5 Ways Arginine Can Improve Your Health

Have you ever heard of l-arginine? If not, you’ve likely heard of amino acids — and l-arginine just happens to be an amino acid you can get through either your diet or supplements.

There’s solid scientific evidence showing it could help your health in many different ways.

Here’s some information on how this amino acid works, and why you need more of it in your body.

How it Works

First, your body converts l-arginine into nitric oxide, which helps the blood vessels relax. This, in turn, makes it easier for blood to circulate throughout the body.1

You can get l-arginine from many high-protein foods (such as dairy products and fish) as well as from arginine supplements. And, as long as you can sustain a good supply of l-arginine, your body should continue to have an ample supply of nitric oxide as well.

Health Benefits

Why is this important? Well, as you’ll see, this mighty amino acid is associated with a wide range of health benefits.

Here are just five of the most important.

1. Cardiovascular Health

There is evidence that l-arginine could help people who suffer from angina – a condition that leads to severe chest pain. There is also evidence that taking arginine supplements could help lower blood pressure in healthy people and also in those suffering from a condition known as pulmonary hypertension. This is a form of high blood pressure that affects the right side of the heart as well as lung arteries.2

2. Reducing Inflammation

L-arginine helps reduce inflammation as well as the amount of ammonia in the blood.3 This is very important because ammonia is a contributing factor to not only inflammation but also cell death.4

3. Increasing Exercise Efficiency

L-arginine supplements might also play a key role in the production of human growth hormone, or HGH. If you have an HGH deficiency, you might be susceptible to an increase in body fat as well as a decrease in muscle mass. You may also be at risk for bone weakness.5

According to research, l-arginine supplementation can increase HGH levels by 100 percent, even while your body’s at rest. It can also raise levels by up to 500 percent during exercise. This is important because HGH helps support a healthy body weight and strong muscles.6

Arginine Supplements | Probiotic America

4. Supporting Immune System Health

This powerful amino acid helps boost the strength of T cells, which are key to helping support a strong immune system. T cells help fight harmful viruses and bacteria. According to one study, when the level of l-arginine is increased, it can help re-energize T cells and also help them live longer.7

5. Boosting Reproductive Health in Men and Women

Researchers studied the effect of l-arginine on erectile difficulties. A group of 40 men participated. By the end of the three-month study, more than 90 percent of the participants who received arginine supplements in combination with pine bark extract showed substantial improvement in their conditions.8

According to the results of another study, the combination of l-arginine with several herbs helped to improve pregnancy rates in women who were having trouble conceiving.9

The Bottom Line

So you can see there’s a substantial amount of evidence suggesting that l-arginine may provide major benefits to the body.

However, you should never start taking amino acid supplements without first having a detailed discussion with your doctor. He or she will let you know if it will be safe for you to do so after looking at your medical history, as well as any medications you may be taking.

And, if you do receive permission from your doctor, talk to her about how much of the amino acid you need to get each day.

 

Learn More:
Eat Your Way to 100: 4 Longevity-Boosting Superfoods to Try Now
How Stress is Destroying Your Microbiome (+ 3 stress-busting tips)
Get Better Abs… By Doing Less, More Effectively (4 tips!)


Sources
1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22112350
2.https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-l-arginine/art-20364681
3.http://www.amjmed.com/article/0002-9343(57)90295-4/abstract
4.https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00353945
5.https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/growth-hormone/art-20045735
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18090659
7.https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161013125949.htm
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12851125
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15134155

Can Probiotics Help Reduce Acid Reflux?

The churning, burning feelings associated with acid reflux can be miserable. And getting rid of the problem can be challenging.

Acid reflux can be caused by everything from eating spicy foods to stress to pregnancy. There are many medications designed to soothe the stomach and relieve symptoms, but a lot of people are concerned about their potential side effects. If you are one of them, you might be looking at other options, such as probiotics.

So, are probiotics for acid reflux the answer?

Here’s some information on the symptoms of acid reflux and the connection between probiotics and your digestive system.

Acid Reflux – The Basics

Acid reflux is, in a nutshell, a condition that occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Also known as gastroesophageal reflux, it can lead to a burning feeling not only in the stomach, but also the chest and even the mouth and throat.1

It’s similar to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), but the symptoms associated with GERD are usually more severe. They include difficulty swallowing, a significant amount of burning in the chest, and coughing.2

There are powerful drugs available to treat both acid reflux and GERD, both prescription and over-the-counter. However, many of these medications have been linked to potentially serious side effects. These include nutrient deficiencies (specifically vitamin B12, calcium, and magnesium), weight gain, and an increased risk of bone fractures.3

How a Probiotic Supplement May Help

probiotics for acid reflux | Probiotic AmericaIf you’re suffering from acid reflux or GERD, you might be interested in trying more natural methods to find relief. And probiotics, which are available in supplement form as well as through food, could be an option.

Before you try a probiotic to address any digestive issues you are facing, however, it’s important that you know what they are.

Probiotics are “good” microbes, such as bacteria and yeast. Your gastrointestinal tract, also known as your “gut,” is filled with trillions of microbes. Many of them are bad for you, but many others are beneficial. Probiotics provide reinforcements to those beneficial microbes.4

When your digestive system works properly, and your stomach acid is in check, you typically won’t have major stomach issues. One of the reasons why is that there’s a proper balance between good and bad microbes in your gut. But when something throws off that balance, and the “bad guys” outnumber the “good guys,” you might experience stomach issues.5

Many foods naturally contain probiotics, including sourdough bread, fermented milk, and sauerkraut. However, it can be difficult to get an ample supply of probiotics in your digestive system through food alone.

