Toxins enter the body through what we eat, drink, breathe in, and process in any way. Once inside, toxins overtax our immune system and detoxification system and leave us more vulnerable to illness — not ideal during cold and flu season, and especially not this year during a pandemic — and make us age a little faster, too.
Fortunately, there are a lot of simple things you can do from the comfort of your own home to keep toxins out of your body, flush them out of your system faster, and boost your immunity all at the same time, says Dr. Bill Rawls, Medical Director of Vital Plan. He shares his top 10 strategies below.
1. Source Your Food Wisely
Try to stay away from packaged and processed foods that contain ingredients you can't pronounce, and instead reach for fresh food from natural sources. Aim to make vegetables more than 50% of your daily diet — their fiber is a great natural binder, and they're full of beneficial phytochemicals — and minimize your red meat consumption.
Also, whenever practical, choose organic over conventional products. That said, we know organic prices and accessibility can be an issue, so for help making strategic decisions, refer to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists:
The Dirty Dozen:
(*While raisins aren't technically a fresh food, the EWG found that they are "one of the dirtiest produce commodities on the market — and even some organic raisins are contaminated.")
The Clean Fifteen
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
2. Consider Detoxifying and Immune-Boosting Herbs
There are a number of herbs and natural ingredients that can help support detoxification and immune health. Here are the ones at the top of Dr. Rawls' list:
Chlorella: This nutrient-rich freshwater algae binds to toxins so they can be eliminated from your body more efficiently. Chlorella works particularly well for withdrawing heavy metals. Pure chlorella can be purchased in the form of bulk powder, tablets, or capsules.
Milk Thistle: It's been used for thousands of years to support a healthy liver, the primary organ responsible for detoxification.
Dandelion: Known to help support liver function, research suggests dandelion helps promote the body's natural detoxification and elimination processes.
Bitters: Bitter flavors are important to digestion — they stimulate the release of the saliva, enzymes, and bile that help break down your food. Include bitter herbs and foods in each meal, or take a botanical extract that blends bitter herbs like dandelion root, burdock root, orange peel, and gentian root
Reishi mushroom: An extensively studied adaptogenic mushroom, reishi has exceptional immunomodulating and antiviral properties. It helps normalize inflammatory cytokines and promotes healthy immune response against threatening microbes.
Rhodiola: Another adaptogen, rhodiola improves stress tolerance by reducing fatigue, supporting energy levels, and improving tissue oxygenation.
Turmeric: This popular spice is well loved for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Shilajit: An herbo-mineral adaptogen, shilajit has a long history of use in traditional Indian medicine for longevity and strength. It's also an immunomodulator with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
Gotu Kola: Best known for improving memory and mood, gotu kola is also great for promoting a normal response to inflammation, balancing stress hormones, and supporting circulation.
Vital Plan is a certified B Corporation — one of only eight supplement companies recognized for achieving the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. If you make a purchase using the link above, EcoWatch may earn a commission.
3. Filter Your Water
Much of America's tap water has been shown to contain pollutants, so filtering what comes out of your kitchen sink is smart. To be sure you're using a filter that does the trick, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Look for a filter certified by NSF International or the Water Quality Association.
- Choose one that removes the contaminants in your water (check your local drinking water quality report to see what's present).
- Change your water filters on time.
4. Choose Safe and Effective Cleaning Supplies
When buying household cleaning products, don't bring home chemicals that could harm your health more than some of the microbes you're trying to get rid of. Fortunately, there are a number of products on the market that work safely; here are some ways to shop wisely:
- Look for the Green Seal, Ecologo, or Safer Choice (EPA) seals.
- Opt for fragrance-free options.
- Avoid triclosan and quaternary ammonium compounds or "quats." (One tactic is to choose products that don't advertise as "antibacterial.")
- Consult the EWG's list of safe and effective products for guarding against coronavirus.
5. Opt for Non-Toxic Beauty and Personal Care Products
There are a lot of claims made on beauty and self-care products these days, but words alone, like "natural," "organic," "non-toxic," "clean," "green," and "eco-friendly," don't mean a thing — they aren't backed by any sort of regulatory or certification processes. Instead, to find non-toxic products you trust, you have to do a little research.
- USDA Organic
- EWG Verified
- Made Safe
- NSF/ANSI 305
- Natural Products Association Certified
- Whole Foods Market Premium Body Care
6. Get Outside
One more reason to get outdoors beyond combatting cabin fever: The air in natural environments is generally much cleaner than indoor air. For one, outdoor air contains ⅔ less carbon dioxide, high levels of which negatively affect our productivity, sleep, and more.
Forest air in particular contains phytoncides, organic compounds emitted by trees and plants that have been shown to boost our immune system function, plus plants in general help neutralize toxic substances in the air. Forests, open spaces, and open water are also rich in negative ions, which reduce inflammation.
So take your pick of natural environs, and get out there as often as possible — while still maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others, of course.
7. Bring Nature Indoors
Plants are natural air purifiers, so bringing some plants indoors can help clear the air in your home. Here's a list of the top 10 air-purifying plants to consider:
- Areca palm
- Lady palm
- Bamboo palm
- Rubber plant
- English ivy
- Dwarf date palm
- Boston fern
- Peace lily
8. Drive Less, Move More
Staying off the roads decreases air pollution, and the fact that many of us are driving less these days is noticeably improving air quality. If your commute is on hold, try to translate some of your usual travel time into getting more physical activity, or sneak in more movement between other normal routines.
Exercise improves circulation, oxygenates your tissues, and enhances the work of the lymphatic system through muscle contractions — all of which make it easier to move toxins out of your body.
9. Practice Forgiveness
Through the practice of gratitude, we stay centered and in the present moment. This allows us to move through situations from our heart. Take time to forgive someone or yourself for things in the past. When we forgive, we expand and open up to endless possibilities.
10. Quit a Bad Habit
Are you a smoker? Pack rat? Chronically sleep-deprived? In a bad relationship? Toxins come into our lives in many forms. Consider if you're participating in any unhealthy patterns or holding onto anything that no longer serves you, and then find a way to limit those things in your life.
Dr. Rawls is a licensed medical doctor in North Carolina and a leading expert in integrative health. He has extensive training in alternative therapies, and is the Medical Director of Vital Plan, a holistic health and herbal supplement company in Raleigh, NC.
Reposted with permission from Vital Plan.
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Drinking regular green tea is a lot like boiling kale and drinking the water. You get some of the nutrients, but most of it goes in the trash. With matcha tea, on the other hand, you consume the whole tea leaves and get all the nutrients. Plus, matcha is more nutrient-dense to begin with.
What's the Difference Between Matcha and Green Tea?
Matcha and green tea are both made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. However, there are some key differences.
- Matcha is ground into a fine powder, whereas with regular green tea the leaves are left whole.
- Matcha plants are kept in complete shade two weeks before harvesting, whereas regular green tea plants are exposed to sunlight.
- Matcha leaves are steamed after harvesting, whereas green tea leaves are not.
- Matcha tea uses the whole leaf, whereas with regular green tea the stems and veins are removed.
- Matcha contains higher levels of the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
- Matcha contains higher concentrations of amino acids like L-theanine and L-arginine.
- Matcha contains more caffeine.
Plus, matcha tea powder can be added to food bars and baked goods.
Health Benefits of Matcha vs. Green Tea
Matcha tea and green tea both possess the same general health benefits. Each has the potential to:
- Relieve stress and anxiety
- Support cardiovascular health
- Reduce inflammation
- Promote weight loss
- Speed muscle recovery
- Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Enhance cognition
According to a 2017 meta-analysis, the compounds in green tea may boost cognition in healthy individuals. The study found "reliable evidence showing that L-theanine and caffeine have clear beneficial effects on sustained attention, memory, and suppression of distraction." This may be where the subtle differences lie. Overall, matcha has higher concentrations of L-theanine and caffeine. Therefore matcha tends to exert a more powerful feeling of "alert calm."
If you decide to drink green tea later in the day, opt for regular green tea. The lower caffeine content should be less likely to disrupt your sleep cycle.
A Week of Matcha 🍵 7 Ways to Enjoy www.youtube.com
How Each Tea is Produced and Prepared
Regular green tea is entirely sun-grown, meaning it's exposed to normal sunlight right up until the day it's harvested.
Matcha tea, on the other hand, is kept in the shade for the final 2-3 weeks before harvesting. The lack of sunlight triggers the plant to produce more chlorophyll, resulting in higher concentrations of therapeutic compounds. Shade harvesting is also responsible for the plant's distinct earthy aroma. Unlike regular green tea, matcha is steamed and then stone-ground into a fine powder.
Regular green tea is prepared by steeping the dried leaves in hot water for 30-45 seconds, then straining the liquid and removing the leaves.
Matcha tea, however, is prepared by mixing 1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder in a small amount of hot water using a traditional bamboo whisk or spoon. Once the powder is thoroughly mixed, more hot water can be added to taste.
Nutritional Content of Matcha vs. Green Tea
Although matcha and green tea both come from the same species of plant, Camellia sinensis, matcha has a higher concentration of therapeutic compounds. This is because the shade-harvesting practices of matcha yield higher levels of the alkaloid caffeine, the amino acid L-theanine, and the antioxidant EGCG.
According to a 2003 study, matcha contains roughly three times more EGCG than the average green tea. EGCG is thought to be responsible for several of green tea's health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and fighting inflammation.
In a recent study published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers demonstrated that EGCG can effectively guard against oxidative damage. The L-theanine in green tea is largely responsible for green tea's calming effects.
