By Helen West, RD
The GAPS diet is a strict elimination diet that requires its followers to cut out grains, pasteurized dairy, starchy vegetables and refined carbs.
It's promoted as a natural treatment for people with conditions that affect the brain, such as autism.
However, it's a controversial therapy and has been widely criticized by doctors, scientists and nutrition professionals for its restrictive regimen.
This article explores the features of the GAPS dietary protocol and examines whether there is any evidence behind its purported health benefits.
What Is the GAPS Diet and Who Is It For?
GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. It's a term that was invented by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who also designed the GAPS diet.
The GAPS theory is that a leaky gut allows chemicals and bacteria from your food and environment to enter your blood when they wouldn't normally do so.
It claims that once these foreign substances enter your blood, they can affect your brain's function and development, causing "brain fog" and conditions like autism.
The GAPS protocol is designed to heal the gut, preventing toxins from entering the blood stream and lowering "toxicity" in the body. However, it isn't clear if or how leaky gut plays a role in the development of diseases (2, 3).
In her book, Dr. Campbell-McBride states that the GAPS dietary protocol cured her first child of autism. She now widely promotes the diet as a natural cure for many psychiatric and neurological conditions, including:
- ADD and ADHD
- Tourette's syndrome
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Eating disorders
- Childhood bed wetting
The diet is most often used for children, especially those who have a health condition that's poorly understood by mainstream medicine, such as autism. The diet also claims to help children who have a food intolerance or allergy.
It can be a years-long process, and requires you to cut out all foods Dr. Campbell-McBride thinks contribute to a leaky gut. This includes all grains, pasteurized dairy, starchy vegetables and refined carbs.
The GAPS protocol is made up of three main stages: the GAPS introduction diet, the full GAPS diet and a reintroduction phase for coming off of the diet.
Summary: GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. It's an elimination diet claimed to cure conditions that affect brain function, including autism and attention deficit disorder.
Introduction Phase: Elimination
The introduction phase is the most intense part of the diet because it eliminates the most foods. It's called the "gut healing phase" and can last from three weeks to one year, depending on your symptoms.
This phase is broken down into six stages:
- Stage 1: Consume homemade bone broth, juices from probiotic foods and ginger, and drink mint or chamomile tea with honey between meals. People who are not dairy intolerant may eat unpasteurized, homemade yogurt or kefir.
- Stage 2: Add in raw organic egg yolks, ghee and stews made with vegetables and meat or fish.
- Stage 3: All previous foods plus avocado, fermented vegetables, GAPS-recipe pancakes and scrambled eggs made with ghee, duck fat or goose fat.
- Stage 4: Add in grilled and roasted meats, cold-pressed olive oil, vegetable juice and GAPS-recipe bread.
- Stage 5: Introduce cooked apple purée, raw vegetables starting with lettuce and peeled cucumber, fruit juice and small amounts of raw fruit, but no citrus.
- Stage 6: Finally, introduce more raw fruit, including citrus.
During the introduction phase, the diet requires you to introduce foods slowly, starting with small amounts and building up gradually.
The diet recommends that you move from one stage to the next once you are tolerating the foods you have introduced. You are considered to be tolerating a food when you have a normal bowel movement.
Once the introduction diet is complete, you can move to the full GAPS diet.
Summary: The introduction phase is the most restrictive phase of the diet. It lasts up to one year and removes all starchy carbs from your diet. Instead, you'll eat mostly broth, stews and probiotic foods.
Maintenance Phase: The Full GAPS Diet
The full GAPS diet can last 1.5–2 years. During this part of the diet, people are advised to base the majority of their diet on the following foods:
- Fresh meat, preferably hormone-free and grass-fed
- Animal fats, such as lard, tallow, lamb fat, duck fat, raw butter and ghee
- Organic eggs
- Fermented foods, such as kefir, homemade yogurt and sauerkraut
Followers of the diet can also eat moderate amounts of nuts and GAPS-recipe baked goods made with nut flours.
There are also a number of additional recommendations that go along with the full GAPS diet. These include:
- Do not eat meat and fruit together.
- Use organic foods whenever possible.
- Eat animal fats, coconut oil or cold-pressed olive oil at every meal.
- Consume bone broth with every meal.
- Consume large amounts of fermented foods, if you can tolerate them.
- Avoid packaged and canned foods.
While on this phase of the diet, you should avoid all other foods, particularly refined carbs, preservatives and artificial colorings.
Summary: The full GAPS diet is considered the maintenance phase of the diet, and lasts between 1.5–2 years. It's based on animal fats, meat, fish, eggs and vegetables. It also includes probiotic foods.
Reintroduction Phase: Coming off GAPS
If you're following the GAPS diet to the letter, you'll be on the full diet for at least 1.5–2 years before you start reintroducing other foods.
The diet suggests that you start the reintroduction phase after you have experienced normal digestion and bowel movements for at least six months.
Like the other stages of this diet, the final stage can also be a long process as you reintroduce foods slowly over a number of months.
The diet suggests introducing each food individually in a small amount. If you don't note any digestive issues over 2–3 days, you may gradually increase your portions.
The diet doesn't detail the order or the exact foods you should introduce. However, it states that you should start with new potatoes and fermented, gluten-free grains.
Even once you're off the diet, you're advised to continue avoiding all highly processed and refined high-sugar foods, retaining the whole-foods principles of the protocol.
Summary: This stage reintroduces foods that are not included in the full GAPS diet. You are advised to still avoid foods high in refined carbs.
The diet's founder states that the most important aspect of the GAPS protocol is the diet.
However, the GAPS protocol also recommends various supplements. These include probiotics, essential fatty acids, digestive enzymes and cod liver oil.
Probiotic supplements are added to the diet to help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
It's recommended that you choose a probiotic containing strains from a range of bacteria, including Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria and Bacillus subtilis varieties.
You're advised to look for a product that contains at least 8 billion bacterial cells per gram and to introduce the probiotic slowly into your diet.
Essential Fatty Acids and Cod Liver Oil
People on the GAPS diet are advised to take daily supplements of both fish oil and cod liver oil to ensure they are getting enough.
The diet also suggests you take small amounts of a cold-pressed nut and seed oil blend that has a 2:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
The diet's founder claims that people with GAPS conditions also have low stomach acid production. To remedy this, she suggests followers of the diet take a supplement of betaine HCl with added pepsin before each meal.
This supplement is a manufactured form of hydrochloric acid, one of the main acids produced in your stomach. Pepsin is an enzyme also produced in the stomach, which works to break down and digest proteins.
Some people may want to take additional digestive enzymes to support digestion.
Summary: The GAPS diet recommends that its followers take probiotics, essential fatty acids, cod liver oil and digestive enzymes.
Does the GAPS Diet Work?
The two key components of the GAPS dietary protocol are an elimination diet and dietary supplements.