There are many types of supplements available that can help make sure you have enough beneficial probiotics in your stomach, as well as the rest of  your digestive system.probiotics for acid reflux | Probiotic America

What the Research Suggests

There is some evidence that one of the contributing factors to acid reflux may be an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut.6 There’s actually a name for this problem – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Because probiotics are designed to increase the number of beneficial microbes and the gut and inhibit the development of harmful ones, they may play a role in helping to stop the development of SIBO as well.7

Research on how probiotics for acid reflux may help is still in its early stages. However, early results are promising.

probiotics for acid reflux | Probiotic America

People with acid reflux normally experience regurgitation of acid from the stomach to the esophagus. This, in turn, leads to the sour taste that patients often report.8

According to one study, supplementation with a strain of probiotic bacteria known as Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 resulted in a substantial decrease in regurgitation among infants.9

Acid Reflux – When to Get Medical Help

There are some instances where someone with acid reflux will need to get medical help for severe symptoms. Here are a few warning signs that you’ll need to see a doctor ASAP:

Stomach cramping

People with acid reflux will usually experience cramping in the stomach every once in a while. But if the cramps don’t go away, or if you pass black stools, seek medical attention immediately. There’s a chance you’ve developed bleeding in the intestines, or some sort of damage has occurred in your stomach.10

Severe coughing

If you can’t seem to shake your cough, get to a doctor. It can actually be a sign you have a severe case of GERD.11 Your doctor can confirm this, and help you determine the best course of action.

Unexpected weight loss

Acid reflux, and the resulting stomach acid, may make it difficult for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs from the food you eat. Over time, that could lead to not only weight loss, but also a weakening of the immune system.12

Chest pain

Obviously, any sort of chest pain will need to be checked out immediately. You might think it’s normal to have some chest discomfort if you have acid reflux, but always get medical attention to make sure it’s not something more serious.13

Wrapping it Up

Fortunately, acid reflux can typically be controlled. And you might want to see if probiotics for acid reflux can help you to find relief. Whether you plan on getting probiotics from food or supplements, talk to your doctor first about your options. Here’s to you finding relief!

Learn More About the Benefits of Probiotics:
Probiotic Skincare: A New Frontier in the Pursuit of Youthful Skin
9 Gut-Friendly Foods That Supercharge Your Health
12 Awesome Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus (including weight loss!)


Sources
1.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315066.php
2.https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburn/expert-answers/heartburn-gerd/faq-20057894
3.https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/combating-acid-reflux-may-bring-host-of-ills
4.https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-benefits-of-probiotics
5.https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/probiotics/faq-20058065
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3752184
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12038039
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3975977/ 9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21114493
10.https://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/emergency-symptoms#call-your-doctor
11.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315888.php
12.https://www.asge.org/home/for-patients/patient-information/understanding-gastroesophageal-reflux-disease
13.https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15851-gerd-non-cardiac-chest-pain

Is Probiotic Yogurt Just A Fad, Or Is It Truly Beneficial?

If you’re eating yogurt because you’ve heard it is beneficial for your digestive tract, be careful. While there are brands that contain live probiotic strains of beneficial bacteria, there are a lot of others that don’t. Plus, many brands are very high in sugar, which cancels out the benefits of probiotics.

That means you’ll want to do a little research first, to make sure the brand you buy is worth the money – whether it’s frozen yogurt, or other kinds of yogurt dairy products.

Here’s some information to help you make the best choice possible.

What Are Probiotics?

Before you get that frozen yogurt, it’s important that you have an idea of what probiotics are in the first place — they’re the bacteria that actually turn milk into yogurt… but they’re so much more.

There are trillions of microbes in the gut – and a lot of them are actually good for you. They help ensure your digestive tract works as it should. But there are a lot of bad ones as well. When there’s an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gut, you’ll be more susceptible to digestive issues.1

Beneficial Bacterial Strains

Probiotic Yogurt | Probiotic America

When looking for probiotic yogurt to support your digestive tract, you’ll want to make sure whatever brand you choose contains beneficial bacteria cultures. There are several different strains associated with digestive health.

Look closely at the labeling of the products you’re considering, to see if they contain one or more of the following:

Bifidobacterium animalis lactis (B. animalis lactis)

This bacteria strain has been associated with a wide variety of health benefits. For example, research indicates that it can help strengthen the immune system.2 It may also help reduce the risk of respiratory issues in some instances.3

Bifidobacterium lactis (B. lactis)

B. lactis has been shown to help ease digestive issues, such as constipation.4

Lactobacillus casei (L. casei)

Studies show that L. casei may help prevent diarrhea.5 There is also evidence that the strain can help reduce the severity of symptoms in certain serious digestive conditions.6

Lactobacillus casei Shirota (L. casei Shirota)

This form of the L. casei strain has also been shown to reduce constipation.7 It may also play a role in strengthening the immune system in people who suffer from allergies.8

What to Avoid

Try to steer clear of yogurt with added sugar. Many types of low-fat yogurt have added sugar to provide more flavoring. Too much sugar in your diet could lead to certain health problems.9

Also, you might actually be better off buying probiotic yogurt that’s not low fat. The reason is that yogurt, and many other dairy products, contain a type of beneficial fat known as conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. Research shows that CLA may play a role in reducing your risk for heart problems.10

It’s important to note that many manufacturers are trying to take advantage of the fact that yogurt is considered to be a healthy food. They might sell yogurt, but if it doesn’t contain live cultures, it won’t provide you any probiotic benefits.

Look for products that have a seal that says “Live & Active Cultures”. These products not only contain beneficial bacteria, but they contain significant numbers of them.11

What Other Dairy Products Contain Probiotics?

If you like to expand your food horizons beyond probiotic yogurt, here are some other options that contain beneficial bacterial strains:

Kefir

Probiotic Yogurt | Probiotic America

This fermented dairy product is similar to a probiotic yogurt, but it has a unique, tart flavor. It’s typically higher in probiotics than the yogurt you’ll find on your grocery store shelves.12 You might be able to find it at your local supermarket, but there’s a better chance you’ll find kefir at your nearest health food store.

Cheese

There are several types of cheese that also contain probiotic strains. These include cheddar and mozzarella.1314

Milk

You will probably be able to find probiotic-enriched milk at your local health food store. For example, there are brands of milk fortified with the Lactobacillus acidophilus strain of good bacteria. This strain has been associated with helping to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.15

Wrapping it Up

Eating frozen yogurt, or other types of this popular dairy product, may help support the health of your digestive tract. But you should never introduce a new type of food to your dietary regimen without talking to your doctor first. They will let you know whether it will be safe for you to do so.

