For the past few years, scientists have tirelessly worked to discover the mysteries found in the human digestive system.
Today, the digestive tract is more than just a pipe that connects where people intake food and where they excrete waste. Instead, it’s a complex environment that houses trillions of bacteria that can either positively or negatively affect a person’s quality of life.
These microorganisms in the gut have gained some traction not only in the medical community but also in individuals who are continually looking for ways to improve their health.
The discovery of gut flora increased the demand for microbiome tests to identify how balanced a person’s gut health is. You can even order this test online from My Psomagen and perform the test at home.
Interested in learning more about your gut health?
Read on to discover the signs of an unhealthy gut and what you can do to drive harmful bacteria away and promote a better quality of life.
Why Your Gut Health Matters
Believe it or not, your body houses more bacteria than cells. In fact, hundreds of trillions of bacteria live inside your body, and they’re mainly located in your gut. These microorganisms help you digest food properly, so your body can absorb the nutrients it needs.
But more than breaking down nutrients in your food, these hosts of bacteria also work to optimize other systems in your body to maintain your physical and mental well-being.
Microorganisms in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract—also referred to as the gut microbiome—consist of good and bad bacteria.
Healthy bacteria are responsible for breaking down food, boosting immunity, and maintaining equilibrium in your GI tract.
An abundance of good bacteria in the gut prevents the harmful bacteria from multiplying and dominating your body. A balanced and healthy gut microbiome has also been associated with improving emotions and brain processes.
On the other hand, harmful bacterial is responsible for increasing your chances of developing chronic diseases.
In fact, studies have found that the abundance of certain harmful bacteria in the gut may cause heart ailments, high cholesterol levels, Crohn’s disease, Irritable bowel syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
For this reason, keeping a balanced gut microbiome is essential in maintaining not only a healthy gut but also your overall health.
The question now is, what can you do to improve and balance the bacteria found in your gut?
Signs Of An Unhealthy Gut
For the most part, having an unhealthy gut can be easy to spot, especially when you’re experiencing physical symptoms, like gastric problems and skin irritations.
However, a person may experience signs of an unhealthy gut without them knowing it. Some of the leading causes of having an unhealthy gut are high-stress levels, inadequate sleep, overeating processed and high-sugar diets, and taking antibiotics.
So, if you’re worried about an unbalanced gut microbiome, here are some of the signs you should watch out for:
A healthy gut promotes better digestion and waste elimination. If you frequently experience constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, or feeling bloated and gassy, you may have an unhealthy gut.
Increased Sugar Cravings
You may be already aware that forming the habit of eating sugary foods can be a vicious cycle that’s difficult to escape.
In fact, eating a diet rich in processed foods and refined sugars can reduce the level of good bacteria found in your digestive tract. When this occurs, you’ll experience more sugar cravings that can further damage your gut microbiome.
Sudden Weight Change
Since the good bacteria in your gut help digest food, an imbalance in the gut flora can harm the ability of the body to store fat, regulate, blood sugar, and absorb nutrients.
When these processes are disrupted, gaining or losing weight may occur without changing your diet or exercise routine.
Serotonin, a hormone in charge of regulating a person’s mood and sleep, is produced in the body’s digestive tract. Whenever imbalances or disruptions occur in the digestive tract, serotonin production is affected as well.
If you’re constantly feeling tired or having difficulty sleeping or staying asleep, you may have an unhealthy GI tract.
Certain skin conditions such as eczema and acne may be another sign of an unhealthy gut. Poor diet and food allergies can cause inflammation in the abdomen resulting in the leaking of proteins out of the body through the skin.
A food intolerance occurs when a person’s digestive system has difficulty digesting a specific food source. Your body needs a fair amount of good bacteria in order to break down certain foods effectively.
When your gut is rich in bad bacteria, it becomes harder to digest food sources, thus developing food intolerances.
Knowing these signs, how do you exactly improve the health and maintain the equilibrium of your gut? The best course of action to improve gut health is changing your diet and developing healthy habits, such as getting enough sleep and exercising.
In terms of food intake, incorporating probiotics and pre-biotics in your diet is an excellent way to promote a healthy gut.
Probiotics are live microorganisms found in your body. They’re also common in fermented foods. Some of the foods rich in probiotics include:
As you can see, keeping a well-balanced digestive health is no different than living a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating a diet rich in fibrous fruits and vegetables, as well as probiotic foods, can boost the level of good bacteria in your gut.
To achieve the best results, try to get as much as 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
Develop the habit of engaging in physical activity and exercising regularly. Combining these three is your ticket to a healthy gut and lifestyle.
Lauren Gamble is an author, mompreneur, co-founder of Naturally Made Essentials. She is on a mission to help thousands of women across the world achieve a healthy, happy lifestyle through teaching natural health practices.
When you think of the basic ingredients of a cake – especially a chocolate one – you probably think of milk, eggs, and butter.
While this might not be an issue to some, for vegans, it puts a spanner in the works. But what if we told you vegans can now have their chocolate cake and eat it too?
You see, we’ve rounded up the 30 most decadent, delicious, and drool-worthy vegan chocolate cakes around, featuring everything from moist sponge cakes and creamy mousse cakes, to cupcakes, mug cakes, and tasty international favorites.
Many of these recipes are even gluten-free or keto friendly, so you’ve got yourself a win-win!
If you’re worried that these chocolate cakes are lacking in flavor though, we can assure you: even your non-vegan friends will find it hard to look past these delicacies.
Ready to check out the best 30 vegan chocolate cakes? Let’s get started!
This is the simplest, healthiest, and richest dessert you can make within 2 minutes, so there’s no excuse to miss out on dessert just because you’re short on time!
To make this decadent, vegan and gluten-free mug cake, you’ll just need one ripe banana, cacao powder, peanut butter, salt, baking powder, maple syrup (or a sweetener of your choice), and some chopped dark chocolate (optional).
You’ll fall head-over-heels in love with its unique flavor.
Is there a greater food pairing than vegan chocolate and peanut butter?
The chef of this recipe attributes that moist and gooey chocolate cake to “vegan yogurt and vegan buttermilk as our ‘moist-makers’, lots of cocoa, hot coffee, and two flours”. And as for that frosting?
It simply contains vegan butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, almond milk, and salt. When finished, simply top the cake with all sorts of fun things, such as sprinkles, vegan peanut butter cups, and chocolate chips. Now, that’s a cake worth celebrating for!
Heralded as the “best vegan chocolate cake”, this creation is moist and deeply chocolatey, with a rich chocolate frosting made from a secret ingredient: sweet potato!
It may just be the healthiest cake you’ve ever eaten, but you wouldn’t know it, thanks to its rich, dark chocolate flavor. Just some of the other ingredients include cinnamon, almond milk, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and cacao powder.
Apparently using a Vitamix is the secret to getting this cake just-right, but we’re sure any food processor would do the trick. This vegan chocolate cake is also gluten-free, so it can be enjoyed by many!
Just some of its ingredients include oat flour, cacao powder, tapioca starch, almond milk, almond butter, coconut sugar, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, and coffee extract (which is optional).
This chocolate and peanut butter cake has been likened to the flavors of a Snickers bar! It’s a soft and moist vegan chocolate cake filled with a rich and creamy peanut butter frosting, making it the perfect dessert or cake for celebrating just about any occasion!
If you want smaller bites of chocolate and peanut butter heaven, you can even replicate this recipe but pour it into a cupcake pan. Genius!
Ready for a no-bake chocolate pie that’s also dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and only has 9 simple ingredients?
This vegan chocolate pie not only looks divine, but has a rich, fudgey, and creamy taste and texture that you’ll love.
It contains nuts or seeds of your choice, oats, salt, dates, vanilla extract, dairy-free chocolate chips, maple syrup, avocado, sweet potato, and cocoa powder.
Veggies in a chocolate cake?! That’s one way to turn it into the tastiest health food on the planet!
9. VEGAN CHOCOLATE MOLTEN LAVA CAKE (GLUTEN-FREE) FROM ELA VEGAN
Speaking of chocolate lava cake, here’s how you can make a delectable vegan and gluten-free version. If you’ve never heard of a molten lava cake before, then it’s simply a flourless cake with a liquid chocolate center. Trust us, it’s good.
The ingredients are oats, almonds, banana, a sweetener (you can use coconut sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, etc.), plant-based milk, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract. So easy!
We’ve got to say it: this vegan chocolate cake with raspberry cream looks like a work of art. This cake is simply perfect for Valentine’s Day, but of course it’s delicious any day!
Just some of its ingredients include almond butter, plant-based milk (such as oat milk), apple cider vinegar, spelt flour, coconut sugar, and more. Layer it up and enjoy it with your friends or family – even though it will be ridiculously hard to share!
If the soft, luscious look of this vegan triple chocolate mousse cake hasn’t got your mouth watering, then we don’t know what will!
The chef describes her creation as “cashews blended into an extra smooth and creamy vegan chocolate mousse and spread over a chocolate nut-based crust, chilled until firm, and topped with sweet dark chocolate.”
If you’re looking to spoil that special someone with something other than a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day, this recipe has got you sorted.
This vegan chocolate layer cake with vanilla mousse and strawberries should be at the top of everyone’s wish list each February – or any day of the year for that matter!
This one features ingredients such as raw cashews, firm tofu (we kid you not – it’s for the mousse!), agave nectar, olive oil, apple sauce, apple cider vinegar, fresh strawberries, and more. Doesn’t sound so unhealthy either, hey?
13. VEGAN AND GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE CAKE WITH RAW CACAO FROM LIVE KINDLY
This vegan and gluten-free chocolate truffle cake is delicious and decadent, and you won’t be sorry when you eat a slice – or three.
The chef recommends having a really good blender on-hand (such as a Vitamix, Blendtec, or Ninja) to make it super creamy. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, just blend the mixture for a very long time until it is super smooth.
You’ll love the inclusion of ingredients such as raw pecans, Medjool dates, raw cashews, coconut nectar, and more.
A vegan hazelnut and chocolate flourless cake that tastes like brownie batter? Count us in!
It uses ingredients such as ground flax seed, filtered water, unsweetened chocolate, hazelnut or almond butter, pureed pear or apple, coconut sugar, sea salt, pure vanilla extract, hazelnut meal, raw cacao powder, plus hazelnuts and chopped dark chocolate to garnish.
This vegan chocolate layer cake with hibiscus frosting can be described as “vegan buttercream frosting spiked with a fruity tartness from hibiscus, then sandwiched between three layers of moist chocolate cake with chocolate chunks floating throughout”.
How good does that sound?! This recipe also includes some brilliant tips for making vegan cakes in general.
For example, did you know that espresso amplifies the deep, rich flavor of chocolate without adding any noticeable coffee flavor? You have all of that to look forward to and more.
This vegan and gluten free chocolate cake is a cross between a vegan caprese cake, a truffle cake and a brownie. It also gives you a nice boost of serotonin, thanks to the almonds, chocolate and bitter cocoa.
You’ll love its thick, fudgy, and oh-so-chocolatey texture, making you go back for seconds…or thirds. Plus, it only uses 10-11 ingredients, with a prep time of just 5 minutes.
Along with being vegan, this German chocolate cake is also gluten-free. The chef describes it as a “rich and decadent German chocolate cake, layered with sweet coconut icing and drizzled in chocolate ganache”.
Our tastebuds are already tingling! The coconut filling is thick, gooey, chewy, and perfectly sweet. Plus, it’s made from simple ingredients you likely already have on-hand.