According to a 2006 study published in The Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy, L-theanine accomplishes this by increasing levels of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The Best Matcha Green Tea To Buy Online
- 5% of the company's profits go to charity
- Packaged in a recyclable glass jar with an aluminum lid
- High-quality Japanese matcha with a less bitter taste
- Tested annually for pesticides and heavy metals like lead
- Smooth mellow flavor with hints of chocolate, leafy greens, and snow peas
- Small batch product made from hand-picked leaves
- Highest caffeine and antioxidant levels on the market, according to the brand
- Small batch product that is hand blended
- Graded by a certified Chasi tea master
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Throughout Texas, there are a number of solar power companies that can install solar panels on your roof to take advantage of the abundant sunlight. But which solar power provider should you choose? In this article, we'll provide a list of the best solar companies in the Lone Star State.
Our Picks for the Best Texas Solar Companies
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Sunpro Solar
- Longhorn Solar, Inc.
- Solartime USA
- Kosmos Solar
- Sunshine Renewable Solutions
- Alba Energy
- Circle L Solar
- South Texas Solar Systems
- Good Faith Energy
How We Chose the Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when comparing and contrasting different solar providers. These are some of the considerations we used to evaluate Texas solar energy companies.
Different solar companies may provide varying services. Always take the time to understand the full range of what's being offered in terms of solar panel consultation, design, installation, etc. Also consider add-ons, like EV charging stations, whenever applicable.
When meeting with a representative from one of Texas' solar power companies, we would always encourage you to ask what the installation process involves. What kind of customization can you expect? Will your solar provider use salaried installers, or outsourced contractors? These are all important questions to raise during the due diligence process.
Texas is a big place, and as you look for a good solar power provider, you want to ensure that their services are available where you live. If you live in Austin, it doesn't do you much good to have a solar company that's active only in Houston.
Pricing and Financing
Keep in mind that the initial cost of solar panel installation can be sizable. Some solar companies are certainly more affordable than others, and you can also ask about the flexible financing options that are available to you.
To guarantee that the renewable energy providers you select are reputable, and that they have both the integrity and the expertise needed, we would recommend assessing their status in the industry. The simplest way to do this is to check to see whether they are North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified or belong to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or other industry groups.
Types of Panels
As you research different companies, it certainly doesn't hurt to get to know the specific products they offer. Inquire about their tech portfolio, and see if they are certified to install leading brands like Tesla or Panasonic.
Rebates and Tax Credits
There are a lot of opportunities to claim clean energy rebates or federal tax credits which can help with your initial solar purchase. Ask your solar provider for guidance navigating these different savings opportunities.
Going solar is a big investment, but a warranty can help you trust that your system will work for decades. A lot of solar providers provide warranties on their technology and workmanship for 25 years or more, but you'll definitely want to ask about this on the front end.
The 10 Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
With these criteria in mind, consider our picks for the 10 best solar energy companies in TX.
SunPower is a solar energy company that makes it easy to make an informed and totally customized decision about your solar power setup. SunPower has an online design studio where you can learn more about the different options available for your home, and even a form where you can get a free online estimate. Set up a virtual consultation to speak directly with a qualified solar installer from the comfort of your own home. It's no wonder SunPower is a top solar installation company in Texas. They make the entire process easy and expedient.
Sunpro Solar is another solar power company with a solid reputation across the country. Their services are widely available to Texas homeowners, and they make the switch to solar effortless. We recommend them for their outstanding customer service, for the ease of their consultation and design process, and for their assistance to homeowners looking to claim tax credits and other incentives.
Looking for a solar contractor with true Texas roots? Longhorn Solar is an award-winning company that's frequently touted as one of the best solar providers in the state. Their services are available in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, and since 2009 they have helped more than 2,000 Texans make the switch to energy efficiency with solar. We recommend them for their technical expertise, proven track record, and solar product selection.
Solartime USA is another company based in Texas. In fact, this family-owned business is located in Richardson, which is just outside of Dallas. They have ample expertise with customized solar energy solutions in residential settings, and their portfolio of online reviews attests to their first-rate customer service. We love this company for the simplicity of their process, and for all the guidance they offer customers seeking to go solar.
Next on our list is Kosmos Solar, another Texas-based solar company. They're based in the northern part of the state, and highly recommended for homeowners in the area. They supply free estimates, high-quality products, custom solar designs, and award-winning personal service. Plus, their website has a lot of great information that may help guide you while you determine whether going solar is right for you.
Sunshine Renewable Solutions is based out of Houston, and they've developed a sterling reputation for dependable service and high-quality products. They have a lot of helpful financing options, and can show you how you can make the switch to solar in a really cost-effective way. We also like that they give free estimates, so there's certainly no harm in learning more about this great local company.
"Powered by the Texas sun." That's the official tagline of Alba Energy, a solar energy provider that's based out of Katy, TX. They have lots of great information about solar panel systems and solar solutions, including solar calculators to help you tabulate your potential energy savings. Additionally, we recommend Alba Energy because all of their work is done by a trusted, in-house team of solar professionals. They maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and they have rave reviews from satisfied customers.
Circle L Solar has a praiseworthy mission of helping homeowners slash their energy costs while participating in the green energy revolution. This is another company that provides a lot of great information, including energy savings calculators. Also note that, in addition to solar panels, Circle L Solar also showcases a number of other assets that can help you make your home more energy efficient, including windows, weatherization services, LED lighting, and more.
You can tell by the name that South Texas Solar Systems focuses its service area on the southernmost part of the Lone Star State. Their products include a wide range of commercial and residential solar panels, as well as "off the grid" panels for homeowners who want to detach from public utilities altogether. Since 2007, this company has been a trusted solar energy provider in San Antonio and beyond.
Good Faith Energy is a certified installer of Tesla solar technology for homeowners throughout Texas. This company is really committed to ecological stewardship, and they have amassed a lot of goodwill thanks to their friendly customer service and the depth of their solar expertise. In addition to Tesla solar panels, they can also install EV charging stations and storage batteries.
What are Your Solar Financing Options in Texas?
We've mentioned already that going solar requires a significant investment on the front-end. It's worth emphasizing that some of the best solar companies provide a range of financing options, allowing you to choose whether you buy your system outright, lease it, or pay for it in monthly installments.
Also keep in mind that there are a lot of rebates and state and federal tax credits available to help offset starting costs. Find a Texas solar provider who can walk you through some of the different options.
How Much Does a Solar Energy System Cost in Texas?
How much is it going to cost you to make that initial investment into solar power? It varies by customer and by home, but the median cost of solar paneling may be somewhere in the ballpark of $13,000. Note that, when you take into account federal tax incentives, this number can fall by several thousand dollars.
And of course, once you go solar, your monthly utility bills are going to shrink dramatically… so while solar systems won't pay for themselves in the first month or even the first year, they will ultimately prove more than cost-effective.
Finding the Right Solar Energy Companies in TX
Texas is a great place to pursue solar energy companies, thanks to all the natural sunlight, and there are plenty of companies out there to help you make the transition. Do your homework, compare a few options, and seek the solar provider that's right for you. We hope this guide is a helpful jumping-off point as you try to get as much information as possible about the best solar companies in Texas.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
Over-the-counter cough syrups and cough drops only mask symptoms, and that means your cough could return at any time. Instead of hoping for the best, you can use holistic treatments that target the underlying cause of even the worst coughs.
Here are five of the best home remedies for cough:
- Essential oils
- Raw honey
- Marshmallow root
- Proper hydration
- Immune-boosting foods
Cough management requires a practical, comprehensive approach, and we'll show you how to beat your cough with these at-home treatments.
How Coughing Works
Have you ever wondered what's actually going on inside the body when you make that awful coughing sound?
Here's what's really happening:
- You take a gasp of air.
- The glottis covers the windpipe.
- The respiratory muscles contract.
- Pressure builds in the airway.
- The glottis bursts open and…you cough!
What Causes Coughing?
Coughing happens when you need to expel an irritant or cope with symptoms of a respiratory infection.
Acute coughing is coughing that lasts less than three weeks. This includes brief coughing fits and reactions to short-term respiratory infections. Acute coughs are typically "dry," meaning there's no mucus in the airway.
Chronic coughing, however, is coughing that lasts eight weeks or longer and requires professional medical intervention. These coughs are typically "wet" and are characterized by heavy phlegm and mucus production as a response to inflammation in the lungs.
Common causes of chronic cough include:
- Viral infections (bronchitis, pneumonia, cold, flu)
- GERD (acid reflux disease)
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Sinus infection (due to persistent nasal drip)
Chronic coughing may also be caused by a reaction to certain medications like ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, which can irritate nerve endings in the throat.
5 Home Remedies for Cough
From therapeutic essential oils to immune-boosting foods, here are five of the top natural remedies for cough:
1. Essential Oils
Essential oils are extracted from the roots, stems, flowers, and leaves of various medicinal plants. Most essential oils have a broad spectrum of antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which can be ideal for fighting infection and treating the underlying causes of coughing.
Research suggests that these three essential oils can have many benefits, including the reduction in frequency of coughs, relief from scratchy throats and congestion, as well as reduced inflammation and mucus production.
How to Use Essential Oils for Cough
You can add a few drops of essential oil to any hot shower, which will incorporate the oil with the steam and open up your sinuses for less irritation and coughing. Additionally, you can make your own essential oil vapor rub by mixing 1-2 drops of essential oil with half a teaspoon of coconut or MCT oil. Apply this DIY vapor rub to the chest and back of the neck for fast-acting relief.
2. Raw Honey
Raw honey's immune-boosting antioxidants and antimicrobial effects are perfect when it comes to finding a home remedy for coughing. According to a 2011 meta-analysis, researchers think that raw honey may treat coughs by reducing inflammation and relieving irritation.
In a 2007 study published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, honey was tested against the cough-suppressing medication dextromethorphan in children with nighttime coughing. The honey group experienced a greater reduction in coughing than the dextromethorphan group.
To make your own DIY honey elixir, mix 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey in a cup of warm water with a few drops of lemon juice. However, if you are trying to alleviate coughing in children, you should not give raw honey to any child under one year of age due to the risk of infant botulism.
3. Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root extract has long been used in Germany as a main ingredient in natural cough remedies. It has a high mucilage content, which eases coughing by coating the throat with a thick, gluey substance.
One small study found that an herbal cough medicine containing marshmallow root, thyme, and ivy can effectively relieve coughing caused by respiratory tract infections in humans after just 12 days of treatment.
In a 2018 study published in the journal Complementary Medicine Research, consumers reported on the efficacy of marshmallow root syrup as a treatment for irritative cough. The majority of participants reported a significant reduction in dry cough symptoms within 10 minutes of administration.
4. Gargle Salt Water
This simple, natural remedy for coughing is great for soothing a sore throat as well. Gargling salt water has been shown to reduce respiratory infections up to 40 percent, and can lessen the need to cough by reducing phlegm and mucus in the throat.
Mix a teaspoon of salt with 8oz of hot water. Stir the mixture until the salt has fully dissolved. Make sure the water isn't too hot, then take a swig of the salt water and gargle for 15 to 30 seconds. After this, you can spit out the salt water, and repeat three times a day.
5. Eat Right
Eating immune-boosting foods can be extremely beneficial in preventing and fighting off a cough, and here are some of the best foods for supporting immunity, reducing inflammation, and thinning mucus:
- Probiotic foods: If you get frequent, recurring coughs, you may be more susceptible to illness due to a weakened gut lining. Probiotics like kombucha, coconut kefir, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, and kimchi can reinforce the gut lining and fortify the immune system.
- Bone broth: Drinking hot bone broth made from chicken or beef cartilage can thin the mucus and help repair the gut lining with collagen.
- Ginger root: Ginger contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds like zingibain and may relax the muscles in the upper airway that control coughing.
- Stay Hydrated: This may seem like a no-brainer, but in order to be fully cough-resistant, you'll have to drink plenty of fluids. Studies show that staying hydrated is essential to the treatment of coughs, and it may also soften mucosal secretions and help clear the airway.
Other Helpful Tips for Relieving a Cough at Home
As you seek to use home remedies for cough relief, you'll also want to avoid pro-inflammatory foods like gluten, sugar, soda, fruit juice, dairy, hydrogenated oils, and processed foods.
If your nasal passages are congested, irritation from nasal drip can make your cough worse. If this is the case, you may want to try using a neti pot, which can flush out irritants and thin the mucus.
If you experience persistent coughing for longer than eight weeks, we recommend seeing a doctor for medical advice and treatment. At-home remedies are a great way to alleviate common cold or flu symptoms, but more serious complications may arise that require professional treatment.
Justin Fowler-Lindner, a former EMT turned freelance writer, spends his days popping supplements and soaking up the sun in tropical destinations around the world.
Essential oils have many health benefits, but anxiety management is where they really shine.
Like a bullet straight to the heart of your biochemistry, their phytochemicals can swiftly enter the bloodstream and relieve anxiety fast.
Here are the four best essential oils for anxiety:
What makes these essential oils so effective at calming the nervous system?
Keep reading to find out.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are extracted from the roots, stems, flowers, leaves, and bark of certain plants.
Their therapeutic compounds can promote relaxation, improve mood, reduce anxiety, and ameliorate depression.
How Essential Oils May Help Anxiety
Most compounds have to be digested or injected in order to enter the bloodstream.
However, the phytochemicals in essential oils, like linalool and linalyl acetate, are small enough to pass through the skin and nasal cavities.
From there, they can readily travel across the blood-brain barrier to potentially relieve anxiety.
People with anxiety often have concurrent digestive issues that inhibit nutrient absorption, making essential oils an especially valuable treatment.
How to Use Essential Oils for Anxiety
Essential oils can be ingested, applied topically, or inhaled.
Aromatherapy massage, however, can provide particularly fast-acting relief.
A 2008 study found that aromatherapy hand massages with a blend of bergamot, lavender, and frankincense can effectively reduce anxiety, pain, and depression in hospice patients better than regular massage alone. The essential oil blend contained a 1.5 percent dilution of essential oils, using sweet almond oil as a carrier oil.
Carrier oils like almond, coconut, and hemp seed oil can spread the essential oil across a wider surface area and extend its aromatic effects.
However, oral lavender oil can be effective as well.
A 2009 study published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology found that oral lavender oil capsules can reduce anxiety in participants watching stressful film clips.
4 Best Essential Oils for Anxiety
Essential oils can reduce stress hormone production and boost calming neurotransmitters.
Here's a closer look at the four best essential oils for anxiety:
Lavender is the queen of anti-anxiety oils, and there's a mountain of evidence to prove it.
Over the years, lavender essential oil has been studied as a treatment for wounds, burns, and seizures, but recent research suggests that it may also have potent anti-anxiety, mood stabilizing, and sedative effects.
It can also be consumed as a lavender tea.
Here's what the research as to say about lavender essential oil for anxiety:
- According to a 2013 meta-analysis, lavender may promote the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and reduce glutamate, which tends to be overactive in anxious individuals.
- A 2012 study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that lavender may reduce anxiety by acting on acetylcholine: the primary neurotransmitter involved with higher thinking.
- Inhaled lavender may target the limbic system by targeting the hippocampus and amygdala: the emotional center of the brain.
- Animal studies show that inhaled lavender can reduce cortisol: the main hormone linked to chronic stress and anxiety.
- In a 2014 human study, researchers determined that oral lavender oil can outperform the prescription anxiolytic paroxetine in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Although the FDA does not officially recognize lavender oil as a treatment for anxiety disorders, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) does.
Recent research shows that lavender oil may also reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and slow heart rate.
Bergamot is another widely-researched essential oil that may reduce anxiety, pain, stress, and inflammation.
According to a 2011 rodent study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, "Both BEO [bergamot essential oil] and diazepam [prescription medication] exhibited anxiolytic-like behaviors and attenuated HPA axis activity by reducing the corticosterone response to stress.
In other words, bergamot treated stress and anxiety by calming the stress response.
Human studies are also promising.
A 2017 pilot study found that bergamot oil aromatherapy can enhance positive feelings in the waiting room of a mental health treatment center.
Studies show that rose essential oil may balance hormones, reduce stress, and treat anxiety.
Here's what the research has to say about the health benefits of rose essential oil:
- In a 2007 Japanese study, rose oil aromatherapy effectively reduced cortisol levels in both female and male volunteers. Plus, it decreased testosterone in women but had no effect on testosterone in men.
- According to a 2016 clinical trial, patients undergoing hemodialysis treatment may experience reduced anxiety with rose oil aromatherapy.
- On a similar note, a 2014 study indicates that inhaling rose oil may increase feelings of comfort by inhibiting neurotransmitter activity in the prefrontal cortex.
- According to another 2014 study, rose oil foot baths can be significantly more effective at reducing anxiety than regular foot baths.
Rose essential oil also contains eugenol: one of the strongest antioxidants in the world.
Chamomile tea is widely used as a natural sleep aid, and that's because the plant contains several therapeutic phytochemicals, including the soothing compound chamazulene.
These properties also make chamomile well-suited for reducing stress and anxiety.
Both chamomile aromatherapy and oral chamomile appear to be equally effective.
In one 2009 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers at Pennsylvania State University tested the effects of oral chamomile capsules on 57 patients with mild generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Compared to the placebo, participants experienced a statistically significant reduction in anxiety symptoms.
According to the study's authors, "These results suggest that chamomile may have modest benefits for some people with mild to moderate GAD."
At the same time, a 2013 aromatherapy study found a significant difference in the anxiety scores between the chamomile group and the control group.
To top it all off, chamomile contains several terpenes and flavonoids that may treat gastrointestinal inflammation and reduce pain.
What to Know Before Using Essential Oils for Anxiety
Other anti-anxiety oils to check out include, sage, frankincense, geranium, and orange oil.
It's also a good notion to never ingest essential oils without first making sure they're food-grade. Many oils are manufactured with synthetic perfumes that can upset and irritate the stomach.
If you have a history of serious medical conditions or are currently taking prescription drugs, make sure to consult a specialist before adding essential oils to your regular health practice.
All in all, many people have found aromatherapy and other essential oil applications to be very beneficial in the reduction of anxiety — and you might too.
Justin Fowler-Lindner, a former EMT turned freelance writer, spends his days popping supplements and soaking up the sun in tropical destinations around the world.
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The holidays can be overwhelming for many people. With shopping lists to check off, holiday dinners to cook and visitors to make room for, it's usually an eventful time of year. But in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, herbal supplements help you stay calm, cool and collected. Whether you're trying to avoid the in-laws or learning how to make a new meal for the first time, you can stay prepared with the best herbs for stress.
Holiday Stress, Cortisol and You
While the holiday season is a cheerful time to spend with friends and family, it is also one of the most stressful times of the year. With all of the added pressure related to finances, traveling and family commitments, your health can suffer.
Ultimately, the body ends up produces too many stress hormones, which elevates blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. At the same time, glucose is released into the bloodstream, digestion slows and the immune system becomes suppressed. Over time, this can lead to increased anxiety, hormone imbalances, sickness and gut health issues.
In the end, many of these complications are linked to cortisol, whose job it is to regulate several essential functions, including:
- Keeping you alert
- Preventing brain fog
- Reducing inflammation
- Promoting healing
- Burning fat for energy
- Controlling blood pressure
- Supporting memory
With cortisol levels out of control, it's easy to see how holiday stress can make you feel scattered, tired and overwhelmed. Luckily, the right herbs for stress may offer you some relief.
9 Herbs for Holiday Stress
Many of the best herbs for stress are adaptogens, which reduce cortisol, normalize bacteria levels and affect stress in a variety of ways. Others are familiar teas and essential oils that work to calm the mind and body.
