Maca is a cruciferous root vegetable that looks a lot like a common turnip, if turnips came in yellow, red and black. It grows high up in the Andes Mountain region of Peru in rocky soil. It thrives in heat, wind or cold conditions that would make other plants curl up and quit living. Maybe that is partly why maca gives us so much energy and vitality when we eat it? It’s a strong plant with a pleasing flavor.
Maca is known as an adaptogen because it helps us to handle stress better, ward off disease and increase our stamina, among other positive effects. Mark Amet, owner of the Maca Team, says he got started with maca over 20 years ago when he tried a sample. He found it gave him energy and elevated his mood so much that he sought out a Peruvian source and started giving it to family and friends. Registered dietitian Kerri Schwartz says her clients use maca in the morning instead of coffee. They get that much energy from taking it.
Maca is full of minerals, even zinc, calcium and magnesium. More surprising is maca root has 19 essential amino acids, making this plant a nice source of protein. Let’s take a closer look at maca root benefits—and different ways to use it!
5 Maca Root Benefits
1). Alleviate Depression
One study began looking into maca root as an aphrodisiac, and found something else instead— it elevated people’s moods more than it gave them an instant boost in attraction (1). Other studies have also concluded that, along with other benefits, maca may reduce symptoms of depression (2).
2). Enhance Libido
Even though it’s technically not an aphrodisiac, some studies have shown that maca may enhance sexual function (3). Maca might not put you in the mood, but it can give you the energy and stamina to enjoy being with a partner. Studies also have shown that maca can even enhance sexual desire in those who are taking anti-depressant medications (4, 5).
Maca’s benefits are life enhancing. Studies have revealed that maca can help increase sperm count and sperm motility in men (6) and may enhance fertility (7). It makes sense that it could be easier to conceive, the more one has vitality and energy.
4). Improve Memory
In two animal studies, maca was shown to improve memory impairment in mice (8, 9). Much of this seems to be due to its high antioxidant content. While black maca has shown the most significant results, evidence suggests that all the colors—black, red and yellow—can benefit memory.
5). Alleviate Menopause and PMS
Research has revealed maca’s ability to balance female hormones. That’s great news for PMS sufferers and those who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (10, 11). Maca may also be
effective in relieving menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood swings (12). One animal study even suggested that maca extract could be effective in preventing postmenopausal osteoporosis (13).
Types of Maca Root
Red maca is the sweetest, yellow is the most common, and black just might have an edge when it comes to studied benefits. Men might find black maca to give them a bigger boost, while women might find similar results with red maca. Yellow is the easiest to find and isn’t lacking in benefits, but the other varieties can be a little more powerful.
You’ll find maca in both powder and pill forms. The powders are the most versatile and easiest to adjust the dosage and enjoy the flavor. Most health practitioners will tell you it’s always best to get as close to eating your supplements as you can, because the body is designed to start the digestive process in the mouth. You absorb certain aspects of foods better from mixing them with saliva.
There are two types of powders available. Gelatinized maca has had the starch removed for better digestion. The other type is raw maca. Both work equally well when it comes to maca root benefits.
Maca extracts are another option to consider. You might go with an extract if you want to take your maca on the go, since powders are simply too messy. Extracts often get into the system quickly as well.
For now, these are the main ways you’ll be able to consume maca easily without taking a trip to Peru.
How to Use Maca Powder
You can mix maca powder into a smoothie or milk for a malted milk effect, or try it in your golden milk, coffee drink, or cocoa. There is nothing saying you can’t eat maca off the spoon, or pour it over ice cream. You can also cook with maca—it is a root after all. With as little as one teaspoon, you can get all of the positive effects of maca. The recommended serving of maca is between one and three teaspoons per day. For those who want to determine whether a higher quantity yields greater benefits, there do not seem to be any reported overdoses or adverse reactions from consuming larger amounts of maca powder.
Here, we tried using maca in pancakes. It may seem like a mysterious powder, but maca is a vegetable. Some people claim the effects of maca appear to be more pronounced when used in cooking, even though that hasn’t been studied yet.
Maca Oat Milk Pancakes Recipe
Yield: 12 medium pancakes
Prep time: 6 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
All-purpose flour doesn’t get in the way of the malty maca flavor. Oat milk adds to the fluffiness of these traditional pancakes with a superfood twist. The recipe is easy to double or triple, depending on how many pancakes you want to make!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons maca powder
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup oat milk
- 1 tablespoon expeller-pressed coconut oil (plus a little more for frying the pancakes).
- Mix the flour, baking powder, maca and sea salt in one bowl.
- Mix the egg, milk and oil in another bowl.
- Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir just until mixed in. There will be lumps.
- Place a frying pan over medium high heat or use a griddle.
- Pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and cook until browned on each side.
- Serve with your favorite fruit and some pure maple syrup.
Maca Root Side Effects
For the most part, taking maca can be extremely beneficial. If you have a history of thyroid problems, however, you might want to check with your doctor first. Some patients have claimed that it increased their hyperthyroidism symptoms (14). Registered dietitian Schwartz says that in her practice, a couple of clients felt it sped up their metabolism and prompted weight loss.
You should also speak with your medical provider if you have a history of heart problems, are pregnant, or take medications that directly affect your hormones. Keep in mind that the adaptogen and hormone-balancing abilities of maca are different for each individual.
It’s estimated that nearly half of the U.S. population is consuming less than the recommended amount of magnesium in their diets. Why is magnesium so important you ask? Low levels of magnesium have been linked with migraine headaches, stroke, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease.
This essential mineral is found throughout the body and acts as a cofactor for more than 300 different enzymes, meaning it is necessary for enzyme activity. It is involved in energy production, protein synthesis, cell signaling, muscle and nerve function, the release of neurotransmitters and even plays a structural role in the body.
Roughly 60 percent of the magnesium in the body is found in our bones, 39 percent in our cells and 1 percent in our blood.
Learn more about some of the health benefits of magnesium, as well as tips on what to look for when choosing the best magnesium supplement.
In addition to supporting more than 300 functions in the body, there are many health benefits associated with magnesium to consider:
- May help alleviate fatigue
- Aids in the formation of healthy bones and teeth
- Sleep aid
- Aids in muscle relaxation
- May alleviate constipation
- Helps prevent kidney stones
- Potential bronchodilator
- Assists in oil pathways to produce essential fatty acids
- May help with detoxification, as it is needed for glutathione synthesis
- Helps insulin to enter cells and enhances insulin receptor sensitivity
- May help improve metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
Choosing the Best Magnesium Supplement
Any supplement label generally declares the amount of elemental magnesium in the product. However, because magnesium cannot be absorbed by itself, it must be bound to another substance to help stabilize it. The biggest difference in magnesium supplements isn’t the magnesium, but rather the complex or complexes that it is bound to. Absorption of magnesium from different forms of supplements varies and some of the molecules or complexes that magnesium is bound to may have their own function in the body. To aid in your search for the best magnesium supplement, here are some of the most commonly used forms of magnesium:
- Magnesium Glycinate
This is one of the most absorbable forms of magnesium supplements available, with magnesium being bound to the amino acid glycine. Glycine is known as an “inhibitory amino acid,” in that it helps to counteract excessive excitation in the brain that could lead to things such as stress or hyperactivity. Magnesium glycinate is not as likely to induce diarrhea, promotes both mind and body relaxation, and supports nerve health (1).
- Magnesium Citrate
This refers to magnesium bound to citric acid, which has a fairly good absorption rate in the body, meaning that it can easily be utilized by our cells. When taken in moderate amounts, it can support balanced muscle movement, a healthy stress-response, proper bowel regularity, and has been studied for its beneficial effects on the kidneys (2). If taken in excess, it may have a laxative effect and so taking it at night, prior to bed, is often recommended.
- Magnesium Aspartate
Bound to the amino acid aspartic acid, this form of magnesium has been reported to enhance the uptake of magnesium into cells. Opposite of the inhibitory effects that the amino acid glycine promotes, aspartic acid actually has excitatory effects on the brain. What this means is it bolsters communication between brain cells (neurons), causing them to “fire.” This form is great for those looking to not only support cognitive functioning, but also its high absorption capacity makes it a good choice for raising low magnesium levels.