22. VEGAN CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE (GLUTEN-FREE, OIL-FREE RECIPE) FROM ELA VEGAN
We know what you’re thinking: zucchini, in a cake?! That’s not the only vegetable that this fudgy, chocolaty, moist, and rich cake has managed to squeeze in.
It also contains sweet potato, as well as healthy ingredients such as shredded unsweetened coconut, brown rice flour, ground flax seeds, agave syrup, sunflower seed butter, cacao, plant-based milk, and more. We can’t wait to try it!
“With melt-in-the-mouth chocolate sponges, fluffy vegan chocolate frosting and absolutely stunning decorations, it’s the perfect showstopper for all occasions,” says chef Kat.
We couldn’t agree with her more and think it looks like an absolute masterpiece. You see, there’s the luscious ganache drip, hazelnut-studded chocolate shards, and those truffles – where do we even begin?
Sure, it’s a little more ingredient heavy than the other recipes on this list, but trust us, it’s totally worth it for any special occasion.
If you’re looking for a vegan chocolate cake which is layered with chocolate mousse and homemade raspberry jam, then this is the one for you.
You can also turn this recipe into a single layer cake or cupcakes – just keep in mind that baking times will change.
The chocolate frosting alone contains ingredients such as non-dairy whipping cream, non-dairy bittersweet chocolate, and powdered sugar. And then there’s those luscious berries on top…
26. VEGAN BANANA CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING FROM DOMESTIC GOTHESS
This is the perfect vegan chocolate cake for all occasions! You see, it features a fluffy, moist banana cake filled with smooth, creamy peanut butter and chocolate buttercream.
All up, it takes 45 minutes to prep and cook, so you can have a delicious cake in under an hour. Some of the ingredients include ground cinnamon, very ripe bananas, unsweetened plant milk, sunflower oil, vegetable shortening, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder.
Could this be the best vegan chocolate cake ever? You’ll just have to make it to find out! It’s super moist and fudgy, quick and easy, rich and chocolatey with the most delicious chocolate ganache vegan frosting.
Plus, it takes under an hour all-up to prepare and cook! Trust us, your friends and family won’t even guess that this cake is egg and dairy free.
This delicious, easy, and cherry-topped vegan chocolate cake can be made using simple ingredients, all in the one bowl. Just some of these include apple cider vinegar, cocoa powder, instant coffee granules (optional), vanilla extract, and apple sauce.
We recommend serving it with whipped coconut cream, a scoop of vegan ice cream, or some dairy-free yoghurt on top. Yum!
29. THE BEST, SUPER-MOIST VEGAN CHOCOLATE CAKE FROM NORA COOKS
If you’ve had a store-bought vegan cake before, you may have been disappointed by its strange taste or lack of moisture. With this quick and easy recipe, you’ll never be disappointed with a vegan chocolate cake again – we promise!
The secret to achieving a super moist, mouth-watering vegan cake is not just apple sauce, but adding a cup of boiling hot water to the cake batter right before baking. It makes such a difference!
These are deep, dark, rich, and fudgy vegan chocolate cupcakes – with no eggs required! This basic chocolate cupcake recipe uses vinegar and baking soda to create an acid-base reaction, causing bubbles to form and thus the cupcakes to rise as they bake.
You’ll just need a short list of ingredients which are most likely already in your kitchen, including apple sauce, coconut oil, pure vanilla extract, cocoa powder, apple cider vinegar, and more.
Which Vegan Chocolate Cake Will You Make?
There you have it – 30 of the best vegan chocolate cake recipes you’ll ever find! After all, why should vegans have to miss out on one of their most favorite desserts? Now they can have their cake and eat it too!
Aside from being free of animal products, many of these vegan chocolate cakes are also gluten-free, paleo, or keto, meaning that a wide range of people with dietary requirements can enjoy them.
Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, Easter, Christmas, graduation, name day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or anything else, these vegan cake recipes are the perfect way to spread some cheer (and some deliciousness!).
Which vegan chocolate cake recipe will you be trying first? Feel free to pick out your favorite and start slowly, or start at the top of the list and work your way through – the choice is yours!
There are many tricks to promote weight loss, but intermittent fasting (IF) isn’t a joke.
It’s become increasingly popular in recent years and for good reason. Research shows it has plenty of benefits, but that still doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone.
How do you know if it’s right for you? Read on.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a specific pattern of eating designed to promote fasting benefits without denying yourself food for more than 24 hours.
It is different from strict fasting, which might eliminate all or most foods for a certain number of days. Fasting can be dangerous and should not be attempted without medical approval.
Intermittent fasting, however, implies daily food intake. Instead of eating throughout the day, however, your total food intake is contained to a specific window.
For example, many intermittent fasters skip a traditionally-timed breakfast and don’t eat first until noon and then end their last meal of the day by 7pm.
Intermittent fasting is a protocol that does not tell you what to eat, but rather when.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting can be done in many different ways. These are the most common methods for using IF.
The 5:2 Diet
This doesn’t involve long periods of no food but instead refers to extreme caloric restriction on two days of the week. For five days you eat normally, and for two non-consecutive days you eat fewer than 1,000 calories, which is typically two smaller meals.
You should get medical clearance before you fast this way.
Also known as eat-stop-eat fasting, this type involves not eating from dinner one day until dinnertime the next. So you don’t go an entire day with no food, but you do give your digestive system a 24-hour break.
This is typically done one or two times per week, with normal eating patterns the other days of the week. You should get medical clearance before you fast for 24-hours at a time.
The 16/8 Method
With this protocol, you skip breakfast and only consume food for about eight hours each day. Some people choose from 12 pm to 8 pm, or from 1 pm to 9 pm, but others will also restrict food consumption to six or seven hours.
This method reduces snacking in the evening and capitalizes on the already normal fasting time while you are asleep.
This method is also referred to as the lean-gains protocol, and even though it’s less extreme, you should still check with your doctor before trying it.
The 16/8 method or others close to it are the most popular ways to do intermittent fasting.
8 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Research has examined many angles of intermittent fasting and discovered several key benefits. Not only can it promote weight loss, but it can promote cognitive wellness, and it might even lengthen your lifespan. (1, 2)
These are the top proven reasons why IF might be beneficial for health.
1. Weight Loss
Eating less will naturally lead to weight loss in most cases.
Intermittent fasting works for weight loss in several ways, but one of them is by restricting the time of eating, it results in less mindless snacking and excessively large meals. (3)
During the time that you’re not eating, such as a 16 hour fast from dinner until lunchtime the next day, your body dips into stored glucose and fat for energy, resulting in more energy expended than being stored.
This translates to fat loss. However, if your meals when you do eat are not high enough in protein, you could end up burning muscle for energy during times of fasting, so it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet for the best long-term results.
Intermittent fasting can also be helpful for shrinking the waist as research has found that it can reduce belly fat.
Belly fat is dangerous because it surrounds the organs in your trunk and can lead to several types of disease including diabetes and heart disease. (4)
Part of the reason we lose weight is because of metabolism.
Regulated by the thyroid and other hormones, metabolism sets the baseline for how much energy your body needs just to be awake and functioning.
When your basal (or baseline) metabolic rate is higher, you naturally burn more fat and calories just by being up and around. Intermittent fasting can help to boost your basal metabolic rate. (5)
Intermittent fasting can boost your basal metabolic rate by as much as 14 percent. (6)
This can lead to a greater loss of weight than simply counting calories. Research shows that by using IF, you can lose up to eight percent more body weight over six months. (7)
3. Epigenetic Improvements
You are born with one set of genes that don’t change. But what can change is how your genes work or express themselves. Epigenetics is the process by which your genes are influenced by the environment around you.
This includes your living space and the air you breathe, but also diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle, like whether you get enough sleep or are too stressed on a regular basis.
Intermittent fasting helps to promote cell repair and also boosts the function of genes that promote longevity. It can help to turn off epigenetic expression that is associated with inflammation and disease, too. (8, 9, 10, 11)
4. Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone that helps take glucose into your cells to be used as fuel. When the body becomes resistant to insulin’s activity, insulin resistance develops and blood sugar levels get too high.
This is often the case with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The more optimized your insulin levels, the better your body can use fat for energy, and the closer your weight will be to optimal. (12)
Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce blood sugar by as much as six percent and fasting insulin levels by as much as 31 percent. (13)
5. Human Growth Hormone
Intermittent fasting can increase levels of human growth hormone which can rev metabolism, promote weight loss, and boost muscle gain alongside fat loss. (14, 15)
Inflammation is typically a healing response in the body, but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to negative consequences. IF can help to regulate inflammation levels in the body and reduce problems related to systemic inflammation. (16)
This makes intermittent fasting a positive lifestyle intervention for people with autoimmunity and other chronic inflammatory disorders as long as it is medically approved by their doctors. (17, 18)
7. Cardiovascular Health
Heart health is benefitted by intermittent fasting. While all cholesterol isn’t bad, when LDL cholesterol becomes oxidized it can sit in the arteries and lead to inflammation, plaque build-up, and eventual blockage.
IF can help to reduce the chance that LDL might oxidize, and it can also improve blood sugar, insulin, triglycerides, and CRP-hs—all labs that are associated with heart disease risk factors. (19, 20)
8. Cognitive and Neurological Health
Intermittent fasting can support a healthy brain and cognitive function. It can even promote the growth of new nerve cells as well as increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a protein that promotes healthy brain cells.
Intermittent fasting might even be able to protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s because of these benefits. (21, 22)
Who Should Not Practice Intermittent Fasting?
As with most things, not everyone gets the same benefits from certain diets or dietary protocols. Intermittent fasting can have dramatic improvements in health in some people but would not be a good idea for others.
Certain people should not try intermittent fasting because they need a more steady nutritional intake for proper growth or development or this pattern of eating would be detrimental in some other way. These include:
Anyone under age 18
Anyone who is underweight
Anyone who has ever experienced an eating disorder
Anyone who has a diagnosed medical condition of any kind
Anyone who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes
Pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant
Anyone with low blood pressure
Women with a history of menstrual problems
Women who are breastfeeding
Women with thyroid disorders
Even if you don’t fall under any of those categories it is a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a new dietary protocol. Nothing replaces the benefit of personalized medical care.
There is also some research that shows that IF may not be the best idea for women overall as directly compared to men. Most studies look at how IF affects men, and that cannot be universally applied to women.
In some other studies, intermittent fasting was shown to actually cause more problems for women, like worsening blood sugar levels or insulin sensitivity or leading to menstrual disorders or even problems getting pregnant. (23)
This doesn’t necessarily mean that women cannot practice IF, but they may need to ease into it more slowly or fast for shorter periods of time. Some tips for women to start intermittent fasting include:
Fasting for 10-12 hours, at most 14, instead of 16 to 24
Monitoring thyroid and reproductive hormones throughout the cycle to ensure they are not being suppressed in response to fasting
Working with a nutritionist to ensure that when they’re eating, they are meeting all nutritional requirements and not contributing to deficiencies or unhealthy relationships with food
What Counts As Breaking the Fast?
If you’re practicing intermittent fasting, you might want to know what you can do during fasting periods versus eating times.
You can (and should) drink plenty of fluids during non-eating times. These include water, black coffee, tea, and sparkling water. Basically liquid without calories. Caffeine does not count.
If you are looking to do a less intense version of IF, you can also include bone broth and soup stock during periods of fasting so that you’re getting a few calories, but your digestive system still isn’t having to work too hard.
You can also add collagen peptides to coffee or beverages during fasting time without breaking the fast.
Is Intermittent Fasting Right For You?
If you are interested in the idea of intermittent fasting and have no underlying medical conditions or reasons why it is not a good idea, it may be an interesting experience. You may feel better and be able to lose some weight.