The best herbs to reduce holiday stress are:
Ashwagandha has been widely studied for its effects on stress tolerance and cortisol production.
In one 2012 human study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 64 test adults with a history of chronic stress were treated with either ashwagandha extract or a placebo for 60 days. According to the study's authors, "The findings of this study suggest that a high-concentration of full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life."
This herbal supplement can also help with chronic stress, which if left untreated can lead to hormone imbalances throughout the body, including the thyroid. A 2018 human study found that supplementing with ashwagandha for eight weeks can help regulate thyroid levels in patients with underactive thyroids.
To top it all off, animal studies show that ashwagandha can prevent weight gain due to chronic stress, as well as prevent stress-related gastric ulcers.
2. Astragalus Root
Astragalus is an adaptogenic herb that's been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years to support the immune system and guard against stress. Now, modern research is beginning to support these claims.
A 2005 animal study found that astragalus root can decrease stress hormones and reduce inflammation in piglets. At the same time, a 2019 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that astragalus root can boost antioxidant levels and support immunity in sheep.
Nothing takes the edge off of holiday stress like a hot cup of tea, and chamomile is just the tea for the job.
For starters, it's full of potent antioxidants like flavonoids and terpenes to help you fend off colds. Studies also show that chamomile tea can improve sleep quality and relieve depression in postpartum women. Quality sleep is important for reducing stress and chamomile is an ideal way to unwind and catch some Z's. Chamomile essential oil can also have stress reducing benefits when used in aromatherapy diffusers.
Cordyceps is an adaptogenic medicinal mushroom with potent antioxidant properties. Not only can it calm the stress response and strengthen immunity, but it can also boost energy and improve exercise performance.
For example, a 2016 randomize, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that cordyceps can improve tolerance for high-intensity exercise after just 1-3 weeks of supplementation. At the same time, a separate human trial found that cordyceps can reduce cortisol and help you recover from stress faster.
5. Ginseng (Panax)
Ginseng is another adaptogen that has been shown to promote calmness, improve memory and reduce certain functions of the stress response. There are several strains of ginseng, but Panax ginseng contains the highest concentrations of therapeutic compounds.
In a 2010 human study published in the journal of Human Psychopharmacology, 30 healthy volunteers received either panax ginseng or a placebo for eight days. Researchers found that a 400 mg dose of ginseng improved calmness and enhanced mental arithmetic. A separate study also found that ginseng can reduce several indicators of chronic stress in rodents.
6. Holy Basil
Holy basil, also known as tulsi, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as an anti-aging treatment, as well as for skin disease, infections and the common cold. More recently, researchers have conducted several studies on its ability to reduce stress and enhance cognition.
For example, a 2015 human study found that holy basil can improve reaction times, reduce error rate and decrease cortisol compared to a placebo.
Lavender is one of the most widely-studies herbs for reducing stress and anxiety. It's also one of the most common essential oils worldwide. Most importantly, lavender aromatherapy can reduce stress fast because its phytochemicals are small enough to pass through the nasal cavity, enter the bloodstream, and immediately cross the blood-brain barrier.
One 2016 human study found that inhaling lavender can reduce stress, anxiety and depression in postpartum women. However, lavender oil can also be absorbed through the skin and taken orally as lavender tea or an herbal supplement. Lavender oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral that can boost immunity while reducing stress.
Passionflower can reduce stress and anxiety, and promote sleep by acting on GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is the primary neurotransmitter that's responsible for calming overactive brain activity.
One comparative study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics tested passionflower against the prescription anti-anxiety medication oxazepam. 36 patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were treated with either passionflower, oxazepam, or a placebo. Researchers concluded that passionflower extract can be an effective treatment for GAD and exhibits fewer side effects than oxazepam.
Rhodiola rosea is another powerful adaptogen that boosts the body's resistance to stress. A 2007 study published in the journal Drug Target Insights found that Rhodiola can improve mental performance under stress. A separate 2009 human trial found that rhodiola can decrease cortisol, improve mental performance and increase energy in patients with burnout syndrome and stress-related fatigue.
Other Ways to Avoid Holiday Stress
The holidays have a stressful side that many of us know all too well. When your head is spinning with family events, shopping and gift wrapping, plus your bank account is dwindling, stress can get the best of you. This can take a toll on your sleep quality, mental health, and general well being, but natural herbs can help combat holiday stress when it's at its worst.
In addition to taking natural herbal supplements, other practices like mindful meditation, exercise and healthy eating (even though it may be hard to do during the holidays) can be great ways to stay stress-free during the holiday season.
Justin Fowler-Lindner, a former EMT turned freelance writer, spends his days popping supplements and soaking up the sun in tropical destinations around the world.
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To truly get the most out of life, a person needs to be able to get a good night's sleep. Lack of sleep due to stress or insomnia has led many to seek out natural products, including CBD, to help them fall asleep and stay asleep. Is there anything behind the idea of CBD for sleep improvement? In this article, we will explore the role that CBD for insomnia can play in a healthy sleep cycle and recommend CBD sleep products from brands we trust.
Our Top CBD for Sleep Picks
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best CBD Sleep Gummies - Medterra CBD Sleep Tight Gummies
- Best CBD Sleep Softgels - R+R Medicinals CBD Softgels
- Best CBN + CBD Oil - CBDistillery CBN + CBD Oil
- Best Melatonin-Free Option - Prima Sleep Tight Softgels
- Strongest CBD Oil for Sleep - Spruce Rest Oil
- Best Organic CBD for Sleep - Cornbread Hemp Whole Flower CBD Oil
- Best CBD Bath Bomb for Sleep - Green Roads Peace CBD Bath Bomb
How We Picked the Best CBD for Sleep
We vetted the source and quality of the CBD for insomnia and sleep in this article. All recommended products were derived from industrial hemp grown in the United States and contains under 0.3% THC, which is required by law. Additionally, all products have been tested by third-party labs to ensure their quality and safety.
When reviewing CBD brands and products, we focus on six major factors:
- Value — is the brand's CBD affordable compared to similar products?
- Strength — how much CBD and what type of CBD does their product contain?
- Source — where does the company source their hemp and how is the CBD extracted?
- Flavor — does the product come in any flavors and do they flavor them naturally?
- Transparency — do they offer third-party lab test results and information about each batch of CBD?
- Customer experience — what do customer have to say about the product and purchasing experience?
Using these standards we were able to select the best CBD for insomnia and sleep. Learn more about our choices below.
The Best CBD for Sleep Products
Medterra CBD Sleep Tight Gummies include 25 mg of CBD isolate and 3 mg of melatonin to promote a restful night's sleep. We also like that they are made with calming natural ingredients like chamomile and lemon balm. All of Medterra's CBD comes from Kentucky-grown organic hemp that's raised without pesticides and is tested by third-party labs for purity.
Why buy: With natural strawberry flavoring, these gummies are a great option for those who want to take CBD for sleep but don't enjoy the taste of oil tinctures. They're are also 100% THC free.
These full spectrum CBD softgels from R+R Medicinals contain full spectrum CBD from USDA organic hemp grown in Colorado. Each softgel includes 15 mg of CBD plus over 3 mg of minor cannabinoids, like CBC, CBN, THC, and CBG, that combine in what's known as the "entourage effect" to help you relax as you wind down for the day. R+R Medicinals' CBD is extracted using a supercritical CO2 method to retain more of these beneficial plant compounds.
Why buy: We like these softgels because they make it convenient to add CBD to your nightly routine. They have a slower effect than some other products, but typically last longer. They are also available in a 30 mg strength for added relief.
Why buy: We like that this oil is specifically formulated for sleep. Additionally, this brand is a good choice for a CBD consumer who wants a full spectrum oil geared toward a particular cannabinoid blend, like CBN for sleep.
We love these Prima Sleep Tight softgels because they offer a doctor-formulated blend of CBD and natural botanicals, but are also melatonin-free. This makes them a great option for anyone with a sensitivity or allergy to melatonin. Each softgel serving contains 20 mg of broad spectrum CBD, as well as chamomile, passion flower, lavender, and amino acid compounds like 5-HTP and GABA, that all naturally promote sleep.
Why buy: We recommend these Prima softgels because they provide a plant-based sleep aid without THC or melatonin, and they come in sustainable and recycled packaging.
Spruce CBD is a family-owned and operated brand, and all of their tinctures are full-spectrum, made in the United States, lab grade, organic, contain no pesticides, and are third-party tested. Spruce Rest is specifically made to help you fall and stay asleep, with a powerful combination of CBD and CBN. Each bottle contains 1,200 mg of CBD and 150 mg of CBN for a potent sleep aid, and comes in a natural vanilla flavor.
Why buy: We like that this oil contains high concentrations of CBD and CBN for extra strength relief from sleeplessness. This CBD for insomnia product is best for those with experience using CBD oils.
Cornbread Hemp offers a whole flower CBD oil that is USDA organic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and third-party lab tested. It contains higher levels of naturally-occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids than more processed oils, providing you with more of the healthy plant compounds that can help you sleep. The 375 mg and 750 mg bottles contains 25 mg of CBD per serving, and the 1500 mg bottle contains 50 mg of CBD per serving.
The Green Roads Peace CBD bath bomb is a perfect way to relax and destress before bedtime. Made with 150 mg of CBD isolate, meaning it contains no THC. We like that this bath bomb also includes lavender for a luxuriously calming experience. These bath bombs use CBD from hemp grown on American farms and were developed with no animal testing. All Green Roads products do undergo third-party lab testing to ensure potency and quality.
Why buy: We recommend this CBD bath bomb as a way to start a naturally calming routine before bed, especially for those who prefer not to ingest CBD oils or capsules.
Can CBD Improve Your Sleep?