 

Learn More About Probiotics:
NEWS: Probiotics May Provide Help with Allergies
Best Probiotic Foods to Improve Your Gut Health
Probiotic Skincare: A New Frontier in the Pursuit of Youthful Skin


Sources
1.https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
2.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21899798
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20863419
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19296845
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11220983
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15932981
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14631461
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18510694
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23493538
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22296934
11.http://aboutyogurt.com/index.asp?bid=29
12.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28222814
13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24905221
14.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22981567
15.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25954637

Can Ginseng Help You To Lose Weight?

Ginseng is an herb that has long been associated with several different health benefits. As a result, it’s one of the most popular and recognizable herbal remedies. But could it be helpful to use ginseng for weight loss? Possibly.

Here’s some information on what exactly ginseng is, and some of the reasons why you might want to use ginseng for weight loss.

What is Ginseng?

There are two main types of ginseng.

  • The Panax quinquefolius plant is referred to as “American ginseng.”
  • The Panax ginseng plant is known as “Korean ginseng”.

Both are similar in chemical structure. Both contain ginsenosides, which give the herb its purported medicinal qualities. Korean ginseng and American ginseng are often referred to as “adaptogens,” because proponents claim it can help people deal with stress.1

Using Ginseng For Weight Loss

A substantial amount of evidence suggests ginseng can help reduce body weight. Here are a few ways that drinking ginseng tea, or taking the herb in supplement form, may help:

Hunger reduction

In one study, obese women who received Korean ginseng for weight loss saw substantial reductions in not only body weight, but also food intake and waist-to-hip ratio (meaning slimmer bodies).2

Reducing blood sugar levels

Ginseng For Weight Loss | Probiotic AmericaA combination of obesity and high levels of blood glucose can lead to major health problems.3 According to the results of one study, ginseng was shown to lower blood glucose in both people with blood sugar disorders, as well as those with no blood sugar issues.4 Ginseng root has been shown to lower glucose levels for as long as two hours after consuming a meal.5

In addition, patients suffering from disorders related to high blood sugar saw a decrease in glucose, as well as overall body weight, after using ginseng for weight loss for two months.6

Increasing insulin sensitivity

The ginsenosides in American and Korean ginseng help to reduce the accumulation of fat by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin.7 When your body is resistant to insulin, that increases the risk that the carbohydrates you consume will be converted to fat – rather than energy.8

Aiding digestion

Drinking ginseng tea could also help your body do a better job of digesting the food you eat. There are trillions of microbes in the “gut,” or gastrointestinal tract. These microbes have a major influence on not only metabolism, but also on weight.9

In one study, women who used Panax ginseng for two months saw a significant amount of weight loss, as well as favorable changes in their gut microbes.10

Increasing stamina

There is also evidence that ginseng could have a positive effect on your ability to exercise for longer periods of time.11

Research shows that ginseng may play a role in helping to improve your body’s stamina during a workout.12

Another study involved participants who took supplements containing ginseng, as well as taurine, soybean peptides, and other ingredients. According to the results, the participants showed an increase in endurance. Researchers found that the participants’ bodies also did a better job of utilizing fats.13

Other Health Benefits

Ginseng shows a great deal of promise in other areas of health, as well. For example, researchers have found it may help address erectile dysfunction. While the research is promising, researchers say more studies are needed before any definitive conclusion can be made.14

There is also research being conducted into whether ginseng could help people suffering from the flu virus.15

How to Make Ginseng Tea

Ginseng For Weight Loss | Probiotic AmericaYou can easily make a healthy, delicious tea at home using either American or Korean ginseng. You can easily purchase some ginseng root at your local health food store.

  1. Cut off about eight thin slices
  2. Coat slices with honey and let sit in a pot for about 15 minutes.
  3. Pour hot water over the slices, and let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Pour the liquid into a cup. Using a strainer to keep any pieces of ginseng from getting into your cup.
  5. Relax, and enjoy.16

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are several reasons why you should consider making ginseng part of your daily dietary regimen. But don’t head to the store just yet. You should always talk with your doctor first, to make sure it’s completely safe for you to take ginseng. You’ll want to make sure that the herb won’t interact negatively with any medications you might be taking.17

 

Learn More About Weight Loss:
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?
12 Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus (including weight loss!)
Why Psyllium Husk is a Powerful Weight Loss Helper


Sources
1.https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/asian-ginseng
2.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659576/
3.http://www.obesity.org/content/weight-diabetes
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25265315
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21619921
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8721940
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23545455
8.https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23478685
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3986624/
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15744902
12.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25665208
13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21332400
14.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2561113/
15.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3297520/
16.https://www.thespruce.com/homemade-korean-ginseng-tea-insam-cha-recipe-2118533 17.https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm096386.htm

The Dirty Dozen List: Foods You Should Buy Organic

These days, more and more people are claiming you should only buy organic produce. In a world overrun with chronic disease, people are naturally panicked about the potential consequences of coming into contact with toxic substances.

But is it worth listening to the organic debate? Organic fruits and vegetables can certainly impact your grocery bill, and when you’re already on a super tight budget, you start to question, “So is it really such a big deal?”

Yes, and no.

It’s true — pesticides truly appear to be a high-risk substance. And, agriculture continues to use huge quantities of those pesticides. And, studies continue to show that pesticides are associated with greater health risks.1

But it’s not all bad news for those who hope to keep their grocery bills low. There are some foods that contain much higher levels of pesticide exposure than others, so you can get selective with your shopping – rather than going 100 percent organic.

Testing The Food That You Eat

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit organization of scientists, researchers, and policymakers that studies pesticides and chemicals, and their impact on the environment. According to the EWG, almost 70 percent of produce tested is contaminated with pesticide residue.

