a decade, some chronic effects may be cropping up, such as glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness, caused by degeneration of the optic nerve. Indeed, those using Viagra long-term have up to nearly ten times the odds of glaucoma.

But, it’s cancer that has the medical community rethinking the safety of these kinds of drugs, as I discuss in my video Viagra and Cancer. Men with advanced prostate cancer often have to get a radical prostatectomy, a surgery that can leave them both incontinent and impotent, which can reduce their quality of life. “Therefore, the treatment concept called penile rehabilitation was introduced,” where drugs like Viagra are given to counteract the side effects of the surgery. But, some studies have found that Viagra could decrease natural killer cell activity, and natural killer cells are our first line of immune defense against cancer. One such study was on women, but it did raise concerns about giving Viagra to men battling prostate cancer.

In terms of getting prostate cancer in the first place, men treated with Viagra-type drugs “tended to have less of a chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer,” but that may just be because they’re ejaculating more. Indeed, “high ejaculation frequency possibly may be associated with a lower risk of…prostate cancer.” The reason researchers think this may be the case is interesting: “Frequent ejaculations may decrease the…concentration of xenobiotic compounds and chemical carcinogens,” like hormone-disrupting chemicals and carcinogens, within the prostate gland itself. Anything we eat can end up in our prostate. Drink a cup of coffee, for instance, and you end up with caffeinated semen ten hours later. Smoke a cigarette, and the nicotine ends up in semen, too. What happens when you eat fish? You end up with one-seventh the healthy sperm count compared to men who don’t eat fish, perhaps because “fish eaters” had about three times the concentration of PCBs, as you can see at 2:28 in my video. We don’t know for sure what the story is with Viagra, though, until we put it to the test. 

Researchers followed nearly 5,000 prostate cancer survivors and found that those taking Viagra-type drugs did seem to have a little bump in their risk of the cancer coming back, but subsequent studies failed to find such an association. What moved me to write this article was learning about the unexpected connection between Viagra and melanoma skin cancer.

“If treated early, melanoma can be cured by surgical resection [cutting it out], but due to its proclivity to metastasize, in about 20% of patients it progresses to an aggressive invasive disease” that can kill in a matter of months. Part of the way it does this is through a gene mutation in the cancer, which induces melanoma cell invasion by downregulating an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 5. Does that sound familiar? It may because that’s what Viagra does. Viagra is a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor. So, Viagra may have the same effect in terms of promoting melanoma growth. You don’t know, though, until you put it to the test.

Indeed, Viagra use was associated with an 84 percent “increased risk of subsequent melanoma” diagnosis, and, when you put all the studies together, the association remains significant, as you can see at 4:04 in my video. What does this mean? Well, we have this class of drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra “found in medicine cabinets throughout our communities,” and the FDA does its best trying “to ensure the safety and efficacy of such drugs,” but you can’t “always anticipate the molecular consequences of inhibiting major cellular pathways.” 

There is, however, an alternative explanation: Maybe users of Viagra are just naked more, “thus giving their partners the opportunity to detect melanomas on their skin” and notice some suspicious mole or something. Indeed, only about one in three melanomas are discovered by the patients themselves. 

It can sometimes take years for serious side effects to be recognized, so rather than just covering up symptoms with drugs, we should treat the underlying cause with lifestyle changes whenever possible.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Viagra’s acute side effects including headache, flushing, stomach upset, runny nose, and vision abnormalities, and long-term use of the drug may cause chronic effects, such as glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness. Some studies have shown that Viagra may decrease activity of our natural killer cells, which are our first line of immune defense against cancer. Men on Viagra-type drugs appeared less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but that may be due to higher ejaculation frequency. Indeed, frequent ejaculations may decrease the concentration of carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals within the prostate gland itself. Melanoma (skin cancer) has a proclivity to metastasize and, in about one in five patients, progresses to an “aggressive invasive disease” that can kill in just months, partly through a gene mutation that induces melanoma cell invasion by downregulating the phosphodiesterase 5 enzyme. Use of Viagra, a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor, has been associated with an 84 percent increased risk of subsequent melanoma diagnosis. It is possible that users of Viagra are more often naked, “thus giving their partners the opportunity to detect melanomas on their skin.”

Here are some videos on doing just that for sexual health for both men and women:

Survival of the Firmest: Erectile Dysfunction and Death 50 Shades of Greens Mixed Nuts Put to the Test for Erectile Dysfunction  Pistachio Nuts for Erectile Dysfunction Avoiding Adult Exposure to Phthalates Best Foods to Improve Sexual Function Best Food for Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction Saffron for Erectile Dysfunction

What about cancer?

How Not to Die from Cancer Strawberries vs. Esophageal Cancer  Which Fruit Fights Cancer Better Which Nut Fights Cancer Better? Solving a Colon Cancer Mystery Dietary Cholesterol and Cancer Which Dietary Factors Affect Breast Cancer Most? Breast Cancer Survival Vegetable The Food That Can Downregulate a Metastatic Cancer Gene The Best Advice on Diet and Cancer  Prostate Cancer Survival: The A/V Ratio Animal Protein Compared to Cigarette Smoking Flashback Friday: Animal Protein Compared to Cigarette Smoking Flashback Friday: Who Shouldn’t Eat Soy? Tomato Sauce vs. Prostate Cancer Changing a Man’s Diet After a Prostate Cancer Diagnosis    

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Turmeric with Black Pepper: What It’s Good for and How to Take It

Historians have gathered evidence showing that people—from long ago and from around the world—have used herbs, often in a sophisticated way. Quinine from Cinchona bark, for instance, was used to treat the symptoms of malaria long before the disease had even been identified, and the raw ingredients of a common aspirin tablet have been a popular painkiller for far longer than we have had access to tablet-making machinery. In fact, many pharmacological classes of drugs today include a natural product prototype that we had originally discovered through the study of traditional cures and folk knowledge of indigenous peoples.

A plant in South Asia called adhatoda—from adu meaning “goat” and thoda meaning “not touch” because it’s so bitter even goats won’t eat it—has compounds that help open our airways. Adhatoda tea, with its leaves steeped with black peppercorns, has been used traditionally to treat asthma. I can see why tea would be made from that plant, but why incorporate black peppercorns? In 1928, scientists discovered what the South Asians evidently had already known: Adding pepper increases the anti-asthmatic properties of the adhatoda plant’s leaves.

 

Why Black Pepper with Turmeric?

The Indian spice turmeric, which gives curry powder its characteristic golden color, is so beneficial that my Daily Dozen recommends we get at least a quarter teaspoon every day. Why should we pair it with black pepper?

Key Active Ingredients Curcumin in Turmeric

Approximately 5 percent of the spice turmeric is composed of an active compound called curcumin, which is responsible for turmeric’s bright yellow color.

Piperine in Black Pepper

About 5 percent of black pepper by weight is comprised of piperine, a compound that gives the spice its pungent flavor. Piperine is a potent inhibitor of drug metabolism. One of the ways our liver gets rid of foreign substances is by making them water soluble so they can be more easily excreted. But, this black pepper molecule inhibits that process.

How Do Turmeric and Black Pepper Work Together?

Within an hour of consuming turmeric, we get a little bump in the level of curcumin in our bloodstream. We don’t see a large increase because our liver is actively trying to get rid of it. Would taking just a quarter teaspoon’s worth of black pepper suppress that process? Indeed. By adding just a little black pepper, the bioavailability of curcumin shoots up by 2,000 percent, as I discuss in more detail in my video Boosting the Bioavailability of Curcumin. Even just a little pinch of pepper—1/20th of a teaspoon—can significantly boost curcumin levels. And guess what a common ingredient in curry powder is besides turmeric? Black pepper.

  Other Ways to Boost Turmeric’s Benefits

When we consume curcumin in its whole food form of turmeric root, whether fresh or dried as a powder, absorption of the pigment is also boosted. Natural oils found in turmeric root and turmeric powder can enhance the bioavailability of curcumin seven- to eight-fold. What’s more, when eaten with fat, curcumin can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system, thereby in part bypassing the liver.

In India, this is exactly how turmeric is commonly used culinarily—with fat and black pepper. Amazing! Unfortunately, their traditional knowledge certainly failed them with ghee, which is practically pure butter fat. That may explain India’s relatively high rates of heart disease despite all the turmeric in their diet.

 

What Is Turmeric Good For?

What makes turmeric so healthful that it has a spot on my Daily Dozen?

Treating Ulcerative Colitis: Curcumin seems to be a promising and safe medication—no side effects at all reported—for maintaining remission in patients with quiescent ulcerative colitis. Treating Lupus: A quarter teaspoon of turmeric has shown to be effective for the treatment of uncontrollable lupus (SLE) nephritis. Treating Osteoarthritis: Turmeric may work as well as, or better than, anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. Speeding Recovery from Surgery: In the weeks following surgery, curucmin has been demonstated to lead to a dramatic drop in pain and fatigue. Treating Alzheimer’s: A teaspoon per day of turmeric may be effective and safe for the treatment of the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Fighting Cancer: Curcumin has the ability to kill tumor cells and not normal cells. Furthermore, because it can affect numerous mechanisms of cell death at the same time, it’s possible that cancer cells may not easily develop resistance to curcumin-induced cell death like they do to most chemotherapy. Improving Endothelial Function: The efficacy of curcumin for boosting endothelial function is comparable to that obtained with exercise. Therefore, regular ingestion of curcumin could be a preventive measure against cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. Preventing Diabetes in Prediabetics: In a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of folks diagnosed with prediabetes, in the group that were given curcumin supplements, none went on to get full-blown diabetes after nine months. They group saw a significant improvement in fasting blood sugars, glucose tolerance, hemoglobin A1C, insulin sensitivity, pancreatic insulin-producing beta cell function (measured two different ways), and insulin sensitivity. What if you already have diabetes? Same beneficial effects, and at a fraction of the dose.  Treating Inflammation Eye Conditions: From conjunctivitis (pink eye) to uveitis, to a low-grade form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, turmeric displays dramatic anti-inflammatory effects.     What Are the Side Effects of Turmeric?

I love cooking with turmeric and recommend including it into our daily routine that way rather than taking curcumin supplements, especially during pregnancy.

Gallstones

It takes about 40 milligrams to get a 50 percent gallbladder contraction, which keeps bile from stagnating. If you have a stone blocking your bile duct and eat something that causes your gallbladder to squeeze down hard, you may be seeing stars from the pain! Patients with biliary tract obstruction should be careful about consuming curcumin, but, for everyone else, these results suggest that curcumin can effectively induce the gallbladder to empty and thereby reduce the risk of gallstone formation in the first place and, ultimately, perhaps even gallbladder cancer.

Kidney Stones

Too much turmeric may increase the risk of kidney stones. The spice is high in soluble oxalates, which can bind to calcium and form insoluble calcium oxalate, which is responsible for approximately three-quarters of all kidney stones. Those with a tendency to form kidney stones should restrict turmeric intake to one teaspoon per day.

  How Much Turmeric and Black Pepper Should You Take Daily?

With few downsides at culinary doses and myriad potential health benefits, I’d suggest trying to find ways to incorporate turmeric into your daily diet. I recommend consuming at least a quarter teaspoon of turmeric every day as part of my Daily Dozen checklist, and flavor your dishes with black pepper for added kick and added healthful benefits. 

  How to Take Turmeric with Black Pepper

Simply add these spices to your favorite soups and stews. They can also be blended with bananas and cashews to make a golden turmeric smoothie. Here are two of my favorite recipes that feature both turmeric and black pepper:

Garden Veggie Tempeh Veggie Mac & Cheese   Conclusion

I’ve previously covered the topic of food synergy in videos such as Apples and Oranges: Dietary Diversity and Garden Variety Anti-Inflammation, emphasizing the importance of eating different plant foods to take advantage of some of these interactions.

The black pepper mechanism reminds me of stories about grapefruit (Tell Your Doctor If You Eat Grapefruit) and broccoli (The Best Detox). A testament to the power of plants!

I briefly mentioned the painkilling properties of aspirin. Did you know they’re found naturally throughout the plant kingdom? See Aspirin Levels in Plant Foods.

In some circumstances, the wisdom of traditional medicine seems incredible, as I discuss in Tomato Effect. It can also be dangerous, as you can see in Get the Lead Out. Thank goodness for science!

For all of our videos on the latest research on turmeric, visit our Turmeric topic page.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Sunflower Seeds May Aggravate Acne

Should we be concerned about the pimples, cadmium, and “colonic crunch” associated with the consumption of sunflower seeds?

A recent observational study on acne reported a “statistically significant relationship” between “acne severity and dietary factors such as chocolate, dairy products such as milk, [and] sunflower seed consumption….” I’ve produced videos on acne and chocolate and dairy, but I was surprised by the sunflower seeds, the topic of my video Do Sunflower Seeds Cause Acne?.

When I think about sunflower seeds, I just think of a good, whole-food source of nutrition that’s been found to lower cholesterol levels as much almonds, which is pretty good. But did you know there are right and wrong ways to eat them? If you eat a pound of unshelled sunflower seeds—that is, eat them with the shell still on—you can end up corked with “a fist-sized mass of shredded sunflower seed shells.” How could a doctor diagnose something like that? By the “‘colonic crunch’ sign,” of course. Sounds like breakfast cereal served in hell, but, rather, it’s the “palpation of a large crunchy rectal mass.” You can see a photo of one at 1:10 in my video.

Indeed, if you eat sunflower seeds with the shells still on, you can end up with a “sharp, thorny mass,” which is why the so-called sunflower seed syndrome has been described as “a prickly proctological problem.” It’s been lamented that “people who consume health foods occasionally fall into the trap of believing ‘if some is good, more is better.’” In this case, it’s not the amount that’s the problem, but how they’re being eaten: with the shells still on. “Perhaps this is why the syndrome is uncommon unless the patients are children or adults who are either impaired or have no experience with eating sunflower seeds.”

Most cases involve younger, “preadolescent children,” aged 5 to 11, but researchers described the case of a “psychologically sound” 13-year-old girl and “stressed the importance of the role of the parents guiding their children, whatever the age group, about the potential problems associated with the ingestion of unshelled seeds.”

Does that mean you can eat as many sunflower seeds as you want as long as they’ve been shelled? No—you can overdo even shelled seeds. Simply because of the nature of sunflowers, they’re good at drawing the naturally occurring heavy metal cadmium out of the ground. So, even if they’re grown in uncontaminated soils, sunflower seeds (or kernels) end up with higher cadmium levels than most foods. However, people who consume large amounts of sunflower seeds don’t seem to suffer any untoward effects or even end up with detectably higher cadmium levels. What constitutes a “large” amount? In this study, it was defined as more than an ounce a week, which is like a handful, about 150 seeds.

The World Health Organization recommends staying below about 490 micrograms of dietary cadmium a week. If you ate a handful of shelled sunflower seeds a day, you’d be well below that, but we may get as much as 36 micrograms a day from the rest of our diet, so I think one handful a day is a reasonable safe upper limit. 

Okay, but will sunflower seeds give us acne? You don’t know, until you put it to the test, which researchers did because, after all, “consuming sunflower seeds is a very enjoyable way of participating in a clinical trial….” Fifty young adults were randomized to eat sunflower seeds—or not—for a week. As you can see at 3:23 in my video, the acne severity index stayed about the same in the control group, but got worse in the sunflower group. This translated into about three extra pimples in the sunflower seed group versus only about one extra pimple in the control group. The researchers concluded that “sunflower seed intake appears to aggravate acne vulgaris; however, further evidence is needed to ban sunflower seed intake in patients with acne.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Sunflower seeds, a good, whole-food source of nutrition, lower cholesterol levels as much as almonds. They should be eaten shelled, as consuming their shells can cause problems, including “a fist-sized mass of shredded sunflower seed shells.” Because of the nature of sunflowers, their seeds are good at drawing cadmium, a naturally occurring heavy metal, out of the ground. So, even if grown in uncontaminated soil, the kernels have higher levels of cadmium than most other foods. The World Health Organization recommends eating less than about 490 micrograms of dietary cadmium a week; eating a handful of shelled sunflower seeds a day is reasonably safe. Researchers reported a “statistically significant relationship” between acne severity and chocolate, dairy products, and sunflower seed consumption. When put to the test, the acne of study participants in the sunflower group worsened compared to those in the control group, leading the researchers to conclude that intake of sunflower seeds appears to aggravate acne vulgaris. However, more evidence is needed to ban patients with acne from eating sunflower seeds.

The findings I just shared were as surprising to me as the Does Cocoa Powder Cause Acne? revelation. Interested in more about the effects of various foods and diets on pimples? Check out:

The Acne-Promoting Effects of Milk  National Dairy Council on Acne and Milk Flashback Friday: Saving Lives by Treating Acne with Diet Treating Acne with Barberries Why Do Vegan Women Have 5x Fewer Twins? Does Chocolate Cause Acne? Do Vitamin B12 Supplements Cause Acne?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Blueberries Can Improve Artery Function

What is the optimum dose of wild blueberries to eat at a meal?

A single serving of blueberries can help mediate the arterial dysfunction induced by smoking a cigarette. Researchers investigated the effect of a single serving of frozen blueberries on young smokers. As you can see at 0:19 in my video Benefits of Blueberries for Artery Function, when you smoke a single cigarette, the ability of your arteries to relax naturally drops 25 percent within two hours. But, if you eat two cups of blueberries a hundred minutes before smoking, that same cigarette causes less than half the damage, demonstrating that a single, big serving of frozen blueberries could counteract the artery dysfunction induced by smoking. Of course, it should be noted that “blueberry consumption cannot be considered a means of preventing health consequences due to smoking; this can only be realized by smoking cessation and/or prevention,” i.e. not smoking in the first place.

Two cups of blueberries are a lot, though. Yes, you could easily drink them in a smoothie, but what do you think is the minimum dose to achieve that effect? We didn’t know until a group of British researchers decided to put it to the test. In order to do a double-blind study, they had to create a fake blueberry drink for the placebo control. They used a freeze-dried wild blueberry powder to give people the equivalent of three-quarters of a cup, one and a half cups, one and three-quarter cups, about three cups, or four cups of fresh wild blueberries. The researchers concluded that “blueberry intake acutely improves vascular [arterial] function…in an intake-dependent manner.” So what’s the optimal intake? As you can see at 1:32 in my video, nothing happened after the placebo. After eating one and three-quarter cups’ worth of blueberries, however, there was a big spike in artery function improvement within just one hour of consumption and that seems to be where the effect maxed out. Less than a cup is good, but between one and two cups seems better, with no benefit going beyond that in a single meal.

Can you cook them? What if you baked with them, for instance? As you can see at 2:00 in my video, the same remarkable improvement in artery function was seen with blueberries baked into a bun. The only difference is the spike happened an hour later, since solid food passes more slowly through your stomach. 

If you eat blueberries week after week, you also get chronic benefits, in terms of reduced artery stiffness and a boost in your natural killer cells, which are one of your body’s natural first lines of defense against viral infections and cancer. How can blueberries have all these amazing effects if the anthocyanins—the blue pigments in blueberries purported to be the active ingredients—hardly even make it into our system? Indeed, women were given more than a cup of blueberries to eat, and the researchers couldn’t find hardly any in their bloodstream or flowing through their urine. 

At 2:47 in my video, you can see a chart called a chromatogram. The spikes show all of the anthocyanin peaks in blueberries. Before eating blueberries, there is no sign of the pigments in the participants’ blood, which makes sense because they hadn’t been ingested. After one hour of eating them, however, you start to see the spikes appear, and, a few hours after that, they become a bit more distinct. All in all, though, just a few billionths of a gram per milliliter show up. So, “either anthocyanins are extremely potent and, therefore, active at low serum [parts-per-billion blood] concentrations…or their dietary occurrence or bioavailability has been underestimated.” Researchers decided to radioactively tag them and trace them throughout the body. 

I show what happens at 3:28 in my video. Blueberry pigments are metabolized by our liver and our microbiome, the good bacteria in our gut, into active metabolites that are then absorbed into our system. So, it’s a team effort to benefit from berries, which would solve the mystery as to why researchers observed a second spike in benefits after consumption of a blueberry drink at six hours. Indeed, some of the metabolites peak in the bloodstream within an hour, but others ramp up more slowly, especially if the berries have to make it all the way down into the colon. What’s more, there aren’t only spikes at one hour and six hours after consumption. If you track them out even further, some go up more. Even a day later, we may be experiencing berry benefits as our gut bacteria continue to churn out goodies that get absorbed back into our system, feeding us as we feed them. Eating blueberries can so feed our good bacteria that eating them is like taking a natural probiotic, a win-win all around.

I’ve produced an extended series of videos on the latest berry research. They taste great and you get to live longer? That’s what plant-based eating is all about!

What else can blueberries do? Check out:

Flashback Friday: Benefits of Blueberries for Heart Disease Benefits of Blueberries for Mood and Mobility Blueberries for a Diabetic Diet and DNA Repair Flashback Friday: Benefits of Blueberries for the Brain Benefits of Blueberries for Heart Disease Benefits of Blueberries for Artery Function Benefits of Blueberries for Blood Pressure May Be Blocked by Yogurt Reducing Muscle Soreness with Berries Boosting Natural Killer Cell Activity How to Slow Brain Aging by Two Years Inhibiting Platelet Aggregation with Berries

And for more on berries, watch:

Berries for Inflammation and Osteoarthritis Treatment Berries vs. Pesticides in Parkinson’s Disease Best Brain Foods: Berries & Nuts Put to the Test Inhibiting Platelet Aggregation with Berries Strawberries vs. Esophageal Cancer Black Raspberries vs. Oral Cancer Which Foods Are Anti-Inflammatory?

What about fancier options, like açai berries? See:

Clinical Studies on Açai Berries Flashback Friday: The Benefits of Açai vs. Blueberries for Artery Function The Antioxidant Effects of Açai vs. Apples

Flashback Friday: How Much Fruit Is Too Much? Watch the video to find out.

What about all the fructose in fruit? See Flashback Friday: If Fructose Is Bad, What About Fruit?.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Within two hours of smoking just one cigarette, our arteries’ ability to relax naturally reduces by 25 percent. Eating two cups of blueberries a hundred minutes before smoking that cigarette results in less than half the damage. (But no one should smoke regardless of whether they eat blueberries.) Researchers have found that intake of blueberries “acutely improves vascular [arterial] function…in an intake-dependent manner.” Less than a cup is beneficial, but one to two cups seem better with no benefit to eating more than that in a single meal. The largest spike in improved artery function noted within an hour of consumption came with one and three-quarter cups’ worth of blueberries. Baking blueberries achieves the same improvement in artery function, albeit with the spike occurring an hour later since solid food passes more slowly through the stomach. Eating blueberries week after week gives us the chronic benefits of reducing artery stiffness and boosting natural killer cells that defend against viral infections and cancer. Very little of the anthocyanins, the blue pigments in the fruit, appear in our blood after consuming blueberries, so the phytochemicals are either “extremely potent” or have “been underestimated.” When researchers radioactively tagged and traced them throughout the body, they found that the anthocyanins are metabolized by our liver and good gut bacteria into active metabolites that are then absorbed into our system, which explains why there are numerous spikes in blueberry-induced benefits over a period—even a day later. Blueberries can be thought of as natural probiotics. When we eat them, we’re also feeding our good bacteria.

What about the effects of other foods on artery function? Check out:

Low Carb Diets and Coronary Blood Flow Arteries of Vegans vs. Runners Eggs and Arterial Function Walnuts and Artery Function Dark Chocolate and Artery Function Coffee and Artery Function Fatty Meals May Impair Artery Function Olive Oil and Artery Function Plant-Based Diets and Artery Function Vinegar and Artery Function Tea and Artery Function Turmeric Curcumin vs. Exercise for Artery Function

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Sci-Hub Offers the Quickest, Easiest, and Greatest Access to Science

Sci-Hub is the portal with the quickest, easiest, and greatest access to science, but there’s a catch. 

In 2016, The Washington Post wrote about Alexandra Elbakyan, “The 27-year-old graduate student from Kazakhstan is operating a searchable online database of nearly 50 million stolen scholarly journal articles, shattering the $10 billion-per-year paywall of academic publishers. Her creation, Sci-Hub, is “an awe-inspiring act of altruism or a massive criminal enterprise, depending on whom you ask.” 

As I discuss in my video Sci-Hub Opens Up a World of Knowledge, Elbakyan’s site now hosts around 60 million papers, providing access to nearly all scholarly literature. Via its websites sci-hub.tw and sci-hub.st, Sci-Hub has been able to fill 99.3 percent of article requests—all for free. A sister site, Library Genesis, currently at gen.lib.rus.ec, distributes more than a million scientific books and textbooks for free, also illegally.

Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone, concluded a feature in the prestigious journal Science. As you can see at 1:10 in my video, a survey of potential users for their “motivations for obtaining materials” finds that, for most, it’s not some grand political statement, but rather it’s the only way they have access or it’s just much quicker and easier. Even those who have legitimate institutional access may still choose to use Sci-Hub because the site doesn’t make you jump through a lot of hoops to get to the article. 

You can imagine how sites like Sci-Hub are filling publishers who charge for access “with roaring, existential panic.” They aren’t taking it lying down, either. Elsevier, the largest publisher, notorious for demanding researchers take down free copies of their own work, sued Sci-Hub, the Library Genesis project, Elbakyan herself, and 99 John Does for copyright infringement, a “willful, intentional, and purposeful…disregard of…Elsevier’s rights.”

It’s kind of hard to take the moral high ground, though, when you’re effectively an international arms dealer. “Can you imagine a tobacco company publishing health journals? Probably not…Surely the company’s business mission would be impossibly confused: would the company be in the business of killing people or keeping them alive? But if you can’t imagine that absurdity, can you imagine a company that simultaneously promotes arms sales and publishes health journals?” Welcome to Elsevier. In addition to publishing medical journals, Elsevier is involved in the global arms trade, running arms “fairs” that have sold “cluster bombs, which are especially dangerous to civilians because they fail to explode and thus create minefields.” This has led medical journal editorial boards to call for a boycott of Elsevier’s “warmongering and health damaging business activities.”

In response to the lawsuit, Elbakyan wrote a letter to the judge. She wanted to make it clear that not only is Elsevier “not a creator of these papers,” but the publisher doesn’t pay the researchers who wrote them a single penny. “All papers on their website are written by researchers, and researchers do not receive money from what Elsevier collects. That is very different form music or movie industry, where creators receive money from each copy sold.” Indeed, it’s not the case of a pirated movie or song where the content creator loses out. She also noted that no researcher had ever complained that she was distributing their research. 

In fact, “scientific authors are typically thrilled when their work is consulted or cited…their research exists to be used and shared.” That’s the whole point of science—to get out into the world and be built upon. “In one fell swoop,” Elbakyan created a portal likely offering “a greater level of access to science than any individual university, or even government for that matter, anywhere in the world. Sci-Hub represents the sum of countless different universities’ institutional access—literally a world of knowledge.” 

And, she’s not backing down, citing in her defense Article 27 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” 

Elbakyan realizes she could be arrested and extradited to the United States to face charges, and “she is fully aware that another computer prodigy-turned-advocate, Aaron Swartz, was arrested on similar charges in 2011 after mass-downloading academic papers. Facing devastating financial penalties and jail time, Swartz hanged himself.” 

How did all of this come about? I discussed the background in my video How to Access Research Articles for Free

The Sci-Hub URL was bumped to https://sci-hub.se/, and Library Genesis is now at https://gen.lib.rus.ec/ (Links are provided for educational purposes only—literally!)

If you’re interested in doing research yourself, I did an entire webinar on techniques, which was captured as an online Continuing Medical Education course through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Check it out at How to Be an Evidence-Based Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner. I’m hoping to have a whole series of courses coming soon, so stay tuned!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

As a graduate student in Kazakhstan, Alexandra Elbakyan created Sci-Hub, a searchable online database with stolen scholarly journal articles that has been called “an awe-inspiring act of altruism or a massive criminal enterprise, depending on whom you ask.” Sci-Hub provides free access to nearly all scholarly literature, and Library Genesis, its sister site, distributes more than a million pirated textbooks and scientific books. Potential users of Sci-Hub include those with valid institutional access to the literature who may find the site faster and easier to navigate. Elsevier, the largest publisher charging for article access, sued Sci-Hub, Library Genesis, Ms. Elbakyan, and 99 John Does for copyright infringement. Known for demanding researchers take down free access to their own work, Elsevier doesn’t only publish medical journals; it is also involved in the global arms trade. Elsevier does not pay the authors of papers it publishes, and researchers are typically thrilled when their work is consulted or cited. In her defense, Ms. Elbakyan has cited Article 27 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” My webinar on research techniques is available as an online Continuing Medical Education course through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. See How to Be an Evidence-Based Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
The Trick to Access Research Articles for Free

The “Robin Hood of Science” continues to provide more than 60 million scientific papers to anyone in the world for free at https://sci-hub.st

The first issues of the first scientific journals were published in 1665, including an “observation made in England, of a spot in one of the Belts of the Planet Jupiter,” thanks to new telescopes invented by a certain Mr. Newton, whose friend Halley described a comet. The same journal that reported that oranges and lemons could cure scurvy and something in willow tree bark could bring down a fever also published a letter by someone over in the Colonies about playing with kites during lightning storms and included an account of a remarkable eight-year-old musician by the name of Amadeus. Within this last century, the journal printed some sketchings of the structure of a molecule called DNA. You can see actual pages from these journals, dating back hundreds of years, at the start of my video How to Access Research Articles for Free. Still publishing to this day, 350 years later, the journal is now available online and in print for the low, low subscription price of only $6,666 a year. 

As you can imagine, because of the high price of journals, “doctors and other health professionals in developing countries are missing out on relevant information about health.” In the 1990s, “there was optimism that, by 2004, all—or nearly all—health professionals in developing countries would have access” to life-saving information. But, 2004 came and went, so sights were set on 2015. “Lack of access to information remains a major barrier to knowledge-based health care in developing countries,” but surely, by 2015, we could “achieve health information for all,” right? “Realistically only scientists at really big, well-funded universities in the developed world have full access to published research,” but, as prices rise even higher, even that may no longer be true. You know there’s a problem when even Harvard, with its $30 billion endowment, claims that research journal “costs are now prohibitive.”

Meanwhile, the journal publishers are raking in billions of dollars, charging institutions up to $35,000 a year per journal and charging individuals online per article. Imagine a family member is diagnosed with a disease, so you go online. You can read all sorts of internet drek, but if you want to see the actual science, it can get expensive—“10, $15, $20, even $30 for an individual view of an article.” And, you aren’t only paying to read the research; you likely paid for the research, too. Tax dollars pour in to fund research, but then you can’t get access to the research you paid for? “If it weren’t so well-established, the traditional model of academic publishing would be considered scandalous.”

“Imagine that your local government built a nice green park—but when you tried to have a picnic, a private firm demanded payment for admission. That’s roughly how it works with scientific research…The journal system, which converts public research dollars into private publishing profits, has long been a source of discontent…” The publishers don’t end up paying anything for the research. They get it for free. They don’t pay the researchers anything. “So we pay for it, and then we have to pay again if we want to read it.” In this way, it can end up with science as a profit system, rather than science as knowledge.

Enter Alexandra Elbakyan, nicknamed by some “the Robin Hood of Science.” It’s a “tale of how one researcher has made nearly every scientific paper ever published available for free to anyone, anywhere in the world.” 

Named by Nature, perhaps the most prestigious scientific journal in the world, as one of the top ten people who mattered the most in science in 2016, Elbakyan had once been a graduate student in Kazakhstan, “frustrated at being unable to read many scholarly papers because she couldn’t afford them. So she learnt how to circumvent publishers’ paywalls.” Elbakyan then started Sci-Hub, a website originally at sci-hub.io but now at sci-hub.tw “to remove all barriers in the way of science,” by giving away the world’s scientific, medical, and nutrition literature for free.

“What she did is nothing short of awesome,” said one researcher. “Lack of access to the scientific literature is a massive injustice, and she fixed it with one fell swoop.” 

Since I originally recorded the narration for my video, the original sci-hub.io website was shut down, but it can currently be reached at https://sci-hub.st/ and five other domains should that one get yanked, too. You can always see the updated active link list on the Sci-Hub Wikipedia page. Links are provided for educational purposes only—literally!

Isn’t it illegal to download “pirated” papers, though? I explore the controversy in the next installment of this two-part series, Sci-Hub Opens Up a World of Knowledge

My research into Sci-Hub came from a whole webinar I did on research techniques, which was captured into an online Continuing Medical Education course through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Check it out at How to Be an Evidence-Based Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner. I’m hoping to have a whole series of courses coming soon, so stay tuned!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

One of the earliest scientific journals is still publishing today, 350 years after its first issue, and is available online and in print for $6,666 a year. Due to the high price of journals, health professionals in developing countries are denied access to relevant, life-saving information, and, as costs continue to rise, even large, well-funded universities in the western world may be at risk. Journal publishers make billions of dollars annually, charging institutions up to $35,000 a year per journal and individuals per article. Studies are often funded by tax dollars, yet the traditional model of academic publishing prevents taxpayers from having access to the research. Nicknamed the “Robin Hood of Science,” Alexandra Elbakyan made nearly every scientific paper ever published available at no cost to anyone and everyone. As a graduate student in Kazakhstan, Ms. Elbakyan grew frustrated at being unable to read many papers because of the cost, so she learned how to circumvent paywalls and shared the world’s scientific, medical, and nutrition literature for free through her site Sci-Hub. My webinar on research techniques is available as an online Continuing Medical Education course through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. See How to Be an Evidence-Based Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death

 

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Key Takeaways on Protein and a Protein-Rich Recipe

Not all protein is created equal. Animal proteins have different impacts on our kidneys, for example, than proteins from plants. Within hours of consuming meat, our kidneys rev up into hyperfiltration mode, dramatically increasing their workload. This is true of a variety of animal proteins. Beef, chicken, and fish all appear to have similar effects. But, an equivalent amount of plant protein causes virtually no noticeable stress on our kidneys. Check out the topic page for a summary and to watch videos like Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein? and The Protein-Combining Myth.

 

Recipe: Red Beans and Quinoa

This simple meal comes together quickly and is full of beans, herbs, and spices. Personalize it by swapping out the quinoa for another favorite grain. Check out the recipe on our newly redesigned recipe page, and visit our Instagram for a video on how it’s made.

 

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Want to see all of the NutritionFacts videos available in your language? Visit our search page, and check out the Subtitle Language menu on the right side of the page. (Press the Filters button if you’re on a mobile.) Select your language, and the results will show all of the videos subtitled in that language. Consider volunteering to help make more videos available in your language!

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Liz Gildred

“I started as a Graphic Design Volunteer in October 2021, and it’s been a great experience so far! It has given me a way to make a small contribution to the extremely worthy cause of evidence-based nutrition. I’m happy to have the opportunity to support a much-needed and trustworthy source of information.

One favorite WFPB recipe is my breakfast smoothie. The ingredients have evolved (and snowballed!) over the years. I blend either kale or spinach with avocado, banana, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seed, green tea leaves, lemon zest, cinnamon, turmeric, a pinch of pepper, ginger, amla powder, and chlorella powder, along with any type of plant-based milk and ice cubes.”

 

Top 3 Videos of the Month

Large collection of the healthy foods including spinach, garbanzo beans, carrots, beets, ginger.How to Increase Your Life Expectancy 12 to 14 Years: What can physicians do to promote healthy, life-extending, lifestyle changes?

 

 

Group of homegrown red and purple potatoes in rustic setting with dirtThe Healthiest Type of Potato: Are yellow-fleshed potatoes healthier than white? And, what about the glycoalkaloid toxins?

 

 

Cooking oil poured from a bottle into a steel potThe Carcinogen Glycidol in Cooking Oils: Glycidol may help explain why people who eat fried foods get more cancer.

 

 

 

In health, Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Dinosaur Kale and Red Cabbage Put to the Test

Dinosaur kale and red cabbage are put to the test. 

LDL cholesterol is bad, but oxidized LDL may be even worse. What role might our diet play? “Increased fruit and vegetable consumption has been reported to reduce the risk of developing CVD”—cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes. That may be due in part to all of the antioxidants in healthy plant foods that prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Indeed, the LDL oxidation resistance was found to be greatest among those eating more plant-based, who also benefitted from decreased blood pressure and lower LDL overall. You don’t know if it’s cause-and-effect, until you put it to the test. So, researchers put people on a whole food, plant-based diet for just three weeks, and rates and extent of LDL oxidation dropped.

The effects of kale on LDL oxidation were also put to the test, as I discuss in my video The Benefits of Kale and Cabbage for Cholesterol. Kale is a best-of-all-worlds food—low in calories and packed to the hilt with nutrition, including vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidant phytonutrients, and much more. Given its high antioxidant capacity, it’s no surprise that kale, even at low concentrations, showed a protective effect on the oxidation of LDL. That was in vitro, though, in a test tube. Kale was also put to the test in mice, but what about in people? 

You may recall I covered a study showing how kale juice improves coronary artery disease risk factors in men with high cholesterol. As you can see at 1:41 in my video, the researchers got extraordinary results, including a 20 percent drop in bad LDL cholesterol among the nonsmokers. The participants were drinking the equivalent of about ten cups of kale a day, though. Still, the fact that they were able to see an improvement even though the subjects were drinking juice with all the fiber removed shows there really does seem to be something special in the plant. Can you get the benefit by just eating the kale instead of juicing it?

Researchers tested the effect of black cabbage (Lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale) and red cabbage on oxidized LDL. Every day for two weeks, subjects ate a bag of frozen kale and cabbage, which could be conveniently kept in the freezer, pre-washed and pre-chopped, ready to add to any meal. The results? Significant reductions of total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol, and even blood sugar levels, and higher antioxidant capacity of their blood. So, it’s no surprise the “results demonstrated a significant decrease” in oxidized LDL, too. 

Would it have been better to take that red cabbage and ferment it into sauerkraut? Red or purple cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables. Packed with antioxidants yet very inexpensive, it lasts for ages in the fridge and is pretty and tasty. I try to slice off shreds to add to any meal I’m making. I don’t ferment it, though, because that not only adds way too much salt, but it also ends up wiping out some of the nutrition. In the hours after eating fresh red cabbage, there’s a big spike in the antioxidant capacity of your bloodstream. If you eat the same amount in fermented form, however, that antioxidant spoke gets cut down by almost 30 percent, as you can see at 3:14 in my video

Does this mean you have to eat cabbage raw? No, some cooking techniques may improve the antioxidant activity in kale and red cabbage. “The effects of the cooking process can be positive since cooking softens the vegetable tissues, facilitating the extraction of bioactive compounds,” that is, helping your body extract the active components. “However, cooking can also be negative, because heat treatment can degrade these compounds.” Looking at a variety of different cooking methods, researchers concluded that “steaming can be considered to be the best home cooking technique to prepare kale and red cabbage.” But, with foods this healthy, the truly best preparation method is the one that will get you to eat the most of them.

I love it whenever we can convey both interesting, ground-breaking science and practical advice to change our day-to-day eating habits.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

LDL cholesterol is bad, but oxidized LDL cholesterol may be even worse. LDL oxidation resistance was found to be greatest among individuals eating a more plant-based diet. Even at low concentrations, kale, with its high antioxidant capacity and bounty of nutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds, shows a protective effect on the oxidation of LDL. When researchers tested black cabbage (Lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale) and red cabbage on oxidized LDL, they found significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL, oxidized LDL, and even blood sugar levels, as well as higher antioxidant capacity of the blood. Fermenting cabbage into sauerkraut not only adds excessive sodium, but it also eliminates some of the nutrition. Researchers have found that steaming may be the best home-cooking method for preparing kale and cabbage.

Smoking vs. Kale Juice is the video I mentioned earlier, and here are some other videos you may want to chew on:

Best Cooking Method Sometimes the Enzyme Myth Is True Flashback Friday: The Best Way to Cook Sweet Potatoes Flashback Friday: Second Strategy to Cooking Broccoli Flashback Friday: Inhibiting Platelet Activation with Garlic & Onions How to Cook Rice to Lower Arsenic Levels Best Way to Cook Vegetables Kale & the Immune System Flashback Friday: How to Cook Greens Does Pressure Cooking Preserve Nutrients?  

Want to learn more about cabbage? Check out Benefits of Cabbage Leaves for Relief of Engorged Breasts and Benefits of Cabbage Leaves on the Knee for Osteoarthritis

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death  
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
What to Eat to Help with Seasonal Allergies (Hay Fever)

What did a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of a food that costs pennies a day for ragweed allergy sufferers find?

A “great deal is asked of our immune system. It is firstly required to respond rapidly and violently to invaders, but at the same time limits both the duration of its response and the collateral damage to the host.” Anaphylactic shock, which is “defined as ‘a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death’”—like when someone with a peanut allergy dies after eating one—is an example of an overactive immune response. The flipside is an underactive immune response, which can put you at risk for infection.

If you suffer a severe trauma, for example, it’s not enough to get to a level 1 trauma center. Death related to sepsis, or blood infection, is still a major problem, and a “primary factor in the development of sepsis is depression of host-immune response after severe injury”—that is, depression of our own immune system, caused by the stress of the trauma. Researchers tried to stimulate immune function in trauma victims by injecting them with beta glucan, a type of fiber found in yeast. Most of the subjects were car crash victims, but some suffered from gunshots and stab wounds. Not only did the beta-glucan group suffer less sepsis overall, but they also had five times fewer complications and no deaths, compared to nearly one in three dying in the control group.

You may recall that I’ve talked previously about the role of oral beta glucans in the form of nutritional yeast to boost immune function in adults and children. If beta glucans are so immunostimulatory, though, might they increase inflammation and worsen allergies? Actually, dietary yeast may offer the best of both worlds, possessing both antiinflammatory and anti-microbial abilities. On the one hand, yeast beta glucans activate the immune system to prevent infections, and, on the other hand, they are capable of reducing inflammatory reactions. Given their best-of-both-worlds nature, enhancing immune defense while simultaneously down-regulating inflammations, beta glucans are suggested as a replacement for immunosuppressive drugs to treat inflammatory diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease. It turns out that’s not a good idea for Crohn’s disease or another disease called hidradenitis suppurativa, though, since it can makes things worse, but what about allergies, like hay fever?

As I discuss in my video Flashback Friday: Best Food for Hay Fever (Seasonal Allergies), researchers performed a nasal provocation test with tree pollen and then siphoned off some mucus. The subjects who had been taking beta glucans had lower levels of some inflammatory compounds. Based only on that finding, the researchers suggested beta glucans may help people with hay fever—but you don’t know, until you put it to the test. 

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study compared the effects of daily supplementation with about a teaspoon of nutritional yeast’s worth of beta glucans versus placebo for a month “on physical and psychological health attributes of self-described ‘moderate’ ragweed allergy sufferers.” The ragweed family is one of the leading causes of hay fever. As you can see at 3:02 in my video, when you give people a placebo, nothing much happens. In contrast, the beta-glucan group experienced a significant drop in symptoms and symptom severity: fewer runny noses, fewer itchy eyes, and fewer sleep problems. It’s no wonder they also had less tension, less depression, less anger, less fatigue, less confusion, and more vigor. Improvements in allergy symptoms, overall physical health, and emotional well-being with the beta glucans found in just a single teaspoon of nutritional yeast, which would cost about 5 cents a day.

This is part of an extended series about the benefits versus risks of going out of our way to add nutritional yeast to our diet.

As I mentioned, I’ve previously talked about the role of oral beta glucans in the form of nutritional yeast. Check out those videos: Flashback Friday: Best Food to Counter Stress-Induced Immune Suppression and Best Food to Prevent Common Childhood Infections.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Our immune system must respond quickly to invaders, while also limiting the duration of its response and collateral damage inflicted on us. A primary factor in the development of sepsis, or blood infection, which can be fatal, is depression of our own immune system, caused by the stress of severe injury or trauma. Researchers successfully stimulated immune function in trauma victims (of car crashes, gunshots, or stabbings) with beta glucan, a type of fiber found in yeast, resulting in fewer subjects suffering from sepsis and five times fewer complications and no deaths, compared to nearly one in three dying in the control group. Dietary yeast, such as nutritional yeast, possess both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial abilities, activating the immune system to prevent infections while also capable of reducing inflammatory reactions. Beta glucans are not recommended for individuals with Crohn’s disease or hidradenitis suppurativa, but daily supplementation with about a teaspoon of nutritional yeast’s worth significantly benefited ragweed allergy sufferers compared with placebo.

Here are videos discussing some of the potential risks:

Does Nutritional Yeast Trigger Crohn’s Disease? Flashback Friday: Is Candida Syndrome Real? Dietary Cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa Is Nutritional Yeast Healthy for Everyone?

And these go over some of the potential benefits:

Nutritional Yeast to Prevent the Common Cold Preserving Immune Function in Athletes with Nutritional Yeast Benefits of Nutritional Yeast for Cancer

What else can we do for allergies and airway inflammation in general? See:

Flashback Friday: Best Food to Counter the Effects of Air Pollution Preventing Asthma with Fruits and Vegetables Treating Asthma with Plants vs. Supplements? Dietary Sources of Alkylphenol Endocrine Disruptors Alkylphenol Endocrine Disruptors and Allergies Laughter as Medicine

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Sports Drinks Are Neither Safe Nor Effective

Commercial influences may have corrupted the American College of Sports Medicine’s hydration guidelines.

If you had to name the greatest medical advance over the past two centuries, what would you pick? Smallpox vaccine jumped to my mind, then I remembered it was discovered back in the 1700s. The British Medical Journal compiled a list of 15 contenders, but which would take the crown? Would it be anesthesia, which makes it possible to be asleep during surgery? Would it be antibiotics? Another strong choice. One of the 15 contenders may surprise you, though: the medical marvel of water with sugar and salt.

The discovery that sugar and salt are absorbed together in the small intestine “was potentially the most important medical advance this century. It opened the way to oral rehydration treatment for severe diarrhea—the main cause of infant death in the developing world.” Simple packets of sugar and salt in the right ratio could be added to water and save the lives of children who were losing electrolytes through severe diarrhea from diseases like cholera. In a hospital or doctor’s office, we’d just hook you up to an IV and give you intravenous rehydration therapy, but that isn’t a possibility for many around the world. Cheap, easy, oral rehydration has saved millions of children’s lives every year, such that UNICEF can put out reports like the one titled One Is Too Many: Ending Child Deaths from Pneumonia and Diarrhoea to help eradicate this problem once and for all. Oral rehydration therapy only costs pennies, too. If only manufacturers could figure out a way to sell salty sugar water for two bucks a bottle… 

Enter the sports drink. As I discuss in my video Are Sports Drinks Safe and Effective?, sports drinks are a multibillion-dollar industry fueled by Coke and Pepsi, but even drug companies are getting in on the action now. Researchers went online to see what kind of hydration advice people were getting. Ready to take a pop quiz? 

True or false: Fluid consumption during exercise should be based upon thirst. True or false: Electrolyte intake is not generally necessary during exercise.  True or false: Dehydration is not generally a cause of exercise-associated muscle cramping. True or false: Exercise-associated muscle cramping is not generally related to electrolyte loss. 

The answer is each is true. If you said false to any of them, you’re wrong—but in good company. A whopping 93 percent of the top websites got the first question wrong, 90 percent got the second question wrong, 98 percent got the third one wrong, and they all got the last one wrong. “To make matters worse, those websites that would generally be perceived as being more trustworthy by the public”—such as the sites of medical or professional organizations—“appear to be no better than other websites at providing accurate hydration-related information.” So, you shouldn’t feel bad if you got any wrong. No wonder “athletes often have misunderstandings about proper hydration during exercise.”

Doesn’t dehydration hurt performance, though? Surprisingly, when researchers looked at triathletes, they didn’t find a correlation between dehydration and marathon finishing times. In fact, some athletes who lost the most water actually had among the fastest times, as has been noted in other studies, as well. 

Your body’s not stupid; it will tell you when you need to drink. “There is now ample evidence that drinking to thirst, even during prolonged exercise under hot ambient conditions, will allow maintenance of proper hydration,” meaning, we can just drink to thirst even while working out for a long time in the heat. And, we do not have to drink electrolytes. But if we’re sweating and just drink pure water, don’t we risk washing out too much sodium and ending up with “exercise-associated hyponatremia” (EAH), too little sodium? It turns out that can be caused by drinking too much of anything, whether it’s water or sports drinks. In one high profile case, a high school athlete who died from EAH had drank two gallons of Gatorade. How do we prevent such deaths? “Simple: drink according to thirst.” These “don’t wait until you feel thirsty” statements may actually be doing more harm than good. 

We’ve known this since the early 1990s, but it was ignored. Instead, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) started telling athletes they “should drink ‘as much as tolerable’ during exercise. What followed was an epidemic of cases of EAH and its associated encephalopathy (EAHE).” What’s more, commercial interests may have played a role in delaying the acknowledgement of these findings for decades.

The current ACSM statement no longer recommends drinking as much as tolerable. In fact, it emphasizes how dangerous drinking too much can be, but it still plugs sports beverages as sometimes preferable to water. Curious who came up with this statement? Funding support was granted by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute’s Science Advisory Board and Speakers Bureau, the Gatorade Science Institute’s Science Advisory Board, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute’s Sports Medicine Review Board, The Coca-Cola Company, and the list goes on, as you can see at 5:00 in my video.

Circling back to the beginning, which of the 15 medical marvels won? Was it oral rehydration to prevent deaths from cholera? Antibiotics to kill off the cholera bugs? No, our greatest medical miracle over the last two centuries was sanitation, preventing the cholera from getting into our drinking water in the first place.

This is of one of my favorite topics that I’ve covered. It has all the things I love: sweeping historical context, corporate malfeasance, and myth busting. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The discovery that sugar and salt are absorbed together in the small intestine may be one of the most important medical advances in the last 200 years because it led to oral rehydration treatment for severe diarrhea, the main cause of infant death in the developing world. Inexpensive and simple oral rehydration has saved the lives of millions of children each year. Sports drinks, often salty and sugary, are a multibillion-dollar industry. During exercise, fluid consumption should be based on thirst and electrolyte intake isn’t generally necessary; exercise-associated muscle cramping is not generally caused by dehydration or related to electrolyte loss. We’ve known we should drink to thirst since the early 1990s, but the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) advised athletes to “drink ‘as much as tolerable’ during exercise,” which can cause exercise-associated hyponatremia, too little sodium, and its associated encelphalopathy. Currently, ACSM emphasizes the dangers of drinking too much. However, it still plugs sports beverages as sometimes preferable to water and has received funding support by Gatorade Sports Science Institute among other industry groups.

What about using coconut water? I covered that in Coconut Water for Athletic Performance vs. Sports Drinks and Flashback Friday: Coconut Water and Depression.