The Elimination Diet
As yet, no studies have examined the effects of the GAPS dietary protocol on the symptoms and behaviors associated with autism.
Because of this, it is impossible to know how it could help people with autism and whether it is an effective treatment.
Other diets that have been tested in people with autism, like ketogenic diets and gluten-free, casein-free diets, have shown potential for helping improve some of the behaviors associated with autism (4, 5).
But so far, studies have been small and drop-out rates high, so it's still unclear how these diets may work and which people they may help (6).
There are also no other studies examining the effect of the GAPS diet on any of the other conditions it claims to treat.
The GAPS diet prescribes probiotics to restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Although the impact of probiotics on the gut is a promising line of research, there is currently little evidence in this area as it relates to the neurological conditions that the GAPS diet is claimed to treat (7, 8).
The GAPS diet also suggests taking supplements of essential fats and digestive enzymes.
However, studies to date have not observed that taking essential fatty acid supplements has an effect on people with autism. Similarly, studies on the effects of digestive enzymes on autism have had mixed results (11, 12, 13).
Summary: As yet, no scientific studies have examined the effects of the GAPS protocol on autism, or any other condition the diet claims to treat.
Does the GAPS Diet Have Any Risks?
The GAPS diet is a very restrictive protocol that requires you to cut out many nutritious foods for long periods of time.
It also provides little guidance on how to ensure your diet contains all the nutrients you need.
Because of this, the most obvious risk of going on this diet is malnutrition. This is especially true for children who are growing fast and need a lot of nutrients, since the diet is very restrictive.
Additionally, those with autism may already have a restrictive diet and may not readily accept new foods or changes to their diets. This could lead to extreme restriction (16).
Some critics have voiced the concern that consuming large amounts of bone broth could increase your intake of lead, which is toxic in high doses (17).
However, the risks of lead toxicity on the GAPS diet have not been documented, so the actual risk isn't known.
Summary: The GAPS diet is an extremely restrictive diet that may put you at risk of malnutrition.
Does Leaky Gut Cause Autism?
Most people who try the GAPS diet are children with autism whose parents are looking to cure or improve their child's condition.
This is because one of the main claims made by the diet's founder is that autism is caused by a leaky gut, and can be cured or improved by following the GAPS diet.
Autism is a condition that results in changes to brain function that affect how the autistic person experiences the world. Its effects can vary widely, but, in general, people with autism have difficulties with communication and social interaction.
It's a complex condition thought to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors (18).
Interestingly, studies have noted that up to 70 percent of people with autism also have poor digestive health, which can result in symptoms including constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, acid reflux and vomiting (19).
Untreated digestive symptoms in people with autism have also been linked with more severe behaviors, including increased irritability, tantrums, aggressive behavior and sleep disturbances (19).
There are also currently no studies that show the presence of leaky gut before the development of autism. So even if leaky gut is linked to autism in some children, it's not known if it's a cause or a symptom (24).
Overall, the claim that leaky gut is the cause of autism is controversial. Some scientists think this explanation oversimplifies the causes of a complex condition.
Moreover, the leaky gut explanation is not currently supported by scientific evidence.
Summary: Leaky gut is sometimes seen in some people with autism. However, there is currently little evidence that leaky gut causes it.
Should You Try the GAPS Diet?
Some people feel they have benefited from the GAPS diet, though these reports are anecdotal.
However, this elimination diet is extremely restrictive for long periods of time, making it very difficult to stick to. It may be especially dangerous for the exact population it's intended for—vulnerable young people.
Many health professionals have criticized the GAPS diet because there are no scientific studies that support its claims.
If you are interested in trying it, make sure you seek help and support from a medical professional.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
By Rachael Link, MS, RD
A balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can provide many health benefits.
However, it can be challenging to maintain a well-rounded vegetarian diet that provides all the nutrients you need.
This article uncovers some of the most common mistakes people make on a vegan or vegetarian diet, and how to avoid them.
With a growing market for vegan makeup and cruelty-free cosmetics, more and more beauty brands are ditching animal ingredients and animal testing. While many luxe animal-friendly companies have high prices, there are a number of cruelty-free makeup brands producing affordable personal care products as well.
In this article, we'll recommend 11 essential beauty products that have drugstore price tags and cruelty-free certifications. An easy switch to make in your day-to-day makeup and skincare routine is to invest in cruelty-free cosmetics that work to protect the most vulnerable among us — animals.
Our Picks for Best Cruelty-free Makeup Products
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Foundation: Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Liquid Foundation
- Best Concealer: NYX HD Studio Photogenic Concealer
- Best Pressed Powder: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Finishing Powder
- Best Blush: Milani Baked Blush
- Best Highlighter: Pacifica Beauty Ice Baby Hydrating Highlighter
- Best Eyeshadow Palette: e.l.f. Mad for Matte Eyeshadow Palette
- Best Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil
- Best Cruelty-Free Mascara: Essence Cosmetics Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
- Best Vegan Lip Balm: Eco Lips Mongo Kiss
- Best Lipstick: IT Cosmetics Pillow Lips Lipstick
- Best Setting Spray: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
What to Know About Cruelty-Free Makeup
While vegan products are great for the environment, they aren't always cruelty-free — nor are cruelty-free products always vegan. "Vegan" means that the product's formula doesn't contain any animal-derived ingredients, while "cruelty-free" means that it was developed without animal testing.
No product we recommend in this article is tested on animals at any point during the production process. They come from ethical, cruelty-free makeup brands, which can be hard to find in the massive beauty industry.
Full Reviews of Our Top Picks
Best Foundation: Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Liquid Foundation
The Milani Conceal + Perfect Foundation comes in over 40 shades, so there is a color for just about every complexion. The appeal of this foundation is that it combines a liquid foundation with the power of concealer to create smooth, even, flawless-looking skin in one step. The waterproof foundation has a natural-looking satin matte finish for all-day wear.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with about 15,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Milani Cosmetics is both Leaping Bunny Certified and a PETA Beauty Without Bunnies brand. The company's focus on inclusivity and affordability makes it one of the best cruelty-free makeup brands for any shopper.
Best Concealer: NYX HD Studio Photogenic Concealer
This medium-coverage concealer goes on smoothly to help cover blemishes, skin discoloration and under-eye circles. NYX's concealer wand comes in 23 shades including color-correcting green, yellow and lavender.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 30,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: NYX Professional Makeup products are certified cruelty-free by PETA. This product is also vegan and doesn't contain any gluten, soy or parabens.
Best Pressed Powder: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Finishing Powder
This translucent pressed setting powder is good for any skin tone, and its formula helps to blur the appearance of pores and imperfections. The Bye Bye Pores pressed powder can be useful for touch-ups throughout the day. It can also double as a blotting powder.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 2,100 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This formulation was developed with insights from plastic surgeons and dermatologists and uses an anti-aging mix of peptides, silk, hydrolyzed collagen and antioxidants that may help skin look more youthful. IT Cosmetics is PETA Beauty Without Bunnies certified. This product is also free of parabens and propylene glycol.