Dirty Dozen | Probiotic America

As for the pesticides themselves, there’s more than one bad guy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found almost 180 different types of pesticides on the food that it tested.2

But you just have to wash your fruits and veggies, right?

In USDA tests, pesticides remained on most produce after they were washed with high power water sprays – and even after they were peeled.3

So, back in 2004, the Environmental Working Group created a list of what it calls “The Dirty Dozen” – twelve foods that have tested positive for many different pesticide residues. The EWG says these foods contain much higher concentrations of pesticides than any other produce.

These are the foods that you should definitely buy organic. In fact, doing so may reduce the amount of toxins you consume by as much as 80 percent.4

What Makes The EWG Dirty Dozen List?

The EWG updates it’s Dirty Dozen List annually. The group’s current list recommends that you buy organic versions of the following fruits and vegetables5:

    • Strawberries
    • Spinach
    • Nectarines
    • Apples
    • PeachesDirty Dozen | Probiotic America
    • Pears
    • Cherries
    • Grapes
    • Celery
    • Tomatoes
    • Sweet bell peppers
    • Potatoes

Why Do Some Products Absorb More Pesticides?

Some fruits and veggies have much thicker, impermeable skins – which gives them better protection against pesticides. These include pineapple, cantaloupe, or mangoes.

Berries, on the other hand, barely stand a chance. Add in the fact that some pesticides are absorbed into the fruit – to protect the juicy inside from pests – and you’ve got a potentially toxic food.6

Sounds bleak, right? Well, there is some good news. While the “Dirty Dozen” gets a lot of attention, the EWG also compiles an annual “Clean 15” list.

So …

What Is the “Clean 15”?

The EWG’s annual “Clean 15” list offers up fifteen types of produce that are the least likely to be contaminated by pesticides. The current “Clean 15 List” includes7:

    • Sweet Corn*
    • Avocados
    • Pineapples
    • Cabbage
    • Onions
    • Sweet peas frozen
    • Papayas*
    • AsparagusDirty Dozen | Probiotic America
    • Mangos
    • Eggplant
    • Honeydew Melon
    • Kiwi
    • Cantaloupe
    • Cauliflower
    • Grapefruit

     

    *Sweet corn and papaya are marked here because some sold in the U.S. are produced from genetically modified seeds. If that’s a concern to you, consider avoiding them, or buying them non-GMO/organic.

    Protecting Your Health Through Knowledge

    If you’ve got serious concerns about your health when it comes to eating foods that may be laden with pesticides and pesticide residue, then you must arm yourself with knowledge.

    The best thing you can do is to take control of your own body and health – keep abreast of all the latest developments in nutrition and know which foods are on the “Dirty Dozen” list (and which foods are of lesser concern).

    To read more about the EWG Dirty Dozen list, the Clean 15, and other tips, it really is worth checking out the EWG website at www.ewg.org

     

    Learn More:
    Why You Need Zinc In Your Diet (And The Best Food Sources!)
    Eat Your Way to 100: 4 Longevity-Boosting Superfoods to Try Now
    Quick and Healthy On The Go Veggie Bowl Recipe

    Sources
    1.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21170/full
    2.https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php#.Wk54_VQ-fJI
    3.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/10/well/eat/do-pesticides-get-into-the-flesh-of-fruits-and-vegetables.html
    4.http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/the-dirty-dozen-and-clean-15-of-produce/616/=
    5.https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php
    6.http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/06/01/dirty.dozen.produce.pesticide/index.html
    7.https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean_fifteen_list.php

7 Amazing Health Benefits of Sauerkraut (And a DIY Recipe!)

Sauerkraut has been a staple of the European diet for thousands of years. While most people in the U.S. probably know it as a great addition to a hot dog or a Reuben sandwich, this fermented food is so much more. There’s actually a lot of health benefits of sauerkraut.

Here are just a few of the reasons why you might want to think about getting more sauerkraut into your dietary routine:

Probiotics and the Fermentation Process

The fermentation process is key to unlocking the health benefits of sauerkraut. Turns out, fermented food is preserved in a way that changes its chemical structure, producing beneficial bacteria known as probiotics.1

Now, you might not find the idea of willingly ingesting bacteria that appetizing. After all, bacteria are supposed to be bad for you and cause diseases, right?

But, your body is filled with trillions of bacteria. And while many of them are bad for you, many more are actually good for you. These beneficial bacteria help to offset the bad ones, helping keep your digestive system working normally. That’s why probiotics are so important.2

Benefits of Sauerkraut | Probiotic AmericaThe fermentation process has been used for thousands of years. It was key to preserving vegetables before the advent of refrigerators – even before canning. Fermented food undergoes substantial changes.3

Now, the type of fermentation that creates probiotic bacteria is known as lactic acid fermentation.

The lactic acid created during the fermentation process helps to keep harmful bacteria from forming.4

The probiotics found in fermented foods like sauerkraut can greatly lower the risk of suffering from several different types of health problems. These include digestive problems such as –

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Obesity
  • Immune system disorders.5

A Nutritional Powerhouse

Sauerkraut is packed with nutrients – and it’s very low in calories. Just a one-cup serving contains only 27 calories. It also delivers 4 grams of fiber and a substantial amount of vitamin K (23 percent).6

Here are some of the amazing health benefits that have been associated with this humble dish made from fermented cabbage.

1. Immune System Support

The probiotics in sauerkraut play a role in helping maintain the health of the immune systems. They do so by helping prevent autoimmune reactions. These occur when the immune system mistakes healthy cells for dangerous invaders and attacks them.7

Probiotics have been shown to help the body fight infections. They can also help replenish the body’s supply of good bacteria after you take antibiotics.8

2. Cardiovascular Health

The fiber found in sauerkraut may help reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood. This, in turn, will help support the health of the cardiovascular system.9 There is evidence that probiotics can support cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure.10

There are two studies that show vitamin K can help reduce the risk of dying from heart disease. One showed that people who regularly ate foods rich in the vitamin were 57 (such as sauerkraut) percent less likely to die from the condition than people who didn’t have a significant vitamin K intake.11

3. Stronger Bones

Benefits of Sauerkraut | Probiotic America

The benefits of sauerkraut extend to keeping your bones strong, thanks to its high vitamin K content. Vitamin K not only helps support heart health, it also helps to promote improved bone health.