Thirsty for more videos on hydration? See:

How Many Glasses of Water Should We Drink a Day? Does a Drink of Water Make Children Smarter? Can Dehydration Affect Our Mood? Treating Dry Eye Disease with Diet: Just Add Water? How to Prevent Fainting Is It Best to Drink Tap, Filtered, or Bottled Water?

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food 2013: More Than an Apple a Day 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
- Beachbody

Whether you’ve just started The 4 Week Gut Protocol or just thinking about it, it’s important to make sure you’ve got all the information you need for a successful journey.

Beachbody Super Trainer and nutrition expert Autumn Calabrese has struggled with tummy issues over the years.

After much trial and error and working closely with her doctor, she’s found a way to tackle her physically and emotionally challenging gastrointestinal issues.

To make sure you get the results you want, Autumn and her team put together The 4 Week Gut Protocol FAQ.

Here are some sample questions; the link to the full FAQ is below!

1. When will The 4 Week Gut Protocol supplements be restocked?

We are expecting to be back in stock on The 4 Week Gut Protocol Optimize and Revitalize bundle starting on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

This is the first of several inventory shipments we’re expecting to receive in the coming months, the next one is slated to arrive in mid-June.

We are anticipating high demand for these supplements, so there is a chance that the inventory we are receiving on the 24th may not last until our next shipment.

Please note that if this happens, the supplements will be Out of Stock again until the next shipment arrives. We will do our best to communicate this quickly to you if it happens. You can get additional program details at FAQ 5197.

2. How should I expect to feel while doing The 4 Week Gut Protocol?

Autumn says that depending on how you were eating before (pretty clean or not so great), you may experience some negative symptoms, like minor headaches and tiredness.

These should pass after the first week or so.

3. Can I drink coffee during the program? 

You are allowed coffee, but no more than three 8-ounce cups per week.

For more information on caffeine limits, go to the 4 Week Gut Protocol program page on Beachbody On Demand, and click on the “Resources” tab.

From there, open the Food Lists PDF and refer to the “Coffee & Tea” page.

4. Where can I find information about which Beachbody supplements I can take while doing the program?

Please reference FAQ 5197 under the “Recommended Supplements” section.

5. How do I know if a FIXATE recipe meets the requirements of the program?

You can reference The 4 Week Gut Protocol-approved FIXATE Recipes PDF that lives under the “Meal Plans and Recipes” tab in The 4 Week Gut Protocol tile on Beachbody On Demand.

The approved recipes have no gluten, no dairy, no corn, no alcohol, no artificial sweeteners, and no highly processed soy.

Autumn never uses artificial sweeteners or highly processed soy in any of her recipes, however, if you find a FIXATE recipe you like that’s not on the approved list, look to make sure it says “NO GLUTEN, NO DAIRY, NO CORN, NO ALCOHOL.”

6. Do I measure the food in containers before or after cooking?

This depends on the type of food you’re measuring. Please refer to the “Food Lists” under the Resources tab.

This list provides measurements for foods that don’t easily fit into a container, as well as specifying foods that are measured after cooking.

For the complete list of questions that have been answered by our team, please visit the full FAQ.

The post The 4 Week Gut Protocol FAQ: Get Your Answers Here appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Lili Ladaga
What to Know About an Elimination Diet

You eat plenty of nutrient-dense whole foods, limit treats, and drink your water.

You feel like your nutrition is dialed in, yet you’re still dealing with unsavory GI side effects, like gas, bloating, and feeling “off.”

What gives?

After talking with your doctor to make sure there’s nothing serious happening, it might be time to try an elimination diet to pinpoint what’s going on in your gut.

“An elimination diet is a protocol of taking a group of foods or ingredients out of one’s diet, then reintroducing them in order to determine a reaction to that particular food,” explains gut health expert Erin Judge, R.D.N., owner of Gutivate, which offers nutritional counseling to those dealing with digestive issues.

Read on to learn what you may and may not want to include on an elimination diet and what it can teach you about your digestion.

What Is An Elimination Diet?

What’s the Purpose of an Elimination Diet?

“Someone would choose to do [an elimination diet] if they suspect they are reacting, either with digestive symptoms or allergy-like symptoms,” says Judge.

Elimination diets can identify both allergens (like soy, wheat, dairy, etc.) and food sensitivities, she explains.

The purpose is to give you answers about your digestive woes, so you feel your best after you eat.

What to Expect From an Elimination Diet

Chia pudding with raspberries and peach in a glass jar.

Similar to a cleanse, an elimination diet has two phases: elimination and reintroduction.

“You’ll go through a period of removing certain foods from your diet,” explains  Natalie Welch, M.S., R.D.N., and Beachbody Nutrition Manager.

“After that period ends, you will add foods back, if you so choose, to determine if any of them may be the culprit of your gut distress.”

Elimination diets aren’t the time to set goals at the gym or try to keep up with your usual fitness routines.

“Go slow, support your body as you go, and keep a lot of data through a log,” suggests Judge.

The benefits of a cleanse focus more on resetting habits than targeting digestive triggers.

Sometimes, that means removing an otherwise “healthy” food from your diet because it doesn’t make you feel good.

What you should and shouldn’t eat will depend on the type of diet – a registered dietitian nutritionist can help you plan your meals so you don’t go hungry or feel overly deprived.

But since you’re limiting the variety in your diet, “it’s crucial to maintain balanced nutrition,” advises Welch. “It’s wise to have a nutrient-dense daily safety net like Vegan Shakeology to help meet your needs.”

A program like Autumn Calabrese’s 4 Week Gut Protocol can help identify and isolate food triggers. “It’s designed to help support and improve gut health which in turn can help to improve your overall health,” Welch explains.

The 4 Week Gut Protocol “gets to the bottom of what may be causing your GI issues,” she adds. “It builds body autonomy in the process as you get to know what makes you feel your absolute best, and what potentially doesn’t. With this information you can choose what to eat and how to move your body every day, to live your healthiest life.”

The post What to Know About an Elimination Diet appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Lili Ladaga
How Often Should You Poop?

There are a lot of interesting phrases we use to avoid talking about poop — but it’s an important topic to discuss.

Bowel movements are essential to your health because it’s how your body gets rid of waste.

But how often should you poop each day, week, or month?

Learn what’s normal (and not) when it comes to bowel movements.

How Often Should a Healthy Person Poop?

There isn’t a set number of times you should go per day or per week. Everyone’s digestive system is different, and some people naturally go more often than others.

“There is a good deal of variety with bowel habits from person to person,” says Bryan Curtin, M.D., MHSc, director of neurogastroenterology and motility at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Generally, normal can range anywhere from one bowel movement every three to four days to three bowel movements per day,” Curtin explains.

A 2010 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology found that most people fall somewhere within that range.

No matter how often you typically poop, your bathroom habits will likely follow a relatively predictable pattern, so watch for any major changes to that pattern.

Are You Pooping Too Often — Or Not Often Enough?

If your frequency falls outside this range, that may be a signal that something’s going on with your body.

Having bowel movements fewer than three times a week would be considered constipation, adds Alexander Lightstone Borsand, M.D., an Arizona-based lifestyle medicine physician.

If you feel like something is off, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor.

What Can Affect Your Bowel Habits?

While we all have our own bathroom schedules, many factors can influence how often we go:

Stress

Stressed woman at her home computer

Both acute and chronic stress can affect the parasympathetic nervous system, which may lead to “stress constipation.”

Diet

What you eat — or don’t eat — can affect how well your body moves waste.

Fiber — an indigestible carbohydrate that comes from plants — is one of the most important nutrients our bodies need.

Certain types of fiber feed the good bacteria in our guts, while other fibers can provide bulk to help with transit time.

Depending on age, dietary guidelines recommend between 22 and 28 grams of fiber per day for women and between 28 and 34 grams of fiber per day for men.

If you’re not getting enough fiber, you may be less regular.

Eating plenty of whole foods that contain fiber is the best way to stay regular, but if you don’t have access to a variety of fresh vegetables, a greens supplement can help fill in the gaps in your diet.

And if you follow a plant-based diet — or if you’re doing a short-term cleanse — you may experience more frequent bowel movements thanks to your fiber intake.

A program like The 4 Week Gut Protocol can help you identify foods that are impacting your digestive health and give you the tools to help overcome discomfort.

Age

Our digestive processes naturally slow down as we age, affecting how often we go number two.

Fluid intake

The large intestine absorbs excess water as it processes waste. If you’re dehydrated, it can pull too much water out, leaving you with hardened poop that’s difficult to pass.

“If you’re constipated, the first step is to make sure you’re drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day,” Curtin.

Activity level

Woman doing stretches at home

All the movement that comes with exercise can help get things moving down below — hence why the American Gastroenterological Association recommends exercise to help relieve constipation.

Even something as simple as a short walk or gentle yoga may help move things along.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can cause people to poop more or less than usual.

That includes chronic diseases like ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease, along with short-term illnesses like the stomach bug.

And some medications may have either constipation or diarrhea as a side effect.

The Bottom Line

Instead of focusing on the frequency of your bowel movements, pay attention to your usual poop schedule and monitor for any sudden changes or digestive issues.

The post How Often Should You Poop? appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Sabrina Tillman
The Ultimate Flour Guide, From All-Purpose to Gluten-Free

Almost all baked goods require some type of flour and as all bakers know, baking is a science as much as an art — it requires precise ingredients and measurements to get the desired texture and taste.

Our definitive guide to flour will help you pick the one that suits your dietary needs.

If you want to bake better-for-you bread or dabble in gluten-free treats, you might be surprised that the recommended flours for these two health goals aren’t the same.

“It really depends on what your health goals are with nutrition,” says Natalie Welch, M.S., R.D.N. “In general though, whole-wheat flour is a great choice, as it still retains the bran (fiber) and germ (nutrient store-house) of the wheat kernel.”

Read on for a breakdown of the different types of flour and their uses.

All-Purpose Flour

Pink glass measuring cup in a bowl of flour

The name explains how versatile this flour is. Made from wheat flour that’s been refined to remove the bran and germ, all-purpose flour (a.k.a., white flour or AP flour) can create flaky pie crusts, tender muffins, and chewy cookies.

“Good for traditional baking and fun treats, there’s not a lot of good nutrition here, as it’s mainly carbs, not a lot of fiber, and not a lot of protein,” explains Quyen Vu, Beachbody Culinary Nutrition Specialist. “It’s considered a refined flour.”

Reserve it for special occasion baking rather than everyday use.

Almond Flour

Made from peeled, blanched almonds, almond flour is gluten-free with a lightly sweet, nutty taste.

Since it lacks gluten, it can’t help hold baked goods together the way wheat flour can.

Compared with all-purpose flour, almond flour is more caloric and contains more fat, says Vu, and it can lead to denser baked goods.

Use almond flour in small amounts with other flours, or try it in our Mini Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Bites.

Coconut Flour

Another gluten-free, grain-free option that’s popular among the keto and Paleo clubs, coconut flour is made from desiccated, ground coconut.

It’s not as high in calories as almond flour, says Vu, but can make baked goods dense.

Coconut flour can also have a strong taste, so keep that in mind when swapping it into recipes. Learn more about using coconut flour.

Gluten-Free Flours

Woman pour flour into a bowl

Flour made from wheat, rye, and barley contains a naturally occurring protein called gluten, which helps bind ingredients and adds structure and strength.

For those who can’t tolerate gluten, there are plenty of gluten-free flour options, including rice, oat, quinoa, millet, bean, pea, cassava, or lentil flour.

Some gluten-free flours are also whole-grain flours.

If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, Welch recommends looking for a gluten-free option that has at least 4 grams of fiber per serving.

Check the label of gluten-free flour blends, as they can vary. Our gluten-free flour guide can help you pick the right one for your project.

Whole-Wheat Flour

Made from hulled wheat berries, this fiber-filled flour (13 grams per 100 grams!) can be used in place of all-purpose flour in almost every dish — even pumpkin pie.

Using 100% whole-wheat flour can make cookies and breads denser and drier.

Offset that by adding 2 extra tablespoons of liquid per cup of whole-wheat flour, suggests PJ Hamel, a baker and food writer.

White whole-wheat flour is made from hulled white spring wheat. Use it for a milder taste and color instead of whole-wheat flour.

Other Wheat-Based Flours

Woman pouring water into bowl of flour

At the grocery store, you’ll see all sorts of other wheat flours: bread flour, cake flour, pastry flour, etc. These are best used for what their name implies.

Bread flour is high in gluten to give dough structure and strength. Cake and pastry flour have a finer texture to yield a soft crumb. Look for whole-wheat pastry flour for extra fiber and protein (compared with the refined flour version). Semolina flour is coarse and often used for couscous, pasta, or gnocchi. Alternative Flours

This category encompasses all non-wheat flours.

From the aforementioned almond and coconut flours to pea and chickpea flours to ancient grain flour (quinoa, barley, teff, or spelt), these flours tend to be used most often in gluten-free baking (as long as they’re gluten-free).

These flours can contribute more protein and fiber to recipes.

Feel free to get creative with recipes, but know that it’ll take some experimenting to get the texture and taste you crave.

“If you’re trying to sub a ‘healthier’ flour (with more protein and fiber) for a recipe that calls for a white refined flour, you will definitely have to play with the amounts,” says Vu. “It’s not a direct 1-to-1 substitute if you want to get the same or similar product.”

The post The Ultimate Flour Guide, From All-Purpose to Gluten-Free appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Michael Martin
Everything You Need to Know About Coconut Flour

Cutting back on your consumption of refined grains like white flour can benefit your health and may help with weight loss.

So if you’re looking to eat fewer refined carbs, or you follow a gluten-free diet, coconut flour can be a worthy substitute for wheat flour with some intriguing nutritional benefits.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Coconut Flour?

“Coconut flour is made from the flesh of coconuts, which is then dried and ground into flour,” explains Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., R.D.N., a registered dietitian nutritionist in Brunswick, M.D.. “It’s a great gluten-free flour that is gaining in popularity.”

You can find coconut flour in most grocery stores, or make your own by blending dried, unsweetened shredded coconut into a fine powder.

Coconut Flour Nutrition

Coconut flour provides more protein and fiber than regular white flour, along with iron and healthy fats.

One ¼ cup (30 g) serving of coconut flour contains:

120 calories 4 grams of fat 18 grams of carbs 10 grams of fiber 6 grams of protein

By contrast, a ¼ cup (30 g) serving of all-purpose white flour contains 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 23 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.

Coconut flour is a good iron source, Schlichter says, with ¼ cup offering nearly 20 percent of the daily recommended iron amount for adults ages 51 and older.

And coconut flour also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), fats that are used more quickly and efficiently than some other forms of fat.

“These fats go directly to the liver and give you a quick energy burst,” says Jeanette Kimszal, R.D.N., NLC, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City.

Research suggests MCTs may also have some anti-inflammatory properties and may help support healthy cholesterol levels.

Note that coconut flour is higher in protein and fiber than regular wheat flour, but also more calorically dense and higher in fat.

When baking with coconut flour, you’ll most likely have to cut back on the added fat or the finished product will be super dense.

Benefits of Coconut Flour

Hand pouring coconut flour into mixing bowl

If you’re considering swapping your regular flour for coconut flour, here are a few potential benefits.

1. It’s gluten-free

Because coconut flour isn’t made from wheat, it lacks gluten.

“Coconut flour is appealing to those with gluten allergies, intolerances, or those who prefer following a gluten-free diet,” says Schlichter.

2. It has more fiber than white flour

Pancakes, muffins, or energy bites made with coconut flour might keep you feeling fuller longer.

“Coconut flour is higher in fat and more nutrient-dense than regular flour,” says Amy Shapiro, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., of Real Nutrition NYC. “It’s more filling, thanks to its nutritional profile.”

That includes 10 times more fiber than regular all-purpose white flour. It also contains more fiber than other gluten-free flours, such as almond flour.

Fiber promotes satiety, which may help you with your weight-loss goals.

3. It has more protein and fewer carbs than white flour

One serving of coconut flour contains 18 grams of carbohydrates, compared to 23 grams in an equivalent serving of all-purpose white flour.

4. It’s versatile

“Coconut flour has a mild, sweet taste that typically doesn’t overpower other flavors when added in small amounts,” says Mackenzie Burgess, R.D.N., a registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer in Fort Collins, CO.

“It’s a great ingredient to keep on hand,” Burgess adds. “I like to buy Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour because it comes from high-quality desiccated coconut and packs in 3 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per two tablespoons.”

How to Use Coconut Flour in Recipes

Banana Bread Energy Balls in a tin

Coconut flour has a natural sweetness that makes it a perfect substitute for regular flour in baking recipes including cookies, cakes, and muffins.

You can also use it to reduce the carb content and boost the fiber quotient of your favorite carb-heavy recipes, like pancakes or breads.

But before you dive into using coconut flour in recipes, it’s important to note that it’s not a simple 1:1 substitution.

Coconut flour is much more absorbent than regular flour, Burgess says, so you’ll need to adjust the amount you use in your baking recipes.

Try swapping ¼ to ⅓ cup coconut flour for one cup of regular flour.

“You may need to add a bit of extra liquid or eggs to your recipe to account for a thicker batter from the coconut flour,” Burgess notes.

Coconut flour can even be used as a thickener in soups and sauces, as a binder in meatballs or meatloaf recipes, or as a substitute for breadcrumbs. Just keep in mind coconut flour has a mild coconut flavor — but the spices and seasonings in your recipe will most likely overpower it.

Need some inspiration? Try one of these tasty coconut flour recipes:

Paleo-Friendly Pumpkin Bread Apple Cinnamon Protein Pancakes Peppermint Mocha Shakeology Protein Bites Banana Bread Protein Bites Apple Blondies with Walnuts

The post Everything You Need to Know About Coconut Flour appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Sabrina Tillman
Everything You Need to Know About Gluten-Free Flour

Gluten-free flour is flour that does not contain gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye.

In baking, gluten acts as a binder that helps foods hold their shape, adds elasticity, and helps dough rise.

Imagine a baguette, with an oven-crisp crust on the outside and a chewy, craggy middle.

Gluten traps gas bubbles during fermentation, which gives that baguette its unique texture. Without gluten, bakers often rely on a blend of different gluten-free flours to achieve the same results.

Do you need gluten-free flour in your diet? It depends.

“Unless you have celiac disease or a true gluten sensitivity, there may not be benefit in eliminating it,” says Frances Arnold, R.D., owner of Namaste Nutritionist.

Keep reading for all the need-to-know details about gluten-free flours.

1. Rice flour

One of the most common gluten-free flour substitutes, brown rice or white rice flour is gluten-free naturally.

This delicate, neutral-tasting flour is ideal for baking, in pancakes, and as a coating for chicken or fish.

Combine rice flour with one of the higher-protein flours listed here to add structure.

2. Bean flour

Bowl with black beans flour

Dense, sturdy, and filled with fiber, bean flours are common in gluten-free pastas. Use chickpea flour in baked goods like gluten-free pumpkin spice donuts, tortillas, or pizza.

Black beans pair surprisingly well with chocolate and the bitter notes of coffee.

3. Lentil flour

Milled from sprouted or unsprouted red, yellow, green, or brown lentils, this gluten-free flour imparts a mild, nutty flavor.

It’s also an excellent source of protein (26 grams per 100-gram serving) and iron (6 mg), as well as a good source of potassium, with 686 milligrams of that essential mineral.

When baked, it can add a pleasant crispy-crackle ideal for gluten-free crackers.

4. Pea flours

Green pea flour and pea flour are high in protein and similar to bean flour in how they perform and taste.

The protein content adds structure, but using too much could give your masterpiece a green hue — good for Frankenstein or shamrock cookies but not so much everyday breads and cookies.

5. Corn flour and starch

Corn is fantastic in tortillas, cornbread, pizza crusts, corn muffins, and Johnny cakes.

You can also use cornstarch as a thickener in gravy, soup, or stir-fry sauces in place of flour. Opt for fine cornmeal for baking, and save the coarser grits and polenta for a gluten-free side dish.

6. Millet and quinoa flours

These powerhouses add structure, so you might be able to skip other binding ingredients.

Millet has a more neutral flavor than quinoa, which can taste a little bitter to some palates. The solution? Toast the quinoa before you grind it, suggests Alyssa Rimmer, a food blogger at Simply Quinoa.

7. Oat flour

Overhead view of bowl of flour

Oats and oat flour make the iconic cookie with raisins and a kiss of cinnamon, and it’s easy to grind your own at home.

You simply grind oats into a powder in a blender or food processor. Oat flour is fluffy, so mix it with some of the heavier flours for a more balanced texture.

Note when buying oat flour: While oats are naturally gluten-free, they are often exposed to gluten-containing grains during processing.

Look for certified gluten-free oats if that’s a concern.

8. Teff flour

A staple in Ethiopian diets, teff is a grain that’s an excellent source of protein (13 grams per 10-gram serving!), fiber (8 grams), and calcium (180 milligrams).

It adds a nutty note to cookies, biscotti, cakes, quick breads, and injera, an Ethiopian spongy fermented flatbread.

9. Nut flours

Coconut and almond flours are the most popular flours in this category, and they’re keto-friendly.

You can use 100% nut flours when baking, but the higher fat and protein content can yield dense results. Blend small amounts nut flours with other flours.

Almond flour is one of the ingredients in our favorite gluten-free banana bread.

10. Sorghum flour

Similar to wheat, this flour is dense in protein and comes in red and white varieties. Use in pancakes, breads, muffins, cookies, or spice cake.

11. Cassava flour

All the rage in paleo products, cassava flour is gluten-, grain-, and nut-free and made from the cassava root.

It’s a higher-carb flour, so it wouldn’t be ideal for keto recipes. Combine with almond flour to make killer grain-free tortillas.

12. Potato flour and starch

Potato flour is a fine powder made from dehydrated potatoes that can replace gums in gluten-free baking.

Don’t overdo it though — add 2–4 tablespoons per recipe to avoid gumminess. Potato starch can be used as a 1:1 substitution for cornstarch.

13. Seed flours

Flaxseed, chia seed, and hemp seed make nutrient-dense flour and thickener options.

Chia bloats when suspended in liquid, which is why it makes a great gum-free binder.

Hemp contains all essential amino acids, but keep in mind that the flour can be gritty.

Gluten-Free Baking Tips

Woman mixing dough for baking

Gluten-free baking requires more precision than baking with wheat flour. Gluten-free flours and mixes often contain a combo of different types.

Higher-protein ones add structure but can yield a dense product. Beans, starches, and oats contribute different tastes and textures.

Nut flours are higher in protein and fat, so they burn more easily. When using them, reduce the temperature by 25–50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Arnold also recommends covering with aluminum foil until the final 10 minutes to avoid over-browning.

Gluten-free flours may also require the use of a binding agent — the most common being xanthan gum.

To avoid gums, substitute psyllium husk, ground flax, or chia.

These tips can also help:

Measure gluten-free flour carefully. Many types of gluten-free flour can get dense. Try a food scale for more precision. Mix your dough and batters thoroughly and let them rest. After mixing, cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rest for 30 minutes to thicken. Rely on suggested bake or cook time vs. the toothpick method. Let baked goods rest before slicing to give the starches time to set and firm.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Gluten-Free Flour appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Lili Ladaga
12 Breastfeeding Myths, Debunked

You’ve probably heard a lot of assumptions about breastfeeding:

“It’s the best way to deliver nutrients to your baby; it’s the most natural way to feed your little one; it wreaks havoc on your nipples, or it will help you lose the baby weight.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, and then at least partially for the next six months (since you can introduce solid foods at this point).

But “ultimately, each individual mother is uniquely qualified to decide whether breastfeeding, mixed feeding, or formula feeding is ‘best’ for her individual situation,” says Alison Stuebe, M.D., distinguished scholar of infant and young child feeding at the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, and associate professor of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

We’re not here to tell you what choices you should and shouldn’t be making. But we are here to make sure you’re accurately informed.

We talked to experts so you can better decide what’s best for you.

12 Myths About Breastfeeding

Mom breastfeeding baby in chair

Myth: Breastfeeding helps you lose pregnancy weight

Truth: Breastfeeding does burn calories; the American Pregnancy Association recommends consuming an extra 300–500 calories a day while breastfeeding.

However, just because breastfeeding helps you burn more calories doesn’t necessarily mean you will lose weight, says Laura Gruber, international board-certified lactation consultant, registered lactation consultant, and owner of Breastfeeding Housecalls.

“Breastfeeding mothers tend to feel hungrier, which means they may snack more to make up for those extra calories burned. The choice to consume healthy or unhealthy snacks, and the quantity a mother consumes is what may ultimately drive some moms not to lose the pregnancy weight via breastfeeding alone,” Gruber says.

If you don’t know where to start, a guided nutrition program can help — Registered Dietitian Ilana Muhlstein, M.S., R.D.N. created 2B Pregnant to help moms thrive during pregnancy — and after the baby arrives.

2. Myth: You can’t breastfeed if you have breast implants

 Truth: It’s safe for mothers and for babies to breastfeed if mom has implants, Alison Stuebe reassures.

But if you have had plastic surgery, it’s important to let your doc know.

Why? Your natural breasts may affect how well you produce milk.

“If one breast was much smaller than the other, or if you had minimal breast tissue, you might make less milk, so it’s important to work closely with your baby’s provider to monitor early weight gain so that you and your baby get off to a good start,” Stuebe adds.

If you have breast implants and plan to breastfeed, you may need to supplement to ensure your baby gets enough to eat.

A review and meta-analysis of three observational studies published in the International Breastfeeding Journal revealed that women with breast implants who breastfed were less likely to feed their infants with breast milk exclusively compared to women without breast implants.

Another study published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery also reported that many women with breast implants needed to supplement their breastfeeding.

3. Myth: You must use both breasts each time you feed

Truth: It’s a good idea to offer both, Gruber says.

“Sometimes babies lose vigor and stamina at the breast because they are tired, yet not necessarily full. They can become tired from sucking on a breast that isn’t yielding as much as they need,” she explains.

Her recommendation: “Use your first breast until a baby loses vigor or stamina since this is the most accurate way of knowing if a healthy baby is getting full. Stop and burp him or her, then always offer the second breast in case baby has made room for more [after] burping.”

If your baby doesn’t want the second breast, that’s fine.

Then, you can start with the second breast at the next feed, since it will likely be fuller, she adds.

4. Myth: Modern formulas are almost the same as breast milk

 Truth: Formula makers may market their product as being almost the same as the real thing.

“Breastmilk is a living fluid. Formula is not,” Stuebe says.

To illustrate, scientists have found that human milk contains immune and stem cells, as well as bacterial community.

“A mother’s milk contains bacteria that colonize her baby’s gut, helping to grow the baby’s immune system. And while some formulas have added prebiotics and probiotics, they are fundamentally different from breast milk,” Stuebe explains.

5. Myth: Poor milk supply is caused by mom’s inadequate diet or stress

 Truth: “There are millions of women everywhere who have stressful lives and poor nutrition yet are still able to produce perfect amounts of milk for their babies,” Gruber points out.

Low milk supply is generally caused by poor breastfeeding management (such as not feeding baby frequently, or a shallow latch), hormonal issues in mom, or oral issues in the baby that would cause poor milk transfer, she explains.

6. Myth: You can’t drink alcohol while breastfeeding

Truth: This one is definitely a myth!

“It takes about two hours for a single serving of alcohol (5 oz. of wine, 12 oz. of beer, or 1.5 oz. of liquor) to clear a woman’s bloodstream. When it clears her bloodstream, it also clears her milk,” Stuebe explains.

More alcohol does take more time to clear out, so you may need to pump and discard milk if you’ve had two or three servings.

Check this handy chart that Stuebe recommends.

7. Myth: Breastfeeding is supposed to hurt

Truth: “Breastfeeding may feel new and different, but it is not supposed to hurt,” Gruber says.

With the exception of childbirth, pain is the body’s alert system when something is wrong, so nipples that hurt mean that something is off and can be improved.

“Moms who feel nipple pain, see or feel their nipples injured, or see misshapen nipples when her baby unlatches should seek help,” she adds.

8. Myth: Breastfeeding drastically changes the shape and size of your breasts

Truth: For starters, it’s important to understand that pregnancy is what changes your body, not breastfeeding.

Your breasts will change — but only temporarily.

“Breastfeeding can drastically change the shape and size of a woman’s breasts — but only during certain seasons of nursing, such as when mom’s milk is transitioning from colostrum to mature milk,” Gruber says. “Breasts normally return back to pre-pregnancy size and shape after a woman has ended breastfeeding.”

A study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal reviewed the charts of 93 patients seeking consultation for aesthetic breast surgery and found that breastfeeding does not appear to have an adverse effect upon breast appearance.

9. Myth: Breastfeeding is just about getting the milk to your baby

Mom and newborn on bed

 Truth: Nurturing your baby is about so much more than nursing.

“Breastfeeding is about fostering a biological connection between a mother her child, and a mother can nurture her baby at breast no matter how much milk she makes,” Stuebe says.

“Suckling a baby triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which can encourage bonding and mothering behavior. A baby who is at breast can hear mom’s heartbeat, and can focus his eyes on mom’s face.”

“Even moms who don’t provide 100 percent of their baby’s nutrition from their breasts are still able to offer them for suckling, warmth, and comfort. Being an infant’s food source is just one of the many hats that breasts wear when it comes to babies,” Gruber adds.

10. Myth: Smaller breasts may not produce enough milk to feed the baby

Truth: Bra size isn’t a reliable predictor of milk production, but some breasts do produce better than others, Stuebe says.

OK, quick biology lesson from Stuebe: An adult woman’s breasts are made up of both fatty tissue and milk-making glandular tissue.

One woman might have small breasts that are packed with glandular tissue (great for milk production), while another has very large breasts that are mostly fatty tissue (not so great).

And the shape matters, too — widely spaced or cone-shaped breasts can be associated with low milk production, Stuebe adds.

“It’s not easy to predict milk-making based on breast size, which is why it’s important that all moms and babies see a pediatric provider at three to five days after birth to check in on how breastfeeding is going,” Stuebe says.

11. Myth: You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding

Truth: We don’t know who started this rumor, but breastfeeding is definitely not a form of birth control.

“You can absolutely get pregnant while nursing,” Gruber says.

Frequent nursing does prevent ovulation. But, if you pump and use bottles, or your baby doesn’t want to eat often, you’re going a longer time between feedings at the breast than a mom who breastfeeds every couple of hours.

“This break can cause a mom to ovulate earlier … thus sparking mom’s fertility even if that mom hasn’t had her first period yet after childbirth,” Gruber explains.

If you want to avoid pregnancy, talk to your doctor about birth control options.

Some birth controls may reduce your milk supply, so talk to your doc about what options won’t affect it.

But can contraception impact the quality of your milk?

Research draws mixed conclusions; one review revealed a negative effect on breast milk composition in moms taking birth control, while another trial showed greater weight gain in infants whose moms had an etonogestrel implant.

An article published in Clinical and Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the choice and timing of contraception — with nonhormonal methods being the “preferred choice” — may influence breastfeeding and infant growth patterns.

12. Myth: The longer you breastfeed, the healthier your baby will be in adolescence

Truth: This one’s a bit more complicated.

“There’s compelling evidence that, on a population level, longer breastfeeding is linked with better health,” Stuebe says.

A study analysis published in Maternal & Child Nutrition, of which Stuebe was a part of, found that for every 597 women who optimally breastfeed, one maternal or child death is prevented.

However, that’s on a population level.

“For an individual mother and her child, there are many, many things that contribute to her child’s health in adolescence, of which breastfeeding is just one,” Stuebe adds.

If breastfeeding is extraordinarily difficult for that mom and baby, the struggle to make it work may not be worth it.

The Bottom Line

Talk openly with your doctor to explore all of your options to find out what works best for you and your baby.

The post 12 Breastfeeding Myths, Debunked appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Linnea Zielinski
Why Healthy Eating Is Even More Important During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be full of surprises.

“Your energy, taste, tolerance, appetite, and mood will fluctuate week to week — and even day-to-day,” says Ilana Muhlstein, M.S., R.D.N., mother of three and creator of 2B Mindset and the all-new 2B Pregnant.

But there’s one thing you can always count on: Nutrition is more important than ever when you’re expecting.

That’s why 2B Pregnant is designed to help give you the tips and tools to make it easier for you to nourish yourself and your growing baby through every trimester.

The Importance of Pregnancy Nutrition

Hands spooning Greek yogurt over granola

Good nutrition during pregnancy can help you get the nutrients you need to support your baby’s growth and development.

And if you focus on establishing healthy eating habits when you’re pregnant, it can help make it easier to stay on track nutrition-wise once your baby arrives, Ilana notes.

Of course, we know that pregnancy cravings — combined with the old adage that you’re “eating for two” — can make healthy eating even more challenging than usual.

So, it’s important to reframe your mindset when it comes to pregnancy nutrition.

“You don’t need to eat for two — you need to eat what’s best for you,” Ilana says.

And on those days when healthy eating feels extra-challenging, stay focused on your big-picture goal of keeping yourself and your baby healthy.

“What gets me motivated to eat healthy, exercise, and stay calm through the unknowns is to think about my future self and baby — and how the choices I make today will affect me as I approach my due date and beyond,” Ilana says.

Ideal Foods to Eat During Pregnancy

Choosing the right foods during your pregnancy can seem like a daunting task.

“You’ve probably received a lot of information about what to eat and what not to eat, which can feel overwhelming,” Ilana says.

Instead of stressing about what you can’t eat, she suggests focusing on “Superstar Foods” you can fill up on to help nourish your body with the key nutrients you need during this important time.

There are a few nutrients in particular that you need more of during pregnancy to help support your health and your baby’s development, including iron, choline, folate, and more.

In 2B Pregnant, Ilana explains which nutrients you need, what role they play in pregnancy nutrition, and how to help you make sure you’re getting enough.

Here are three of her favorite “Superstar Foods” for moms 2B:

1. Beans

Carbs provide much-needed energy, while the combo of protein and fiber can help you feel fuller for longer. Beans can also help you get more folate and iron in your diet.

2. Berries

Bowl of blueberres

Berries provide vitamin C and fiber. Stock up on fresh berries — or frozen berries with no added sugar — for a healthy way to satisfy your sweet cravings.

3. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt provides calcium and iodine, and it’s high in protein, which “is essential for our growth and the growth and development of our babies,” Ilana says.

One sweet and satisfying way Ilana enjoys Greek yogurt when she’s pregnant is with her Wonder Whip recipes.

She adds a bit of stevia and cake batter extract to plain Greek yogurt for a healthy snack that tastes like birthday cake frosting.

Get Ilana’s complete list of “Superstar Foods” and key nutrients for expectant mamas when 2B Pregnant launches in January 2022.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Even though you can enjoy a wide variety of foods in moderation during pregnancy, there are certain foods you should avoid during this time, including:

Alcohol (ask your doctor about drinks like kombucha that may contain trace amounts of alcohol) Raw or undercooked animal products like steak tartare and sushi High-mercury foods like swordfish Unpasteurized cheeses and dairy products Unwashed produce

If you have any questions about whether a certain food or beverage is safe to consume during pregnancy, talk to your doctor.

Building Healthy Eating Habits for the Long Haul

Ilana Muhlstein 2B Pregnant

Following the 80/20 rule — eating healthy 80 percent of the time, and allowing for mindful indulgences the other 20 percent of the time — can be a helpful way to create a healthy relationship with food.

But Ilana cautions that “it’s really easy for 80/20 to quickly slide into 50/50 or 20/80,” especially when you’re dealing with pregnancy cravings.

2B Pregnant provides tips and strategies that will help you navigate those cravings and find the right balance in your diet, so you can thrive during and after pregnancy.

“I know as a busy, stressed, and hectic mom myself, these are strategies that will only make your life more streamlined and efficient and give you better energy to tackle it all,” Ilana says.

Ready to take control of your pregnancy nutrition?

Check out 2B Pregnant and join BODi (Beachbody On Demand Interactive) to connect with other moms 2B in our exclusive community for support and motivation!

Friendly reminder: We want you to be safe, so don’t forget to get your doctor’s approval before you start taking any supplements or make any changes to your nutrition plan (including this program) to make sure they are right for you and your specific needs.

The post Why Healthy Eating Is Even More Important During Pregnancy appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Lili Ladaga
Everything You Need to Know About Almond Flour

Almond flour is not only very nutritious, but it’s also one of the most common grain-free and gluten-free flours.

Let’s go over the benefits of almond flour and how to cook with it.

What Is Almond Flour?

Almond flour is made from finely ground, blanched almonds after the skin is removed. How is this different from almond meal?

Almond meal is typically made from raw, unpeeled almonds and has a coarser texture. Almond flour has a finer texture and lighter color.

Both are gluten-free, Paleo-friendly, and add a rich and nutty flavor.

Almond Flour Nutrition

Almond flour in food processor

Almond flour is denser than all-purpose wheat flour, and this also applies to its nutrition profile.

It has more calories, fat, protein, and fiber compared to regular all-purpose flour.

According to Samantha Thoms, M.P.H., R.D., “If you’re looking to avoid gluten or substitute flour for a lower carbohydrate option, it can be a good choice.”

Gram for gram, almond flour has more calories than wheat flour.

And if you’re watching your fat intake, almond flour has significantly more fat than traditional flours.

That doesn’t make it an unhealthy flour choice, though. Despite the higher calorie count, almond flour contains many beneficial nutrients.

All-purpose flour (100g) Whole-Wheat flour (100g) Almond flour (100g) Calories 364 332 571 Fat (g) 1 2 50 Carbohydrates (g) 76.3 74.5 21.4 Fiber (g) 2.7 13.1 10.7 Protein (g) 10.3 9.6 21.4 What Are the Benefits of Almond Flour?

Why is almond flour healthy?

Thoms explains, “Since almond flour is made from blanched and ground almonds, its nutritional content is similar to that of whole almonds.”

The same goes for the benefits.

1. Almond flour is nutritious

Because it’s made from almonds, this nutritious flour also contains valuable vitamins, minerals, and magnesium.

Magnesium is vital for maintaining a healthy metabolism and plays a key role in bone, cell, and chromosomal structures.

2. Almond flour may help with fullness

Both fiber and protein are known to increase satiety and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Almond flour boasts much higher fiber and protein compared to regular wheat flour. This may be helpful for whipping up foods that taste good as well as feel more satisfying.

3. Almond flour may help with heart health

Almond flour contains heart-healthy unsaturated fats that may help promote better cholesterol levels.

Specifically, the good fats in almonds may lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

4. Almond flour is gluten-free

Gluten is a protein present in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you’ll have an immune reaction to gluten, which can cause inflammation and other digestive issues.

Improving these symptoms means following a gluten-free diet and giving up bread and other baked goods. Gluten-free baking with almond flour can allow you to still enjoy the foods you love.

How to Make Almond Flour at Home

Peeled almonds in blender

If you purchase whole almonds in bulk, you can make a range of almond-based ingredients, including almond flour, almond meal, almond butter, and almond milk.

To make almond flour, you’ll need blanched almonds and a food processor or high-powered blender (think: Vitamix or Blendtec).

Blanched almonds are almonds without the skin. To remove the skin, simply soak your almonds in cold water overnight.

Then drain and squeeze the almonds till they pop out of the skin. Let your almonds dry overnight as a single layer on a baking tray.

Finally, pop your dried blanched almonds into a food processor or blender.

Be careful about blending too long, or else you’ll end up with almond butter!

Food processor: Use the pulse setting, 1 to 2 seconds at a time, until you get a fine powder. This can take a few minutes. High-powered blender: Blend at the highest setting for 10 to 15 seconds until you get a fine powder. Tips for Cooking with Almond Flour

Making dough with almond flour

You can use almond flour in place of wheat flour in sweet baked goods — pie crusts, cookies, cakes, and breads.

Its coarser cousin, almond meal, can also be used in baked goods but won’t result in the same fine texture.

You can use both almond flour and almond meal as bread crumbs in savory dishes like meatballs, meatloaf, or as a coating on baked fish or chicken.

Sadly, you can’t use almond flour to thicken liquids like soups, but if you want a grain-free flour that can do that, try banana flour.

Almond flour contains more moisture than all-purpose flour, so you can’t replace it in recipes as a 1:1 ratio.

It’s usually blended with other flours due to its high calorie and fat content, and your baked goods may be denser than if you made them with another flour.

If you don’t like this, try reducing the amount of almond flour you mix your flour of choice.

It might take some experimenting before you find almond flour recipes that you like.

But you can find many almond flour recipes on the Internet, such as:

Pancakes Waffles Cookies Cakes Breads Cobblers and crisps Muffins Pie crusts

The post Everything You Need to Know About Almond Flour appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Sabrina Tillman
How to Make Soup in a Slow Cooker 101

One of the best set-it-and-forget-it meal prep saviors of all the kitchen appliances, the slow cooker has a kitschy vibe now.

Your mom had it right when she dumped ingredients in the slow cooker and let them simmer all day.

There’s no meal more comforting on a cool night than slow cooker soup — but there are a few tips and tricks to getting it just right.

Low and slow is the idea. It’s in the name of the kitchen tool, after all. Learn how to bud nuanced flavors in a super-easy way with a slow cooker.

Just in time for soup season, here’s a step-by-step guide to making the best slow cooker soup.

How to Make a Healthy Slow Cooker Soup

Close-up of woman's hands chopping vegetables on kitchen counter.

“Soup can be made into a hearty, balanced meal that is sure to satisfy,” says Krista Maguire, R.D., C.S.S.D., and Beachbody nutrition manager.

“In addition to loads of veggies, add a protein like chicken or beans and a starchy veggie like sweet potato or whole grains like quinoa,” she adds.

Add dairy-free creaminess and thickness to a healthy slow cooker soup by pureeing beans, potatoes, or a slice of day-old bread with broth or full-fat coconut milk.

You can also combine water and nutritional yeast with pureed-until-smooth cashews.

Steer clear of granulated stock powders or cubes — many contain monosodium glutamate, artificial colors, and hydrogenated oils.

Opt for low-sodium, all-natural stocks or bone broths.

Ready to get cooking? Follow these steps for slow cooker soup success!

1. Brown meats first to deepen flavor

Yes, it’s an extra step, but this adds tons of flavor. Sear all sides of the meat before you add it to the slow cooker, then let it simmer.

2. Use less liquid

Revamping a stovetop soup recipe? Use less liquid, since it evaporates less when simmering in a slow cooker, thanks to the tight-fitting lid.

Cover the ingredients with broth, water, or your liquid of choice by a scant ¼-inch.

3. Bump up the plants

Kale, beets on wood chopping board

A little bit of meat can go a long way to add flavor and protein. Bulk up the soup with added veggies in every color. (You can also add legumes and whole grains.)

Soup is a great way to get more vegetables into your day.

4. Trim most visible fat from meat

There’s nowhere for the fat to go in a slow cooker (and it can’t be easily drained off like it can on the stove), so cut it off before cooking.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with pools of fat in your soup — not good eats.

5. Skip the oil

Unlike stovetop soup methods, you don’t need to add oil to the slow cooker pot. Nothing will stick!

6. Don’t overfill the pot

Three-quarters full is the maximum, but two-thirds is ideal. If you fill the pot too high, it could leak or cook inconsistently.

7. Thicken in two steps

The liquid in your slow cooker doesn’t get hot enough to reduce or thicken, so if you don’t want a thin soup, you’ll need to add a thickening agent.

Use any type of flour or a starch like tapioca or arrowroot.

Combine one tablespoon of flour or starch per one cup of liquid, whisk until smooth, then stir into the soup and simmer.

8. Use cheaper cuts of meat

Tough, leaner cuts love the long, slow, gentle simmering of a slow cooker.

It breaks down any sinewy bits, transforming them into melt-in-your-mouth tender savoriness.

Don’t splurge on filets or lobster tails for a slow-simmered soup.

9. Cook low and slow

Cook soups on low to develop the most flavor. If you’re pressed for time, you can cook them on a higher setting but make sure to halve the cooking time.

10. Cut veggies roughly the same size

Cutting each vegetable uniformly will help them cook evenly. To prevent vegetables from getting too mushy, avoid cooking them for many hours on high heat.

Add softer or quicker-cooking veggies like zucchini and summer squash in the last hour.

11. Let the slow cooker do its thing

Every time you open the lid, you release heat, so resist the urge to peek. Set it up and walk away.

This cooking method is meant to save you time, so let it do the work for you!

How to Layer Slow Cooker Soup Ingredients

Place the ingredients that require the longest cooking time at the bottom of the pot, closest to the heat source.

Here’s a basic guide if you’re creating your own slow cooker soup recipes.

Add these ingredients at the beginning: Uncooked vegetables: Add root vegetables (potatoes, turnips, carrots) on the bottom, followed by onions, shallots, or leeks. Uncooked, rinsed, or soaked beans: Dried beans take 3–4 hours to cook on high, and 6–8 hours to cook on low in the slow cooker, says Kalyn Denny, a food blogger at Kalyn’s Kitchen and home cook. Broth, stock, water, coconut milk: The liquid is what makes things a soup, after all. Uncooked meats: If you have time to brown meat, great. Exceptions include chicken or turkey breast, fish, and shellfish. Cheese rinds: An old Italian cook’s tip, add Parmesan or Romano cheese rinds to impart a nutty, salty flavor. Discard any remaining rind before serving. Add these in the last 15–45 minutes of cooking: Meats and seafood that don’t take long to cook, such as chicken breast (sliced or cut), fish, or shellfish. Add chicken breast in the last 25–30 minutes of cooking. Dried lentils only take about 30–40 minutes of simmering to cook through, notes Nagi Maehashi, the cook and creator of RecipeTin Eats. Use red, yellow, brown, and green lentils but not Puy lentils, as they don’t soften as well as the others, she says. Fresh delicate herbs like basil, mint, or tarragon: Ladle the soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with torn fresh herbs for a bright pop of color and flavor. Hearty fresh herbs like rosemary, oregano, parsley, celery leaves, beet greens, etc.: Add during the last 15–20 minutes, particularly with rosemary, which can get bitter when cooked for too long, says Emma Christensen, a food writer and graduate of the Cambridge School for Culinary Arts. Thickening agents: Add when the soup has finished cooking. Stir it in, replace the lid, and warm for a few minutes, then serve. Already-cooked ingredients: Add cooked grains in the last 15–20 minutes of cooking. Stir in leftovers like cooked pasta in the last 10 minutes. Quick-cooking ingredients: Add dried pasta, quinoa, and starchy or frozen veggies during the last 15 minutes. Dairy: Stir in reduced-fat Greek yogurt or reduced-fat sour cream in the last 5 minutes to avoid curdling.

Looking for more expert nutrition information? Head over to BODNutrition.com and learn how to eat healthy for the long-term with the help of our two nutrition programs, 2B Mindset and Portion Fix.

The post How to Make Soup in a Slow Cooker 101 appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Chelsey Amer
The 15 Best Healthy Pool Snacks, According to an RD

What’s a pool day without some snacks? Chelsey Amer, RD, shares her 15 favorite healthy pool snacks that are both filling and fun.

Imagine it: The sun is shining, you feel great in your skin, you’re (safely) soaking up the sun, and you packed a cooler full of pool snacks for when you get hungry. Sounds like the perfect summer day, right?

There’s nothing better than a pool day… besides a pool day with awesome snacks! But the hot weather and festivities can often make eating healthy difficult. To help, I put together a list of my favorite healthy pool snacks that are both delicious and nutritious.

What Makes a Healthy Pool Snack? healthy pool snacks hummus plate

Healthy pool snacks need to be refreshing, easy to consume, and hydrating. And, like any healthy snack, they should have a combination of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) to keep you full. Here are some smart snacking guidelines to follow: 

Prevent dehydration with hydrating snacks. Sun exposure and a lack of water intake can lead to dehydration. But did you know that food is hydrating? Choose a snack with high water content to combat any dehydration from your pool day.Include a combination of macronutrients to help balance your blood sugar and stay full. As a rule of thumb, I like to suggest combining two out of three of the following: carbs, protein, and fats.Pick produce when you can. Most Americans don’t consume enough fruits and veggies. Snack time is a great opportunity to boost your produce intake. As a bonus, fruits and veggies are some of the most hydrating foods.Choose something satisfying. There’s nothing worse than being hungry at the pool all day. Be sure to pack snacks that sound good to you— not just the lightest thing you can find!Make it fun! Pool days are meant to be fun, so let your snack fit in, too! Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, so get creative (carrot sticks are so 2005).

15 Healthy Pool Snacks to Pack on Your Next Summer Pool Day

1 . Watermelon Pizzas healthy pool snacks watermelon pizza

Is there anything more refreshing on a hot summer day than watermelon? I think not! Watermelon is 92 percent water, making it a great hydrating snack for your pool day.

Even more, watermelon is packed with the antioxidant lycopene, which gives watermelon its gorgeous red hue. Lycopene acts as a natural sunblock, protecting your skin against UVA and UVB rays (although you should still be applying sunscreen). Here are six more benefits of eating watermelon to convince you to pack it for your next pool day.

Watermelon pizza is a fun twist on a watermelon feta salad that’s great for a crowd. The combination of carbs and fats will help keep you full so you can get back to your fun in the sun. For a lighter snack, try watermelon on a stick.

2 . Crudite and Hummus healthy pool snacks hummus

A great crudite platter is a party pleaser, but it won’t keep you full very long. Add a trusty dip, like hummus, and you’ll transform your crudite platter into a filling snack balanced with protein and healthy fats.

What’s more, crudites and hummus are a great combination to boost your fiber intake, which can promote bowel regularity. Many people don’t consume the recommended 25 or 38 grams of fiber per day for women and men, respectively. Moreover, most Americans do not consume the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies daily. A crudite platter with hummus can help close those gaps.

Not a hummus fan? Try one of these filling dips instead:

GuacamoleTurmeric White Bean Dip 3. Summer Rolls healthy pool snacks vegetable spring rolls

Pool snacks shouldn’t be complicated, which is why I love snacks that have little clean-up and don’t require utensils. Summer rolls fit the bill! Summer rolls are a Vietnamese-inspired dish with veggies and proteins wrapped inside rice paper.  

Summer rolls are a perfect choice because they’re customizable based on what you have in your refrigerator (read: no last-minute trip to the grocery store required). Plus, they’re a fun way to eat veggies. Next time you’re at the store look for brown rice paper rolls for an easy way to add more whole grains to your diet. 

Try one of these combos for your next pool day:

Shrimp, shredded carrots, lettuce, and a peanut dipping sauceTofu, purple cabbage, carrots, cucumber, and mangoSmoked salmon, cucumber, and avocado 4. Sweet Greek Yogurt Dip healthy pool snacks greek yogurt dip

Greek yogurt is one of my favorite snacks because it’s packed with protein and super filling. Plus, one serving of Greek yogurt contains over 20 percent of your daily calcium needs to help maintain strong bones.

To make your typical Greek yogurt more fun, try mixing your favorite nut/seed butter and a drop of honey into plain Greek yogurt. It’s the perfect vehicle to scoop up refreshing summer fruit. Just make sure you keep the dip in a cooler so it stays fresh in the summer heat.