However, intermittent fasting is not a magic bullet and should not be attempted to lose extreme amounts of weight quickly or to otherwise engage in unhealthy eating behaviors.
It’s most important that you eat a balanced diet and meet all of your body’s nutritional needs. This can be done with or without intermittent fasting and needs to be the primary focus.
If the idea of fasting in any form seems stressful or undesirable, then don’t do it. Unless your doctor has specifically recommended intermittent fasting, you don’t need to do something that will make you feel miserable about how or when you eat.
There are many ways to approach healthy eating.
Intermittent fasting is one approach for eating in a way that may have some health benefits, like insulin sensitivity, weight loss, and cardiovascular health.
However, there are many ways to achieve these health benefits and intermittent fasting is not the only answer.
IF can be a great way to optimize a relationship with food and eating, but for others, it may have negative consequences.
Ultimately, a person’s relationship with food is highly individualized and should be considered. Nothing is one size fits all.
This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid problems, infertility, and digestive wellness. She ate her way back to health using a Paleo diet, lost 80 pounds, and had a healthy baby after numerous miscarriages. She focuses on simple nutrition practices that promote long-lasting results.
With summer just around the corner, there is so much to look forward to – including long days at the beach, barbecues with friends, and spending as much time outdoors as possible under the warmth of the sun.
One thing you might not be excited about this summer, however, is the creepy crawlies that are encouraged by the rising temperatures to enter into your backyards or homes.
Then there’s the chemical-laden, potentially harmful sprays and lotions we use to keep bugs such as mosquitoes, ants, spiders, moths, and ticks at bay…there’s got to be a better solution.
Thankfully, we found not one, but 30 all-natural solutions to your insect problems, including sprays, lotions, gels, and balms you can make at home using safe, non-toxic ingredients such as essential oils.
Some are even perfect for protecting children, babies, and pets!
Ready to keep nightmarish bugs away the natural way? Here are 30 DIY natural insect repellents you’ll want to try this weekend.
This natural mosquito repellent balm is great for those who are more active, as it can easily be carried on hikes and stays on longer than most sprays – especially when sweating in the heat.
It contains ingredients including essential oils (such as lemon eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, citronella, lemon, or lemongrass), shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax. Store the mixture in a small tin with a lid and apply every few hours as needed.
2. HOMEMADE PET-FRIENDLY TICK REPELLENT RECIPE FROM EHOW
Want a natural, homemade tick repellent that both you and your pet can use?
This simple recipe uses ingredients such as water, apple cider vinegar, vegetable or almond oil, and lemon juice, citrus oil, geranium oil or peppermint oil to keep ticks away.
Simply spray the solution onto your pet’s dry coat, staying away from sensitive areas including their eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals. If they’re outside for an extended period of time, spray this solution on their coat two to three times per day.
Whether or not you live in prime tick or Lyme disease areas, you’ll still want to protect your family and pets from the harmful bite and blood-sucking ways of ticks.
Thankfully, this natural essential oil tick repellent features safe ingredients to keep those suckers away from your skin and clothing, including witch hazel, rose geranium essential oil, and water. That’s it! Simple, yet effective.
Avoid harmful chemicals like DEET and deter mosquitoes and biting insects naturally with this easy DIY mosquito repellent recipe.
You see, it contains ingredients such as apple cider vinegar and essential oils like citronella, lavender and lemongrass – all of which mosquitoes and sand flies can’t stand! Now you can enjoy your picnic, alfresco dining, or picnic without fearing the wrath of insect bites.
Repel mosquitoes and other bugs naturally with these homemade bug repellent candle melts. All you do is put one in your wax melter and let it diffuse the essential oils to keep bugs away.
This recipe contains lemon eucalyptus, citronella, lemongrass, lavender, and cedar wood, but lists so many other essential oils you can include to keep the bugs away. Oh, and did we mention these waxes are reusable?
Just place any leftover wax melt in a plastic bag to use next time.
6. DIY RECIPE FOR NATURAL MOSQUITO REPELLENT FOR DOGS FROM DOGS NATURALLY
Here’s another great and all-natural DIY to help your pooch stay bug-free, this time focusing on mosquito repellent.
Just as with humans, mosquito bites can cause pain, inflammation, and irritation for your dog. Simply mix together 25 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil with 4 oz witch hazel or 2 oz coconut oil (or another carrier oil like almond oil).
Additional, yet optional ingredients include: real vanilla extract, peppermint essential oil, lavender essential oil, or atlas cedarwood essential oil.
7. NATURAL PEPPERMINT OIL INSECT REPELLENT FROM EHOW
Use peppermint oil alone or in a homemade insect spray such as this one to effectively repel mosquitoes, gnats and horseflies.
You see, bugs may not like peppermint oil, but kids and adults usually enjoy its fresh and energizing scent. Plus, it creates a cooling sensation that’s perfect for those hot summer days.
Other ingredients in this repellent include distilled or boiled water, witch hazel, vodka, eucalyptus essential oil, lemongrass essential oil, and clove essential oil.
These lotion bars might look technical, but the process couldn’t be easier! You just melt all of the ingredients over a pot of boiling water and pour the liquid into your mould and set aside to solidify.
Then, simply store your DIY mosquito repellent lotion bars in an airtight container. These ones contain ingredients including beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, Miracle Glow oil, citronella oil, peppermint essential oil, lemon essential oil, and lemongrass essential oil.
Repel mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and other pests with these DEET-free, homemade bug repellent lotion bars using essential oils and other natural ingredients.
If you’ve ever wondered how to repel mosquitoes without bug spray, this lotion bar recipe is your answer! Just another one of its benefits is that it nourishes and moisturizes the skin due to the shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax ingredients.
As you’ve probably already read by now, there are several essential oils that reportedly repel mosquitoes, so a combination of any of them added to witch hazel or vodka and water makes an effective bug spray.
This particular recipe uses witch hazel, water, TerraShield, cedarwood oil, lemon oil, lavender oil, and peppermint oil.
This simple DIY bug repellent gel recipe will keep the mosquitos away from your skin, helping to not only prevent those irritating bites but the potential for mosquito-borne illnesses.
Since it’s a gel, it won’t stick to clothing as it’s quickly absorbed into the skin. You’ll need aloe vera gel, witch hazel, nature shield essential oil blend, tea tree essential oil, lemongrass essential oil, and lemon eucalyptus essential oil or citronella essential oil.
These DIY citronella lemon bowl candles naturally repel insects with essential oils and dried herbs. Together they make a beautiful centerpiece or small arrangement to accompany an outdoor feast.
The maker recommends whipping-up an extra dozen to send home with guests for an evening they won’t soon forget. What a clever idea! Ingredients include lemons, soy wax flakes, lemongrass essential oil, citronella essential oil, and dried lemon balm.
19. DIY BUG REPELLENT RECIPE (WITH FREE PRINTABLE LABELS) FROM THE KINDEST WAY
Within minutes you can make a homemade DIY bug repellent that will help keep the bugs away when you are out enjoying all things nature.
This DIY insect repellent is safe for kids and adults and doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals. Instead, you’ll find ingredients such as coconut oil, safflower oil, beeswax, and essential oils such as clove, tea tree, rosemary, lavender, and lemon.
This DIY ant repellent uses just one ingredient most of us all have at home – coffee! It’s the easiest DIY repellent on this list and can have you treating your home for ants within just minutes.
Coffee grounds are naturally poisonous to ants, so just take some recently used coffee grounds and sprinkle them around the cracks and holes you think ants are emerging from.
21. A SIMPLE, NATURAL RECIPE TO REPEL SPIDERS FROM HELLO GLOW
Did you know that you can eradicate spiders from your home by creating a natural concoction of vinegar, water, and salt? Pour it in a spray bottle and spray in corners, on windowsills and wherever you see spider webs.
The smell will keep the spiders from returning to that area, so re-mist every so often to refresh the scent.
This DIY bug spray works wonders, and you don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals.
It’s very simple to make and only requires a few ingredients too. Forget DEET and other proven-to-be harmful chemicals; this solution just contains witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, and 20 drops of essential oil.
This recipe recommends rosemary, citronella, tea tree, lemongrass or eucalyptus essential oil or a combination of all.
With just a handful of ingredients, you can easily make your own natural insect repellent against mosquitoes and ticks to protect babies, children, and adults organically and effectively.
The secret is in essential oils, or more specifically, lemon eucalyptus, thyme, lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and geranium. When teamed with witch hazel, vodka, and boiling water, you’ve got yourself one safe and effective DIY insect repellent.
These DIY all-natural insect repellent jars are perfect for backyard parties and get togethers. Your guests will love these as centerpieces that are both beautiful and functional.
Using a combination of fresh rosemary and lemons along with essential oils helps make these natural insect repellent jars as appealing to the eye as they are effective to repelling mosquitoes and other insects!
Conventional insect repellents contain questionable ingredients, but a homemade solid insect repellent with essential oils works well without the worry!
A hard lotion bar recipe forms the base of this solid insect repellent, using beeswax, cocoa butter, and coconut and castor oils. It’s the essential oils that do the main work in keeping the bugs away, however.
This recipe uses lemon eucalyptus, citronella, lavender, peppermint, and geranium.
30. HOMEMADE HERBAL SPRAY FOR DUST MITES FROM HELLO GLOW
If there’s one annoying creepy crawly we haven’t actually discussed yet in this post, it’s dust mites.
While you might not be able to see them with the naked eye, you can be assured that they’re there – whether it’s on your clothing, furniture surfaces, or running along your bed mattress and pillows.
Thankfully, there’s a simple and natural solution that stops them dead. This homemade herbal spray combines one cup of water with 20 drops each of clove, eucalyptus, peppermint and lemon essential oils in a spray bottle.
Which Insect Repellent Recipe Will You Try?
There you have it – the top 30 DIY natural insect repellents that are safe for all members of your family.
Rather than using harmful ingredients such as DEET or other chemicals and toxins, these natural, homemade alternatives use the power of essential oils to repel pests such as mosquitos, ticks, ants, wasps, flies, spiders, and more.
Whether you prefer your natural insect repellent in spray, balm, candle, bracelet, or lotion form – there’s a homemade bug repellent recipe here to suit everyone!
These DIYs also use a wide range of essential oils and are fairly flexible, allowing you to combine your own favorite scents to suit your individual preferences.
Which DIY insect repellent will you be trying first? Many of these can be whipped up in as little as a few minutes, so there’s no limit to how many you can create this weekend or even this afternoon!
Be sure to let us know how you get along in the Comments section below.
Argan oil is a vitamin-rich beauty product and culinary product packed with healthy fatty acids for anti-aging, healing acne, and safe DIY beauty recipes. Learn more about its roots, how to use it at home, and how to buy the best argan oil.
What is argan oil?
Argan oil, like all oils, is derived from a tree.
Argania spinosa Lor the argan tree yields kernels (pictured above) from which this oil is extracted. It is notoriously difficult!
In fact, the traditional method of extraction was removing the kernels from goat feces so that it was partially broken down prior to extraction.
Don't worry - commercial processes have made it so this isn't necessary although some traditional cultures still practice this method.
You can find wild argan oil tree fields in the southwestern region.
There are records of Phoenicians in 1550 BC using argan oil as a cosmetic product, for moisturization and beautification.
Upon arrival to Europe, argan oil became a hot commodity; it was a sign of wealth and class.
It is important to source beauty products ethically, so you'll be pleased to know that argan oil is sustainable.
The Argan tree has had a rough go of it though, and it struggles to survive.