Best Blush: Milani Baked Blush
Milani's Baked Blush is available in 16 different shades, adding a pop of color to any complexion. The color range includes rose and peach tones with satin or shimmery finishes. Each high-quality Milani blush is sunbaked on Italian terracotta tiles to ensure it gives your skin a warm glow.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 21,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This Milani product is certified cruelty-free by both Leaping Bunny and PETA Beauty Without Bunnies standards. It is vegan and is made without paraben preservatives.
Best Highlighter: Pacifica Beauty Ice Baby Hydrating Highlighter
Made with coconut water and exuding a cool pink tint, Pacifica's Ice Baby Hydrating Highlighter may be a good choice for those looking for a lush, glowy look. The formula creates a velvety powder that's easy to apply to the cheekbones, nose, upper lip or anywhere else you want to shine.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 200 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The formula for this highlighter is 100% vegan and cruelty-free to the standards of PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program. The formula does not include parabens or phthalates.
Best Eyeshadow Palette: e.l.f. Mad for Matte Eyeshadow Palette
This e.l.f. Cosmetics palette includes 10 matte shadows that are great for shading, highlighting and defining the eyes. The palette's diversity allows you to mix and match colors to achieve both natural and more bold looks.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with over 350 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: All e.l.f. Cosmetics products are vegan and endorsed by PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program. This eyeshadow palette is also paraben-free and doesn't use phthalates, nonylphenol, ethoxylates, triclosan, triclocarban or hydroquinone.
Best Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil is designed to make application a breeze. It has a long-lasting, creamy formula that makes drawing beautiful, precise lines simple and smooth. Or, it can be smudged out for a smokey-eye look.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 3,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Urban Decay's 24/7 eyeliner pencil utilizes moisturizing and hydrating ingredients such as vitamin E, jojoba oil and cottonseed oil. Like all of Urban Decay's products, this eyeliner is certified cruelty-free by PETA. It also doesn't contain any fragrances, parabens, gluten or soy.
Best Cruelty-Free Mascara: Essence Cosmetics Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
This mascara utilizes a cone-shaped fiber brush that helps to separate and coat each lash, creating a voluminous look without clumping. Essence's Lash Princess mascara formula helps to prevent flaking and fading, so it's good for all-day wear.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 202,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Essence is a PETA Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free makeup brand, so you can be sure it never tests on animals. The formula doesn't include gluten, parabens, soy, propylene glycol or other harsh irritants.
Best Vegan Lip Balm: Eco Lips Mongo Kiss Lip Balm
This USDA certified organic product uses ingredients like mongongo oil and cocoa butter that help soothe and moisturize dry, cracked and chapped lips. It can be used as a base for lipstick or lip liner.
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 3,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Eco Lips vegan beauty products are earth-friendly and cruelty-free. The lip balm container is made from over 40% post-consumer recycled material. The formula doesn't include any parabens, lanolin, gluten, soy, propylene glycol, corn, chemicals, petroleum, dyes or irritants. It is certified non-GMO, Fair Trade, Leaping Bunny and PETA Beauty Without Bunnies.
Best Lipstick: IT Cosmetics Pillow Lips Lipstick
This IT Cosmetics lipstick comes in a variety of shades with both cream and matte finishes, so there is something for everyone. The lipstick includes collagen to help create a plumping effect, making lips look fuller. Its high-impact color and pigment can be applied in a single swipe.
Customer Rating: 4 out of 5 stars with about 150 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Along with collagen, this lipstick's PETA-certified cruelty-free formula includes hyaluronic filling spheres, shea butter and beeswax. The ingredients are helpful in minimizing the look of lip wrinkles.
Best Setting Spray: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
Urban Decay's award-winning setting spray uses temperature control technology to help makeup stay on for up to 16 hours. It is oil-free and suitable for all skin types, including oily, normal and dry skin.
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 5,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The All Nighter Setting Spray is one of Urban Decay's vegan beauty products. It's also certified cruelty-free to PETA Beauty Without Bunnies standards. The formula includes no parabens gluten, dye, soy or oil.
FAQ: Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands
Is L'Oréal cruelty-free?
L'Oréal is not cruelty-free. Its products are sold in China, where the government requires animal testing for foreign cosmetics.
Is Maybelline cruelty-free?
Like its parent company L'Oréal, Maybelline is not cruelty-free. Its products are sold in China, where the government requires animal testing for foreign cosmetics.
Is Kylie Cosmetics cruelty-free?
Kylie Cosmetics products are not tested on animals, but the brand's parent company,Coty, Inc, is not cruelty-free.
What makeup doesn't test on animals?
There are plenty of makeup brands that don't test on animals. When looking for products, keep an eye out for cruelty-free signals such as Leaping Bunny Certified or PETA Beauty Without Bunnies logos.
Is "cruelty-free" makeup really cruelty-free?
The term "cruelty-free" is currently not regulated by the U.S. government, so you can't trust every product or company that advertises this. Some brands contract other companies to do their animal testing but claim to "not test on animals" because they are not doing the testing themselves. The best way to be certain a company or product is actually cruelty-free is to look for certifications such as Leaping Bunny or PETA Beauty Without Bunnies.
By Alina Petre, MS, RD
In many parts of the world, "chai" is simply the word for tea.
However, in the Western world, the word chai has become synonymous with a type of fragrant, spicy Indian tea more accurately referred to as masala chai.
What's more, this beverage may have benefits for heart health, digestion, controlling blood sugar levels and more.
This article explains what you need to know about chai tea and its potential benefits.
What Is Chai Tea?
Chai tea is a sweet and spicy tea renowned for its fragrant aroma.
Depending on where you come from, you may recognize it as masala chai. However, for the purpose of clarity, this article will use the term "chai tea" throughout.
Chai tea is made from a combination of black tea, ginger and other spices. The most popular spices include cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, black pepper and cloves, although star anise, coriander seeds and peppercorns are other well-liked options.
Unlike regular tea, which is brewed with water, chai tea is traditionally brewed using both warm water and warm milk. It also tends to be sweetened to varying degrees.
Chai lattes are another popular way to consume the tea. People make these by adding a shot of chai tea concentrate to steamed milk, which produces a beverage containing more milk than you would find in a typical cup of chai tea.
Chai tea can be purchased in most cafés, but is also easy to make at home, either from scratch, premixed tea bags or a store-bought concentrate.
What's more, chai tea has been linked to a variety of health benefits.
Summary: Chai tea is traditional Indian milky tea made from a blend of black tea, ginger and other spices. It can be consumed in various forms and may provide a variety of health benefits.
It May Help Improve Heart Health
There's evidence that chai tea may be good for the health of your heart.
In some individuals, cinnamon has been shown to help reduce the levels of total cholesterol, "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by up to 30 percent (3).