- Magnesium Malate
This form contains magnesium bound to malic acid. Malic acid is actually derived from fruits and vegetables, and most commonly sourced from apples. With research showing the benefits of malic acid on nerve and kidney health (3), malic acid also acts as a factor in the production of cellular energy. Magnesium malate has a fairly high bio-availability, and is another good choice for those not only looking to boost blood levels, but also support brain and muscle health.
- Magnesium Taurate
Another amino-acid and magnesium combo, taurine is an amino acid found in large supplies throughout the entire body, especially in the energy-hogging cells of the heart, brain and eyes. Taurine itself acts to maintain proper body pH (acid vs. alkalinity), regulates the absorption of minerals in and out of cells, supports the digestion of dietary fats by assisting the production of bile, and helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels through its interactions with insulin (4). Magnesium taurate is good for those looking to support brain, cardiovascular and vision health, while benefiting from an easily absorbable form of magnesium.
- Magnesium Orotate
In this form, magnesium is bound to orotic acid, which has one of the highest absorption rates in the body compared to other forms. Orotic acid plays a variety of roles in both the production and maintenance/recycling of cellular energy, and may be beneficial for improving athletic performance and overall exercise endurance. When bound with magnesium, the two molecules can work in a synergistic way, with studies showing great efficacy in supporting both muscular function and heart health (5).
- Magnesium Oxide
This form is widely available, and often the most economical choice when it comes to magnesium supplements. That being said, its low bioavailability (approximately 4 percent) makes this form less beneficial for those looking to bolster magnesium stores in the body. Magnesium oxide does have beneficial effects on bowel health, and due to its poor solubility, is often used for its laxative effects.
- Magnesium Threonate
This is one of the newest forms of magnesium emerging into the health and wellness field, and for good reason! Studies have shown that despite sufficient magnesium supplementation, low levels of brain magnesium often exist (6). Magnesium threonate has a specific ratio of elemental magnesium and threonic acid (a derivative of vitamin C) that has been shown to bolster brain levels of magnesium compared to other forms, supporting proper brain communication and nerve functioning. This is an excellent choice for those looking for a highly absorbable and highly beneficial form of magnesium without many of the side effects that others have.
- Magnesium Hydroxide
Also known as “Milk of Magnesia,” this form is commonly used for those with digestive issues. Its low bioavailability and tendency to draw water into the colon make this a less preferred form, as it can have a laxative effect.
Recommended Dietary Allowances for Magnesium
Magnesium Forms and Functionality
Just as there are a multitude of oral magnesium complexes on the market, topical magnesium products also come in a variety of formats. From creams and ointments to oils and bath crystals, knowing which form is best absorbed is another common question.
- Oral Magnesium: As we noted above, oral magnesium supplements come in a variety of complex-based forms. Once you decide which one is best for your needs, the next step is choosing whether you want a tablet, capsule or mixable powder. Due to the variances of absorption rates among each form, the efficacy of oral supplementation greatly depends on the individual taking it. Generally speaking, oral supplementation is a great way to obtain a standardized amount of magnesium, per the products ingredient standards. For those who do not like to take, or cannot swallow pills, magnesium powder is a great product to add to both hot and cold drinks for its soothing effects.
- Topical Magnesium: Being that the skin is the largest organ of the body, much of what you put onto your skin is directed into your bloodstream, bypassing the normal digestion routes that oral supplements must undergo in order to reap their rewards. Topical magnesium products often contain magnesium chloride, a form that is sourced by high salinity bodies of water, including the Great Lakes and even the Dead Sea. Its structural makeup allow magnesium chloride to be absorbed across a range of pH levels, making it a versatile “star” when it comes to being utilized in the body. Due to this characteristic, magnesium chloride may be beneficial for those looking to restore low magnesium levels fast, or those who have difficulty with absorption.
- Magnesium Oil: Magnesium oil offers the longest staying power, meaning that its fat-based composition allows it to stick around for enhanced absorption. Topical magnesiums also require a certain ratio of lipids (fats) to be present in/on the skin during application. Since this form is already in a base of oil, this does not present as an issue like some other topical methods. Common uses for magnesium oil include rubbing onto sore or achy joints, mixing into coconut or sesame oil for dental-health boosting benefits, and applying to inflamed tissues (including pimples) to help support a healthy inflammatory response.
- Magnesium Creams/Ointments: With a less-oily residue but thicker consistency compared to lotions, creams and ointments have a similar lasting power to magnesium oil, but can be used without as much worry pertaining to oil-stains left on clothing or footwear. Magnesium creams have similar benefits to other forms of topical magnesium, and are easily transportable for when you need a little stress-relieving, cognition boosting “pick me up.”
- Magnesium Salts/Crystals: These dry flakes often come in large tubs and are a great addition to both regular and foot baths when you are looking to relax after a long day’s work.
- Magnesium Gels/Lotions: These formulations are the thinnest in consistency, and therefore easily applied to exposed areas of the body. With the least amount of staying power, these forms require multiple applications throughout the day to reap the most benefit. They are great for using in massages or for topical skin hydration.
Before Taking a Magnesium Supplement
Magnesium is closely aligned with calcium and can be taken in a combined calcium/magnesium supplement. Before taking a magnesium supplement, it’s important to consider how much magnesium is contained in all your supplements. Diarrhea is a common dose-related side effect of magnesium supplementation. You may prevent this by either reducing the dose or spacing the dose throughout the day. Forms of magnesium most commonly reported to cause diarrhea include magnesium chloride, carbonate, gluconate and oxide.
You may already be familiar with castor oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, red palm oil and many other oils currently on the market. However, one of the most widely-used oils with great medicinal properties is Nigella Sativa, more commonly known as black cumin. The shrub of this plant produces a fruit with tiny black seeds that can be pressed to extract the oil. Black cumin has become one of the top-ranked, evidence-based herbal medicines to date, and there have been over 600 scientific, peer-reviewed articles published about black seed oil benefits.
What Is Black Seed Oil?
The black cumin plant is native to southern Europe, northern Africa and southwest Asia, and its use can be traced back to King Tut. There is some evidence that the oil and seeds of the plant have been used internally for centuries, in addition to evidence that it was used topically by Egyptians to enhance their skin (the herb was even found in Cleopatra’s tomb!).
The seeds of the plant have also been used as a spice and condiment in both Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Black cumin seeds can be dry-roasted to flavor curries and can also be used to flavor bread products or mixed into many other recipes.
Black seed oil’s most active ingredients include the antioxidants thymoquinone, nigellone and beta-sitosterol. The oil also contains iron, selenium, arginine, carotene, calcium, potassium and several other amino acids. In addition, black seed oil contains fatty acids, including omega-9 and omega-6 acids.
Black Seed Oil Benefits
Black seed oil’s medicinal properties stem from the presence of thymoquinone—one of the major active chemical components of the essential oil. Thymoquinone is believed to have a wide range of medical applications and benefits.
Black seed oil can be applied topically to promote skin, nail and hair health, acting as a moisturizer and helping to protect the skin from free radical damage. The antioxidants and omega fatty acids in black seed oil also promote healthy aging of the skin and cell regeneration. Black seed oil can also be applied on the chest to inhale as a vapor or mixed into hot water and inhaled.
As an internal treatment, studies suggest that black seed oil may help promote healthy blood pressure (1) and blood sugar (that is already within normal range) and promote cardiovascular health (2).
Additional black seed oil benefits include:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Supports liver health and helps protect the liver
- May have anti-cancer properties
- May help treat a variety of common health conditions including diabetes, bronchitis and asthma
- May be helpful in treating against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- May help increase milk production in nursing mothers
- May act as an appetite stimulant
- May help to boost the immune system
It’s important to speak with your doctor before taking any new supplements like black seed oil, particularly if you have a medical condition.
Black Seed Oil Side Effects and Precautions
If you have allergies to black cumin or black caraway seeds, black seed oil may cause a rash if applied topically and cause upset stomach, vomiting or constipation if ingested. Black seed oil may thin the blood, so those on blood thinning medications or who have a bleeding disorder should speak with a doctor before taking it. In addition, women who are on birth control, pregnant or nursing should also speak with a doctor before incorporating black seed oil into their routines, as should people with a history of seizures or epilepsy. Additional side effects of black seed oil include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and low blood pressure.
How to Choose a Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil can come in a liquid, capsule or softgel and the raw seeds can also be purchased. Supplements made from black seeds are usually made up of the basic seed extract in either a crushed powder or oil form.