Fortunately, it is now protected by UNESCO with its Man and Biosphere Program.
This program aims to reduce the harm done by man on the environment through minimizing exploitation and emphasizing the responsible use and conservation of natural resources.
In Morocco, these trees serve a purpose beyond their fruit.
They stave off the expansion of the desert and offer protection from the harsh winds of the Sahara.
They provide shade necessary for other crops to grow and help to replenish the region's aquifers.
The argan tree is not only abundant with a superfruit; they are necessary to the ecosystem of Morocco and the overall stability of the environment.
Traditionally, the extracted oil is used for culinary purposes such as dipping bread, while in western countries, it is more readily available as a beauty product.
The benefits of argan oil
Like other oils, we can break its constituents down most easily by looking at its fatty acid content.
Essential fatty acids can provide great health benefits both when ingested and used topically.
Argan oil is mainly comprised of oleic acid at around 43%, but it is also high in linoleic acid (LA) at around 37%.
This acid is the same fatty acid that mainly comprises olive oil. Unlike omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid - a class of monounsaturated fatty acids.
This makes it a non-essential fatty acid meaning your body makes it on its own.
They can lower fasting blood glucose
They can enhance blood flow and circulation
They can reduce insulin levels
They reduce the risk of stroke
They can reduce inflammation
They are high in antioxidants
They are helpful for cellular regeneration
It's a particularly strong candidate for diabetes management because of its primary benefits when ingested.
However, the anti-inflammatory nature of oleic acid can also be very effective when products with high omega-9s are used topically.
Moreover, their antioxidant content makes them a powerful anti-aging component.
Finally, cellular regeneration can be great for the skin.
We'll talk about that more in the next section.
Benefits of linoleic acid
Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid which makes it a polyunsaturated fatty acid.
It is most commonly found in vegetable oils which we don't always recommend eating due to their inflammatory nature.
Unlike oleic acid, these fatty acids are essential because the body cannot synthesize them independently.
They foster healthy cell membranes and cellular function
They reduce bodily inflammation (internally, externally)
They are moisturizing for the skin
They have the potential to minimize scarring
Their anti-inflammatory properties may reduce skin pain
Overall, we know that essential fatty acids are crucial for well-being and vitality. They are the key components of healthy cells that comprise everything that we are!
While omega-6 fatty acids are more abundant in the Standard American Diet (SAD) than omega-3s due to the prevalence of vegetable oils in processed foods, it's actually an incredibly important component of a healthy diet.
Moreover, it can be a powerful ingredient in your skincare routine.
Benefits of vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which is one of the main reasons we see it appear so often in skincare products.
Antioxidants are going to reduce free radical damage to the cells, increasing their stamina so to speak.
Our skin cells need rejuvenation, but prevention is the best way to keep it looking youthful.
It can protect against toxins in air pollution
It can reduce the appearance of scars
It can minimize the appearance of stretch marks
It can reduce the appearance of wrinkles
It can help to ward off UV damage from the sun
Supplementing with vitamin E, eating foods rich with vitamin E, and using it as a topical treatment can be very effective, especially in reducing scarring from acne or otherwise.
Vitamin E oil can be mixed with argan oil and carrier oils to optimize results. You will find more recipes for skincare in the section below.
How to use argan oil
Use it as an acne treatment
Argan oil can be effective in preventing acne as well as treating painful acne in the process of healing, or reducing the appearance of acne scars.
You can expect to see reduced redness and swelling pretty shortly after treatment. This is because of its anti-inflammatory properties mainly from the linoleic acid found in argan oil.
It can also help to repair skin cells giving them a healthier, more vibrant appearance. Finally, Argan oil is particularly effective as an acne remedy when paired with tea tree oil.
According to this research, the lips found in argan oil have a synergistic effect meaning it should be applied with a carrier oil or paired with another cosmetic product for the best results when applying topically.
Use it as a moisturizer
One of the most appealing aspects of using argan oil as a moisturizer is that it absorbs into the skin very quickly.
This makes it a great oil for otherwise oily skin because it won't leave you with a film or residue.
Don't worry - it won't clog pores either.
This study shows that using argan oil can reduce sebum production, or in other words, the appearance of oil on your skin.
A single drop or two is enough to provide your entire face with moisture, so a little goes a long way.
This makes it a very budget-friendly choice for natural moisture! Of course, you can pair it with other ingredients, but it's effective for this purpose on its own.
Make sure to warm up the oil in your hands first for the best results and absorption. Simply do this by rubbing it between the fingers or palms.
Use it as a toner
Many toners can be quite harsh on the face, especially if they contain alcohol.
If you add a drop or two of argan oil to your normal toner, it can help reduce some of the, particularly rough effects.
Switching over to a gentler toner like witch hazel may also be a good idea.
For a moisturizing toner, steep green tea and let it cool. Add a few drops of argan oil, and jar it for later use.
Green tea has antioxidants that are beneficial for the skin.
Finally, boost your toning by pouring the final product into an ice cube tray to freeze. Rub the cubes over your skin as your daily toner.
The cold contact on your skin will shrink your pores, making them appear smaller.
Use it as an eye serum
Argan oil can be very effective at targeting fine lines which are a major "problem area" for many folks as they age. They can become particularly prominent around the eyes.
Eye serums are a popular beauty product, and notoriously expensive!
However, the main ingredients are often the same across the boards. One of the key ingredients? Vitamin E.
As we know, argan oil provides a healthy dose of the stuff.
For the best results, mix argan oil with a carrier oil like jojoba oil.
Then, add in some additional vitamin E for an eye serum you can use daily.
On the fly, you can simply use a drop of argan oil around the eyes to brighten up and help to minimize the appearance of dark bags under your eyes.
Since this oil is so gentle, you can use it on the more sensitive areas of your skin without it being irritating.
Use it in your exfoliant
Mix just a few drops of argan oil into a natural exfoliant to clear the skin of dead cells and smooth things out.
This is great for the face or for other rough spots - the elbows, knees, ankles, or feet.
Exfoliation is a particularly good step to take prior to shaving as it will open up some of the hair follicles so you can get a smoother, longer-lasting shave.
One of the best ways to exfoliate is with a sugar scrub. Use a coarse sugar like coconut sugar or brown sugar, and simply blend a tablespoon or two with a drop of argan oil for exfoliating spot treatment.
Rub it into a rough patch of skin in a circular motion for 1-2 minutes (without irritation) and rinse.
Use it as a nail strengthening agent
Rough cuticles, damaged brittle nails, and inflamed skin surrounding the nails are fairly common ailments.
Not only can they be unsightly, but they can also be very painful.
Using a few drops of argan oil around the nails can reduce redness and pain due to its anti-inflammatory nature.
The oil will also provide moisture that is quickly absorbed, so you can soak up the benefits without having greasy hands.
Furthermore, you can use argan oil to soften cuticles to push them back with ease.
Use it to boost your lotion
Many commercial skincare products or hair products that you already own could be made better with argan oil. You know what they say; if it's not broke, don't fix it.
However, if you knew it could be better, why not? Argan oil is gentle, effective, and very safe to use. Add some to your favorite lotions, conditioners, serums, and creams for a little extra antioxidant action and moisture.
Use it to treat inflammatory skin issues
Psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, and dermatitis can be very tricky problems to solve, and often have internal roots.
However, at the root, they are all the result of inflammation.
Due to argan oil's natural anti-inflammatory properties, a drop or two can reduce redness and pain from these conditions while simultaneously offering all-day moisture.
Let vitamin A and vitamin E work their magic.
Use it as a conditioner
Not only is argan oil great for the skin - but it's also good for the hair.
Considering how much moisture it can provide for the skin, it's no surprise it can do the same for hair.
It's especially potent for sun-damaged hair, heat-damaged hair, or colored hair.
Simply apply a drop or two to clean, dry hair after a shower and style as you normally would to reduce frizz and fly-aways.
Some may even argue that argan oil can promote hair growth and restore hair volume, making it appear thicker.
Make sure to apply some to the scalp to reap those benefits.
If you choose to use argan oil on dry hair, focus on the ends to minimize the appearance of greasy hair.
No matter the method you prefer, you'll be blown away by how soft and luxurious your locks feel!
You can also find argan oil as a key ingredient in many commercial hair products these days.
Use it as a dandruff treatment
Instead of using it as a quick fix for frizz or flyaways, you can use argan oil as a deep conditioning agent to treat dandruff or simply restore moisture to dry and damaged hair.
It works really well to treat inflammation on the scalp while simultaneously improving the appearance and texture of hair.
If you use argan oil as an overnight treatment, you want to use quite a bit more than normal.
You also want to consider heat circulation and how that will enhance the effects.
If your hair/scalp is dry, you can use 8-10 drops. If you have more oily hair, 4-6 drops should do the trick.
With either amount, start at the scalp and massage the oil toward the ends of the hair.
Use a shower cap overnight to seal in the moisture and heat. Wash out as normal in the morning. You can do this treatment 1-2 times per week.
Use it to treat razor burn
Razor burn isn't pretty and it's far from pleasant. These irritated, inflamed hair follicles can be made a bit easier to deal with using argan oil.
Simply warm some oil up in your hands and apply it to the affected area.
Use it as a lip treatment
Lips are one of the most vulnerable body parts -, especially on the face. Cold weather can be especially damaging, giving you dry and cracked lips.
Argan oil makes a great 'chapstick.'
You can use it with a carrier oil and DIY your own lip balm or simply rub a drop or a couple into your lips when they feel irritated.
How to buy & store argan oil
Like with any lipid or fat, argan oil has the potential to go rancid.
This diminishes the healthful properties of its fatty acids and its antioxidant profile substantially.
Buying a quality argan oil first is key to making sure you have the longest shelf-life and best efficacy possibly.
Moreover, it's important to store your argan oil property.
Look for argan oil that is 100% cold-pressed. With growing popularity, there are bound to be cheaper, less effective products on the market. Go for a mid-range buy or a splurge. Even a good quality oil will last a long time and shouldn't break the budget.
Store in a cool, dry place. Keep the bottle your argan oil or argan oil product is in away from the path of direct sunlight or places that get very warm. Make sure it's in an air-tight container, too.
Try to replace products after six months. Buy smaller bottles of argan oil because it is best used during the first six months. After that, the quality diminishes. However, this is just a guideline.
This article was fact checked for accuracy by Dr. Kim Langdon, MD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Basically, our bodies use 20 different amino acids to form proteins in the body, and for a food to constitute a complete protein, it must contain the 9 amino acids that our bodies can't synthesis without a food source.
Many complete proteins happen to be animal foods, but there are a few miraculous and powerful plant sources out there too.
Quinoa comes from the same plant family as amaranth, another popular pseudo-cereal grain.
This 7,000-year-old plant originated in the Andes of South America, but humans have only been harvesting quinoa and using it as a source of nutrition for 3-4,000 years.
It's still a pretty long time - long enough for us to get curious about this health food, its history, and its benefits!
Before we get into some of the more intricate details of why quinoa is such a healthy choice, let's talk about its nutritional profile.
We'll check out the macronutrients and micronutrients which will help you to see why some of those benefits exist.
Per one cup of cooked quinoa, here is what you get.
Calories: 222 calories
Fat: 3.6 grams
Protein: 8.1 grams
Carbohydrates: 39.4 grams
Fiber: 5.2 grams
Calcium: 31.5 mg (3% DV)
Iron: 2.8 mg (15% DV)
Magnesium: 115 mg (30% DV)
Phosphorous: 281 mg (28% DV)
Potassium: 318 mg (9% DV)
Manganese: 1.2 mg (58% DV)
Selenium: 5.2 mcg (7% DV)
Thiamin: 0.2 mg (13% DV)
Riboflavin: 0.2 mg (12% DV)
Niacin: 0.8 mg (4% DV)
Folate: 77.7 mcg (19% DV)
Vitamin B6: 0.2 mg (11% DV)
While quinoa is mostly rich with fiber, protein, and B vitamins, it also contains some vitamin E and vitamin A.