5. Rainbow Fruit Skewers healthy pool snacks fruit skewers

Rainbow-themed anything is way more fun, including these rainbow fruit skewers! Plus, the more colors you eat, the more nutrients too. Each color of produce represents different vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients for you to consume.

Word to the wise: Fruit on its own likely won’t keep you full very long. To boost its staying power, pair it with a protein-packed snack, like the Greek yogurt dip above.

6. Savory Ranch Greek Yogurt Dip healthy pool snacks greek yogurt ranch dip

If sweeter snacks aren’t your preference, you can always try a savory Greek yogurt dip instead. Also packed with protein, a savory Greek yogurt dip like this one, pairs well with veggies to make your usual crudite platter more filling and fun. 

7. Nature’s Cereal healthy pool snacks natures cereal

This viral TikTok sensation is a great healthy pool snack, although it does require some assembly poolside. Nature’s Cereal doesn’t actually contain any cereal at all. It is a bowl of fruit and coconut water, garnished with fresh mint. 

What makes this a good pool snack? Berries and pomegranate seeds are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Plus, coconut water is a great addition on a hot pool day because it’s very hydrating. Coconut water is especially loaded with electrolytes, like potassium, to help prevent dehydration. Even more, it contains zinc, which can protect against UV rays.

If you don’t feel like packing a bowl and spoon poolside, you can enjoy the combination of fruit and coconut water to stay hydrated and full. 

8. Apple Nachos healthy pool snacks apple nachos

While an apple and peanut butter is a classic healthy snack, apple nachos are way more fun to eat.

Simply slice an apple and arrange it on a plate. Drizzle peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter on top. If you’d like, sprinkle with shredded coconut for an extra pop of flavor.

One medium apple contains three grams of filling fiber. Pair it with healthy fats (like a nut butter) to help balance your blood sugar and stay full.

9. Edamame healthy pool snacks edamame

While you may associate edamame with your favorite sushi dinner, it also makes a great healthy pool snack. One cup of edamame (in the pods) contains 12 grams of protein and six grams of filling fiber. Edamame is also packed with vitamins and minerals, including:

10 percent of your daily value of calcium20 percent of your daily value of iron25 percent of your daily value of magnesium115 percent of your daily value of folate56 percent of your daily value of vitamin K

The best part about snacking on edamame? You can put frozen edamame in a bag or container straight from the freezer and it will defrost by the time you’re ready for your afternoon munch!

10. Energy Bites healthy pool snacks energy balls

You need a lot of energy for all that time in the pool, which is why energy bites are a great healthy pool snack option.

There are countless ways to make energy bites, but most are made with a combination of dried fruit, nuts and seeds, and oats. These energizing foods come together to provide a burst of energy—perfect if you’re swimming laps!

11. Chili Lime Roasted Chickpeas healthy pool snacks roasted chickpeas

One of the most popular healthy snacks I recommend to my clients is roasted chickpeas. For a pool day, I like to amp up the flavor a bit more with chili lime seasoning. If you love savory snacks with a crunch, then you’re going to love these. 

Chickpeas are a great pool snack because they’re packed with both fiber and protein. A one-ounce serving contains six grams of protein and five filling grams of fiber.

You can buy them premade or DIY them in the oven.

12. Frozen Grapes healthy pool snacks frozen grapes

If you haven’t tried frozen grapes before, then you’re in for a treat. Grapes are sweet, hydrating, and delicious on their own, but when you freeze them they become a new refreshing snack with an interesting texture. Plus, they’re mess-free—making them the perfect pool party snack.

One cup of grapes is an excellent source of copper and a good source of vitamin K, plus many antioxidants. Pack some peanut butter to add some healthy fats into the mix.

13. Cowboy Caviar healthy pool snacks cowboy caviar

Looking for a healthy pool snack for adults and kids alike? Instead of chips and salsa, try serving cowboy caviar at your next pool party. Cowboy caviar is a combination of black-eyed peas, corn, tomatoes, and spices in a vinaigrette dressing. It’s often served with tortilla chips, but you can enhance the nutrition by also serving carrot “chips” or wide bell pepper slices.

14. Mango Raspberry Popsicles healthy pool snacks mango popsicles

If you have access to a freezer, these Mango Raspberry Popsicles are a great pool snack to help you cool off. Unlike most store-bought popsicles, these homemade popsicles are made without added sugar and just a few ingredients. 

Mango is packed with vitamin C to help protect your sun from strong UV rays. Raspberries are loaded with antioxidants to also support the health of your skin.

Making your own popsicles couldn’t be easier—you don’t even need fancy molds! All you need are paper cups and popsicle sticks. Layer your ingredients in the cup and pop in the stick. Enjoy once frozen, about four hours later.

15. Summer Quinoa Salad healthy pool snacks quinoa salad

Think outside the snack box when it comes to your pool day eats. Who says you can’t snack on a delicious Summer Quinoa Salad?

Quinoa is a grain-like seed that contains more nutrients than most grains. Plus, one cup even packs eight whopping grams of protein and omega-3 fatty acids too.

This salad gets better as it marinates over time, so prepare in advance and enjoy all week long as a pool snack or part of lunch.

The Bottom Line

No one wants to get hangry while enjoying their pool day, so be sure to pack one (or more) of these snacks for a fun and delicious day. Whether you prepare a quinoa salad or head to the store to pick up crudites and hummus, be sure to keep food safety guidelines top of mind when packing your pool snacks. When in doubt, keep your snacks on ice.

The post The 15 Best Healthy Pool Snacks, According to an RD appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Maddy Sims
How to Curate Your Social Media Feed for Better Mental Health

The connection between social media and mental health is a powerful one: several studies have shown that extended use of apps can negatively impact us. But with some changes, you can create a feed that actively makes you happier. Experts share their top healthy social media habits.

Social media doesn’t always make us feel great, and yet, we log on anyway.

One reason? With a slew of addictive features—like the endless scroll—social media apps are specifically designed to keep us searching, scanning, clicking, and tapping.

But that’s not the sole reason we get sucked in: When done right, social media can actually be a fun, fascinating place to hang out. So, you don’t have to cut scrolling from your life (unless of course, you’d like to, which can be a wise choice too).

The key to healthy social media use? Curate your feed into a safe, supportive space that enhances your mental health, instead of sinking it. We know that’s easier said than done, which is why we tapped experts to share their top healthy social media habits. 

What Is the Connection Between Social Media and Mental Health? social media and mental health

 First, let’s point out the elephant in the room: While the research is mixed, many studies have linked social media use with multiple mental health concerns.

A 2019 review of 13 studies found associations between social media use and depression, anxiety, and psychological distress in teens. Similarly, in an experimental study, participants who scrolled their Facebook news feeds reported lower self-esteem and higher depression levels than participants who browsed a Facebook page with non-social content. The likely cause? Comparison. 

Social media can also keep us up at night and hamper sleep. A 2016 study found that young adults, between the ages of 19 and 32, who used social media more often had greater chances of having disrupted sleep. This review revealed that frequent social media use, particularly at night, led to less sleep, later bedtimes, and poorer sleep quality.

What’s more, limiting social media use can have positive effects on mental health. For example, a study published just this month of 154 participants between 18 and 72 years old found that taking a week-long break from social media reduced anxiety and depression. Participants who skipped social media also reported increases in wellbeing, agreeing with statements like: “I’ve been feeling optimistic about the future” and “I’ve been thinking clearly.” 

Of course, social media isn’t all bad. Using social media can:

Connect us with othersTeach or sharpen a new skillProvide a space to express ourselvesMake us laughInspire us to make healthy changes

And because social media has become ingrained in our culture, it’s difficult to abandon it completely. (Plus, you may not want to!) Luckily, you don’t need to go dark on social to make it a safer space.

How to Use Social Media in a Healthy Way mental health and social media

Whether we realize it or not, social media plays a big role in our inner lives and outlook. “The accounts that we follow matter and affect the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us,” says Alison Seponara, a licensed professional counselor and author of  The Anxiety Healer’s Guide.

The bright side: If we decide to stay on social apps, we can create feeds “full of encouragement, support, and non-judgment,” says Seponara.

Start with these 12 therapist-approved strategies: 

Slow Down While You Scroll

Many of us automatically scan our feeds without stopping to carefully consider how we’re feeling about what we’re seeing. The next time you log in, reflect on these questions, says Ana Sokolovic, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice and writer for the ParentingPod.com:

Is the content triggering a spiral of negative self-talk or memories?Does my energy drop, while my frustration, shame, or sadness rises?Am I passing right by the content, rarely reading or watching?

If you find yourself answering yes to many, or any, of these questions, it might be time to unfollow an account.

Keep in mind: Your unfollow isn’t permanent, so if you truly miss that person, brand, or organization, you can always reconnect.

Survey Your Self-Esteem

Another sign it’s time to unfollow or mute for your mental health? The account leads you to feel bad about yourself, says KC Davis, a licensed professional counselor and author of “How To Keep House While Drowning.”

Here’s the thing: “The answer doesn’t have to make sense,” points out Davis. If an account with pretty, helpful design content makes you feel guilty about your unfinished projects, it’s totally okay to unfollow, she says. The same goes for the influencer with good intentions, great clothes, and a million fans.

As Davis reminds us, “This is your feed that you are cultivating, and it can either have a distressing or an uplifting effect on you.”

Identify Your Intentions

Ultimately, take a step back and ask yourself what you “want your eyes, brain, and body exposed to whenever you touch your phone,” says Perpetua Neo, a clinical psychologist and author of the book “This is What Matters.”

For example, she says, would you like your social feeds to be about fun, learning and growing, or connecting with others? If yes, then you should take steps to curate a positive environment.

Conduct the 3-Posts Test

Wondering if a new-to-you account is worthy of a follow? “When I go to someone’s page to see if I want to follow them, I ask myself if I like their last three posts,” says Heidi McBain, a licensed marriage and family therapist who works with moms and moms-to-be.

Not sure if you like it? Use this quick check-in from Seponara: “If you find yourself smiling as you look at an image and [feeling] more energy, more positive, and more hopeful, then it sounds like an account for you.”

Be Picky With Your Likes

With social media, it’s important to remember that its “algorithms are tricky and built to give you more of what you like to keep you on the app,” says Oludara Adeeyo, a psychiatric social worker and author of the book “Self-Care for Black Women.”

That means that if you’re liking something that stresses you out (because, for example, you feel like you should), it can “spiral you down into an unhealthy hole of content that isn’t good for you,” says Adeeyo. (Don’t believe it? Check out The Wall Street Journal’s investigation of TikTok’s algorithm.) 

Skip Accounts That Promote Diet Culture

Social media is saturated with “health” content that can veer into unhealthy territory. But in our weight-obsessed society, what’s harmful isn’t always clear.

One red flag, says Neo, is “any account that makes food sound like something that warrants punishment”—as in you must exercise to “work off” something you ate.

Other signs that you might unfollow or avoid, says Davis, are accounts that:

Talk about weight loss as a goalCall foods good/bad, healthy/unhealthyUse terms like “junk food,” “detox,” or “clean eatingIdealize how people “used to eat”Claim that just one aspect of body functioning is key to health, like gut health or cutting out an entire food group or ingredient (e.g., sugar) Make a Difference With Tangible Steps

Over time, following news sources can be stressful. But many of us keep scrolling because we feel guilty if we tune out. Whether you decide to unfollow news accounts or not, Davis recommends refocusing on tangible ways you can help:

List several causes you care aboutUnder each cause, list concrete actions you can take to effect changeConsider which actions fit into your life and current abilities. For example, you might repost a message from a charity doing important work or donate to a resale shop whose proceeds go to domestic violence shelters Harness a Hobby

“It can help to follow people and other social media pages that focus on your hobbies or things you enjoy,” says Alexander Burgemeester, a neuropsychologist and owner of The Narcissistic Life. This could be anything from cooking to decorating to reading, he says.

Don’t currently have a hobby that resonates? Think about something you’ve always wanted to try, usually soothes your soul, or recently piqued your interest—the more obscure, maybe the more interesting. Then find accounts on the topic that are bright and encouraging.

Follow Relatable People

“Fill your feed with more people that have bodies, homes, [and budgets] that look like yours,” says Davis.

Here’s why: “If all you follow are thin, rich influencers, you are likely going to feel inadequate, and you’ll find yourself comparing your life to theirs,” Davis explains. 

Think Inspirational, Not Aspirational

If you’d like to learn from your social feeds, knowing the distinction between inspirational and aspirational is important.

Before following someone, Davis asks herself: 

“Is this account going to inspire me to be the person I want to be in terms of healing and growth, or is it simply intended to aspire me to want what this person has in terms of a body, a house, an income, fame, beauty, organization, etc.? Is this account going to help me live my best life or will I simply be watching someone else live theirs?”

Follow Uplifting, Insightful, Positive Accounts

The good news: Social media is packed with excellent, enjoyable, thoughtful content. Here are some favorite accounts of the therapists we interviewed, which might be a fit for your feed:

@nedratawwab@morganharpernichols@alex@the.holistic.psychologist@peacefulmindpeacefullife@destini-ann@thepsychdoctormd@jaimmykoroma@adamgrant@terricole@thehappysnapshot

But remember: Pay attention to how each account makes you feel. A great account stops being great if it’s triggering negative reactions.  

Make Your Phone Less Fun

Sometimes the issue isn’t with our feeds but the frequency of our use. If you’re scrolling a bit too much (you’re not alone,  try these tiny tweaks to cut down:

Switch your phone to grayscaleLeave your phone outside of your room before bedTurn off all notificationsDelete social apps from your phone, or delete them on days you tend to over-use them, like the weekends The Takeaway

Social media can have serious downsides and important perks. The key is to amplify the positives by creating a feed that supports your mental health.

Make your social media into a space that honors your physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. “Your social media feed is one of your windows into the world,” Sokolovic says. “Remember: You have control over what you consume.”

The post How to Curate Your Social Media Feed for Better Mental Health appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Maddy Sims
How to Hydrate Your Skin Like a K-Beauty Pro

Want to achieve plump, hydrated skin? Step away from the harsh skincare actives and take a cue from K-beauty skincare, which uses gentle ingredients for ultimate hydration. We spoke to Michelle Shieh, scientific communications manager at Laneige, to learn how to hydrate your skin like a pro.

When you think of Korean skincare, you may immediately think of those intricate 12-step routines that dominated social media for years. But while K-beauty may seem complicated, it’s rooted in one very simple principle: hydration. So if you’re wondering how to hydrate skin and get a dewy look, look no further than K-beauty skincare. 

“Hydration is definitely an important pillar in Korean skincare,” says Michelle Shieh, scientific communications manager at Laneige. “We believe that hydrated skin is the foundation to addressing various skincare concerns.”

By hydrating your complexion, you can combat and prevent symptoms like TK, getting that signature K-beauty glow. Read on to learn more about why hydration is foundational to K-beauty skincare and the best way to hydrate skin.

Hydration: K-Beauty Skincare’s Best Kept Secret how to hydrate skin active ingredients

First, the obvious reason you may be focused on skin hydration: “Dry and dehydrated skin can lead to flakiness, dullness, loss of plumpness, or even discomfort such as itchiness,” explains Shieh. But you don’t need to have super dry skin to benefit from hydrating tips and products. “Hydration is key to achieving healthy-looking skin,” says Shieh.

Not only can hydration improve skin conditions, but it can also help prevent new ones from cropping up. For example, if your skin becomes dehydrated, it may start to produce excess oil, which can lead to breakouts. 

Another reason why K-beauty focuses on hydration? Keeping your skin properly hydrated ensures your skin barrier (the outer level of your skin) stays healthy and functions properly. If the skin barrier becomes damaged, your skin won’t be able to retain moisture and you may experience redness, irritation, sensitivity, flaking, breakouts, and pronounced fine lines or wrinkles.

What to Know About Skin Hydration skin hydration

Obviously, skin hydration is one of the biggest K-beauty secrets, but so is understanding the cause of your skin’s dryness. “There are actually two different situations that could be the case when we feel like our skin feels or looks dry: dry skin or dehydrated skin. 

But what exactly is the difference between dry skin versus dehydrated skin? Both types of parched complexions are the result of low levels of moisture in the skin, just different types of moisture. “Dry skin is a skin type when the sebaceous glands don’t produce enough oil to nourish the skin,” explains Shieh. Some symptoms of dry skin include flakes, rough texture, exaggerated fine lines and wrinkles, redness, irritation, breakouts, and itchiness, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). It needs intense hydration from oil-based ingredients (think: heavy creams) to help replenish and seal the moisture in.

“Dehydrated skin is when the skin lacks hydration. This can be a temporary state that is caused by a change in season, climate, or geographical location (like when we’re traveling),” says Shieh. Dehydrated skin can be harder to spot. When skin is dehydrated, it can overcompensate for the lack of hydration by producing excess oil, leading to an over-production of oil. This can block pores and lead to blackheads, acne, or other irritation. 

It’s common for those with oily or acne-prone skin to not even realize they have dehydrated skin—only exacerbating their skin issues. For that reason, Shieh says hydration is as essential to those with oily or acne-prone skin types as to those with dry skin types. Incorporating the right kinds of lightweight, hydrating products into their routines (like hyaluronic acid, for example) can help the skin maintain a healthy water-oil balance. “Hydration is as essential to those with oily or acne-prone skin types as to those with dry skin types,” Shieh says.  

But hydration is also important if you have normal or balanced skin, as your complexion is constantly losing water throughout the day. Your skin loses about 300 to 400 milliliters of water by skin diffusion every day, according to research. Applying moisturizing products after you wash your face, for example, locks in the extra hydration from the water and ensures your skin’s hydration levels stay constant throughout the day.

How to Hydrate Your Skin Like a K-Beauty Pro how to hydrate skin k beauty

Want to achieve K-beauty levels of skin hydration? Shieh reveals her favorite hydrating tips and ingredients that will give your complexion that viral glazed doughnut look.

Think Gentle

While harsh skincare actives are touted for their impressive results, gentle, hydrating ingredients (like the ones found in K-beauty products) can help you achieve smooth, clear, luminous skin. This approach to hydration is one of the biggest differentiators in K-beauty skincare. These ingredients (both inactive and active) won’t disrupt your skin’s pH balance (like certain acids will) nor will they cause irritation, dryness, or redness (like retinol or other active skincare ingredients). Instead, they’ll replenish your skin’s moisture levels, giving you the ultimate glow.

Stay Consistent

Another key to hydrating your skin like a K-beauty pro? Consistency. Korean skincare is all about being regimented with your routine (especially since there can be up to 12 steps sometimes!). Remember that skincare routine order matters: Apply your products from thinnest consistency (think: serums) to thickest (such as night creams) every day to see results.

Reach for Ultra-Hydrating Ingredients Hyaluronic Acid

“One of my favorite hydration ingredients is definitely hyaluronic acid,” she says. “Hyaluronic acid is a humectant ingredient that helps draw moisture into the skin and has the ability to help hold onto large amounts of hydration while still being very lightweight.” This ingredient is a great option to help add intense hydration to all skin types—whether you struggle with dry skin or have dehydrated, oily skin.

Where to Find It: Laneige’s Water Bank Hydration Set, $45

“There are many types of hyaluronic acids out there, and not all of them are created equal,” Shieh says. “Laneige’s Blue Hyaluronic Acid in the new Water Bank collection is a micro-sized hyaluronic acid (it’s 2,000 times smaller than the hyaluronic acid used in our previous Water Bank collection) that is double fermented with deep-sea algae, which gets absorbed deeper and locks in hydration better to provide a more effectively multi-faceted hydration.”

Squalane

Not to be confused with squalene (which is generally found in shark liver), squalane is a plant-based hydrating ingredient (and a favorite of Shieh’s). “It’s an emollient ingredient that helps add nourishment to the skin while helping to seal in hydration, perfect to pair with hyaluronic acid,” she says. “It mimics a component of our skin’s natural lipids so, it’s easy for the skin to take in.”

Where to Find It: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, $29

Give your skin a much-needed hydration boost with the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. It contains this moisturizing ingredient in a lightweight, gel texture that will soak into your skin and replenish its hydration levels overnight.

Shea Butter

Shea butter is an emollient that hydrates and softens the skin. It’s one of the top-recommended ingredients for dry skin, according to the AAD. Additionally, its thick consistency can help support the skin’s barrier. “Aside from making sure we are adding hydration, it’s also important to take good care of our skin’s moisture barrier to help seal in the hydration that we’ve provided,” Shieh says. “Without a happy moisture barrier, it’s hard for our skin to maintain long-term hydration.”

Where to Find It: Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask, $22

Given shea butter’s heavier consistency, it’s the perfect ingredient for a lip treatment. Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask contains this hydration superstar plus hyaluronic acid and powerful antioxidants for a supple, smooth pout. (Psst: This product has gone viral on TikTok, with over 3.5 million views.)

The post How to Hydrate Your Skin Like a K-Beauty Pro appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Jenn Sinrich
6 Things You Don’t Have to Give Up During Pregnancy

Overwhelmed by the list of dos and don’ts during pregnancy? Experts share six things that are surprisingly safe to do during pregnancy.

The list of dos and don’ts during pregnancy can be long and a bit overwhelming. But just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love. Experts reveal six things that are usually surprisingly safe to do during pregnancy.

For many, pregnancy is an exciting time filled with a great deal of hope and inspiration. After all, you’re growing a baby that will soon become a very special member of your family. What few people realize prior to becoming pregnant, however, are the worries that come along with the pregnancy package. Not only are you concerned about your baby’s growth and development, but you are also likely worried about the safety dos and don’ts during pregnancy that you should be following to facilitate the healthiest environment. Don’t worry—these fears and anxieties are completely normal. 

“Pregnancy is a delicate time for our bodies—our shape changes and our bodies must adapt to having someone live inside us,” explains Allison Rodgers, M.D., OB/GYN, reproductive endocrinologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois. “Also, with a developing fetus, we want to ensure we do everything in our control to help with normal development.”

Why Are There So Many Dos and Don’ts During Pregnancy? dos and dont during pregnancy woman holding stomach

By the time you have your first prenatal appointment with your prenatal care provider, you’ve probably been fully informed about the laundry list of dos and don’ts during pregnancy. Many of the things that are “off-limits” during pregnancy are out of an abundance of caution, explains Kathryn Berryman, MD, Orlando-based perinatologist with AdventHealth Medical Group. “Foods, beverages, and medicines may cross the placenta, and so anything consumed by a pregnant woman has the potential to affect the baby,” she says. “Often, there are things that are safe in small quantities, but in greater amounts could be concerning.”  

Given the many things that are not considered safe for pregnancy, many pregnant women can feel overwhelmed and anxious. Lora Shahine, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at Pacific NW Fertility in Seattle, Washington, and host of the Baby or Bust Podcast, sees anxiety and worry in many of her pregnant patients, as a significant number of them have struggled to get pregnant for years and have already made lifestyle choices to optimize fertility. “The anxiety switches from fertility and conceiving to choices that improve chances of a healthy pregnancy and often increases with conflicting recommendations,” she says.  

While there are definitely things you should avoid while pregnant, heightened anxiety during pregnancy over doing every little thing right can also have certain health risks for your baby, research shows. In fact, it’s important for moms-to-be to understand all of the many things they can still do during pregnancy because, well, that list is much longer (believe it or not!). And despite popular belief, there are several surprisingly safe things you can do during pregnancy. We asked doctors to share some of them, below. 

6 Surprisingly Safe Things to Do During Pregnancy dos and donts during pregnancy drinking coffee Exercising 

In normal, low-risk pregnancies, it is perfectly safe to exercise. In fact, most practitioners recommend that you continue to partake in any type of exercise you were doing pre-pregnancy. “Exercise is not only safe in low-risk pregnancies, but it can help limit excessive weight gain and can reduce the chances of developing gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension,” explains Dr. Berryman. “Getting hot and raising your heart rate is healthy, improves cardiovascular function, lowers blood pressure, and improves metabolism.” 

Gentle forms of exercise that she recommends for low-risk pregnant women include walking, yoga, and swimming. “For someone who has been doing higher impact exercising like running, cycling, and gym classes, it is safe to continue,” she adds. “Lifting weights at the gym or lifting heavy items in life is not dangerous, but women need to be careful about their body mechanics as they are more prone to pulling a muscle due to the physical changes of pregnancy.” Exercises to avoid during pregnancy include those where you have the potential to get hurt: horseback riding, bike riding on the road, kickboxing, contact sports, and even tennis. Brown spotting after exercise when pregnant can occur, but if you notice bleeding or if you have any other symptoms (pain or contractions), contact your doctor ASAP.

Having Sex

With most low-risk pregnancies, doctors give sex the thumbs up during pregnancy. It is worth noting, however, that intercourse, at times, can cause slight bleeding due to penetration and the penis brushing up against the cervix, notes Risa Klein, Certified Nurse-Midwife, OB-GYN NP, Director of Midwifery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. 

Here’s a tip: “No hard thrusting especially in the third trimester, as you do not want to break the water sac,” Dr. Klein says. But, overall, getting intimate when pregnant can be beneficial. “Semen, rich in prostaglandins, can help soften and ripen the cervix for labor.” Just make sure you wash your hands and urinate before and after sex to avoid UTIs. If you experience pain, inform your provider—you may have a bacterial or yeast infection.

Traveling

 The good news is that most practitioners give the OK for moms-to-be to travel up until week 36 so long as the pregnancy is healthy and low-risk. (You’ve probably seen headlines of women giving birth mid-air—this is why you’re better off staying grounded past week 36.)

“Pregnant women should avoid prolonged periods of sitting, like on a trans-continental flight, due to the increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) associated with pregnancy,” notes Dr. Berryman. “It is easy enough for women to wear compression socks and to plan to get up and walk every two hours during extended periods of travel.” 

Drinking Coffee

Can you drink coffee while pregnant? Don’t worry—you don’t have to ditch your morning (or afternoon) cup of joe. Caffeine, in moderation (up to 200  milligrams per day) is safe for pregnancy, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). It is worth noting, however, that caffeine, in large amounts, can increase the risk of miscarriage, Dr. Berryman points out. “Most people know that coffee has caffeine, but there is a wide variation in concentration depending on the brew and size—for example, a grande coffee from Starbucks can have about 300 milligrams of caffeine,” she says. “Surprising sources of caffeine include dark chocolate, which can contain 30 milligrams of caffeine—almost as much as a can of Coke!” If you love coffee but want to play it safe, consider drinking more decaf coffee while pregnant.

Getting your nails done

One lifestyle luxury you don’t have to forgo during pregnancy? Getting your nails done—whether you want a pedicure or a gel manicure while pregnant. Getting your nails done is safe, but it’s a good idea to be especially choosy when it comes to which salon you go to. “The instruments that are used should be properly sterilized, so as to not become transmitters of hepatitis, causing open wounds on the skin, ports for other infections,” says Dr. Klein. “You can bring your own tools, to ensure safety and cleanliness.”

Women’s Well Visits

Most wellness visits that you may have participated in prior to pregnancy, including chiropractor for alignment and nervous system, prenatal massage, prenatal exercises and yoga, acupuncture, osteopath, and physical therapy are safe during pregnancy so long as your practitioners know what you are expecting. Even the dentist is important—and vital. “If you need a dental x-ray, however, be sure you are wearing an apron to cover your entire chest and abdomen,” adds Dr. Klein.  

The Takeaway

Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to give up everything from your life pre-conception. Still, it’s important to speak honestly with your doctor—especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy—to ensure you’re doing everything to keep yourself and your baby as safe as possible.

The post 6 Things You Don’t Have to Give Up During Pregnancy appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Rebecca Norris
7 Types of Rest You Should Be Getting to Avoid Burnout and Amplify Happiness

Burnout and stress are more prevalent than ever, according to the American Psychological Association. But there is a way to fight these mental health conditions: rest (and no, that doesn’t just mean sleep). Below, we break down the seven different types of rest you should be getting—other than snoozing.

Have you ever made it a point to get seven to nine hours of sleep—the recommended time for adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation—only to still feel exhausted once your alarm rings? As it turns out, a lack of sleep might not be your issue—a lack of rest could be. 

In 2019, board-certified internal medicine physician Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD did a TED Talk about the importance of rest. The concept? Sleep is essential for survival, but rest—conscious relaxation—is, too. 

According to Dr. Dalton-Smith, there are seven types of rest: mental, spiritual, emotional, social, sensory, creative, and physical. She touches on each of them in her TED Talk (and even has a book devoted to the concept: Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity). Still, given time has passed since her theory first came to light (and suffice it to say a lot has happened, and we could all probably use rest now more than ever), we took a deep dive into the concept of rest with the help of two experts in the field. Keep reading to learn why we all ought to prioritize waking rest just as much as we do sleeping rest. 

The Importance of Rest types of rest meditation

We all know what it’s like to feel well-rested—awake, grounded, centered, and ready to take on whatever comes our way. Unfortunately, in today’s capitalist society, making time for rest is often a second thought. 

“Rest is vital for optimal health and well-being, [however,] rest is often viewed as something not valuable because work is not being completed—productivity is not being accomplished,” explains research neuroscientist Nicole Avena, PhD. Yet without adequate rest, it’s impossible to work effectively, which makes it more difficult to be productive. As such, Dr. Avena points out that rest—not just sleep—is the key to avoiding burnout.

“In today’s society, it is extremely common to work long hours and go the extra mile to help others or complete a job,” she explains. “This can result in situations that have such high demands with low resources, increasing the risk of burnout. When situations of burnout occur, it can become difficult to rest and recover.”

That’s why it’s so important to incorporate rest into your routine before the stresses of daily life take their toll. Resting—both your body and mind—can help reverse burnout, as well as prevent it before it strikes. “Even whenever we are not focused on completing a task, our brain is still engaging in its default network—meaning it is examining possible answers and seeking new knowledge,” Avena explains. “Learning to rest more effectively can help give our brain the rest that it needs to continue functioning optimally.”

The Difference Between Rest vs. Sleep rest vs sleep

The first step to resting more effectively is understanding the difference between rest and sleep. “Sleep is a natural state that occurs whenever the body is primarily inactive, and it is a part of normal functioning,” Dr. Avena says. “Resting is not something that is embedded into daily life. Instead, rest occurs whenever work and movement are intentionally set aside to promote a state of relaxation—a ‘break.’”

Real rest deserves more than a few five to 15-minute breaks throughout your workday. After all, rest is the answer to inhibiting burnout—and burnout is about more than just feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. It can lead to serious health problems down the line.

“Burnout can cause symptoms such as an increased likelihood of heart disease, increased risk for type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, alcohol or substance abuse issues, isolation from friends and family, and fatigue,” Dr. Avena says. “By giving your mind and body a break, burnout is less likely to occur and negative health impacts will not be as likely to result.” 

The 7 Different Types of Rest types of rest physical rest

There isn’t just one way to rest. As Dr. Dalton-Smith popularized, there are seven types of rest that can have real, lasting positive impacts on the body and mind.

Physical Rest

Physical rest is exactly as it sounds: a break from physical exertion. Physical rest is important because it gives the body a chance to release tension and enter a state of reparative calm, Dr. Avena says. 

Examples of Physical Rest

Examples of physical rest include taking a day off from working out or engaging in hands-on labor. That’s not to say you can’t be active while still incorporating physical rest into your routine, though. Avena points out that meditative exercise like yoga can provide your body with adequate rest and relaxation, while also helping to calm the mind. 

Mental Rest

Speaking of the mind, mental rest is pivotal. “Mental rest occurs by providing the brain with breaks and activities that involve little brainpower,” Dr. Avena says. 

Examples of Mental Rest

The Pomodoro Technique, for example, is a great way to incorporate regular mental rest into your day, it’s helpful to schedule longer, less-thought-provoking activities within your schedule. The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management system that encourages people to break up their workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. The intervals of work are referred to as pomodoros. 

If you’re worried breaking up your workday will make you less productive, opting for an easy cleaning session over strenuous mental work (like taking a 20-minute break to tidy up your work area) can prove just as effective. Other examples of mental rest can include taking time to catch up on a favorite show, work in your garden, or listen to a podcast. Mental rest can even be as simple as writing down your nagging thoughts so that you can get them off your mind, according to Dr. Dalton-Smith. 

Sensory Rest

By now you’ve likely heard that the blue light emitted from screens can disrupt healthy sleep patterns. Of course, electronics and lights aren’t the only sensory elements that can weigh heavily on a person’s mental restfulness—noise can, too. While these things can make falling asleep particularly difficult, they can also make staying calm and focused throughout the day more of a challenge. 

Examples of Sensory Rest

Sensory rest can include implementing a phone-free bedtime routine, as well as silencing distracting notifications throughout the workday. (Pro tip: Apple’s new Focus modes help tremendously with that!) And, as Dr. Dalton-Smith points out, sensory rest can also incorporate avoiding driving or commuting and other crowded instances that can put your senses on high alert. 

Creative Rest

Even the most creative people in the world—artists, musicians, writers—need breaks from creating. In fact, without breaks, creating becomes more difficult than ever before (such is the concept behind phenomena like writer’s block). 

Examples of Creative Rest

According to Dr. Avena, great ways to engage in creative rest include activities spent in nature, whether a walk around the block, a moment of birdwatching, or simply getting grounded to the earth beneath your feet. “Participating in creative rest can allow the brain to restart and gain its creativity back,” she says. (For what it’s worth, adding music to the background of creative rest can make it that much more enjoyable—it might even inspire your next creation.)

Emotional Rest

According to Dr. Avena, “emotional rest occurs whenever the time is taken to express emotions honestly.” By sharing your emotions, she says that you’re able to lessen their burden on your mind and body and, in doing so, you can promote a healthier mental state. 

Examples of Emotional Rest

Venting to a trusted friend or family member, attending therapy, or even journaling are all examples of productive emotional rest. Emotional rest can also mean taking a step back from situations that make you overly emotional, whether it be relationships with friends, family, and significant others, or a difficult-but-necessary aspect of your career (like long shifts in a NICU unit).

Social Rest

Social rest can mean taking a step back from engaging in too many social interactions, which can feel overwhelming after a while, sure. But, more accurately, Dr. Dalton-Smith says that social rest is all about prioritizing social encounters that “revive” us. 

Examples of Social Rest

Saying no to an event or activity you genuinely don’t want to attend is an important form of social rest. Additionally, quality time spent with a close friend or family member with whom you feel completely comfortable is an excellent way to practice social rest. Dr. Avena adds that social rest goes hand-in-hand with creating a proper support system throughout all aspects of life. 

Spiritual Rest

Despite its name, spiritual rest doesn’t mean taking a break from your spiritual life, but rather leaning into it. 

Examples of Spiritual Rest

“Spiritual rest occurs when connecting deeply through prayer or meditation,” Dr. Avena says. “This type of rest can help restore and refocus some individuals.”

More recently, Andrew D. Huberman, MD, an associate professor of neurobiology at Stanford, coined the term “non-sleep deep rest” (NSDR)—a now popular category on YouTube. In short, NSDR can be defined as different forms of restorative mindfulness techniques, including meditation and yoga. While NSDR plays heavily into the concept of spiritual rest, it also applies to just about every other category of rest, which is undoubtedly why it’s becoming the next big thing. 

How to Use These Types of Rest

If you’re hoping to find a prescribed amount of rest, it doesn’t exist—it varies from person to person. “The type of rest that each person needs depends on who they are and how they feel the most calm and rested,” Dr. Avena says. “For example, yoga may help one person rest and reset, while taking a walk through nature would work best for a different person. Everyone is different, and figuring out what type of rest works for you is essential to resting properly and effectively.” 

Furthermore, she says that the amount of rest taken is highly subjective. “It depends on each individual’s body and what it takes to help them feel rejuvenated and reset,” she says. “This being said, striving for all the different types of rest discussed can decrease the chances of experiencing burnout and can promote a life filled with happiness and well-being.”

If you’re still not convinced or think that these types of rest don’t apply to you, think again. “It is a myth that human beings are wired to be operating at our peak productivity at all waking hours,” says Oura sleep expert and Rebecca Robins, PhD. “Research shows that there is rhythmicity to our alertness, and we all differ in our peak hours and times during the day of productivity.” As such, she says that it’s important to identify when you feel most wakeful and energetic and go about your day accordingly. 

“We all have a different rhythm around a typical 24-hour day,” she says. “Some are highly energetic and easy to wake up in the early morning hours, others struggle to wake up early and instead thrive and are most productive in the hours after sunset. The most important thing is identifying your personal orientation, or your chronotype, then doing your best to match your personal and professional schedules around those times that protect your productive periods and your down periods.” 

All this to say, if you’re a morning person, take advantage of your energy and use it for productive purposes in the early hours of the day, then allow yourself time to rest in the afternoon and evening. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re a night owl, allow yourself leisurely mornings of rest and focus on productivity later in the day. (Learn more about your sleep chronotype and then figure out how to use it to develop a schedule for yourself.) 

“Our energy is not linear after we wake up, so it is ideal to notice your personal pattern of productivity and do your best to protect your productive hours for work, then lean into restful activities during your less productive times,” Dr. Robbins assures us. “This will allow you to manage stress during the day and may improve your ability to maintain a healthy sleep schedule as well.”

The post 7 Types of Rest You Should Be Getting to Avoid Burnout and Amplify Happiness appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Maddy Sims
What Is Ayurveda? An Expert Breaks Down Everything to Know About This Ancient Health Practice

Curious about the ancient practice of Ayurveda? We tapped an expert to break down everything you need to know, including Dosha types and how to follow an Ayurvedic diet according to your body type.

If you’ve ever felt like you need a little more balance in your life, Ayurvedic practices might help. Ayurveda is an ancient and all-inclusive medical system rooted in prevention and achieving more balance mentally, physically, and spiritually. 

While there’s a lot that goes into Ayurvedic living, gaining a better understanding of the history, Ayurveda body types (aka, Doshas), and the Ayurvedic diet is a great place to start. 

Up ahead, we tap an Ayurvedic specialist to learn more about a beginner-friendly approach to Ayurveda, including what the different Dosha types are and how to follow an Ayurvedic diet. 

What Is Ayurveda?  ayurveda diet herbs

“Ayurveda is an ancient science and preventative healthcare tradition that originated in India 2,000-5,000 years ago,” says Katie Silcox, M.A., a New York Times bestselling author of Healthy, Happy, Sexy: Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women, Ayurvedic specialist, and the founder of Shakti School. According to Silcox, the traditions were originally passed on orally, so it’s difficult to trace exactly when it was first practiced. And, like many Indigenous medical systems, Ayurveda is a combination of different cultural healthcare practices. “We have evidence that Ayurveda-practicing Indians were sharing insights with the Chinese, Greeks, Egyptians, and even Europeans,” Silcox explains. “So, in this light, we can think of Ayurveda as a global medicine and philosophy of life that enables us to connect with nature and the holistic system of our entire body, mind, and emotional complex,” she adds. 

Silcox says that Ayurveda as a medical practice is different from conventional medicine practices we are familiar with in Western cultures because, “it sees the entire body, mind, and emotional experience as an intricate web of interdependency.” Additionally, Ayurvedic medicine is rooted in the understanding that, “all diseases have their origin in the digestive system and stress,” says Silcox. This means that sleep, diet, and energy maintenance are the primary forms of maintaining health in Ayurveda. 

Another key facet of Ayurvedic medicine is spirituality, as Silcox says it’s considered a spiritual system. “The meaning of the word ‘health’ in Ayurveda is svastha, which means ‘being situated in your true self’ rather than the various personas and ego complexes that many of us live from,” Silcox explains. 

What are the Ayurvedic Dosha Types? 

In Ayurvedic medicine, people are divided up into three specific mind-body types that are ruled by certain elements called Doshas. The three Ayurvedic Doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. “We can understand Vata as the principle of air, or movement and degeneration in the body,” says Silcox. “Pitta is fire, or the metabolic processes in the body, and Kapha is earth and water, or the stabilizing and building functions in the body,” she adds. “In this way, every single cell in your body is made up of movement, metabolic activity, structure, and function.” 

We are technically made up of all three Ayurvedic Doshas, however, Silcox says we all tend to express one specific type of Dosha over the other. “The importance of the Doshas cannot be underestimated,” says Silcox. “We not only want to understand our own mind and body type and the qualities that make us unique, but we can also [want to] understand the entire world through the lens of these Doshas,” she adds, noting how geography, seasons, time of day, and all life experiences have Dosha qualities, too. 

To determine which Dosha you express the most, you can visit with an Ayurveda practitioner for an evaluation, or take an online Dosha quiz, which asks you questions about your bone structure, skin, favorite climate type, body temperature, sleep, mind, learning habits, and more.

Vata Dosha

As Silcox mentioned, the Vata Dosha is connected to the air element. In fact, the word Vata means “wind” in Sanskrit. Some qualities of a Vata Dosha include cold, dry, and light. Those who express more Vata are typically active, creative, and have bubbly personalities with more slender body types. These are the types of people who are great at multi-tasking, quick learners, and kind-hearted. 

Kapha Dosha

The Kapha Dosha is connected to earth and water and its characteristics include stability, softness, and cold. Those who express more Kapha typically have a body type that is strong and curvaceous, and they might have trouble with weight management. These are the types of people who are empathetic, wise, patient, caring, and a good support system for anyone and everyone in their lives. 

Pitta Dosha

The Pitta Dosha is all about the fire element and is connected to the summertime, as it’s a hot and sticky season—just like Pitta. Those who express more Pitta have a muscular body type and tend to be on the athletic side of the spectrum. They’re great at goal-setting, competitive, and determined, and they also tend to be quick learners, success-driven, and tenacious. 

How to Eat an Ayurvedic Diet for Your Dosha Type ayurvedic diet

Ayurveda looks at all aspects of human life (down to oral care!) to optimize health. That means diet is a major part of Ayurvedic medicine. The Ayurveda diet is all about bringing balance to the body through foods that harness different types of energy to promote overall well-being—and the Doshas play a big part in the methodology. To follow the Ayurvedic diet, look at your specific body type —or your most expressed Dosha—to determine which types of foods will harmonize and balance your health. But, in addition to that, there are some overall general practices to consider, too. 

“The best Ayurvedic diet is one that incorporates local and seasonal foods that are Indigenous to the land that you live on,” says Silcox. “Fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality fats like ghee, olive and coconut oil, nuts, seeds, meats of high-quality, whole grains, and beans, as well as the appropriate spices and cooking methodologies to make food as digestible and easy on your body as possible are all important elements of eating Ayurvedically,” she adds. 

Once you know what your Dosha type is, you can look at different foods through the Ayurvedic lens to determine what will balance your system. “We want to make sure that if we have a lot of air in our systems [aka, the Vata Dosha], we aren’t eating foods that exacerbate more air like dry toast, popcorn, raw foods, salads, or granola bars,” Silcox explains. In a similar light, if you express more Pitta with fire in your system, you want to “avoid foods that are inflammatory.” And, those with more Kapha or water and earth elements, want to make sure to avoid foods that are “heavy and damp like cheese, wheat, and meat.”

Some of the key benefits of the Ayurvedic diet include the promotion of eating whole foods, eating seasonally, and being mindful about the types of foods that make you feel less grounded or more sluggish, depending on your Dosha type. Additionally, the Ayurvedic diet focuses on digestion and cooking methods that are rooted in optimizing digestion. 

Is Ayurveda Science-Based? 

While Ayurvedic medicine as a whole has not undergone extensive peer-reviewed research, Silcox explains that there are numerous scientific studies from India on Vedic herbs like tulsi and turmeric, remedies, and certain Ayurvedic healing methodologies such as Panchakarma and yoga

Modern Western science has focused on some more specific Ayurvedic practices in research. For example, tongue scraping is popular Ayurvedic practice and has been studied for oral health benefits, taste improvement, and even digestion support. ​​Prakriti, which is an Ayurvedic principle, has also been studied for its role in aging.  Certain principles, like eating anti-inflammatory foods, improving digestion, and using plants and herbs to achieve certain health outcomes have also been studied.

From a Western medicine lens, Ayurveda is viewed as a form of complementary therapy that can be used along with conventional medicine, according to Johns Hopkins

The Takeaway 

If you’re looking to adopt a healthy lifestyle that feels holistic and all-encompassing, incorporating Ayurvedic practices into your wellness routine may have some benefits. Because the natural system of medicine looks at all aspects of life to optimize health and includes many practices that are considered beneficial—such as eating whole foods and moving the body through meditative exercises like yoga—adopting Ayurvedic methods and principles can help you establish healthy practices in an effective and habitual way. 

The post What Is Ayurveda? An Expert Breaks Down Everything to Know About This Ancient Health Practice appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Maddy Sims
Introducing Womb Service: A Complete Prenatal With Nutrition to Support You Through Your Entire Pregnancy Journey

You asked, we delivered. We’ve had this bun in the oven for years, and we’re finally able to announce Womb Service: an expertly-formulated, complete prenatal with 23 nutrients for all your and your baby’s needs.

Whether you’re just beginning to think about starting a family or you’re already pregnant, prenatal vitamins are an essential addition to your routine. These supplements provide you with all of the essential nutrients for your pregnancy journey.

Given the added importance that prenatals have of supporting not just you, but your growing baby, it’s no surprise most women want the best when shopping for a prenatal. A prenatal vitamin has been the most-requested product by our customers, and we’re pleased to announce it’s finally here! HUM Nutrition’s Womb Service: An OB-GYN-formulated complete prenatal with 23 key nutrients in their most bioavailable form for all your and your baby’s needs. It’s a vegan formula, is non-GMO, and contains no artificial colors or sweeteners and is certified Clean by the Clean Label Project.

We also solved for the biggest complaint about prenatals we heard from women during our market research: Womb Service has no fishy taste or smell and no fishy burps. 

In other prenatals, this is usually caused by a key ingredient, DHA, which is sourced from fish oils or vegan algae oils. “During pregnancy, it’s a common complaint to have nausea (or morning sickness) and heightened sensitivity to tastes and smells,” says Jennifer Martin-Biggers, PhD, MS, RDN, vice president of scientific affairs and education at HUM Nutrition. “We wanted to provide a vegan source of DHA, and the best source for that is from algae oil.” 

“During our extensive research and development process, we found that formulating DHA separately— in a separate softgel from the multivitamin—avoided the fishy aftertaste that is often associated with algae-based, vegan DHA,” Dr. Martin-Biggers says. “We worked to carefully source an algae oil with a high DHA concentration and then taste-tested and smell-tested many options before finding an option that did not smell or have a fishy aftertaste.” 

Want to know more about this exciting launch? Read on to learn everything you need to know about prenatal vitamins—and why Womb Service stands out among the competition.

What Are Prenatal Vitamins? what are prenatal vitamins

Whether you’re trying to conceive, are pregnant, or are simply thinking about starting a family, you’ve likely heard of prenatal vitamins. But what exactly are they? “​​Prenatal vitamins are a collective of vitamins and minerals that are essential from conception through childbirth to aid with fetal development,” explains Monica Grover, MD, double-board certified OB-GYN and Chief Medical Officer at VSPOT.

What Do Prenatal Vitamins Do?

“Prenatal vitamins assist in giving the critical vitamins and nutrients that the pregnant person and that the fetus need to support each stage of growth and development,” Dr. Grover says. “It is critical that at the first thought of conception and pregnancy you take a prenatal with folate to reduce the risk of birth and neural tube defects.” 

Besides aiding in the baby’s neural development, there are other prenatal vitamin benefits to know. Each ingredient has its own role in aiding fetal development (get the full run-down on each benefit of the ingredients in Womb Service, below). Prenatals typically contain iron, for example, to supply the fetus with oxygen, build up the placenta, and support the extra blood volume for you and your baby.

What Is In Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins typically contain these basic nutrients to help support your health and the baby’s health, according to the American Pregnancy Association

Folate (or folic acid)CalciumIronVitamin DVitamin AVitamin BVitamin CVitamin EIodineZincCholineMagnesiumPotassiumSodium Why All Prenatal Vitamins Aren’t Created Equal Prenatal with DHA

While the list above includes several essential nutrients, not all prenatal vitamins include them. And some (like HUM’s Womb Service) include more. Womb Service is formulated with 23 nutrients to help give you and your baby full support.

Womb Service contains 800 mcg of MTFH folate, which is a methylated form of folate that is easier for everyone to absorb than folic acid. Some people have a genetic change that makes it difficult for them to absorb folate or folic acid if it is not methylated.

And if you’re searching for a choline supplement for pregnancy, rest assured you’ll get a boost from Womb Service. Our vegan prenatal vitamin also contains 15 percent of your daily value of choline, which is higher than many other prenatals. 

Iron is another key ingredient that’s sometimes missing in prenatals, but it’s vital. Womb Service contains 27 mg of ferrous bisglycinate to meet 100 percent of your daily value of iron for pregnancy and lactation in a form that’s less likely to cause an upset stomach.

Womb Service also contains methylcobalamin, a more absorbable form of vitamin B12 to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients to support you and your baby. Plus, it contains 350 mg of DHA, about 150 mg above the industry standard.

HUM Nutrition’s Womb Service: Clean Label Project Certified

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to taking any supplement is ensuring that the ingredients are safe and free of harmful levels of contaminants. At HUM, all of our ingredients are triple-tested for purity and verified by independent labs for potency. We know that when you’re ingesting a supplement for both you and your baby, you want to be as confident as possible in the ingredients you’re consuming. 

To ensure you feel comfortable and confident taking Womb Service, we submitted our supplement to the Clean Label Project. The Clean Label Project is a national non-profit that works to bring transparency to consumer product safety and labeling. “To achieve the Clean Label Project Certification, the CLP independently tests for hundreds of environmental contaminants and harmful chemicals,” Dr. Martin-Biggers says. We are proud to announce that Womb Service not only achieved the Clean Label Certification from testing but was also awarded the Purity Award, which is given to brands that meet the most rigorous standards among other products in the same category.

What’s Inside HUM Nutrition’s Womb Service Prenatal Vitamin Womb Service Vegan Prenatal

Womb Service comes with two bottles, one with DHA softgels and one with a supplement containing the other 22 nutrients. Womb Service helps support healthy fetal development including brain, visual, bone, and overall health. How? With the following ingredients:

DHA

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that supports the baby’s brain, visual, and nervous system development. Our DHA is sourced from algae (meaning it’s vegan) and comes in a separate softgel to eliminate any unwelcome fishy tastes or smells.

Folate

Folate is the most important B vitamin during pregnancy. It’s key for neural tube development and DNA synthesis. Many prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, which your body then needs to convert to folate, a form of the vitamin your body can process. Womb Service contains MTFH folate, the most bioavailable form of the vitamin.

Choline 

Choline is a vitamin-like essential nutrient that supports the production of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the nervous system that influence mood, muscle movement, heart rate, and many other functions) and the creation of phospholipids in cell membranes (which provide structure to the cell membrane and keep invaders out). Womb Service contains 15 percent of your daily value of choline, which is higher than competitors.