The best way to consume black seed is via the liquid oil because it contains the most thymoquinone and fatty acids. Check the label of the oil for the amount of thymoquinone per serving. Here are some additional purchasing tips:
- Extraction: The method by which the oil is expressed or extracted from the seeds matters! Slow, cold-pressed means that no heat is used during the extraction process. High temperatures may cause rancidity or cause some of the more volatile oils to evaporate. Avoid any oils that use chemical extraction.
- Purity: The product should be 100 percent pure Nigella Sativa oil and not filled with additives.
- Storage: Look for oil that is stored in a dark, glass bottle that will protect it from both air and light.
- Quality: Look for unrefined vs. refined oil and make sure it’s organic.
In general, adults can take one teaspoon of black seed oil twice daily. If using it for the first time, consider taking a half-teaspoon serving with a small amount of food and gradually increase the dose over a few days or as directed by your medical care professional. You should also check the dosing instructions on the label of whatever black seed oil you purchase. In pill form, the suggested dose is generally two pills twice daily for adults, but it may vary based on brand and your doctor’s recommendations.
Black Seed Oil Storage and Cooking Tips
Black cumin seeds can be eaten raw, boiled, heated, ground as a seasoning or sprinkled on bread and pastries. As an oil, it can be mixed with yogurt, put in salads and added to soups or curries. It can also be used as both a spice or preservative. Be sure to store your black seed oil in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, and don’t confuse it with other spices like black cohosh, cumin, curcumin or nutmeg.
Black Cumin Seed Salad Dressing
Ready to try cooking with black seed oil? Here’s an easy salad dressing recipe.
- ½ cup black seed oil
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp raw honey
- 2 fresh chopped garlic cloves
- ½ tsp. Ginger root
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and mix/shake until blended together.
This post was provided by our friends at ParaGuard.
Is it really important to wash your hands if they seem clean? Is hygiene truly so important, or is some of it simply hype?
Tiny organisms, invisible to the naked eye, are present everywhere. Belying their tiny size, those microorganisms can cause big problems. Germs and other organisms that live on our hands can be there even though our hands do not seem dirty. Using soap and warm water provides strong protection against many unwanted microorganisms, including pinworms.
What Are Pinworms?
Pinworms, a kind of parasite, are tiny worms that infect the intestines, often in children. Most children will have pinworms at least once in their lifetime. The worms are very small, less than a half-inch long. They come into the body when a child touches something that has a pinworm egg on it and then puts his hand into his mouth. The eggs go through the digestive tract and develop into worms in the small intestine. When the worm matures, it moves into the large intestine. After several weeks, they move lower down in the intestine where they come out of the body through the anus, usually at night, and lay more eggs. This process takes 4-6 weeks.
The eggs and worms are so small that they can be everywhere. Pinworm eggs and pinworms can be present in the kitchen, in beds, on clothes, towels and even tableware. The eggs can survive like this for two weeks. When an egg gets onto a hand, which then enters the mouth, the entire development process for the worm begins. Having worms is not always an indication of poor hygiene. Once present in the digestive tract, pinworms will affect children who bathe every night equally to children who roll in the mud.
Pinworms spread easily from one child to another. It is therefore common for children to pick it up in school. Although it is very rare, pinworms can be ingested from the air. Many times, a child will infect themselves over and again through lack of hygiene.
Pinworms are thin and white. They can be visible on paper or clothes. The eggs, however, are only visible with a microscope.
Not all people with pinworms have symptoms. The chief symptom is itchiness—an itch so bothersome that it may wake up the patient in the middle of the night. When a child wakes up at night and nothing seems to be wrong, it may be an indication of pinworms. Itching the anal area, in which pinworms are present, may cause a secondary infection when the skin around the anus becomes irritated.
Remedies for Pinworms
Because parasites have become such a major issue, Advanced Nutrition by Zahler went on to create a solution: ParaGuard. This formula contains many herbs that fight all sorts of parasites and is especially effective against pinworms. Its active ingredients include oregano oil, peppermint oil, garlic bulb, wormwood herb, pumpkin seed and fennel seed, and others long known to be effective in treating parasites. ParaGuard should be mixed into a drink and taken three times a day at mealtimes.
ParaGuard is also available in the form of a softgel, making it easy to take even for the picky eaters. The softgels contain many potent herbs, such as Green Black Walnut Juglans Nigra Hull, Quassia Amara Wood and Wormwood Artemisia Absinthium Herb. This powerful blend of herbs is a fierce enemy and brave warrior against parasites.
There are other types of parasites that can enter the body that one should be aware of. These parasites may cause unexplained headaches or fatigue. ParaGuard has been a potent healer for people experiencing fatigue and headaches with no apparent reason for these symptoms. It can also be used as a cleanser and detoxifier.
The best way to prevent worms is through hand washing with warm water and soap after using the bathroom, before eating, and after playing outside. It is important to keep the nails short, avoid biting the nails, and not to scratch oneself. Pinworm eggs can live on clothes, and it is therefore imperative to change clothes every day, and to wash nightclothes and bedding every few days.
To check your child for pinworms, you can try using the flashlight test. Make sure your child is calm and the room is completely dark. Shine a flashlight on the child’s anus. The light will cause pinworms, if present, to move around. If you see any tiny white worms, call your doctor.
To help treat a pinworm infection, eat more fruits and vegetables and increase fiber intake to promote better defecation and more possibility of worm elimination. Garlic may also help fight pinworms. Try eating more garlic, or rub over the area where the itching occurs. Probiotics, which are “good” bacteria that live in the intestines, will retard the proliferation of pinworms in the intestines, and therefore taking probiotics orally can be very helpful as well.
Omega fatty acids play a pivotal role in companion animal health and may help relieve symptoms related to skin disorders, arthritis, allergies and a variety of other conditions. While more research is needed before omega supplements are considered a mainstream treatment option for cats and dogs, many veterinarians are open to recommending them.
Read on to learn what omega fatty acids are, how your canine or feline friend can benefit from them, and what to look for in a quality supplement. And of course, any discussion about supplements and diet changes should start with your vet.
What Are Omega Fatty Acids and Why Do Pets Need Them?
Omega fatty acids are a type of fat required for normal body functions, explains Dr. Deborah Mitchell, medical director and practice manager at Knollwood Hospital for Pets in Schaumburg, Illinois. “These include building the membranes of our pets’ cells, helping blood clot normally and muscles move properly, and for fighting inflammation of all kinds in our pets’ bodies.”
Omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids that play a role in optimal health. “Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are the most important for dogs and cats because their bodies can’t make them; they have to come from diet,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinary writer, editor and consultant based in Fort Collins, Colorado.
The three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are found in marine sources, like fatty fish, while ALA is found in plant sources, such as nuts and seeds.
Omega-3s are incorporated into cell membranes, especially in the brain, the retina and sperm, says Coates. “The body also uses omega-3s and omega-6s to form signaling molecules (called eicosanoids) that have many different functions in the heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system and hormonal system. Increasing the amount of omega-3s in the body relative to omega-6s may also reduce inflammation, which could have a beneficial role in functions like cognition, heart disease and reproduction.”
Omega-6 fatty acid deficiencies are not seen very often, but might be a concern if your pet is on an extremely low fat or calorie-restricted diet, says Coates. Although rare, signs of omega-6 deficiency include: “skin problems like hair loss, scaly skin, and a tendency to bruise easily,” Coates says. “Reproductive problems can be seen in breeding animals, and young animals may grow poorly if there aren’t enough omega-6 fatty acids in their diet.”
Where Do Omegas Come From?
Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include cold-water fatty fish (especially salmon) and oils from fish, krill, algae and flaxseed, says Dr. Nancy Scanlan, executive director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation.
Flaxseed oil is not an ideal source of omega-3s for dogs, Scanlan explains, because dogs are not very efficient at converting ALA into EPA and DHA. Cats cannot convert ALA at all, so they would require one of the other omega-3 fatty acid sources, she says.
Foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid) include flaxseed, grapeseed, borage, evening primrose and black currant seed oils, Scanlan says.
4 Ways Omegas Can Benefit Your Pet
1). Improved Skin and Coat
The most obvious sign of an omega deficiency in pets is a dull, dry or greasy coat with dandruff, says Scanlan. “They itch a lot, even without any signs of fleas. Skin allergies are worse when they need more omega oils.”
Omega-3 fatty acids help the skin by reducing inflammation associated with allergies in dogs when used with other therapeutic agents, says Dr. Susan Jeffrey, a veterinarian at Truesdell Animal Care Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. “Dogs with less inflammation are less itchy and thereby more comfortable.”