Overall, it is an incredible source of minerals and energizing vitamins.
Finally, quinoa contains a really naturally balanced macronutrient ratio with a healthy dose of slow carbs paired with protein and fiber for long-lasting fuel.
The Benefits of Quinoa
It's a heart-healthy food.
First, quinoa contains a great profile of healthy fats in addition to its high protein content.
It doesn't get quite enough credit for its monounsaturated fat content or oleic acid.
Nor do we talk about the omega-3 fatty acids contained in quinoa or the alpha-linoleic acid. ALA is one of the strongest protectors against heart disease and is known to reduce the risk of cardiac arrest.
We know that ALA intake is much more potent when ingested from food sources in comparison to supplement sources, so adding an ALA-rich food like quinoa to the diet is a great preventative measure.
Moreover, research shows that potassium intake can reduce blood pressure in individuals with hypertension.
A serving of quinoa provides around 10% of the daily recommended value of potassium.
In conjunction with other heart-healthy minerals like magnesium and manganese, this heart-healthy food may prevent stroke and other instances of heart disease.
In fact, the same research concludes that increased potassium intake could reduce the risk of stroke by up to 24% - pretty significant!
It's great for digestion.
Considering quinoa has a pretty high fiber content, we know it's great for digestion.
Getting enough fiber can make a massive difference in digestion in terms of keeping you regular, avoiding constipation, and reducing gas/bloating.
Fibrous foods tend to make us feel more full. They add bulk to our food and slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, making that energy more long-lasting.
Fibre also absorbs moisture in the gut, adds bulk to the stool as well, and helps to move things along.
Adding fiber to the diet can be a simple cure to constipation.
A cup of cooked quinoa provides nearly a quarter of the daily recommended value.
While quinoa isn't easy for everyone to digest (which we will talk about later), it can make all the difference for some.
Another factor to consider is the high content of manganese found in quinoa.
Manganese plays a role in the production of digestive enzymes - compounds that break down difficult-to-digest proteins - and makes it easier for the body to digest food overall.
A cup of cooked quinoa provides more than half of the daily recommended value of manganese.
It can help you to lose weight.
We all want to know what we should eat to lose weight, right?
The best foods for weight loss are ones that give you the most bang for your buck, and that's one of the main reasons we adore quinoa.
It truly hits all the notes, and it's a must-have pantry staple while working towards fat loss goals.
First of all, fiber and protein together make for the most dynamic duo when tailoring your diet to your weight loss goals.
Calorie restriction is necessary, but sticking to those calorie goals can be really tough!
Eating the right foods makes all the difference.
A food that is both rich with protein and fiber is filling and will keep you fuller and energized for longer during the day.
Moreover, this will help you fight cravings and avoid overeating.
This study shows that alternative grains to wheat such as barley, oats, and quinoa ranked higher in overall satisfaction and satiety, proving this "grain" to be superior in weight loss diets.
It has anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation management can be crucial for people with autoimmune disease to see remission, and for preventing disease overall.
Inflammation is a normal response within the body to pain or a stressor, but sometimes, our bodies get a little haywire.
This is when inflammation becomes a problem - when it persists. Eating a diet chock full of anti-inflammatory foods and ingredients can help.
Most real food diets will meet those needs effortlessly, and quinoa is a part of that protocol.
The outer shell of quinoa contains phytochemicals called saponins which, according to this research, can inhibit inflammatory cytokines from releasing.
However, those same saponins can cause intestinal distress!
Fortunately, the antioxidant content of quinoa is also anti-inflammatory.
This study looks at the polyphenols found in quinoa and concludes that they can prevent inflammation in the intestines - particularly in obese subjects.
It's naturally gluten-free.
While the whole gluten-free thing might seem like a trend that appeared out of nowhere, it's not just coeliacs who suffer from eating gluten!
Gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity are legitimate health concerns, and more and more people are recognizing that wheat just doesn't work for them.
Quinoa is naturally non-allergenic, wheat-free, and gluten-free.
Like we mentioned above, it's not even a grain. Technically and botanically, quinoa is a seed.
While individuals with compromised gut health should take more precaution when eating seeds and/or grains (which we'll discuss in the section below), most people won't react poorly to eating quinoa occasionally.
This makes it a great alternative to other grains or wheat products people may be avoiding.
Hey - we have to find some way to get our fix!
It can help manage cholesterol numbers.
Cholesterol is a fine balance between HDL and LDL numbers. Fibre, in particular, is known to manage cholesterol levels well.
Research shows that amaranth protein (the same family crop quinoa is derived from) has a positive effect on cholesterol metabolism, and animals in the study saw a reduction in total plasma cholesterol concentration.
It's an anti-cancer food.
Many foods are anti-cancer because they feed our cells and ward off oxidative damage with their high antioxidant content.
If we break it down, we can see that quinoa contains many compounds that are crucial for our bodies to fight disease as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Let's dissect this a little further.
This study - which looks closer at quinoa leaves - shows that they contain chemopreventive and anti-carcinogenic properties, with both high bioavailability and bioaccessibility meaning that this source is particularly usable by our bodies.
Ultimately, we can trace these properties back to antioxidant content.
However, there are a few Saponins - the "evil" sort of anti-nutrient - actually come in the clutch again here; this research shows that they have chemotherapeutic potential.
Moreover, we can see peptide lunasin has the potential to selectively kill cells, meaning there is potential for killing cancer cells without impacting healthy cells, according to this study.
Lastly, antioxidant quercetin is a powerful fighter of free radical damage, also addressing cancer potential at the cellular level.
This study shows that it is particularly effective in the prevention of lung cancer.
It's friendly for the gut (the second brain).
You might know about the gut-brain axis, and why we refer to the gut as the second brain.
It controls almost our entire immune system, and the more we learn, the more we uncover.
There are links between the gut and digestion, mental health, and just about everything you can imagine.
Since quinoa is an anti-inflammatory food and we know that its antioxidant content can address intestinal inflammation, it automatically gets two thumbs up from our guts!
One of the most convincing factors is that quinoa contains something called butyrate which is a fatty acid that our guts thrive on.
When we don't get enough from food sources, our gut health becomes compromised.
Furthermore, quinoa contains prebiotics which help to fuel and feed probiotics, maintaining healthy gut flora.
It may help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Preventing type 2 diabetes is a balance of managing and maintaining a healthy weight while also eating to manage your blood sugar.
Insulin resistance and metabolic disease often accompany obesity, but poor blood sugar control can affect anyone!
A diet of processed food drives the blood sugar spikes and drops for people at any weight, so eating foods that help keep that balance in check is a great way to ward off diabetes.
Quinoa is a great food for pre-diabetic individuals to add to their diet, especially those attempting to cut out refined grains and sugars.
This research done on mice shows promising results. The leaching of quinoa significantly reduced fasting blood glucose in obese, hyperglycemic subjects.
This is because the leaching process can utilize the concentrated bioactive phytochemicals found in quinoa.
Another study showed that more than half of the participants who consumed quinoa cereal bars for 30 days saw a reduction in blood glucose levels.
Additional research shows that high amounts of manganese - found in quinoa - may improve glucose tolerance by increasing the secretion of insulin.
It contains essential minerals for good bone health.
Manganese is a pretty powerful mineral. It's one of the main reasons why quinoa is so good for bone health and bone strength.
Many folks who avoid dairy want to know if that puts them at risk for osteoporosis.
Fortunately, there are other ways to fill in those nutritional gaps and keep the bones strong, in addition to regular strength training and/or yoga.
Magnesium and phosphorous found in quinoa also make it a great food for bone health.
In most cases, it is much more effective to see benefits from minerals and vitamins when you primarily consume them in food form versus a supplement.
How to prepare quinoa
Quinoa is very healthy food and it works for most folks, especially because it's naturally gluten-free.
However, all grains and seeds contain something called anti-nutrients.
For example, the saponinswe mentioned above for all of their numerous benefits can actually bind to vitamins and minerals, making them less available for the body to use.
When consuming grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, it's important to know how we can optimize the experience and ensure the nutrients in that food and the foods we pair it with are bioavailable.
First, it's important to rinse quinoa. Those saponins will come right off with a rinse, and you'll notice.
They have a slight tendency to almost lather like soap, and you'll know that your quinoa is "clean" when the bubbles stop forming.
This process will also help reduce the bitter taste that saponins produce, and help you to avoid any digestive distress quinoa might cause.
Simply run cold water over quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer, and rub between your hands while doing so.
Alternatively, you can soak quinoa.
An overnight soak followed up with a rinse will give you the best results and reduce the anti-nutrient content of this pseudo-cereal the most effectively.
This is the best course of action for someone with compromised gut health/permeability, autoimmune disease, or for reintroduction phases following up a strict reset phase (e.g paleo, autoimmune protocol, Wahl's, etc.).
10 Healthy Quinoa Recipes
If you're curious about quinoa and ready to introduce this little superfood into your diet more often, these recipes should inspire you.
All recipes featured are gluten-free and many are suitable for a vegan diet.
Many are also suitable for a modified paleo diet if you're working on introducing foods that were previously eliminated.
Quinoa is less irritable than most traditional grains and can be a really wonderful source of protein for those who want to rely less on meat.
If you want to get your junk food and fast food cravings out of the way with something a bit more wholesome than what you'll get in the drive-thru, these burgers are the jam.
Packed with buffalo flavor from classic Frank's Red Hot sauce, these real food burgers are vegan-friendly, packed with oats, quinoa, and chickpeas for protein, and perfect sandwiched between your favorite buns.
Top however you like your burgers and boom - dinner is served.
Kombucha is a fermented, carbonated tea drink made with cane sugar and black tea.
Basically, you let a vat of sweet tea sit on the counter for a while with a culture made of a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasta.k.a. a SCOBY.
It sounds a little weird, right? Don't let it turn you off.
It does have a slightly vinegary taste, but the different fruits and spices used to flavor each batch - in addition to sugar - will help make it more palatable.
After the process of fermentation which can take weeks, the liquid is a blend of tea, vinegar, enzymes, B vitamins, probiotics, acetic acid, gluconic acid, and lactic acid.
It also contains a slight amount of alcohol which is clearly stated on most commercial products' labels.
These beneficial compounds join forces to create a superfood, or rather, a super drink.
In the end, a batch of kombucha will contain four primary probiotics or types of healthy bacteria: gluconacetobacter, acetobacter, lactobacillus, and zygosaccharomyces.
It is thought to have originated in Northeastern China but its exact roots aren't well known.
In China, kombucha is referred to as the Immortal Health Elixir, so we can assume they're quite fond of the beverage.
It has been home-brewed for many years across the world now, but only recently - within the past decade or so - has there been such a surge in commercial kombucha products.
You can likely find a dozen brands at a large health food market.
Whether you love your daily dose of 'booch' already or you are brand new to the trend that's sweeping grocery store drink coolers with dozens of flavors and varieties, kombucha is worth getting up close and personal with. Perhaps you'll even make your own.
The benefits of kombucha & probiotics
Kombucha has long been considered a "functional" beverage, basically meaning it has a purpose beyond hydration or taste.
Most notably, it contains a concentrated dose of probiotic power, and we know probiotics are fantastic for gut health.