Most studies used doses of 1–6 grams of cinnamon per day, which is generally more than you'd find in your typical cup of chai tea.
However, a recent review reported that doses of as little as 120 mg per day may be sufficient to offer these heart-healthy effects (2).
Most research has observed that drinking four or more cups of black tea per day may slightly reduce blood pressure levels. What's more, drinking three or more cups of black tea per day seems to be linked to an 11 percent lower risk of heart disease (6, 7).
However, not all studies are unanimous, and none have investigated the direct effect of chai tea on heart health. Thus, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made (8).
Summary: Chai tea contains cinnamon and black tea, both of which may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, studies that directly investigate the effects of chai tea are needed.
Chai Tea May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Chai tea may contribute to better blood sugar control.
That's because it contains ginger and cinnamon, both of which may have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels.
Lower insulin resistance makes it easier for your body to use insulin to escort sugar out of your blood and into your cells. This can help lower blood sugar levels.
A recent study gave two grams of ginger powder per day to people with type 2 diabetes, and found it helped lower their blood sugar levels by up to 12 percent (13).
Studies report that effective ginger and cinnamon doses tend to range from 1–6 grams per day. Such doses are more than what you can expect to get from store-bought chai tea bags, or a cup prepared by your local barista.
To get the most benefits, try preparing the tea yourself from scratch. That way, you can add slightly more cinnamon and ginger than most recipes call for.
It's also important to note that, unlike home-brewed chai tea, varieties prepared in cafés are often heavily sweetened, which would likely negate the blood-sugar-lowering benefits of the other ingredients in chai tea.
The American Heart Association recommends women keep their intake of added sugar under 25 grams per day, and men keep their intake under 38 grams per day. This latte alone could max out that limit (16).
For the best blood-sugar-lowering results, opt for an unsweetened version.
Summary: The cinnamon and ginger found in chai tea may help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. However, it's best to steer clear of heavily sweetened, store-bought varieties.
It May Reduce Nausea and Improve Digestion
Ginger seems especially effective at reducing nausea during pregnancy. In fact, a review of studies conducted on a total of 1,278 pregnant women found that a daily dose of 1.1–1.5 grams of ginger significantly reduced nausea (19).
This is about the amount of ginger you'd expect to have in one cup of chai.
In addition, animal studies report that black pepper may increase levels of digestive enzymes needed to properly break down foods and support optimal digestion (25).
However, the amount of pepper used in these animal studies was up to five times higher than the average amount consumed by humans. Thus, more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Summary: The chai tea ingredients ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves may help reduce nausea, prevent bacterial infections and support proper digestion.
It May Help You Lose Weight
Chai tea may help prevent weight gain and promote fat loss in several ways.
First, chai tea is generally prepared with cow's milk or soy milk, both of which are good sources of protein.
Protein is a nutrient known to help reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness.
Research also shows that compounds found in the type of black tea used to make chai may promote fat breakdown and help reduce the number of calories your body absorbs from foods (30).
What's more, one high-quality study reported that drinking three cups of black tea per day may help prevent unwanted weight gain or gain of belly fat (8).
However, it's worth noting that these effects remain small and appear to only work over the short term.
Finally, animal studies show that consuming black pepper may help prevent the accumulation of body fat, though it's not yet clear how these results relate to humans (31).
However, if you're drinking chai tea, be careful not to consume too much added sugar. Some popular varieties of chai tea contain significant amounts, which would likely counter any of the small benefits outlined above.
For instance, a 12-ounce (360-ml) chai tea made with skim milk contains around 60 calories, while a homemade chai latte may contain around 80 calories.
In comparison, the same quantity of nonfat chai latte at your local café may contain up to 180 calories. It's best to stick to unsweetened, homemade varieties (14).
Summary: Chai tea contains several ingredients that may work together to promote weight loss or prevent unwanted weight gain. To experience the best results, steer clear of sweetened chai teas.
Dosage and Safety
Currently, there's no consensus on how much chai tea the average person would need to drink to reap the health benefits listed above.
Most studies focus on the benefits of individual ingredients, which makes it difficult to determine the actual amount of chai tea or the specific recipe you would need to maximize these benefits.
When consumed in excess, caffeine may cause a variety of unpleasant effects, including anxiety, migraines, high blood pressure and poor sleep. Too much caffeine may also increase the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight (34, 35, 36, 37).
That said, typical intakes of chai tea are unlikely to exceed these recommendations.
Each cup (240 ml) of chai tea is expected to contain around 25 mg of caffeine. That's half the caffeine dose provided by the same quantity of black tea, and one-quarter that of the typical cup of coffee (32).
Due to chai tea's ginger content, individuals prone to low blood pressure or low blood sugar, or who are taking blood-thinning medication, may want to limit their intake or keep it in the lower end of the range.
Individuals who are lactose intolerant may want to opt for chai teas made from plant-based milks or only water.
Summary: Chai tea is generally considered safe, although it does contain caffeine and ginger, which may cause negative effects in some people. The optimal dosage is not yet known.
How to Make Chai Tea at Home
Chai tea is relatively simple to make at home. It only requires a few ingredients and you can follow a variety of recipes to make it.
The recipe below is one of the most time-efficient preparation methods you'll find.
It requires you to make a chai concentrate in advance and store it in your refrigerator.
This process only takes a little more time up front, but significantly reduces the time it will take for you to enjoy a daily cup of chai tea or chai latte at home.
Chai Tea Concentrate
Here is what you'll need to make 16 ounces (474 ml) of the concentrate:
- 20 whole black peppercorns
- 5 whole cloves
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 2.5 cups (593 ml) water
- 2.5 tablespoons (38 ml) loose-leaf black tea
- 4 inches (10 cm) of fresh ginger, sliced
1. Roast peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise on low heat for around 2 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Using a coffee or spice grinder, grind cooled spices into a coarse powder.
3. Using a large saucepan, combine the water, ginger and ground spices and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Avoid letting your mixture reach a boil, which will cause the spices to become bitter.
4. Stir in the loose-leaf black tea, turn the heat off and allow to steep for around 10 minutes, then strain.
5. If you prefer your tea sweet, reheat the strained mixture together with a healthy sweetener of choice and simmer for 5–10 minutes, then cool and refrigerate.
6. Strain the chai tea concentrate into a sterilized bottle and let cool prior to refrigeration. The concentrate keeps in the fridge for up to one week.
To make a cup of chai tea, simply stir one part concentrate with one part hot water and one part hot cow's milk or unsweetened plant milk. For the latte version, use one part concentrate to two parts milk. Stir and enjoy.
Summary: Chai tea is very simple to make. Simply follow the steps above to make your own version of the concentrate.
The Bottom Line
Chai tea is a fragrant, spicy tea that may help boost heart health, reduce blood sugar levels, aid digestion and help with weight loss.