In one study of 16 dogs with itchy skin, researchers tested the benefits of a high-dose EPA fish oil supplement to treat symptoms (1). Pups receiving the fish oil capsule (versus corn oil) showed significant improvement.
2). Relief from Arthritis Symptoms
Omega-3s have been found to slow the progression of arthritis, says Jeffrey. Researchers created one study to determine if pet food containing a high level of omega-3s (using fish oils) would relieve symptoms in dogs with osteoarthritis (2). The team studied 127 dogs from 18 separate, privately-owned clinics.
Dogs fed a diet containing 31 times the amount of omega-3s than found in a standard pet food diet significantly improved in several areas, including in their ability to rise from a resting position, play and walk, according to pet owners.
In a separate study of 16 cats, those whose diets were supplemented with fish oil reportedly experienced a higher level of activity, including less stiffness, an increase in walking up and down stairs, and more interaction with their pet owners than those fed the (corn oil) placebo (3).
3). An Option for Heart Health
“Some studies show fish oils can decrease the progression of dogs with heart disease as well as help dogs with abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia),” says Jeffrey, whose professional interests include preventative care.
One of these studies looked at whether fish oil would reduce the occurrence of arrhythmia in Boxers with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, a disease that impacts the ventricles of the heart (4). The findings showed that a six-week course of fish oil supplementation may be useful in reducing arrhythmias in dogs with this disease. Dose and duration still need to be studied further, however.
Additionally, Jeffrey says dogs with heart disease have been found to have lower plasma fatty acid levels than healthy dogs. “Fatty acid supplements such as fish oil will result in plasma fatty acid concentrations equal to healthy dogs.”
4). A Potential Aid for Certain Cancers
There’s some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may be able to slow down cancer growth (5). “There has been a study in dogs with lymphoma (a type of cancer that usually attacks the spleen, bone marrow and lymph nodes) who were given omega-3 fatty acids,” Jeffrey says. “They were found to have longer survival times compared to those who didn’t receive the supplement.”
They also help with chronic weight loss and poor appetite seen in cancer patients, which can result in a better quality of life, she says. “Omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease the amount of inflammatory mediators that will inhibit appetite and increase the rate of muscle catabolism.” (Catabolism is a metabolic process that breaks down complex molecules into smaller ones).
What Type of Omegas Should You Feed Your Pet?
Feeding your dog or cat the correct type of omega fatty acid is critical, says Dr. Patrick Mahaney, owner of Los Angeles-based California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness. “As most pets have conditions related to inflammation for which owners seek improvement, I recommend that when providing an omega fatty acid supplement, owners should focus on omega-3,” he says. “Ideally, pets should consume a combination of omega fatty acids from animal and plant sources in their diets. Omega-6 fatty acids are still needed to promote healthy body structures, so do not eliminate them from your pet’s diet.”
For supplements, he recommends omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil (that are formulated for pets). “Deep-caught, fresh-water fish are my recommended source for fish oil and supplements should be free from heavy metals, pesticides, radiation and other toxic substances.” (Animal-based omega fatty acids satisfy their dietary requirements more efficiently than plant sources, he says.)
To ensure you’re purchasing quality supplements, look for products with the United States Pharmacopeia (UPS) seal or verified mark, advises Coates. “The USP sets quality standards for health care products that are sold in the U.S.” Jeffrey recommends looking for products labeled with the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), “as it works with the FDA to ensure safety and quality control standards.”
Proportion is also essential. “Too much omega-6 oil can cause inflammation, especially if the amount of omega-3 is low in the diet,” says Scanlan. Vets recommend an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 10:1 to 5:1. In one study, researchers fed 18 dogs with pruritis (itchy skin) a commercial diet with a fatty acid ratio of 5.5:1 (6). The pruritis was controlled within seven to 21 days of the diet, but returned within three to 14 days after the original diet was re-introduced.
Ask your vet about dosage and duration of omega fatty acid supplements, especially if your pet has a health condition. “Extremely high doses can cause gastrointestinal upset and possibly problems with the immune and blood clotting system, so it is best to only use fatty acid supplements under the direction of a veterinarian,” Coates advises.
This post was provided by our friends at Puori.
- Common food myths can fool people into believing unhealthy foods are good for them.
- These myths can actually cause the opposite outcome you desire.
- Do your homework before eating certain foods, and remember we can all have different responses to them.
Let’s face it: we often choose what to buy based on the product’s packaging and advertising. When it comes to food, labels like “organic” and “fat-free” usually give people the impression it is healthier and better for the body. Thus, we readily consume these products only to find out later on that they are not as healthy as they claim.
The tendency to quickly accept manufacturers’ marketing campaigns without proper research results in a number of food misconceptions. Here are five food myths you should stop believing.
5 Food Myths We Need to Squash
1) Diet Food Is Always Healthy
Any food packaged with the word “diet” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great option for safely losing (and keeping off) body fat. Diet soda, for example, contains fewer calories compared to regular soda. However, it’s packed with artificial sweeteners, which could be harmful to your body. This is the same case with other labels like “sugar-free.”
When you remove sugar, fat or other ingredients from “normal” products, they need to be substituted with artificial ingredients. This is to make up for the loss of taste, flavor and texture. For instance, fat gives both flavor, mouthfeel and texture to a product. These functional properties are lost when the fat is removed. Therefore, the diet product needs to be stabilized, emulsified and flavored in some other way: by additives.
2) Carbs Make You Fat
Our bodies need carbohydrates for energy. How much you need largely depends on your level of physical activity.
However, there is truth to the idea that not all carbs are created equal. Good carbs are often found in vegetables, regular and sweet potatoes and whole grains. These things have a lower glycemic index and more fiber (1). They’re called intrinsic carbohydrates. Bad carbs, with high glycemic index, are those found in processed food like white bread, white rice, pastries and candy.
If you’re a more sedentary person, you should enjoy these carbs sporadically. However, if you’re exercising a lot, white rice, pasta and bread are a suitable carbohydrate source to incorporate into your diet. A well-balanced diet and not the elimination of carbohydrates is the key to maintaining a healthy weight.
3) Gluten Is Dangerous
While there is data to support both sides of this argument, there are a few important things to note.
A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, since the consumption of gluten can damage their intestinal cells and result in health complications. These people tend to feel best when avoiding gluten.
If you don’t have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, you don’t have to go gluten-free. In fact, it could be detrimental to your health. One study looked at people who don’t have celiac disease and still avoid gluten. It found they have a higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus and thyroid disease (2). This suggests switching to a gluten-free diet merely to improve your health might not be the safest route to take.
4) All Fat Is Bad
Your body needs fat. Fat is a source of energy and helps you absorb necessary vitamins and minerals. Whether it’s good or bad for you depends on the source. Good fats, for instance, include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (3). We can get monounsaturated fats from food like olive oil, avocado and nuts. Some sources of polyunsaturated fats are fatty fish like salmon, walnuts and flaxseeds.
Trans fats, on the other hand, give us no health benefits. Trans fat has harmful cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
5) Only Meat Will Give You Protein
While meat is heavy in protein, it’s certainly not the only source. You can also find significant protein in soy, quinoa, peas, Greek yogurt, lentils and cottage cheese. If you prefer to eat little or no meat, simply make sure you are adequately covering your protein needs elsewhere. You do this with nutritious foods and even supplementation.
Spend time doing your homework before deciding to follow popular food trends. Also bear in mind that we’re all different. What works for one person might not work for another. You’ll probably need to try different diets to see what feels best. Remember, maintaining a balanced diet with sufficient rest and exercise is still a promising course of action.
Banana Protein Pancakes Recipe
Puori PW1 Vanilla recently ranked #1 in Clean Label Project’s test of 133 protein powder products from 52 brands, and works incredibly well not just as a shake, but also in numerous recipes. Download Puori’s PW1 recipe book here, and start cooking. Here’s a taste:
- 3 eggs
- 3 bananas, mashed
- ½ cup (90g) of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 serving of PW1 Chocolate, Vanilla or Blackcurrant
- Butter for frying
- Mix eggs, bananas, protein powder, cardamom and blueberries.
- Top the pancakes with fresh blueberries in a bowl. Whisk until it becomes an airy batter.
- Add ¼ cup of batter for each pancake.
- Cook 1-2 minutes on each side until finished.