After all, gut health is the foundation of all health and well-being (at least we think so!).
While there is, unfortunately, a severe lack of scientific evidence that discusses drinking kombucha, many experimental studies have been done.
Moreover, many anecdotal claims have been notes, and people report feeling loads better with their daily dose of kombucha.
A long list of beneficial properties has been linked to regular consumption. Should you be taking some as your daily medicine?
Here is what you can expect.
1. It promotes gut health and gut permeability
One of the most - if not the most - telling signs of gut health is the diversity of bacteria that resides within the intestinal lining.
When the kombucha is left to ferment with the SCOBY, it takes on a new life.
All of those probiotics, amino acids, and enzymes are fantastic for our bellies.
Tons of bacteria colonize in your jar, ready to immigrate to your gut and deliver their bounty.
Introducing healthy bacteria to the gut is crucial to keeping the gut strong and intact. Basically, the more good bacteria you have, the better defense you have.
This means less bad bacteria entering the realm and messing with the order of things.
The good bacteria - or pathogens - are here to fight, and they're fighting the good fight!
This "overpopulating" tendency of the bacteria that occurs when we regularly supplement with probiotics or a probiotic-rich food like kombucha is also good to crowd out other unwanted "visitors" like candida.
Candida is essentially an overgrowth of yeast, so the good bacteria sort of moves it out naturally.
2. It's a natural "detox" juice
Forget whoever is marketing you a "detox" or a "cleanse." If your vital organs are in working order, your body is doing its job to detox itself just fine.
However, a daily dose of kombucha can aid the process and keep you in the best shape possible. It's an enhancement agent if you will.
An all-natural one.
Because kombucha has a relatively high antioxidant content, it can help to reduce oxidative stress and damage in the body.
The liver takes the brunt of that damage.
Considering the body's natural detox mechanisms are highly compromised when the liver isn't working right, consuming antioxidant-rich kombucha can aid in liver health.
Kombucha is also rich in Glucaric acid which also helps the liver to detox.
3. It has disease-fighting properties
When we look at disease in a holistic way, we can see where it stems from: our cells.
When we look at cellular health and mitochondrial function, we understand that inflammation plays a crucial role.
Like I mentioned above, the antioxidant properties of kombucha already reduce inflammation at a cellular level by reducing oxidative damage done to the cells.
Considering we already know both black tea and green tea to be antioxidant powerhouses that have disease-fighting properties on their own, adding in the additional properties of a fermented food increases its potential substantially.
Tea polyphenols and antioxidants are anti-cancer and can reduce liver toxicity disease.
The four main disease-fighting properties that have been attributed to kombucha are detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of depressed immunity, according to this research.
4. It may help with blood sugar management
Blood sugar management is an especially important part of daily health and diet choices for those with type 2 diabetes, but it's also imperative for folks who want to avoid diabetes, people with metabolic disease, or pre-diabetic diagnoses.
In this animal study, kombucha consumption suppressed increased blood glucose levels while also improving the absorption of good cholesterol and decreasing the bad.
Finally, it protected the liver and kidney function(s) of diabetic rats.
Essentially, this promising research indicates that kombucha has the potential to be both a protective agent for preventing diabetes and also an effective treatment for those who already have type 2 diabetes.
5. It may improve digestion
Because of the potential the bacteria in kombucha has to improve gut health and the variety of bacteria that thrive within us, we can also expect digestion to improve.
Unsurprisingly, digestion is rooted in the gut.
Digestion is truly an assembly line and starts the second we begin to chew (or drink, in this case), but the most prominent piece of the puzzle is undoubtedly the processing that takes place in the gut.
The bacteria ingested with kombucha like to line the digestive tract, offering up their services as a 'protective' layer of sorts.
With improved inflammatory markers and less inflammation in the gut, a healthy colony of varied bacteria, and better gut permeability, we can no doubt expect improvements in our digestion.
It should be noted that people with autoimmune disease(s) that impact digestion such as IBS or Crohn's should use caution when using fermented foods to improve symptoms as they can help, but can also backfire.
6. It can boost your mood
Many healthy foods can ease anxiety, reduce mild symptoms of depression, and lift your mood slightly. Kombucha is one of those foods.
You can feel justified in stopping by the store to grab one as an afternoon pick-me-up! Why is that? Well in this case, it really comes down to the nervous system.
See, the nervous system is the control center where hormones are regulated and released as needed.
Cortisol - the stress hormone - sometimes gets released in excess which elicits a "fight or flight" reaction in us, and leaves us feeling wired, anxious, and on-edge.
The multitude of B vitamins including mood and energy-boosting B12, vitamin C, and amino acids found in kombucha help to feed the nervous system, keeping it in tip-top shape.
Moreover, it's worth noting that our gut is often described as the 'second brain.'
It controls a lot of what goes on with our bodies, and not just our bellies!
There is a MAJOR gut-brain connection, and treating gut health can also improve mental health.
This can be done by supplementing with probiotics and/or eating probiotic-rich foods like kombucha.
7. It's antibacterial & antimicrobial
Antibacterial and antimicrobial foods can make a big difference for us, fighting off unwanted bacteria and microbes.
For example, research shows that kombucha's antimicrobial properties can ward off pathogenic bacteria as well as species of Candida or yeast overgrowth in the gut.
Furthermore, acetic acid - which is naturally found in kombucha - can potentially kill harmful microorganisms found in the body.
Oh, and it might even kill off bacteria that make us sick like staph, E. coli, salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni (or what causes many cases of food poisoning).
8. It can improve the immune system
Immunity begins in the gut. By improving gut health, we improve everything from digestion to mental health to our immune systems.
Plus, vitamin C content and antimicrobial/antibacterial properties naturally help us ward off yucky infections and viruses.
Make sure to stay sippin' through cold and flu season to improve your defenses!
In order to receive all of these amazing benefits, it's important to purchase or produce unpasteurized kombucha.
This process will significantly reduce if not entirely diminish the bacteria content and healthy cultures that call kombucha home.
Look for products labeled raw, and when making kombucha at home, bottle and drink it in a timely manner to reap the benefits.
What is the difference between kombucha & jun?
If you dig around in the grocery store coolers or online for fermented food recipes, you're going to see plenty of kombucha.
You'll likely see your fair share of jun tea as well.
To get straight to the point, the primary difference is the sweetener used. Both drinks are fermented teas.
When making kombucha, cane sugar is necessary because it feeds the bacteria.
However, all bacteria needs to thrive is a bit of sweetness. Kombucha is also mostly brewed with plain black tea.
In jun tea, honey is the source of food for those healthy bacteria. Moreover, jun tea is brewed with green tea.
It is often referred to as "the champagne of kombucha." Rightfully so!
It's a bit lighter than kombucha which is known to pack a punch. There's no denying its flavor is strong!
Jun tea provides a milder, softer refreshment with plenty of bubbles to go around - hence the comparison to champagne.
If we try to trace jun tea back to its origins, we get lost. It's actually a rather mysterious drink which adds to its allure.
It is generally thought to have been a spiritual elixir drank by the people of China and Tibet, but it may be something we just made up once we caught wind of kombucha and how awesome it is.
We don't really know if it was a primary or secondary invention, but we do know fermentation has been around a long while.
Jun tea makes a good alternative to kombucha because it uses honey which some people prefer to ingest over white sugar.
While this is generally what we recommend, the fermentation process eats away at most of the refined sugar you use to make kombucha leaving you with a naturally sweet sip.
Either way you swing, all you need is a SCOBY and your preferred choice of sweetener to get started.
Oh, and some glass containers. More on that now...
How to make kombucha
Making kombucha at home is quite simple, cheap, and easy to do.
You don't need very many materials to get started or maintain your brew, nor is there a steep start-up fee.
Moreover, it's a very hands-off recipe considering most of the "prep time" is passive a.k.a. the fermentation process.
Basically, you toss a few things in a jar (with love and care), then let it sit.
Soon enough, it'll be ready to drink. It's appealing to even the laziest kitchen connoisseurs.
Important note: Do not use metal containers under any circumstances for brewing kombucha (the tea is fine in a metal pot) or storing kombucha.
Even stirring the mixture into the jar with a metal spoon can be damaging both to the overall taste of your batch and the quality/health of your SCOBY which you will use over and over again.
Pay close attention to the specifications for the material needed to make your own kombucha.
A 1-gallon glass jar or crock. You can also use two 2-quart glass jars
A stock pot for brewing the tea
Tight-weave cloth like cheesecloth, or coffee filters for straining
Jar lids or rubber bands to securer cloth
A wooden spoon for stirring
16-oz. glass bottles for bottling the product - preferably with swing tops/a tight-sealing lid to maintain carbonation
8-10 black or green tea bags, or 2-3 tbsp. of loose-leaf tea (unflavoured)
1 cup of granulated white sugar - do not use coconut sugar
3.5 quarts of water
2 cups of kombucha from last batch or from the store OR distilled white vinegar
1 SCOBY per jar - you cannot ferment without one!
First, brew the tea.Bring the water to boil in a stockpot and dissolve the sugar in it. Shortly thereafter, remove the pot from the heat to halt the boil and add your teabags. Let them brew for the appropriate amount of time and cool the brew completely. You can use the ice bath method for this, but do not put the pot in the refrigerator or add ice cubes to the water to speed up the process. Patience is key throughout your brewing journey!
Second, add the starter tea or vinegar. Once your tea has cooled, remove the bags or infuser and add in your kombucha or vinegar. This establishes an acidic base that deters unwanted and unhealthy bacteria from taking up residence in your brew which can cause some nasty side effects like mold, while also driving out good bacteria.
Now, it's time to transfer your batch. The tea will ferment in its designated glass jar. Before adding the SCOBY, transfer the cooled tea mixture to a clean glass jar (or multiple glass jars). When you've finished, add in the SCOBY with clean hands, gently.
Next, cover the jars. Many jars will have an air-tight lid sized to fit the top, but fermentation requires air so avoid using these. Instead, place cheesecloth, a breathable towel, tight-weave cloth, or a coffee filter over the top and secure it with the outer ring of a metal lid or a rubber band. Paper towels or tightly woven cloth options will prevent fruit flies if you're prone to them or brewing in the summertime.
Finally, it's time to wait. Leave the jar for 7-10 days. Check the kombucha for mold. You can generally scoop it off it it's only on the top, but you'll otherwise want to throw away any moldy brew. However, you should be able to avoid this by checking up on your jar daily.
After 7 days, you can taste the kombucha. Now, the fermentation process is done. The bacteria has formed, the sugar has mostly been eaten away, and it's mostly about personal preference in terms of whether or not it's ready to serve.
Remove the SCOBY and begin the next batch. The SCOBY won't survive on its own. In order to keep it alive, you have to continuously brew kombucha.
Bottle your kombucha. With a funnel, transfer the fermented tea to an air-tight bottle to carbonate. At this point, you will also want to add flavors you like. Herbs, spices, fruits, and fruit juice are good choices for customization.
Carbonate your kombucha. Leave the bottles on the counter out of direct sunlight for 1-4 days to form bubbles. Once you refrigerate your kombucha, it will stop fermenting and carbonating. Now, you can drink up!
We hope you learned everything you ever wanted to know about the benefits of kombucha, how to make your own kombucha and more about this fantastic elixir today in our post.
It makes a healthy alternative to soda if you are trying to cut back on sugar or lose weight, plus improves gut health and fights disease. If you enjoyed this article, make sure to share it!
This article was fact checked for accuracy by Dr. Kim Langdon, MD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Fenugreek comes from the Fabaceae plant family which is known as a legume, pea, or bean. Fenugreek means Greek hay.