Vitamin B12

Pregnant or not, vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient. It’s important for the nervous system and spinal development as well as supporting red blood cell formation. Since it’s most commonly found in animal products (think: milk, eggs, fish), it’s critical for vegans to ensure they’re taking a B12 supplement. The B12 in Womb Service is vegan, so it works for everyone—regardless of dietary restrictions.

Biotin

During pregnancy, metabolic needs increase, as the body is supporting accelerated tissue synthesis, increased active tissue mass, and increased cardiovascular and respiratory work. Biotin is a B vitamin that supports these metabolic needs during pregnancy. 

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 supports healthy bone development in babies while supporting immune function and healthy bones in mothers.

Iodine

Iodine is important for thyroid hormones and thyroid health. The thyroid plays a role in fertility as well as metabolism, growth, and development of the human body. It helps to regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of hormones into the bloodstream, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Iron

Your blood volume increases during pregnancy, so your iron needs also increase to support red blood cell formation. Iron in prenatal vitamins helps deliver oxygen to the fetus and builds up the placenta to create a healthy environment for the fetus to grow in. Womb Service contains 27 milligrams of ferrous bisglycinate to meet 100 percent of your daily value of iron for pregnancy and lactation. This form of iron is gentler on the stomach than other forms, so it’s less likely to cause an upset stomach.

Vitamin A

The vitamin A in Womb Service comes from a combination of beta-carotene and retinyl palmitate (both of which are easily absorbed by the body) that supports good vision and a functioning immune system.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for the mother’s production of collagen, immunity, and ability to absorb iron, as well as the baby’s bone and teeth development.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that supports overall well-being and skin health. 

Vitamin K1

Vitamin K1 is important for proper blood coagulation (AKA blood clotting, which prevents excessive bleeding upon injury).

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 helps with bone calcification, a process in which calcium builds up in the body tissue, causing the tissue to harden. Vitamin K2 is especially important for the formation of the baby’s teeth and jaw.

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 is essential for the baby’s brain development and helps convert carbohydrates into energy for both the mom and the baby.

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 helps your body produce energy and promotes the baby’s growth, vision, nerves, and healthy skin.

Niacin

Niacin is a B vitamin that helps nutrient metabolism.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 supports the baby’s brain and nervous system development as well as the production of neurotransmitters.

Molybdenum

Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral that works as a cofactor to key enzymes that drive reactions to eliminate harmful substances. 

Magnesium 

Magnesium is a mineral that supports nucleic acid and protein synthesis. 

Zinc 

Zinc is a trace mineral that’s important for the baby’s cell growth and brain development.

Selenium 

Selenium is a trace mineral and antioxidant that’s important for immune and thyroid function.

Boron

Boron is an element that works with vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium to support bone health.

Manganese 

Manganese is a mineral that helps metabolize carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol while supporting bone and cartilage development in babies.

Chromium 

Chromium is an essential trace mineral that helps the body maintain normal blood glucose levels, especially important during pregnancy.

When to Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins when to take a prenatal

It’s recommended to begin taking prenatal vitamins one to two months before you begin trying to conceive, or as soon as you decide to try to conceive. Taking prenatal vitamins helps prepare your body for pregnancy with adequate nutrients as your nutritional needs increase immediately after conception.

The good news? Womb Service is designed to provide support for every stage of the pre- to post-pregnancy journey (meaning you don’t need to do any extra research or shopping during the different stages of your pregnancy). “It’s important during preconception to make sure that you are in good overall health and to make sure that, in particular, you are taking a folate supplement in case you become pregnant without knowing it as folate is key for early stages of baby’s brain development,” Dr. Martin-Biggers says. “When pregnant, your body is undergoing many changes that require increases or changes in nutrient needs.” For example, blood volume increases, doubling the requirement of iron each day to make sure there is sufficient iron to make red blood cells and transport oxygen to cells.

“After giving birth, it takes several months for your body to adjust from pregnancy, even if you aren’t breastfeeding, so you should continue taking a prenatal for at least three months,” Dr. Martin-Biggers adds. “If you are breastfeeding, you are passing nutrients to your baby, which means you need to be consuming higher amounts similar to pregnancy.”

The Takeaway

When it comes to prenatal vitamins, the decision is deeply personal and often overwhelming. That’s why we created Womb Service: to eliminate any unnecessary stress, research, and time spent buying different supplements. Womb Service was formulated by an expert team of OB-GYN and HUM RD Nutritionists—and we spent years getting the formula just right. Two easy-to-take pills a day will provide you with all of the nutrients you and your baby need throughout your entire pregnancy journey. 

Bonus: When you join the HUM community, you also have free access to one of our registered dietitians, so you can get nutrition advice whenever you need it. Plus, if you sign up for monthly delivery, you’ll save 25 percent or more on your subscription.

The post Introducing Womb Service: A Complete Prenatal With Nutrition to Support You Through Your Entire Pregnancy Journey appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Karla Walsh
Feeling Lonely? Here’s What You Can Do to Cope, According to Experts

If you’re wondering how to cope with loneliness, rest assured that, truly, you are not alone in these feelings. In fact, thousands of others are dealing with loneliness and searching for answers, just like yourself. Here’s what experts recommend.

Loneliness is a pervasive condition: A 2020 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) found that more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely. A 2018 article in The Lancet stated that the problem of loneliness was growing—and that was before the global pandemic that forced isolation and changed the way we live and work. A more recent study released in 2022 has confirmed that the COVID pandemic has, in fact, increased loneliness by about five percent—which researchers are concerned about given that loneliness could impact people’s long-term mental and physical health, longevity, and well-being.

You’ve probably heard about seasonal affective disorder during winter, but did you know the spring sads exist too?  Several studies reveal that the spring blues are real. Although it might sound counterintuitive, levels of perceived loneliness tend to spike in spring and summer. 

Suffice it to say that if you’ve been feeling lonely, you are definitely not alone. Read on to find out more about why you might feel a bit more blue come spring, strategies for dealing with loneliness, and expert advice to feel more connected if you’re lingering on the lonely side.

What Is Loneliness, Exactly? how to deal with loneliness woman at window

“Loneliness is the perceived gap between what we want—or feel we are ‘supposed to’ have—in social relationships, and the actual number of connections we have or encounter,” explains Yancey Grimes, LPC, LCDC, executive director at Connections Wellness Group in Southlake, Texas. “It is interlinked with the concepts of isolation and disconnection and can be experienced even when we’re surrounded by people we know and care about.” 

Loneliness alone is not a clinical medical diagnosis. Instead, loneliness is a characteristic of depression and, if associated with other feelings and neurochemical imbalance, can be a sign of depression, adds Reena B. Patel, a positive psychologist and licensed educational board-certified behavior analyst in San Diego.

“Feeling lonely is a personal description depending on what connection is missing,” Patel says. “Loneliness is not the same as being alone. It is when your social needs are not met with positive reinforcement in the form of social exchange.”

So it’s up to our own interpretation of when the shades of “the blues” related to loneliness get too dark and turn into a diagnosable mental health condition. Anxiety, depression, substance use disorder (AKA addiction), post-traumatic stress disorder and more have all been linked to extreme loneliness, Grimes says. And it can be a chicken-and-egg scenario: Loneliness can lead to one of these mental health challenges, or one of the conditions can increase feelings of loneliness. Either way, this manifests in becoming physically withdrawn from people and feeling disconnected, discouraged, and isolated.

“Two of the most common words that are associated with the state-of-being known as ‘the blues’ are melancholy and sadness,” Grimes says. “These terms are often closely correlated with clinical depression. Major Depressive Disorder, or clinical depression, is a diagnosable mental health condition in which five or more of the following symptoms have been present during the same two-week period and represent a change from previous functioning.”

Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every dayMarkedly diminished interest or pleasure in most or all activities you used to enjoySignificant weight loss or weight gain or large changes in appetiteDifficulty sleeping or sleeping far more than usualFatigue or loss of energy Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guiltDiminished ability to think or concentrate or make decisionsThoughts of death or considering plans for suicide

(Before we go any further, if you or a loved one is considering self-harm or suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for 24/7, free, confidential support.)

“When one feels ‘the blues,’ it’s another term for sadness usually caused by everyday stressors, and it passes over time. Depression is a clinical diagnosis that parents with a neurochemical imbalance and sadness is only one characteristic of symptom,” Patel clarifies.

Clinical depression can be a single episode for some, Grimes says, however for others, it can create recurrent episodes of depression throughout their lifespan. The causes are varied, but are often the result of a chemical imbalance in three neurotransmitters that are closely associated with depression:

Norepinephrine, which is part of the “fight or flight” responseSerotonin, which helps regulate moodDopamine, a “feel good” chemical Why Loneliness Might Bloom During Spring

Seasonal depression is a form of depression, Patel explains. It happens when certain hormones in the brain trigger attitude-related changes at certain times of the year. 

The most frequently-discussed form is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as “winter depression,” Grimes says. This is connected to the lack of sunlight a person gets in the winter months, particularly from the further geographically a person lives or is located. Sun is a natural serotonin-booster, so less sunshine leads to less mood-boosting serotonin, hence the ho-hum feelings.

But this change in mood isn’t limited to the wintertime. “A person can also feel disconnection and loneliness during the spring and summer months,” Grimes says, citing the following research-backed potential reasons:

We’re exhausted after the rush of the holiday season and in an attempt to recover, we become more withdrawnWe take time off from work for spring breaks or other vacations, which can lead to less connection with our security and the people that are constants in our livesAs the days get warmer, many people spend less time outside (especially the further south they live where temps may be inching ever more scorching), which can lead to the same issues as winter seasonal affective disorder

Or it could be a matter of seeing others enjoying life—soaking up the sun, dancing at outdoor concerts, at sporting events, attending weddings, pool parties, and beyond—is more visible to those with fewer current social connections. At this point, it’s more than the fear of missing out (FOMO); it’s actually missing out.

5 Strategies for How to Deal with Loneliness how to deal with loneliness strategies

Loneliness is more than just a passing fad. Research proves that it has wide-ranging, long-term impacts on overall mental and physical health. According to a 2010 PLOS Medicine meta-analysis of 148 studies, feeling disconnected socially is worse for our overall health than obesity, pollution, and alcoholism.

If you’re dealing with loneliness, there are ways to cope. Consider these expert-recommended ways to combat loneliness:

1. Assess Your Current Social Schedule—And Then Adjust Accordingly

First, press rewind. Think back to times in the past when you’ve felt socially connected. Were you catching up with your gym friends after your group fitness class? Did you share lunch with work colleagues? Or catch dinner and a movie with friends? “Ask yourself if these things are happening, plus how often,” Patel says. “Would you feel better if you created more time in your schedule to make space for these activities?” (Spoiler: The answer is yes, as social interaction is an extremely important factor in good health and longevity, according to research. Plot out slots on your calendar in the next month, then text or call a friend to make a date, or use that time to make new friends by joining a club or philanthropic organization.

2. Unplug From Social Media

Even though we might feel well-informed about the lives of all of our Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok “friends,” tech connects don’t help bridge the loneliness gap. Studies suggest that 73 percent of heavy social media users, or those who scroll for four or more hours per day, feel lonely. (Compare this to 52 percent of light users who feel the same.) Track your baseline usage for three days, then subtract 30 minutes from that tally and set usage limits on your social media apps accordingly. After one week, try subtracting another 30 minutes. During this second week, keep a journal to take note of the positive ways you’ve used this extra hour for adventures IRL.

3. Seek Help From a Professional If Necessary

If you feel like those clinical depression symptoms above are overwhelming your days, ask your general practitioner and get a referral to a mental health professional, if you don’t have one as part of your care team already. Then, be honest about your symptoms so the expert can determine best path forward for your specific needs. “Medications to help regulate the aforementioned brain chemicals—combined with therapy that focuses on the biological, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of the human experience—can be a real game-changer for many people,” Grimes says.

4. Take Care of Your Body’s Basic Needs

Biologically, we need adequate amounts of sleep, exercise, and proper nutrients to aid in our sense of overall well-being, Grimes says. Make sure that any escalated social goals are realistic and attainable in relation to your physiological needs, including seven to nine hours of sleep, a well-balanced diet, and adequate physical activity. (PS: Here’s how often you should exercise). 

Word to the wise: Scientists have found that sleep loss can actually cause loneliness, so make sure you’re getting enough rest. Having trouble? Speak to a doctor about possible remedies, or try to incorporate a melatonin supplement to help support your sleep cycle (like HUM Nutrition’s Beauty ZZZZ).

5. Identify Things That Give You Purpose

“Humans have an innate drive to find meaning, purpose, and connection. More often than not, a person’s sense of loneliness can be tied to their struggle with finding meaning in life,” Grimes says. For this reason, she often works with clients to pinpoint their individual “whys”—what lights you up and helps you feel like you’re making a difference? “This can really be a place for discovery, as well as a path to their sense of purpose and connection. There are also so many opportunities for a human to find belonging through what matters to you,” Grimes says.

The post Feeling Lonely? Here’s What You Can Do to Cope, According to Experts appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Tiffany Ayuda
All of Your Weird Pregnancy Cravings, Explained

Dealing with weird pregnancy cravings you can’t seem to shake? Here’s the good news: They’re usually normal and harmless (much like period cravings). Read on to understand what could be behind them, how to satisfy pregnancy cravings, and when to be concerned.

Cereal and cold milk, peanut butter and chocolate, French fries, pasta, pickles. This might sound like a random list of foods, but they’re some of the most common pregnancy cravings. Pregnancy cravings are simply hankerings for certain foods, drinks, or flavors that may be stronger or different from the food cravings you experience outside of pregnancy. 

When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start? 

Cravings can happen at any point during pregnancy, but many pregnant people tend to have the strongest cravings during the second trimester, after morning sickness subsides in the first trimester and their appetite starts to pick back up. 

Why Do Pregnancy Cravings Happen? weird pregnancy cravings pickles

If you’re expecting, you might be wondering what is driving these cravings: Could your body be craving the nutrients in these foods? Or should you chalk it up to all of the hormonal changes happening in your body?

The reality is that there’s no real research to back up why pregnancy cravings occur. A 2014 review in Frontiers in Physiology cites a small 1978 study that evaluated the cravings of 250 pregnant women and found that the most craved foods included sweets, dairy, starchy carbs, fruits, vegetables, and fast food. Studies have also shown that cravings for savory foods are strongest during the first trimester, while sweet cravings tend to happen in the second trimester.

Scientists hypothesize that hormonal changes, which can alter your taste and smell, nutritional deficiencies, relief from nausea, and psychosocial factors all contribute to pregnancy cravings, but research is needed to confirm this. 

For example, a 1983 study from the Journal of Reproductive Medicine suggests that adequate magnesium levels can help improve glucose tolerance and reduce cravings for sweets. 

“It’s extremely difficult to do research on pregnant women and for a good reason, of course. And the scant research on cravings is inconclusive,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert, mom of 3, and author of Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom’s Healthy Eating Guide

“Some experts think that nutrient deficiencies or needs are what drive cravings, while others think it’s simply a learned behavior,” she explains. “Society tells pregnant women they should want certain foods, so they do. I personally can tell you that food cravings are very real, as well as food aversions. They definitely vary from woman to woman and can be different for each pregnancy.”

Although the science isn’t quite there yet, your hankerings for ice cream and pizza aren’t just in your head: They might very well point to a nutritional need you might have or the result of your body undergoing lots of hormonal changes. Rest assured, though, pregnancy cravings are very normal—and you’re not alone. 

What’s Behind Weird Pregnancy Cravings? weird pregnancy cravings fries

One thing that may come as a surprise is what you’re craving. You may want foods you never used to like before or that are just oddly specific. 

As previously mentioned, the research isn’t clear why pregnant people crave certain foods versus others and what causes these cravings. However, Largeman-Roth, who wrote Feed the Belly, says she interviewed several women for her book, including vegetarians and vegans, who craved meat so strongly that they put their beliefs aside to satisfy their growing baby.

“Blood volume increases by 50 percent during pregnancy, and there’s a significantly higher requirement for iron that results (The National Institutes of Health recommends that pregnant people get at least 27 milligrams of iron daily). Therefore, it makes complete sense that a woman who may be low in iron before getting pregnant would crave more of this nutrient,” she explains.

Food aversions during pregnancy are also normal, especially during the first trimester when nausea and vomiting may be heightened. While nausea and vomiting are commonly known as “morning sickness,” it can happen throughout the day and night. The good news is that it usually subsides around 14 weeks of pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“Certain foods you ate regularly, such as yogurt, may not sound appetizing at all during pregnancy, or at least during the first trimester. When something like that happens, you need to work on finding another food that is appealing to you that delivers the same nutrients,” Largeman-Roth says. “For example, if you can’t stomach yogurt, try eating cheese sticks to get enough calcium.”

When Are Pregnancy Cravings Not Normal?

If you’re craving non-food items, like paint chips, ashes, dirt, soap, clary, corn starch, or ashes, you might have pica (a compulsive eating disorder in which people eat nonfood items), Largeman-Roth says. Craving these substances, in addition to ice, is associated with iron deficiency, according to the Mayo Clinic.

There are three different types of pica: geophagy (eating soil, clay, pottery, and bean stones), amylophagy (eating cornstarch, laundry starch, flour, and raw rice), and pagophagy (eating ice of freezer frost), according to UpToDate. Pica is also associated with an iron, zinc, and calcium deficiency. In fact, a January 2015 meta-analysis from the American Journal of Human Biology found that pica is associated with anemia, low hemoglobin (protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen), hematocrit (number of red blood cells in blood), and plasma zinc concentrations. 

“These items can be dangerous to ingest, so call your doctor immediately if you feel the urge to eat them,” Largeman-Roth says. 

A small November 2020 study from the Journal of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine also found that pica in pregnant women is associated with gastrointestinal disorders, with pica being the most prevalent during the first trimester, followed by the second and third trimesters.

Your OB-GYN may suggest switching your prenatal vitamin, adjusting your diet, or adding additional supplements.

How to Satisfy Your Pregnancy Cravings weird pregnancy cravings cake

Here’s the deal: You’re likely going to crave lots of different foods during pregnancy, and you should honor those cravings. You shouldn’t deprive yourself of the foods you like and want to eat, but there are ways to satisfy your cravings and ensure you’re getting important nutrients at the same time. 

“I don’t think women need to prevent cravings—it’s part of the pregnancy adventure,” Largeman-Roth says. “But in terms of having consistent energy levels and staving off nausea, it’s smart to eat small, frequent meals every three hours or so,” she explains.

Below are some meal and snack suggestions from dietitians.

If You Have Sweet Cravings…

For something sweet, consider making a strawberry smoothie, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RDN, CDN, founder of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table. The strawberries lend a natural sweetness and provide vitamin C, fiber, and folic acid (an essential nutrient for your baby’s neural development). Add some leafy greens, like baby spinach, for even more folic acid, and use almond milk, which provides 450 milligrams of calcium per cup, Taub-Dix says. You can also add some chia seeds for more protein and fiber to aid digestion.

How can incorporating fiber into your sweet treat help? Many pregnant women become constipated during pregnancy because of the higher levels of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone slows down your digestion process, so it takes your body much longer to absorb nutrients from the food you eat, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This may cause you to be backed up.

“Pregnant women need to stay hydrated because of the increase in blood volume, and having a snack in smoothie form allows you to have the fluid, fiber, and other important nutrients,” she says. 

Looking for another idea? Largeman-Roth also recommends muffins for something sweet that feels more substantial than a smoothie. 

“Muffins get a bad rap. Sure, they can be loaded with sugar, but if you make your own, you can actually load them up with nutrients that are important for pregnancy,” she says. “These Emerald Muffins are so good, plus they offer iron and fiber, which most moms-to-be have a hard time getting enough of.”

If You Have Crunchy, Salty, and Sweet Cravings…

Make your own trail mix with almonds, dried fruit, dry cereal—and maybe even some dark chocolate chips if you’d like. The dried fruit is high in fiber and iron, Taub-Dix says, and the almonds offer protein and calcium. 

Dry cereal is a good addition because it’s fortified with iron (an important nutrient for pregnant people) and whole grains (which lend fiber). “Even if it has some added sugar, it’s not that much, and combining it with some nuts—which have protein and fat—can help slow down the way it reacts with blood sugar,” she says. 

If You Have Salty Cravings…

Potato chips and French fries will help you get your sodium fix, but if you’re still left wanting more after finishing a bag, try pairing hummus with vegetables, Largeman-Roth suggests. 

“Hummus is such a convenient food for moms, and it’s a bonus that it’s loaded with plant protein and gets you to eat more veggies,” she says. “Make a plate with 1/4-cup hummus and lots of colorful veggies, such as purple cauliflower, carrots, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes, and enjoy the natural flavors and crunch on your plate.” 

You could also make yourself a tuna salad and enjoy it with a side of whole-grain crackers. Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats to have during pregnancy, Taub-Dix says, and there are plenty of canned fish that are lower in mercury. For instance, light tuna is lower in mercury than white tuna. 

If You Have Spicy Cravings…

When you have the urge to pep things up, you can add some of your favorite spices or peppers to a variety of dishes. “You can make a taco salad with ground beef or turkey and add black beans, cheese, salsa, and a few pickled jalapenos,” Largeman-Roth says. “Or enjoy a bowl of chili of pad thai.” 

If You Have Sour Cravings…

If you’re craving pickles, go for it, but they can be high in sodium. “Try enjoying a few tiny cornichons diced up in your salad or rainbow bowl,” Largeman-Roth says. “It will offer enough sour to satisfy you without draining the whole jar.” 

You can also try snacking on citrusy foods, like lemons and oranges. “If citrus is more your thing, enjoy a slice of my super lemony Meyer Lemon Pound Cake,” she says.

If You Have Carb-y Cravings…

Satisfy your carb cravings with some hard-boiled eggs and whole-grain bread or crackers, Taub-Dix suggests. Turn them into an egg salad with avocado, and you’ve got a protein-rich snack that’s also filled with healthy fats.

“Eggs are rich in choline, which are important for brain development in babies and helps prevent neural tube defects,” she says.

The post All of Your Weird Pregnancy Cravings, Explained appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Leah Groth
If You Thought The Mediterranean Diet Couldn’t Get Any Better, Try The Green Mediterranean Diet

Introducing the green Mediterranean diet, an even healthier version of the famed Mediterranean diet. But what it is exactly? Experts break down everything to know about this breakthrough approach to eating.

According to experts, the Mediterranean diet is not only one of the most popular diets in the world, but one of the healthiest. In 2022, U.S. News & World Report ranked the method of eating, which emphasizes the consumption of foods found in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, as the top diet in a number of categories, including  Best Diets Overall, Best Plant-Based Diets, Best-Heart Healthy Diets, Best Diabetes Diets, Best Diets for Healthy Eating, and Easiest Diets to Follow. 

However, according to 2020 research published in Heart, there may be another diet in town that can one-up the traditional Mediterranean Diet: The green Mediterranean diet. 

What Is the Green Mediterranean Diet and How Does it Compare to the Mediterranean Diet? green mediterranean diet vs mediterranean diet

The green Mediterranean diet “is basically the regular Mediterranean diet but a little super-charged,” says Keri Gans, RDN, a nutrition consultant and the author of The Small Change Diet. 

The “Mediterranean diet” is not a trademarked diet but a general term to describe the eating habits of those who live in the 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, according to The American Heart Association. While the exact foods these people eat vary, most of their diets involve an abundance of fruits and vegetables, bread and whole grains, potatoes, beans, nuts, and seeds, olive oil as a primary fat source, and a minimal amount of dairy products, eggs, fish, and poultry. The Mediterranean diet also emphasizes the consumption of fish and poultry over red meat, minimally processed, plant-based foods over processed foods, and fruit over refined sugar. It allows wine in low to moderate amounts. 

So, what’s the difference? The green Mediterranean diet includes even more green food and less meat than its counterpart. “It focuses on even more plant-based foods and meals and totally excludes red and processed meats,” says Gans. 

Kristina Žalnieraitė, head of nutrition and wellness for Kilo Health, who holds a BA and MA in Public Health Nutrition, Food Safety, and Dietetics, adds that the green Mediterranean diet is higher in polyphenols. “Polyphenols are the main source of antioxidants in the diet, as they are abundant in plants, including fruits, nuts, vegetables, and cereals, as well as derived beverages such as tea, coffee, and wine. There are more than 8,000 known polyphenols, which are classified into phenolic acids, stilbenes, phenolic alcohols, lignans, and flavonoids,” she explains.  

While there are many foods that can be consumed on the diet, there are three that should be eaten on a daily basis, according to Gans and in line with the clinical research: 

3-4 cups of green tea100 grams of duckweed (typically consumed in a smoothie)1 ounce of walnuts Green Mediterranean Diet Benefits 

There are a few studies supporting the potential health benefits of the green Mediterranean diet. 

It Might Improve Heart Health and Metabolism

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that the diet “may amplify the beneficial cardiometabolic effects of the Mediterranean diet,” says Gans. Researchers noted that those following the diet experienced double the elevation in fasting ghrelin levels—the stomach-derived hormone that stimulates appetite—compared with participants who followed a more traditional Mediterranean diet or a healthy balanced diet. “The findings suggest fasting ghrelin levels may serve as a valuable indicator of cardiometabolic health following weight loss,” senior study author, Iris Shai, PhD, professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Mass, said. 

It Might Help Slow Down Age-Related Neurodegeneration

According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the polyphenol-rich diet may help slow age-related brain atrophy. “The beneficial association between the green Mediterranean diet and age-related neurodegeneration might be partially explained by the abundance of polyphenols in plant-based food sources, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory metabolites,” Dr. Shai, the lead author of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev-led international study, said in a press release. Polyphenols can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), reduce neuroinflammation, and induce cell proliferation and adult-onset neurogenesis in the hippocampus.” 

It Might Help Decrease “Bad” LDL Cholesterol

Those on the green Mediterranean diet for a period of six months experienced a decrease in LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) greater than those on the traditional Mediterranean diet, according to the 2020 Heart study. They also experienced more of a drop in diastolic blood pressure (the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats) and inflammatory markers (which indicate inflammation in the arteries—a potential cause of heart attacks).

It Might Help You Lose Weight

Like the Mediterranean diet, weight loss is also a known health benefit of the green Mediterranean diet. The Heart study found that those on the green diet lost an average of two more pounds—a total of 14—than those on the traditional Mediterranean diet. 

What to Eat on The Green Mediterranean Diet what to eat on green mediterranean diet

The green Mediterranean diet actually offers a lot of flexibility because it doesn’t restrict calories, narrow your eating window, or force you to count macros like some other diets. Gans explains that in the green Mediterranean diet one should consume daily:

3-4 cups of green tea100 grams of mankai duckweed (typically consumed in a smoothie)1 ounce of walnuts100 percent whole grainsSeafoodPoultryLegumesNuts (especially walnuts)SeedsYogurtEggsVegetablesFruit What is Mankai Duckweed?

Wondering what Mankai duckweed is? It’s one of the key ingredients that makes the green Mediterranean diet, well, green! Gans explains that duckweed is a unique protein-rich aquatic plant also known as water lentils. 

Žalnieraitė adds that Mankai has a unique nutritional composition profile, which includes about 45 percent protein of its dry weight, with all nine essential amino acids. It is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, polyphenols, iron, and other micronutrients like beta-carotene, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and folate, she says. 

One cup of Mankai shake, which is equivalent to about20 grams of dry matter, provides the following proportions of recommended intakes: 

Bioavailable protein, 18 percentBioavailable iron, 75 percent Folic acid, 60 percent Vitamin B12, 21 percent

While many greens can be easily swapped out (kale for spinach, for example), you can’t sub in just any leafy green for duckweed if you’re staying true to the green Mediterranean diet, as other greens aren’t as high in protein. However, you could possibly try other plant-based foods, such as legumes, nuts, seeds, or tofu. “Keep in mind that the research on the green Mediterranean Diet showed the improved benefits did include Mankai daily,” Žalnieraitė says.

Makai duckweed is available in some health food stores and online, but as it’s only beginning to gain popularity in the U.S., it can still be hard to find. If you’re unable to get it, Žalnieraitė suggests the following as the closest swaps.

Chlorella or spirulina: “It is a nutrient-dense freshwater algae with high levels of vitamins and minerals and is a great source of healthy fats like omega-3s and protein,” she says.Watercress: A cruciferous plant that grows in water. “It is high in protein, and one cup of watercress contains 0.8 grams of protein,” she explains. Alfalfa sprouts: “They are very low in calories and rich in nutrients,” she adds. One cup (33 grams) of alfalfa sprouts contains 1.3 grams of protein. Foods to Avoid on the Green Mediterranean Diet

While there is flexibility in the green Mediterranean diet, Gans says that there are a few foods to avoid:

Red and processed meats Soda and other highly-sweetened beveragesOverly-processed packaged goods, like cookies and cake Who Should Try the Green Mediterranean Diet?

Žalnieraitė maintains that anyone can try the green Mediterranean diet. However, she does point out that it is still in the early stages of study. “If you have a chronic condition like heart disease or high blood pressure, it could be a great solution to try it,” she says. 

However, always consult with a physician before starting any new diet or nutrition interventions, she notes. 

The post If You Thought The Mediterranean Diet Couldn’t Get Any Better, Try The Green Mediterranean Diet appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- John Davis
Ranking the best bone density supplements of 2022

Bone density supplements are designed to improve the health of your bones and make then denser. Bone density is critical, especially as you age. If you have low bone density, you’re more likely to develop osteoporosis and break bones, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (1).

There are quite a few supplements on the market that can improve your bone density. Here are some of the best ones currently available.

Rankings 1. Essential Elements Bone Boost

Bone Boost

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Bone Boost by Essential Elements delivers a potent dose of both calcium and vitamin D, both in readily-absorbed forms. On top of that, you get cutting-edge ingredients like vitamin K and cissus quadrangularis extract. Thanks to its powerful dosage and carefully-designed formulation, it’s BodyNutrition’s #1 pick.

2. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Grow Bone System

Garden of Life Raw Calcium Supplement

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Garden of Life sources its compounds from naturally-occurring algae and whole plant materials, which gives you access to an unparalleled range of trace minerals (like strontium, for example) that you won’t find in any other competitors. For people looking for a whole-food-based bone strength supplement, Garden of Life is the way to go.

3. Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Bone Marrow

Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Bone Marrow

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Ancestral Supplements makes a bone density supplement sourced from whole bone extract to support your bones. It is also quite useful for connective tissue, thanks to its inclusion of collagen from cartilage.

4. Jarrow Formulas Ultra Bone-Up

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Jarrow Formulas has created an updated version of their Bone-Up bone density supplement that’s fortified with additional vitamin K and silicon in a readily-absorbed form. It’s a solid all-around option that delivers a solid dose of calcium plus these beneficial extras.

5. New Chapter Calcium Supplement

New Chapter Calcium Supplement

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This supplement contains the usual bone-supporting ingredients, including calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, and vitamin D3. It is sourced from plants and is clinical-strength, so you’re more likely to see results.

The slim tablets are straightforward to swallow and release slowly, decreasing the chance of stomach upset.

6. Pure Synergy Bone Renewal

Pure Synergy Bone Renewal

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This formula contains a large number of vitamins and minerals that can help support your bone density. It includes calcium sourced from plants and designed to be bioavailable, which means your body will absorb it at a higher rate.

7. AlgaeCal Bone Builder Pack

AlgaeCal Bone Builder Pack

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Made from ocean algae, this supplement includes a large amount of bioavailable calcium. Your body will absorb this calcium easier than calcium that comes from rocks and similar material. It also includes over a dozen vitamins and minerals designed to improve your bone health.

It is manufactured in the USA and comes with two different supplements that work together to improve your bone density.

8. Calcium Supplement by Pure Micronutrients

Calcium Supplement by Pure Micronutrients

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This is another supplement that includes most of the usual ingredients. It is high in calcium, but also includes things like vitamin D3 and magnesium.

There isn’t anything particularly special about this supplement, which is why it is a bit lower on our list.

9. Naturelo Bone Strength

Naturelo Bone Strength

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Another decent supplement. It includes plant-based vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and vitamin C. Of course, it includes quite a bit of calcium as well.

This is a reliable option for vegetarians, though there are other vegetarian options on this list as well.

10. Bone Supplements Calcium Formula by Nature’s Nutrition

Bone Supplements Calcium Formula by Nature’s Nutrition

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With a high dose of calcium and vitamin D, this supplement may have a positive effect on your bone density. It is designed for both men and women.

This supplement includes a few ingredients that are somewhat rare in these sorts of supplements, like potassium.

Category winners

Best bone density supplement overall: Essential Elements Bone Boost

Essential Elements takes our top spot overall thanks to its comprehensive ingredients list that delivers the basics, like calcium and vitamin D, alongside cutting-edge nutrients for bone strength, like cissus quadrangularis extract and vitamin K2. It’s a fantastic choice for a daily bone density supplement.

Best bone density supplement for women: Essential Elements Bone Boost

Low bone density is particularly common among women, so it’s particularly important that they take a high-quality bone density supplement with an adequate amount of calcium. For women, Essential Elements is our recommendation primarily because of its high dosage of both calcium and vitamin D3, which enhances calcium absorption. 

Best all-natural bone density supplement: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Grow Bone System

Garden of Life is known for their raw, whole-food-based approach to supplementation, and their bone density supplement is a perfect example. By using naturally-occurring algae as a base substrate, you get a hefty dose of calcium alongside trace minerals lacking in other competitors, like boron, strontium, and vanadium. There’s no better option if you’re looking for a raw foods-based bone density supplement.

Best bone density supplement with vitamin K: Essential Elements Bone Boost

Vitamin K is being increasingly recognized as an essential compound for bone strength, and when it comes to this compound, Essential Elements blows the competition out of the water with its 100 mcg dose. No other bone density supplement delivers as much vitamin K alongside an efficacious dose of calcium and vitamin D.

Best bone density supplement with collagen: Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Bone Marrow

Collagen is an essential component of bone tissue, but it’s lacking in many bone density supplements. By sourcing ingredients from real beef bone marrow, Ancestral Supplements delivers all the nutrients you need for bone health, including collagen from bone cartilage. 

Best bone density supplement for osteoporosis: Essential Elements Bone Boost

For both osteoporosis and osteopenia, your focus should be a supplement that delivers high dosages of both calcium and vitamin D. It should be no surprise that Essential Elements Bone Boost, our top overall pick, is our recommendation for this category as well, due to its market-leading dosage of these key ingredients.

Who should buy a bone density supplement?

Bone density is critical. If your bones are not dense, you increase the risk of accidentally breaking a bone and getting osteoporosis. Osteoporosis comes with its host of problems. Those with osteoporosis are more likely to experience early bone loss and breaks. It may cause you to get shorter, usually by an inch or more. It can also cause shortness of breath as your compressed disks lose density. You may feel pain in your lower back as well.

While many people experience mild osteoporosis, it can be quite severe in some cases.

The main risk factor for osteoporosis is calcium deficiency. Your body needs calcium. If it doesn’t get it, it’ll pull it from your bones, which makes them lose density. Many bone-density supplements include quite a bit of calcium to prevent this from happening.

Not everyone is at risk for developing osteoporosis, though. So you may not necessarily need a supplement. Your bones can only get so dense, so there is little reason to take a supplement unless you need it. However, you should take a supplement if you have one or more of the following risk factors, as they make you more likely to get osteoporosis:

Menopause can make your bones lose density (2).

If you’re thinner, you may be at an increased risk of bone density loss as well.

Women are more likely to get osteoporosis, likely because they go through menopause. However, if you breastfed, you may be at an increased risk as well. Breastfeeding requires a lot of calcium, which may be taken from your bones if you weren’t consuming enough.

Vegetarians are more likely to develop osteoporosis, as were those that ate red meat more than four times a week (3).

Some medical problems can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Speak with your doctor if you have any underlying medical conditions to see if you need supplementation to prevent osteoporosis.

How we ranked

We were cautious when ranking each product. Firstly, we considered how safe each product was. The FDA does not regulate supplements. So, supplements can include nearly anything. Luckily, the FDA does control potentially dangerous ingredients and bans them from being put in supplements within the USA.

However, supplements that you purchase online can come from anywhere, which means they may not necessarily line up with these regulations. It is in your best interest to only purchase supplements made in the USA, UK, Australia, France, and other countries with strict regulations. Otherwise, there may be potentially dangerous ingredients in your supplements.

Secondly, we considered the effectiveness of each ingredient. The easiest way to do this is to take a look at the ingredient list. Some ingredients are scientifically-proven, which others are not in the least.

Scientifically-proven ingredients are likely going to work better than those that just rely on anecdotal evidence – or worse, ingredients that have been scientifically DIS-proven. This is one of those instances in life where research will take you far.

We can also get some idea of how active an ingredient is by looking at the customer reviews. While these aren’t always accurate, they do give a pretty good idea of how well they work. If a supplement has lots of positive reviews, that means it affected enough people positively enough for them to leave a review. We don’t know how many reviews you tend to write, but that is some accomplishment.

Thirdly, we considered the quality of the ingredients included. Some supplements had extremely high-quality ingredients, such as the Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Bone Marrow or Garden of Life Raw Calcium Supplement. These supplements got a considerable boost in their ranking because of their high-quality ingredients.

Finally, we looked at the cost and benefit of each supplement. Some supplements are expensive, but provide tons of benefits, like our #1 pick Bone Boost. You may consider investing in these better supplements for better results.

However, at the same time, some supplements are expensive and don’t provide any extra benefit. These supplements are not going to provide you with any extra benefits. You might as well purchase a cheaper supplement instead.

No one wants to spend more money than they have to, so we only included supplements that are worth their cost in our review section.

Benefits

Bone density supplements contain a high dosage of calcium. Calcium is vital for bone health. After all, your bones are mostly made out of calcium! During periods where you are not consuming enough calcium to meet the needs of your other body systems, your body may pull calcium from your bones, which can affect your density.

Because of this, taking a calcium supplement is recommended by the Endocrine Society for those affected by osteoporosis (5).

However, not all calcium is made equally either. Different forms of calcium have different “bioavailability” – that is, your body absorbs them at different rates. Calcium that comes from limestone or other rocks is not very bioavailable, so your body will not be able to absorb all the calcium in your supplement.  Some of it will be wasted.

Chelated calcium and calcium that comes from plants are often more easily absorbed than other forms of calcium. Check the form of calcium in a supplement before you purchase it to ensure your body will be able to use it.

Bone density supplements usually contain magnesium. After calcium, magnesium is another vital nutrient for your bones. Naturally, magnesium is found in foods like whole-grain breads, dark green, vegetables, and nuts (7). Dark chocolate also has quite a bit of magnesium in it (6).

The best part about magnesium is that it is incredibly safe. Side effects are rare and usually caused by an underlying condition. This makes magnesium an excellent option for a bone density supplement. There are many reasons to take it and not many reasons to avoid it.

Bone density supplements can include vitamin D. Vitamin D, and calcium go hand-in-hand. Without vitamin D, your body can not absorb calcium properly, which means it will be wasted. Even if you get enough calcium, your body won’t be able to use the calcium unless you get enough vitamin D as well. For this reason, the Endocrine Society recommends vitamin D supplements to most women who have osteoporosis (8).

Vitamin D is essential for a wide variety of reasons besides just your bone health. It is one of the more essential nutrients out there. However, vitamin D deficiency is prevalent because it is not typically found in food (9). Instead, you get most of your vitamin D from the sun. But your body may not be able to make vitamin D from the sun all year round, depending on your location. This very quickly leads to vitamin D deficiency.

Bone density supplements sometimes include herbal additives. A deficiency of some sort almost always causes bone density problems. Correcting this deficiency can help the problem, which is why most supplements focus on vitamins and minerals.

However, herbal supplements can be helpful, as well. They are much rarer than your typically calcium supplement but may be helpful for those who need a little extra help on top of the usual vitamin supplement.

Studies have shown that certain combinations of herbs can be quite helpful for treating osteoporosis and general bone density problems. In particular, a combination of Herba epimedii, Fructus ligustri lucidi, and Fructus psoraleae provided some benefit to postmenopausal women who had problems with bone density (10). This formula is commonly called “ELP,” and the herbs are usually given at a ration of 10:8:2.

Other herbs are sometimes used, but their effects have not been studied. You can find supplements containing black cohosh and horsetail claiming to improve bone density, but they have not been studied in a clinical setting.

Bone density supplements often contain vitamin K. Vitamin K is another commonly used vitamin to improve bone density. This vitamin doesn’t affect your bone density directly. However, it helps calcium bind to your bones. Therefore, without enough vitamin K, calcium may not be able to absorb into your bones.

This isn’t going to help anything. So, it is essential to get enough vitamin K in your diet as well.

However, getting enough vitamin K is often more confusing than it is to get enough of other vitamins. Sometimes, vitamin K can interfere with certain medications, especially blood thinners. It is also possible to get too much vitamin K, which can cause its problems.

Before taking a supplement containing significant amounts of vitamin K, you should speak with your doctor. It is important not to develop other problems while you’re trying to improve your bone density.

Bone density supplements work. Some supplements are sketchy. You can find a supplement that claims to do nearly everything.

However, many of the ingredients used in bone density supplements are clinically proven and do work. For example, adequate calcium intake has been directly linked to increased bone density. Therefore, taking a bone density supplement containing calcium is likely to improve your bone density, assuming you were deficient in calcium before (11).

Most bone density supplements also include all the extra vitamins you need to use calcium correctly, such as vitamin D and vitamin K. Both of these vitamins are vital for your body to absorb and correctly use calcium. Without them, much of the calcium you eat may go to waste.

This is one reason why it is usually in your best bet to take a bone density supplement instead of just a generic calcium supplement. You need other vitamins as well to improve your bone density, not just calcium.

Side effects

Bone density supplements can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as constipation, gas, and bloating. This is mostly because they contain high amounts of calcium. It is possible to get too much calcium, which can lead to an upset stomach. Your body can only absorb so much calcium at a time. The rest of it will simply sit around in your stomach and intestines, which can cause discomfort.

If you experience these symptoms while taking calcium, it is probably a sign that you are taking too much. You may want to cut back and speak with your doctor about the correct dosage.

These symptoms aren’t always caused by too much calcium, though. Too much vitamin K can cause gas and bloat as well. As you can imagine, this can make figuring out the cause of yore symptoms complicated. You may have to mess with your dosage for a bit before you figure out the best amounts for you.

Bone density supplements can cause hypercalcemia. This is a severe condition where calcium deposits begin to appear in your blood. This can be caused by a variety of conditions, including taking too much calcium.

However, it is quite rare for this condition to be caused by taking too much calcium alone. After all, your body can only absorb so much calcium at a time and needs other vitamins to do so. It is rather difficult for everything to line up perfectly for this disorder to happen.

This disorder is usually caused by something else, like cancer or hyperparathyroidism (13). It is very doubtful that you’ll develop this condition from taking a bone density supplement, but it is possible.

Bone density supplements may increase your risk for cardiovascular events. This is a very new area of research. Some studies claim that taking a calcium supplement may increase your chance for cardiovascular problems like heart attacks (14). In these instances, this seems to be valid with or without vitamin D supplementation as well.

However, other studies have not found the same conclusions (15). Many have reported no increased risk of heart disease among those taking vitamin D supplements. Instead, they hypothesis the increased risk found in the other studies was the result of an underlying condition affecting the results. In other words, they think women with osteoporosis (who are more likely to take calcium supplements) may also be at risk for heart problems whether they take a calcium supplement or not. Therefore, it would make sense that those who take supplements for bone density are more likely to have problems with their heart, though this isn’t caused directly by the supplements.

Right now, the jury is out on which side is correct. If you have heart problems already, you may wish to speak to your doctor before starting a bone density supplement with calcium in it – just to be safe.

Dosage

Different supplements have different amounts of vitamins and minerals in them. Because of this, we cannot give an over-arching dosage. However, we can provide you with the proper amount of each vitamin you should take each day.

Your body can only absorb about 500 mg of calcium each day. Because of this, you shouldn’t take more than 500 mg at a time, or you may risk side effects like gas.

Your age affects how much vitamin D you should take. Those who are over 65 should take at least 800 IU daily to prevent fractures (16). If you’re younger, your dosage will depend mainly on how much sun exposure you get and your location.

The recommended daily dosage of magnesium is between 300 to 500 mg. You should consume half the amount of magnesium as you do calcium. So, if you’re taking 1,000 mg of calcium, you should take 500 mg of magnesium.

Vitamin K should not exceed 150 mg a day, or you may risk side effects. You should speak with your doctor about taking vitamin K if you’re on blood thinners, because vitamin K may have an adverse effect.

FAQs

What are the best supplements for bones?

Calcium is one of the essential vitamins for your skeletal system. However, your body requires quite a few other vitamins to properly utilize calcium, including vitamin K and vitamin D. The best supplement will include all of these necessary ingredients, not just calcium.

For this reason, we recommend Bone Boost as the best supplement you can take. It contains 1400 mg of calcium, 50 mcg of vitamin D3, and 100 mcg of vitamin K2. This is enough to have a positive effect on your bone health, but not so much that you’ll experience severe side effects.

Can you rebuild bone density?

Yes. Your bones can “rebuild” themselves if you provide the proper ingredients. Your bones are mostly made up of calcium, so that is the main building block you need to take. However, your body also needs vitamin D to absorb calcium from the foods you eat. Without it, the calcium will never make it to your bones.

You also need enough vitamin K to allow the calcium to move into your bones, where it can improve your bone density. These three vitamins are the essential ingredients necessary to rebuild your bone density.

Exercise and diet can also play a role. In particular, weight-lifting activities can help improve bone density (17).

What vitamin helps build bone density?

Calcium is the most crucial vitamin necessary to build bone density. After all, it is what your bones are made out of. However, several other vitamins are also necessary for calcium to do its job correctly.

You need to have enough vitamin D in your body to absorb calcium. Otherwise, it’ll just pass through your digestive tract. Vitamin K is necessary for calcium to move into your bones.

Most people are more likely to be deficient in calcium and vitamin D, so these are the two most important vitamins necessary to improve your bone health. However, vitamin K may also need to be added to your supplement regimen if you aren’t getting enough in your diet.

How quickly can bone density improve?

Bone density can improve quite quickly. One study found that adults who are veggies high in calcium for three months saw improved bone density (18). Of course, how quickly your bones develop more density depends on whether or not you’re providing your body with all the building blocks necessary for improvement, including calcium and vitamin D.

Related articles Vitamin K2 Supplements Vitamin D Supplements Calcium Bone broth Vegan Collagen Recap

Bone density is vital for avoiding fractures and osteoporosis. Sadly, most people develop problems with their bone density as they age. However, bone density can be improved with a good bone density supplement.

These supplements include everything you need to improve your overall bone density, including calcium and vitamin D.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 bone density supplement, click here.

The post Ranking the best bone density supplements of 2022 appeared first on BodyNutrition.

- Laura Magnifico
Ranking the best arachidonic acid of 2022

Arachidonic acid is a fatty acid that is responsible for muscle tissue inflammation. It is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid that includes an organic chain of 20 carbon atoms. Arachidonic acid is also found inside the human body, particularly in the muscles, liver, and brain.

Due to its muscle inflammation properties, arachidonic acid is most widely sold as a beneficial bodybuilding supplement in order to speed up muscle gain.

Arachidonic acid should not be confused with linoleic acid since each differs in its arrangement of carbon atoms and characteristics.

Below, you’ll find the best arachidonic acid supplements on the market, ranked and reviewed by our expert health panel.

Rankings 1. Enhanced Athlete Arachidonic Acid

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Enhanced Athlete provides high quality arachidonic acid for 90 days straight to ensure you reap all the muscle-building benefits.

Each capsule contains 350mg of arachidonic acid, a market-leading amount. You’ll find no extraneous ingredients either – these advantages make it BodyNutrition’s #1 pick.

2. Molecular Nutrition X-Factor Arachidonic Acid

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Molecular Nutrition provides arachidonic acid supplements with clinically proven results. Each capsule comes in 250 mg to help amplify protein synthesis and make sure that you don’t experience any training plateaus.

It’s an excellent choice if you want some of the highest quality arachidonic acid around without going quite as high in concentration as the last pick.

3. Serious Nutrition Solutions X-Gels

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Serious nutrition softgels each contain 250 mg of arachidonic acid, allowing you to build more lean muscle and strength with the same exercise routines as before.

This is a great choice thanks to its affordability and tamper-proof lid.

4. Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Beef Organs

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Ancestral supplements contain natural vitamins and minerals from grass-fed beef organs, including the liver, kidneys, heart, pancreas, and spleen.

Some of the excellent muscle-boosting vitamins you’ll receive include vitamin A, selenium, vitamin B12, iron, and natural enzymes. 

5. Huge Supplements Arachidone 

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Huge Supplements arachidonic acid can promote lean muscle mass and help you build strength much more effectively, especially since you get 1500 mg of the stuff per serving (three capsules).

The easy to swallow softgels are a great bonus.

6. Noomadic Arachidonic Acid

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Noomadic makes a super-simple arachidonic acid supplement whose only ingredients are arachidonic acid itself and cellulose, which comprises the capsule. It’s got a solid 250 mg dosage of arachidonic acid and, unlike many of its competitors, it sources its arachidonic acid from fungus, which makes it vegan-friendly.

7. Core Active REM Test P.M. Testosterone Boost

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Core Active REM combines arachidonic acid with additional testosterone boosting ingredients that help you rest more deeply and build muscle more effectively on your off days.

Each serving includes a plethora of natural ingredients like natural growth factors and estrogen suppressants, to create a holistic and excellent supplement all around for any man.

8. Animal Test Testosterone Booster for Men

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Animal Test arachidonic acid supplements come in an all-in-one testosterone booster pack that includes both the main arachidonic acid ingredient and additional ingredients for added muscle boosting, better mood, and greater hair growth.

It’s an excellent all-around supplement if you want to revitalize your testosterone.

9. Jacked Factory Build-XT Muscle Builder

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Jacked Factory muscle building pills can help you grow muscle even more effectively when consumed in conjunction with a quality arachidonic acid supplement.

Each pill contains natural anabolic muscle-building ingredients like Astragin, PeakO2, and ElevATP.

10. Evoganica Arachidonic Acid

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Evoganica Arachidonic Acid has a pretty typical 250 mg dose of arachidonic acid, and though its supplement design is pretty simple, it doesn’t offer much to distinguish itself from the competition, which lands it lower in the rankings.

Category winners

Best arachidonic acid overall: Enhanced Athlete Arachidonic Acid

Enhanced Athlete takes our top overall spot thanks to its focused delivery of an industry-leading dosage of arachidonic acid. With 40% more arachidonic acid per capsule than many of its competitors, it’s well-suited for supporting even the most aggressive strength training and bodybuilding regimens. 

Best arachidonic acid for muscle growth: Enhanced Athlete Arachidonic Acid

With its high dosage and lack of extraneous ingredients, it should be no surprise that Enhanced Athlete is our recommendation for muscle growth. The clean supplement design ensures that it’s compatible with a broad range of bulking and cutting stacks used to further augment muscle growth.