As you age, it’s common to become a little more forgetful. “Changes in memory are thought to be caused by various factors including changes in brain function, physiological changes in both brain tissue and neurons, and decreased blood flow to the brain,” says Guru Ramanathan, chief innovation officer and SVP for GNC.
In addition, hormones can influence parts of the brain that support memory, so as we age and hormone levels change, “brain fog” can result, says Jenn LaVardera, a registered dietitian for Hamptons RD in Southampton, New York. Changes typically include forgetfulness and taking slightly longer than usual to complete various cognitive tasks, such as balancing your checkbook.
While these types of changes have very little impact on quality of life, “more serious ones can result in memory lapses, cause confusion, and can significantly impact quality of life,” Ramanathan says. Serious changes are scary, so he suggests consulting a physician if you are concerned.
But if “Where are my keys?” or “Has anyone seen my wallet?” have become a common refrain, take heart in the fact that certain supplements have been shown to help with supporting cognitive health and memory function in adults. But before you buy, read on for information on the best memory supplements as well as what to look for on the label.
5 of the Best Memory Supplements
A host of nutrients—from magnesium to choline—and vitamins, including A, C, D and B12, are essential for brain function. “Vitamin C plays an important role in neurotransmitter production and function,” says Ramanathan, who also cites gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA), choline, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as nutrients that play a major role in memory function. In addition, some studies suggest that botanicals including ginkgo biloba and huperzine A also help keep the brain in top form (though others contradict these findings).
While you can get some of these vitamins and nutrients from eating a healthy diet, certain supplements and vitamins available at your local pharmacy or health food store may specifically help support memory function associated with aging. While a lot of the research that’s out there in regard to the effectiveness of supplements is inconclusive or insufficient, here are a handful of supplements that have shown promise for curtailing memory loss:
Particular brain receptors important for learning and memory depend on this mineral for their regulation, which is why Dr. Carolyn Dean, a medical doctor, naturopath, and medical advisory board member for the Nutritional Magnesium Association, says magnesium is “the first supplement to consider for memory problems as well as enhanced brain function.”
Dean cites a 2004 MIT study that describes magnesium as a critical component of the cerebrospinal fluid that keeps learning and memory receptors active (1). Dean warns that not all forms of magnesium are easily absorbed by the body, and that it’s difficult to get enough from diet alone due to mineral-depleted soils. She recommends 600 milligrams of magnesium citrate powder daily. When mixed with water, the powder dissolves and can be sipped throughout the day.
A small 2018 study conducted at the University of California – Los Angeles found that supplements of the substance found in turmeric, the spice that gives Indian curry its bright color, improved both memory and mood in people with mild, age-related memory loss (2). In memory tests, the people taking 90 milligrams of curcumin twice daily improved by 28 percent over an 18-month period. The researchers plan to conduct a follow-up study with a larger number of people.
Vitamin E, an antioxidant, has been linked to improved cognitive performance. In large clinical trials, high doses of vitamin E have been shown to help people with moderate dementia, albeit modestly. Studies analyzed in a 2014 review published in the journal Nutrition confirmed that vitamin E supplementation (at a dose of 2000 IU/day for an average of two years) is safe and free of side effects in the elderly (3). Researchers confirmed vitamin E’s validity as a nutritional compound to promote healthy brain aging and delay functional decline.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research suggests that eating foods rich in omega-3’s, such as fish, plant and nut oils, and English walnuts, may lower your Alzheimer’s risk. “They help with communication between neurons,” explains LaVardera. But there’s insufficient research about the effectiveness of fish oil supplements, which come in two varieties, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA. One 2014 study suggests that omega-3 fatty acid supplements have the potential to improve cognitive performance and functional brain activation, but more research is needed to better understand if supplements over a longer period of time might be helpful in terms of preventing thinking skills decline in people without memory loss (4). Taking 1 gram per day of combined DHA and EPA is generally recommended to maintain brain health.
This antioxidant found in the skin of purple and red fruits like grapes and blueberries has shown some promise in preventing the deterioration of the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory, according to a 2015 study (5). How much resveratrol do you need to boost brain function? One study on healthy older adults found that taking 200 milligrams per day for 26 weeks improved memory (6). (An occasional glass of red wine, which contains resveratrol, can’t hurt either!)
All of these supplements have demonstrated potential, but it bears repeating that more research is required as to their brain benefits.
How to Choose Supplements for Memory
When it comes to considering memory supplements, it’s important not to buy into the hype. Due to a legal loophole, dietary supplements do not have to pass the rigorous FDA process to ensure they are safe and effective. In other words, many products that claim to “support” or “help” memory may not. Also, look out for the word “natural” on the label. While the word sounds harmless, it’s one of those marketing buzzwords that raise red flags.
The lack of FDA oversight makes assessing their strength, purity and safety difficult. “In general, steer clear from questionable small-name brands, since larger brands tend to have strict safety protocols,” says LaVardera. “Also, look for the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) seal on the label.” In addition, a third-party certification from the USP (United States Pharmacopeia), NSF International or Consumer Lab shows that these products have undergone rigorous third-party certification to make sure their ingredients meet quality standards.
When it comes to magnesium, Dean suggests steering clear of two forms in particular: magnesium aspartate and glutamate. Both are components of aspartame, which should be avoided. “Aspartame is a neurotoxin,” she explains. Other harmful ingredients include trans fats, artificial colors and flavors, and fillers, which inhibit or slow absorption.
Another rule of thumb when it comes to choosing vitamins: Always opt for natural over synthetics. “If the brackets after a vitamin have a food listed, it’s natural,” says Dean. “If it has a chemical listed, it’s synthetic.” Some products contain both.
Precautions When Talking Brain Health Supplements
The side effects of the unregulated memory supplements market are not well documented. However, from what information is available, they range from mild (e.g., nausea from gingko biloba) to severe. In regard to vitamin E, for instance, a 2005 study (7) raised concerns about an increased risk of death in people who take high doses (> 400 IU/d).
In addition, many supplements interact with medications, often with dangerous results. Ginkgo biloba, for one, should never be paired with blood thinners, blood pressure medications or SSRI antidepressants. If you have an ongoing health condition, always consult a physician before beginning a supplement regimen. Similarly, if you’re pregnant, you’ll want to check with your health care provider because you have different nutrient needs when you’re expecting.
Once your doctor green lights supplementation, it’s important to stick with the dosages on the label because, as LaVardera points out, “it is possible to overdose on any supplement or vitamin.” What’s more, she cautions that supplementation is not a substitute for a poor diet. “Nutrients in isolation don’t always have the same effect as nutrients in food,” she says. “Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and other healthful foods to get the majority of your nutrients, and use supplements to help you meet the recommended amounts.
This post was provided by our friends at Terra Origin.
The summer heat is here, and this year it seems stronger than ever! It can be really tempting to grab sugary beverages to quench your thirst, but before you know it, the calories quickly add up and you haven’t had lunch yet! Lucky for us, Terra Origin offers two great summer drink recipes to cool you down and keep you healthy!
Cool Red Lemonade
This lemonade is a winner for any hot day spent soaking up the sun in your backyard. You can even blend it up and save it in the fridge for later. Surprise your guests with this low-sugar, high-nutrient alternative to a summer classic!
- Combine water, lemon juice, Reds Superfood Kiwi Strawberry in a blender and stir.
- Add strawberries and kiwis and mix in or add to garnish the drink.
- Chill until ready to serve.
This is a morning treat that will cool you down and leave you full and energized for you day. The sugar content is extremely low compared to iced coffee beverages bought at coffee shops, so you won’t experience that glucose crash after.
- 1 medium-sized frozen banana
- ½ tablespoon raw cacao powder
- 2 scoops Terra Origin Chocolate Bone Broth Protein
- 1 cup cold coffee
- ¼ cup vanilla soy or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Ice to the consistency you prefer
- Add all the ingredients to your blender and mix until it is smooth and frothy!
- For an extra protein and flavor kick, you can add a tablespoon of almond butter, or the nut butter of your choice. If you want a touch of healthy fats, bullet proof it with two tablespoons of coconut oil!
- Top your frappuccino with cocoa nibs, shredded coconut or a dusting of cinnamon.
Enjoy a chill summer!
This post was provided by our friends at Kiss My Keto.
Just because you’re on a keto diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some chocolate-flavored pancakes. Made with coconut and almond flours and enriched with chocolate-flavored collagen peptides, these chocolate keto pancakes are both keto-approved and delicious. They’re also incredibly light and fluffy—as pancakes should be.