According to research in a 2019 study published in The Permanente Journal on behalf of the National Institutes of Health, CBD was examined for its efficacy in not only treating anxiety problems and post-traumatic stress disorder but also sleep disorders. The results of the study displayed that patients treated through the use of CBD over the course of three months saw an improvement in their sleep cycles, as well as a lessening of their anxiety and other mental anguish. Administered in doses of 25 mg of CBD, the cannabidiol was well received. Side effects were minimal and typically related to daytime sleepiness on higher doses of CBD.
It is believed that CBD for insomnia can improve sleep processes because it triggers the body's endocannabinoid system, a biological system that is comprised of receptors and enzymes that regulate a variety of bodily functions, including sleep, memory, appetite, and mood.
Phytocannabinoids, like CBD and CBN, have the potential to interact on an indirect basis with cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, thereby encouraging the body to sleep by helping to manage anxiety, pain, and stress hormones that contribute to sleep loss.
Why is Sleep Important?
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 50 to 70 million people in the United States spanning all ages and socioeconomic classes suffer from sleeplessness. Both men and women are impacted by sleep disturbances, and according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, adults aged 18-60 years old need at least seven hours of sleep each night to realize optimal health and well-being.
Sleep plays an important role in your mental and physical health. When you have a healthy sleep cycle, your body and mind are able to engage in many restorative processes including healing and repairing cognitive and cardiac functions. During sleep, your body is actively working by boosting your immune system, fighting inflammation, regulating digestive processes, and so much more.
When a person does not get the sleep they need, they run the risk of developing many chronic health conditions, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Mental health issues
Insomnia is a serious sleep disorder that can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Right now, one in four Americans develops insomnia annually, according to Science Daily. Insomnia can cause a person to have problems falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking far too early. This can drastically impact your energy level, your work performance, your quality of life, and has the potential to cause negative physical and mental health outcomes.
According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic insomnia can result in many of the health conditions we have referenced, and can also cause depression and anxiety. CBD for insomnia not only has the potential to help as a sleep aid to improve sleep quality, but it can also help to mitigate and manage anxiety and assist with chronic pain relief to help you achieve a calm and restful night's sleep.
How to Choose For You
If you are looking for the best CBD for sleep, then it is important to do your research and realize that not all CBD products are created equal.
What to Look For
In order to feel confident knowing that you purchased a high-quality CBD product, only buy from a brand that engages in accredited, third-party lab testing and subsequently publishes its lab reports on its website. You must be able to see that what is on the label of your CBD oil actually is validated through testing processes.
This also ensures that the CBD is free of toxins, including pesticides, heavy metals, microbials, and solvents, and contains the concentration of CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids and plant parts that it claims. Always look for brands that use CBD from hemp grown in the United States, as these products undergo more rigorous testing than in some other countries.
In addition to CBD, look for products that include other natural ingredients like lavender, chamomile, passion flower, and lemon balm that are help to promote calm and rest. Make certain that all ingredients, including any flavorings, are all natural and labeled clearly. Also consider products that contain melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates sleep alongside wakefulness. Boosting this particular hormone, which is already found in your body, can truly improve your sleep-wake cycle.
How to Read Labels
It's important to know what kind of CBD is used in the product you choose. When comparing labels, look for one of the following:
- Full spectrum CBD - contains all of the plant compounds found in hemp including THC
- Broad spectrum CBD - contains some additional plant compounds, but no THC
- CBD isolate - pure CBD that contains no additional compounds
Some people find that full-spectrum CBD offers a better experience promoting sleep thanks to the entourage effect, while others may want to avoid THC entirely.
Here are some additional pieces of information to look for on each product.
How much CBD the product contains and how much is included, in mg, per serving. It's recommended that those new to CBD start with a lower dose and slowly increase the amount taken to identify the right dosage for your body.
Look for information about additional cannabinoids included, like CBN or CBG. These are naturally found in the hemp plant in certain dosages, but some products have higher amounts to help promote sleep.
Additionally, CBD oil tinctures use carrier oils, frequently olive oil, MCT oil or hemp seed oil. Make sure you know what type of carrier oil is used in case you are allergic to certain ingredients like coconut.
How to Use
Depending on the type of CBD product you choose, you will use it differently to help you sleep. Most CBD sleep products recommend use an hour or so before bed to allow it to take effect.
If you are using a CBD oil tincture, this is taken with an included dropper to place a small amount under your tongue. Keep the CBD under your tongue for 30 seconds or so, for better absorption, before swallowing. In terms of dosage amounts, the oil should come with a dropper with mL measurements. To start, take a single mL drop for a single serving of CBD. Again, it's important to start low and go slow when adding CBD to your routine.
For capsules and gummies, simply take the recommended serving (typically 1 or 2) about an hour before bedtime. Some work better when taken with food, so be sure to check the directions on the packaging.
For CBD bath bombs, you simply add one of these to a hot bath as part of your evening routine before bed.
Note that CBD typically works best by building up in your system over time, so it may take up to a month for you to experience the full effects.
The primary side effects associated with CBD are rare and typically mild. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Dry Mouth
Should I Try CBD for Sleep?
There is no denying that we live in stressful times and that many people in the United States are experiencing problems with sleep. However, there is no need to suffer through another night tossing and turning. CBD for insomnia could help you regulate sleep cycles, promote restful sleep, and manage anxiety. Plus, with a number of different CBD products available, you can easily find the right one for your nightly routine.
Keep in mind that since CBD oil is not regulated by the FDA, you must do your due diligence. When considering CBD for sleep in your life, consult with a doctor if you have any existing medical conditions prior to beginning use.
By Jill Joyce
Maybe you're trying to eat healthier these days, aiming to get enough of the good stuff and limit the less-good stuff. You're paying attention to things like fiber and fat and vitamins … and anti-nutrients?
What the heck are anti-nutrients and are they something you need to be concerned about in your diet?
Let me, as a public health nutrition researcher, reassure you that anti-nutrients aren't the evil nemesis of all the nutritious foods you eat. As long as you're consuming a balanced and varied diet, anti-nutrients are not a concern. In fact, scientists are realizing they actually have many health benefits.
What Are Anti-Nutrients?
Anti-nutrients are substances that naturally occur in plant and animal foods.
The name comes from how they function in your body once you eat them. They block or interfere with how your body absorbs other nutrients out of your gut and into your bloodstream so you can then use them. Thus, anti-nutrients may decrease the amount of nutrients you actually get from your food. They most commonly interfere with the absorption of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc.
Plants evolved these compounds as a defensive mechanism against insects, parasites, bacteria and fungi. For example, some anti-nutrients can cause a food to taste bitter; animals won't want to eat it, leaving the seed, for instance, to provide nourishment for future seedlings. Some anti-nutrients block the digestion of seeds that are eaten. The seeds disperse when they come out the other end in the animal's fecal matter and can go on to grow new plants. Both of these survival tactics help the plant species grow and spread.
In terms of foods that people eat, you'll most commonly find anti-nutrients naturally occurring in whole grains and legumes.
Time for an Image Makeover as Health Enhancers
Despite sounding scary, studies show that anti-nutrients are not of concern unless consumed in ultra, unrealistically high amounts – and they have numerous health benefits.
Anti-nutrients are currently undergoing a change in image very similar to the one dietary fiber experienced. At one point, scientists thought dietary fiber was bad for people. Since fiber could bind to nutrients and pull them out of the digestive tract in poop, it seemed like something to avoid. To address this perceived issue, grain processing in the late 1800s removed fiber from foods.
But now scientists know that dietary fiber is incredibly important and encourage its consumption. Eating plenty of fiber lowers the risks of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some gastrointestinal diseases.
In the same way, rather than something to avoid, many anti-nutrients are now considered health-promoting nutraceuticals and functional foods due to their numerous benefits. Here's an introduction to some of the most frequently eaten anti-nutrients that come with benefits:
- Saponins, common in legumes, can boost the immune system, reduce risk of cancer, lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar response to foods, result in fewer cavities, reduce risk of kidney stones and combat blood clotting seen in heart attacks and strokes.
- Lectins, found in cereal grains and legumes, are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers and becoming overweight or obese.
- Tannins, commonly found in teas, coffees and processed meats and cheeses, are antioxidants that can inhibit growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast and may decrease cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Phytates, found in wheat, barley, rice and corn, are associated with increased immune function and cancer cell death, as well as reduced cancer cell growth and spread. They also have antioxidant properties and can reduce inflammation.
- Finally, glucosinates, found in brassica vegetables like cauliflower, inhibit tumor cell growth.
Oxalates are one of the few anti-nutrients with mostly negative impacts on the body. They are found in lots of common foods, including legumes, beets, berries, cranberries, oranges, chocolate, tofu, wheat bran, soda, coffee, tea, beer, dark green vegetables and sweet potatoes. The negative impacts of oxalates include binding to calcium in the digestive tract and removing it from the body in bowel movements. Oxalates can also increase the risk of kidney stones in some people.
Fitting Anti-Nutrients Into a Healthy Diet
Overall, comparing the benefits to the drawbacks, anti-nutrient pros actually outweigh the cons. The healthy foods that contain them – mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes – should be encouraged not avoided.
Anti-nutrients become a concern only if these foods are consumed in ultra-high amounts, which is very unlikely for most adults and children in the U.S. Additionally, a large proportion of anti-nutrients are removed or lost from foods people eat as they're processed and cooked, especially if soaking, blanching, boiling or other high-heat processes are involved.
Vegetarians and vegans may be at higher risk of negative effects from anti-nutrients because their diet relies heavily on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. But these plant-based diets are still among the healthiest and are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and numerous types of cancers.
Vegetarians and vegans can take a few steps to help counteract anti-nutrients' effects on their absorption of particular nutrients:
- Pair high iron and zinc foods with foods high in vitamin C (examples: meatballs with tomato sauce, tomato-based chili with beans).
- Soak legumes before cooking.