Best arachidonic acid for inflammation: Molecular Nutrition X-Factor

If you’re using arachidonic acid to control low-grade muscle inflammation, the more moderate 250 mg dosage and the larger-capacity bottle in X-Factor make it a great candidate for tamping down inflammatory responses in muscle tissue. 

Best arachidonic acid to take before a workout: Serious Nutrition Solutions X-Gels

Looking to load up on arachidonic acid before a particularly tough training session? Go for the softgel capsules made by Serious Nutrition Solutions. This gel-form supplement ensures rapid delivery and availability of arachidonic acid, which will give you a jump-start on muscle recovery.

Best arachidonic acid for bodybuilding: Enhanced Athlete Arachidonic Acid

Arachidonic acid’s ability to accelerate muscle recovery makes it a favorite in bodybuilding circles, and it should be no surprise that our top pick overall is also our top pick for bodybuilders. The potent 350 mg dose of arachidonic acid in Enhanced Athlete Arachidonic Acid makes it a great choice for physique athletes looking for serious muscle gains. 

Best animal organ supplement with arachidonic acid: Ancestral Supplements Grass-fed Beef Organs

Looking to get arachidonic acid in an all-natural animal-sourced format? Ancestral Supplements should be your choice. Their grass-fed beef organ capsules provide naturally-occurring arachidonic acid alongside the other nutrients you’d get from organs including heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, and spleen.

Who should buy arachidonic acid?

The effects of arachidonic acid benefit any bodybuilders or individuals who want to build lean muscle more quickly. Specifically, arachidonic acid supplements are excellent for athletes, especially those that experience depression. Arachidonic acid supplements can also be helpful for those who want to lose weight and gain strength at the same time through resistance training.

Since arachidonic acid only provides acute inflammation, it helps your muscles contract and doesn’t require eating a lot of protein or other calories. Thus, you can build strength and lose weight just by keeping your calorie intake number below your calorie usage number. Arachidonic acid also naturally alleviates some symptoms of depression by reversing various negative signals in the brain, meaning it can be great for those currently suffering from depressive episodes.

One last possible group that might benefit from arachidonic acid supplements are people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. The exact link isn’t fully understood, but arachidonic acid supplements might alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis due to their protein-synthesis effects.

While there are no interactions with prescription medication, it’s always best to speak to a doctor before supplementing with arachidonic acid.

How we ranked

Athletes and bodybuilders can take arachidonic acid supplements with a variety of potencies; smaller dosages hovering around 250 mg, and heavier dosages going above 1000 mg. In general, higher potencies will result in better muscle tissue generation and greater protein synthesis rates.

However, this may also exacerbate any side effects that you might experience as a result of pre-existing inflammatory conditions. Furthermore, athletes may want to take lower dosages of arachidonic acid in order to combine the supplement with other muscle-boosting compounds or proteins.

Because there isn’t a single potency level that works for everyone, we looked for arachidonic acid supplements across the entire potency spectrum, from 250mg to 1500mg. That being said, we did prefer products on the lower end of the spectrum, which is why Enhanced Athlete ranked so well on our list.

We also considered any added ingredients in arachidonic acid supplements. For instance, Animal Test Testosterone Booster for Men includes other natural testosterone boosting ingredients for a more well-rounded and holistic health boost. These kinds of supplements are popular choices since they can provide a wide variety of benefits instead of just focusing on muscle growth. However, you’ll normally find that most high-potency arachidonic acid supplements only contain one ingredient and vice versa.

Lastly, we looked at value. In general, you never want to go with supplements that have less than 30 capsules or a month’s supply. This doesn’t give the arachidonic acid enough time to build up in the body and do its job properly. Some of our top choices include enough arachidonic acid capsules to last for three months, allowing you to build lean muscle efficiency without breaking the bank.

Benefits

Arachidonic acid can help build lean muscle tissue in bodybuilders and athletes. Studies have shown that an increase in arachidonic acid raises the anaerobic capacity and causes the muscle fibers to thicken as a result of greater protein synthesis (1, 2).

Bodybuilders use arachidonic acid supplements in order to induce inflammation in their muscle tissues, forcing their muscles to grow in greater size and shape. It has been found that arachidonic acid’s characteristic of causing small amounts of inflammation help muscles contract and become larger.

This also makes it helpful for those who wish to lose weight and gain strength through resistance training. Small amounts of inflammation thus are beneficial for gaining muscle for bodybuilders (3). The fatty acids present in the acid help muscle fibers utilize protein a lot more efficiently.

Trainers who can benefit most from arachidonic acid supplements are those who have reached training plateaus and won’t to shock their muscles to make greater gains.

Arachidonic acid can help treat depression, especially in athletes. Fish oils are commonly sold as supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids in order to overcome depression. However, fish oil may not necessarily be rich with omega-3 fatty acids; it all depends on what types of fish have been used to produce the oil and whether the fish had access to a proper habitat. 

Researchers found that arachidonic acid has elements that can alleviate symptoms of depression and reverse negative signals in the brain (4). Arachidonic acid has also been shown to thin out blood that can counter depression a lot more efficiently

Arachidonic acid can help treat rheumatoid arthritis. One study found that participants who took a diet rich in fish oil showed a reduction in swollen joints (5). This has led researchers to conclude that a diet rich in arachidonic acid can be very effective for treating arthritis.

Side effects

Arachidonic acid may worsen pre-existing inflammatory conditions. In other words, if you suffer from arthritis, eczema, breast tenderness, or diabetes, it is advisable to consult a trained medical physician so that you can ensure it does not lead to harmful effects such as lower the impact of certain medicines.

Arachidonic acid can upset the natural balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. This can have severe negative effects pertaining to immune and cardiovascular health. The human body needs to have an omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids balance ratio of 1:1. If there are too many omega-6 fatty acids as a result of arachidonic acid supplements, it can cause your body to become omega-3 deficiency.

Some of these symptoms include dry skin, brittle, hair, peeling nails, frequent urination, insomnia, concentration problems, and mood swings. If you are experiencing any one of these symptoms, chances are that you may have an omega-3 deficiency.

In other cases, having an excess of omega-6 fatty acids can lead to severe illnesses and diseases, among of which are cardiovascular disease, asthma, cancer, autoimmune disease, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, and more. As with any beneficial supplement, you should be wary of consuming too much arachidonic acid.

As an omega-6 fatty acid, consuming it in large concentrations can lead to an imbalance in fatty acids that can cause you to become omega-3 deficient. For this reason, it is advisable that you consult a doctor so that you are medically fit for taking arachidonic acid supplements.

Arachidonic acid may cause a low birth weight. Some reports show that Arachidonic acid may cause babies to be born small. More evidence is needed to confirm this.

Arachidonic acid may worsen various diseases. Arachidonic acid can make breathing more difficult in patients suffering from COPD. Arachidonic acid may also cause high blood pressure in diabetics.

Arachidonic acid can raise blood triglyceride levels. As such, you should avoid arachidonic acid if you have naturally high triglyceride levels.

Recommended dosage

Based on the above studies and the scientific benefits, arachidonic acid supplements are best utilized when you consume 1.5g per day. This translates to 1500 mg of arachidonic acid every day, although you can certainly take less depending on the other supplements and how well you tolerate it. It’s a good idea to start off with 250 mg to 500 mg of arachidonic acid if you haven’t already tried the supplement before and aren’t sure about potential side effects.

As described above, some side effects have been noted, particularly in those who already have inflammatory conditions. If you do start to experience some side effects, slowly taper off your consumption of arachidonic acid and see if things get better.

FAQ

What types of athletes benefit from arachidonic acid to most? Arachidonic acid supplements benefit three groups of athletes. The first group is athletes that want to go past plateaus. Plateaus are periods characterized by a difficulty to grow new muscle mass. They’re essentially points when your body is at a good weight and wants to remain in homeostasis.

Everyone has a different plateau point, but if you want to push past it and become even bigger than you would get from natural exercise, you’ll need to take some supplements or extra protein.

The next group of athletes that benefit from arachidonic acid supplements are powerlifting athletes. These athletes can use arachidonic acid to prevent themselves from losing muscle gains even though they rest for a certain period. The last group includes other highly trained athletes that want an extra boost for their performance or muscle growth

How does arachidonic acid affect muscle growth? Arachidonic acid affects muscle growth in a myriad of ways. Firstly, arachidonic acid causes your muscle fibers to experience acute inflammation. This does not mean that anything bad is happening to your muscles; in fact, acute inflammation is necessary if you want your body to build lean protein. Lean protein is better for muscle building since it repairs tears in muscle tissue a little more quickly

Basically, arachidonic acid naturally resides in some cell membranes in your muscles. Whenever you damage your muscles by lifting weights, enzymes go toward those cell membranes and free the arachidonic acid up to do its work. Arachidonic acid is then broken down and can create small but localized hormones called prostaglandins. 

These hormones cause the inflammation and pain that you feel after a workout. While that sounds negative, it actually plays a crucial role in telling your body that it’s time to rebuild some muscle tissue. This makes your body build muscle more quickly and efficiently. At the same time, arachidonic acid increases how many nuclei are in your muscle cells – this, in turn, improves muscle protein synthesis even better

All in all, arachidonic acid is fantastic to take if you want to build muscle. This naturally lends itself to bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts. But just about anyone looking to get into shape could benefit from taking an arachidonic acid supplement in conjunction with a healthy diet.

Where does arachidonic acid come from? Arachidonic acid is a naturally occurring and polyunsaturated fatty acid. In the human body, you can find plenty of it in the membranes of your body’s cells, especially in your muscles, liver, and brain cells. More specifically, arachidonic acid is typically retained in your skeletal muscles and, in fact, accounts for between 10 and 20% of your total phospholipid fatty acid content.

All this is to say that it’s an incredibly common fatty acid, so taking additional arachidonic acid supplements isn’t like providing your body with synthetic boosters.

What is arachidonic acid responsible for the body? Arachidonic acid serves three main purposes. Firstly, it acts as a cell or lipid messenger, meaning that it signals certain chemical or physical changes throughout your body. Secondly, arachidonic acid is a vasodilator, which means that it’s a signaling compound that can widen your blood vessels and allow more blood flow throughout your body. 

Its primary benefit, and the focus of it as a supplement, is in producing acute inflammation in your muscles to signal protein synthesis. 

Where does your body get arachidonic acid from? Without taking a dedicated arachidonic acid supplement, you’ll get most of these fatty acids from various food sources like chicken, beef, eggs, fish, and peanuts. It’s not an essential acid since your body can synthesize it directly from linoleic acid in your liver.

This being said, the process of synthesizing new arachidonic acid is relatively inefficient. So absorbing more arachidonic acid either from eating foods already rich in the substance or by taking a dedicated arachidonic acid supplement will produce better results.

How can arachidonic acid help with brain issues like depression if it’s primarily a fatty acid used for muscle synthesis? Arachidonic acid actually helps with things like depression because of the same effect it has on your muscles. Arachidonic acid can trigger brain inflammation, but this may have unintentional and positive side effects as a result of causing different nerves to signal in the brain.

Remember, the inflammation that arachidonic acid causes is acute or localized rather than overly directed or widespread.

Why do bodybuilders use arachidonic acid more after they’ve already plateaued? When you first start building muscle, especially with a hard-core bodybuilding exercise routine and diet, you’ll often experience what is called beginner gains. In a nutshell, it’s a lot easier to build muscle in the early part of your bodybuilding lifestyle. Men, in particular, can often expect to gain around 20 pounds of muscle after a single year of regular weightlifting.

But after this point, progress slows dramatically for just about everyone, especially if you reach a homeostatic state when your body is happy with its weight and size. Regular bodybuilders and exercise enthusiasts will hit a progress wall where it’s harder for them to gain muscle without exponentially increasing their effort to match.

Therefore, many experienced bodybuilders take arachidonic acid supplements in order to boost their muscle growth to more inspiring levels and faster rates. For experienced lifters, nothing is more motivating than seeing their bodies pack on muscle just like they used to when they were just starting out.

Should you combine arachidonic acid supplements with other types of supplements? There isn’t a lot of research about how arachidonic acid interacts with other types of supplements at this time. But it’s probably a good idea to combine it with supplements that can boost your muscle recovery period.

Again, arachidonic acid improves muscle synthesis, so helping your body knit that newly-developed muscle into your greater tissue sounds like a great plan. You may also want to combine arachidonic acid with fish oil supplements. Some of the omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in fish oil make use of arachidonic acid naturally found in your body’s phospholipids.

This helps your body metabolize new muscle faster wherever muscle damage occurs. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids are somewhat anti-inflammatory, so combining them with the acutely inflammatory arachidonic acids is just good sense (6).

Does the inflammation sparked by arachidonic acid hurt? No, the inflammation sparked by arachidonic acid does not hurt. Inflammation, in this sense, is just referring to the activity of your muscle cells on the microscopic level. You won’t feel any different or any more pain than you normally would from regular muscle wear and tear or exhaustion.

Is arachidonic acid natural? Arachidonic acid is both, produced naturally by your body, and provided as supplements. For natural growth, linoleic acid, which is found in many vegetable oils, gets converted into gamma-linoleic acid, which is then turned into arachidonic acid.

Does arachidonic acid support the immune system? Arachidonic acid leads to an increase in the production of eicosanoids that help raise immunity and inflammatory responses in your body. Whenever you take an arachidonic acid supplement, the increase in amount will have a direct impact on the growth of eicosanoids, leading to higher inflammation.

Increasing arachidonic acid through natural means can be done through dietary changes. Consuming food such as eggs, fish, and meat contain high amounts of arachidonic acid. For the best advice, you should consult a medical physician and start with a lower dose to observe your body’s responses. Just make sure that every two training days are followed by a recovery day.

What is the biggest danger of arachidonic acid? The biggest issue with arachidonic acid is the fact that it’s an omega-6 fatty acid. While not dangerous by itself, it can lead to poor balances in the body of omega-3 to omega-6. This is only worsened by our omega-6 fatty acid dominant western diet. When there is a severe ratio imbalance, many of the body functions become compromised and stop functioning normally.

Is arachidonic acid the same as omega-3 fatty acids? No, arachidonic acid is not an omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids include EPA and DHA and help lower inflammation. You can find omega 3 fatty acids in fish, eggs, and grass fed beef. Arachidonic acid is different because it causes inflammation and falls under the omega-6 fatty acid family.

Related Articles Fish oil Hemp oil Testosterone boosters 37 best ways to gain muscle Recap

Arachidonic acid is a well known omega 6 fatty acid that is popular in weight lifting circles. It has been scientifically proven to help promote muscle mass and reduce weight, alleviates depression symptoms, and also eases arthritis pain by relieving sore joints and tendons.

Side effects are minimal and are usually a result of an imbalance of omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids in the body. This is easily fixed by taking a high quality fish or krill oil supplement.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 recommended arachidonic acid supplement, click here

The post Ranking the best arachidonic acid of 2022 appeared first on BodyNutrition.

- Laura Magnifico
Ranking the best calamus of 2022

Calamus (Acorus calamus) is a herb used in ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine that’s known for its cognitive enhancing properties. Some studies also suggest that calamus has the ability to treat neuropathic pain. The basic mechanism behind the plant revolves around the interaction of the GABA receptors. β-asarone also plays a role.

It goes by a variety of names including bach, calamus oil, golomi, sweet flag, ugragandha, vacha, and vekhanda. It’s different than Acorus gramineus, which is known as Japanese or dwarf sweet flag.

Below, you’ll find the best calamus supplements on the market, ranked and reviewed by our expert health panel.

Rankings 1. Pure Gold Calamus Essential Oil

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Pure Gold calamus oil is 100% pure and can be used as an essential oil in a lotion or for aromatherapy. The oil comes stored in a small UV-resistant amber glass bottle, ensuring that it’s protected from oxidation caused by both oxygen and ultraviolet light.

It also comes with a dropper for easy application and accurate dosing. For these reasons, it’s BodyNutrition’s #1 choice.

2. Starwest Botanicals Organic Calamus Root

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Starwest Botanicals provides an organic-certified calamus root, which comes prepackaged for easy grinding or mixing.

This gives it more versatility, allowing you to shew on it, burn it as an incense or rub it into your skin to reap the benefits. It’s the perfect choice for people making their own calamus-based herbal preparations.

3. HawaiiPharm Calamus Liquid Extract

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HawaiiPharm calamus root liquid extract is a great choice if you know you’ll be going through a lot of calamus oil. For treating hair or large areas of skin, the four ounce bottle is great. Add to that the highly-pure calamus root extract and you’ve got a great option for liquid calamus that’s both potent and pure.

4. Gya Labs Calamus Essential Oil

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Gya Labs makes a calamus oil that’s specifically formulated for aromatherapy. This essential oil has a spicy, woody scent and is commonly used in aromatherapeutic applications to alleviate stress and anxiety, and improve memory and focus. For calamus-based aromatherapy this essential oil is a great choice.

5. Frontier Co-Op Calamus Root

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Frontier provides a Kosher-certified calamus root harvested only from the best sources.

The calamus root is pre-cut and sifted. It comes in a 1-pound bag, providing plenty of calamus root for a reasonable asking price. 

6. Banyan Botanicals Calamus Powder

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Banyan Botanicals provides a half-pound bag of calamus powder, perfect for removing natural toxins.

The grains are perfectly sized for turning into lotions or for spreading on your skin to get rid of massage oil.

7. Bixa Botanical Calamus Root Powder

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Bixa Botanical’s calamus root powder provides all of the health benefits in an easy to reseal jar.

This particular formula is ideal for supporting hair growth and a healthy scalp. The calamus roots are collected using only quality tools and comprised of non-GMO ingredients.

8. Yogi’s Gift Calamus Root

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Yogi’s Gift makes a calamus root that’s sourced directly from India and comes in a large one-pound bulk package. It’s a nice choice for the rare user who needs calamus in bulk, but most people would be better-served by an easier-to-use form of calamus.

9. Salvia Calamus Oil

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Salvia calamus oil is a perfect therapeutic remedy, and is shipped in an amber bottle that can protect the herb from light oxidation.

The oil is expertly blended into a perfect texture and is an ideal choice for a massage supplement. 

10. Smallflower Calamus Root Powder

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Smallflower calamus root powder comes in a 4-ounce container that is extremely affordable. This makes it a great budget choice for those who want to try this supplement without breaking the bank.

The loose herbs are ideal for burning or rubbing into the skin.

Category winners

Best calamus overall: Pure Gold Calamus Essential Oil

Pure Gold takes our top overall spot thanks to its 100% pure formulation and the simple-to-use liquid formulation. It’s great for topical application on its own or alongside other compounds, and the amber glass vial protects its biologically active compounds from UV light. 

Best calamus for skin care: Hawaii Pharm Calamus

Skin care is one of the most popular uses of calamus, thanks both to its aromatic properties and its anti-inflammatory capabilities. We recommend Hawaii Pharm Calamus for this use case, since its essential oil-based preparation is easy to use on its own or as an additive to lotions and skin balms, and the four ounce size means it will last a lot longer than many competitors.

Best calamus for aromatherapy: Gya Labs Calamus Essential Oil

Gya Labs makes a purified calamus essential oil that’s a great pick for aromatherapy thanks to its bright, woody scent. Calamus aromatherapy is a popular choice for alleviating anxiety and improving memory, and Gya Labs’ aromatherapy-oriented preparation is the perfect fit. 

Best organic calamus: Starwest Botanicals Organic Calamus Root

Starwest Botanicals specializes in providing high-quality raw supplement ingredients, and their calamus root is a classic example of this. This raw calamus root is organically certified and is perfect for people looking to incorporate calamus root into their own supplements, extracts, and herbal preparations.

Best calamus for pain and inflammation: Pure Gold Calamus Essential Oil

Calamus is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used as a salve for muscle, joint, or nerve pain. If this is why you’re in the market for a calamus supplement, go with Pure Gold: its simple formulation makes it perfectly suited for applying to painful, inflamed spots on your body.  

Best liquid calamus extract: Pure Gold Calamus Essential Oil

Unless you’re making a custom supplement, liquid calamus extract is the right choice for most people. For people in this category, Pure Gold Calamus Essential Oil is our favorite because it is both highly pure and packaged in a way that protects the essential oil from oxidation. Other competitors with larger bottles and non-tinted glass allow air and ultraviolet light to damage the fragile organic compounds in calamus.

Who should buy calamus?

Calamus is used as an external medicine or herbal remedy, instead of something you ingest (though there are a few rare exceptions). This is because some evidence suggesting that ingesting calamus causes several side effects. However, people around the world still use the herb to treat different stomach issues or intestinal problems.

Most Western people will get the majority of their calamus use by applying it to the skin. Specifically, calamus is a good choice if you have several sores or inflamed areas, as the herb can be used to soothe these types of skin conditions. Calamus oil also comes with a pleasant fragrance, so some people like to use it in various aromatherapies. In fact, calamus was once used as a perfume.

Many people recommend calamus if you want to remove massage oil. The powder version of calamus is particularly good at this task, and it can help you clean up much more quickly than if you’re tired of other methods. Some people get a lot of use out of chewing calamus in order to get rid of the smell of tobacco. However, you’ll likely want to spit out the saliva with the calamus juice to prevent accidental ingestion.

Since calamus can increase stomach acid, it may interact with H2 medications and other stomach acid medication. If you are taking any prescription drugs, speak to your doctor before starting a calamus supplement regimen. Pregnant and nursing women should also avoid calamus as it may cause hallucinations.

How we ranked

The first thing we looked at when ranking the best calamus is the delivery method. There are four broad categories of calamus supplements on the market: essential oils (which often come in tinctures), powders, roots (cut and sifted), and capsules.

Calamus capsules are similar to other herbal supplements. However, be aware that these calamus capsules are much harder to find because of the known carcinogenic components included in the plant’s roots. As such, we did not rank these types of products well.

Calamus oils are strictly for external use only and should never be consumed under any circumstances. This can be a little confusing since many other oil supplements come in tinctures to be mixed with food and drink or otherwise absorbed under the tongue (think CBD oil).

However, calamus oil is potentially toxic to the human system if consumed via the digestive tract. Dosing can also be tricky. However, the essential oil provides some of the most powerful benefits, which is why Pure Gold Essential Calamus Oil was our top pick.

Next, we looked at the amount of calamus you got for your purchase. We tried to find several calamus supplements that were more budget-friendly, as well as a few more expensive picks that are ideal if money is no object and you want the best of the best. 

Lastly, we selected calamus supplements that were exclusively collected or distilled using top-tier extraction methods. The extraction method used for each supplement can affect its overall purity and potency. You always want to find supplements that are extracted using natural methods, cold-pressed machinery (if possible), and made with organic and non-GMO ingredients only. This is another reason why we ranked Pure Gold Essential Calamus Oil was our top choice.

Benefits

Calamus is good for your overall health. Acorus calamus has a number of health benefits that can be attributed to the makeup of the plant. It has a number of antibiotic, cephalic, circulatory, tranquilizing, anti-rheumatic, nervine, stimulant anti-spasmodic, circulatory, and memory boosting properties (1).

Calamus has a long history of being healthy. Earlier on, the plant was used for the benefits that it provided the lungs and the digestive system. It was seen that the plant cleared up the congestion and phlegm while calming the mind.

Other uses involved the treatment of tinnitus, insomnia, heart palpitations, chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, and amnesia.

Calamus is a great digestive aid. Generally, the oil extracted from the root is used that has a very strong fragrance and tastes bitter. The active ingredients are extracted by boiling water. 

In certain parts of Europe, calamus was used as a digestive aid because it helped with conditions like dyspepsia, acidity, and heartburn. The root of the plant was used to cure toothache.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant was used to treat problems like dizziness, deafness, epilepsy, abdominal pain, dysentery, and diarrhea

Calamus may help with brain health. Ayurvedic medicine used the plant for awareness, circulation to the brain, and to sharpen the memory. However, consuming the plant for internal use is not recommended, although it can be used externally for circulation and sore muscles.

Side effects

Calamus may cause organ damage. Subjects that took the herb for more than one year, even in low dosage, experienced problems like intestinal tumor and organ damage. Animal studies showed that low doses of β-asarone caused organ damage and led to a higher prevalence of intestinal tumors (2, 3).

Calamus may be cancerous. A carcinogenic substance in the plant that is known as β-asarone, has been found to be responsible for these issues. It is recommended that one avoid using calamus due to its toxic content and carcinogenic nature. While it can be used externally, it’s best not to ingest the plant.

Calamus may cause ER visits. One case study reported that the intake of the root of the plant with water caused a visit to the emergency room where the subject had yellow liquid like vomit, was in a diaphoretic state, and had mild leucocytosis.

Calamus may cause hallucinations. Acorus calamus has a number of properties that can deal with a number of physical and psychological disorders. However, it’s advised that pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid it since it can cause hallucinations and convulsions.

Recommended dosage

Some studies suggest that the herb is not suitable for human consumption because of the presence of β-asarone, an active ingredient that is a known carcinogen and is toxic in nature (4).

There are studies that show that the plant’s ethyl acetate extraction does not contain any β-asarone. The extraction can be safely taken within the range of 100 to 200 mg per kilogram of one’s body weight.

It’s important to know that β-asarone is a known pesticide that is famous for its toxic content. The Council of Europe Committee of Experts in Flavoring Substances evaluated the use of the substance in food flavoring and found that the quantity was limited to 0.5mg/kg for beverages with alcohol and 05mg/kg for food.

The council determined that the plant was not safe for human consumption because of the nature of β-asarone. Furthermore, it was established by the council that there is no given intake level of the dose.

FAQ

What are some other names for calamus? Calamus is known by a ton of different names, as it has a long history as an herbal element throughout the world. These names include sweet calamus, sweet cane, sweet cinnamon, sweet flag, sweetgrass, sweet Myrtle, sweet root, acore roseau, Acorus americanus, belle-angelique, flagroot, Gladdon, and Myrtle Sedge.

Where is calamus sourced? Calamus plants that grow in water end up bearing flowers while those that do not stay unflowered. Its natural habitat is alongside streams, ponds, and lakes.

What does the calamus plant look like? Calamus is naturally found as a tall plant that includes leaves which broadly resemble those in the iris family. The plant is usually noticed with the tops of several basal leaves, which spread into a rhizome. Leaf colors are usually yellow and brown, but they also feature pink sheathing at the bases.

When was the calamus plant first used? It’s unclear when exactly people began using calamus for medicinal purposes. The earliest historical mention was 1300 B.C., when a scroll of papyrus spoke of the plant. In those days, the Egyptians used the plant to make various perfumes rather than relying on its medicinal properties.

Greeks and Romans alike both referred to the plant’s reed in scrolls or other documents, and there is historical evidence to suggest that both cultures used it for herbal or perfuming reasons.

The Native Americans were known to use this herb as both a medicinal remedy and for ceremonial purposes, likely because of the same fragrances that attracted other cultures to it over time.

Later, the plant became known to Britain in the 16th century and was grown as an herbal remedy. It was often used by makers of powdered wigs, who utilize the powder both for its dyeing potential and because of the fragrance that killed many bad smells associated with wig-making. It even helped the body odors of those who wore the wigs.

There’s also historical evidence that shows that Dutch children were given the rhizomes of the plant as a type of chewing gum (before modern chewing gum had fully been invented). In other cases, children were given the rhizomes as a type of candy, and tons of liqueurs were flavored with the herb all the way up to the 1960s.

Who should ingest or chew calamus? Calamus is recommended for people who have external skin conditions or who don’t mind using herbal supplements that are primarily absorbed through the skin. 

Where does calamus grow? The plant’s native habitat is in India, southern Russia and Siberia, Central Asia, and Europe. In most cases, you can find the plant at the edges of various bodies of water like rivers, small lakes, and ponds. You can also find it in a variety of swamps and other wetland habitats.

Why does calamus have so many other names? Calamus has a ton of different names because many different cultures discovered the medicinal properties of this herb long ago and came up with separate names for the plant. Over time, all of those names have become relatively interchangeable with one another. The most common names are sweet flag, flagroot, and calamus.

Should you ingest calamus powder? Calamus powders are not meant to be ingested whatsoever. Instead, these are best combined with other herbal ingredients and natural elements to form lotions or powder agents that are rubbed into or on the skin. In fact, in its powder form, calamus is an ideal choice for the removal of massage oil and other oily substances (due to its dry nature).

Calamus cut and sifted root can be ground up into powder of its own and used in a similar way as described above. However, some people benefit from chewing on these roots and spitting out the majority of the saliva generated.

However, there is some evidence to suggest that even this small amount of ingestion can be toxic to your system. Above all, carefully read the application methods supported by each product’s manufacturer before making a decision.

What is the best way to use calamus oil? Calamus essential oil is best used as a diffusing element. Use it in conjunction with other essential oils in your favorite diffuser or burn some of the oil is part of a candle or incense setup. This way, you still get the therapeutic benefits of the oil.

Alternatively, you can use the essential oil the way it has been for most of its history – as a rubbing agent. 

What does calamus smell like? Most people report calamus powder or oil to smell like a kind of spicy wood. This universally appreciated scent is part of why it’s enjoyed such a long history of uses across the world.

Interestingly, the calamus plant smells a little sweeter when the plant itself is bruised or otherwise crushed. This is likely where all of the “sweet” names got their start in cultures across the world.

Can you plant calamus in your garden? You shouldn’t plant calamus in your garden unless it already incorporates bodies of water. You can use the plant as a special “pond plant” for cultural reasons, as it can help other flowers grow or provide valuable sustenance for animals, insects, and so on.

If you do decide to plant calamus, you’ll find that it’s a pretty low maintenance plant that only requires occasional pending or watering. In most cases, it’ll take care of watering itself (so long as you planted next to an appropriate body of water).

What parts of the calamus plant are most important? In general, the root of a calamus plant is used to make any medicinal products. It is often ground up to make a medicinal powder.

Alternatively, essential oil producers might use multiple parts of the plant and distill the leaves and roots into a single essential oil. However, this varies heavily depending on the exact manufacturing process.

What are some lesser-known health benefits of calamus? Other health benefits of calamus include curing psychological disorders, relief from arthritis, balanced hormone secretion, prevent epileptic fits, prevent hysteric attacks, relieve nervous spasms, improve blood flow, improve metabolism, treat insomnia, mitigate headaches, improve sore throats, and help you sleep.

Can you use calamus as an insecticide? While not common, you can certainly use the calamus plant as an insecticide. There are some chemicals in a calamus that can cause sleepiness or muscle relaxation, and which also have some ancillary effects in insects (i.e. they die).

However, there isn’t a very good way to apply calamus to any other plants as a type of insecticide solution. Even if you were to spread calamus essential oil on other plans to protect them, you might accidentally end up damaging the plants because of the same chemical agents.

If you apply calamus in a very fine powder, it’s pretty capable of killing various ant and flea species.  Some gardeners have used it as a sterilizing agent for grain weevils. It’s just that getting enough powder to use it as a wide-scale insecticide is difficult. Ultimately, there are plenty of other more potent and natural insect repellents or solutions you should use instead.

Will calamus interact with any medications? Yes, calamus can interact with medication. You should always be sure to contact your doctor before using any type of herbal supplement, regardless of its exact effects, especially if you are taking any sort of stomach acid medication. Specifically, the chemicals found in calamus might affect various medications for depression or sedative medications. They may also interfere in the absorption and metabolism of these types of medications.

Is calamus legal in the USA? Even though the FDA has forbidden oral calamus, it’s still legal in the USA. However, capsules may take quite a long time to ship to your home. You may also not be able to order it in the US because of these precautions.

Ultimately, remember that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that oral calamus comes with tons of health applications and side effects due to the carcinogenic nature of many of its compounds. We do not recommend taking calamus orally unless you are open to these risks, or if you’ve already been taking calamus orally for a long time with no discernible negative side effects so far.

Can calamus remove massage oil from the skin? Calamus has long been known to help remove excess massage oil on the skin. This helps make a pesky clean up easy.

What are some other applications of calamus? Aside from all the calamus applications mentioned so far, you can mix in the powder with other ingredients to make several topical agents or applications. For instance, you can use the powder to scent various hair lotions and powders, like dry shampoos.

You can also mix calamus powder to make fragrant lotions or herbal bath blends.

Is calamus dangerous to your health? In general, calamus is considered relatedly safe. However, there have been some incidents of calamus causing organ damage that can lead to hospital visits.

Some reports have also shown that calamus may cause hallucinations. While this is not necessarily dangerous, this can lead to dangerous and unsafe situations depending on where you are when the hallucination hits. As such, it’s recommended not to take calamus if you are going to be driving in the near future.

What is the upper safe limit of calamus? According to various sources, 200mg per kilogram of bodyweight seems to be pushing the limits of safety. The upper limit however is a moving line, and people who are new to it may find that this dose causes significant side effects.

Related articles Nootropics GABA Probiotics Tea tree oil Recap

Calamus can help with a wide variety of ailments, including digestive disorders, blood circulation, and healing skin issues. It’s been used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine and has a long track record of being safe and effective.  

There are several sources that suggest that the recommended daily consumption of the drug is 0.115mg (115µg) a day. It has been seen that usage of beta-asarone for more than two years results in very high in toxicity levels, which makes it unfit for consumption.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 recommended calamus supplement, click here.

The post Ranking the best calamus of 2022 appeared first on BodyNutrition.

- John Davis
Ranking the best cholesterol supplements of 2022

Cholesterol supplements are designed to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level. They do this using a variety of different methods and ingredients.

If your cholesterol levels are too high, you are at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke, so it is vital to lower them to a healthy level. Generally, this is done through both medication and diet. However, supplements can also play a key role when used correctly.

Here are some of our favorite supplements for lowering cholesterol levels:

Rankings 1. CholestAid

CholestAid

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This supplement contains 500 mg of niacinamide, which can lower your LDL levels. Plus, it also contains a variety of other expert-chosen ingredients, like red yeast rice and garlic powder.

It also promotes the creation of healthy HDL cholesterol to keep your heart healthy. For these reasons, it is Bodynutrition’s #1 pick.

 2. Nature Made CholestOff Complete Softgels

Nature Made CholestOff Complete Softgels

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One inexpensive bottle of Nature Made CholestOFF contains a 20-day supply of cholesterol-lowering softgels. It contains a variety of ingredients designed to help lower your harmful cholesterol levels, including plant sterols.

It works by directly reducing the amount of cholesterol produced by your liver.

3. Zhou Garlic

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If you want a single-ingredient cholesterol supplement, Zhou Garlic is an excellent choice. It provides a potent dosage, and its garlic extract is standardized to a pre-specified concentration of allicin, the biologically active ingredient in garlic. This means that you’re getting a consistent, high-powered dose every time. 

4. Genius Heart and Cardiovascular Health Supplement

Genius Heart and Cardiovascular Health Supplement

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These supplements contain a variety of ingredients, including grape seed extract and vitamin K2. This pill may help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and improve your cardiac function and health.

It also contains several other ingredients to improve your heart health, making it an excellent choice for those worried about their heart health.

5. BRI Nutrition Odorless garlic

BRI Nutrition Odorless garlic

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Garlic has been linked to lower levels of cholesterol in some cases. Because of this, taking garlic as a supplement may help you lower your cholesterol levels.

Each bottle comes with a 60-day supply, and they are incredibly inexpensive, so nothing is keeping you from trying them.

6. Citrus Bergamot Capsules

Citrus Bergamot Capsules

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This formula is patented and clinically-proven. It is designed to help maintain healthy blood glucose levels while also increasing HDL cholesterol. In some cases, it may help with your weight as well.

These pills are organic, natural, and vegan. They are also made in the USA and tested for purity.

7. New Health HeartSavior Lower Cholesterol and Heart Health Supplement

New Health HeartSavior Lower Cholesterol and Heart Health Supplement

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This supplement contains six ingredients that may help lower your overall cholesterol levels and promote the creation of good cholesterol. It includes plant sterols and stanols, which decrease the amount of LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream.

This supplement is backed with a 90-day guarantee.

8. Qunol Ultra CoQ10 100mg

Qunol Ultra CoQ10 100mg

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These soft gels contain the perfect amount of CoQ10, which can lower your LDL cholesterol levels. They are 100% water and fat-soluble, allowing your body to use the contents of these pills faster.

These may be particularly useful for statin drug users, as some studies have shown particularly good results when this supplement is paired with that particular drug.

9. NOW Supplements Cholesterol Pro

NOW Supplements Cholesterol Pro

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If you’re worried about your cardiovascular health, this supplement may be a great choice. It contains two ingredients that may be beneficial to your heart health. Plus, it is also soy-free and non-GMO.

It is made in a GMP-quality assured lab, so you can rest assured that the quality is fantastic. They are also packaged in the USA.

10. 1MD CholestMD

MD CholestMD

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This supplement is specially formulated to support your heart health, which can help you with your cholesterol levels as well. It is designed to help you reach healthy cholesterol levels as quickly as possible by using tested ingredients like garlic extract and red yeast rice.

Category winners

Best cholesterol supplement overall: Essential Elements CholestAid

Essential Elements uses a combo of niacin, red yeast rice, pine bark extract, and garlic powder to tamp down on cholesterol levels. Its focus on only the most effective natural supplements for cholesterol makes it a particularly attractive choice, and propels it to the top of our rankings. 

Best cholesterol supplement with red yeast rice: Essential Elements CholestAid

Red yeast rice is known for its particularly potent effect on cholesterol levels, and when it comes to supplements that incorporate it, Essential Elements is our favorite since the only other ingredients (garlic, niacin, niacinamide, and pine bark extract) are also well-known for their cholesterol control effects–it’s not bloated with extraneous compounds. 

Best cholesterol supplement for overall heart health: Genius Heart

Genius Heart uses a cutting-edge blend of ingredients that target cholesterol alongside other components of heart health. These ingredients include vitamin K2, pantethine, grape seed extract, and CoQ10, which work together to balance cholesterol levels, and this combo makes it our favorite when it comes to a cholesterol supplement that takes a more comprehensive approach for heart health. 

Best garlic-based cholesterol supplement: Zhou Nutrition Garlic

The lowly garlic clove is the source of allicin, a powerful cholesterol-modulating compound that’s one of the most common single-ingredient cholesterol supplements. Zhou makes our favorite garlic-based cholesterol control supplement since it’s got an excellent, standardized dose of allicin

Best cholesterol supplement for people losing weight: Genius Heart

If you’re on a diet and want a supplement that addresses cholesterol levels while also emphasizing other aspects of cardiovascular health, Genius Heart is our recommended pick. With vitamin K2 for vascular health and cholesterol, CoQ10 for better cardiac function, and grape seed extract for blood pressure control, it’s a great companion for the health benefits that go alongside weight loss.

Best cholesterol supplement with bergamot: Double Wood Supplements Citrus Bergamot Extract

Bergamot is a potent citrus-based supplement that many people use for cholesterol control, and for this purpose Double Wood is our recommendation. Its high potency and minimalist design makes it the best option if you’re using citrus bergamia for cholesterol control. 

Who should buy a cholesterol supplement?

Cholesterol supplements are usually taken by those who need to lower the LDL cholesterol levels. Most people realize that their levels are off after a trip to their doctor. Typically, they are given medication and prompted to make dietary changes. However, supplements can also be used besides these strategies to see faster results.

If this describes you, a cholesterol supplement may be just what you’re looking for. These supplements contain a wide variety of ingredients. If one doesn’t work, another one might. Feel free to try multiple supplements to find which one works best for you.

Cholesterol supplements may also be useful for those who are worried about their heart health. Many of these supplements are also very heart-healthy, which is extremely useful if you’re at risk for heart disease or other heart problems. Whether you have a family history of heart disease or just want to protect your heart, these supplements can also be useful in these cases.

How we ranked

When ranking each product, we first considered how safe each supplement was. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, which means they can contain just about anything. Because of this, it is vital to check the safety of a cholesterol supplement before you purchase it.

Preferably, you should purchase a supplement made from a GMP-certified facility. These facilities are regulated by the FDA, even if the supplements produced in them aren’t. That means that you can rest assured there won’t be anything dangerous in the facility.

If you can’t get a supplement made in a GMP-facility, ensure that the pills at least come from the USA, UK, or a similar country. These countries have banned dangerous ingredients so that they won’t end up in your supplement.

Secondly, we also considered the ingredients in each supplement. Some ingredients work better than others. Preferably, you want to choose a supplement with scientifically-proven ingredients. You at least know that these ingredients work some of the time and aren’t just old wives’ tales.

Of course, these ingredients still might not work the same for everyone. So, you should plan on potentially trying many different supplements before you settle on one. You should stick with each supplement for at least three months to feel its maximum effects.

Finally, we considered the overall effectiveness of each supplement. You can gleam this somewhat from customer reviews. If reviews are mostly positive, the supplement is probably pretty useful.

The overall effectiveness is derived from both the ingredients and dosage.

Benefits

Cholesterol supplements often contain garlic. How exactly garlic works isn’t well-known. It may have some cholesterol-lowering effects and may prevent heart disease according to one study (1). This particular study was a meta-analysis, which means it looked at a wide variety of different studies to draw a single, over-arching conclusion.

They concluded that garlic powder could reduce LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and a variety of other risk factors that may make you more likely to experience heart disease. However, they also decided that variations in conclusions drawn by different studies may have been the result of different processing procedures by the garlic powder each study used.

In other words, the garlic powder you get does matter. You want a high-quality powder that is highly concentrated, or it might not work.

While the effects of garlic on cholesterol are a little confusing, there is substantial evidence that it can affect things like blood pressure. So, even if it doesn’t lower your cholesterol substantially, it may reduce your other risk factors for heart problems (2).

Cholesterol supplements also contain red yeast rice in most cases. Out of all the supplements we looked at, the vast majority of them contain red yeast rice. This ingredient can lower your LDL cholesterol levels because it contains a chemical known as monacolin K.

This chemical has the same chemical makeup as lovastatin, which is a cholesterol-lowering medicine.

However, it is tough to find monacolin K in red yeast rice in the USA. Here, it is labeled as a medicine, so it cannot be sold as a supplement (3). Because of this, most of the red yeast rice in supplements do not do much to lower your cholesterol. Still, there is some evidence that it might still work, just at a slightly lower level.

Cholesterol supplements are natural. When it comes to taking supplements, it requires little to no effort on your part. All you have to do is purchase the correct supplement and then take it as instructed. Compared to other strategies for lowering your cholesterol, this is extremely easy.

Most of the time, cholesterol is controlled using diet and medication. When combined with these strategies, supplements can be beneficial, and won’t require significantly more effort on your part. This is one of the reasons many people turn to supplements when they learn that their cholesterol is too high.

Cholesterol supplements can reduce cholesterol quickly. Not all medications and cholesterol controlling strategies are made equally. Some are good at reducing cholesterol over time, but generally not very good at reducing cholesterol quickly. This is where supplements can be helpful. Many of them are very good at lowering cholesterol quickly.

If you’re worried about your cholesterol and want to lower it quickly, you need all the help you can get. If this describes you, look for supplements that are designed to lower cholesterol quickly.

Cholesterol supplements can prevent heart problems. One of the reasons that lowering your LDL cholesterol is so important is because it is associated with a variety of heart effects. This fatty-like substance can build up in your bloodstream and narrow or block arteries. Blocked arteries are not right.

Your liver produces all the cholesterol you need. But you often consume a lot with your food as well. However, all of this cholesterol is simply “extra.” It is recommended to eat as little cholesterol as possible, especially if you have problems with your heart or circulation (4). Having elevated LDL cholesterol levels has been associated with an increased risk of heart problems (5).

Because cholesterol is so innately tied to heart health, taking a cholesterol supplement can improve your overall heart health and prevent heart problems before they start. Untreated heart disease can be quite severe and can lead to everything from heart damage due to a lack of oxygen to heart failure.

Cholesterol supplements can prevent strokes. There is no direct link between cholesterol and stroke. There is no study showing a clear link between the two (6).

However, some studies have found that there may be an indirect link (7). One particular study found that a thickening of the carotid artery might be a predictor of a stroke. Reducing cholesterol was found to prevent the thickening of the carotid artery. In this way, cholesterol might be indirectly related to strokes.

It is generally suggested that patients who have previously had a stroke should take statins to reduce their risk of another one. So, even if there is no direct evidence, the medical community generally accepts that there is likely some link between high cholesterol and strokes.

When you take a cholesterol supplement, your cholesterol may lower, which would prevent strokes. This may be particularly valuable in people who have other risk factors.

Cholesterol supplements may be able to help those with diabetes. Diabetes and cholesterol have a strange relationship. Those with diabetes tend to have more LDL particles that stick to arteries. They also tend to have damaged blood vessels more commonly from the presence of LDL. Because of this, cholesterol and diabetes tend to go hand-in-hand.

If you have diabetes, you may want to consider taking a cholesterol supplement to prevent diabetes from forming. Of course, you should also speak to your doctor and learn about other ways you can lower your chance of developing diabetes.

Cholesterol supplements can prevent high blood pressure. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are linked very closely. When your arteries are hardened and clogged with fat, your heart has to pump harder to work. This leads to your blood pressure rising.

Blood pressure is also associated with an increased chance of heart disease, as well as a variety of other health problems.

When you can a cholesterol supplement and lower your LDL cholesterol, you may also be lowering your chance for high blood pressure and preventing yet another factor associated with heart problems.

Side Effects

Cholesterol supplements can interfere with other medications. Some cholesterol supplements can interfere with some medications, especially those that treat diabetes. This is because many cholesterol supplements mirror the way that certain medications treat cholesterol. If you take a supplement and a medication, you may end up taking way more than you need.

It is essential to choose the cholesterol supplements you take carefully when you’re on medications. You don’t want to lower your cholesterol too much since your body does need cholesterol to function. You want cholesterol in your system, just not too much.

Cholesterol supplements can cause muscle pain and damage. This is especially true for supplements that contain statins, which include quite a few that we reviewed (8). Often, this pain is some sort of soreness or tiredness. While these muscle pain can occur after physical exercise, muscle pain caused by cholesterol supplements won’t have any apparent cause.

However, there is some confusion involved here. The risk of muscle pain when taking a statin only increases by about 5%, so it is still quite rare. But, the number of people who complain about muscle pain is higher when they’re taking a statin than when they’re not – even when they’re taking a placebo. In other words, if people know that their medication might cause muscle pain, they’re more likely to cause muscle pain.

Many of these patients might be mis-associating their muscle pain with their medication when that might not be the case.

Cholesterol supplements can cause a variety of side effects. On top of muscle pain, some supplements can also cause other side effects. Most of these only apply to supplements that contain statins. Most others do not cause high levels of side effects or any side effects at all. Because of this, side effects are more of an issue when you are taking statin-containing drugs.

Side effects, including things like headaches, difficulty sleeping, flushing, drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea. Sometimes, abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea is also common. In these cases, taking the supplement with food can help prevent gastrointestinal symptoms in many cases (9).

Dosage

You should always follow the dosage instructions on the back of the supplement bottle you purchase. Different supplements have different ingredients and different concentrations. Because of this, we cannot provide an overarching dosage for all supplements.

Instead, we highly recommend following the dosage instructions that go with your supplement. Most companies have their dosage at that particular level for a reason, so it is essential to stick with their instructions.

FAQ

What is the best natural cholesterol-lowering supplement?

We reviewed many different supplements, but our favorite was by far CholestAid. This supplement provides targeted cardiovascular support, which includes balancing your cholesterol levels. It is an expert-formulated pill that includes everything from niacinamide and garlic powder. It also includes a variety of other heart-supporting ingredients for well-rounded heart health.

This combination of ingredients is often better than a single ingredient for lowering your cholesterol. You never know how you may interact with a particular ingredient. Some may not work for you at all, even if they have performed well in clinical trials. Because of this, this supplement works well for many more people than other single-ingredient supplements.

Do cholesterol supplements reduce cholesterol fast?

Yes, many do. Many are very good at reducing cholesterol levels quickly. However, it depends on the ingredients in the supplement, as well as their potency. Some are quite good at reducing it quickly, while others are more of a long-term solution.

We recommend trying one with multiple ingredients in it is possible. This increases the chance that you’ll react positively to the supplement and that your cholesterol levels will get lowered quickly.

Do any supplements lower cholesterol?

Yes. Many supplements can lower your cholesterol. Those with garlic are very common. You can even get supplements that contain plant statins, which are very commonly used for the treatment of high cholesterol.

We reviewed tons of supplements previously in this article, so you should be able to find a great supplement there.

What vitamins are good for cholesterol?

Niacin is a B vitamin that is commonly used to boost good cholesterol by lowering bad cholesterol. This is often used as a prescription for lowering cholesterol, so you may be able to get a high-dose from your doctor.

However, you can also find lower doses available in a supplemental form that you can purchase without a prescription.

Do turmeric cholesterol supplements lower cholesterol?

Yes. To a point. Studies have found that turmeric can lower the overall amount of cholesterol in your system, which includes LDL cholesterol (10). These effects are quite significant. Still, turmeric works best when used alongside other supplements and treatments – just like most supplements.

We recommend choosing a supplement containing multiple ingredients to ensure that you’re covering all your basis. It is best if you can enact dietary changes as well. Work with your doctor to figure out the best plan for you.

What is the best over the counter medicine for high cholesterol?

We prefer CholestAid for lowering cholesterol. It contains a variety of high-quality ingredients that are designed to prevent the build-up of fats in your arteries and support your heart health. Its ingredients include niacinamide, garlic powder, and pine bark extract – many of which can help lower your overall cholesterol levels.

It also dissolves very quickly, so your body can more efficiently utilize the ingredients within it.

Do you have to walk for a cholesterol supplement to work?

Walking can help lower cholesterol. However, it works better for some people than others. For example, those who have diabetes may benefit most from walking. Typically, though, you don’t have to walk extra. Instead, you just need to meet the minimum requirement for adult exercise every day – which is about 30 to 40 minutes of moderate exercise.

However, while walking can be useful for lowering your overall cholesterol levels, it is not necessary to walk to make a supplement work. Many work by themselves just fine. Still, you may notice better results if you walk as well since you’ll be attacking your cholesterol levels while you’re at it.

Can green tea supplements lower cholesterol?

There is little evidence that green tea supplements can lower your cholesterol. Green tea supplements are best known for helping you lose weight. If you weigh less, you may inadvertently lower your cholesterol. Because of this, there are some claims on the internet that green tea supplements can lower your cholesterol directly, but this is likely, not true.

Some evidence has found that a specific antioxidant found in green tea can help lower cholesterol, but this has not been studied substantially. More research is needed before we know for sure whether or not this supplement helps lower cholesterol levels.

How can I naturally lower my cholesterol?

There are many ways to lower your cholesterol naturally. One of these ways is to use a cholesterol supplement. These contain ingredients that may be able to lower your cholesterol naturally. How they work depends mostly on the ingredients. Some work inside the liver to prevent more cholesterol from being made, while others affect the cholesterol already in your bloodstream.