Making them is also easy. All you need to do is follow the recipe instructions below (or watch the tutorial) and you’ll have 22 pancakes ready in just 15 minutes. You can even freeze any leftover pancakes for up to a week.
Chocolate Keto Pancakes Recipe
To make these keto chocolate pancakes, you will need a non-stick frying pan, some clarified butter or oil for frying, and 15 minutes of your time.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Servings: 22 pancakes
- 6 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk*
- 2 tablespoons erythritol**
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1 cup almond flour***
- 2 tablespoons Keto Protein Chocolate Flavor Powder
- Lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Add the protein powder after you’ve whisked the other ingredients for easier blending. Your batter should be the consistency of typical pancake batter—not too thick or too runny.
- Preheat a greased frying pan over low to medium-low heat. Drop a dollop of batter onto the pan until it forms a circle. Wait for bubbles to form on top and flip the pancake. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the other side has lightly browned. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.
- Serve warm with a rich topping such as butter, cream or sugar-free syrup!
* Use coconut milk or other keto-friendly dairy substitutes if you don’t have almond milk.
** Substitute erythritol with stevia or another sugar-free sweetener of your liking. You may also skip the sweetener if you’re using Kiss My Keto’s protein powder, as it already has stevia in it.
*** Use blanched and finely ground almond flour for best results.
Chocolate Keto Pancakes Nutrition Facts
These keto pancakes are relatively low in calories but rich in healthful nutrients. If you eat just two of these 3-inch pancakes, you get around 120 calories. If you add a topping, such as butter or sugar-free syrup, you get an additional 40 calories. Their keto macros per two pancakes look like this:
- Fat: 9 grams
- Carbs: 4 grams
- Net carbs: 1 gram
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 8 grams
Besides these wonderful keto macros, you get plenty of vitamins and minerals from these flapjacks. They’re exceptionally rich in vitamin E from the almond milk and flour. They also provide the daily requirements for vitamin A, iron, zinc, calcium, selenium, folate and other essential vitamins and minerals.
These pancakes can make a great addition to your daily keto meal plan. On a keto diet, you need to eat 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein and 5 percent carbohydrates. How much of each macro you should eat exactly depends on factors like weight, age, physical activity and dieting goals. Use Kiss My Keto’s keto calculator to get your personalized daily macros and see how these pancakes fit into your daily meal plan.
When was the last time you thought about the bacteria in your stomach? Probably the last time you came down with a case of food poisoning, right? Well, it’s time to start thinking about what’s going on in your gut more often. That’s because science is unlocking secrets about the powerful connection between the health of the bacteria in your digestive system and your general health.
Good news: If you follow a few simple rules, you can boost your good bacteria (also called probiotics), which may lead to a stronger immune system, a trimmer waistline and improved digestion.
Don’t worry, learning about probiotics is way more fun than coming down with food poisoning.
What Are Probiotics and How Do They Work?
Think of your digestive system as a game of checkers. Let’s say you’re playing as the black pieces. Those pieces are the good guys. The red pieces, by default, are the bad guys. And so greater the number of black pieces and the fewer the number of red pieces on the board, the greater the chance you have of pulling off a win.
The same goes for your digestive health. Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, are the good guys. The more you have—and the less bad bacteria you have—the more likely you might be to have success with weight loss, digestive issues and other health problems.
You’re probably most familiar with probiotics because of yogurt. Bacteria helps yogurt ferment, giving it that slightly sour yet pleasant taste. Though there are numerous types of probiotics (bifidobacteria, saccharomyces boulardii, bacillus coagulans and other fun names), yogurt manufacturers commonly use the lactobacillus strain in production.
That said, yogurt isn’t the only game in town when it comes to foods with good sources of the beneficial bacteria. Here are some more probiotic foods you may not know.
6 Best Probiotic Foods
Okay, okay, so it’s also referred to as “drinkable yogurt,” but you should include this probiotic-loaded beverage in your diet even if you already eat yogurt. First off, you don’t need a spoon to consume it, and it’s a great base for shakes and smoothies (just substitute it for milk). Second, like milk and yogurt, it’s also a good source of calcium and protein. Oh, and look for unsweetened varieties. “Some kefirs are super high in sugar, so choose one with as little sugar as possible,” says Abby Langer, a registered dietitian and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition in Toronto. “Also, choose one with a high probiotic count—the highest one you can find.”
This fermented Korean condiment is made from cabbage and can contain ginger, garlic, chile peppers, radishes and other ingredients. Some varieties are spicier than others, but you’ll always taste a tanginess, which comes from the fermentation. Kimchi may help contribute to weight loss and delay the effects of aging, the latter likely due to its antioxidant properties, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology (1). Try some chopped and scrambled into eggs or atop steak tacos.
Like kimchi, this condiment also derives its probiotic powers from fermented cabbage. It’s important, however, that you’re eating real-deal sauerkraut, not the shelf-stable supermarket kind in a can. “Unfortunately, the pasteurization process kills off good bacteria,” Langer says. “Try to find fresh sauerkraut. It’s usually sold in delis.” Yes, kraut is great with bratwurst, but it also works well with the flavors of lighter dishes, such as roasted turkey wraps, grilled chicken or homemade coleslaw. Bonus: Two tablespoons of the stuff contain only five calories.
This bubbly, buzz-worthy drink is technically a fermented tea that’s made with probiotic strains of bacteria and yeasts. Sounds gross? The flavor is actually mellower than you might think and, when chilled, it’s refreshing. The antioxidants within kombucha may have the ability to fight bad bacteria, according to a 2016 lab study published by Indian researchers (2), though more research is needed to prove an effect in humans.
You know this stuff as the primary flavoring to miso soup, but the fermented (seeing a trend here?) soybean paste tastes great in other dishes too. One warning: “If you add it to boiling water, the heat will destroy the good bacteria. Instead, let the water cool a bit before adding the miso if you’re making soup, or use miso paste in salad dressings and other cold sauces,” Langer says. Not only does miso contain probiotics, but soy products in general may help battle diabetes. Study participants who took in more isoflavones, a compound found in miso, tofu and soy milk, had an 11 percent less risk of Type 2 diabetes than participants who ate little, found a 2016 Harvard study (3).
If you think you’re the master of all things fermented foods, if you believe that there’s no funky-tasting flavor you can’t handle, well, then natto is for you. This fermented bean dish looks a little like it’s been covered in stringy snot and smells a lot like stinky feet. It’s loaded with probiotics, but it’s most definitely an acquired taste.
Aside from fermented foods, probiotics can also be found these days in packaged snacks like granola, popcorn and chocolate, as well as in beverages like sparkling water and tea. Unless the probiotic quantity is listed on the nutrition label, however, it’s difficult to determine the potential health benefits of probiotic-enhanced foods and drinks. Probiotic supplements and foods naturally rich in probiotics are likely a surer bet.
Other surprising places probiotics are popping up include face creams, body lotions and deodorants. While there is evidence that probiotic-enhanced skincare products can help restore balance and promote the growth of good bacteria on the skin, the jury is still out on the benefits of probiotic deodorants.
When Should You Take Probiotic Supplements?
The study of probiotics is still evolving in the scientific community, and you won’t find a daily recommended value on your cup of yogurt any time soon either. So until researchers have a better understanding of these beneficial bacteria, don’t put your digestive system under duress eating mounds of fermented foods. Just try to eat a little more. All the foods above aren’t just great sources of probiotics, they’re also just generally great for you.
That said, if you’re suffering from digestive issues, need additional help losing weight or are worried about your immune system, the topic of taking a probiotic supplement may come up. Before doing so, please check with your doctor before purchasing any product. The FDA has not approved any probiotics for preventing or treating any health problem, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And, because there are so many different strains of even the same type of bacteria, it’s tough to tell which supplements are most effective.
“Because probiotics work beyond the stomach, you also want to ensure that the probiotic you choose has been formulated to survive the acidic environment of the stomach so they make it to the right location in the gut to have an effect,” says Langer.
Your doctor will know best.
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When it comes to cooking oils, there is a whole world beyond olive oil. But with so many different options to choose from, how do you know which one to reach for?
While some oils are considered all-purpose, good for sautéing, roasting and more, other varieties are more suitable for salad dressings and marinades. And once you throw smoke points into the equation, it can get pretty overwhelming.