- Time dairy intake such that it is not always paired with high oxalate foods.
- Purchase dairy products that are fortified with calcium.
- Consider a multivitamin-mineral supplement with about 100% of the daily recommended dose of nutrients (check the nutrition facts panel) as nutrition insurance if you are worried, but be sure to talk to your doctor first.
Jill Joyce is an assistant professor of Public Health Nutrition at Oklahoma State University.
Disclosure statement: Jill Joyce does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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By Alison Gold
Wildfire activity has increasingly threatened life in the western United States over the past several decades. Many of this year's record-setting wildfires raged over hundreds of thousands of acres. However, one of their most dangerous and understudied effects is too small to perceive with the naked eye: the tiny particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.
New research suggests that by the 2050s, each fire season in the region may cause an additional 155,000 asthma-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations and $850 million more in health care costs compared with today.
The new study predicts that parts of northern Idaho, western Montana, and the coasts of Oregon and Washington may experience the highest rates of increased asthma events. Jennifer Stowell, a postdoctoral associate in climate and health at the Boston University School of Public Health, and her team presented their findings at AGU's Fall Meeting 2020.
"Scientists think that wildfire smoke is more toxic than just the normal air that we breathe. We're trying to better characterize that and understand what biological mechanisms might be behind that," Stowell said. "The closer we can get to modeling these things, the better equipped we will be as far as policy and preparing and planning."
An Invisible Threat
When a substance burns, particles are released into the air. The size and composition of those particles differ on the basis of what material is being burned. The new research considers fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — particles small enough to be inhaled deeply into the lungs, cause inflammation, and worsen asthma. Some fine particulate matter may even enter the bloodstream.
To conduct the study, Stowell's team first used novel modeling technologies to project the increase in PM2.5 in wildfire smoke between now and 2050. Using those projections and previously collected data about asthma emergency room visits and hospitalizations on high-smoke days, the researchers then estimated how many more patients are likely to need treatment for asthma by the 2050s. Finally, they calculated the associated health care costs of treating those individuals.
The Problem Grows
The western United States' arid environment, decades of poor forest management, and global climate change have combined to produce longer, more intense fire seasons in the region, according to Susan Anenberg, an associate professor of global environmental health at George Washington University who was not involved in the new research.
"Smoke exposure is going to increase, and we can anticipate more air pollution–related health outcomes as a result," Anenberg said.
Some populations may be disproportionately affected by wildfire smoke, including people who work outdoors and those without access to air filtration systems, said Christine Wiedinmyer, an associate director of science at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, who was not involved in the new research. Wiedinmyer said she expects that more research will emerge on the effects of wildfire smoke on other aspects of human health, like mental health, cardiovascular complications, diabetes, and low birth weight.
Carbon emissions produced today will still linger in the environment and affect the climate decades into the future, Stowell said. Even an immediate drop in carbon emissions will not lead to an immediate decrease in wildfires and pollution. The team hopes its research can help emergency planners and policymakers understand where need will be highest and how to distribute resources.
"We can only expect it to get worse, at least for the next couple of decades, from what it is right now," Stowell said. "There's not a whole lot that we can do [to stop that] right now. But we can start planning."
This story originally appeared in Eos and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
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By Ana Maldonado-Contreras
- Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that are vital for keeping you healthy.
- Some of these microbes help to regulate the immune system.
- New research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows the presence of certain bacteria in the gut may reveal which people are more vulnerable to a more severe case of COVID-19.
You may not know it, but you have an army of microbes living inside of you that are essential for fighting off threats, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
In the past two decades scientists have learned our bodies are home to more bacterial cells than human ones. This community of bacteria that lives in and on us – called the microbiome – resembles a company, with each microbe species performing specialized jobs but all working to keep us healthy. In the gut, the bacteria balance the immune response against pathogens. These bacteria ensure the immune response is effective but not so violent that it causes collateral damage to the host.
Bacteria in our guts can elicit an effective immune response against viruses that not only infect the gut, such as norovirus and rotavirus, but also those infecting the lungs, such as the flu virus. The beneficial gut microbes do this by ordering specialized immune cells to produce potent antiviral proteins that ultimately eliminate viral infections. And the body of a person lacking these beneficial gut bacteria won't have as strong an immune response to invading viruses. As a result, infections might go unchecked, taking a toll on health.
I am a microbiologist fascinated by the ways bacteria shape human health. An important focus of my research is figuring out how the beneficial bacteria populating our guts combat disease and infection. My most recent work focuses on the link between a particular microbe and the severity of COVID-19 in patients. My ultimate goal is to figure out out how to enhance the gut microbiome with diet to evoke a strong immune response – for not just SARS-CoV-2 but all pathogens.
How Do Resident Bacteria Keep You Healthy?
Our immune defense is part of a complex biological response against harmful pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria. However, because our bodies are inhabited by trillions of mostly beneficial bacteria, virus and fungi, activation of our immune response is tightly regulated to distinguish between harmful and helpful microbes.
Our bacteria are spectacular companions diligently helping prime our immune system defenses to combat infections. A seminal study found that mice treated with antibiotics that eliminate bacteria in the gut exhibited an impaired immune response. These animals had low counts of virus-fighting white blood cells, weak antibody responses and poor production of a protein that is vital for combating viral infection and modulating the immune response.
In another study, mice were fed Lactobacillus bacteria, commonly used as probiotic in fermented food. These microbes reduced the severity of influenza infection. The Lactobacillus-treated mice did not lose weight and had only mild lung damage compared with untreated mice. Similarly, others have found that treatment of mice with Lactobacillus protects against different subtypes of influenza virus and human respiratory syncytial virus – the major cause of viral bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children.
Chronic Disease and Microbes
Patients with chronic illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease exhibit a hyperactive immune system that fails to recognize a harmless stimulus and is linked to an altered gut microbiome.
In these chronic diseases, the gut microbiome lacks bacteria that activate immune cells that block the response against harmless bacteria in our guts. Such alteration of the gut microbiome is also observed in babies delivered by cesarean section, individuals consuming a poor diet and the elderly.
In the U.S., 117 million individuals – about half the adult population – suffer from Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease or a combination of them. That suggests that half of American adults carry a faulty microbiome army.
Research in my laboratory focuses on identifying gut bacteria that are critical for creating a balanced immune system, which fights life-threatening bacterial and viral infections, while tolerating the beneficial bacteria in and on us.
Given that diet affects the diversity of bacteria in the gut, my lab studies show how diet can be used as a therapy for chronic diseases. Using different foods, people can shift their gut microbiome to one that boosts a healthy immune response.
A fraction of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, develop severe complications that require hospitalization in intensive care units. What do many of those patients have in common? Old age and chronic diet-related diseases like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Black and Latinx people are disproportionately affected by obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, all of which are linked to poor nutrition. Thus, it is not a coincidence that these groups have suffered more deaths from COVID-19 compared with whites. This is the case not only in the U.S. but also in Britain.
Discovering Microbes That Predict COVID-19 Severity
The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired me to shift my research and explore the role of the gut microbiome in the overly aggressive immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
My colleagues and I have hypothesized that critically ill SARS-CoV-2 patients with conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease exhibit an altered gut microbiome that aggravates acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening lung injury, in SARS-CoV-2 patients is thought to develop from a fatal overreaction of the immune response called a cytokine storm that causes an uncontrolled flood of immune cells into the lungs. In these patients, their own uncontrolled inflammatory immune response, rather than the virus itself, causes the severe lung injury and multiorgan failures that lead to death.
Several studies described in one recent review have identified an altered gut microbiome in patients with COVID-19. However, identification of specific bacteria within the microbiome that could predict COVID-19 severity is lacking.
To address this question, my colleagues and I recruited COVID-19 hospitalized patients with severe and moderate symptoms. We collected stool and saliva samples to determine whether bacteria within the gut and oral microbiome could predict COVID-19 severity. The identification of microbiome markers that can predict the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 disease is key to help prioritize patients needing urgent treatment.
We demonstrated, in a paper which has not yet been peer reviewed, that the composition of the gut microbiome is the strongest predictor of COVID-19 severity compared to patient's clinical characteristics commonly used to do so. Specifically, we identified that the presence of a bacterium in the stool – called Enterococcus faecalis– was a robust predictor of COVID-19 severity. Not surprisingly, Enterococcus faecalis has been associated with chronic inflammation.
Enterococcus faecalis collected from feces can be grown outside of the body in clinical laboratories. Thus, an E. faecalis test might be a cost-effective, rapid and relatively easy way to identify patients who are likely to require more supportive care and therapeutic interventions to improve their chances of survival.
But it is not yet clear from our research what is the contribution of the altered microbiome in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. A recent study has shown that SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers an imbalance in immune cells called T regulatory cells that are critical to immune balance.
Bacteria from the gut microbiome are responsible for the proper activation of those T-regulatory cells. Thus, researchers like me need to take repeated patient stool, saliva and blood samples over a longer time frame to learn how the altered microbiome observed in COVID-19 patients can modulate COVID-19 disease severity, perhaps by altering the development of the T-regulatory cells.
As a Latina scientist investigating interactions between diet, microbiome and immunity, I must stress the importance of better policies to improve access to healthy foods, which lead to a healthier microbiome. It is also important to design culturally sensitive dietary interventions for Black and Latinx communities. While a good-quality diet might not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, it can treat the underlying conditions related to its severity.
Ana Maldonado-Contreras is an assistant professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Disclosure statement: Ana Maldonado-Contreras receives funding from The Helmsley Charitable Trust and her work has been supported by the American Gastroenterological Association. She received The Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She is also member of the Diversity Committee of the American Gastroenterological Association.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
Kidney stones are hard deposits that form in the kidneys. They are produced when minerals and salts, most commonly calcium oxalate, crystallize in the kidneys, creating hard, crystal-like stones. If you've ever had a kidney stone, we're sure you won't want to repeat the experience!