In one study, women who took supplements containing the vitamin saw a slower rate of bone density loss than those who did not.12 There is also evidence that vitamin K can help substantially reduce the chances of suffering a hip or spine fracture.13

4. Brain Health

Probiotics might even help your brain function better. Studies show that the bacteria in your “gut,” or gastrointestinal tract, send messages to the brain that help determine the way it perceives your environment.14

Sauerkraut and other fermented foods that are rich in probiotics help make sure there are plenty of good bacteria in the gut. Research indicates that a good supply of beneficial bacteria in the gut can help lower anxiety.15

5. Weight Loss

Because sauerkraut is low in calories and high in fiber, it can help you feel more satiated, or full, for a longer period of time. And a high-fiber diet helps lower the number of calories you take in each day.16

There is also evidence that probiotics can help lower the amount of fat that you absorb through the foods you eat.17 In one study, one group of participants was overfed on purpose while receiving probiotics. The other group also overate but received a placebo. According to the results, the group that took probiotics gained half the body fat of the participants in the placebo group.18

6. Better Digestion

Probiotics can also help replenish the body’s supply of good bacteria after you take antibiotics.19 This is important in regard to digestive health because antibiotic use can sometimes result in a condition known as antibiotic-associated diarrhea, or AAD.

AAD occurs because antibiotics not only kill harmful bacteria but good ones as well. As a result, there are not enough beneficial bacteria to balance out the harmful ones that survive the antibiotic regimen. This, in turn, can lead to stomach problems.20

But probiotics can help with other digestive issues as well. They can, for example, help reduce the symptoms associated with problems such as irritable bowel disease.21

7. Antioxidant Properties

The fermentation process, when used in making sauerkraut, produces lactic acid, which has antioxidant properties.22 Antioxidants are important because they help protect the body from the effects of oxidization.

In particular, they inhibit the development of free radicals. These are molecules that are missing an electron and scour the body looking to find it. Free radicals take electrons from cells. This, in turn, can lead to severe tissue damage.23

Recipe: Making Your Own Sauerkraut

Benefits of Sauerkraut | Probiotic AmericaYou can buy sauerkraut at just about any grocery store, of course. But if you’re the adventurous type and want to learn more about the fermentation process you can easily make it yourself at home. Here’s how.

1. Pour about 10 cups of shredded cabbage in a plastic or ceramic bowl with a teaspoon of salt. Release the juices of the cabbage by stirring thoroughly. The bowl can’t be metallic because of the way the metal will react with the salt.

2. Add a cup of water, a teaspoon of pickling salt, 10 juniper berries, and a teaspoon each of caraway seeds and yellow mustard seeds. Mix thoroughly.

3. Put the mixture into a sterilized canning jar. Then pack the mixture using a wooden spoon.

4. Next, pour some water mixed with pickling salt (one teaspoon of salt for each cup of water) into the jar. Pour enough to fill the jar, leaving ¼ inch of space under the lid.

5. Place the jar in an area between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit for two-and-a-half to three weeks. You’ll notice the contents will start to bubble after a few days, but this is normal. It’s a sign that the fermentation process is working.

6. Once the bubbling stops add some more of the pickling salt/water mix if the level of the sauerkraut has gone below the rim of the jar.

7. You’ll probably see a film at the top. Scrape them off. The sauerkraut will then be ready to eat. Keep the jar in the refrigerator until all the sauerkraut is gone.24

The Bottom Line

As you can see, the fermented benefits of sauerkraut are incredibly far-reaching. But before you start making it a part of your dietary regimen, talk to your doctor first to make sure he or she agrees that it will be right for you.

Learn More:
12 Awesome Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Probiotic Skincare: A New Frontier in the Pursuit of Youthful Skin
NEWS: Probiotics May Provide Help with Allergies


Sources
1.http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/73/2/374s.full
2.https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
3.https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-fermented-foods
4.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123739445001516
5.https://www.medicinenet.com/probiotics/article.htm
6.http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2614/2
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19584499
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16696665
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21776465
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25047574
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15514282
12.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23525894
13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16801507
14.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904694
15.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23497650
16.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224414002386
17.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25884980
18.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26466123
19.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16696665
20.http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/gastroenterology/antibiotic-associated-diarrhea
21.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19220890
22.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08905436.2012.755694
23.https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/10/antioxidants-explained-why-these-compounds-are-so-important/247311
24.https://www.thespruce.com/homemade-german-sauerkraut-1447249

An Apple A Day: Why This Simple Fruit Shouldn’t Be Overlooked

The saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has been around for centuries – and it turns out, it’s more than just an old wives tale. There are many health benefits of apples – from improving the brain to the skin.

Here are just a few reasons why you should make apples a part of your regular dietary regimen — maybe not daily, due to their high sugar content, but at least weekly.

How Apples Benefit the Body

Research indicates that one of the antioxidants in apples, known as quercetin, might play a role in helping to improve neurological health. One study showed it may help to prevent the death of brain cells due to oxidation. This, in turn, could substantially reduce the risk of many kinds of neurodegenerative problems.1

Another study involving more than 9,000 people showed that those who ate apples most often had a lower risk of suffering a stroke.2 Apples may also lower the levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol in the blood.

Researchers found that women who ate apples each day for six months saw a more than 20 percent reduction in bad cholesterol. They also saw a 4 percent increase in high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol, which can lower the chances of developing heart disease.3

Apples for Weight Loss?

Apples might also play a role in helping with weight loss, according to one study. According to the results, participants who ate apple slices consumed 200 fewer calories on average per meal than those who had apple juice, applesauce, or no apples. They also experienced greater feelings of fullness.4

In another study, a group of 50 obese women ate either apples or oatmeal cookies as part of their daily routine for 10 weeks. Both the apples and cookies were similar in fiber content and calories.