?While it may look like a seed at first, it's technically considered a legume.
It's thought to have first been cultivated in the Near East, and it's been in use for centuries now.
In the first century A.D., the Romans were using the stuff to add flavor to their wine. It was a relatively common food staple in Galilee.
If you're familiar with fenugreek now, you might know it from South Asian or Indian cuisine.
You may have some hiding out in your spice cabinet too, either in dried form or its seed form (pictured above).
It's actually used in a variety of different ways across the world, but most commonly used to flavor pickles, spice up vegetable-based dishes, flavor dal (an Indian lentil dish), or as a tasty and healthy addition to unique spice blends.
In India, you're most likely to find fenugreek in your curry while in Turkey, it's often incorporated into a spicy paste with black pepper and cumin which is then used in many traditional recipes.
Per tablespoon of fenugreek, here is the nutritional breakdown:
Fat: 0.7 grams
Protein: 2.6 gram
Carbohydrates: 6 grams
Dietary fiber: 2.7 grams
Potassium: 85 milligrams (2% DV)
Iron: 20% DV
Vitamin B6: 5% DV
Calcium: 2% DV
Magnesium: 5% DV
Yes - these numbers are rather small across the boards, but that's the point here: fenugreek packs some power in a very small package, backing up its superfood reputation.
It's fibrous, full of iron which can be pretty tough to get and provides a few other essential vitamins and minerals at the same time.
They taste a bit sweet like maple syrup with bitter and burnt notes that disappear when cooked which produces a much more desirable flavor.
8 benefits of fenugreek
Fenugreek is an awesome ingredient to add to your repertoire for a little (or big) health boost.
Like many plants, it's chock full of awesome benefits containing antioxidants and other healthful constituents, plus a variety of different culinary uses.
In addition to adding fenugreek to food, it's rather easy to find in supplement form so you can simply add it to your morning vitamin routine if you're not too keen on the flavor.
It may reduce biomarkers in diabetic people.
While the research is still debatable, there is evidence to show that fenugreek consumption can reduce biomarkers (or indicators) in diabetic individuals and pre-diabetic individuals.
Perhaps it's due to this food's ability to reduce blood sugar - one of the most prominent biomarkers for people who deal with type 2 diabetes.
In this study, it significantly reduced both fasting and post-meal blood sugar.
This is because fenugreek is thought to slow down the pace at which sugars are absorbed by the bod, leading to a steady and stable rise and fall in blood sugar.
This could make fenugreek a great spice to pair with starchy foods like rice and potatoes (hello, curry!).
It can lower cholesterol.
High cholesterol is a problem for many people.
While a real food diet in addition to weight loss can address the issue for many, it's important to include new foods and natural remedies that help to naturally manage cholesterol levels.
Fenugreek is definitely one of those foods! Fenugreek is shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels while keeping HDL cholesterol levels the same which is the ideal situation and balance.
Fenugreek is a fantastic addition to any heart-healthy diet designed for optimal cardiovascular health.
Fenugreek can help to manage both internal and external inflammation.
You may even notice fenugreek as an ingredient in topical ointments and applications.
It can be used in pastes and salves to treat skin irritation(s) such as gout, dandruff, eczema breakouts, general dry/flaking skin, swollen muscles, and even swollen lymph nodes. Its anti-inflammatory properties are also potent when orally ingested.
Most notably, it addresses inflammation in the intestines and bowels for reduced cramping, bloating, and overall irritation.
This makes it a good supplement for people with ulcerative colitis or IBS.
It can stimulate the appetite.
While this may not be ideal for folks who want to lose weight, it can be incredibly effective in keeping chronically ill people fed as well as helping individuals recover from anorexia or other restrictive eating disorders.
Don't let this put you off from supplementing with fenugreek, though!
It works in this way because it enhances flavor and makes food more appealing, so it could be the key to your culinary prowess just as well.
This animal study shows that fenugreek administration increases appetite and motivation to eat.
While it cannot be used as a preventative measure for anorexia, it is a simple and non-invasive addition to treatment that could prove to be very effective.
It has the potential to boost athletic performance.
Combined with creatine, fenugreek can help you get after those gains in the gym!
There isn't a lot of research, but there is one study that looked at the combination of creatine and fenugreek extract with individuals who were doing regular resistance training.
In the end, there was a significant impact on upper body strength in addition to positive changes in body composition.
The overall conclusion is that fenugreek extract can enhance the effects of creatine.
It can increase testosterone production.
Not everyone needs a testosterone boost, but it can be beneficial for a few reasons.
First, it increases libido. Men who suffer from low libido or erectile dysfunction may find that supplementing regularly with fenugreek is a non-invasive way to get the blood flowing in the right direction again.
Moreover, extra testosterone could help treat some forms of hair loss and other commonly burdensome ailments.
Considering how few/rare side effects are, fenugreek may be the way to go with these things!
It can be used to improve digestion.
Digestion is a great marker of overall health, so improving it and keeping things regular should be a priority for anyone who would like to achieve optimal health.
Fenugreek can help to treat constipation and get things moving, decrease bloating, and address inflammation as I mentioned above.
These properties are likely linked to the water-soluble fiber content of fenugreek which acts as a mild laxative.
It may help to increase the supply of breast milk.
Many new mothers have high hopes for breastfeeding but end up not producing enough to nourish their newborns.
Diet can play a significant role in breast milk production, and fenugreek - which acts as a galactagogue -could be the missing link in producing enough breast milk.
Some people may actually see benefits within 1-2 days, but should supplement for around 2-3 weeks to see noticeable changes.
The recommended dosage for increasing breast milk supply is around 3,500 milligrams per day.
It is important to talk with your doctor about plans to use a galactagogue like fenugreek or milk thistle first, as there isn't much research on the efficacy or safety surrounding this natural remedy.
You should experiment with a dose that suits you and your needs first and consider any safety precautions or warnings.
It is also important to be knowledgeable about the side effects (which we will discuss later).
How to use fenugreek
Use it as a spice.
Fenugreek can be found dried for use in dishes like curry and dal.
You can also use it to spice roasted vegetables or blend it with other spices to create unique spice blends to cook with.
Fenugreek - like most other spices - contains lots of antioxidants!
It has a strong flavor, so be sure to check out some suggestions and use modest amounts.
Sprouting foods often reduces or rids it of negative and unwanted properties like anti-nutrients and phytic acid.
Because fenugreek is technically a legume, sprouting it can really increase its nutritive properties.
In fact, sprouting before consumption can boost nutrition by 30-40%, making it much more bioavailable for your body to use.
Supplement with fenugreek.
There are a few supplemental ways in which you can use fenugreek.
For example, you can consume a spoonful of soaked fenugreek seeds on an empty stomach as a natural antacid (due to its anti-inflammatory properties).
Consume roughly a teaspoon for digestion first thing in the morning.
Make a paste with it.
After soaking seeds, you can make a paste with it by blending it with other ingredients.
Pastes are great for adding lots of flavor to curries, stir-fries, and any other recipes with a sauce.
They tend to really concentrate the flavors of different spices which can help you add loads of umami (and health benefits) to your cooking.
Side effects & warnings for fenugreek
One of the most notable and non-invasive side effects of fenugreek consumption is that you might begin to smell like maple syrup.
While it may put you off a little bit, it's a generally pleasant scent.
You might notice this in urine or sweat, or even with your baby if you're using fenugreek to increase your milk supply!
Don't worry too much. Otherwise, there are a few things to watch out for.
Like with any natural herbal remedy, there isn't a lot of regulation from agencies like the FDA, so it's our duty to share with you common issues to watch out for.
Just because it's natural doesn't mean it's 100% safe. Everything has its caveats!
It is not necessarily safe for children. Children can eat foods containing normal amounts of fenugreek, but it should not be used as a supplement, nor should children drink fenugreek tea. While there is not much conclusive research, this is one instance where you're better off safe than sorry.
You may be allergic to fenugreek. Like with many foods, you should be aware of an allergic reaction with fenugreek. Allergy is more common amongst individuals who are also allergic to peanuts and/or chickpeas.
There may be digestive side effects. Most notably, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. While fenugreek can improve digestion, too much of it can cause an upset stomach.
It may cause hypoglycemia. In people with diabetes, it can cause a hypoglycaemic response.
Fenugreek has negative drug interactions. Before beginning any supplement, it is important to check for drug interactions. Fenugreek may interfere with diabetes medication. Due to its constituent coumarin, it can also interfere with anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs.
It is not recommended for pregnant women. In small amounts (i.e. in food), fenugreek isn't generally an issue for pregnant women. It can, however, cause uterine contractions in excess, and is even thought to induce labor sometimes. Because of its interactions with hormones, it is best to avoid any potentially dangerous interactions when it comes to you and your baby.
And that's all for our ingredient highlight on fabulous fenugreek! This spice has been used in folk medicine for diabetes and constipation for many years, and it's tasty to eat in curries and spicy pastes.
We hope you learned a few new things today and are excited to include more fenugreek in your diet to reap its benefits.
This article was fact checked for accuracy by Dr. Kim Langdon, MD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
It can relievecramping as well, making bananas a good snack choice for PMS symptoms.
Oh, and potassium promotes great kidneyhealth. It's clear why we LOVE bananas as an awesome source of the stuff.
Bananas are a great source of magnesium.
Magnesium is an essential mineral, and many people are actually deficient in it.
Food sources are the best way to ensure you're getting enough magnesium.
It's a powerful mineral for a few reasons. It's a natural muscle relaxer which makes bananas a solid choice to avoid delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after a tough strength training workout.
It's also a healthy way to relax before bed and get better rest because it soothes anxiety.
Finally, it helps to balance out potassium, sodium, and calcium levels, a.k.a. your electrolyte balance.
This further develops the banana's case as food for stable energy when you need it the most!
Bananas contain a unique fibre complex.
Particularly, green bananas contain something called resistant starch.
Resistant starch is linked to promising health finds because of its unique properties.
This fermented fiber doesn't get digested, instead of converting to food (prebiotics) for our gut.
Prebiotics essentially feed probiotics, and green banana or green banana flour is one of the most potent sources of resistant starch out there.
Bananas are great for keeping things regular.
Bananas are one of the best foods for healthy digestion.
Pectin - a type of fiber found in bananas - aids digestion while that prebiotic fiber produces digestive enzymes which help to absorb the rest of the nutrients in your gut.
The fiber alone can work as a gentle laxative, while the electrolytes can help keep fluids in check, even if you're losing fluids a little too fast.
Overall, your gut just LOVES banana.
Bananas are great for regulating blood sugar.
How many sweet foods can say that?
If you're craving sugar, grabbing a ripe banana is the way to go if you're worried about the dreadful blood sugar spike and drop you get with candy.
While ripeness can change the glycemic index of bananas and we recommend a partially ripe or "just ripe" banana for the best blood sugar regulation, an unripe banana will only jump about 30 points on the scale to ripe, ranging from 30 (unripe) to 60 (ripe).
No - it's not a great choice for a diabetic, but it is a good choice for an otherwise healthy individual.
The fiber helps slow down the sugar release into the bloodstream, offering up more sustainable energy than other sources of refined carbs.
Bananas are a great choice for weight loss.
This fruit has a few things going for it in terms of being a "diet-friendly" food.
First, it's helpful to curb your sweet tooth the all-natural way.
It's a relatively low-calorie food with plenty of sweetness to fulfill your cravings without reaching for processed, calorie-dense foods that are sure to break the bank.
Second, it's got fiber that will help fill you up.