Ideally, you never want to have to go through this painful process. Fortunately, several steps and natural treatments can be used to reduce the chances of suffering them. In this article we'll examine how these annoying solidifications originate and how to treat them effectively and quickly with natural remedies.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are solid mass made up of tiny crystals. One or more stones may occur at the same time in the kidney or ureters. The stone formations can consist of calcium oxalate, phosphates, or cystine. Stone formation occurs when urine is high in certain crystal-forming substances. The stones have to travel through the urinary tract to leave the body, which is known as eliminating kidney stones, something that can be utterly painful.
Deposits made of calcium are the most common ones, and they can be formed by combining with phosphate or carbonate. But there are also calcium oxalate stones, which involve a nutrient present in certain foods like spinach and vitamin C supplements. These can be recurrent in people suffering from small intestine diseases, increasing the risk of kidney stones.
The crystals can turn into stones over weeks or even months, so you may not have symptoms until the stones move down the tubes called ureters, through which urine empties into your bladder. This is why it is possible to have kidney stones without you noticing any discomfort at the beginning.
However, the main symptom is intense pain that begins and disappears suddenly. This acute pain can be around the abdominal area or a side of the back, and sometimes it spreads to the groin area. Some more advanced symptoms include an abnormal color of urine or blood in the secretion, shivering, fever, nausea, and vomiting.
Kidney Stone Treatments
Before trying any home remedies, it is necessary to speak with a doctor, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or you are taking prescription medication.
Kidney stones that cause serious problems can be treated with a technique called "extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy," which is a technique that can break up these stones from outside the body, allowing them to pass out through the urethra more easily. However, occasionally, surgery may be necessary.
For those who can spontaneously pass a stone, the conventional treatments are pain relievers and drinking lots of fluids. But if you already know that you frequently suffer from "silent" stones or those that do not cause symptoms, they can be mainly treated with preventive dietary measures alone. These methods include increasing fluids, modifying your diet, and taking medications or supplements that alter urine chemistry.
Natural Remedies for Kidney Stones
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Make sure you are constantly hydrated. Drink enough liquid to generate at least 2.5 liters of urine daily. If you do not drink enough, the chances of developing deposits are more significant, and, therefore, the formation of stones will increase. If you avoid products from the processed food industry, you will already reduce sodium consumption, which is responsible for increasing urinary calcium excretion and present in high quantities in almost every preservative additive. Drinks such as sodas are a big facilitator for the formation of stones. This is why water—at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day—is the number one aid in both preventing and expelling kidney stones.
This amazing herb, native to South America, is one of the best natural remedies for kidney stones. It is rich in minerals that cleanse and detoxify the body, and it has been used for decades by the ancestral healers of Peru with wonderful results and a very low incidence of side effects. It is also used for the treatment of cystitis and urethritis resulting from the presence of calculi in either the kidney or bladder.
If you buy a Chanca Piedra product and aren't sure of its source, it's likely that it's not as potent as it could be. It's essential to choose reputable supplements to really take advantage of all the benefits and to be sure of its safety. Disolvatol is a supplement that uses 99.8% purity grade Chanca Piedra, making it an all-natural, safe, and effective herbal supplement designed to support kidney health.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains citric acid, which can help dissolve calcium deposits. Two tablespoons of pure apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces (0.24L) of water can reduce the symptoms of kidney stones and prevent their development. This mixture should be drunk several times a day and can be most effective when consumed before meals.
Citric acid consumption increases diuresis, and this benefits renal filtration. Therefore, juices that contain citric acid, such as lemon juice, have a diuretic effect and can help us for two reasons. The first is that they leave less calcium available in the urine, and the second is that 60% of the patients with kidney stones have a low level of citrate in the urine, which is responsible for preventing crystals from forming.
Basil contains compounds known to help stabilize uric acid levels, and since it contains acetic acid, it helps to dissolve existing stones too. By simply drinking one teaspoon of basil extract or pure juice a day for two weeks, you can pass your stones safely and naturally without surgery or drugs. Also, it can help prevent and treat possible future kidney stones.
Buying whole pomegranates and eating their seeds, or squeezing them for juice, is the easiest way to get the health benefits of this fruit. Pomegranate juice also contains compounds that decrease urine acidity, making it difficult to form stones. The astringent and antioxidant properties of pomegranates are believed to reduce the chances of developing kidney stones and facilitate their elimination.
Olive is the fruit of one of the most ancient trees on earth. Its cultivation goes back at least eight thousand years. It is a natural remedy for kidney stones. Because olive oil contains a high amount of monounsaturated fats, it is an excellent alternative to facilitate the removal of kidney stones by lubricating the urinary tract.
A 5-ounce (0.15L) glass first thing in the morning and another in the late afternoon, ideally at the same time as other herbal or home remedies, can reduce pain and discomfort.
These small red beans provide a robust and nutty flavor and are a natural remedy against forming kidney stones. Kidney beans are rich in nutrients that can affect the uric acid cycle, preventing calcium oxalate crystals.
Dandelion root and honey blend have been used as folk remedies for kidney stones for more than 100 years. It contains compounds that increase the production of bile and urine, which helps eliminate waste from the body. It is recommended to take 3 to 4 cups daily in the form of tea or juice.
Horsetail is one of the most prevalent kidney stone natural home remedies used by holistic practitioners for years due to its apparent ability to increase urine flow. The standard dose of horsetail is 1 g in capsule or tea form up to three times daily.
How to Prevent Kidney Stones
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Among the most common causes of kidney stones is a diet too rich in foods such as animal protein, bacon, dried legumes (peas, chickpeas, etc.), chocolate, cocoa, coffee, products with excess phosphorus or calcium.
Also, vitamin deficiency (in particular vitamins A), the acidity of the urine, or inflammation of the pelvis can play a role in kidney stones. Considering this, the primary tool to prevent kidney stones is to follow a healthy lifestyle, especially a diet based on vegetables, and abundant fruits, especially pears and grapefruit. Avoid eating foods that are high in oxalate, salt, and animal proteins, as well as eggs, strong cheeses, and alcohol.
When to Consult With a Doctor
Kidney stones are most common in men between the ages of 40 and 60. In many cases they can cause severe pain in the back, lower abdomen, or the side below the ribs. If not treated quickly, they can damage your kidneys, and they can even lead to a kidney infection, urinary tract infection, or complete kidney failure if they are left too long. It's a good idea to see a healthcare professional long before any of these complications arise.
If you have already been diagnosed with a blockage due to a stone, its expulsion should be confirmed either by trapping it in a filter during urination or with a follow-up X-ray under the supervision of a qualified doctor. Some cases could even require immediate surgery. Remember, having no pain does not in any way confirm or guarantee that the stone has already passed.
Warning signs that should be evaluated by a doctor include persistent lower abdominal or lower back pain lasting more than four weeks, fever, chills, or vomiting.
Prevent the Formation of Kidney Stones Naturally
We can use natural aids in the form of supplements, herbs, or specific foods to help decrease kidney stones and improve urine diuresis. The best way to deal with kidney stones is to prevent them in the first place with naturally available nutrients and supplements. Knowing how to take advantage of the magical tools that Mother Nature puts at our disposal can make a tremendous difference in our well-being and lifestyle.
Sarita Vanegas is a writer based in Medellín, Columbia, where she covers environmentally-friendly products, natural health, and plant-based remedies. A former Baselang teacher, she is also passionate about learning languages and exploring other cultures.
MCT oil is a supplement touted for its benefits, which may include weight loss, increased energy and improved cognitive function. MCT, which stands for medium chain triglyceride, contains saturated fatty acids that can be broken down quickly for energy when compared to poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids. Some food sources are coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and goat's milk.
There are four types of MCT:
- C6: caproic acid or hexanoic acid
- C8: caprylic acid or octanoic acid (most common in supplements)
- C10: capric acid or decanoic acid (most common in supplements)
- C12: lauric acid or dodecanoic acid (mainly found in coconut oil)
According to a study published in the Journal of Lipid Research, MCT oil enters the cell quickly and may be used as a quick source of energy with a lower likelihood of being stored as body fat. Another benefit of MCT oil may also be weight loss, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (JAND).
It's also popular with those on a ketogenic diet as it increases the amount of ketones the body has available to use for energy. MCT oil has grown in popularity due to the fame of "bulletproof" coffee, which claims to support brain function. But MCT oil can also be used in salad dressings if you want the energy-boosting effects without the coffee.
What You Need to Know
When shopping for MCT oil, it is important to review the ingredient label and make sure the MCT oil is derived from organic coconuts as this form is more easily digested. Most MCT oils come in liquid form, but MCT oil powder is also available. Also, avoid purchasing MCT oil containing caproic acid (C6), as it is foul-tasting and potentially abrasive on your digestive system. Caproic acid has poor bioavailability and may lead to gas, bloating or diarrhea, as well as stomach upset.
Why Would You Use MCT Oil?
MCT oil containing C8 and C10 is a smart choice if you are looking for sustained energy during workouts or for when you have a long work day, as well as those on a keto diet. It can also be used in your morning coffee. Due to the potential fat-burning benefits, it may help your metabolism burn calories more efficiently throughout the day. MCT oil can also be used in cooking, as saturated fats oxidize more slowly than unsaturated fats. The slower oxidation of saturated fats may reduce the creation of cancer-causing molecules during the cooking process.
The Best MCT Oils Available Online
With its high amount of C8 (caprylic acid), Sports Research Premium MCT is a great choice for athletes and avid gym-goers alike. C8's enhanced ability to increase your body's ketone production may lead to better endurance, focus and strength during bouts of activity.