Researchers found that the women who ate apples not only lost two more pounds on average, but they also consumed fewer overall calories. The reason, they believe, is that apples provided a greater sense of fullness, or satiety, than the cookies.5

Apples: Gut Friendly?

Apples have also been shown to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the “gut,” or gastrointestinal tract. Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that is a prebiotic. The human body can’t digest this type of fiber – but the good bacteria in our gut can. The bacteria use prebiotics as food. This gives them the energy to balance out the bad microbes in the gut, and it helps our digestive system work properly.6

Benefits of Apples | Probiotic America

The benefits of apples are stretched even further when they’re fermented.  Fermented apples can be turned into apple cider vinegar, and vinegar produces acetic acid. This helps to produce beneficial bacteria. Acetic acid also plays a role in helping keep your blood sugar under control after you eat a meal.7

Other Apple Benefits

Could the antioxidants in apples help improve breathing? A study involving nearly 70,000 women showed that those who regularly ate apples had a lower risk of developing certain breathing problems.8

The benefits of apples have also been associated with improved bone health. One of the indicators of overall bone health is increased bone density.

Research shows that the antioxidants in apples may help increase bone density. Calcium is also key to bone health, and one medium-sized apple (approximately 3-inches in diameter) contains 11 mg of this important mineral.9

One study was performed on four groups of women to determine how apple consumption affects the body’s supply of calcium. According to the results, the women who consumed apples had more calcium in their blood than those who didn’t have any kind of apple products.10

Hair Benefits of Apples

Many of the vitamins and minerals in apples help promote the health of your hair. For example, vitamin E helps blood circulate properly in the scalp – which may help hair grow.11 Vitamin B6, also found in apples, helps to produce a hormone known as melanin. This may help keep hair from aging prematurely.12 Procyanidin, a compound found in apples, may also help promote hair growth.13

Apple cider vinegar also has properties that could also boost your hair’s health. Diluted apple cider vinegar might, for instance, help reduce dandruff.14

Skin Benefits of Apples

The vitamin C in apples may also help your skin. The vitamin C in apples helps promote the development of collagen – which helps to keep the skin firm. Skin lacking enough collagen is more prone to wrinkling.1516

Benefits of Apples | Probiotic AmericaApples also contain copper, a mineral that also helps to promote healthy skin. Copper plays a key role in producing melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its color. But melanin also helps to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.17

Another important vitamin for skin health found in apples is vitamin A. It helps ensure that cells reproduce the way they should. It also helps keep the skin from developing signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines. Vitamin A is often used in topical form to help people suffering from severe cases of acne.18

Different Types of Apples

These are some of the most common types of apples you’ll find at most supermarkets and at farmers markets.

Braeburn

This apple has red and pink coloring and a sweet, tart taste. It is great for making a cobbler or apple pie.

Honeycrisp

The honeycrisp usually has a bit of green mixed in with red. This type of apple will usually have a longer shelf life than most of its counterparts.19 It also works very well in an apple pie.

Fuji

Fuji apples are typically larger and are usually more yellowish in color than other varieties. They are especially hearty, with a shelf life of as long as six months when refrigerated.20 Fuji apples are especially good for sprinkling into a salad. They’re also very juicy, making them a good choice for making apple cider.

Gala

The gala apple is typically yellow in color and has red stripes. It’s not as sweet as other varieties, but it does feature a hint of vanilla taste.

Granny Smith

The granny smith apple is known for its green coloring and tart taste. It’s another good choice for a salad, since it doesn’t brown as fast as other types once you cut it.21

Benefits of Apples | Probiotic America

A Final Word

As you can see, apples not only taste great – they also help deliver substantial health benefits, including for your hair and skin. They’re loaded with fiber and antioxidants, and they contain other beneficial minerals and vitamins that can help keep your body strong. The apple is a mighty nutritional powerhouse – the benefits of apples should not be overlooked!

Want more dietary tips, keep reading here:
How To Make Low-Sugar Apple Crisps
9 Gut Friendly Foods That Supercharge Your Health
Sapodilla: The Strange Fruit With Incredible Health Benefits


Sources
1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17929310
2.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10822289
3.https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412131923.htm
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664987
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18439712
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355
7.https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/articles/2017-01-18/the-health-benefits-of-vinegar
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16396945
9.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2122
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15105040
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819075
12.http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-B6
13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11406858
14.http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/18/health/apple-cider-vinegar-uses/index.html
15.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1720597
16.https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen#section2
17.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556990
18.http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-a-retinol
19.http://www.tctimes.com/news/honeycrisp-apples-so-good-but-so-expensive/article_8e3d35ec-35d3-11e4-8f05-0019bb2963f4.html
20.https://www.gardenguides.com/124226-honey-crisp-vs-fuji-apples.html
21.https://www.finechoicefoods.com/2013/10/apples-to-apples-a-comparison-taste-test

Probiotic Skincare: A New Frontier in the Pursuit of Youthful Skin

What do you think of first when you read the word ‘probiotics’? Gut health, right?

Well, it turns out probiotics can help you with so much more than your digestion. For instance, have you heard about probiotic skincare?

If you’re struggling with unsightly blemishes, discoloration, or some other type of skin issue, there is a chance that probiotics could help.

Let’s take a closer look…

The Basics

If you’re taking a probiotic, you’re taking a capsule full of beneficial bacteria in order to boost the “good” bacteria already in your system. Probiotics are also found in foods such as sauerkraut and yogurt. And there’s been a lot of buzz about how they can help your digestion for years now…

But these days, there’s more and more evidence that probiotics may help more than just your gut — welcome news for people suffering from issues such as acne, eczema, and rosacea.1

Topical Products For Probiotic Skin Care

Lactobacillus Acidophilus | Probiotic America News

There are quite a few probiotic skin care products on the market now, and many of them are topical — meaning you apply them to the surface of your skin. These include cleansers, creams, and masks.