There are other ways to lower your cholesterol as well naturally. Walking is a common and very accessible way to lower your cholesterol. Dietary changes are also widespread and suggested by most doctors. Cholesterol problems are primarily caused by consuming too much cholesterol in your diet. Therefore, if you lower the amount of cholesterol you’re consuming, you’ll also lower the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream.

Related articles Green Tea Extract Weight Loss Tips CoQ10 Garlic Recap

Cholesterol supplements contain a wide range of ingredients that work in different ways to lower your cholesterol. There are plenty of supplements out there for you to choose from, so it is often in your best interest to try a few before settling on one.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 recommended cholesterol supplement, click here.

The post Ranking the best cholesterol supplements of 2022 appeared first on BodyNutrition.

- John Davis
Ranking the best blood sugar supplements of 2022

Blood sugar supplements are designed to support your body’s natural blood sugar regulation. Blood sugar is a vital part of our health. If it gets thrown off, we can develop diabetes.

A surprisingly high percentage of the population already has prediabetes, though most of the time, this disease goes undiagnosed (1).

You can support your body’s natural ability to regulate your blood sugar with a supporting supplement. While these supplements won’t cure diabetes or prediabetes, they can be helpful alongside a dietary change.

Here are some of the best supplements on the market for regulating blood sugar:

Rankings 1. GluControl

GluControl

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GluControl is specifically designed to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It uses a targeted blend of all-natural ingredients, including cinnamon, lion’s mane, and milk thistle, to better regulate blood sugar, all without extraneous ingredients. This precision blend makes it our number one pick.

2. Dr. Bo Glucose Support

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Dr. Bo incorporates a diverse blend of vitamins, minerals, and supplemental extracts, and the ingredients it uses do a great job covering all your bases from boosting fat oxidation to exerting tighter control over glucose levels.

It’s an especially good choice for people dieting to lose weight, since its inclusion of ingredients like cayenne pepper and L-taurine are thought to have effects on fat oxidation. 

3. NOW Glucose Metabolic Support

NOW Glucose Metabolic Support

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NOW is a popular supplement brand, and this particular supplement is designed to support your blood sugar and metabolic rate. It includes a variety of ingredients, including Gymnema extract.

Unlike most blood sugar supplements, this one does not rely on cinnamon. If other supplements haven’t worked for you, this one may be worth trying since it uses different ingredients.

5. Hyperbiotics Glucose Support

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Inspired by the latest research on the relationship between gut bacteria and glucose control, Hyperbiotics uses a blend of seven different probiotic bacteria plus banaba leaf extract and vitamin D.

It’s a blend of ingredients designed to work alongside the probiotics, making it a solid choice if you want a more advanced approach to glucose control. 

5. Arazo Blood Sugar Support

Blood Sugar Support

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This is another scientifically formulated supplement that includes 20 different ingredients. It features a unique combination of ingredients like licorice, cayenne, and juniper berry.

While this supplement is designed to support your blood sugar levels first and foremost, it can also support weight loss and reduce sugar absorption.

6. Premium Blood Sugar Support Supplement by PurePremium

Premium Blood Sugar Support Supplement by PurePremium

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PurePremium uses a blend of conventional vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and chromium, alongside a selection of glucose-oriented supplements: banaba, guggul, bitter melon, and cinnamon being the principal ones.

As with some of the other broad-based glucose control supplements, it’s a good fallback if more focused supplements aren’t giving you the results you want. 

7. Blood Sugar Lowering Supplement by AmericonPlus

Blood Sugar Lowering Supplement by AmericonPlus

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This blood sugar supplement contains many different ingredients, including cinnamon, chromium, and white mulberry leaf extract. Because it includes so many different ingredients, it may work for you when other supplements have not.

It aims to make your blood sugar more consistent and is formulated to be taken with every meal.

8. Premium Blood Sugar Support Supplement by Sunergetic

Premium Blood Sugar Support Supplement by Sunergetic

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With cinnamon and a variety of other herbs, this supplement can support your blood sugar levels and overall health. It features a unique blend of over 15 herbs, including things like yarrow flower and cinnamon.

Plus, this supplement is made in a GMP-certified facility.

9. Nutrivein Premium Berberine

Nutrivein Premium Berberine

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This supplement relies mostly on cinnamon and berberine to work. Both of these ingredients are proven to work in a scientific setting, but they may not work for everyone.

Still, if you’ve never tried a blood sugar review previously, this one may work appropriately for you. Plus, it’s inexpensive.

10. LifeSeasons Glucose Stabili-T

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LifeSeasons takes a multi-ingredient approach to glucose control, leaning on extracts both from common supplements like fenugreek, cinnamon, and banaba, to more obscure ingredients like vanadium, holy basil, and gotu kola leaf, for its glucose control effects.

This broad-based approach might be worth a shot if simpler blood sugar supplements with fewer ingredients aren’t cutting it for you. 

Category winners

Best blood sugar supplement overall: Essential Elements GluControl

Essential Elements uses a blend of natural extracts from cinnamon, berberine, milk thistle, and lion’s mane, plus metabolism-boosting supplements like chromium picolinate, to modulate glucose balance in your body. The comprehensive approach to this blood sugar supplement makes it our top recommendation. 

Best blood sugar supplement for the keto diet: Essential Elements GluControl

If you want to ensure your glucose control is optimized when on the keto diet, the carefully-designed ingredients in Essential Elements GluControl is the way to go. With potent compounds like cinnamon extract, lion’s mane mushroom, and milk thistle seed, it’s built for the kind of metabolic flexibility you need for the ketogenic diet. 

Best blood sugar supplement for women: NOW Glucose Metabolic Support

NOW Glucose Metabolic Support’s use of B vitamins plus banaba, gymnema sylvestre, and a few trace minerals makes it a focused glucose control supplement that’s great for women looking for a targeted approach that integrates well with other supplements. 

Best blood sugar supplement with cinnamon: Essential Elements GluControl

Cinnamon extract exerts a surprising amount of influence on glucose metabolism, and it’s one of the simplest and most well-known supplements for blood sugar control. Essential Elements GluControl does a great job of integrating the effects of cinnamon alongside other glucose control supplements, so if you want a supplement for metabolic control that leverages cinnamon, look no further than Essential Elements. 

Best blood sugar supplement for weight loss: Dr. Bo Glucose Support

If you’re on a diet, Dr. Bo is a great choice since many of its ingredients are designed to both exert glucose control and boost fat oxidation. Its inclusion of both cayenne pepper and L-taurine is especially helpful in this department, which make it our recommendation for people looking to lose weight. 

Best blood sugar supplement with probiotics: Hyperbiotics Glucose Support

Gut bacteria have a big impact on how your body absorbs carbohydrates, which in turn affects your blood sugar. When it comes to blood sugar supplements that leverage the benefits of probiotic bacteria, there’s no better option than Hyperbiotics Glucose Support. With five billion colony-forming units of  seven strains of probiotic bacteria plus banaba leaf and vitamin D, it’s the best supplement for leveraging gut bacteria for metabolic health. 

Who should buy a blood sugar supplement?

Blood sugar supplements are designed to help your body naturally regulate your blood sugar. They are particularly helpful for those with prediabetes or diabetes who are trying to control their disease using diet and exercise.

These pills are not a cure for diabetes, but their natural ingredients can help control your blood sugar and evening it out.

Of course, just like any medication, some supplements may work wonders for you, while others might not work at all. We highly recommend trying out multiple supplements before you dismiss them all.

If you already have diabetes and are on medication, discuss these supplements with your doctor. Some ingredients can interfere with diabetes medication since both are performing the same job. Plus, you may need to decrease your medication at some point as the supplements begin to take effect.

While these supplements are mostly for treating and managing prediabetes and diabetes, they may also help those who are overweight lose a bit of weight. Many have the added side effect of lowering the absorption rate of sugar and carbohydrates, which can lower the number of calories your body absorbs.

Furthermore, many of these supplements also increase your metabolic rate. This may help you burn more calories than you would otherwise, which can lead to higher levels of weight loss.

How we ranked

When we looked at each supplement, the first factor we considered what how safe that supplement was. While we would like all supplements to be upheld to the same safety standards, that just doesn’t happen in reality. The FDA does not regulate these supplements, which means they are made to varying standards.

The safest supplements are those that are made in FDA-certified labs and facilities. While the supplements themselves aren’t regulated, FDA-certified facilities are. This makes them significantly safer than other supplements.

We also aimed to only used supplements that were made in the USA, UK, or Australia. In these countries, certain dangerous ingredients are banned. This is not true for all countries, though, which is why it is essential to only purchase from countries with strict regulations.

After checking for safety, we considered how effective the supplement was. Many of the supplements on our list include cinnamon and other scientifically-proven ingredients. Because these ingredients have been tested and proven in a scientific setting, we preferred supplements that included them.

We also took a look at the customer reviews. While these aren’t always accurate, a lot of bad reviews are a warning sign – while a lot of good reviews may be a reason to rank a product even higher.

Finally, the ease of use and dosage amounts are also important. In general, most people don’t want to take multiple pills a day. However, some supplements are designed to be taken with every meal.

Generally, we ranked these supplements lower than others, just because it was going to be more challenging to take them properly.

Benefits

Blood sugar supplements contain cinnamon. Studies have shown that cinnamon can improve diabetes control (2).

One particular study found that people with prediabetes experienced an 8.4% decrease in their fasting blood sugar after taking 250 mg of cinnamon before breakfast and dinner for three months (3). That is a substantial decrease. For some participants, it was enough to take them out of the prediabetes category.

Another study followed people with type 2 diabetes. These participants took either 120 mg or 360 mg of cinnamon before breakfast for three months. At the end of the study, they experienced an 11% or 14% reduction in fasting blood sugar, respectively (4).

Furthermore, this study found that their blood sugar average over three-months decreased by about 0.67% to 0.92%.

Cinnamon works in this manner because it improves your body’s response to insulin. This means that your body has to produce less insulin to work, which is essential if you have diabetes. Furthermore, this also allows your cells to absorb sugars easier and at a faster rate, which brings down your blood sugar levels even more.

One point of interest is that regular cinnamon contains quite a bit of coumarin, which can harm your liver. Luckily, the Ceylon variety of cinnamon contains much less coumarin. Most of the supplements we reviewed contain Ceylon cinnamon for this reason.

Blood sugar supplements contain berberine. Berberine is another common ingredient in blood sugar supplements because it can help lower your blood sugar according to a few scientific studies.

One extensive study review that looked at 27 different studies found that people with type 2 diabetes who took berberine alongside diet and lifestyle changes experienced a reduction in fasting blood sugar by about 15.5 mg/dl. This is a significant drop (5).

This review also noted that taking berberine alongside diabetes medication lowered participant’s blood sugar significantly more than just medication alone.

Berberine is thought to help with blood sugar because it may improve insulin sensitivity and help sugar pass into your muscles easier (6).

Our only point of contention with berberine is that it needs to be taken a few times a day with meals to work correctly. Otherwise, you won’t see significant results. Furthermore, this extract may also cause digestive disturbances, including constipation, gas, and diarrhea. For this reason, a lower dose of 300 mg is often recommended.

Berberine can also interact with a few medications, so it is essential to check with your doctor before taking it.

Blood sugar supplements are natural. Perhaps the most significant benefit of blood sugar supplements is that they are effortless to take. It requires very little planning to take a pill every morning. Even if you choose a supplement that requires you to take a dose multiple times a day, that is still much easier than some of the other methods of balancing blood sugar.

Blood sugar supplements are so easy and accessible that they are often paired with other methods of lowering blood sugar as well, such as dietary changes and exercise. Studies have shown that they work even better when used alongside these other methods.

If you have high blood sugar, there is very little reason not to take a blood sugar supplement. They’re easy to take and accessible to nearly everyone.

Blood sugar supplements may help you lose weight. In some cases, the supplements we included in our review may also help you lose weight. Many claim to improve your metabolic rate, which can increase the number of calories you burn daily.

Plus, when your blood sugar is more balanced, you’re less likely to experience cravings and binge on snacks – which is common when your blood sugar gets too low. With this snacking gone from your diet, you may be able to lose weight more quickly.

Obesity does increase your chance of diabetes and prediabetes. So, these supplements might help you even more by lowering your weight as well as balancing out your blood sugar. It is a win-win situation.

Blood sugar supplements contain a variety of ingredients. While most supplements use berberine or cinnamon to reduce your blood sugar levels, this is not true for all supplements. Some use a variety of other ingredients that have varying levels of effectiveness.

However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because there are so many supplements out there that use a variety of ingredients, it is possible to find one that works for you even if the usual ingredients don’t.

With that said, it often takes up to three months for a supplement to begin working. You may not see the full results until you’ve been taking one particular supplement regularly for a few months; it takes a bit before it builds up enough in your bloodstream. Because of this, you need to try one supplement for a while before switching to a new one.

Still, it is a massive bonus that there are other supplements available for you to switch to.

Side effects

Blood sugar supplements may interact with certain medications. If you’re on a separate medication for your blood sugar levels, some of these supplements may interact. Having blood sugar that is too low is potentially deadly. If your blood sugar stays too low for too long, you can enter a coma and potentially die.

Because of this, it is essential to use these supplements by themselves. If you’re on some sort of other diabetic medication, you should work closely with your doctor to use the correct dosages. Your diabetic medication may need to be lowered as you use these supplements as well, so be sure to mention that you’re taking them to your doctor.

Blood sugar supplements are not a cure. While we all wish we could cure diabetes and prediabetes with a pill, this is not possible. These supplements can help you manage your blood sugar and keep it at a safe level. However, they are not going to be a complete cure for your condition. Insulin and other medication will likely be necessary.

With all these treatments together, though, you may find yourself managing your situation better than you could otherwise.

We recommend using these supplements carefully and alongside your usual medication. Speak with your doctor if you’re afraid of any interactions or if you think your medication might need to be lowered.

Blood sugar supplements don’t work for everyone. While some studies did find positive effects on blood sugar levels when using these supplements, this was not true for everyone. Some studies found little to no effect (7).

You may try a supplement and not experience anything. If this happens, feel free to try another since many do contain different ingredients. Some ingredients work better for some people than others, so it may take some experimentation to discover a supplement that will work for you. Keep in mind that it may take up to three months for a supplement to begin working as well. You should stick with a single supplement for at least three months before switching to something else.

Recommended dosage

There are quite a few different ingredients that blood sugar supplements can contain. Each of these ingredients has its important dosage information. Of course, the potency matters as well, which can vary quite a bit from supplement to supplement.

You should follow the dosage instructions on the back of the supplement bottle that you decide to use. Each company will have its own dosage information depending on what is in their pills and the potency of their ingredients. Some require only one pill a day, while others require that their pills be taken with food.

If your supplement calls for you to take it alongside a meal, you must follow these instructions as carefully as possible. If you don’t, you may find that the supplement doesn’t work correctly. Many that require to be taken alongside a meal only work for the meal that they are taken with. If you do not take the pill with a meal, it will not work.

FAQ

Do blood sugar supplements work?

Yes, there are a variety of ingredients that do work to some extent when taken long-term. Cinnamon is the most obvious example of this and has the most scientific research available to back it up. However, other ingredients exist as well, such as berberine. Most supplements out there include one of these ingredients, but this isn’t always necessarily true. Others rely on other ingredients instead, which have varying degrees of effectiveness.

The key to choosing a blood sugar supplement that works is to pay attention to the ingredients. Some are scientifically proven, and some are not. The potency and amounts also matter.

Generally, you should stick with a single supplement for at least three months before calling it off. It can take that long and even longer for it to work correctly.

How can I naturally lower my blood sugar?

Your blood sugar can be lowered best through diet. What you eat has a direct effect on your blood sugar. When you eat foods, they are digested into sugars, which are then absorbed into your bloodstream. This raises your blood sugar. If you eat fewer carbohydrates, your blood sugar will be lower. You can also concentrate on eating foods higher in fiber, as fiber will slow down your digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes.

Another way to slowly lower your blood sugar naturally is to take a blood sugar supplement. These supplements contain ingredients that have been scientifically proven to lower blood sugar levels. Many of these supplements contain things like cinnamon or berberine, which have both lowered blood sugar levels in clinical trials. These supplements are not cures, but they can add to your overall success, especially when paired with a healthy diet.

As a bonus, many of these supplements can also help you lose weight. This may also improve your insulin levels.

What do blood sugar support supplements do?

Blood sugar support supplements work in a variety of ways, depending on the exact ingredients in the supplement. Most help your body’s natural blood sugar regulation systems work even better. They may improve your insulin sensitivity, which makes your body react to less insulin. This helps counteract the effects of diabetes, which does the exact opposite. Sometimes, these supplements may improve the amount of glucose your cells use, effectively lowering your blood sugar.

Others might have secondary effects that help lower your blood sugar over time, like making you feel fuller so that you lose weight. Others include minerals and vitamins to support your hormonal level, which may also affect your insulin levels.

The exact way these supplements work depends on the ingredients. Luckily, they can work in a variety of different ways. Therefore, if one doesn’t work for you, you may be able to switch to a different supplement that works differently.

Can blood sugar supplements reverse diabetes?

No – not by themselves, at least. There is a large variety of ways you can help keep your diabetes in check. Blood sugar supplements are just one of these ways. While they can help lower your fasting blood sugar by a decent amount, they are not a cure. They also work differently depending on the exact cause of your diabetes and what other interventions you’re trying.

They can be a substantial part of a larger plan that includes dietary changes and exercise. Many supplements work great when paired with these more traditional interventions. But they are not going to reverse diabetes all by themselves.

How long does it take for a blood sugar supplement to work?

It usually takes about three months for a blood sugar supplement to reach peak effectiveness. It will likely start working before then, but you probably won’t notice the full effects until around three months of taking the supplement regularly.

Because it takes a decent amount of time before the supplement starts working, it is crucial to stick with a supplement for the full three-month period even if you aren’t noticing much difference.

If you wait for three months and still aren’t happy with the results, consider switching to a different supplement with different ingredients. Different ingredients lower your blood sugar in different ways. So, if one doesn’t work, there is still a decent chance that another one will. Your body just might not have reacted particularly well to the first one you tried.

Do I have to take blood sugar supplements with meals?

Sometimes. Some ingredients work right away for a short period. These ingredients should be taken alongside a meal so that they work on the food you eat. If you take them without eating, the effects will wear off before any food is digested, which results in them doing little to nothing.

Not all supplements work like this, though. Some ingredients work for a decently long amount of time. These supplements can be taken in the morning and work for the rest of the day.

Check the dosage instructions for the particular supplement you’re taking for the best way forward with your supplement. If, when you take pills, is essential to you, be sure to check the dosage instructions before you purchase a supplement.

Related articles Weight loss tips Low carb protein powders Weight loss diets Cinnamon Recap

Blood sugar supplements can be part of diabetes or prediabetes management strategies. Many contain scientifically-proven ingredients that may lower your blood sugar, including cinnamon and berberine. These supplements usually take about three months to work, and the degree that they work varies from person to person.

Luckily, there are quite a few different supplements out there. If one doesn’t work, odds are a different one will.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 recommended blood sugar supplement, click here.

The post Ranking the best blood sugar supplements of 2022 appeared first on BodyNutrition.

- John Davis
Ranking the best fat burners for women of 2022

Women have it especially difficult when it comes to burning fat.

With naturally higher levels of body fat, plus lower levels of testosterone and lean muscle mass (both of which help with fat burning), women often have a harder time staying lean.

The right fat burning supplement can make this process much easier. However, the quality of a supplement is going to be the key determining factor when it comes to whether it will help you cut fat, look leaner, and feel stronger.

While there’s no shortcut to burning off excess fat, the right supplement can make the task a lot easier. All else equal, with a good fat burning supplement, women can augment their natural fat burning abilities so they can not just look leaner and healthier, but be leaner and healthier.

Our research team tested the best fat burners for women. Here are our top picks.

Rankings 1. LeanBean

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With the ringing endorsement of everyone from Instagram models to fitness gurus, LeanBean is the trendiest fat burner for women.

We like these testimonials from LeanBean users:

It uses a combination of thermogenics like green coffee bean extract and green tea extract, along with the satiating power of glucomannan and the appetite suppressant and fat burning effects of cayenne pepper extract.

These premium ingredients combined make it our overall winner.

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2. Hourglass

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Although new to the scene, Hourglass fat burner has been well received and is making a real splash in the supplement industry. It’s backed by a range of testimonials, and it is specifically designed to be a female-friendly formula.

The creators at Propura have gone for a stimulant-free approach, using powerful thermogenics like cayenne pepper and green tea extract to deliver an impressive metabolism boost. It also provides a range of vitamins to support your overall health.

On top of that, they’ve used a highly-tested appetite suppressant, glucomannan, which is a key part of any women’s fat burner – especially if you often give in to cravings.

Hourglass is a great supplement, with great ingredients, and backed by great research. It’s one of our favorite fat burners for women.

3. Powher

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Powher is a brand-new supplement engineered specifically to be a fat burner for women.

The is a new supplement that has a strong focus on appetite suppression, with glucomannan being the flagship ingredient.

Food safety authorities in Europe published a review of this ingredient. Here’s what they said:

“At least 3 g of glucomannan should be consumed daily in three doses of at least 1 g each, together with 1-2 glasses of water before meals, in the context of an energy-restricted diet”

And guess what? This is the exact amount contained in a daily dose of Powher Cut, and each daily dose is split into three capsules.

Also in the formula are choline, chromium picolinate, magnesium, selenium, and iron: all ingredients with their own solid weight loss credentials. They will underpin the appetite suppressing effects of glucomannan with a boosted metabolism, and topped up energy levels.

All in all, this is a solid contender in the list of top fat burners for women.

4. Phen24

Phen 24

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Phen24 delivers a unique combination to achieve weight loss 24-hours a day by giving you two different pills. One that you take during the day, and one that you take at night.

The day pill increases metabolism, boosts energy, and burns calories… while the night pill increases your nighttime metabolism, reduces food cravings, and promotes better sleep.

Plus, only the day pill contains caffeine… meaning that you can rest easy while still burning fat in the evenings!

5. Transparent Labs Fat Burner

Fat Burner

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Transparent Labs has created a truly research-based fat burner designed to produce measurable results alongside consistent dieting.

There is no ‘magic’ in the Transparent Labs formula, only science that you’ll find laid out in the ingredient formula.

An energy rich thermogenic matrix that will increase your caloric burn? Check. Non-stimulant metabolism support that targets tricky belly fat? Check. Appetite and mood support so that you can stay consistent? Check.

All that is on you is proper meal timing, sleep, and workout routine. Let Fat Burner take care of the rest.

6. Evlution Leanmode

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With a versatile formulation that works equally well for men and women, Evlution Leanmode focuses on burning fat directly, by up-regulating your body’s cellular metabolism.

It accomplishes this with a combo of green tea extract, garcinia cambogia, and CLA–all highly touted fat burners. All of this comes without excessive caffeine, which is great to see.

7. Burn XT

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Lean XT is an extremely versatile fat burner that’s got a solid combination of appetite suppressants, fat burners, and key vitamins. It uses green tea extract and cayenne pepper, but watch out – it has a solid 130 mg of caffeine per capsules. 

8. Nutratech Atrafen

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Atrafen is a fat burning-focused supplement that uses raspberry ketone, African Mango, green tea extract, and caffeine for most of its fat-burning power.

While these are effective ingredients, the exact caffeine content is difficult to determine since the ingredients are all blended in a proprietary formula, which makes it lose points in our rankings.

9. Envy Nutrition Night Time Fat Burner

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Fat burners that are stimulant-free are hard to come by, but Envy Nutrition makes a pretty solid one. Instead of amping up your metabolism with caffeine, it uses carb blockers, and sleep enhancers, plus a high dose of vitamin D, to both improve your sleep and increase fat oxidation overnight.

The primary downside is the inability to parse out the exact dosages of each ingredient, which moves it down in the rankings.

10. RSP Quadralean

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RSP Quadralean is a very powerful fat burner, but it relies heavily on a combination of stimulants like caffeine, bitter orange extract, and yohimbe bark extract.

Not the best idea for long term success, especially given that a lot of women using fat burners for getting toned are already fairly small. A 200 mg dose of caffeine would leave them and many others jittery and sleepless.

Category winners

Best fat burner for women overall: LeanBean

LeanBean takes our top spot thanks to its careful formulation that combines fat burning effects from supplements like chromium and green coffee bean extract with powerful appetite suppressants like glucomannan. It’s a versatile, powerful, and effective fat burner, earning it our top spot.

Best fat burner for women over 40: Hourglass

Hourglass is a great option for women over 40 thanks to its balanced approach to burning fat. Instead of using stimulants, Hourglass targets multiple aspects of fat metabolism simultaneously, with ingredients ranging from neurotransmitters like 5-HTP to the fat oxidizer cayenne pepper extract. 

Best fat burner for female athletes: LeanBean

LeanBean works for athletes because it accelerates fat metabolism without overloading on caffeine and other stimulants like some of the lower-quality competition. Thanks to its balanced design, female athletes can train confidently while taking LeanBean to accelerate their fat metabolism. 

Best stimulant-free fat burner for women: Hourglass

Tired of fat burning supplements that are overloaded with caffeine? Hourglass is a perfect alternative. Instead of using caffeine to jack up your metabolic rate, Hourglass uses cutting-edge supplements like 5-HTP, chromium, konjac root, and cayenne pepper to oxidize more fat. For a stimulant-free fat burner, there’s no better option out there.  

Best fat burner with appetite suppressants for women: LeanBean

For maximum weight loss efficiency, you want to target both energy intake and energy expenditure. Leanbean does a great job of this by pairing classic fat burning ingredients like chromium and green coffee bean extract with glucomannan, a fiber-based supplement that suppresses appetite and supports healthy gut bacteria. This pairing makes it an excellent choice. 

Best fat burner for women for rapid weight loss: Powher

Powher uses a potent range of fat burning ingredients, ranging from coffee-derived caffeine to minerals like chromium and selenium, to accelerate lipid metabolism. On top of that, it includes glucomannan to suppress hunger cravings. This two-pronged attack makes it perfect for women looking to shed pounds fast.

Who should buy a fat burner for women?

Women looking to lose weight and improve their body composition are the obvious candidates for a fat burner for women. Fat burners for women are specifically formulated for female physiology, so men looking to burn fat should check out a thermogenic or natural weight loss supplement instead.

Many of the challenges that women face when losing weight can be tied to hormones, whether it’s the change in hormonal composition after menopause or the changes that occur after childbirth.

Women are also more sensitive to some traditional ingredients in weight loss supplements, such as caffeine, so if you have not been happy with the effects of a run of the mill weight loss pill, a specifically designed fat burner for women is a smarter option.

How we ranked

The market for weight loss products for women is enormous: we started with a huge range of formulations to narrow down.

Our first concern was to rule out anything that had weight loss compounds known to cause side effects, like ephedra-related derivatives and synephrine. These ingredients have been associated with heart palpitations and other potentially serious side effects, so we eliminated products that used these ingredients to get their weight loss effects.

The side effects of these compounds can be particularly problematic for women, because they tend to have a smaller body mass to start with. As such, they experience a higher effective dose for a given amount of an active ingredient.

Second, we cut out products whose primary weight loss ingredient was caffeine. While caffeine is a potent fat burner, high doses of caffeine have a tendency to cause side effects like anxiety and jitters, particularly in women. Plus, if all you want is caffeine, you can just get a dedicated caffeine supplement. We wanted supplements that offered more than just a caffeine buzz.

Part of the reason for this is the same body mass issue: a 60 kg woman is going to get a much higher dosage from 200 mg of caffeine than a 100 kg man.

However, an additional hormonal factor plays into the equation too. Women who take hormonal contraceptives experience the effects of caffeine for much longer than a man would.

Because of the interaction between these reproductive hormones and caffeine, you could get insomnia from taking a caffeine-heavy weight loss supplement even if you didn’t take it in the evening. So, caffeine-heavy products, like Nutrii Ultra Burn + Energy and others, got cut from our list.

Moreover, we penalized supplements that hid most or all of their ingredients in a proprietary blend. Products like HighMark Nutrition Women’s Fat Burner didn’t make the cut for exactly this reason.

Another problem that our researchers identified in some products was the presence of artificial coloring agents, fillers, and stabilizers.

Possibly because of the incentive to market a trendy-looking (and usually hot pink or purple) capsule, a lot of lower-quality fat burners for women use artificial coloring agents and binders. Products with these kinds of issues got dropped.

Finally, we focused specifically on proven compounds that actually burn fat. General weight loss aids, like psyllium husk or other types of fiber, as well as appetite suppressants and carb blockers like white kidney bean, were not our priority.

While these ingredients can be helpful for overall weight loss, they don’t have a direct effect on burning fat. For that, you’ll need ingredients that up-regulate fat oxidation or induce a thermogenic effect, like green tea extract or green coffee beans.

As such, we prioritized these kinds of ingredients, which is why supplements like Leanbean, Lean XT, and FitMiss Burn ended up at the top of our rankings.

Benefits

The right supplements can lead to fat loss, even without active dietary restriction. You might think that weight loss is a simple calories in / calories out equation, but the reality is a lot more complicated.

Of course, these effects are even stronger if you do start working out more and eating healthier. Regardless, the most effective fat burners will leverage one of the weight regulation mechanisms your body uses to balance its fat storage and fat burning.

Many of the most powerful and effective fat burning ingredients target your body’s metabolic activity. A blunt but effective way to do this is simply to increase energy expenditure. This is what stimulants like caffeine, taurine, and bitter orange peel extract achieve.

A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Obesity demonstrated this effect (1). The study tested two groups of obese women, one of which received a supplement that was a combination of stimulants (including caffeine and other alkaloids) and a control group, which received a placebo.

The researchers found that the experimental group lost significantly more weight compared to the placebo group. While powerful, straight stimulants do have some drawbacks–more on these in a bit.

A more sophisticated way to tilt the body towards losing fat instead of maintaining or gaining it is by increasing the proportion of your caloric expenditure that comes from fat.

This seems to be the mechanism of action for both green coffee bean extract and green tea extract, which are two of the most effective fat burners for women that are out there.

True, both of these extracts are from plants that also contain caffeine, but they seem to be efficacious fat burners even when the caffeine is almost entirely removed.

In the case of green coffee bean extract, a 2011 review article in the journal Gastroenterology Research and Practice surveyed several different experimental studies on green coffee bean extract, concluding that the evidence for an effect was promising, and indicating that a shift in fat metabolism is one potential explanation for the benefit (2).

Green tea extract has even more robust evidence for its fat burning effects. A large-scale study in Japan with 240 participants examined the effect of a green tea extract in patients who were instructed to maintain the same food intake and physical activity levels (3).

One group received a high dose of green tea extract, while another received a very low dose (effectively a placebo). After 12 weeks, the researchers found that the high dose of green tea extract lowered body mass, and did so by specifically targeting subcutaneous fat at the waist and the hips–great news for women looking to be leaner through their midsection.

Other effective fat oxidizers you should be on the lookout for include garcinia cambogia, apple cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper. These are some of the most promising new fat burners that are currently being researched.

Another avenue for burning fat is preventing your body from feeling the need to eat as many calories. This seems to be a secondary effect of caffeine–in addition to being a metabolism booster, it also appears to act as an appetite suppressant–but caffeine is far from the only effective appetite suppressant.

Conjugated linoleic acid is a strong appetite suppressant found in many effective fat burners for women, and its efficacy was demonstrated in a 2003 scientific study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (4).

The study examined the effects of a conjugated linoleic acid supplement in addition to a low calorie diet was more effective at preserving muscle mass and more interestingly, the CLA supplement was effective at increasing feelings of satiety (i.e. fullness).

Other effective appetite suppressants include glucomannan, white kidney bean extract, and various forms of vegetable fiber, but regardless of the source, all of these work by increasing how full you feel and decreasing your desire to eat more calories.

Side effects

As you might imagine, altering your body’s metabolic balance is not without some risk of side effects.

While the best fat burning supplements for women use high-quality ingredients that achieve good results with low risks, some other products aren’t so scrupulous. Here’s what to look out for.

Thermogenics that are based primarily around stimulants like caffeine, taurine, or bitter orange are especially prone to causing side effects precisely because they are so potent.

Some stimulants used in weight loss supplements in the past, like ephedra, have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration because of reports of severe adverse effects, including heart problems (5).

Similar concerns have been raised about bitter orange peel extract (citrus aurantium) because its active ingredient, a compound called synephrine, has been associated with similar heart problems (6, 7).

You also won’t find this ingredient in the top-ranked fat burners for women.

Oddly, one of the most ubiquitous stimulants–caffeine–is also one that can cause many adverse effects. Caffeine is well-known to cause jitters, sleeplessness, and irritability (8).

With regards to fat burners specifically used by women, caffeine may cause additional problems because of the interaction between caffeine and hormonal contraceptives.

Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology demonstrates that women who take estrogen-based contraceptives have a substantially longer elimination half-life of caffeine (9).

In other words, if you take hormonal contraceptives, it takes much longer for your body to remove caffeine from your bloodstream.

So, if you take a fat burning supplement that has high levels of caffeine in it (especially if you also drink coffee, energy drinks, or other caffeine-containing beverages), you could experience adverse effects at a much higher rate than usual.

Because of this, women looking for a good fat burner should keep the caffeine content low. In addition, many women using fat burners are already fairly small in terms of body size, and as a result, they’ll be affected to a much greater degree by a given dosage of caffeine compared to, say, an obese male.

Fortunately, compounds which modulate satiety, or feelings of fullness, tend to have a very low or non-existent rate of side effects.

Compounds like glucomannan or conjugated linoleic acid have a very small chance of causing mild gastrointestinal discomfort, but aside from that, are quite safe.

Recommended dose

Though dosing depends on the specific product that you choose, when it comes to fat burners for women, there are a few key ingredients that have pretty well-established optimal doses.

Green tea extract, for example, should be taken in doses of at least 150 mg of catechins, the active ingredient. As for green coffee bean extract, a dose of at least 50 mg per day is optimal.

When it comes to taking into account the complex interaction between ingredients, you’ll have to rely on the abilities of the nutritionists who formulate fat burners for women—especially because you generally can’t mix and match.

Fortunately, our top-ranked fat burners for women all tackle this problem well, providing ingredients in a synergistic way to optimize fat oxidation and increase thermogenesis.

FAQ

Q: What are fat burner pills?

A: Fat burner pills are supplements that are designed to increase the rate at which your body burns fat. There are two ways to do this. One is to increase your overall caloric expenditure at rest.

This process is called thermogenesis, and a category of supplements called thermogenics achieve this effect. The other way to burn fat is to shift your body’s preference for its fuel sources to include more fat.

At any given time, your body is burning a mixture of fat and carbohydrates. Some compounds, like green tea extract, appear to be able to alter the distribution of carbs and fat being burned, so a greater proportion of your energy comes from fat as opposed to carbohydrates. This latter example is called fat oxidation.

Q: What is the safest fat burner for women?

A: When it comes to safety, one of the best candidates for a fat burner for women is green tea extract. Its caffeine content is very low, and the food that it’s derived from (green tea) is consumed in copious quantities by women all around the world on a regular basis.

Moreover, it’s also one of the most effective fat burners for women, thanks to its ability to upregulate fat oxidation. Other ingredients with good safety profiles include fiber-based ingredients like glucomannan, as their biological mechanism of action is just to slow the absorption of calories in your digestive tract.

In other words, these fiber-based ingredients aren’t actually up-regulating your metabolism; they are just preventing the influx of calories into your system. However, for this same reason, they aren’t quite as effective at actually burning fat.

Q: Do fat burners really work?

A: “Work” can be a bit of an operational definition, but in general, yes, several supplements have been found to be effective at helping you lose fat.

There are two ways to look at a fat burner: the first is at the cellular level. Using animal models or looking at calorie expenditure, researchers can identify whether a specific compound increases your overall caloric expenditure (this effect is known as thermogenesis) or whether it shifts the fuel your body burns for energy.

When this fuel parameter is shifted towards burning more fat, this is called increased fat oxidation. Your body oxidizes, or “burns,” stored fat molecules for energy at an increased rate. Caffeine, green tea extract, and green tea extract are three compounds that are well-established fat burners that are known to increase fat oxidation.

The second way to look at a fat burner is at the whole-body level—in this context, “working” means reducing body fat content in a measurable amount.

Several other compounds, like white kidney bean extract, have been found to drop body fat percentage, but in this kind of research, the exact mechanism of action can be hard to tease apart.

White kidney bean extract, for example, appears to reduce body fat not by fat oxidation, but by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates in your gastrointestinal tract.

Q: Can fat burners for women be dangerous?

A: There are certain compounds that you’ll sometimes see in fat burners for women that can be dangerous.

Ephedra is a classic example: alongside its herbal form of ma huang, it was a very popular ingredient in fat burners during the 1990s, but when reports surfaced of serious side effects like heart arrhythmias, products containing ephedra were pulled from the market.

However, you’ll still see some fat burners that contain derivatives or chemical cousins of ephedra, like synephrine and bitter orange peel. If you’re safety-conscious, it’s better to avoid these compounds.

Fat burners for women can cause problems in some special cases, such as chromium-containing supplements in women with psychological health problems like bipolar disorder, or who take prescription medication.

Unlike prescription medication, the properties of fat burning supplements are not well-characterized in women who are pregnant, so they should definitely avoid a fat burner during pregnancy.

Q: What’s the best stimulant-free fat burner for women?

A: In the context of a fat burner, “stimulant” usually means caffeine (though rarely it can also mean bitter orange peel or other compounds).

Caffeine is quite the double-edged sword, as we’ve covered earlier. When it comes to a stimulant-free fat burner for women, we like Lean XT: it’s great for taking before bed, as it contains no stimulants of any kind, and in fact even contains a small amount of melatonin, which can assist with sleep quality.

Q: How should you choose a fat burning supplement for women?

A: When choosing a fat burning supplement, there are a few key questions you can ask yourself to narrow down your options.

First is whether you want any caffeine in your supplement. While we’ve eliminated the heavily-caffeinated supplements from our rankings, some of our products do contain caffeine because it is a very effective fat burner in low to moderate doses.

If you are going to take your fat burner in the morning or early afternoon, then something that leverages the effects of caffeine, as well as mildly caffeinated compounds like green tea extract and green coffee bean extract, are a good choice. In our rankings, Leanbean and FitMiss Burn are prime examples in this category. If you do not want caffeine, look for a stimulant-free fat burner.

Second, are you looking for an overall aid for weight loss, or do you specifically want compounds that actually upregulate fat oxidation?

If you just want weight loss efficacy, a broad-range supplement that includes many different ingredients is a fine choice.

If you want to focus specifically on burning off fat that you’ve already accumulated, choose a product with fewer ingredients, but a higher dose of the most effective fat burners like green tea extract, green coffee beans, and taurine.

Q: When should you take a fat burner?

A: There are two optimal times to take a fat burner for women during the day: right away in the morning, and right before bed. However, there are some important caveats to these recommendations.

You definitely don’t want to take a fat burner before bed if it contains caffeine, as it could substantially disrupt your sleep. Save these fat burners for the morning so they can kick-start your metabolism.

Conversely, some fat burners are specifically designed to be taken at night, and as such contain compounds like melatonin that improve sleep quality.

As you might guess, it would be a bad idea to take these supplements in the morning, as you could end up feeling sluggish and lethargic later in the day, and your circadian rhythm could get thrown off.

Q: What is a good natural fat burner?

A: By happy coincidence, many of the most effective fat burners also happen to come from all-natural sources.

Take green tea extract and green coffee bean extract for example: these are some of the most effective fat burning compounds on the market, and they are nothing more than a concentrated form of the same exact chemicals you’d get in a cup of green tea or from unroasted coffee beans.

Fiber-based compounds like glucomannan and psyllium husk are also great all-natural compounds that have an extremely good safety profile.

If you aren’t up to taking the most sophisticated chemical compounds from the lab, you can still get excellent results by sticking to all-natural fat burners.

Related articles Thermogenics Weight loss pills Natural weight loss supplement Carb blocker Diet pills for women Meal replacement shake Yohimbe Recap

The ideal fat burning solution is a supplement that capitalizes on several different mechanisms of fat loss to achieve a strong effect with a low rate of side effects.

The key ingredients you should look for are fat oxidizers like green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, and cayenne pepper.

These can be supplemented by low to moderate doses of stimulants like caffeine, as well as an appetite suppressant like glucomannan, conjugated linoleic acid, or white kidney bean extract.

Avoiding side effects is largely a matter of avoiding supplements that rely too heavily on stimulants for their fat burning effects, and keeping the caffeine content of your fat burner under control.

A quality fat burning supplement can make a real difference when it comes to getting leaner, fitter, and more toned, so make sure you choose a good one. 

You can learn more about our #1 fat burner for women recommendation here.

The post Ranking the best fat burners for women of 2022 appeared first on BodyNutrition.

- John Davis
Ranking the best probiotic supplements of 2022

Probiotic supplements provide a boost to the naturally-occurring beneficial bacteria that live inside your body’s digestive tract. 

Taking a probiotic supplement every day is a fantastic way to improve your digestion, boost your gut health, improve your immune system, and reduce inflammation.

Want to find the best probiotics on the market? Our research team put together these rankings to find the cleanest and most effective probiotic supplements:

Rankings 1. 1MD Complete Probiotics

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For those who’re serious about taking the most potent probiotic, 1MD Complete Probiotics is the best you can get.

No other probiotic supplement can compete with the 51 billion cultures and 11 unique strains with each serving.

Dr. David Kahana, a renowned gastrointestinal doctor, says, “When my patients ask me what probiotic is best, I recommend 1MD’s Complete Probiotics Platinum. Complete Probiotics Platinum has 11 different strains and guarantees 50 billion live cultures per capsule. It also contains an effective dosage of Nutraflora prebiotic fiber that will ensure these cultures get the fuel they need to really make a difference in your gut.”

Why is this important?

Because several probiotic products only have 2-3 different strains, and consuming probiotics with a diverse collective of good bacteria strains offers a better bacterial balance for your gut.

From overall immune health to providing your body with better digestion and gut health, 1MD Complete Probiotics is one of the better daily habits you can have in the supplement space.

All natural, no artificial sweeteners, no artificial coloring, no artificial preservatives and 100% GMO-free.

This is important. When you’re taking a probiotic as a daily supplement, the last thing you want is “added stuff” to mess with your fatigue, oxidation, blood pressure and microbiome balance.

Made in the USA and in an FDA-approved facility.

BodyNutrition‘s all-around probiotic supplement winner of 2021.

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2. Probiotic 40 Gut Boost +

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Nuzena is a brand-new supplement company known for their potent formulas.

Probiotic 40 Gut Boost + by Nuzena is shamelessly stacked and also one of the cheaper options on the list.

They are also one of the most robust probiotic formulas that we’ve reviewed. The formula contains 40 Billion probiotic bacteria made up of 4 individual strands for increased bioavailability.

When it comes to gut health we know that having multiple strands of probiotic bacteria your supplements is essential — as finding the correct match to your mitochondria can vary between different strands.

While some of the other probiotic supplements we’ve reviewed here have similar strands, Nuzena really stands out with the quality of their formula.

3. NOW Probiotic-10

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Although this falls short of our winner, NOW Probiotic-10 contains ten different probiotic bacteria strains, which total to an eye-popping 25 billion colony forming units. 

The bacteria are delivered via a vegetarian capsule, and NOW Probiotic-10 uses standard “unbranded” bacteria strains, which both saves you money and guarantees that you are getting the same specific strains that are used in scientific studies on the benefits of probiotics. 

With a simple cellulose capsule, some of the bacteria might be lost to stomach acid, but the huge overall bacteria count should more than make up for this.

4. Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra

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Garden of Life always has an interesting take on supplements, and their Primal Defense Ultra probiotic is no exception. The thirteen strains of probiotic bacteria are supported by a matrix of organic oat grass processed with an enzymatic procedure to help bacteria growth, as well as a small amount of iron, which is known to massively boost bacteria growth inside the body. 

They also include “ionic plant based minerals,” presumably to boost growth further. Garden of Life generally has a love it or hate it approach; if you want all the extras, it’s a great choice, but if you just want plain old bacteria in a pill, there are better options.

5. Nutrition Essentials Probiotic

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If you want a “bacteria bomb,” look no further: Nutrition Essentials crams some 15 billion colony forming units into their tablets, along with half a gram of “pre-biotic” materials that foster the growth and reproduction of the bacteria. Nutrition essentials is different from some of its competitors in that it is comprised of just one probiotic bacteria, bacillus coagulans. 

Fortunately, this is one of the better-researched probiotics, with research to date finding that it is a safe and effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome and related gastrointestinal problems (1). The tablet is a pretty simple one, made of calcium carbonate, cellulose, and stearic acid, so it may face some problems getting the bulk of the probiotic bacteria into your intestines, but the high number of bacteria colony forming units to begin with should help offset that problem.

6. Hyperbiotics PRO-15

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Hyperbiotics uses a formulation that packs fifteen different bacteria strains into their proprietary blend with a total of five billion CFUs.

Hyperbiotics also employs a proprietary “pearl capsule” technology which is intended to allow more of the bacteria to make it to your intestines to populate the gut flora. With Hyperbiotics’ allergen-free guarantee, this product is a big winner.

7. Nature’s Bounty Ultra Probiotic 10

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The ubiquitous and trusted Nature’s Bounty brand delivers when it comes to probiotics. Their Probiotic 10 supplement contains 20 billion colony forming units and, as the name suggests, ten different strains of bacteria. 

The capsules are vegetarian, and there aren’t any extraneous ingredients included either, so this one’s a very solid choice.

8. Bio Schwartz Advanced Strength Probiotic

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Though Bio Schwartz includes a huge amount of bacteria (40 billion colony forming units!) the choices of which ones to include are a little odd.

The staple bacteria lactobacillus acidophilus is there, but the other three are less common and less well-researched bacteria. The supplement also includes fructooligosaccharides to support the growth of the bacteria, but it doesn’t document how much it actually includes in the supplement.

9. Dr. Tobias Deep Immune Probiotics

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The probiotic blend offered by Dr. Tobias includes five different types of bacteria which total to a bit under five billion colony-forming units. 

The capsules are another major selling point; Dr. Tobias claims that their capsules resist the digestion of the stomach acid, making it so that more bacteria make their way into the intestinal tract instead of being destroyed by stomach acid.

10. Herrmann Health Products Advanced Probiotic

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With a combination of seven different probiotic bacteria, including Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Bacillus strains, Hermann Health Products offers a solid combo of healthy bacteria, though only at a dose of 5.75 billion CFUs. 

Category winners

Best probiotics overall: 1MD Complete Probiotics

1MD takes our top spot thanks to its unbeatable probiotic count–at 50 billion CFUs and 11 unique bacterial strains, it stands head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to variety and potency. Add to that some fructo-oligosaccharides for prebiotic support and you’ve got a clear winner. 

Best probiotics with lactobacillus bacteria: Nuzena Probiotic 40 Gut Boost +

Lactobacillus bacteria are a category of probiotic bacteria that break down carbohydrates and are particularly popular to take for digestive health. When it comes to probiotics that provide lactobacillus, Nuzena Probiotic 40 Gut Boost + is our favorite thanks to its potent combo of three different strains of lactobacillus bacteria. 

Best probiotics for women: 1MD Complete Probiotics

1MD is our top pick for women thanks to its diverse range of probiotic strains. Women have higher rates of digestive health problems like IBS and constipation than men, so ensuring a broad range of healthy gut bacteria is particularly important for women. Since 1MD tops the charts when it comes to variety, it’s our top pick for women. 

Best probiotics for weight loss: Nuzena Probiotic 40 Gut Boost +

When it comes to weight loss, Nuzena is our pick thanks to its focus on delivering a high CFU count of the most well-studied bacteria that contribute to gut health. Its use of specific, well-studied lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains makes it our favorite for people looking to lose weight. 

Best probiotic and prebiotic combination: Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra

Garden of Life uses a combination of enzymatically-processed oat grass and barley grass to provide a matrix of fiber and nutrients that support healthy gut bacterial growth. If you want a solid dose of healthy bacteria plus an all-natural source of prebiotic nutrients, Garden of Life is the way to go. 

Best probiotics for digestive health: 1MD Complete Probiotics

Whether you have digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome or are just looking to improve your digestive wellness, 1MD is a great choice. It has a high dose of several different healthy gut bacteria strains, and includes prebiotic nutrients as well to ensure these bacteria continue to grow and multiply. 

Who should buy probiotics?

Probiotics are most important for people who may have a disrupted or deficient gut microbiome. Probiotics are commonly recommended following a course of antibiotics, for example.

While antibiotic drugs can be very effective against infectious bacteria, they also lay waste to the healthy bacteria present in your stomach and intestines, paradoxically leaving you vulnerable to health disruptions in the future.

Taking a probiotic supplement after a course of antibiotics can help rectify this imbalance. Probiotics are also very helpful in many people who have intestinal problems like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The mechanisms behind many of these intestinal problems are unknown, but appear to be linked both to your immune system function and your levels of probiotic bacteria.

Not only are gut bacteria populations different between people with intestinal problems and health people, but modifying the gut bacteria in people with irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease can lead to improvements in symptoms, which strongly suggests gut bacteria is linked to the problem.

Beyond people with these health problems, there is increasing recognition that even healthy people can have a disrupted gut biome as a result of their diet.

Western diets, with their relatively low fiber content and high levels of sugar and refined carbohydrates, do not promote the kind of robust and diverse gut biome that you’d get on a diet high in fiber, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

Some (though not all) researchers even suggest that children might benefit particularly from a probiotic supplement. One article in Current Opinions in Pediatrics argues that, due to the strong circumstantial evidence connecting a healthy gut bacteria population with decreased risks for asthma, allergies, and even type 2 diabetes and obesity, pediatricians should consider probiotic supplementation for children.

Even healthy adults are increasingly turning to probiotics to better their odds against these same chronic diseases, thanks to the circumstantial evidence that is continually piling up that indicates that gut bacteria composition is one of the cornerstones to overall health and wellness.

How we ranked

We started by aggregating all of the latest, most popular, and best-selling probiotic supplements. Among these probiotics, we specifically looked for the supplements that had a solid dosage of probiotics.

Unlike other supplements, probiotics don’t measure doses in milligrams or IUs: they use a special unit called colony forming units, or CFUs for short.

These colony forming units are defined by their ability to start a bacterial colony, or growth of bacteria. The more CFUs, the more live bacteria are contained in the supplement.

Clinical research indicates that you want at least one to five billion CFUs per day minimum to get the desired effects, so we dumped anything that had less than one billion CFUs, or that did not explicitly state its live bacterial colony content.

Secondly, we prioritized supplements that had higher doses. That’s why 1MD and Now Probiotic-10 rose to the top: their ultra-high doses of 50 and 25 CFUs made them top contenders, and on par with some of the most powerful probiotic supplements that have been tested in clinical research.