Although most of these health benefits are backed by science, it's worth noting that they are generally linked to the ingredients used in chai tea rather than chai tea itself.
Nevertheless, you probably don't have much to lose by giving chai tea a try.
Just note that you'll get the most health benefits from your tea by opting for a minimally sweetened version.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
By Rachael Link, MS, RD
Although gluten is not a problem for most people, some may not tolerate it well.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that triggers an immune response to gluten. For those with this disease or a gluten sensitivity, eating gluten can cause symptoms like bloating, diarrhea and stomach pain (3).
Many of the most commonly consumed grains contain gluten. However, there are plenty of nutritious gluten-free grains available, too.
This article will list nine gluten-free grains that are super healthy.
By Rachael Link, MS, RD
Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats that provide many health benefits.
By Kayla McDonell
Certain foods that are safe for humans can be harmful to dogs.
Because dogs have a different metabolism than people, feeding human foods to dogs can be very dangerous for their health and may even be fatal in some cases.
This article reviews seven food items that have been proven toxic to dogs—so if you have a dog, it's important to keep these foods out of their reach.
By Caroline Pullen
Unfortunately, many people aren't getting enough sleep. In fact, about 30 percent of adults are sleeping fewer than six hours most nights, according to a study of U.S. adults (1).
Interestingly, mounting evidence shows that sleep may be the missing factor for many people who are struggling to lose weight.
Here are seven reasons why getting enough sleep may help you lose weight.
By Ryan Raman
Running is an incredibly popular way to exercise.
In fact, it's estimated that in the U.S. alone, more than 64 million people have run at least once in the past year (1).
Running is also linked to many health benefits, and is one of the best types of exercise to help you lose weight.
This article explains how running can help you shed unwanted pounds.
There Are Many Types of Running
There are many different styles of running, each with their own unique purpose and benefits.
These are the most popular types:
- Base runs: What most people would call a normal run. They are short-to-moderate length runs around 6 miles (10 km) and done at your natural pace.
- Long runs: Longer versions of base runs done at the same pace but over a greater distance of around 10–12 miles (15–20 km). They help improve your overall fitness and endurance.
- Interval runs: Short, intense runs repeated several times with short breaks in between. For example, 5 x 0.5 mile runs with 1/4 mile (400 meters) light jogging between each interval. These runs train your running power and speed.
- Hill repeats: Similar to interval runs but done uphill. For example, 10 x 1-minute hill repeats. They train your running power and speed while improving stamina.
- Recovery runs: Slow runs done after harder runs like hill repeats to add extra distance to your overall run. For example, a 4-minute run at a comfortable pace after a harder run.
- Progression runs: These mimic competition-style runs by starting slow and finishing at a faster pace. They build endurance, speed and reduce fatigue. For example, 5 miles (8 km) at a natural pace, then 1 mile (1.5 km) at a fast pace.
Summary: There are many types of runs, each with their own purpose and benefits. Normal runs are considered base runs.
It Burns More Calories Than Most Exercises
Losing weight requires you to burn more calories than you consume, and exercise can help you do so.
Running is a great option, as it burns more calories than most other types of exercise because it requires many different muscles to work hard together (2).
In particular, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) involving running burns the most calories per minute by using various muscles at their maximum power.
The difference in calories burned by running versus by other exercises is supported by research.
For example, a study with 12 men and 12 women compared how many more calories running 1 mile (1,600 meters) burned than walking the same distance on both a treadmill and track.
Results showed that, on average, running 1 mile on the treadmill burned 33 more calories than walking, and running 1 mile on the track burned 35 more calories than walking (3).
33–35 calories may not seem like a huge difference at first, but over a 10-mile run, this may equal burning 330–350 more calories than walking the same distance.
A report by Harvard University compared the calories burned over 30 minutes by people at three different weights and found similar results.
Specifically, they discovered that a 155-pound (70-kg) person could burn 372 calories in 30 minutes running at a moderate pace of 6 miles per hour (10 km per hour).
This is as many calories as are burned during vigorous swimming and martial arts, and even more than those burned during a 30-minute game of basketball (4).
Summary: Running is an excellent choice of exercise for weight loss because it burns more calories than many alternatives.
High-Intensity Running Continues to Burn Calories After Exercise
Doing any exercise regularly will help you lose weight, but only a few types of exercise will continue to burn calories even after you finish working out.
High-intensity types of running like hill repeats and interval runs can continue to burn calories up to 48 hours after you work out (5).
These exercises use many muscles and need more energy afterward to recover. This is often labeled the "afterburn effect" among the fitness community.
In one study, 10 men cycled for 45 minutes at an intense pace to calculate how many calories they burned after the workout and for how long.
The average participant burned 519 calories during their workout and an extra 190 calories over the 14 hours following the workout (7).
Although the above example uses cycling as an example, the "afterburn effect" applies to high-intensity running, too. Cycling is simply a convenient way to measure calories burned in a controlled laboratory study.
Summary: High-intensity running like sprints, intervals and hill runs can continue to burn calories long after a workout due to the "afterburn effect."
High-Intensity Running Suppresses Appetite and Helps You Eat Less
Many people try reducing their calorie intake by eating less food or changing the food they eat.
Unfortunately, these strategies may sometimes only increase hunger and make losing weight a challenge.
The exact processes surrounding this response are unclear, but one way high-intensity running may reduce appetite is by suppressing the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and producing more satiety hormones like peptide YY (PYY).
A study in 11 men found that running for 60 minutes or strength training for 90 minutes reduced ghrelin levels, compared to no exercise. Only running increased PYY production (8).
Another study with nine men compared the effect of 60 minutes of running and no exercise on ghrelin production. They found that running lowered ghrelin levels for three to nine hours in comparison to no exercise (9).
Summary: Running may help you lose weight by lowering the production of hunger hormones and increasing the production of satiety hormones.
Moderate-to-High Intensity Running Targets Harmful Belly Fat
Carrying excess belly fat is extremely bad for your health.
An analysis of 15 studies and 852 participants found that aerobic exercise reduced belly fat without any change in diet. However, training at moderate-to-high intensity was most effective at reducing belly fat (14).
Another study of 27 middle-aged women found that high-intensity running considerably reduced belly fat, compared to low-intensity walking/running or no exercise (15).
Lastly, a study of 45 healthy but inactive women found that high-intensity interval exercise three times per week significantly reduced body fat and belly fat, compared to steady pace exercise or no exercise (16).
Summary: Many studies have found that moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise like running targets harmful belly fat, even without dietary changes.
Running Has Many Other Benefits for Health
Aside from weight loss, running has been linked to many other health benefits.
A few specific health problems that running may help prevent or alleviate include:
- Heart disease: A 15-year study with over 50,000 participants found that running at least five to ten minutes a day, even at low speeds, reduced heart disease risk up to 45 percent (17).