And these work because your immune system works for your whole body — including your skin. In some cases, the immune system senses that there are foreign microorganisms present on the surface of your skin, and it reacts by fighting those invaders. And that’s great, until it leaves behind pain, redness, swelling, and blemishes in its wake.2,3

A topical probiotic can also keep your immune system from attacking perceived threats to the skin.4

That’s because the beneficial bacteria in this type of product could neutralize or crowd out bad bacteria — so what’s left on your “skin microbiome” is actually good for you. And that, in turn, could prevent the cells of the skin from producing an immune system response.5

The “skin microbiome” is a term used to describe the overall community of microbes that live on the skin. It’s very important that the skin microbiome has a good balance between beneficial and harmful microbes. If there are too many harmful bacteria present, it can lead to skin problems.6,7

Oral Probiotics and Skin Care

Oral probiotics can also help people suffering from skin issues.8

Probiotic Skin Care | Probiotic America

Lots of supplements contain groups of beneficial bacteria known as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium. These bacteria have an effect known as the “gut-brain-skin axis effect.”

You see, stress and a poor diet can lead to a slowing of the digestive process.9  As a result, unhealthy bacteria can overtake the gut and weaken the gastrointestinal tract allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream. This string of events can result in the development of frustrating skin issues.10

However, recent studies show a relationship between oral probiotics and an improvement in skin conditions. For example, one study involving nearly 60 acne sufferers showed that drinking a beverage fortified with Lactobacillus bacteria saw a decrease in acne lesions.11

In another study, half of the participants received an oral probiotic supplement to take with their usual treatments for rosacea and acne. The other half only received their standard treatments.

The group taking the probiotic saw a bigger improvement in symptoms than the group that did not receive the supplement.12

Probiotic Skin Care | Probiotic America

There’s also evidence suggesting that probiotics may be able to help support your body as it builds collagen — the substance that helps makes your skin appear firmer. As a result, probiotics could potentially help reduce wrinkling and the other visual signs of aging skin.13

Another potential benefit of probiotic skin care is the ability of beneficial bacteria to promote the production of ceramides. These are molecules that act as a sort of “glue,” helping skin cells bond together. And they play a key role in helping to moisten the skin.14

Turns out, probiotic products help to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria by producing lactic acid. Lactic acid not only reduces the number of bad bacteria on the skin, it also helps good bacteria flourish.15

Wrapping Things Up

Research is only beginning to expose the potential of probiotic skin care. But if the early results are any indication, it appears that probiotics can deliver substantial benefits that could help greatly improve your appearance.

As with any new skin care regimen, however, talk to your doctor first to make sure he or she agrees that it will be safe to try probiotic products.

Learn More:
9 Gut Friendly Foods That Supercharge Your Health
NEWS: Probiotics May Provide Help with Allergies
Everything You Need to Know About Probiotics (a complete guide)


Sources
1.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/health/acne-eczema-skin-bacteria.html
2.https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rosacea/symptoms-causes/syc-20353815
3.https://www.rosacea.org/patients/causes/immunesystem
4.https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/could-probiotics-be-the-next-big-thing-in-acne-and-rosacea-treatments
5.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352647515000155
6.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316803.php
7.https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/02/a-personalized-probiotic-skin-cream-made-with-a-persons-own-microbes/517473
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3038963
9.https://www.healthline.com/health-news/are-probiotics-answer-to-acne
10.https://nypost.com/2016/04/06/the-secret-to-sofia-vergaras-gorgeous-skin
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20692602
12.https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/27e8/56f9a1df44e1f81729c1b293ea3b1179f089.pdf
13.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jam.12137/full
14.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18336739
15.http://dermatologytimes.modernmedicine.com/dermatology-times/news/skincare-products-probiotics

Sapodilla: The Strange Fruit With Incredible Health Benefits

If you haven’t heard of the sapodilla, or sapota fruit, you’re definitely not alone.

If you’re like most people, you’re familiar with fruits that you see at your local grocery store: apples, oranges, bananas, etc. The end.

But if you enjoy trying new foods that are beneficial to your health, then this is one Central American fruit that you may want to investigate.

Here’s some information on where the sapodilla comes from and some of the health benefits that it might provide.

Sapodilla 101

Sapodilla | Probiotic America

The sapodilla tree is native to the northern parts of Central America and the southern portion of Mexico. It’s also known as the Manilkara Zapota tree.1 The tree belongs to the Sapotaceae family, which also includes the Mamey Sapote and Green Sapote.2

The fruit that comes from the tree is also known as the Sapota fruit or the Chikoo fruit.3

A ripe sapodilla has a sweet flavor, comparable to a mango, with a yellowish-brown hue. It’s also very juicy.

During immaturity, the flesh of the fruit contains a latex substance used to make chicle – an ingredient that was historically used in the making of chewing gum.4

Potential Health Benefits

Sapodilla, also known as Chikoo fruit, is rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and protein.5,Here are just some of the health benefits associated with the fruit.

Vitamin C –

You’ll get nearly 15 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C in a 100-gram serving of sapota fruit (the sapota fruit typically weighs about 150g).7 Research indicates that the vitamin C found in fruits and other foods, as well as supplements, could reduce the risk of heart problems.8

Fiber content –

The sapodilla fruit is also a great source of dietary fiber. You’ll get about 5g of fiber per 100g-serving.9

Of course, fiber is very important to the digestive process. It helps keep stools firm so they move at the correct pace through the intestines. Fiber can also reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels and help you maintain a healthy weight.10

Calcium –

The sapodilla fruit provides 21mg of calcium in a 100g-serving.11 This mineral is important not just for building strong bones but also in terms of keeping them strong as we get older. Calcium also plays a role in keeping our blood circulating properly and helping us control our muscles.12

Potassium –

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just 100g of this fruit provides a whopping 193 mg of potassium.13 Potassium is also very important to maintaining bone health, especially in older women.14 Potassium is also associated with improved cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of developing digestive problems such as inflammatory bowel disease.15

Magnesium –

You’ll get about 12mg of magnesium per 100g of sapodilla fruit.16 Magnesium plays a role in helping make bones stronger. A lack of this mineral has been associated with an increased risk of migraine headaches.17

How to Buy Sapodilla

You might be able to find sapodillas in your local farmer’s market. And there’s great news – the plant is evergreen, meaning it grow year round.18 As a result, it shouldn’t matter what time of the year it is when you look for it.