Next, we sought out brands that used specific strains of beneficial bacteria as opposed to general categories or species.

For example, despite its popularity, NewRythm Probiotics did not make our list for this reason: it merely lists the species of bacteria, such as lactobacillus acidophilus.

Compare that to Nature’s Bounty Probiotic 10, which lists the exact strain of bacteria used, such as Lactobacillus plantarum 299v. This level of specificity allowed us to compare the ingredients to what has been tested and proven beneficial in the scientific literature.

Finally, we prioritized probiotic supplements that provided a variety of probiotic strains known to be beneficial.

Brands that focused only on one type of probiotic, such as Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Factor 4, didn’t make the cut since we were looking for a diverse range of proven probiotic bacteria, not just one type.

Some of the specific type of probiotic bacteria we looked for include lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, and streptococcus thermophilus—all of these probiotics have been specifically investigated for their health benefits in scientific research.

When possible, we matched up specific bacterial strains in commercial probiotics with the strains used in research to ensure the top-ranked probiotic supplements were the most effective ones on the market.

Benefits

Probiotics can help you lose weight, bump up immune function, improve your digestion, and even cut your risk of chronic diseases.The importance of having a healthy gut doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, but research indicates it is just as vital as food choices, good sleep and exercise (1, 2).

We have ten times as many bacteria in our bodies as we do cells, and most of them live in the gut.

When these microorganisms are happy, we enjoy health benefits; when bacterial colonies aren’t thriving, we may suffer a range of negative effects. (3)

Certain types of yeast can also act as probiotics, but most of the conditioning required for keeping the gut healthy is performed by colonies of bacteria.

Probiotics can be taken in supplement form, and may also be ingested by eating probiotic foods prepared through fermentation processes that encourage the growth of friendly bacteria. Some popular fermented foods include kefir, kimchee, sauerkraut, tempeh and yogurt.

You may also be familiar with prebiotics, which are fibers that actually feed friendly gut bacteria. (4)

Bacterial communities work to maintain the integrity of gut wall. The gut wall is vital in preventing substances in the colon from leaking into other parts of the body and stimulating an immune response. (5, 6, 7)

Besides friendly bacteria, harmful gut flora also exist, and when the balance gets out of whack, it can lead to diseases like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer and many more. (8, 9, 10)

This is the area where the most research has been done on probiotics, especially in regard to diarrhea associated with taking antibiotics. (11)

Diarrhea often occurs after a course of antibiotics is taken to treat a medical condition, and can persist for long periods of time. Antibiotics eradicate many bacteria in the gut, and this can shift the balance so bad bacteria dominate and thrive.

Many studies indicate probiotics can cure this problem (12, 13), as well as being effective in reducing bloating, gas, constipation, and other intestinal problems, including symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). (14, 15)

Probiotics can assist in treating ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease , and may also help fight helicobactor pylori infections. These infections are caused by the bacteria that leads to ulcers and raises the risk of stomach cancer. (16,17)

Anyone who has digestive issues that have been difficult to resolve might consider taking a probiotic supplement.

Probiotic bacteria could even help you lose weight. If you’re carrying around a significant amount of extra weight, chances are your gut flora are different than someone who is thin or of normal weight. (15)

Researchers playing with this concept transplanted gut flora from thin animals into obese animals, and the result was dramatic: fat animals began to lose weight. (16)

Human studies indicate that having the right gut flora can help with weight control. (17, 18)

Data from a study conducted in 2013 with more than 200 people suffering from central obesity (large amounts of belly fat) offered encouraging results: over three months, participants taking the probiotic lactobacillus gasseri had an average decrease of 8.5% in belly fat mass. (19)

It took only a month for test subjects to gain back the belly fat they lost after they stopped taking the probiotic.

Another study indicated that Bifidobacterium and lactobacillus ramnosis may help in preventing obesity and supporting weight loss. (20)

Potential health benefits resulting from these effects may include a decreased risk of developing chronic Western diseases like autoimmune diseases, mental disorders, arthritis and heart disease. Further research is likely to reveal even more health advantages associated with healthy gut flora.

The use of probiotics has been associated with improvements in a range of other health conditions, including dropping blood pressure for patients with hypertension, reducing inflammation (21), enhancing immune system function (22), lowering cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, improving skin conditions such as rosacea, acne and eczema (23) and reducing symptoms in patients suffering from depression and anxiety (treated with these strains: bifidobacterium longum and lactobacillus helveticus) .

Side effects

Taking probiotics is completely safe for most people, though some experience digestive side effects during the first few days; abdominal discomfort, bloating and gas are the most common problems. (24) Improved digestion usually follows these initial symptoms.

Those with compromised immune systems, such as patients diagnosed with AIDS or HIV, have had issues with infection after taking probiotics, and anyone with a medical condition should talk with a doctor before making a decision about supplementing. (25)

If you’re looking to treat a specific health issue, it’s important to do your homework and find out which strains of probiotics have been successful in specific applications; always purchase probiotics from a trusted manufacturer.

Recommended dosage

Probiotic bacteria have been researched intensively in the last few years, and we now have much more detailed information on the appropriate dosage for a probiotic supplement (though there’s still plenty of work to be done on the scientific front).

For starters, virtually no clinical studies have demonstrated efficacy with probiotic doses of less than one billion CFUs, and most use at least five billion CFUs per day. Beyond this, the picture gets a little murky because the appropriate dose seems to depend on the exact health condition that is being treated.

For instance, one study on using probiotics to improve immune function in older adults found that five billion CFUs per day was equally effective compared to a dosage of 50 billion CFUs per day (38).

On the other hand, a review article highlighted a strong dose-response relationship in using probiotics to treat diarrhea that occurs after taking antibiotics (39). In these cases, doses of over 100 billion CFUs per day were definitievely more effective than lower doses.

The takeaway from this research is that a baseline dosage of five billion CFUs per day is a good place to start, but for some conditions—particularly those linked to the digestive tract—much higher doses, in the range of 50-100 CFUs per day, might be a good idea.

FAQ

Q: What are probiotics?

A: Probiotics aren’t just any type of bacteria—they are good bacteria that live in your intestine and which have been associated with positive health benefits.

Often, these bacteria are found in fermented foods, like the lactobacillus and bifidobacterium found in cheese and yogurt. To get probiotic bacteria in higher doses, a probiotic supplement is the way to go.

Q: Can a probiotic supplement work as a thermogenic for weight loss?

A: The relationship between gut bacteria and weight loss is complex, but clearly connected: obese people have substantially different gut bacteria profiles compared to healthy people, even after controlling for things like dietary intake.

On the other hand, the agricultural industry has long used specific bacterial strains to induce weight gain in cattle and other stock animals.

The weight loss or weight gain effects of a probiotic depends on the specific strain being used; some research suggests that certain strains of probiotics will consume some of the calories that you eat, which would (in theory) prevent weight gain.

However, if you are overweight or obese, certain probiotics do have other benefits, such as potentially being able to reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, even independent of any weight loss that may occur.

Q: What do probiotics do?

A: Once inside your digestive tract, the bacterial spores in the colony forming units start multiplying. Of course, they don’t multiply forever, because they have to coexist in an ecosystem of other bacteria in your stomach and intestines which have access to a limited amount of food.

However, they do have a lasting effect on the composition of your gut bacteria. These changes can be especially helpful to jump-start the benefits of a healthy diet: scientific research suggests that, while your diet is by far the largest determinant of your gut biome, short-term dietary changes have little effect on gut bacteria composition (40).

To boost the beneficial changes in gut bacteria composition, a probiotic supplement could be just the trick.

Q: How long does it take for probiotics to work?

A: Clinical research suggests that you need at least eight to nine weeks, and perhaps up to 12 weeks, for probiotics to have a statistically detectable effect.

That being said, you may start to feel the benefits of probiotics much sooner, since these clinical studies have to detect the effect among large populations with a lot of inter-individual variability.

Still, probiotics do take time to have an effect—don’t expect amazing results overnight. At least eight weeks is necessary to assess whether your probiotic supplement is having a measurable effect on your gut bacteria.

Q: What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?

A: Probiotics, as described earlier, are living bacterial cells that reproduce inside your body and definitively change the makeup of your gut bacteria.

There are many different kinds of probiotic bacteria, but they all share the fact that they are, fundamentally, living creatures that multiply inside your body.

Conversely, prebiotics are like functional foods for bacteria: prebiotics are nutrients that facilitate the growth of beneficial bacteria inside your digestive tract.

Even something as simple as psyllium husk or other kinds of fiber supplements can be a prebiotic, because probiotic bacteria can consume this fiber for energy. Likewise, you’ll also see prebiotics that contain inulin, a plant-derived fiber that’s incredibly useful as energy for probiotic bacteria, as well as fructooligosaccharides, which are carbohydrates similarly useful for probiotic bacteria.

Prebiotics are often used as a “booster” to either augment your natural levels of probiotic bacteria, or in combination with a probiotic supplement to accelerate the growth of the probiotics that you are taking.

You’ll find prebiotic ingredients in several of our top-ranked probiotic supplements, and we have also specifically ranked and reviewed the best prebiotic supplements separately.

Q: How should you take probiotics and antibiotics at the same time?

A: Though it sounds counterintuitive, the scientific literature suggests that taking probiotics at the same time as antibiotics is the best way to prevent some of the the negative side effects of an antibiotic.

Of course, as with any prescription medication, you should talk to your doctor to make sure there aren’t any special reasons not to mix prebiotics and probiotics, but large meta-analysis studies of clinical research has found that probiotic supplements are extremely effective at preventing side effects like diarrhea, but might not be as helpful if you wait until side effects have already developed (41).

In other words, they are a better prevention than treatment. In clinical research, probiotics and antibiotics are usually taken at the same time: the probiotic bacteria seem resilient enough not to get totally destroyed by the antibiotics. Keep in mind that not all antibiotics work on all bacteria, so a broad-spectrum probiotic supplement may have a better chance of surviving during the course of an antibiotic treatment.

While common sense might indicate that it would be wasteful to take probiotics and antibiotics at the same time, the scientific research actually suggests precisely the opposite: it’s better to start taking probiotics right away instead of waiting to finish your course of antibiotics.

Related articles Probiotics for women Probiotic foods Probiotic yogurt Prebiotic Digestive enzyme Complete Probiotics Platinum Review Recap

Probiotics are supplements that contain beneficial bacteria that improve the health of your digestive system and boost your immune function.

They provide assistance to your body for cultivating friendly gut bacteria, which can be helpful in improving a range of health conditions, including immune system function, weight management, depression and systemic inflammation.

Shoot for a dosage of at least five billion CFUs per day, and higher if you are specifically taking probiotics for a digestive tract issue.

If you are taking probiotics to help prevent side effects from a course of antibiotics, don’t delay taking a probiotic supplement until you are done with your antibiotic prescription—the scientific research shows that taking them at the same time is actually far more effective than waiting until digestive side effects from antibiotics appear.

While there is still plenty more research to do on probiotics, the results so far are already very promising.

For BodyNutrition‘s #1 probiotic supplement recommendation, click here.

The post Ranking the best probiotic supplements of 2022 appeared first on BodyNutrition.

- John Davis
Ranking the best ginger supplements of 2022

Ginger is loaded with bioactive compounds that can provide relief and potential improvement for a variety of health conditions.

A flowering plant native to China, ginger is related to turmeric, galangal and cardamom, all of which are members of the Zingiberaceae family.

The section of stem that grows underground is called a rhizome, or in this case, the ginger root. Powdered ginger spice is made from the root, and whole roots can also be sliced, diced, juiced, or made into an oil.

Rankings 1. Nature’s Bounty Ginger Root

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Nature’s Bounty provides 550 mg of dried ginger root in a vegan-friendly capsule. It’s everything you’d want from a capsule-based ginger root supplement: simple, potent, and pure. It’s great for a wide variety of applications, and if you aren’t looking to take ginger in liquid format, it’s our recommended top pick. 

2. FGO Organic Ginger Tea Bags

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Anyone in the market for ginger tea will absolutely love these delicious and healthy organic ginger tea bags.

The bags themselves are easily dissolvable since they’re made with eco-friendly materials. Combined with only organic ingredients, it’s one of the purest and most potent ginger supplements on the market.

3. Nature’s Nutrition Turmeric & Ginger

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Turmeric and ginger are a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory combination, and if you’re looking to take these together, Nature’s Nutrition is our choice. It’s got the highest dose of both turmeric and ginger among the combined supplements on the market, and on top of that, it includes BioPerine (black pepper extract), which has been proved to boost turmeric bioavailability.

4. Yogi Ginger Tea

 

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This alternative ginger tea comes in a pack of six for 96 tea bags in total. All the ingredients are all organic and non-GMO, so you get the highest quality ginger in every bag.

The teabags are combined with black pepper and peppermint for a wonderful flavor and additional health benefits.

5. BeLive Turmeric Ginger with Curcumin Gummies

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BeLive ginger gummies are combined with turmeric curcumin, both of which can help your stomach digest helpful substances more easily.

The gummies themselves are flavored with tropical fruit and are totally vegan friendly.

6. Bigelow Lemon Ginger with Probiotics

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These lemon ginger tea bags come with 108 bags in total and are perfect to help your digestion. They also taste great.

The teas are individually wrapped so it’s easy to take some of them with you for on-the-go ginger tea.

7. The Ginger People Organic Ginger Juice

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Ginger People’s organic ginger juice provides a great option if you don’t like capsules and ginger powder.

This convenient ginger drink is perfect for daily “health shots”, but you can also add it to smoothies or use it to flavor water or tea.

8. Nature’s Way Premium Herbal Ginger Root

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Nature’s Way herbal ginger root capsules are made from concentrated and non-GMO ingredients. The dosage is pretty solid, though there are a couple of extraneous binders and fillers.

8. Horbaach Super Concentrated Ginger Root

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While most people looking for a liquid ginger supplement will do just fine with ginger tea, for the niche cases that need a ginger tincture, Horbaach is our recommendation. This liquid extract of ginger makes it easy to add ginger to custom shakes, smoothies, and green drinks.

8. Pink Stork Morning Sickness Sweets

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These last ginger supplements are actually candies; they’re specifically developed for women who suffer from morning sickness.

Flavored with mango for easier enjoyment, the capsules are also fortified with vitamin B6 for even more benefits.

Category winners

Best ginger overall: Nature’s Bounty Ginger Root

Nature’s Way makes the industry-leading ginger supplement: its dosage is powerful and its ingredients list is dead-simple. While capsule-based ginger isn’t the right choice for everyone, Nature’s Way is our preferred pick if you know that ginger tea is not for you. 

Best ginger for tea: FGO Organic Ginger Tea

Ginger is one of the best supplements to take in liquid form, and there’s no easier way to do it than with FGO Organic Ginger Tea. This organically-certified tea has just one ingredient: dried ginger root. It’s prepackaged in individual satchels to make integrating ginger tea into your routine as easy as possible. 

Best ginger for longevity: Nature’s Bounty Ginger Root

For leveraging the antioxidant effects of ginger to fight aging and boost longevity, Nature’s Way is our recommended product thanks to its solid dosage and ease of use. Since there are no extraneous ingredients, this ginger supplement integrates well into other anti-aging supplement stacks. 

Best ginger for inflammation: Nature’s Nutrition Turmeric & Ginger

For fighting inflammation in your body, whether it’s localized to your joints or generalized throughout your body, we prefer to combine the effects of ginger and turmeric. Nature’s Nutrition is the best option here, thanks to its industry-leading dosages of both turmeric and ginger, plus BioPerine for better absorption. 

Best ginger for nausea: FGO Organic Ginger Tea

For fighting nausea, an upset stomach, or morning sickness, ginger tea is definitely superior to ginger root capsules. That’s why we recommend FGO Organic Ginger Tea, our top-ranked ginger tea, for battling nausea. After steeping in hot water for a few minutes, this organically-certified ginger is sure to soothe your stomach. 

Best ginger for libido: Nature’s Bounty Ginger Root

Ginger is a popular natural remedy for boosting libido and for having more energy in the bedroom, as evidenced by its common inclusion in male enhancement pills. If you’re looking to use ginger for a libido boost, you want something with a precisely-controlled and potent dosage, hence our recommendation for the 550 mg of ginger root delivered by Nature’s Way. 

Who should buy ginger?

While ginger has been used for a variety of natural remedies for thousands of years, its two primary benefits are nausea relief and inflammation relief. Although ancillary benefits do exist, those benefits either aren’t as well studied or aren’t as potent.

Therefore, people suffering from either nausea or excess inflammation will benefit the most from ginger supplements, teas, and powders.

Pregnant women who experience morning sickness, can especially benefit as ginger supplements (or even eating food with ginger in it) can help relieve the effects of nausea significantly. Similarly, anyone who is nauseous because of a stomach bug or because of mild food poisoning might benefit from drinking a ginger tea or spicing their next meal with ginger.

Athletes, who suffer from irritated or inflamed muscles because of their exercise can also benefit from ginger products or teas. That’s because the anti-inflammatory effects of ginger are not localized – they spread throughout the body, and relatively quickly.

Anyone, but especially the elderly, suffering from general systemic inflammation can benefit from ginger tea. If you are taking any prescription medication, it is best to speak to your doctor before taking a ginger supplement.

How we ranked

Because Ginger has been a remedy for a variety of ailments for a long time, humans have come up with a plethora of ways to ingest the substance. Pills are the most common form, and are the easiest to accurately dose. Ginger juices like Nature’s Way, are quite popular since they’re an easy way to get some ginger into your system without too much effort. These can also be a great choice if you want to mix your ginger with a daily smoothie.

You can also find ginger in teas. These are usually made with ginger powder and can quite easily be combined with other flavoring elements like peppermint or black pepper. Ginger tea is the oldest and most common way to ingest ginger, so it’ll be a good choice if you already enjoy drinking tea every day. For these reasons, ginger tea’s like FGO ranked extremely well on our list. Ginger candies like the one from Pink Stork are also a great option, especially for pregnant women who may find it difficult to consume ginger in less palatable forms. .

We also wanted to focus on the ginger content or potency with every ginger supplement. Of course, capsules usually contained a much higher ginger concentration than teas or candies. However, many people already consumes ginger in high amounts through diet, making capsules somewhat overpowering.

This is why ginger capsules more often than not, result in mild side effects. As such, we preffered teas and powder over straight capsules. We did include some high quality capsules above for those people who consume minimal ginger through their diet.

Ginger is quite flavorful and not everyone’s favorite spice – so we looked for ginger that included other subtle ingredients to improve the flavor profile. For instance, several of the ginger teas described above, like Yogi, are combined with peppermint that make the ginger more palatable. 

Benefits

Ginger can help reduce inflammation in the body. The medicinal qualities of ginger have been known for thousands of years. Ginger is effective at reducing nausea, digestive issues, and fighting the flu or the common cold. Its natural oils give it the distinctive smell and flavor, which arise mostly from gingerol, the main bioactive compound.

Research shows that Gingerol has powerful antioxidant properties, as well as the ability to tame inflammation (1).

Ginger may help sooth digestion. Ginger has long been used as a treatment for seasickness, helping to back off intense feelings of nausea (2).

Also effective in soothing nausea after surgery, ginger has been used by chemotherapy patients to reduce vomiting (3).

Ginger can soothe morning sickness. Where ginger really shines is in calming morning sickness during pregnancy. An analysis of 12 separate studies with more than 1,200 pregnant women indicated just over a gram of ginger powder can significantly reduce symptoms of nausea (4).

Pregnant women should discuss using ginger with their doctor before taking it; while no evidence exists to support the idea, some believe ginger taken in large quantities raises the risk of miscarriage.

Ginger can help reduce the pains caused by menstrual cramping. A study with 150 women taking a gram of ginger on each of the first three days of their periods indicated the herbal therapy reduced pain as effectively as ibuprofen and mefenamic acid (5).

Chronic indigestion, or dyspepsia, is another common digestive issue that may be helped by ginger. This painful condition is thought to result from delays in emptying the stomach after eating, and ginger has been shown to cut the time for this process by 25% to 50% (6, 7).

Ginger supplements can help fight off infections. Gingerol, which is the bioactive compound found in fresh ginger, has been shown to inhibit the growth of many types of bacteria (8).

It is especially effective in discouraging oral bacteria that contribute to gum diseases like periodontitis and gingivitis (9).

The RSV virus, which can lead to respiratory infections, is also susceptible to the anti-viral properties associated with fresh ginger (10).

Ginger can help reduce the risk of developing chronic disease. Researchers have begun to explore the potential of ginger in treating diabetes, with promising results. A study done in 2014 tracked blood sugar levels of 41 test subjects diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, concluding that a dosage of two grams of ginger powder daily dropped fasting blood sugar readings by an average of 12% (11).

Other significant changes noted in the study include a 10% reduction in HbA1c (a marker associated with long-term levels of blood sugar) over the 3-month period, as well as lower levels of lipoprotein oxidation, which could positively impact risk factors for heart disease.

Even though the study was small, the impressive statistics will likely inspire another look at the potential of ginger in preventing diabetes and heart disease. Other research explored the effectiveness of ginger in lowering cholesterol levels, another important marker associated with the development of heart disease.

When 85 patients with high cholesterol took 3 grams of powdered ginger daily for 6 weeks, most cholesterol markers showed significant improvement (12).

In animal studies, ginger’s performance rivaled that of the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin. (13)

Both human and animal studies reflected lower total cholesterol levels, as well as lower blood triglyceride measurements.

Ginger may help prevent cancer. Studies using 6-gingerol, a substance abundant in raw ginger, have evaluated the strategy as a cancer preventive; the responses of 30 patients to a 2-gram daily dosage of ginger extract included a reduction in molecules involved in pro-inflammatory signaling in the colon (14).

However, data from a follow-up study failed to confirm those results with patients rated as high-risk for developing colon cancer (15).

Other areas of testing to determine the effects of ginger in cancer prevention are ongoing, including studies on breast cancer, ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer (16, 17, 18).

Ginger may help soothe muscle pain. If you overworked yourself at the gym, ginger may help decrease the pain of sore muscles. When people engaging in elbow exercises took 2 grams of ginger daily over an 11-day period, muscle pain was significantly reduced (19).

It appears that ginger doesn’t necessarily lead to immediate relief, but rather slows down the progression of pain development over a period of time (20).

Researchers believe this is due to the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger. Fighting inflammation could prove useful in preventing a number of conditions, and has been successfully used to decrease the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Ginger may help soothe joint pain. Joint pain and stiffness results from deterioration of joints in this increasingly common health problem, and many suffering from osteoarthritis require high doses of medication to control pain.

One group of 25 test subjects who had debilitating knee pain were able to decrease the amount of medication they took when supplementing with daily doses of ginger extract (21).

Another study indicated osteoarthritis patients experienced noticeable relief after applying a topical remedy containing mastic, ginger, sesame oil and cinnamon to painful areas (22).

Ginger may fight off age-related brain diseases. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger may even help protect against chronic inflammation and oxidative stress that contributes to the aging process; this could positively influence cognitive decline related to aging, as well as decreasing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Animal studies suggest the active components in ginger have the potential to reduce inflammation in the brain, and human clinical trials show supplementing with ginger helped middle-aged women improve memory and reaction time (23, 24).

Adding ginger as a spice to foods you already enjoy is a great way to start cashing in on the benefits of this superfood, and you may also find it effective in treating specific disorders when taken as a supplement in the form of extracts, oils or capsules.

Side Effects

Ginger may not be appropriate for nursing women. Ginger is great for pregnant women but may not be a good supplement if you’re breastfeeding. This is because breastfeeding transfers almost everything that the mother eats to the infant. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough information about the safety of ginger in an infant’s diet. 

Ginger can increase your risk of bleeding. There is some evidence to suggest that ginger can increase your risk of bleeding from an open wound or if you have anemia to some extent. Therefore, talk to your doctor before taking ginger supplements or remedies if you worry about bleeding in general. This is especially important if you are going to undergo surgery of any kind.

Ginger can increase your insulin levels or lower your blood sugar. As a result, diabetics may need to adjust their medications via their healthcare providers to avoid potential negative side effects. Again, speak with your doctor before taking a ginger supplement if you have diabetes.

Ginger can negatively affect the heart. Some high doses (5g or more per day) of ginger can worsen various heart conditions.

Topical ginger supplements may irritate the skin. Most ginger supplements are taken orally. If you try to use ginger root on your skin, you may encounter additional side effects in the form of rashes or general skin irritation.

Ginger can cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you begin to experience an allergic reaction, stop using the ginger product immediately. Allergic reactions are characterized by swelling of the throat, mouth, or face, along with hives or general difficulty breathing.

Ginger can interfere with some medications, particularly those taken regularly. Contact your doctor if you’re taking several regular medications to avoid unnecessary side effects.

Recommended Dosage

The recommended dose of ginger depends on what you are using the ginger for and your supplement’s format. If you are using ginger for general nausea and vomiting, you should only take between 500 and 2500 mg of ginger daily. It’s best to split up your dosage into 2 to 4 divided applications until symptoms cease.

If you want to take ginger extract or a ginger supplement for menstrual cramps, 250 mg of ginger for three days at the start of the menstrual period should suffice. You can alternatively take up to 1500 mg of ginger powder daily in three divided doses. Start two days before menstruation and continue for the first three days of the cycle.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that consuming up to 4 g of ginger every day is generally safe. Anything more and you can risk side effects (25).

FAQ

Where is ginger sourced from? The original growing region of ginger is southeastern Asia. Specifically, it’s from the plant family Zingiberaceae. It was originally used as a spice for flavoring different foods and only later became known as a medicinal product. Today, it’s used for both and can be grown in other locations so long as they have a similar climate, such as Africa and Latin America.

What does the native ginger plant look like? Ginger plants grow to a height of between one and 1.5 m. They feature leaves that are usually long and dark glossy green in color. Ginger plants also produce flowers that are yellow-green in color, but may feature purple lips or interiors.

Is it important for ginger supplements to be organic? Organic ginger is not necessarily more potent than nonorganic ginger. But it doesn’t pose the same health risks associated with pesticides.

Organic just means that the ginger wasn’t grown with any artificial preservatives, pesticides, or other compounds throughout any point of the growing process. In many cases, ginger harvested in this way is pricier, but possibly healthier than ginger harvested with synthetic assistance.

What foods are normally combined with ginger? Ginger is one of the main essential spices around the world. It’s great for both savory and sweet dishes and is particularly popular with Asian cuisine. Soups and curries frequently make use of ginger, as do baked goods like biscuits and scones. Furthermore, you can add ginger into various marinades or dressings, or even sauces.

Why does ginger work as a remedy, especially for nausea? The specifics aren’t fully understood, but many experts believe that ginger provides medicinal benefits because of its primary bioactive component: Gingerol.

This compound can increase digestive responsiveness and has anti-inflammatory properties. Combined, this is thought to move the digestive process along and reduce inflammation at the same time. As such, ginger relieves nausea and causes any problematic food or compounds to pass out as stools or urine more easily.

Is ginger effective for children? Ginger is notably less effective with children than with adults, though the reasons aren’t very clear.

Why is ginger found in so many different forms? Ginger was first used as a spice and quickly mixed into tea; these are the two most common types of ginger supplements or remedies you can find. As medicine progressed, ginger powder was processed in other ways. Crystallized ginger or ginger added to candies came about when candy-making knowledge increased.

More recently, ginger essential oil has become another home remedy. Ginger capsules use concentrated ginger powder and extract surrounded by veggie capsules for easy digestion. Ultimately, ginger is found in so many varieties because it’s been around for a long time and is easy to combine with other ingredients.

Where does ginger’s flavor come from? The other main compounds in ginger are called shogaols. These provide the pungent taste that most people associated with ginger root. Furthermore, one of these shogaols is the primary source of antioxidants in ginger. For this reason, fresh ginger root is often thought to have better medicinal properties.

Does ginger provide additional nutritional benefits? Yes, ginger contains several vitamins and minerals and other key macronutrients. In total, a standard serving of ginger has just under 5 calories (4.8 to be exact), a little over 1 g of carbohydrates, 0.12 g of dietary fiber, 0.05 g of fat, 0.1 g of sugar, and 0.11 g of protein.

It also contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B3 and B6, potassium, iron, vitamin C, folate, phosphorus, zinc, riboflavin, and niacin. 

All told, there’s a lot of great stuff in ginger, which is why it’s a key part of many healthy diets and is even one of the better spices you can add to your food while you are dieting. However, keep in mind that ginger doesn’t provide any macronutrients in enough of a quantity to serve as a replacement for any food items.

Is fresh ginger better than powdered ginger? Fresh ginger is generally considered to be better for cooking since you get more of its nutritional value before it dissolves. However, powdered ginger spice can still work as a substitute. Keep in mind that the taste and smell are significantly different.

When cooking with ginger, 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger is equivalent to about ¼ teaspoon of powdered ginger.

Related Articles Turmeric Curcumin Joint supplement Glucosamine Recap

Bioactive substances in ginger can impart a wide range of health benefits, including lowering blood sugar, improving markers associated with heart health and other chronic diseases, staving off nausea, decreasing pain, and sharpening cognitive processes.

While it comes in a variety of forms, it’s best to always opt for organic ginger to minimize the ingestion of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 recommended ginger supplement, click Check the lowest price.

The post Ranking the best ginger supplements of 2022 appeared first on BodyNutrition.

- Laura Magnifico
Ranking the best mugwort of 2022

Mugwort (artemisia vulgaris) is a herb known for its energy-boosting effects, especially when taken as a tonic (1). When it’s ingested, it can cure a number of digestive disorders and help fight off infections.

Mugwort is also taken by women who experience irregular periods and other issues related to the menstrual cycle. When applied topically, mugwort helps to relieve itchiness that can occur in burn scars.

Below you’ll find the best mugwort supplements ranked and reviewed by our expert health panel.

Rankings 1. Dream Leaf Organic Mugwort Capsules

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Dream Leaf organic capsules provide 450mg of mugwort per serving, making it ideal for relaxation, better sleep, and enhanced dreams. The organic certification, the simple formulation, and the solid dosage level earn it the top spot in our rankings.

2. HawaiiPharm Mugwort Extract

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HawaiiPharm mugwort is a liquid extract that comes in a 4-ounce tincture. As such, you can easily add mugwort to any drink. The fact that this liquid extract does not rely on alcohol as a solvent makes it our favorite pick when it comes to liquid-form mugwort.

3. Florida Herbs Mugwort Extract

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Florida Herbs makes a liquid mugwort supplement that’s designed for a wide range of use cases. The liquid format is nice, though some users may prefer the ease of use with capsule-based mugwort supplements instead, if having a broad range of possible dosages is less valuable than convenience.

4. Holtcity Dried Mugwort Leaves

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Holtcity dried mugwort leaves can easily be steeped in a custom tea, or combined with other loose leaf varieties if you want to make your own herbal remedies.

The bag is resealable for easy storage, and the mugwort is especially good for helping you sleep more easily or otherwise relax.

5. Naturetition Mugwort

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Naturetition makes a potent mugwort capsule that delivers 900 mg of mugwort powder per serving. Its formulation is simple and clean, making it a great choice if you are looking for a seriously high dose of mugwort without any additives. 

6. Buddha Teas Organic Mugwort

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Buddha Teas provides another high-quality mugwort tea that comes in individual bags for convenience.

The organic tea is made with no artificial flavors, preservatives or GMOs. With bleach free tea bags and no caffeine, you can enjoy a cup of mugwort tea at any time of the day.

7. Thida Mugwort Tea

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Thida makes mugwort tea that’s prepackaged into individual tea satchels. While this packaging means that this mugwort supplement doesn’t have the same flexibility as loose-leaf or liquid mugwort supplements, it’s nevertheless a convenient option if you want to integrate mugwort tea into your daily routine without the fuss of powder, liquid, or loose leaf versions of mugwort. 

8. Solo Therapy Dried Mugwort

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Solo Therapy makes a pretty solid dried mugwort supplement that’s well-suited for making loose-leaf mugwort tea. The only reason it ends up a bit lower in the rankings is because it is not organically certified like some of the competition.

9. TerraVita Artemisia Combination Capsules

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TerraVita mugwort contains both mugwort and wormwood, which some people take in combination for better sleep, relaxation, and dream enhancement. It’s a niche use case, but if mugwort and wormwood are both of interest to you, it’s a good option. 

10. K-Herb Korean Mugwort Powder

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Looking to make your own supplement stacks that include mugwort? K-Herb makes a powder-form mugwort that’s perfectly suited for this use case. The powder-form mugwort blends up easily with other supplements or can be included in custom capsules. The primary downside is that for most people, the mess and the extra work compared to a capsule-based or liquid mugwort supplement aren’t worth it.

Category winners

Best mugwort overall: Dream Leaf Organic Mugwort Capsules

Dream Leaf makes a mugwort supplement that’s geared towards promoting relaxation, mood elevation, and sleep enhancement. The ease of use and simplicity make it our favorite mugwort supplement. 

Best mugwort for boosting energy levels: Naturetition Mugwort

Naturetition Mugwort comes in a super-high dosage capsule that delivers 900 mg of mugwort per serving. If you are looking to use mugwort to have more energy and have a better mood, the high dosage of this supplement goes a long way towards that goal.

Best mugwort for digestive health: HawaiiPharm Mugwort Extract

When it comes to using mugwort for its digestive properties, we recommend a liquid supplement. That’s because liquid supplements are more readily-absorbed and allow you to adjust the dosage across a wider range than a capsule-based supplement—and among liquid mugwort supplements, HawaiiPharm is the best for digestive health.

Best mugwort for tea: Holfcity Dried Mugwort Leaves

Holfcity produces a bulk loose-leaf mugwort supplement that’s perfect for steeping your own tea at home. You can control the dosage more easily with a loose-leaf tea than prepackaged tea bags, which earns this product our recommendation for mugwort tea.

Best liquid mugwort: HawaiiPharm Mugwort Extract

HawaiiPharm makes an excellent liquid mugwort extract that doesn’t rely on alcohol as a solvent, unlike some of its competition. This liquid mugwort is the perfect choice if you want the freedom to control your dosage, or if you want to mix mugwort into shakes, smoothies, or alongside other liquid supplements.

Best mugwort for sleep: Dream Leaf Organic Mugwort Capsules

One of mugwort’s most distinctive properties is its reputation to enhance sleep, generate more vivid dreams, and enable lucid dreaming. For this use case, Dream Leaf is perfect—their organic mugwort capsules are designed with dosages appropriate for taking right before bed.

Who should buy mugwort?

Mugwort is safe for most individuals and tends to affect everyone differently, which is why some people swear by its energy-boosting effects, while others only experience relaxing benefits. That being said, it’s very popular in crowds who suffer from digestive disorders, helping to ease these symptoms. Menstruating women can also use this herb to treat cramps.

Because of the varied nature of its effects, it’s recommended that anyone wanting to try mugwort should start with small doses, titrating up. Pregnant women should avoid mugwort as it may cause miscarriages. People with food allergies should also be careful with mugwort as it has been shown to cause an allergic reaction in people who already have certain food allergies.

While it has no drug interactions, you should speak to your doctor before starting a supplement routine containing mugwort – especially if you are currently taking any prescription medication.

How we ranked

Mugwort supplements come in a variety of forms, including capsules, teas, and tinctures. Capsules are great if you want a direct injection of mugwort in your system. These normally come in easy to digest veggie capsules and are the preferred choice since they’re accurately dosed and travel well.

Mugwort teas are a lot more common and are characterized by a moderately sweet aroma and flavor. They combine well with other loose leaf teas making them a versatile herbal remedy. Oil tinctures are the least popular option and designed to be placed under your tongue or otherwise mixed into your food and drink. Its lack of dosing accuracy is why you won’t find many liquid entries on our list. 

Regarding dosages, 200-1000mg was ideal for capsules, with the lower end being optimal. This allowed for better dose-tailoring and also limited side effects, especially for new users. For teas and extracts, doses are hard to analyze, which is why we didn’t have a benchmark. Our focus for these products was to ensure that they were organic to limit pesticides and other harmful compounds.

Benefits

Mugwort may help with epilepsy. Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder and is characterized by episodic brain seizures. It is traditionally treated with prescription-grade anti-seizure medications. However, these don’t always work for everyone. Even when they do, they can cause a myriad of side effects which is why some people prefer natural treatments instead.

One study showed that some Chinese herbal remedies could have anticonvulsant effects, helping to manage epilepsy (2). More research is needed to determine the scope of these effects.

Mugwort is used in moxibustion to help breech babies. Moxibustion has been used for more than 3,000 years in Asia and consists of burning dried mugwort on specific areas of the body. One 2011 study showed that the smoke from moxibustion could help calm the body (3).

Another study showed that moxibustion may help a baby turn out of breech position. However, more research needs to be done to confirm these benefits (4).

A 2012 study demonstrated that moxibustion could also help treat menstrual cramping (5).

Mugwort can ease digestive distress. This includes stomach cramps, acidity, and indigestion. In fact, it can be used in place of Pepto-Bismol as a natural alternative. Mugwort supports digestion because it contains a number of beneficial components such as triterpenes, flavonoids, and coumarin derivatives, among others (6, 7).

Mugwort has been used to help babies in breech positions actually turn while still in the womb. A 2012 study investigating the moxibustion effect produced by mugwort find that the herb can be useful for women that neither babies to turn to a normal cephalic position before birth. 

More papers will need to be published fully in order for firm conclusions to be drawn (8). It is also considered a safer drug for abortions than traditional surgical methods, but consuming it should not be considered without a doctor’s advice (9).

Mugwort can help with hormone replacement therapy. According to research, mugwort is considered a safer alternative for hormone replacement therapy for women (10).

Mugwort root is extremely versatile. Due to the various beneficial commands found in mugwort, it can help support and treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, hypochondria, mental fatigue and other ailments that can be eased with its sedative properties.

Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, the herb can also be used to treat asthma, fever, kidney issues, liver issues, high blood sugar, and gout (11).

Mugwort can help you sleep. Mugwort has sedative properties, which makes it beneficial for those suffering from insomnia. In fact, due to its hallucinogenic properties, it is commonly called a dream herb and used in sleep pillows to improve lucid dreaming (12). 

Mugwort can also soothe the mind and keep stress at bay due to its sedative properties. This can help improve sleep and prevent the onset of insomnia 

Mugwort can help treat skin itchiness. A 2018 study showed that mugwort can be applied to the skin to treat itchiness caused due to an injury or a burn (13). It can also be used to treat parasitic infections and can effectively protect the body against ringworm, threadworm, and other parasites.

Mugwort can help you quit smoking. Mugwort is often used as an alternative for tobacco for those who wish to quit smoking. 

Mugwort can be used to stimulate suppressed or irregular periods. Mugwort is also known to ease menstrual cramps and stimulate the uterus to keep it functioning properly. It is especially effective for menstrual cramps when used in moxibustion (14).

Side Effects 

Mugwort can cause miscarriages. The herb contains a chemical component called Thujone which is responsible for many of its medicinal properties (15). However, in large doses, this chemical can be toxic and it can cause miscarriages. As such, nursing women should also not use it as it can pass from mother to child from the milk that is breastfed to the infant.

Since it has a high toxicity level, mugwort should never be taken in high doses. There is some evidence to suggest that high levels of mugwort are associated with mania or strange dreams, depending on whether the user is awake or asleep.

This is difficult to predict, as everyone reacts to mugwort slightly differently. Still, it’s a good idea to keep your initial dosage of mugwort down while you see how your body reacts to it and whether you have any crazy dreams the night after.

Mugwort may not be safe as a weight loss supplement in high doses. As a weight loss supplement, it should be taken in small doses and only at the recommendation of a trained and experienced doctor. Children should not be given mugwort unless absolutely necessary. Even if it is, it should be administered in very mild doses to prevent complications.

Mugwort can cause an allergic reaction. Mugwort is most likely to cause ana allergic reaction in people who are already allergic to either wild carrot’s birch or celery, also known as the “celery-carrot-mugwort-spice syndrome.”

In one 2008 study, it was found that 52% of participants allergic to carrots were also allergic to mugwort. 87% of patients who were allergic to celery also tested positive for mugwort allergies. 26% of the participants who were allergic to caraway seeds were also allergic to mugwort (16).

If you experience any signs of allergic reactions such as swelling or hives, discontinue your use of mugwort immediately. If the symptoms persist or worsen, you should speak to your medical doctor about what steps to take next. If it is extremely serious, call 911 immediately.

Dosage

Although there is no established and proven dosage for mugwort, it can be measured according to cups of tea it is added in. Some herbalists recommend 1.5 teaspoons of mugwort leaves infused with boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.

In supplement form, no more than one or two capsules should be taken with water on a daily basis and the manufacturer’s instructions should not be ignored.

According to some studies, the maximum dose should 3500 mg per day, but that depends on the user’s bodyweight (17).

Lotions made with mugwort should be applied as needed, as there is no proper research indicating the correct dosage.

FAQ

Where is mugwort found? Mugwort is a plant that’s part of the Asteraceae family, and is native to Asia and northern Europe. While you can find it in some parts of North America, it’s thought that it’s an invasive species and may have been brought over by colonists sometime during the age of exploration. 

What does mugwort look like? Typically, mugwort grows to be about 4 feet tall – although it can reach heights of up to 6 feet or greater. Its appearance is characterized by red-brown stems which feature bitter-tasting leaves. A sage-like aroma is often reported. When it blooms, mugwort sports yellow and dark orange flowers in the summer.

Do people use mugwort frequently? Because it can cause allergies like those from ragweed, many American farmers try to get rid of it whenever they see it.

Other countries, which presumably have a longer herbal history with the flower, treat it more carefully. For instance, there are records showing the Roman soldiers would put mugwort in their sandals in order to prevent fatigue. Others used it to induce dreams or repel moths around their gardens.

Is mugwort found in beer? In Europe, mugwort can be used to flavor beer. It has also been used to add flavor to food items like meat and fish. In Japan, it’s frequently used in desserts and pancakes.

What is moxibustion, and how does it relate to mugwort? Moxibustion refers to a traditional Asian medical practice that uses either mugwort or wormwood. In a nutshell, the plant’s leaves are turned into cones or sticks around the size of a cigar. The sticks are then burned over an acupuncture point, which is supposed to release energy in the body.

This practice has an origin in China, where it’s been done for more than 3000 years. Scientific evidence regarding its actual health benefits are somewhat lacking, but cultural and anecdotal evidence shows that moxibustion can treat inflammations and other skin maladies, as well as improve your life energy.

How does mugwort stimulate the uterus? It’s thought that mugwort can stimulate the uterus through the way the chemicals interact with hormone receptors in the body. However, there isn’t enough medical evidence to support this conclusion for sure.

How many chemicals can be found in the mugwort plant? At this time, there are 75 known chemicals contained within the root, stem, and leaves of the mugwort plant. However, it’s not fully known how these chemicals interact with different chemicals in the body or how they interact with other herbs.

Can you harvest your own mugwort and make your own supplements? Sometimes, depending on the quality of your mugwort and where you harvest it. It’s not recommended to use your own mugwort in many cases since the plant might be contaminated with pesticides, other synthetic elements, or other things from your surrounding environment. 

However, if you have a relatively safe garden, you can harvest mugwort and dry the herb by either hanging it or using a dehydrator machine. Once the leaves are dried, you can crush them and use them to make tea. Just remember combining mugwort with other plants in a garden is often a recipe for disaster.

Does mugwort include any vitamins or minerals? The root of the plant does, which is why the teas (which are made from leaves) usually don’t include those vitamins or minerals as a supplementary benefit. The root of the plant is high in calcium and magnesium, which means you can combine it with other spring herbs to make a revitalizing vinegar or tonic.

Can you use mugwort as a sleep enhancer? Yes, you can use mugwort as a sleep enhancer. Simply hang dry mugwort leaves over your bed and combine them with other incense supplements for the best effect. 

What other uses did people include for mugwort? Over the course of its long history, mugwort was used as a yellow dye when certain parts of the root were dried and crushed, and when parts of the flower (which turns colors in the summer) were dried and mixed in. This was used to dye various clothes. 

Mugwort has also historically been used as an ingredient in various food dishes and as an insect repellent. 

Can you plant mugwort in your garden? You can certainly plant mugwort in a garden, but it’s not recommended. Mugwort is a very aggressive plant, which means that it can spread quickly throughout the rest of your garden and choke out the growing area or nutrients from other plants. If you want a happy and healthy garden, you’ll actually want to remove mugwort whenever you see it.

Is mugwort used as an essential oil? Mugwort is rarely used as an essential oil. The parts of the plant to grow above ground can create essential oils comprised of a few therapeutic compounds that include cineole, pinene, and camphor. This has several health-promoting properties, many of which bring out the plant’s antifungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant effects.

Can mugwort help stop cancer? It’s unlikely that mugwort can stop cancer, especially based on the research. The myth comes from the fact that mugwort has a chemical called artemisinin. This chemical has been correlated with some reduced tumor activity in some studies. However, there isn’t enough evidence that mugwort itself is anti-cancer.

What other allergies are related to a mugwort allergy? If you are allergic to mugwort is also probably allergic to other plants in the same Asteraceae family. Such people should watch out for plants like daisies, sunflowers, artichokes, lettuce, thistle, and marigolds.

Is mugwort a hallucinogen? For some people, it can be considered mildly psychoactive, and some people indeed take it for its purported hallucinogenic effects. However, it’s far from the most hallucinogenic herbal supplement you can find.

Is mugwort legal in America? Yes, mugwort is legal to grow and sell in America.

Is mugwort the same as wormwood? No, although they are very similar, mugwort and wormwood are not the same plant. Wormwood is actually one of the 200 different genus’ of mugwort. There scientific names also differ, with mugworts being Artemisia vulgaris and wormwood’s being Artemisia absinthium. 

Related Articles Turmeric Ginger Recap

The efficacy of mugwort for digestive issues, menstrual cramps, and energy can’t be ignored. However, it should be taken in very small doses since it has a high toxicity level and studies are lacking.

Pregnant and nursing women should avoid it at all costs. Before starting a supplement regimen containing mugwort, speak to your doctor to see if it is appropriate for you.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 recommended mugwort supplement, click here.

The post Ranking the best mugwort of 2022 appeared first on BodyNutrition.

- Laura Magnifico
Ranking the best 7-Keto DHEA of 2022

7-Keto DHEA is a supplement used for losing weight, elevating mood, and improving the immune system. It is one of the three oxygenated metabolites that make up Dehydroepiandrosterone and goes by a few different names.

7-keto is a precursor to steroid synthesis, and some studies have found that it has anti-cortisol mechanisms (cortisol being the primary stress hormone).

It has been seen that 7-keto leads to a higher metabolic rate during a period of restricted calorie consumption, leading to its use as a thermogenic supplement that increases energy expenditure.

Rankings 1. Beverly International 7-Keto Musclelean

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Musclelean by Beverly International not only contains a healthy dose of 7-keto per capsule (100 mg), but each serving is also bolstered by green tea extract and other natural ingredients to improve your energy and mood.

Green tea extract has been shown to help support your metabolism and weight loss, further compounding the metabolic benefits of 7-keto.

Each ingredient is included at clinically effective doses to ensure powerful and potent results. It’s no surprise this is BodyNutrition’s #1 pick of 2021.

2. Life Extension 7-Keto Metabolite

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Life Extension’s first supplement on our list provides 100 mg of high quality 7-keto DHEA per serving, with no fillers, additives or allergens.

Each capsule is also made with only vegetarian-friendly ingredients, making it great for people avoiding animal products.

3. Pure Encapsulations 7-Keto Capsules

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Pure Encapsulations capsules only contain 25 mg per pill, making it great option for those that are new to supplementing with 7-keto DHEA.

You’ll find no fillers, additives or unnecessary ingredients here, making it one of the purest options on the market.

4. NOW Foods 7-Keto Capsules

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NOW Foods 7-keto capsules come in a bottle of 120 vegan-friendly capsules. Each bottle is double sealed to ensure no one’s tampered with the capsules in between purchasing and the supplement arriving at your home.

Third party lab tested and free of most allergens, this is one of the best options on the market. 

5. Source Naturals 7-Keto Tablets

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Source Naturals 7-keto DHEA capsules contain 50 mg a pop. This provides a nice middle ground between the standard of 100 mg a tablet and the smaller concentration of 25 mg.

6. Jarrow Formulas 7-Keto DHEA

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Jarrow Formulas makes a potent 7-keto DHEA supplement that’s simple and effective. Its vegan-friendly capsules do contain a few extra fillers, but other than that it’s a very solid product. 

7. Bestvite 50mg DHEA 7-Keto Capsules

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Bestvite 50mg 7-keto DHEA capsules are made with vegetarian-friendly ingredients.

There are no other ingredients included in the formula used here, so it’s a great choice if you want pure 7-keto DHEA.

8. Nature’s Way 7-keto DHEA Metabolite

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Nature’s Way makes a straightforward lower dosage 7-keto supplement that unfortunately has a bit too many extraneous ingredients, like titanium dioxide coloring, to end up any higher in the rankings.

9. Healthy Origins 7-Keto Capsules

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Healthy Origins contains 120 capsules per bottle without any ancillary ingredients.

It’s a potent, pure supplement with an easy-pour cap to ensure that putting a few capsules in your palm is quick and easy.

10. Designs for Health 7-keto DHEA

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Designs for Health makes a 7-keto DHEA supplement that’s got a solid dosage, but like several of the other lower-ranked 7-keto supplements, loses points in our rankings due to the inclusion of extra binders, fillers, and stabilizers not found in the top supplements.

Category winners

Best 7-keto DHEA overall: Beverly International 7-Keto Musclelean

7-Keto Musclean is our top overall pick thanks to its broad base of ingredients that uses 7-keto DHEA alongside other powerful supplements for stimulating fat oxidation and elevating your metabolism, like green tea extract and guarana. It’s the perfect option for dropping weight and boosting caloric expenditure.

Best 7-keto DHEA for weight loss: Beverly International 7-Keto Musclelean

Our top overall pick is also our favorite when it comes to weight loss. By combining 7-keto DHEA alongside other potent weight loss supplements, you can aim for a synergistic effect that both elevates metabolism and cuts down on hunger cravings. 

Best 7-keto DHEA for fatigue: Pure Encapsulations 7-Keto Capsules

For people with adrenal fatigue and other hormonal causes of tiredness and listlessness, 7-keto DHEA is a popular supplemental remedy. For this use case we recommend Pure Encapsulations 7-Keto Capsules because of its clean formulation and easily-modified dosing with 25 mg tablets that give you the best shot at restoring normal energy levels by modulating your 7-keto DHEA intake. 

Best 7-keto DHEA for boosting testosterone: Life Extension 7-Keto DHEA Metabolite

For men looking to boost testosterone levels with 7-keto DHEA, Life Extension is the way to go. Its powerful 100 mg dosage gives you the precursors you need to keep your hormonal production levels maxed out. 