- Blood sugar: Running can lower blood sugar by making muscle cells more sensitive to insulin. This helps sugar move into muscle cells for storage (18, 19).
- Cataracts: One study found that moderate-pace walking and vigorous running both reduced the risk of cataracts, with more exercise directly resulting in a lower risk (20).
- Falls: Running may reduce the risk of falling among the elderly. Research shows that elderly participants who run are less likely to fall because their leg muscles are more responsive (21).
- Knee damage: A common myth is that running is bad for your knees. An analysis of 28 studies refuted this misconception, finding strong evidence that links physical activity with stronger knee tissue and healthier knees (22).
- Knee pain: Running may also help reduce knee pain. A study of participants with an average age of 64 years found that running was not linked with knee pain or arthritis. Instead, participants who ran more actually had less knee pain (23).
Summary: Along with weight loss, running can provide various health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease, reduced blood sugar, lower cataracts risk, lower falls risk, stronger knees and less knee pain.
How to Get Started
There are many items available for running, but most beginners can get by on the bare minimum.
This includes good running shoes, a comfortable top, a water bottle and running shorts, tights or comfortable pants.
It is highly recommended for women to wear a sports bra while running to reduce pain. Reflective gear is highly recommended as well if you plan on taking your run during early hours or late at night. This will help to prevent any accidents.
Here are a few basics you should know before beginning a running workout:
- Frequency: To get started, aim for 3 to 4 days of running per week. This allows for enough recovery time between workouts.
- Warm up: Before every running workout, it is important to warm up and stretch in order to prepare your body for the run. Start by stretching, followed by 5 minutes of walking at an easy pace. Then, slowly progress to a power walk.
- Cool down: At the end of your run, make sure to cool down with 5 minutes of walking, gradually decreasing the speed as you go.
- Total time: Aim for around 30 minutes total. This includes 5 minutes for a warm up, 5 minutes for a cool down and 20 minutes of running/walking in between.
Summary: Running is easy to begin and requires minimal equipment. A beginner should aim to run for 30 minutes 3 or 4 days a week, including 5 minutes of warming up and cooling down.
Sample Running Plan
If you would like to enjoy the benefits of running, here is a month-long plan to get you started.
A beginner's plan will start with alternating between running and walking, increasing the minutes spent running every week.
Do each set of activities 3 to 4 days per week.
- 5 minutes warming up
- 1 minute running at your natural pace, and then 2 minutes moderate-pace walking—repeat 7 times
- 5 minutes cooling down
- 5 minutes warming up
- 2 minutes running at your natural pace, and then 2 minutes moderate-pace walking—repeat 5 times
- 5 minutes cooling down
- 5 minutes warming up
- 3 minutes running at your natural pace, and then 2 minutes moderate-pace walking—repeat 4 times
- 5 minutes cooling down
- 5 minutes warming up
- 4 minutes running at your natural pace, and then 2 minutes moderate-pace walking—repeat 3 times
- 5 minutes cooling down
After the month is over, try to progress by running for longer at your natural pace or walking less between each run. Try adding different styles of running as you feel more comfortable.
If you are not used to regular exercise or have any preexisting medical conditions that can be affected by exercise, consult a health professional before starting any exercise program.
Summary: A beginner's running plan should alternate between running and walking. As you progress, increase the time spent running weekly or decrease the time spent walking between runs.
How to Stay Motivated
Sticking to a dedicated running plan can help you achieve long-term success with your weight loss goals.
The trick to staying motivated is to keep it fun so you won't be tempted to make any excuses to avoid your workout.
Keep your workouts interesting by changing your running route every few weeks or adding in different types of runs like intervals or hill repeats.
Running with a friend that challenges you can keep you accountable and provides extra safety if you run during the early or late hours of the day.
If you find it difficult to motivate yourself early in the morning, try laying your running gear out the night before to save the effort in the morning.
Signing up for marathons or other competitions when you are comfortable can also provide you with extra motivation for running and keep you focused.
Summary: Changing your workouts often or running with a friend can make your routine fun and help you to stay motivated long-term.
The Bottom Line
Running is an excellent form of exercise for weight loss.
It burns a lot of calories, may help you continue to burn calories long after a workout, may help suppress appetite and targets harmful belly fat.
What's more, running has many other benefits for your health and is simple to begin.
Unlike many other types of exercise, running requires little equipment, can be done anywhere and there are many ways to keep things interesting.
If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to run, try finding a running partner or changing routines frequently to add variety to your workout.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
By Ryan Raman
Cod liver oil is a type of fish oil supplement.
It also contains vitamins A and D, both of which provide many other health benefits.
Here are nine scientifically supported benefits of cod liver oil.
By Dr. Matthew Thorpe
The popularity of meditation is increasing as more people discover its benefits.
Meditation is a habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.
You can use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Many people think of it as a way to reduce stress and develop concentration.
People also use the practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns and even increased pain tolerance.
This article reviews 12 health benefits of meditation.
By Ryan Raman
Food intolerances and sensitivities are extremely common. In fact, it's estimated that between 2–20 percent of people worldwide may suffer from a food intolerance (1).
Elimination diets are the gold standard for identifying food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies through diet.
They remove certain foods known to cause uncomfortable symptoms and reintroduce them at a later time while testing for symptoms.
Allergists and registered dietitians have been using elimination diets for decades to help people rule out foods that are not tolerated well.
What Is an Elimination Diet?
An elimination diet involves removing foods from your diet that you suspect your body can't tolerate well. The foods are later reintroduced, one at a time, while you look for symptoms that show a reaction.
In that way, an elimination diet may alleviate symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and nausea.
Once you have successfully identified a food your body can't tolerate well, you can remove it from your diet to prevent any uncomfortable symptoms in the future.
There are many types of elimination diets, which all involve eating or removing certain types of foods.
However, if you have a known or suspected food allergy, then you should only try an elimination diet under the supervision of a medical professional. Reintroducing a food allergen may trigger a dangerous condition called anaphylaxis (4, 5).
If you suspect you have a food allergy, check with your doctor before starting an elimination diet. Symptoms of an allergy include rashes, hives, swelling and difficulty breathing (6).
Summary: An elimination diet is a short-term diet that helps identify foods your body can't tolerate well and removes them from your diet.
How Does It Work?
An elimination diet is divided into two phases: elimination and reintroduction.
The Elimination Phase
The elimination phase involves removing foods you suspect trigger your symptoms for a short period of time, typically 2–3 weeks.
Eliminate foods that you think your body can't tolerate, as well as foods that are notorious for causing uncomfortable symptoms.
Some of these foods include nuts, corn, soy, dairy, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables, wheat, foods containing gluten, pork, eggs and seafood (7).
During this phase, you can determine if your symptoms are due to foods or something else. If your symptoms still remain after removing the foods for 2–3 weeks, it is best to notify your doctor.
The Reintroduction Phase
The next phase is the reintroduction phase, in which you slowly bring eliminated foods back into your diet.
Each food group should be introduced individually, over 2–3 days, while looking for symptoms. Some symptoms to watch for include:
- Rashes and skin changes
- Joint pain
- Headaches or migraines
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in breathing
- Stomach pain or cramps
- Changes in bowel habits
If you experience no symptoms during the period where you reintroduce a food group, you can assume that it is fine to eat and move on to the next food group.
However, if you experience negative symptoms like those mentioned above, then you have successfully identified a trigger food and should remove it from your diet.
The entire process, including elimination, takes roughly 5–6 weeks.
If you plan to eliminate many food groups, seek advice from your doctor or a dietitian. Eliminating too many food groups may cause a nutritional deficiency.
Summary: An elimination diet works by removing foods you think cause discomfort. It then reintroduces them individually to check for symptoms.
What Can't You Eat on an Elimination Diet?
The best elimination diets are the most restricting.
The more foods you remove during the elimination phase, the more likely it is that you will discover which foods trigger uncomfortable symptoms.
Foods that are commonly removed during the elimination phase include:
- Citrus fruits: Avoid citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits.
- Nightshade vegetables: Avoid nightshades, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potatoes, cayenne pepper and paprika.
- Nuts and seeds: Eliminate all nuts and seeds.
- Legumes: Eliminate all legumes, such as beans, lentils, peas and soy-based products.
- Starchy foods: Avoid wheat, barley, corn, spelt, rye, oats and bread. Also avoid any other gluten-containing foods.
- Meat and fish: Avoid processed meats, cold cuts, beef, chicken, pork, eggs and shellfish.
- Dairy products: Eliminate all dairy, including milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream.
- Fats: Avoid butter, margarine, hydrogenated oils, mayonnaise and spreads.
- Beverages: Avoid alcohol, coffee, black tea, soda and other sources of caffeine.
- Spices and condiments: Avoid sauces, relish and mustard.
- Sugar and sweets: Avoid sugar (white and brown), honey, maple syrup, corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, desserts and chocolate.
If you suspect that other foods not on this list make you feel uncomfortable, it is highly recommended to remove them as well.
Summary: A good elimination diet is very restricting, which helps you identify as many trigger foods as possible.
What Can You Eat on an Elimination Diet?
Although an elimination diet is very restricting, there is still enough variety to make healthy and delicious meals.
Some foods you can eat include:
- Fruits: Most fruits, excluding citrus fruits.
- Vegetables: Most vegetables, excluding nightshades.
- Grains: Including rice and buckwheat.
- Meat and fish: Including turkey, lamb, wild game and cold-water fish like salmon.
- Dairy substitutes: Including coconut milk and unsweetened rice milk.
- Fats: Including cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil and coconut oil.
- Beverages: Water and herbal teas.
- Spices, condiments and others: Including black pepper, fresh herbs and spices (excluding cayenne pepper and paprika) and apple cider vinegar.
To stay motivated during this restrictive phase, try designing new recipes and experimenting with herbs and spices to add delicious flavor to your dishes.
Summary: Although elimination diets are restricting, there are still plenty of food options to make healthy and delicious meals.
Other Types of Elimination Diets
Besides the traditional elimination diet described above, there are several other types of elimination diets.
Here are a few different types of elimination diets:
- Low-FODMAPs diet: Removes FODMAPs, which are short-chain carbohydrates that some people can't digest.
- Few foods elimination diet: Involves eating a combination of foods that you don't eat regularly. One example is the lamb and pears diet, which is popular in the US, where lamb and pears are not commonly eaten.
- Rare foods elimination diet: Similar to a few foods diet, but you can only eat foods that you rarely ever eat, as they are less likely to trigger your symptoms. Common foods on a rare food diet include yams, buckwheat and starfruit.
- Fasting elimination diet: Involves strictly drinking water for up to five days, then reintroducing food groups. This type of diet should only be done with permission from your doctor, as it can be dangerous to your health.
- Other elimination diets: These include lactose-free, sugar-free, gluten-free and wheat-free diets, among others.
Summary: There are many different types of elimination diets, including the low-FODMAPs diet, the few foods diet, the rare foods diet, fasting and more.
Benefits of an Elimination Diet
Elimination diets help you discover which foods cause uncomfortable symptoms so you can remove them from your diet.
However, an elimination diet has many other benefits, including:
1. It May Reduce Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common gut disorder that affects between 10–15 percent of people worldwide (8).
Many people find that an elimination diet improves IBS symptoms like bloating, stomach cramps and gas.
In one study, 150 people with IBS followed either an elimination diet that excluded trigger foods or a fake elimination diet that excluded the same number of foods but not ones linked with uncomfortable symptoms.
People who followed the actual elimination diet reduced their symptoms by 10 percent and those who best stuck to the diet reduced symptoms by up to 26 percent (9).
2. It May Help People With Eosinophilic Esophagitis
Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) is a chronic condition where allergies trigger inflammation of the esophagus, the tube that delivers food from mouth to stomach.
People with EE have difficulty swallowing foods that are dry and dense, increasing their risk of choking.
In one study of 146 patients with EE, more than 75 percent of all patients experienced significantly fewer symptoms and less inflammation through an elimination diet (12).
3. It May Reduce Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a behavioral disorder that affects 3–5 percent of all children and adults.
One analysis looked at 20 studies that restricted certain foods to improve ADHD symptoms. Researchers found that elimination diets helped reduce ADHD symptoms among children who were sensitive to foods (15).
However, children should not follow an elimination diet unless supervised by a medical professional.
Elimination diets restrict many essential nutrients that are important for growing children, and long-term restriction could stunt their growth.
4. It May Improve Skin Conditions Like Eczema
Eczema is a group of skin conditions that appear as red, itchy, cracked and inflamed skin.
There are many different causes of eczema, but many people find that eating certain foods can worsen their symptoms.
In one study of 15 participants with eczema, 14 found that an elimination diet reduced their symptoms and helped identify their trigger foods (18).
5. It May Reduce Chronic Migraines
Roughly 2–3 million people in the US alone suffer from chronic migraines (19).
The causes of migraines are still unclear, but studies have shown that inflammation could be a trigger (20).
In one study, 28 women and two men with frequent migraines followed an elimination diet for six weeks, which helped reduce the number of headache attacks during that time from nine to six (22).
Summary: An elimination diet may benefit people with IBS, ADHD, migraines, eosinophilic esophagitis and skin conditions like eczema.
Risks of an Elimination Diet
Although elimination diets are a great way to discover which foods cause you problems, they also come with a few risks.
For starters, elimination diets should only be followed for a short period of time, or between four and eight weeks.
Following an elimination diet for longer is not recommended, as it could cause nutrient deficiencies as a result of eliminating certain food groups.
Additionally, children and people with known or suspected allergies should only do an elimination diet under the supervision of a doctor.
Because elimination diets are restricting, taking away certain food groups for even a short period of time could stunt a child's growth (23).
Children are also more prone to severe reactions, like anaphylaxis, when reintroducing a food group. This is because their bodies can become extra sensitive to foods after avoiding them (24).
Summary: Elimination diets can reduce the intake of important nutrients if followed for too long. Children and people with known or suspected allergies should not follow an elimination diet unless supervised by their doctor.
The Bottom Line
Elimination diets can help you determine which foods your body can't tolerate well.
If you're experiencing symptoms that you think may be related to your diet, then an elimination diet could help you discover which foods are causing them.
However, elimination diets are not for everyone. Children should not try an elimination diet unless supervised by a doctor or dietitian.
Likewise, people with known or suspected allergies should only try an elimination diet the under the supervision of a doctor.
Finally, it's important to note that elimination diets should only be done short-term, as long-term restrictions may cause nutritional deficiencies.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
By Rachael Link
Lemon water is a beverage made from water mixed with fresh lemon juice. It can be enjoyed either hot or cold.
This type of water is often claimed to have various health benefits, including improving digestion, enhancing focus and increasing energy levels.
It's also said to help promote weight loss and is a popular part of many diets.
Lemon Water Is Low in Calories
Lemon water is generally a very low-calorie beverage.
For this reason, if you swap out higher-calorie beverages like orange juice and soda for lemon water, then this can be an excellent way to cut calories and help with weight loss.
Replacing even just one of these beverages per day with a glass of lemon water could reduce daily calorie intake by 100–200 calories.
Some evidence even shows that drinking low-calorie beverages with meals could decrease the number of overall calories consumed in the meal.
In one study, 44 women ate lunch with either a beverage that contained calories or one that did not. Researchers then measured the calories consumed.
They found that drinking calorie-containing beverages like sugar-sweetened soda, milk and juice with a meal did not make people compensate by eating less. Instead, the total calories consumed increased, due to the calories from the beverage (4).
Though lemon water is not calorie-free, it is low enough in calories that it could produce a similar effect and help decrease calorie intake.
Summary: Lemon water is low in calories. Drinking it instead of higher-calorie beverages could help contribute to weight loss.
It Can Keep You Hydrated
From carrying nutrients to cells to transporting waste out of the body, drinking enough water to stay hydrated is a critical component of health.
Maintaining adequate hydration is essential in everything from regulating body temperature to improving physical performance (5).
Some evidence also suggests that staying hydrated can aid in weight loss.
Research indicates that increased hydration may increase the breakdown of fats and enhance fat loss (6).
Since the majority of lemon water is made up of water, it can help with maintaining adequate hydration.
Summary: Drinking lemon water could help you stay hydrated, which reduces water retention and may increase fat loss.
Drinking Lemon Water May Boost Metabolism
Studies show that drinking enough water can potentially help increase your metabolism.
Researchers suggest that good hydration enhances the function of mitochondria, a type of organelle found in cells that helps generate energy for the body (6).
This leads to an increase in metabolism, which may lead to subsequent weight loss.
Drinking water has also been shown to increase metabolism by inducing thermogenesis, a metabolic process in which calories are burned to produce heat.
In one study, 14 participants drank 16.9 ounces (0.5 liters) of water. Drinking water was found to increase their metabolic rate by 30 percent for 30–40 minutes (8).
Another study looked at the effects of drinking water in 21 overweight children. Drinking 0.3 ounces of water per 2.2 pounds of body weight (10 ml/kg) increased metabolism by an impressive 25 percent for 40 minutes (9).
Research on lemon water specifically is limited. However, because water is the main ingredient, it likely carries the same metabolism-boosting benefits as regular water.
Summary: Studies show that drinking water could increase metabolism by enhancing mitochondrial function and inducing thermogenesis.
Lemon Water Can Make You Feel More Full
Drinking water is often recommended as a fundamental part of any weight loss regimen, as it can promote satiety and fullness without adding calories.
A 2008 study looked at the effects of water on calorie intake in 24 overweight and obese older adults.
The study revealed that drinking 16.9 ounces (0.5 liters) of water before breakfast decreased the number of calories consumed in the meal by 13 percent (10).
Because lemon water is low in calories and can promote fullness in the same way as regular water, it can be an effective way to help reduce calorie intake.
Summary: Regular water and lemon water can help promote satiety and fullness, which may decrease calorie intake and lead to weight loss.
It Could Increase Weight Loss
Due to its potential beneficial effects on metabolism, satiety and hydration, some evidence suggests that water (including lemon water) could enhance weight loss.
In one study, 48 adults were assigned to two diets: a low-calorie diet with 16.9 oz (0.5 liters) of water prior to each meal or a low-calorie diet with no water before meals.
At the end of the 12-week study, participants in the water group had lost 44 percent more weight than participants in the non-water group (12).
Other research suggests that increasing water intake could help stimulate weight loss, independent of diet or exercise.
A 2009 study measured water intake in 173 overweight women. It found that greater water intake was associated with a greater loss of body weight and fat over time, regardless of diet or physical activity (13).
Though these studies focus specifically on regular water, the same results most likely apply to lemon water as well.
Summary: Some studies suggest that drinking regular water or lemon water could increase weight loss, regardless of diet or exercise.
Lemon Water Is Not Necessarily Better Than Regular Water
Lemon water comes with a lot of potential benefits, from promoting hydration to increasing satiety.
However, it's important to note that these benefits all come from its main ingredient — water.
Lemon water does contain some additional nutrients from the lemon juice, such as vitamin C and antioxidants, but these are unlikely to have any effect on your weight.
Additionally, the alkalizing effect of lemon juice has no clear effects on weight.
Summary: Lemon water may be beneficial for weight loss, but has no added benefits over regular water.
How to Drink Lemon Water
Lemon water is a highly customizable beverage and can be tailored based on personal preference.
Recipes usually call for the juice from at least half a lemon mixed with a glass of water. To add more flavor, try adding in a few other ingredients.
A few fresh mint leaves or a sprinkle of turmeric are delicious and healthy ways to spice up a glass of lemon water.
Many people prefer to start their day with a refreshing glass of lemon water, but it can be enjoyed at any time of day.
It can also be consumed hot, like tea, or with a few ice cubes added for a cool and invigorating drink.
Despite claims that lemon water has greater benefits when consumed at certain temperatures, there is little evidence to support that it makes a difference.
Summary: Lemon water can be customized based on personal preference, and it can be enjoyed hot or cold at any time of day.
The Bottom Line
Lemon water can promote fullness, support hydration, boost metabolism and increase weight loss.
However, lemon water is no better than regular water when it comes to losing fat.
That being said, it is tasty, easy to make and can be used as a low-calorie replacement for higher-calorie beverages.
In this way, it could potentially help promote weight loss and improve health.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.