Why Buy: Non-GMO; Certified Paleo; Great for athletes and gym-goers
Made from 100% coconuts, Viva Naturals MCT Oil contains three types of MCT which include caprylic, capric and lauric acids. These different forms have individual benefits which may include improved memory recall, blood sugar support and increase energy. This oil is also easily blendable in shakes, smoothies and a great addition to a morning cup of coffee.
Why Buy: USDA certified organic; Third-party tested; Paleo
With their efficient distribution process, Left Coast Performance MCT Oil ensures the consumer receives the freshest MCT oil, which may improve the efficacy of the product. Due to being derived from coconuts rather than palm kernel oil, it also ensures easier digestibility, which may lead to enhanced bioavailability.
Why Buy: Made with sustainably-sourced coconuts; May enhance metabolism; GMP certified; Vegan
Diving Deeper: MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil
MCTs can increase energy and physical stamina for exercise, and because it's so easy to digest, MCT oil can boost energy faster than most nutrients. Coconut oil, on the other hand, takes longer for the body to break down and is a better source of slow-burning energy.
In a 2009 study, two weeks of MCT oil supplementation effectively improved the endurance of recreational athletes in high-intensity exercise. MCT oil also increased fat loss and reduced blood lactate levels. In a Japanese study, MCT oil significantly improved swimming endurance in mice after six weeks of supplementation.
For Stress and Anxiety
Coconut oil and MCT oil may help reduce stress and anxiety. Both supply anti-inflammatory nutrients to the brain and can make you more clear-headed and less stressed. Coconut oil is rich in polyphenols and healthy HDL cholesterol, making it an ideal superfood for the nervous system.
Here's what the research has to say about stress, anxiety, and MCTs:
- In mice forced to swim until exhaustion and withstand frigid temperatures, oral coconut oil was found to reduce adrenal weight, increase brain antioxidants, and shorten recovery times in a recent study.
- At the same time, a 2018 rodent study found that "(coconut oil) can ameliorate the effects of stress on anxiety-like behavior and episodic-like memory in young rats."
- A separate study published in the journal Neuropharmacology concluded that a diet high in MCTs can exert anti-anxiety effects.
Both coconut oil and MCT oil can support the digestive system by balancing bacteria in the gut. The body relies heavily on gut bacteria to reinforce the gut lining, fight inflammation, produce serotonin, and support mental health.
MCTs can also help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients like:
- Vitamine E
According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers found that medium chain triglycerides can exhibit stronger antimicrobial effects than long chain triglycerides.
When added to human milk, infant formula, and cow's milk, MCTs were significantly more effective than long chain monoglycerides at inactivating pathogens for herpes, influenza, and streptococcus.
For Appetite Suppression
MCTs may suppress appetite by enhancing thermogenesis and increasing ketone production. Ketones, as it turns out, suppress ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and increase cholecystokinin (CCK), which makes you feel full.
In a 2014 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers tested the effectiveness of MCTs to reduce food intake in overweight men. They found that "MCT consumption reduced food intake acutely."
Coconut oil may also be mildly effective at suppressing appetite.
In a 2015 study involving women with excess body fat, researchers determined that virgin coconut oil consumption "did not acutely change energy metabolism and cardiometabolic risk markers when added to a mixed breakfast but promoted less appetitive responses."
For Weight Loss
In addition to suppressing appetite, MCT oil may promote weight loss by boosting cellular metabolism and fat burning. Although it's far from a miracle weight loss solution, studies show that MCT oil may support certain metabolic functions related to weight loss.
Here's what researchers have discovered about MCT oil and weight loss:
- One rodent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that "overfeeding MCT diet results in decreased body fat related to increased metabolic rate and thermogenesis."
- In a human study published in the Journal of Nutrition, adults were given either medium chain fatty acids or long chain fatty acids for a 12-week period. Decreases in body fat and weight were significantly greater in the MCT group.
- A 27-day study compared the effects of MCT vs. LCT consumption on body composition and fat oxidation in obese women. The MCT group lost significantly more weight than the LCT group.
However, according to a 2017 report in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, coconut oil does not exert any obvious effects on weight loss.
MCTs and the Ketogenic Diet
MCT oil and coconut oil work great with the ketogenic diet: a high-fat, low-carb diet where the body uses ketones instead of glucose as its primary fuel source. When you take high-quality MCT oil, the liver converts it into ketones in minutes, and unlike glucose, ketones can immediately cross the blood-brain barrier to support brain function.
A 2018 study found that the ketogenic diet and medium-chain triglycerides can increase brain metabolism in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
Being in ketosis is also an effective way to reduce inflammation, boost fat oxidation, and lower blood sugar. Most nutritionists recommend following the keto diet for short periods of one to three months. This gives the body adequate time to restore gut bacteria and relieve chronic inflammation.
In ConclusionMCT oil is a supplement touted for its health benefits. When shopping, try to find products that source ingredients from sustainable sources or go the extra mile to get certified as organic. And, as with any health decision, it's important to think first about your personal goals, then talk to a qualified healthcare professional or nutritionist to make a place that's right for you.
Jaclyn Jacobsen, MS is a Functional Nutritionist, freelance writer and founder of Lifestyle Nutrition. She has been in private practice for over 4 years and has extensive experience in community nutrition and the supplement industry. She earned a graduate degree in Nutrition, Dietetics and Education from Montclair State University. She has supported countless individuals in the areas of stress management, inflammation, weight management, fitness and hormonal health. Jaclyn has also worked within the eating disorder community, supporting women in resolving disordered eating behaviors, body dysmorphia and healing their relationships with food. She has applied her health and wellness knowledge through writing contributions and features in Greatist.com, Livestrong.com, and GoodHousekeeping.com.
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While any ol' protein bar offers convenience, not all bars are created equal in terms of overall nutritional value and, certainly, overall level of sustainability and eco-friendly production. So, which are the best vegan protein bars on the market?
Finding the right protein bar can be hard, and the job is even tougher when you're a vegan. That's because many of the top bars on the market today are made with non-vegan ingredients, whether that's honey, whey protein, or milk.
We've done a little detective work for you, testing out some of the best, most filling, most sustainable, and more nutritious vegan protein bars available today. These are a few of our picks.
Our Picks for the Best Vegan Protein Bars
Vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, and low-sugar, Aloha bars are one of the best vegan protein bars if you want a healthy dose of protein (14 grams) without too many additives or synthetic chemicals. They come in several great flavors, too; our favorites are chocolate mint and peanut butter, but we encourage you to try any that sound good to your palette.
Each Shanti Bar has 17 grams of plant-based protein, making them a great option when you only need a nibble of something to get you from meal to meal. The vegan credentials are off the charts: Shanti bars are organic, gluten-free, sustainably sourced, and made without any refined sugars. The nut butter chocolate chip maca flavor is especially tasty.
We love the Vega 10g bars not only because of their simplicity, but also their great flavor. You can pick them in chocolate peanut butter, chocolate caramel, blueberry oat, or coconut almond, and we'll vouch that all are really yummy. With any option, you'll get 10 grams of plant-based protein, plus four grams of fiber. A great snack item for anyone who wants their protein bars to be vegan, dairy-free, non-GMO, and altogether tasty.
GoMacro's protein bars are both filling and energizing. We love using them to begin the day, as they help give us the push we need to start the morning's activities with plenty of focus and stamina. Each one is made with 10 to 12 grams of plant-based protein and is completely vegan. Again, there are loads of flavor options. Our top pick: blueberry with cashew butter.
Looking for a protein bar that's not only vegan-friendly, but also offers the natural power of hemp protein? Evo's product line is one of our favorites. These bars are noteworthy for offering plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, too, which can help naturally reduce inflammation. There are plenty of other nutrients packed into these bars, too, along with some excellent natural flavors, making them high on our list of best vegan protein bars.
If you're looking for simplicity, give Rise Bars a try. They're made with four simple ingredients yet have an impressive 15 grams of plant-based protein per bar. There's just something refreshing about these simple vegan bars, especially if you opt for a light flavor like lemon cashew.
7. 22 Days Nutrition Organic Protein Bar
If it's flavor you're after, the 22 Days lineup has a lot of enticing options: Peanut butter chocolate chip, salted caramel, fudge brownie, you name it. This is one of our top options for sweet tooths, but we'll also note how much we appreciate the balanced nutritional contents. There's even a high iron quotient here, which is something many vegan diets tend to lack.
It's right there in the name: No Cow bars are totally dairy-free, in addition to being gluten-free, kosher, and non-GMO. But boy, do they pack a lot of nutritional punch. Each bar comes with 19 grams of fiber, 20 grams of protein, and a scant 190 calories per serving. There's a lot to love about the No Cow bars, and we haven't even touched on the amazing array of flavors.
Raw Rev Glo makes some of the best vegan protein bars that are loaded with superfoods; you'll find amazing, plant-based nutrients here, along with delicious flavors and an appealing texture. Each bar has 11 grams of protein plus 13 grams of fiber, which means it has a high overall nutritional value. These bars are an altogether wholesome and eco-friendly way to add some protein to your daily diet.
Looking for a low-carb option? You'll find just a single net carb in each Pegan bar, yet there is plenty in the way of protein and fiber. Specifically, they are rich in prebiotic fiber, which can help you sustain that helpful bacteria in your gut, easing the digestion process. We also like that these bars offer some flavors you don't see from other brands, like the tasty ginger snap option.
Start Snacking on a Vegan Protein Bar
As you consider your options for different vegan protein bars, there are a lot of factors to consider, including flavor, total fiber content, and more. One thing you can feel confident about is that each of the bars we've recommended here is fully compliant with a vegan diet. And all are made with admirably earth-friendly practices.
These are bars you can feel good about any time you need to reach for that fast vegan breakfast or that afternoon pick-me-up. Try one of the best vegan protein bars today and see which ones you like the most.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, copywriter, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. As a writer and independent reviewer of CBD products, Josh covers the relationship between natural wellness products and the human body. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
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