Best 7-keto DHEA for women: Pure Encapsulations 7-Keto Capsules

Pure Encapsulations is our recommendation for women for two reasons: first, the minimalist formulation that makes this supplement integrate into supplement stacks for a variety of purposes (weight loss, muscle gain, etc.); and second, the 25 mg capsules which provide maximum control over the precise dosage you’re getting. When trying to calibrate 7-keto DHEA intake to optimize women’s hormone levels, this level of control is particularly helpful. 

Best 7-keto DHEA for elevating mood: Pure Encapsulations 7-Keto Capsules

Pure Encapsulations is our pick for elevating mood and alleviating feelings of depression and anxiety thanks to the ease with which you can control the dosage. Though higher-dosage competitors are good for some other use-cases, the fact that you can use this supplement for any increment of a 25 mg dose makes it a versatile option for people who need to do some experimentation with how their mood responds to different 7-keto DHEA doses. 

Who should buy 7-keto DHEA

7-keto is a compound that you naturally produce in your body from the parent hormone DHEA. This hormone originates on top of the adrenal glands on both of your kidneys. As a result, it’s one of the most abundant steroid hormones that circulate through your body. 

This being said, it’s only a precursor hormone for both of the male and female primary sex hormones. It doesn’t actively interfere with these sex hormones and doesn’t increase the amount of either in your blood. So it would be inaccurate to think of 7-keto as a kind of steroid you can use to boost muscle gain.

7-keto is primarily used by those who want increased thermogenic effects, better metabolism, and potentially better weight loss. All of these potential benefits are related to its metabolic increasing properties. As 7-keto increases your metabolic rate, your body eventually burns more calories. Since people trying to lose weight often need to lower the number of calories that they consume every day or force their body to burn more calories, 7-keto can potentially be helpful in this manner.

There are small studies that indicate that 7-keto may provide slight benefits and other spheres, like heart health or cortisol reduction. Others claim 7-keto can improve your mental attributes. However, the lack of available evidence for these ancillary benefits means that only those looking to improve their metabolism and lose weight through that should consider taking 7-keto. This is especially true over the long-term.

Of course, even if you do decide to take 7-keto to improve your weight loss efforts, you must combine the supplement with exercise and a good diet in order to actually reap the benefits. 7-keto does not increase your calorie-burning potential to such a degree that you can eat unhealthy food and not exercise and expect to see results. 

As such, those already committed to a healthy diet and lifestyle can benefit from 7-keto the most. Those who have naturally slow metabolisms and also commit to the above will see the most benefit. People currently taking any medications should avoid 7-keto DHEA. Pregnant women, nursing women, diabetics and other special populations should speak to a doctor before starting a supplement regimen with 7-keto DHEA.

How we ranked

7-keto supplements come in several potencies or concentrations. 100 mg is the most common and works with the average dosage recommendation of 200 mg per day (one capsule in the morning and the other in the evening). Products that contained this amount were ideal, which is a main reason why Musclelean by Beverly International took top spot. 

Other capsules may be in concentrations of 50 mg or 25 mg. These are great for trying out the supplement yourself before making it a staple part of your routine. But they’re also good concentrations if you’re older and don’t want to boost your metabolism too much – which is why we included products from Pure Encapsulations and Source Naturals on our list. 

We also looked at the number of capsules contained in each bottle. This directly affects value for money since bottles with more capsules will last you longer (unless the capsules are very low potency). Bottles with lots of capsules and a low asking price are great budget options since they let you continue to use the supplement for longer stretches without having to make another purchase.

Some of the bottles above contain added ingredients like Bioperine, which provide their own supplementary effects or can even improve the effects of the ketosis diet. These add more value to a given supplement but may only be worthwhile to those following the keto diet. Other supplements, like Musclelean by Beverly International contain complementary metabolism supporting ingredients like green tea. This helped it stand out from the competition, directly elevating the weight loss benefits of 7-keto DHEA.

Benefits

7-Keto DHEA can support weight loss. 7-Keto DHEA is a byproduct of DHEA that occurs naturally and is produced in the skin, adrenal gland, and the brain. A lot of people don’t know this but there are almost 10 DHEA metabolites, and out of these, 7-keto is the most famous and valuable.

It is seen that 7-Keto DHEA contributes to weight loss and can increase the metabolism in the body. The substance works by increasing the activity if the thermogenic enzymes that are known for the oxidation of fatty acids. There are studies that show that the supplement has caused an increase of CoA oxidase by 128% and an increase of 860% when it comes to malic enzymes (1).

In a placebo controlled study conducted on thirty overweight people, the results showed a 2.1 pound decrease in the placebo compared to a massive 6.3 pound decease in the control group (2).

The only side effects that were recorded in this study were the elevation of the thyroid hormone. It is seen that when 7-keto is paired with exercise and diet, the results of fat loss were three times higher compared to not taking any other stimulant during weight loss.

7-Keto DHEA can improve the immune function of the body. One study conducted on monkeys that were infected with simian HIV and the results showed an improved wellbeing, a notable increase in the T cells, and weight gain that can be accounted to the wellbeing of the animals.

Other than this, a 4 week human trial was conducted on elderly men and women by the Minnesota Applied Research Center in order to see the effects of the 7-keto on the subjects. These elderly men and women were given one dose of 100 mg twice a day.

At the end of the trial, it was seen that the subjects has better immune health, decreased blood pressure, an increase in the white blood cell count, and an increase in the immune helper cells that contributed to t general well beings of the elderly participants.

7-Keto DHEA can be a powerful anti-aging compound. It is seen that 7-keto, being a natural metabolite of DHEA, declines with age in a way that is directly proportional to the parent hormone. The levels rise until the age of 20, and there is a decline in the blood concentration level by the age of 30. By the age of 50, there is almost a 50% reduction in the blood concentration level (3).

A study evaluated the effect of 7-keto on heart disease. A small dose of 25 mg per day for five days managed to increase the level of good cholesterol. The aggregate reduction of cholesterol was low but there was a huge difference in the atherogenic index, which is a measure used to study the risk of cardiovascular diseases in people.

7-Keto DHEA may support brain health. There are other health benefits of 7-keto that involve improving the brain function, which is done by helping the neurons to come in contact with each other that stops brain aging.

According to Dr. Henry Lardy, a researcher in the field of 7-keto DHEA it is seen that the supplement only has benefits and no side effects. A 29-day trial was conducted on human beings and it was seen that there was no change in the urine chemistry, blood culture, and no conversion of the sex hormones of both the sexes. The subjects were given a dose of 200 mg of 7-keto and no side effects were observed in the results.

Side Effects

7-keto DHEA may cause heartburn. A randomized and double-blind trial involving 7-keto supplements found that several of the participants in the study experienced significant heartburn over the course of the trials. However, the participants were already overweight, so it’s possible that the heartburn was a result of their previous eating habits and current health conditions instead of 7-keto itself (4).

7-keto DHEA can cause a metallic taste. One study involving 45 participants involving some placebo supplements found that many of the patients experienced a metallic taste upon taking the 7-keto. Again, results were generally inconclusive as to whether the taste was from the supplement itself. Regardless, no other serious side effects were reported (5).

7-keto DHEa may cause nausea. A double-blind and placebo-controlled study of 7-keto supplements found that, although most body chemistry remained unchanged by the supplements themselves, several subjects did report bouts of nausea. Other than this, no other serious side effects were reported (6).

Ultimately, it seems that any 7-keto side effects will be extremely mild, if you experience them at all.

7-keto DHEA is a banned substance. The World Anti-Doping Association has listed the supplement as prohibited because it tests positive for tests checking for performance-enhancing drugs. So you will not want to take this supplement if you went on participating in major sports in the near future.

While 7-keto doesn’t alter your hormonal levels if you take it as an oral supplement, it might influence your hormonal levels if you apply the supplement to your skin as a gel. For instance, there are studies that suggest that 7-keto can affect cholesterol, sex hormones, and thyroid function in men. Again, studies on women are relatively few, so more research is needed for the full breadth of potential side effects you need to be aware of (7).

7-keto may not be safe for women. 7-keto DHEA is generally thought to be safe and there’s only a very low risk for any serious side effects. Several studies show that the supplement is generally well-tolerated in men, even at doses up to 200 mg per day for four weeks (8).

There is less research available for women (a problem in much of the medical industry), which is why it may not be safe for them.

Recommended sosage

A dosage of 7-Keto DHEA was given in two divided dosages to all the participants of various clinical trials. These dosages ranged between 200 to 400 mg daily but generally ranged between 100 to 200 mg.

There is some research that suggests that low doses that range between 50 to 100 mg are suitable for a number of neural issues. The optimal dosage range of the drug is not known and the dosages that have been mentioned here are based on the amount that had proven efficacy.

That being said, 7-keto should primarily be used as a metabolic enhancement supplement instead of a mental booster.

FAQ

Why does 7-Keto DHEA help with weight loss? One of the biggest reasons why 7-keto DHEA can help with weight loss, is because it can enhance your metabolism. Your metabolism is best understood as the rate at which your body can convert your fuel and energy, which also involves burning calories as a necessary step.

You burn this energy not just for physical exercise but for everything you do all they, including breathing, pumping blood draw your body, growing and repairing cells, and even adjusting various hormone levels. The ultimate number of calories that your body uses to do all of these tasks is your basal metabolic rate.

Why do people have different metabolic rates? Different people can have different metabolic rates. This is because your metabolism can be affected by a wide variety of things, including your body size, sex, and age.

People who are larger tend to burn more calories, even if they are just sitting on the couch. This is true if they are overweight or if they are large because of muscle mass. They burn more calories because their hearts need to pump more blood to more tissue and need to breathe more frequently to ensure proper oxygenation

Men usually have less body fat and more muscle. This means they usually burn more calories and have higher metabolic rates. Men are also larger than women on average, resulting in the same higher metabolic rate.

When people get older, their metabolism tends to slow down. Coincides with a reduction in muscle mass and an increase in fat. Your genetics can also play a role in your metabolism. Some people naturally have high metabolic rates while others are unlucky and have difficulty burning calories efficiently.

What is a sex hormone and how are they related to 7-keto DHEA? Sex hormones are some of the most important hormones in your body. While they include the two main types (testosterone and estrogen), they also include other sex steroids.

Sex hormones are the steroids you hear about in doping news. Many athletes will take extra testosterone to boost their performance in their chosen sport. While 7-keto DHEA can’t directly improve these hormones, it can have similar effects.

Is 7-keto DHEA a thermogenic? A thermogenic is a compound that causes your body to produce heat. It’s usually applied to various drugs that can increase your body’s heat output by affecting your metabolism. Since 7-keto affects your body’s metabolic rate, you burn more calories and generate more heat, so the supplement is classified as thermogenic.

However, practically every enzymatic reaction in your body as thermogenic, so this isn’t a particularly useful descriptor and can be ignored on supplement bottles as a marketing element.

Can you improve your metabolic rate through other means besides 7-keto? Yes, to some extent you can improve your metabolic rate through other means. Eating different foods and exercising frequently can eventually get your body used to a higher metabolic rate. By the same token, if you don’t exercise and eat unhealthy foods (and thus take on more fat mass), your body will get used to a lower metabolic rate.

Why would it be bad for 7-keto to affect hormone levels throughout the body? Your hormones affect much more than your general metabolic rate and how well you can lose weight. Your hormones are responsible for the growth and repair of various tissues, your mood, your weight, your mindset, and even your sex.

If a supplement were to mess with hormonal levels, it could cause a wide variety of dramatic side effects the likes of which would be difficult for anyone to handle. Fortunately, 7-keto doesn’t normally interact with hormone levels throughout your body (with the possible exception of gel-based supplements).

Can you take 7-keto if you are pregnant or breast-feeding? While you definitely can, it’s not recommended for the same reasons that most other supplements and unnecessary medication are not recommended.

A woman’s body while pregnant or breast-feeding passes along almost everything she consumes to the child. Since infant research about the effects of 7-keto and virtually all other supplements are illegal and otherwise unavailable, there’s no way to know whether an infant might have a negative side effect upon absorbing the supplement. Be safe and avoid taking 7-keto if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.

Can kids take 7-keto supplements if they’re overweight? It’s not recommended, as their bodies are going through hormonal and metabolic changes as they grow. They should pursue other weight loss strategies instead.

Can 7-keto supplements really extend your life? Directly, they cannot extend your life. The “life extension” aspect of many supplements is conjecture based on the higher metabolic rate this supplement can induce in many.

Higher metabolism is associated with better weight and greater fat loss, both of which are, in turn, associated with longer lifespans. But this is not because of the drug itself. Technically, exercise is also life-extending in the same way that 7-keto may theoretically be. 

Can you take 7-keto with other medications or supplements? It’s quite likely that 7-keto will be fine to take with other medications or supplements, but you should double-check with your doctor before beginning any new supplement just to be safe. They will be able to advise you both on dosage and on possible applications that might arise from the multiple medications or supplements interacting with one another. 

Is 7-keto DHEA a good supplement to take while on the keto diet? Yes, 7-keto DHEA is a good supplement to take while on the keto diet. The keto diet is mostly focused on inducing a state of ketosis in your body, which is characterized by increased burning of fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

This may also provide additional health benefits since compounds called “ketones” flood your blood. It can be effective for Western people, whose diets are usually quite high in carbs and fat. The keto diet doesn’t make you lose weight by forcing fat out of your body; it works by enhancing the rate at which your body burns through your fat.

Metabolism-boosting supplements like 7-keto are, therefore, a great fit for this diet. You can sometimes find 7-keto supplements that include keto-friendly ingredients like ketones (the compounds produced by your body while the state of ketosis). They may also include Bioperine or other ingredients which can help your body absorb other helpful nutrients and compounds.

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7-Keto DHEA provides a number of health benefits that are linked with its anti-aging, weight loss, and immune system boosting properties. No side effects of the drug have been reported in any of the clinical trials conducted to date.

Clinical trials reveal it to be a very effective supplement if you want to lose weight but suffer from a generally low metabolic rate that prevents you from burning calories as efficiently as you want.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 recommended 7-Keto DHEA supplement, click here.

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- Toby Amidor
My New Cookbook: Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook

I am thrilled to announce the release of my ninth cookbook, Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook: 100 Delicious Plate Method Recipes on April 30, 2022.

This cookbook presents and explains the popular Diabetes Plate Method with 100 delicious recipes, and 5 different meal plans that range in complexity for beginners to experienced meal preppers. Specific food safety concerns are outlined for people with diabetes along with helpful shopping, cooking or ingredient substitution tips, and all recipes contain nutritional information and step-by-step guidance for creating multiple dishes at one time.

You’ll also find that I have created recipes for every meal of the day, including snacks. Meal plans include grocery lists and nutritional information for each individual-serving meal prep container. At-a-glance icons show which recipes are freezer-friendly, one-pot, 30 minutes or less, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free or a complete plate in one dish.

Photo courtesy of Ashely Lima

Recipes include:

–Fruit and Nut Breakfast Cookies –Eggs with Spinach and Beans –Sheet Pan Chili-Lime Salmon (pictured above) –Beef and Butternut Squash Stew –Eggplant with Tomatoes and Cumin

 

You can pre-order the cookbook on  Amazon. If you would like an interview please contact me here. Stay tuned for a sneak peek into the recipes of my latest cookbook…coming soon on my website!

 

 

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- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors: Day 31
On the last day of National Nutrition Month and the last day of my “31 Days of Global Flavors” series, my colleague and friend Dr. Keith Ayoob is sharing why he loves thyme — which is the flavor we are celebrating today. Thyme There is regular thyme which is sort of a dry “shrub” but broad-leaf thyme is a more succulent, crunchy leaf that dices up well and adds a lighter, but still “herby” flavor that wakes up the usual salad ingredients. I think the flavor is more like oregano.  It’s sometimes called “Spanish thyme.”  It’s best fresh, and in addition to salads, I’ve added it to bean dishes and stir-fries.  It’s also very compatible with fish dishes. I love broad-leaf thyme chopped into salads, and it’s excellent added to savory bean dishes. This salad below can incorporate everything, including protein, tons of fiber, some fruit, and of course a lot of veggies. It’s also great for using up leftovers.

Courtesy of Keith Ayoob

Keith’s Chopped Salad  Fill a large mixing bowl with the following: Romaine leaves Arugula Grape tomatoes Cucumber Celery Carrots Fennel (I slice this thinly sliced, rather than chopped) 2 or 3 leaves of broadleaf thyme, minced Optional, but nice: pitted, chopped olives, pickled peppers, or fresh sweet peppers, radishes, cooked vegetables, any leftover canned beans (garbanzos, black beans, whatever you have), diced pears (red pears are great if you have them) Protein options, if it’s a main course: crumbled feta, goat, bleu cheese or diced mozzarella, hard-cooked eggs, quartered, poached or broiled fish (salmon is fabulous with this) Grated parmesan Directions: Chop all the ingredients but slice the fennel and mince the broadleaf thyme as noted, and add everything to the bowl. Toss it all together until nicely combined.  Dressing: In our house, it’s EVOO and Balsamic, at a ratio of about 2 parts EVOO to 1 part Balsamic. If I have some Balsamic syrup, I’ll drizzle it all over after I’ve dressed the salad. A fat-free Italian is fine too and makes the salad or meal even leaner.  Pass the grated parmesan for sprinkling on top to everyone’s taste.  You may want to save the proteins to add on top, when serving. Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND Associate Clinical Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine

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- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors: Day 30

Today is day 30 of National Nutrition Month and my series of “31 Days of Global Flavors.” Throughout the month I have been highlighting dietitians and the global foods and flavors they love. Today is the day to celebrate pineapple.

Pineapple

For centuries, the pineapple was used to symbolize hospitality. Christopher Columbus introduced the fruit, which is native to Central and South America, to Europe after he discovered them in the Caribbean. Today, Hawaii is the leading producer of pineapple.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Lima

I love using pineapple in a variety of dishes to add a sweet-tart flavor.  You can enjoy it slices or cubed, or you can add it to sweet or savory dishes. Here are several of my favorite ways to use pineapple in the kitchen:

Pineapple Guacamole Pineapple Turmeric Smoothie Green Tea Smoothie Bowl with Raspberries Hawaiian Chicken Pizza Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa (pictured above) Strawberry Pineapple Ice Pops

 

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND of Toby Amidor Nutrition, PC

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- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 29

We are at the tail end of this series in honor of National Nutrition Month. Today we are celebrating teriyaki which comes from registered dietitian Amy Gorin.

Teriyaki

My number one favorite global flavor is teriyaki which I love using in my cooking. Teriyaki is so savory and adds a burst of flavor to dishes such as homemade “fried” rice.

Here is my recipe for Green Bean Fried Rice. I make this dish when I’m craving takeout but want something healthier. It’s an easy complete meal—the brown rice and veggies provides fiber, the eggs provide protein, and the almond butter provides healthy fat.

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, an inclusive plant-based dietitian and owner of Master the Media in Stamford, CT.

 

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- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 28

For day 28 of my “31 of Global Flavors” series, dietitian and friend Christy Wilson talks about her love for mangos!

Mangos

Christy’s number one global flavor is mango. It has a tropical, citrus flavor that is so juicy and refreshing. Mangos are a little sour, a little sweet, and a lot delicious! There are always a few varieties of mangos in season all year long so I can always find it at my local grocery store. Mangos contain fiber, which is excellent for gut health and helps us feel full and satisfied, and they contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals including vitamins A and C.

Mangos are quite versatile and can be eaten by themselves, combined with other fruits, vegetables, grains and herbs, or muddled or blended into drinks and desserts. I love eating magos as a dessert or snack with a little added lime juice and my favorite chili lime seasoning, Tajin. As a treat, I puree fresh mango and make it into paletas (frozen pops)! I found that, especially when my kids were younger, this was a fun way to offer my kids fruit and they loved it! I also like mixing diced fresh mango with cucumber, jicama and a little cilantro for a sweet, fresh and crunchy combo. Here’s my recipe for Mango Chile Limon Paletas (frozen pops)– enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Christy WIlson

–Christy Wilson, RDN owner of Christy Wilson Nutrition, LLC, a nutrition communications business, and a nutrition counselor at El Rio Health

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- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 27

We at the tail end of National Nutrition Month and for day 27 my friend and colleague Frances Largeman-Roth is talking about one of her favorite global flavors, matcha.

Matcha

Matcha is made by grinding up dried green tea leaves to a powdery consistency. It has a distinct earthy, sweet flavor and adds the most gorgeous green color to anything you add it to. Since you’re actually eating the tea leaf instead of brewing it, you’re getting even more antioxidants than when you drink green tea. In addition to lattes and desserts, you can also add matcha to smoothies or just stir it into vanilla yogurt. I make matcha and oat milk lattes when I want something delicious and have a few extra minutes to savor it. I also use it in desserts, like my Matcha Chia Pudding Parfaits, which is perfect for spring. Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert, and author

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- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 26
It’s day 26 of my “31 Days of Global Flavors” series in honor of National Nutrition Month. Today dietitian Melissa Altman-Traub discusses her love of cinnamon. Cinnamon Cinnamon provides a warm and comforting flavor and aroma to baked goods, desserts, warm beverages, and savory dishes. Ceylon cinnamon has a lighter, more delicate flavor than the more common cassia cinnamon, with less heat. It is used in this recipe for Healthier Blueberry Coffee Cake (without dairy)

Photo courtesy of Melissa Altman-Traub

–Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN, food blogger at www.melissatraub.com

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- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 25
There’s one week left of National Nutrition Month and we are celebrating day 25 with my friend and fellow RD, Bonnie Taub-Dix and her love of avocados. Avocadoes Avocado is the chameleon of meals — it’s a perfect ingredient in a breakfast burrito, it’s healthier than mayo when spread onto a lunchtime sandwich, it’s perfect for dunking veggies into as a guac for an afternoon snack and I love using avocado in sauces or toppings for poultry or fish at dinner. Besides being delicious, avocado provides almost 20 vitamins and minerals and it’s a good source of fiber, a nutrient most of us are not getting enough of. –Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com, author of Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table, and @bonnietaubdix on Instagram

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- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 24

Today is day 24 of my “31 Days of Global Flavors” series in honor of National Nutrition Month. Today dietitian and friend Jill Weisenberger talks about her favorite global flavor, basil.

Basil

Basil is a favorite herb all year long. I got to know about it when I went to Italy the first time. I ate gnocchi in pesto sauce in a tiny whole-in-the-wall restaurant in Florence, Italy. I’ve been playing with basil and pesto ever since. Here is my recipe for Tomato and Goat Cheese-Walnut Pesto Flatbread. I hope you enjoy it!

Photo courtesy of Jill Weisenberger

–Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDCES, CHWC, FAND, author of the free guide Can I Eat That with Prediabetes?

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- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 23

Today’s global flavor comes to us from a fellow registered dietitian and friend of mine, Sharon Palmer.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are part of the eight neolithic founder crops of civilization. Chickpeas are part of the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is the founding diet of civilizations. And it’s also so versatile and delicious. Chickpeas are nutritious—they are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, plus are a good source of protein. They are a great way to include more plant proteins in your diet. I include chickpeas a few times per week as my plant protein source, on grain bowls, salads, casseroles, stews, and in hummus and even blended into baking. Here’s my recipe for Brown Rice, Chickpea, and Kale Salad with Ginger-Tahini Dressing. I hope you enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Sharon Palmer

–Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian at SharonPalmer.com

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Revolutionizing Anorexia Care Starts with Nutrition

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Nutrition Can Strengthen the Immune System to Fight COVID-19

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The Problem with Epidemiological Studies

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Ketogenic Diets 101

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8 Reasons to Try Low-Carb for Mental Health

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Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and the New Science of Hope

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The Carnivore Diet for Mental Health?

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The Brain Needs Animal Fat

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DHA—an essential omega-3 fatty acid—is critically important for brain development and function... but is only found in animal foods.

Do You Have Arachiphobia?

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A candid conversation with the tragically misunderstood and oft-feared omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid. Learn the needs this nutrient fills and how to ensure you get enough of it.

EAT-Lancet's Plant-Based Planet: 10 Things You Need to Know

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My critique of the EAT-Lancet report reveals that their arguments for the planetary shift to a plant-based diet are inconsistent, unscientific, and downplay the serious risks to life and health posed by vegan diets.

The Number One Tool for Improving Your Health this Year

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Is your New Year’s resolution to get healthier? The good news is that no matter what approach you choose, you can use this simple, magical, in-home tool to stay motivated and track your progress in real time.

New Blood Test Helps Predict (and Prevent?) Bipolar Disorder

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Is it depression or bipolar disorder? Researchers may have found a test that could help detect who will develop bipolar disorder later in life.

The Truth about Low-Protein, High-Carb Diets and Brain Aging

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A new study claims a low-protein, high-carb diet may help ward off dementia, despite a growing body of clinical evidence suggesting that low-carb diets can be helpful for brain problems.

Changing How Doctors View Obesity

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In this post, I offer ten strategies that medical practitioners should consider in order to better meet the emotional and health needs of their obese patients.

Obesity: Stop Shaming, Start Understanding

Categories: Mental Health, Insulin Resistance, Other Health Conditions

How can we move beyond our prejudices and approach obesity from a more respectful and productive perspective?

Latest Low-Carb Study: All Politics, No Science

Categories: Ketogenic Diet, Insulin Resistance, Fat, Carbohydrates

The Lancet Public Health journal published a study warning that low-carb diets can cause early death. Do these diets, which make so many people healthier, really simultaneously hasten their demise?

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
What You Should Know About Probiotics

We’re doing a deep dive into the world of fermented foods and what you should know about probiotics so you can start reaping the benefits from these microorganisms today!

Probiotics have the potential to improve your digestive, cardiovascular, immune, and mental health as well as your metabolism and skin. It almost sounds too good to be true, right? Fortunately for us, there’s enough research to prove it.

Adding probiotics into your routine can be an amazing way to improve your health and wellness. But before doing so, it’s important to know the who, what, where, when, and why.

Should I be taking a probiotic? How do I know if it’s working? Is there ever an indication for not taking probiotics? Here we’ll discuss it all!

What You Should Know About Probiotics

What Are Probiotics?

The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics defines probiotics as, “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”(1). Now let’s discuss what that means.

The host is you or I – the human taking or consuming the probiotics.

Now those microorganisms mentioned are just live bacteria that we consume. This may be in the form of a food item or a supplement. While you might traditionally think of an infection or something bad when you hear the word bacteria, here we’re actually talking about good bacteria. 

These good bacteria, or probiotics, work their magic in the colon. In order for them to have a positive impact on our health, they must first make it past the stomach. Next, through the small intestine before reaching the desired location.

We also need to make sure we’re consuming the probiotic in adequate amounts. Every strain must be studied in relation to its dose effectiveness (2).

Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics

When discussing probiotics, it’s important to understand prebiotics and synbiotics as well.

In simple terms, prebiotics essentially feed the good bacteria in your gut. They are the non-digestible components of food that help desirable microorganisms grow and thrive (3). For example, inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), beta-glucan, oligofructose, and xylooligosaccharides (XOS), are all examples of prebiotics. They can be found in fibrous fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, bananas, oats, onions, and apples as well as many others (4).

Synbiotics, like Seed’s Daily Synbiotic, on the other hand, are simply products that contain a combination of probiotics and prebiotics all in one (5).

How To Interpret Probiotic Names

Before we really get down to specifics here, we need to know what exactly we’re referring to when we break down the components of probiotics. There are three parts to every probiotic – first comes the genus, followed by the species, and then the strain.

For example, there’s a probiotic called Lactobacillus plantarum SD-LPLDL-UK. Within this probiotic, Lactobacillus is the genus, plantarum is the species and SD-LPLDL-UK is the strain.

Top Probiotic Health Benefits

Now that we know what probiotics are, let’s discuss why we would even want to consume them in the first place. 

While there are quite a few variations of microorganisms that can be considered probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most common (6).

Lactobacillus

One of the most well-known species of Lactobacillus is the acidophilus species. This particular species has been associated with optimal immune, vaginal, gut, digestive, and immune health (7).

Other strains of Lactobacillus have also been shown to improve atopic dermatitis, pediatric acute infectious diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, IBS, hypercholesterolemia, and even obesity (8).

Bifidobacterium

Within the Bifidobacterium genus, a plethora of species have been identified for their potential health benefits as well (9).

Generally speaking, the main function of Bifidobacterium is to digest fiber and complex carbohydrates that we generally cannot digest on our own. Remember that prebiotics we mentioned earlier? That’s exactly what we’re referring to here!

Additionally, Bifidobacterium has been tied to quite a few health benefits. It’s been proven to aid cardiovascular health and digestive health. Plus, it has been shown to reduce weight gain and chances of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus in adults (10), (11), (12). It has even been shown to improve immune function in infants (13).

The particular genus we’re discussing has also been associated with reduced symptoms of IBS and reduced inflammation. This was particularly prevalent in those with chronic fatigue syndrome, IBD, ulcerative colitis, and psoriasis (14), (15), (16).

Lastly, it has been associated with improved symptoms of psychological distress (17). Now that we’ve got the basics of probiotics down, let’s switch gears and discuss fermentation!

What Does It Mean To Be Fermented?

The fermentation of food is one of the oldest techniques for food preservation. Fermented foods go through a process called lactofermentation. This is where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch present in the food item, which results in the creation of lactic acid.

The creation of lactic acid helps preserve the food item and produces various nutrients such as enzymes, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and good bacteria.

Are Fermented Foods Probiotics?

The technical answer to this question is no.

Yes, various fermented food items do contain live microorganisms. And yes, they have been clinically proven to benefit your microbiota. But the difference here is that they do not necessarily fit the definition of a true probiotic (18), (19), (20).

In order for living microorganisms to be considered a probiotic, they need to be clinically proven to confer health benefits when consumed in a certain amount. Oftentimes, food products do not contain the exact strain or amount needed to provide such benefits.

So What’s The Deal With Probiotic Supplements?

There are quite a few indications for the use of probiotic supplements. This includes benefits for digestive, skin, and even heart health. Scientists have also been researching the potential of probiotics in preventing and treating disease!

What Probiotics Should I Take?

When contemplating a probiotic, there are quite a few components to consider. You need to consider the purpose of the probiotic, the bacteria strains included, the amount that is taken, and the frequency of supplementation in addition to any contraindications that may be present. The best way to navigate this process is to work with your Registered Dietitian or doctor. They’ll be able to consider your goals in the context of your health and point you in the right direction.

We recommend  Seed’s Daily Synbiotic (probiotics + prebiotics) to many of our clients. They’ve been shown to support several markers for digestive health, cardiovascular health, and dermatological health in 23 strain-specific human clinical studies (published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, Scientific Reports (Nature), and JAMA Dermatology. They’re all indexed in PubMed, the central database for life science journal literature at the National Institute of Health.

They have a patented algae microsphere delivery system that ensures the most sensitive strains make it through digestion and into the colon. In addition, the probiotic strains they use are unique to Seed and not found in yogurt, fermented foods, or “probiotic’ beverages. Plus, they’re free from the 12 classes of allergens.

I’ve personally enjoyed using Seed probiotics for about a year! In addition, we’ve used them as part of our routine plans for our clients at Nutrition Stripped Wellness. As you know, we only partner with brands we support and respect.  Seed is one of those brands and I think you’ll enjoy their products as well!

What You Should Know About Probiotics

Common Probiotic Myths

Probiotics have never been as popular as they are today. Unfortunately, with popularity comes rumors. New research is emerging, new probiotic products are popping up daily and more and more consumers are getting on board.

Because of this, there are quite a few probiotic myths circling around. So let’s tackle some of the most common ones.

The More, The Better

Often times people assume that in order to get the most out of their probiotics, they need to consume the largest amount possible. This isn’t necessarily the case.

Probiotics don’t need to colonize (take up permanent residence) in your gut to work. Seed probiotic strains are transient microbes. That means they journey through your colon (where the majority of your microbiome resides), to activate systemic benefits through programmed interactions with your existing bacteria and your body (their host). That’s why the continuous, daily intake is important.

Another reason why we love Seed is that their Daily Synbiotic consists of clinically-verified dosages of both probiotics (24 strains) and prebiotics. This means the dosage amount of each strain and the prebiotic compound is confirmed via clinically-validated data. And when you add it all together, your daily dose fills 2 capsules!

Use the discount code nutritionstripped15 for a special NS discount on your purchase of Seed, the Daily Synbiotic.

Probiotics Are Only Good For Digestion

Based on all of the research we just discussed, this one clearly isn’t true. Probiotics have various health benefits outside of improved digestion!

When nurturing our GI system, we undoubtedly nurture other parts of the body as well. From improved skin to cardiovascular health, probiotics have a wide variety of health benefits.

Do you find yourself feeling stressed about food? 

Sign up to watch my free masterclass today, where you’ll learn about the #1 Habit That Keeps You Struggling With Your Weight and your Relationship With Food — And How To Break Free From The Diet And Food Obsession Starting Now. 

You don’t need to stress and obsess about food. There is a better way, and yes it’s possible to cultivate a positive relationship with food! Join this free balanced eating masterclass to learn how.

Watch The Free Masterclass Connect With Us

I would love to hear about your experience with probiotics! What works for you? What have you tried that didn’t work so well?

I’m sure someone else reading this article would love to hear about your experience as well. As always, you can connect with us on Instagram via @nutritionstrippederica, @nutritionstripped, and #nutritionstripped. In addition, check out all the cool things @seed is sharing on their Instagram daily!

This article is in partnership and sponsored by Seed, a brand we stand behind for their quality products and performance and think you’ll enjoy as well. You can read more about how and why we partner with brands we love here. All opinions, reviews, and information above are fully our own and we follow FTC standards.

The post What You Should Know About Probiotics appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
Smoky Huevos Rancheros

These Smoky Huevos Rancheros are super quick, easy, and deliciously smoky!

While it’s no secret at this point that we love eggs here at Nutrition Stripped, it is a little less known fact that I’m a big fan of breakfast for dinner. Whenever the end of the week rolls around and we’ve eaten all of our prepped meals, Huevos Rancheros is one of my favorite go-to dishes!

I’ve been making Huevos Rancheros since my college days for many reasons. They’re super easy to make, packed with healthy fats and protein, and perfect for batch-cooking. Just make a big pot of The Easiest Black Beans and the Chipotle-adobo salsa in this recipe, and you’re good to go!

Huevos Rancheros originated in rural Mexico and was a nutritious and flavorful meal that was hearty enough to support and sustain the hard-working farmer’s energy through their daily tasks. As this dish spread beyond Mexico to different parts of the world, many different variations appeared, using lettuce or cheese, and in some cases meats and other proteins.

However you choose to enjoy Huevos Rancheros, we know you will appreciate his hearty meal as much as we do!

Using the Foundational Five to Create These Smoky Huevos Rancheros

In case you’re new to the NS Community and the Mindful Nutrition Method, the Foundational Five system is part of how we teach you to build balanced meals. It makes it easy for you to give your body the nourishment you need while having the flexibility to enjoy the foods you love without stressing about food.

The Foundational Five is made up of five elements of nutrition including Protein, Fat, Non-starchy Carbohydrates, Starchy & Sugary Carbohydrates, and the Flavor Factor (which brings vibrancy, deliciousness, and enjoyment to your meals). 

You can download our free guide that walks you through our Foundational Five system for creating balanced meals that you can use to meal prep or cook fresh this week!

Black Bean Nutrition Benefits  Promotes Optimal Digestion 

Beans and legumes are jam-packed with fiber (both soluble and insoluble), which helps promote healthy GI motility. Additionally, beans are a great source of prebiotics, which help allow those great probiotics to survive and thrive in the digestive tract. 

A Great Source of Energy

Beans are not only a source of protein but also starchy carbohydrates. That means they provide your body with the fast, quick energy it craves, without a huge spike in blood sugar. The protein, as well as the fiber present, help slow down the rate of digestion so you can have sustained, stable energy! 

Ingredients Needed To Make These Smoky Huevos Rancheros Tortillas Eggs Black beans, store-bought or homemade Crushed tomatoes Poblano pepper Chipotle chili Yellow onion Garlic Olive oil Cumin  Salt Pepper

Smokey Huevos Rancheros

How To Make These Smoky Huevos Rancheros

First, prepare your onion and poblano pepper in a skillet over medium heat with garlic and cumin. Next, blend the cooked vegetables, along with crushed tomatoes, and chipotle chili in your blender.

Cook your canned beans on the stovetop with a splash of lime juice. Lastly, fry up two eggs and assemble your beans, salsa, and eggs on top of two warmed tortillas! 

Tips For Making These Smoky Huevos Rancheros

There’s a tip you should keep in mind that will help you save time when assembling this dish.

Prep Your Ingredients In Advance

Looking to speed up the prep time a bit? You can prepare your beans and salsa ahead of time! Add them to your meal prep for the week, and all you’ll have to do is fry up some eggs when you’re ready to eat. So simple and easy!

FAQ About How To Make These Smoky Huevos Rancheros What if I don’t eat eggs?

Don’t sweat it! Eggs aren’t for everyone. Try replacing the eggs with your favorite protein of choice – maybe some tempeh or tofu.

The post Smoky Huevos Rancheros appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
What Are Prebiotics’ Health Benefits And Food Sources?

At this point, we’ve all heard of probiotics and their phenomenal benefits, but what about prebiotics? Keep reading to learn all about the fuel that probiotics need to survive and thrive in the gut microbiome. 

Probiotics are your gut’s best defense in the world of the microbiome. They’re the “good” bacteria that fight off inflammation and disease and boost your immunity. But have you heard of prebiotics?

Today, I’m breaking down the correlation between prebiotics and probiotics. After reading, you’ll fully understand the role prebiotics play and how to use them to your advantage. 

What Are Prebiotics? 

Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber compounds or carbohydrates that help feed the probiotics and help them grow. Think of them as the water and sunlight flowers and plants need to flourish. Prebiotics help probiotics do their job and do it well. They’re the fuel probiotics need to build and maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

So let’s walk through exactly how they do just that. 

Because prebiotic food sources contain starchy carbohydrates with large amounts of fiber, they aren’t fully broken down right away. Therefore when they finally reach the colon, they become fermented by the gut microbiome (or those probiotics that are present). This is where the magic happens! 

How Prebiotics Work With Probiotics to Benefit Health

It takes a village to keep your gut healthy and help it carry out its many important bodily functions. From sleep and digestion to weight management, a healthy gut plays a role in it all.

Over time, research has shown us that probiotics have been proven to help prevent age-related diseases. And now a new body of research tells us that getting enough prebiotics in your diet is just as important as getting those probiotics (1).

Therefore, prebiotics must be consumed and prioritized just as much as those probiotics. Here are some specific ways prebiotics and probiotics work together to improve your overall health!

Stewed Apples with Warming Spices | Nutrition Stripped

1. Improve Sleep and Reduces Stress

Studies show that the microbiome influences your circadian rhythm or your body’s internal clock. Therefore, a diet rich in both pre and probiotics may help improve the quality of your sleep (2).

And because your mood is directly linked to your gut health as well, prebiotics also work to help reduce stress and relieve depression and anxiety symptoms, which ultimately affect your sleep patterns (3).

2. Regulate Hunger Hormones

Just as they sound, hunger hormones let us know when it’s time to eat something because the body needs energy. Like a bad chain reaction, lack of sleep actually causes the hunger hormone, ghrelin, to send signals to your brain that you need to eat more food and to stop using residual energy (4). This leads to the unintentional storage of energy.

Consuming prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods contributes to a good night’s sleep, s0 you can prevent this chain reaction. Incorporating more fiber-rich prebiotic foods can also help you feel fuller longer and keep your blood sugar levels stabilized, which prevents spikes and drops in blood sugar. Spikes and drops in blood sugar lead to spikes and drops in your hunger hormones as well.

4. Protect Your Bones

Prebiotic foods are excellent sources of magnesium, which has been shown to help improve your bone health. Additionally, emerging research shows that probiotics, like Bifidobacterium longum, may help improve bone density, reduce bone loss and increase bone formation (5).

Therefore when you combine prebiotic and probiotic foods in your diet, you’re not only safeguarding your digestive health but your bones and joints, too!

Prebiotics Keep The Gut Microbiome Balanced

Let’s say you haven’t been getting enough sleep and haven’t been eating a prebiotic-rich diet. Or maybe you’ve been extremely stressed or taking an antibiotic to treat an infection. Over time, these factors on their own or when combined can create an imbalance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut.

Those “good” bacteria, or probiotics, start to decline. You might experience gastrointestinal issues, like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or indigestion.

So now what do we do? Because we know just how vital prebiotics are in the building and maintenance of probiotics, we can use them to build back up the integrity of that gut microbiome, and repopulate those healthy probiotics.

The Different Types of Prebiotics 

Generally speaking, there are four different types of prebiotics that you may find in your food. Fructans, galactooligosaccharides, starch/glucose-derived oligosaccharides, and non-carbohydrate oligosaccharides.

The most common kind of prebiotic is the oligosaccharide. If you ever find yourself with an imbalanced gut microbiome, or simply wanting to mindfully increase prebiotic intake, here are some great examples of probiotic and prebiotic-rich food combinations for you to try. 

Greek Yogurt & Banana

The probiotics most commonly found in Greek yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. When the fiber and carbohydrates in a banana reach your colon, they become fermented by your gut and turn into prebiotics. The prebiotics fuel the good bacteria — the Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thremophilus — so they grow and bring balance to the microbiome.

Lactobacillus bulgaricus is particularly great for relieving digestive issues, including lactose intolerance, constipation, nausea, leaky gut syndrome, and diarrhea (6).

Sauteed Tempeh & Artichokes

Studies have shown that soy-based tempeh helps promote the growth of Bifidobacterium, a type of probiotic that boosts immunity and fights disease. Together with the prebiotic oligosaccharides present in artichokes, Bifidobacterium can help reduce the number of pathogenic bacteria in the gut, such as E.coli and enterococci. (7)

Sourdough Toast, Cashew Cheese & Sauteed Asparagus

You’ll mostly find fermented buckwheat in sourdough bread. Fermented buckwheat has been shown to help deliver good bacteria to the gut microbiome. For example, a 2013 study found that when the buckwheat and oat bran were combined with probiotic-enriched milk, the good bacteria were enhanced and their survival rate improved (8).

Enjoy some sourdough toast with a creamy chive cashew cheese and some sauteed asparagus. The prebiotic fiber from asparagus will help carry over good bacteria from the buckwheat in sourdough bread to your gut!

Grain Bowls with Pickled Veggies 

Saurkraut, kimchi, pickles, and other pickled veggies are great sources of probiotics. By adding pickled veggies to your grain bowls, you reap the benefits of both probiotics and prebiotics. The fiber-rich vegetables and whole grains in your bowl offer prebiotics that support and promote the probiotics in pickles, kimchi, and other pickled veggies.

The Takeaway 

Prebiotics and probiotics work together to give your gut microbiome the love it deserves. If you’re experiencing some slight digestive discomfort, slowly but surely increasing your intake of prebiotic foods is a great place to start!

With that said, always know that a professional is the best next step if you find that your symptoms persist over time. You can work with a Registered Dietitian to ensure you’re maintaining a balanced diet that allows for your individual digestion to thrive. 

Do you find yourself feeling stressed about food? 

Sign up to watch my free masterclass today, where you’ll learn about the #1 Habit That Keeps You Struggling With Your Weight and your Relationship With Food — And How To Break Free From The Diet And Food Obsession Starting Now. 

You don’t need to stress and obsess about food. There is a better way, and yes it’s possible to cultivate a positive relationship with food! Join this free balanced eating masterclass to learn how.

Watch The Free Masterclass

The post What Are Prebiotics’ Health Benefits And Food Sources? appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
Ways to Keep Nutrients Intact When Cooking

Learn how to keep nutrients intact when cooking and preparing food at home! 

Cooking methods aren’t one-size-fits-all, certain cooking methods can result in more or less nutrient translation to your end product. Because of this, you can intentionally vary the cooking methods you choose based on the different nutrient makeups of certain foods. Pretty cool, right? 

Now does this mean you need to be hyper-vigilant and only use certain cooking methods for certain foods? Absolutely not! But it can’t hurt to learn how to optimize those health benefits and soak up all that nutrition when you can. 

Today, discover the basic framework for optimizing the health benefits of the food you’re about to eat so you can get the best nutrient bang for your buck.

Raw Whole Foods 

When discussing nutrient utilization, it’s best to start with the original food component – raw fruits and vegetables. By consuming fruits and vegetables in their most natural state, you’re not missing out on any of those great nutrients. For example, a study showed that vegetables deliver the most Vitamin C when consumed raw (1).

So does this mean that here at NS we recommend or encourage a raw-only diet? Nope! We love cooked fruits and vegetables just as much. Research has also shown that cooking can sometimes actually increase the availability of other nutrients such as lycopene and carotenoids. These nutrients are easier for our bodies to digest and use once they’ve been heated.

So what does this mean? A mix of cooked and raw produce is the best way to go. If you don’t already, you can try mixing in some raw snacks and recipes with your typical cooked go-to’s. You can head to the Nutrition Stripped recipe index to find some new ones to try! 

Cooked Whole Foods

Let’s now go through each method of cooking produce to discuss the various implications and considerations! That way, you’ll feel fully prepared the next time you’re in the kitchen and would like to prepare a meal that’s jam-packed with nutrition. 

Boiling

The first method of cooking we have is boiling. When discussing how to keep nutrients intact while cooking, boiling is a great place to start. It’s a go-to method for quickly preparing foods in a large amount of hot water.

Since water is involved, however, the number of water-soluble nutrients such as vitamin C, B1, and folate greatly decreases after cooking. Studies have shown this to be the case, especially with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, where it caused great losses of chlorophyll, soluble protein, soluble sugar, vitamin C, and glucosinolates (2, 3).

Therefore it might be a good idea to stick to soups and other broth-based recipes involving leafy greens and boiling water, that way you can keep those nutrients intact in the recipe.

On the flip side, other vegetables have been shown to maintain the highest level of their antioxidants when boiled, like cauliflower, peas, and zucchini (4). So the next time you’re looking for a vegetable to boil, start here!

Grilling

Grilling is a delicious way to enjoy meats and vegetables alike. It’s also a great way to keep nutrients intact when preparing both, especially when we keep the juice of the meat hanging around. It’s a particular favorite of mine in the summer! Especially grilled romaine salad.

To make this yourself, take a head of romaine lettuce and cut it longways. Next, brush the strips with olive oil and sprinkle with a touch of sea salt. Lastly, grill them cut-side down for about 4 minutes or until grill marks are visible.

This is a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of grilling on a salad! Dress and serve as you normally would, I personally like having them with cut strawberries and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

 

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steak Bowl | Nutrition Stripped

Sautéeing

This method of cooking requires a small amount of fat in a pan, such as extra virgin olive oil. This already starts you off on the right foot when attempting to keep nutrients intact when cooking! A 2015 study showed that when extra virgin olive oil is used for this, the number of antioxidants in the food is actually increased (5). With that fat present, sautéing also helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. 

On the other hand, sautéeing actually decreases the amount of vitamin C in vegetables. But in my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons here!

Steaming

Steaming tends to get a bad wrap just because it usually doesn’t pack as much flavor as other heated cooking methods. But with that said, it does allow for the item to cook in its own juice and retain a lot of its natural benefits.

Studies suggest that steaming is the best way to maintain the nutritional quality, i.e. TAC, carotenoids, glucosinolates, sulphorane, folate, phytochemicals, and water-soluble Vitamin B! 

Do you find yourself feeling stressed about food? 

Sign up to watch my free masterclass today, where you’ll learn about the #1 Habit That Keeps You Struggling With Your Weight and your Relationship With Food — And How To Break Free From The Diet And Food Obsession Starting Now. 

You don’t need to stress and obsess about food. There is a better way, and yes it’s possible to cultivate a positive relationship with food! Join this free balanced eating masterclass to learn how.

Watch The Free Masterclass

The post Ways to Keep Nutrients Intact When Cooking appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
Simple Kale Caesar Salad with Maple Pepper Tempeh

It’s so easy to see why kale is king with this Simple Kale Caesar Salad recipe! It’s a unique, delicious way to enjoy kale any time of the year. 

Who doesn’t love a new twist on an old classic? If you’re a fan of Caesar salads, you’ll have to give this recipe a try. It’s one of my go-to favorite recipes, I’m so excited to share it with you all!

We’re all about prioritizing the combination of enjoyment and nourishment here at Nutrition Stripped. And this recipe is a beautiful example of just that!

Using the Foundational Five to Create This Simple Kale Caesar Salad with Maple Pepper Tempeh

In case you’re new to the NS Community and the Mindful Nutrition Method, the Foundational Five system is part of how we teach you to build balanced meals. It makes it easy for you to give your body the nourishment you need while having the flexibility to enjoy the foods you love without stressing about food.

The Foundational Five is made up of five elements of nutrition including Protein, Fat, Non-starchy Carbohydrates, Starchy & Sugary Carbohydrates, and the Flavor Factor (which brings vibrancy, deliciousness, and enjoyment to your meals). 

You can download our free guide that walks you through our Foundational Five system for creating balanced meals that you can use to meal prep or cook fresh this week!

Kale Nutrition Benefits  Extremely Nutrient Dense 

Kale is jam-packed with vitamins A, C, and K! Plus, it’s got some calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and even copper.

A Great Source of Antioxidants 

Kale is also packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are particularly important for fighting off those free radicals in order to ultimately help prevent and fight disease. 

Ingredients Needed To Make This Simple Kale Caesar Salad with Maple Pepper Tempeh Massaged kale Raw cashews Olive oil Water Nutritional yeast Fresh lemon juice Garlic Dijon mustard Fresh ground black pepper Sea salt Coconut aminos Coconut oil Organic tempeh Maple syrup

How To Make This Simple Kale Caesar Salad with Maple Pepper Tempeh

First, simply add all of your dressing ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Next, prepare your tempeh in a stovetop skillet until golden brown. 

Lastly, combine all of your salad ingredients (except for the dressing) in a large bowl and toss until all ingredients are combined. Once combined, drizzle your creamy caesar dressing over top and combine one last time until the salad is evenly coated!

Tips For Making This Simple Kale Caesar Salad with Maple Pepper Tempeh

There’s a tip you should keep in mind that will help you save time when assembling this salad.

Prep Your Ingredients In Advance

Looking to speed up the prep time a bit? You can prepare your tempeh and blend your dressing in advance so you have a little less work on your hands when you decide to assemble your Simple Kale Caesar Salad.

Just don’t add the dressing until right before you’re going to eat! This will ensure you preserve the texture and turgor of the kale. 

FAQ About How To Make This Simple Kale Caesar Salad with Maple Pepper Tempeh What if I don’t like Tempeh?

Don’t sweat it! Tempeh isn’t for everyone, and that’s perfectly fine. Simply opt for your favorite protein instead, you can use the same seasoning and just swap the tempeh out for tofu or chicken breast.

The post Simple Kale Caesar Salad with Maple Pepper Tempeh appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga