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By Kimberly Yawitz

You may have heard of probiotics, but do you know about prebiotics?

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By Joe Leech

While there are many health benefits to being vegetarian, some of us don't want to completely cut out meat.

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Solar panels allow you to harness the sun's clean, renewable energy, potentially cutting your electric bills as well as your environmental footprint. But do solar panels work on cloudy days, or during seasons of less-than-optimal sun exposure? For homeowners who live outside of the Sun Belt, this is a critical question to consider before moving ahead with solar panel installation.

In this article, we'll go over how solar panels work on cloudy days, whether solar panels work at night, and how to ensure you always have accessible power — even when your panels aren't producing solar energy.

How Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels can use both direct and indirect sunlight to generate electrical power. This means they can still be productive even when there is cloud coverage. With that said, solar panels are most efficient and productive when they are soaking up direct sunlight on sunny days.

While solar panels still work even when the light is reflected or partially obstructed by clouds, their energy production capacity will be diminished. On average, solar panels will generate 10 to 25% of their normal power output on days with heavy cloud coverage.

With clouds usually comes rain, and here's a fact that might surprise you: Rain actually helps solar panels work more effectively. That's because rain washes away any dirt or dust that has gathered on your panels so that they can more efficiently absorb sunlight.

Do Solar Panels Work at Night?

While solar panels can still function on cloudy days, they cannot work at night. The reason for this is simple: Solar panels work because of a scientific principle called the photovoltaic effect, wherein solar cells are activated by sunlight, generating electrical current. Without light, the photovoltaic effect cannot be triggered, and no electric power can be generated.

One way to tell if your panels are still producing energy is to look at public lights. As a general rule of thumb, if street lamps or other lights are turned off — whether on cloudy days or in the evening — your solar panels will be producing energy. If they're illuminated, it's likely too dark out for your solar panel system to work.

Storing Solar Energy to Use on Cloudy Days and at Night

During hours of peak sunlight, your solar panels may actually generate more power than you need. This surplus power can be used to provide extra electricity on cloudy days or at night.

But how do you store this energy for future use? There are a couple of options to consider:

You can store surplus energy in a solar battery.

When you add a solar battery to your residential solar installation, any excess electricity can be collected and used during hours of suboptimal sun exposure, including nighttime hours and during exceptionally cloudy weather.

Batteries may allow you to run your solar PV system all day long, though there are some drawbacks of battery storage to be aware of:

  • It's one more thing you need to install.
  • It adds to the total cost of your solar system.
  • Batteries will take up a bit of space.
  • You will likely need multiple batteries if you want electricity for more than a handful of hours. For example, Tesla solar installations require two Powerwall batteries if your system is over 13 kilowatts.

You can use a net metering program.

Net metering programs enable you to transmit any excess power your system produces into your municipal electric grid, receiving credits from your utility company. Those credits can be cashed in to offset any electrical costs you incur on overcast days or at night when you cannot power your home with solar energy alone.

Net metering can ultimately be a cost-effective option and can significantly lower your electricity bills, but there are a few drawbacks to consider, including:

  • You may not always break even.
  • In some cases, you may still owe some money to your utility provider.
  • Net metering programs are not offered in all areas and by all utility companies.

Is Residential Solar Right for You?

Now that you know solar panels can work even when the sun isn't directly shining and that there are ways to store your energy for times your panels aren't producing electricity, you may be more interested in installing your own system.

You can get started with a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company in your area by filling out the 30-second form below.

FAQ: Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

How efficient are solar panels on cloudy days?

It depends on the panels, but as a rule of thumb, you can expect your solar panels to work at 10 to 25% efficiency on cloudy days.

How do solar panels work when there is no sun?

If there is literally no sunlight (e.g., at night), then solar panels do not work. This is because the photovoltaic effect, which is the process through which panels convert sunlight into energy, requires there to be some light available to convert.

However, you can potentially use surplus solar power that you've stored in a battery. Also note that solar panels can work with indirect light, meaning they can function even when the sun is obscured by cloud coverage.

Do solar panels work on snowy days?

If there is cloud coverage and diminished sunlight, then solar panels will not work at their maximum efficiency level on snowy days. With that said, the snow itself is usually not a problem, particularly because a dusting of snow is easily whisked away by the wind.

Snow will only impede your solar panels if the snowfall is so extreme that the panels become completely buried, or if the weight of the snow compromises the integrity of your solar panel structures.

Will my solar panels generate electricity during cloudy, rainy or snowy days?

Cloudy days may limit your solar panel's efficiency, but you'll still be able to generate some electricity. Rainy days can actually help clean your panels, making them even more effective. And snowy days are only a problem if the snow is so extreme that the panels are totally submerged, without any part of them exposed to the sun.

Moringa leaves. Saraidasilva / Moment / Getty Images

By Joe Leech

Bitter.

That's the best word I can use to describe moringa, the seeds of which I tried in Uganda.

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Madeleine_Steinbach / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Joe Leech

Boswellia is an herbal extract and essential oil, also known as frankincense.

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sveta_zarzamora / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Maeve Hanan

Fasting is becoming increasingly popular as a way to boost health.

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iStock

By Eleise Britt

Weight loss teas claim to suppress appetite, increase fat burning and boost metabolism.

But do they work?

This article takes a sales-free look at the scientific evidence.

What Is Weight Loss Tea?

Weight loss teas are usually a blend of tea and herbs, depending on the brand.

They're said to help with weight loss by enhancing fat burning, increasing metabolism and suppressing appetite.

Many are also marketed as "detox teas" and "fit teas," with claims they increase energy and cleanse your body of toxins.

Most of these teas come with a recommended exercise and eating plan to be followed in addition to drinking the tea every day or two.

They are generally expensive and heavily marketed on social media.

Summary: Weight loss teas are a blend of tea and herbs that are claimed to enhance weight loss through several different mechanisms. Detox teas and fit teas are similar and all come at a premium price.

Diuretics and Laxatives in Weight Loss Tea

Many weight loss teas contain laxatives, caffeine or diuretics.

These ingredients can lead to short-term loss of water weight, giving you the illusion of having lost weight or feeling slimmer.

As the name suggests, a drop in water weight is a drop in the amount of water stored in the body. This type of weight loss is not from a reduction of fat stores and is not a sustainable method of weight loss.

As soon as you stop using the tea or hydrate properly, you will regain the water weight.

Losing water weight can also lead to dehydration. It is not a healthy or safe practice and can lead to serious health problems.

For weight loss to be sustainable you need to decrease the amount of fat stored in the body.

Laxatives

Many weight loss teas contain a natural laxative called senna.

Laxatives make you move your bowels more frequently and in some cases senna can cause stomach cramps, pain and diarrhea.

Long-term use of laxatives is not only unpleasant, it can become dangerous.

Continual use can cause your body to become dependent on the laxative, which is especially problematic when you stop taking them. Dehydration and severe electrolyte imbalance can also occur.

Also be mindful that psyllium husk, a type of fiber supplement, can have a laxative effect. It's commonly used as an ingredient in weight loss teas.

Diuretics

Diuretics make you urinate.

This is because they stimulate the body to excrete increased water and sodium.

This may be useful if your body is holding on to excess fluid. However, they are not useful for long-term weight loss and can cause dehydration.

Natural diuretics found in weight loss teas include:

  • Dandelion
  • Hawthorn
  • Juniper
  • Parsley
  • Hibiscus
  • Nettle
  • Caffeine.

Tea leaves naturally contain caffeine, albeit in small amounts.

Summary: Many weight loss teas contain laxatives and diuretics. They can cause a loss of water weight but not body fat.

Do They Enhance Fat Burning, Suppress Appetite and Boost Metabolism?

Some weight loss teas do not contain diuretics or laxatives.

Instead they use ingredients claimed to have fat-burning, appetite-suppressing and metabolism-boosting properties.

Many of these ingredients lack evidence to support these claims.

Garcinia Cambogia

Garcinia Cambogia has been used as an ingredient in many weight loss supplements.

However, evidence to support weight loss claims is not strong.

A large systematic review of trials found any weight loss that resulted from taking garcinia cambogia was minimal and short term (1).

Watch this video for a more in depth look at garcinia cambogia.

Ginseng

There's no solid evidence in humans available to support any weight loss effects of Ginseng (2).

This includes gynostemma pentaphyllum which is often referred to as a type of ginseng.

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The ancient practice of meditation—particularly mindfulness meditation—has recently surged in popularity. In fact, in the U.S. about 8 percent of adults and 1.6 percent of children have tried it already. This is because the health benefits of mindfulness meditation are incredibly impressive … and supported by scientific studies.

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There is a huge fad component to the gluten-free movement.

However, many people genuinely cannot tolerate it, even without celiac disease.

The problem is they don't realize it and then live with the symptoms as though it's normal.

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Feeling stressed?

Trouble sleeping?

Craving sugar and gaining weight?

Some may diagnose this cluster of symptoms as Adrenal Fatigue … but is it actually a real condition?

This is a sales-free look at the facts.

What is Adrenal Fatigue and the Function of Adrenal Glands?

Adrenal fatigue refers to a cluster of common symptoms one might experience when under long-term mental or emotional stress.

It's also known as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, HPA Axis Disregulation or Hypoadrenalism.

The concept was introduced in 1998 by chiropractor and naturopath James Wilson. Since then it has become very popular among alternative health practitioners.

The adrenal glands—small organs above the kidneys that produce certain hormones—help to manage stress. But they are said to grow tired or fatigued when overworked for a long period of time.

As a result they produce inadequate amounts of hormones that influence stress, such as cortisol. At least, that's the theory.

In the medical community adrenal fatigue is not recognized. In fact, the Endocrine Society (which represents more than 18,000 endocrinologists in 122 countries) says:

"Adrenal fatigue is not a real medical condition. There are no scientific facts to support the theory that long-term mental, emotional or physical stress drains the adrenal glands and causes many common symptoms."

So there is clearly a divide in opinion between alternative and conventional medicine.

Summary: Adrenal fatigue is a condition said to be caused by long-term stress. However, it is not recognized in the medical community.

Adrenal Fatigue vs. Adrenal Insufficiency

It's important not to get these confused.

Adrenal insufficiency is a serious disorder, characterized by adrenal glands that produce insufficient hormones. Addison's disease is the name of autoimmune adrenal insufficiency.

It's quite rare, affecting 11 out of every 100,000 people. But rates are on the rise, particularly in women (1, 2).

Much like Hashimoto's disease it cannot be treated with diet and lifestyle alone. Without proper hormone replacement medication, adrenal insufficiency is life-threatening.

Adrenal fatigue, if it exists, is not immediately dangerous.

Summary: Adrenal fatigue should not be mixed up with adrenal insufficiency, which is a rare yet serious condition treated with strong hormone medication.

Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms Are Subjective

It's human nature to try and make sense of patterns and clusters.

Clusters of symptoms are no exception and we often give them a non-scientific name, like Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Adrenal fatigue is another example. These are several symptoms listed on James Wilson's AdrenalFatigue.org website:

  • Always tired
  • Feeling stressed
  • Struggling to keep up with daily tasks
  • Strong cravings for sugar or salt
  • Low libido

Immediately it's clear how broad and unspecific symptoms are. No doubt they are real, but they easily overlap with other known medical issues.

The real issue is that the symptoms are not objective, nor measurable. That is, there is no validated symptom score to assess how mild or severe a case may be.

Summary: Symptoms of adrenal fatigue are real, but so broad that they overlap with other medical issues.

Adrenal Fatigue Tests Are Not Accurate

Proponents claim existing blood tests are not sensitive enough to detect small declines in adrenal function.

So the only criteria for diagnosing adrenal fatigue are the non-specific symptoms.

Therefore it's not actually possible for health practitioners to determine what classifies as adrenal fatigue and what doesn't, assuming it is a real condition.

Some practitioners claim it can be measured and diagnosed using salivary cortisol. This is a way to measure the HPAA adaptation to stress and is useful for helping to diagnose adrenal insufficiency.

But researchers note salivary cortisol is not necessarily representative of blood cortisol. Numerous other factors including adrenal sensitivity, cortisol binding, estrogens and HPAA responsivity influence the saliva reading. This makes it an unreliable stress biomarker on its own (3).

Additionally, treatment endpoints are as non-specific as the diagnosis.

In other words, without measurements there is no way to confirm when a patient's adrenals are corrected or "cured." It's the reason why studies must use adrenal fatigue questionnaires to measure results instead of testing physical or chemical changes (4).

If this were the case for other common medical conditions, like type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, the doctor would never know when to increase, decrease or stop medication.

Summary: There is no way to accurately test or measure adrenal fatigue. Therefore practitioners cannot actually prove who has it, nor when it has been corrected.

Adrenal Fatigue Supplements

Few medical conditions are broad and unmeasurable.

Fibromyalgia is one of them, perhaps adrenal fatigue is another.

Despite this, supplements for adrenal fatigue and associated natural remedies are more common than ever. Even the creator of adrenal fatigue, James Wilson, sells his own line of supplements online.

Keep in mind that given the non-specific nature of adrenal fatigue, there is no way to develop a supplement to specifically treat it. Nor a way to test if that supplement is effective.

Nutrition supplements should be used to supplement deficiencies linked with a particular condition. However, only a handful of studies even mention adrenal fatigue let alone have tested for associated nutrient deficiencies.

There are also many hormone supplements available that promise to treat this condition. But these can do more harm than good if they aren't required.

Adrenal Crisis is not uncommon in patients receiving inappropriate adrenal hormone treatment.

Summary: Adrenal fatigue supplements are sold by many alternative health practitioners, including the creator of adrenal fatigue. However, it's not possible to develop or test a supplement's effectiveness without a way to measure the problem condition first.

Adrenal Fatigue Treatment and Diet Changes Do Help

Many claim that adrenal fatigue "treatment" restored their health.

They lost weight, have more energy and feel fantastic. Of course this is great to hear, but actually not surprising.

The typical adrenal fatigue treatment protocol includes eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting out sugar-laden and starchy junk food, exercising more, improving sleep quality and taking measures to reduce stress.

These recommendations address the fundamental aspects of good health, also known as the pillars of health. Anyone who improves one or more of these diet and lifestyle aspects will feel better to some degree.

But whether adrenal gland function actually shifts as a result of these changes is debatable and not possible to prove from observation.

Summary: An adrenal fatigue diet and treatment protocol may help improve an individual's health. But this is because it encourages important diet and lifestyle improvements, rather than a boost to adrenal gland function.

Could Adrenal Fatigue Be Subclinical Adrenal Insufficiency?

Some proponents claim adrenal fatigue is a mild or early form of adrenal insufficiency and should be formally recognized as such.

Much in the same way as subclinical hypothyroidism is to hypothyroidism.

But in cases of subclinical hypothyroidism, doctors are able to measure a patient's blood TSH levels. This provides an objective measurement used to determine diagnosis and treatment efficacy.

As this isn't possible with adrenal fatigue it's difficult to confirm this theory, though it is interesting.

Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?

It's frustrating if you constantly feel unwell to have a doctor that seems unable or unwilling to discover the true problem.

I understand that, because the symptoms are very real. It's the reason adrenal fatigue has become such a popular alternative approach to this type of scenario.

However, there is no scientific evidence to validate the concept. Without any reliable method of measuring adrenal fatigue it's near impossible to make the "diagnosis."

That said, believing one has adrenal fatigue can sometimes be beneficial. It provides a "physical" reason for individuals to take action and improve their diet and reduce stressors. This is why so many experience improvements.

But if the real problem is more sinister than poor diet and high stress, accepting adrenal fatigue as the root cause can be dangerous. It only prolongs the time required to discover what's really causing symptoms.

Add to that the unproven adrenal fatigue supplements pushed on desperate customers and you start to question how helpful or ethical this diagnosis is.

In the end it's clear that taking measures to improve your diet and better manage the stressors in your life is key to getting your health back … Whether adrenal fatigue exists or not.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Diet vs Disease.