Finally, if bananas help to keep blood sugar regular, you can expect less cravings for sugary foods overall.
Bananas are antioxidant-rich food.
Antioxidants are compounds found in many fruits, veggies, and superfoods that manage and prevent oxidative stress in the body and reduce free radical damage.
This is why antioxidants are technically anti-cancer as that free radical damage can encourage cancer cell growth amongst other disease-causing factors and negative side effects.
Bananas are the ultimate pre-workout and post-workout food.
They're lightweight, portable, tasty, and easy to eat on their own.
They also provide sustainable energy while giving you a nice boost via carbs that your body will love as a pre-workout snack - cardio, resistance, yoga, or a hike.
Moreover, because they have some anti-cramping properties and the ability to relax the muscles, you can munch on the other half after your workout to chill out, prevent pain, and replenish those now depleted glycogen stores with healthy carbs.
Bananas are an incredibly convenient food.
They're cheap to buy, often the most inexpensive produce at the store - even the organic variety!
They're easy to take on the go because they're already "packaged" for you in their sturdy peel.
They are great to use in recipes (as demonstrated below), but they're tasty on their own.
Basically, they're the most convenient food out there, and nearly everyone can reap the bountiful benefits of banana.
Banana recipes we love
Bananas are most commonly used as a snack, but they're a quite versatile ingredient with so much satisfying potential!
We all occasionally come down with an unrelenting sweet tooth.
Bananas make a beautiful beginning for a healthy, low-glycemic, healthful indulgence whether you like smoothies or a good old-fashioned slice of banana bread... and don't forget the butter.
If you like Reese's chocolate cups but have an affinity for bananas and chocolate with peanut butter or your nut butter of choice (because there's no such thing as too much here), this recipe is for you.
It hits the candy craving by combining favorite flavors and textures for a few bites of heavenly bliss in every piece.
This recipe features eight different variations of the acai bowl.
These tropical bowls begin with a base of frozen acai packets - a potent superfood berry with loads of nutrition and a beautiful purple color - plus a frozen banana for a creamy, thick, and sweet base.
Then, you add in whatever else you like and lay the toppings on thick. I love shredded coconut, sprouted seeds and grains for some crunch, and fresh berries.
Let us know in the comments what your favorite way to enjoy bananas is! We hope you learned something new today and feel inspired to use this amazing fruit in new and exciting recipes.
This article was fact checked for accuracy by Dr. Kim Langdon, MD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
For many women, PMS is a part of life for close to 30 years. The average woman has about 450 periods in her life during the reproductive years. That’s 450 different chances to experience PMS.
Unfortunately, close to 80 percent of menstruating women experience PMS in one form or another, with half of them stating that the symptoms are so overwhelming that they interfere with daily life and the ability to function at school, work, or elsewhere.
Other statistics say that 95 percent of all women will experience PMS at one time or another in her life.
With this volume of women experiencing these problems, it makes perfect sense that they’d be on the lookout for the best natural remedies.
This article will cover the best and most proven ways to find relief for this unpleasant time of the month.
Contrary to popular opinion, PMS isn’t a required part of having a menstrual cycle, and it’s time to find some relief for yours.
What is PMS?
PMS, which stands for premenstrual syndrome, is a hormonal condition that affects women before and during their period. Symptoms can appear as early as two weeks before the expected period and last as long as menstruation.
Some women can, therefore, experience PMS three out of every four weeks.
Symptoms of PMS
Symptoms of PMS can range from physical to emotional and psychological. They can be mild or severe or can vary day by day or cycle by cycle.
Digestive symptoms like heartburn, gas, or indigestion
Constipation or diarrhea
Food cravings, typically for sweet or salty foods
Most women won’t experience all of these symptoms but might have three or four predominant ones. Others might only have one or two bad ones or several milder symptoms.
Several of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, so if your PMS is regular and severe, it’s important to work with your doctor to rule out underlying causes or other disorders.
What Causes PMS?
Research isn’t 100 percent clear as to what, exactly, leads women to experience PMS. Some theories and studies show that hormone fluctuations which are more extreme can lead to the symptoms, while others show that neurotransmitters and the way a woman’s brain is wired can play a role.
Still other research shows that nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune conditions, or inflammation can all add to or worsen the PMS experience.
Autoimmune thyroid conditions, arthritis, endometriosis, or other reproductive-related conditions can also worsen PMS or contribute to worsening symptoms.
Common nutritional deficiencies that could play a role in worse PMS symptoms include iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, and vitamin D.
Stress, alcohol, caffeine, smoking, environmental toxin exposure, and obesity can also be factors that contribute to PMS, but it’s unclear whether they can cause them on their own.
17 Natural Ways to Relieve PMS
Regardless of the cause of your PMS, there are plenty of natural tweaks and remedies to try to improve your experience.
It’s always important to check in with your doctor first, though, to make sure that anything you’re experiencing isn’t a sign of a bigger or hidden imbalance.
1. Eliminate or Reduce Junk Food
While it’s normal to crave sweet or salty foods, or comfort foods, during PMS, avoiding these foods during PMS—and all the time—can help to reduce water retention, bloating, and other digestive symptoms associated with PMS.
Since PMS might have roots in inflammation, avoiding these processed and junk foods is a good way to curb dietary triggers for inflammatory issues. (source)
2. Quit Alcohol
Alcohol can mess with hormones and gut health, and when you regularly consume it, it can increase the odds you’ll experience PMS and worsen the symptoms when you do have it. (source)
3. Cut Back on Caffeine
Caffeine isn’t all bad, but when it comes to PMS, it could be a factor that worsens cramping, breast tenderness, and even anxiety. If you drink more than two full cups of caffeinated beverages per day, try cutting that in half, or switch to half-caff for your beverages.
4. Eat Iron-Rich Foods (and Maybe Take a Supplement)
Iron deficiency or anemia is still fairly common even in the U.S. today, and research shows that diets high in iron can lead to a more than 30 percent reduction in the chances of having PMS.
Likewise, being anemic or having low levels or iron can result in worse PMS, greater fatigue, and great menstrual discomfort. Foods rich in iron include red meat, seafood, spinach, broccoli, and even dried fruits.
If you don’t get enough iron-rich foods in your diet, ask your doctor what kind of iron supplement you should take (and what dose).
5. Boost Your Magnesium Levels
Magnesium is an important mineral for many reasons, but it helps muscles be more relaxed throughout the body and is also essential for healthy sleep and mood balance.
Research shows that magnesium supplements can help relieve PMS symptoms, and that some cases of PMS are related to low levels of magnesium. (source)
Magnesium is naturally found in many foods like leafy greens and almonds, but supplementing is the best way to correct low levels quickly.
6. Try Acupuncture
Research shows that acupuncture can help to decrease PMS symptoms relating to pain and discomfort like back pain, cramping, and overall aches and pains.
It can also help to reduce stress and address mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression. Make sure you work with a qualified practitioner. (source)
7. Chastetree Berry (also known as Vitex)
An herbal supplement, chastetree berry has been studied for many female-related reproductive needs. Research shows that it can help address PMS in many ways, particularly by reducing mood changes, migraines, and breast tenderness. (source)
It works best and shows the most relief when taken regularly for at least three months.
8. Omega-3 Fats
Anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats have many health benefits, including being able to help address symptoms of PMS. They can reduce mood swings, fatigue, and even depression, along with the need to take frequent NSAID pain relievers. (source)
Taking fish oil daily can help to offset the severity of PMS over time.
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin is an anti-inflammatory supplement that has pain-relieving qualities.
It can help address menstrual cramps and general aches and pains, and has also been shown to improve mood and fight inflammatory causes of depression. (source)
An excellent way to exercise and get mind/body benefits, yoga is helpful for PMS and period pain because it can help to alleviate cramps, back pain, and overall body pain.
A regular practice can also address stress levels, sleep problems, anxiety, and depression. (source)
Most people think of calcium for bone health, and it is required for that. However, supplementing with calcium can also help alleviate many PMS-related symptoms, such as: physical pain, anxiety, depression, general irritability, bloating, and fatigue.
Research also shows that many of the women with the worst PMS symptoms have lower calcium levels. It is not always possible to get enough calcium through diet alone, but there are plenty of non-dairy sources, including sardines, almonds, and leafy greens.
A calcium supplement, even just before and during PMS, could be beneficial for anyone who cannot or chooses not to eat dairy products. (source)
An adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha literally helps the body adapt to certain types of stress. Research shows that ashwagandha can help to reduce stress and mood changes associated with hormone fluctuations and PMS.
Taking an herbal supplement for stress isn’t enough, though. Work in ways to address stress on a daily basis like deep breathing, time in nature, and maybe even meditation.
Ashwagandha can start the process of decreasing cortisol, the stress hormone, but it alone won’t combat excessive feelings of stress, burn out, or overwhelm. Stress is tied with PMS because, basically, the more stressed you are, the worse your PMS symptoms could be.
13. Essential Oils
Several essential oils can work as great natural remedies for PMS symptoms. Clary sage oil can help to balance hormones, while cypress oil has been used for hundreds of years as a topical massage for menstrual cramps.
Lavender oil can help to improve sleep and decrease stress, and ylang ylang can help to promote a more balanced mood. When using essential oils, always mix with a carrier oil first (almond, jojoba, and coconut work nicely!) and apply topically to the skin.
You can also diffuse and breathe in for aromatherapy benefits. Most experts agree that ingesting essential oils is risky at best—no studies have been done to show they’re safe and they could have other unknown side effects on the digestive tract.
Considering the need for a carrier oil topically. If you drink straight essential oils, even mixed with water, they could hurt your esophagus or stomach lining simply from the extreme potency.
Ginger is a warming herb that is well-known for being able to address nausea. It can also naturally address pain levels in the body, comparable to NSAID pain relievers according to some research.
For effective ginger supplementation, start taking it a day or two before PMS symptoms set in, and continue for a few days after they’ve ended, at 250 milligrams four times per day.
Always check with your healthcare provider before starting ginger if you take other medications, since it can interact with some, most notably blood thinners or anticoagulants.
A licorice-like herb, fennel is frequently used in cooking. It’s also a medicinal herb that can help to address pain from cramping. It can even reduce cramping altogether.
In order to be effective, it should be taken at the onset of cramping and continued through the end of PMS or the menstrual cycle, whenever cramping and pain is most likely to occur.
A supplement that is made from the extract of pine bark trees, pycnogenol is an effective method of natural pain relief. Research shows that it can reduce pain and even decrease the need for other pain relievers.
While this supplement has not been extensively studied, the results have been repeated in two separate studies, and it appears to have minimal, if any, side effects. You should not take pycnogenol if you’re allergic to pine trees, however.
17. Vitamin B6
While all of the B vitamins have essential roles for health and the nervous system in particular, vitamin B6 is especially associated with mood regulation. It’s naturally found in plenty of food sources like seafood, meat, and starchy vegetables.
It works best in conjunction with the other B vitamins, as they have a synergistic effect on each other. Vitamin B6 is also an effective remedy for nausea, which some women experience as part of their PMS.
B vitamins are water-soluble, which means excess amounts don’t get stored in the body. They need replenished on a regular basis.
PMS is an unpleasant hormonal, physical, and mental experience for a majority of reproductive-aged women.
While there are many conventional ways to treat it, like with NSAID pain relievers or birth control, there are many more natural options that come with fewer risks and side effects.
This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid problems, infertility, and digestive wellness. She ate her way back to health using a Paleo diet, lost 80 pounds, and had a healthy baby after numerous miscarriages. She focuses on simple nutrition practices that promote long-lasting results.