Sapodilla | Probiotic AmericaAlso, you’ll want the freshest fruit you can find. So make sure the fruit you buy doesn’t have any bruising, cracking, wrinkling, or cuts on the skin. If you buy an unripe sapodilla, you’ll need to keep it at room temperature for about 7-10 days until it ripens. The ripened fruit will usually last about six weeks in your refrigerator.19

A Final Word

The sapodilla fruit is rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential to your health. Plus, it tastes great. It would be worth it for you to give it a try. Before you do, however, have a talk with your doctor to make sure it will be safe to do so.

Learn More:
9 Gut Friendly Foods That Supercharge Your Health
Cheese Can Improve Gut Health! (find out which types to eat)
Eat Your Way to 100: 4 Longevity-Boosting Superfoods to Try Now


Sources
1.https://www.britannica.com/plant/sapodilla
2.http://rfcarchives.org.au/Next/Fruits/MameySapote/MameyGreenSapote1-89.htm
3.https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/sapodilla.html
4.https://www.britannica.com/plant/sapodilla
5.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
6.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
7.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12875759
9.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
10.https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
11.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
12.https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/calcium-nutrition-and-bone-health
13.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
14.http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/potassium
15.http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/potassium
16.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2382
17.https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
18.https://www.britannica.com/plant/sapodilla
19.http://www.foodofy.com/sapodilla.html

Clean Eating: How to Do a Processed Foods Detox

Most processed foods are, quite frankly, filled with junk. Sugar, and many other ingredients found in these kinds of products, can have damaging effects on the body. Some processed foods even contain toxins.1 If you’re hooked on processed foods, you need to start cutting them out.

Here’s some information on why processed foods are really that bad for you, and some of the steps you can take to avoid (or eliminate) them entirely from your diet.

Why Are Processed Foods So Bad for the Body?

There are a lot of reasons why you need to avoid processed foods whenever possible. One of the most important is that they are usually loaded with sugar. Consuming too much sugar can really do a number on your system. It can make it harder, for example, for your body to process insulin. If that happens, it could lead to serious health issues.3 It can also lead to an increase in not only “bad” cholesterol (LDL), but also the accumulation of fat in the liver.4

Many types of processed foods are specifically made to be rewarding – too rewarding, in fact. They basically act against our body’s natural inclination to eat only what we need. We eat these foods, and we immediately want more … and more … and more. This can make it extremely hard for us to keep our weight at a healthy level.5

Artificial Ingredients

preservatives

Processed foods typically contain a lot of artificial ingredients. These are chemicals that are added to food for several different reasons. Preservatives, for instance, keep food from spoiling. Coloring is used to make a product more attractive. Flavors and textures are added as well. One of the more common processed food additives is monosodium glutamate, or MSG. This is actually a type of toxin that can damage cells in the body. Studies show that people can develop a sensitivity to MSG that can lead to headaches and muscle pain.6

Eating processed food can even introduce heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic to the body. These toxins get into food for many reasons. Contamination can occur during the preparation and storage of the food, for instance. A heavy metal can also get into your body due to the equipment used to process products, as well as equipment used to package them.7

Breaking Free From Processed Foods

It can be challenging to try and cut processed foods out of a diet entirely. You’re so used to grabbing that sugar-filled snack that it becomes second nature. But there are ways to break free of processed foods and begin clean eating. Here are some tips that might help:

1. Buy local.

Your nearby farmer’s market offers a wide variety of fresh, wholesome foods that aren’t processed. Some grocery stores even feature sections of foods fresh from local farms. If you’re unsure of the source of your food, ask your grocer for help. You might also consider asking them to stock more fresh foods in the future (hey, it can and does work!).

2. Read the labels.

reading nutrition labels

The next time you’re in the supermarket, pay close attention to the artificial ingredients listed on the labels of the products you’re thinking of buying. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, steer clear of that product.

3. Eat in.

It’s fun to go to a restaurant, but do you know all of the additives in the foods you’re being served? Either ask your server to give you a list of ingredients, or simply make your meals at home, using all-natural ingredients. That way, you’ll be in total control of what’s going into your body.

4. Sugar alert.

One of the best things you can do is to try and find products that are free of sugar. But corn syrup, one of the most common ingredients you’ll find in food, can be just as bad for your body.8 Again, this is where checking the label will be key.

5. Substitute good for bad.

So, you’ve got a potato chip addiction? It happens. But if you want to avoid processed foods, you’ll need to find an alternative. Non-fat popcorn might be a good choice. And if you’re a morning cereal eater, try switching to non-sweetened oatmeal for breakfast. You’ll eliminate loads of sugar that way.

6. Steer clear of fast food.

fast food options

Not all processed foods are found in a grocery store, of course. Most fast food dishes are loaded with processed ingredients. While fast food is convenient, it’s usually bad for your body. Bring some natural snacks with you on your next trip, and pack some homemade meals as well. And during the week, bring your lunch from home. Prepare some yummy salads or some grilled chicken to enjoy at the office. This way, you won’t be tempted to hit up a fast food joint on your break.

The Bottom Line

If you’re making healthy changes to your diet, start by nixing processed foods. It’s going to take a little time to adjust, but by finding good substitutions for your favorite “bad” foods, you will slowly adapt and begin to enjoy your good choices. By eating clean and eliminating the toxins from processed foods, you’ll know you’re doing the best thing you can to keep your body healthy!

Learn More:

What is the Healthiest Bread to Eat? (recipe inside)
7 Effective Strategies to Stop Food Cravings


Sources
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10335377
2. https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/what-are-processed-foods.aspx
3. https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-2-5
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673878/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22011680
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19438927
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8. https://www.livescience.com/52852-science-sugar-corn-syrup-health.html