What’s a smoke point, exactly? Something pretty serious, actually. “When an oil is heated above its natural limit, it starts to break down and become oxidized,” explains Liz McKinney, a certified nutritionist at the Counseling & Wellness Center of Pittsburgh. “Oxidation causes free radical production, which damages our cells and can even promote cancerous cell formation.”
When you exceed the smoke point, it’s not only bad for the body upon ingestion, but it can burn the oils, making them taste bad, adds Erin Peisach, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in San Diego, California. “Unsaturated fats are quite fragile,” she says.
That’s where storage of your cooking oils becomes a key element, too. Since light can promote oxidation, McKinney advises keeping oils in dark glass bottles and storing them in a cool, dry, dark place.
From preparation to overall health benefits, here’s everything you need to know about some of the most popular cooking oils out there.
7 Popular Cooking Oils
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A personal favorite of many, including Peisach, the heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats. “It’s one of the highest in monounsaturated fats and doesn’t require chemical or high-heat extraction processes, which can damage the oil,” Peisach says.
A major component in a Mediterranean-style diet, extra virgin olive oil can be used as a dipping oil (hello, bread!) or as a key ingredient in a vinaigrette. It should not be heated past 320 degrees (you can use light olive oil for high-heat cooking). If you don’t love the taste of olive oil, Peisach suggests swapping it with the more neutral tasting avocado oil.
This superstar oil is “packed with monounsaturated fats,” McKinney says. With a smoke point of about 520 degrees, avocado oil is equally ideal for sautéing, roasting and searing as it is for dressings and dips.
“Primarily a saturated fat and solid at room temperature, coconut oil is an amazing source of caprylic acid, which promotes ketone production, increases HDL cholesterol, promotes brain health and has powerful antimicrobial and antifungal properties,” McKinney raves. With a smoke point of 350 degrees, coconut oil is ideal for frying, baking and sautéing.
However, if you’re not a fan of the taste of coconut, seek out a coconut oil that is refined, as it has a more neutral flavor.
Unrefined sesame oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees and should be used sparingly in dishes like stir fries and salads. That’s because it has a high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, which McKinney says “can promote inflammation and damage cells.” (The ideal ratio is 1:1, she says.)
Like sesame oil, sunflower oil should be used sparingly, McKinney says, as it also has a high omega-6/omega-3 ratio. With a smoke point of 440 degrees, it can be used for frying and baking, as well as drizzled on salads.
Flaxseed oil is best when used on salads, McKinney says, as it has a low smoke point of 225 degrees. “Flaxseeds are a good source of an omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid, which is important for brain health, but it also contains a good amount of omega-6s, so proceed with caution,” McKinney says.
Almond oil is another good source of monounsaturated fat, McKinney says. With a 420 degree smoke point, it’s ideal for frying, roasting and baking, as well as in cold preparations, such as homemade butters and salad dressings.
Cooking Oils to Avoid
“Oil is part of a healthy, balanced diet, but it’s important to avoid highly processed pro-inflammatory oils,” Peisach advises.
“As a general rule, avoid most vegetable oils,” McKinney adds. “Vegetable oils have a higher omega-6 content to omega-3 content and promote inflammation.”
Oils to use with caution or to avoid using on a daily basis include soybean oil, peanut oils, corn oil, grape seed oil and safflower oil, McKinney says.
What to Consider When Buying Cooking Oils
When shopping for cooking oils, McKinney recommends people look for “organic, non-GMO, cold pressed or centrifuge extracted and unrefined” varieties.
Cold pressed, Peisach explains, “implies a colder temperature was used during the extraction process, which helps retain the oil’s natural properties compared to high-heat extraction that can change the quality of the oil.”
This means that the oil was “not extracted from chemically treated or genetically modified crops, and was not processed at a high heat, which can cause rancidity and oxidation,” McKinney adds. (These can include expeller-pressed oils, which were made via a mechanical oil extraction process, Peisach explains.)
And what’s the difference between refined and unrefined oils? “Refined oils are less nutrient dense than unrefined oils, but when cooking at higher heats, refined oils are a better choice since they have a higher smoke point,” McKinney says.
“When consuming oils and foods that are in the right form, with the nutrient preserving extraction process, our food becomes a kind of therapy and truly nourishes us,” McKinney concludes.
This post was provided by our friends at Genuine Health.
Fermentation’s popularity is growing in culinary and nutritional circles, but it’s been around since the Neolithic Age. We have our ancestors to thank for learning to harness the process, eventually mastering methods to improve the nutrition of their foods, not to mention the taste and more practical aspects like food preservation. Traditional techniques took time, as microbes and enzymes slowly worked in converting carbohydrates in foods to organic acids and/or alcohol—improving their digestibility and nutritional value in the process.
Why We Should Care About Fermentation
But why should we care about fermentation now? Here are just a few reasons:
- The Standard North American (SAD) diet of processed and refined food is severely lacking in essential nutrients.
- Industrial agriculture has depleted soil of both nutrients and beneficial bacteria, and transporting food over long distances further reduces nutrient potency.
- A cultural fear of bacteria, heavy reliance on antibiotics and rampant use of chemical cleansers has resulted in over-sanitization.
- This trifecta has damaged our food supply, our digestive health and the essential bacteria in and on our bodies—our microbiome—resulting in the rise of dietary sensitivities, allergies, digestive issues and chronic disease in our culture.
Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
With fermentation, you nourish more, digest more and absorb more. Cultured foods may be (very) old news, but how they can nourish us is being brought to light. Research is revealing a significant range of health benefits from fermented foods, in how their unique properties are of enormous benefit to our nourishment and gut ecology, aiding in the prevention of disease by:
- Partially breaking foods down to rid them of “anti-nutrients”—physical or chemical features that inhibit nutrient absorption, thus readying them for effective human digestion
- Increasing food’s bioavailability by “unlocking” vitamins, minerals, amino acids and carbohydrates
- Amplifying the nutritional value of foods by increasing and even generating nutrients
- Improving digestive health by supporting a strong gut ecology, helping allergies, food sensitivities, weight management, inflammation, skin health, mood and immunity
How to Get the Most Out of Fermentation
While traditional diets were up to 30 percent fermented, in today’s world, it’s not very realistic for it to make up that much of your diet. Some fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and natural sourdough breads can be incorporated into your diet for a dose of fermented fare, but supplementation is an easy and time-efficient way to increase your intake.
In fact, the plant and whole-food based ingredients used in high-quality fermented supplements have been shown to provide specific health benefits. For instance, fermentation intensifies the strength of phytonutrients in superfood supplements, increasing their ability to neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body.
Do vegan or dairy-based protein supplements leave you feeling bloated? If so, select a fully-fermented version, which renders the proteins more tolerable with no bloat. Lastly, seek out unique ingredients, such as VitaFiber, a fully fermented prebiotic fiber that helps to feed your friendly gut bacteria.
So there you have it. If you want to absorb maximum nutrients from your food, support digestion and satisfy your beneficial microbes without the bloat, fermentation is the way to go!
Dry, damaged hair certainly doesn’t inspire confidence. Trying to restore luster and shine to dull, lifeless locks can be a frustrating endeavor, especially with a market flooded with shampoos and hair care products all promising moisture and hydration. It’s easy to get caught in what feels like an endless cycle of trial and error.
Even in the natural hair care world, products can do more harm than good if you aren’t using one formulated with the best ingredients for your hair type. So before you start browsing shampoos for dry hair, it’s a good idea to examine what might be causing your dry hair in the first place.
Common Causes of Dry Hair
While hair texture and oil production vary from person to person, chronically dry hair is not a “type” and usually signifies damage. Your current hair care practices could be exacerbating the issue.
“How often you wash your hair should be based on how much oil your scalp produces,” the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends (1). Oily hair can benefit from daily washing, but if your hair is dry or chemically treated, you might want to skip a day or two between washes.
How you clean your hair is just as important as frequency. “When washing your hair, concentrate on cleaning primarily the scalp, rather than washing the entire length of hair,” the AAD suggests (2). “Washing only your hair can create flyaway hair that is dull and coarse.” In addition, always condition your hair after every shampoo. The AAD advises only using conditioner on the tips of the hair and not on the scalp or length of the hair, since conditioners can make fine hair look limp.
The dermatology group also cites other common practices that damage hair, such as frequent heat styling, over brushing and tugging at the hair, tight hairstyles that pull at the hairline, and towel-drying wet hair.
Your outward appearance is also a reflection of your nutrition. “Diet is a major contributing factor to the condition of your hair, skin and nails, and if you’re on point with your nutrition, natural beauty usually follows,” according to the Mayo Clinic (3).
4 Best Shampoos for Dry Hair
Since the goal of shampoo is to remove dirt and impurities, it can be one of the more drying products in a hair care regimen. Our in-house beauty experts hand-picked the best natural shampoos for dry hair that gently clean without stripping away natural moisture:
1). Acure Mega Moisture Argan Oil & Pumpkin Shampoo
This hydrating shampoo uses ultra-nourishing argan and pumpkin seed oil to leave hair silky and shiny. Pumpkin seed oil is rich in zinc, magnesium and calcium—all key nutrients that promote healthy hair. Argan oil contains antioxidants, linoleic acid and omega-6 fatty acids. When applied externally, it can help boost cell production, resulting in a healthier scalp and hair.
2). Nature’s Gate Shampoo for Thin/Dry Hair
This moisturizing shampoo gently cleanses with a unique blend of jojoba oil, sacred lotus and horsetail extract. Jojoba mimics sebum, the oil produced by our skin naturally, making it a great option for adding hydration to hair. Horsetail contains the mineral silica, which strengthens hair strands, while lotus flower deeply conditions and adds shine.
3). Alba Botanica Hawaiian Hair Wash with Coconut Milk
Made with nourishing coconut milk, an ingredient abundant with natural antiseptic fatty acids, this dry hair shampoo, with the help of papaya fruit, gently removes impurities without over-drying. Coconut milk seals in moisture to help reduce breakage. Bonus: it smells good enough to eat!
4). Desert Essence Coconut Shampoo
Infused with organic coconut oil, this nourishing shampoo provides intense moisture, smooths frizz and restore hair’s natural luster. With continued use, this shampoo can help hair look revived, strong and healthy.
Other Ways to Prevent Dry Hair
In addition to choosing the right shampoo for your hair, finding a high-quality, natural hair mask could help improve the texture of dry, damaged hair over time. Here are two our beauty experts highly recommend:
Giovanni 2Chic Avocado & Olive Oil Mask
This deep moisturizing hair mask promises to deliver salon-quality results. It uses nourishing avocado oil and olive oil to replenish dull, lifeless, brittle hair. It also helps repair extreme damage and prevent splits and breaks. After shampooing, massage into hair from root to tip and wait 3-10 minutes before washing out.
St. Tropica Organic Coconut Hot Oil Hair Mask
Made with virgin coconut oil and biotin, this hot oil hair mask can help fortify hair and reduce damage to promote thick, lustrous locks. It’s infused with horsetail, amla, hibiscus and green tea—superfoods renowned for their hair-health-boosting properties. To use, warm up the mask for 20 seconds, then apply all over your hair and scalp.
Pro Hair Care Tips
- Use a light amount of hair oil serum on the length of your hair before blow-drying or any other heat-related hair styling method. This helps seal the hair cuticle and provides an extra layer of moisture so the heat styling doesn’t damage the ends.
- Use a leave-in conditioner and let hair air dry in the summer months to lock-in some extra moisture.
- Avoid abrasive ingredients like sulfates, alcohols and artificial fragrances in your products.
- Beauty starts from within! Getting proper nutrition is key to looking great naturally.
Do you want to bake gluten-free goodies but get stuck on the substitutions? Have you tried baking without gluten but couldn’t get the right texture or flavor?
Gluten, a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley and rye, gives foods their shape and structure. It helps dough rise and provides that delightfully chewy texture that we all love in baked goods. Recreating those sensations without gluten takes some finesse and, unfortunately, often results in crumbling cookies or heavy hunks of cake.
It’s true: Baking without gluten can feel challenging. But, it doesn’t have to be!
You can successfully bake gluten-free treats at home without sacrificing flavor or texture, assures Shelly Henley, owner of No Label at the Table Food Company in Carmel, Indiana.
Henley created the entirely gluten- and dairy-free bakery to help her son, who is on the autism spectrum, achieve his dreams in the food industry. The company provides employment opportunities and job skills training for people with autism.
Henley’s son has been on a gluten- and casein-free diet since he was a toddler. “Eighteen years ago, no one knew what gluten-free was, so I pulled him up on the kitchen island and we baked,” she recalls. “Baking and cooking are process-driven. You follow the steps and in the end, you get a yummy reward. It’s very satisfying work for him.”
4 Keys to Successful Gluten-Free Baking
Here are some of Henley’s best tips to take the stress out of gluten-free baking:
Convert Recipes to Gluten-Free
The trick to successful gluten-free baking isn’t just to swap one flour for another. Instead, to compensate for gluten’s job of helping dough rise, it takes some additions. While you can find gobs of gluten-free recipes on Pinterest, you might want to convert one of your non-GF faves. There are handy conversion charts on the internet. We like this one because it explains the science and math behind the conversions (and includes a tasty cookie recipe at the end).
Use the Right Ingredients
Not all flours are gluten-free, of course. Beyond the obvious white and wheat flours, some others to avoid include flour made from barley, rye and spelt. For guidance, check out this list of the best gluten-free flours and other baking ingredients. Remember, though, that you can’t swap a gluten flour for a GF flour without some additional conversions.
Some gluten-free mixes are available to take care of those substitutions and conversions for you, but they’re not always a seamless replacement, depending on what you’re making. You may have to trial-and-error your favorite recipes with some of the pre-made mixes available.
Let Your Dough Rest
Allow your dough to take its time before you bake, and you’ll end up happier with the texture and consistency of your treat. “A good tip is to hydrate your doughs,” Henley says. “If you make a batter or dough, let it sit for 20 or 30 minutes. Gluten-free flours need more time to take in the fats and liquids of the recipes.”
Henley also finds that coddling the eggs helps with the process. “Remember in your chemistry class in school, you learned reactions happen faster at higher temperatures. Baking is science, molecular gastronomy.”
Know When to Give Up
Perhaps Henley’s best advice involves giving up. “Give up on trying to buy the perfect blend of GF flour,” she says. “There’s not one. You’ll always need to substitute a couple flours to get your desired result. Breads will need more protein. Cakes more starch.”
Maybe even more important is giving up the idea that you are living without something, Henley says. “Don’t try to recreate your old diet. It was probably making you sick anyway. When you focus on what you can have versus what is off limits, the whole world opens for you.”
Ready to master the art form of gluten-free baking? Check out our 7 Essentials for the Gluten-Free Baker.
Life is entirely too short to skip ice cream altogether. But hey, it doesn’t have to leave you filled with guilt of “Why did I eat that?” I’ve got you covered with this nice cream recipe. I’m telling you, you can eat an unlimited serving of “nice” cream, so I recommend taking this recipe and doubling it.
What Is Nice Cream?
“Nice” cream is your friend.
It’s made without:
- Artificial flavors
- Added sweeteners
It’s actually the most perfect food because it takes like dessert but it’s made with fruit—that’s it.
Be forewarned, you might feel like you’re indulging in something naughty and delicious, but this is a completely guilt-free, cruelty-free, and plant-based treat. It also contains a total of three ingredients: mango, dates, and a plant-based milk of your choice.
I recommend using an unsweetened, preferably homemade, milk to keep this recipe super clean.
The Benefits of Mango
Mango, my summer secret weapon (also used in my Detox + Chill smoothie), is so creamy and smooth so it offers up a consistency similar to ice cream. Unlike dairy, mangoes offer a variety of health benefits and an abundance of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Mangoes have been shown to alkalize the body, lower cholesterol, clear skin, and improve eye health. Can your ice cream do that? I didn’t think so.
Mango Nice Cream Recipe
Serves 4 (Remember what I said about eating it all on your own? That’s 100% allowed.)
YOU WILL NEED:
- High speed blender
- Tamper (helpful for thick mixtures by pushing the mixture down while blending)
- 4 Cups Frozen Mango
- 2 Pitted Dates
- ¼ cup favorite plant milk (I love cashew milk, unsweetened)
- Place all the ingredients in your high speed blender.
- Blend until you get a smooth and creamy consistency. Use the tamper stick to press down the mixture. Make sure to not over process; I like mine with small mango and date pieces.
- Serve immediately and top with your favorite toppings. My favorites include: chia seeds, almond butter, pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, and granola.
Enjoy, and seriously, don’t share if you don’t have to.