Packaging Update

To cut back on the waste we produce (and fossil fuels required to transport it), we’re switching from plastic tubs to recyclable stand up pouches. Here’s a look at the new packaging:

If you’re a current subscriber, there are a few changes you should be aware of:

  1. We got rid of scoops. So if you like having the scoop, hang onto one from your current tub.
  2. Because we got rid of scoops, the serving size on the package has changed. While the total amount of powder in the pouches is the same as it was in the tubs, the new serving sizes are as-follows:
    • Pure Food Plant Protein Powder (Vanilla): 3 Tablespoons (18 grams), which gets you 11 grams of protein per serving and 28 total servings per bag.
    • Pure Food REAL MEAL (Chocolate): 3 Tablespoons (22 grams), which gets you 11 grams of protein per serving and 24 total servings per bag.
    • Pure Food Plant Protein Powder (Chocolate): 3 Tablespoons (18 grams), which gets you 11 grams of protein per serving and 28 total servings per bag.

To get 20 grams of protein (our old 2-scoop serving size), you would add about 5.5 Tablespoons to your smoothie (which amounts to 32 grams of vanilla/cacao plant protein or 40 grams of Real Meal).

If you have any questions for us, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

The Best Immune Booster Supplements

Finding ways to boost your immune system naturally with supplements is all the rage these days. From vitamin D to elderberry capsules to zinc and vitamin C, in this article we’ll take a deeper dive into some of the best immune defense supplements out there. 

We’ll share the latest and greatest research about the benefits, risks, and optimal dosing for several of the best natural immune booster supplements, according to science. 

Vitamin D 

What Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in a small amount of foods and a hormone our bodies make. 

Since few foods naturally contain vitamin D, for most people the best way to get enough vitamin D is by spending time in the sunshine (which is good for getting vitamin D but not-so-good for your skin) or by taking supplements. 

Vitamin D Benefits 

  • Helps the body absorb more calcium and phosphorus, both of which are critical for building bone.
  • Supplementation with 800 IU of vitamin D per day reduced hip and nonspinal fractures by about 20%. 
  • A randomized clinical trial in Japanese school children tested whether taking daily vitamin D supplements would prevent seasonal flu. The trial followed nearly 340 children for four months during the height of the winter flu season. Half of the study participants received pills that contained 1,200 IU of vitamin D; the other half received placebo pills. Researchers found that type A influenza rates in the vitamin D group were about 40% lower than in the placebo group.
  • A large meta-analysis of individual participant data indicated that daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation lowers risk of acute respiratory infections.
  • One study of people with autoimmune conditions found “the beneficial effects of supplementing vitamin D deficient individuals with autoimmune disease may extend beyond effects on bone and calcium homeostasis.”
  • In the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, nearly 50,000 healthy men were followed for 10 years. Those who had the lowest levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to have a heart attack as men who had the highest levels. 

Vitamin D Adverse Effects / Risks 

According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin D is generally considered safe when used in appropriate doses. 

However, taking too much vitamin D supplements can be harmful. Children age 9 years and older, adults, and pregnant and breastfeeding women who take more than 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D might experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Kidney stones and kidney damage

Possible drug interactions include:

  • Aluminum
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux)
  • Cholestyramine (Prevalite)
  • Cytochrome P-450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin)
  • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others)
  • Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
  • Thiazide diuretics
  • Steroids
  • Stimulant laxatives
  • Verapamil (Verelan, Calan SR)

Talk to your doctor about vitamin D supplementation if you’re taking any of these. 

Vitamin D Dosing

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, many people may not be getting enough vitamin D. 

Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D (the daily amount needed to maintain healthy bones and normal calcium metabolism in healthy people, assuming minimal sun exposure), is: 

600 IU daily for men and women 19 years and older, and 800 IU daily for adults >70 years. 

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)–the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health–is 4,000 IU of vitamin D for adults and children ages 9+. 

Vitamin C

What Is Vitamin C? 

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue, the formation of collagen, and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. 

Vitamin C Immune Defense Benefits 

Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants for immunity. It has been shown in clinical studies to: 

Since the human body can’t create or store its own vitamin C, it needs to be constantly replenished and that’s where supplements can help. 

Vitamin C Adverse Effects / Risks 

According to a 2020 research review, potential adverse effects of Vitamin C supplementation include headaches, flushing, nausea or vomiting, and dizziness. There have been reports of migraine headaches with a daily dose of 6 grams.

Significant amounts of vitamin C can increase the risk of kidney stones and elevate uric acid and oxalate because it acidifies the urine.

Vitamin C supplementation is contraindicated in blood disorders like thalassemia, G6PD deficiency, sickle cell disease, and hemochromatosis. Avoid taking supplements immediately before or following angioplasty. Diabetic patients should take vitamin C supplements with care as it raises blood sugar levels.

Vitamin C Dosing

The average protective adult dose of vitamin C is 70 to 150 mg daily.

Zinc 

What Is Zinc? 

Zinc is a trace mineral that’s found at high levels in oysters, beef and crab, and in lower amounts in legumes, tofu, pumpkin seeds, cashews and other nuts and seeds. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that between 17% and 30% of the world population has a zinc deficiency. 

Zinc Immunity Benefits

Zinc is known as the “gatekeeper” of immune function and its immune-boosting benefits include: 

Zinc Adverse Effects / Risks 

Acute adverse effects of high zinc intake include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. 

Taking 150–450 mg of zinc per day have been associated with chronic effects such as low copper status, altered iron function, reduced immune function, and reduced levels of high-density lipoproteins. 

Zinc supplements can interact with several types of medications, including: 

  • Antibiotics
  • Penicillamine
  • Diuretics

Talk to your doctor about using a zinc supplement if you’re on any of these medications. 

Zinc Dosing

Zinc has been studied in clinical trials in doses ranging from 45 mg to 300 mg. Research has shown that use of total daily zinc lozenge doses of over 75 mg reduced the duration of the common cold, whereas lower doses did not. 

However, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) has established a daily Upper Limit (UL) for zinc because long-term intakes above the UL increase the risk of adverse health effects. 

Age Male Female Pregnant Lactating
0–6 months 4 mg 4 mg
7–12 months 5 mg 5 mg
1–3 years 7 mg 7 mg
4–8 years 12 mg 12 mg
9–13 years 23 mg 23 mg
14–18 years 34 mg 34 mg 34 mg 34 mg
19+ years 40 mg 40 mg 40 mg 40 mg

We recommend starting with adding 15 to 30 milligrams of zinc to your daily supplement regimen daily, especially during the fall and winter months and at the first signs of cold or flu. If you get sick, talk to your healthcare professional about upping the dose of zinc for the duration of your symptoms for increased immune defense.

Turmeric

What Is Turmeric? 

Turmeric is a spice that comes from the root of curcuma longa, a plant in the ginger family. Its main active ingredient is a compound called curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow color. 

Turmeric Immune Health Benefits 

Turmeric is known for its antioxidant profile and anti-inflammatory properties. 

  • One study showed turmeric/curcumin may help protect your body from free radicals. 
  • A 2020 research review found that turmeric’s antioxidant effects may also stimulate the action of other antioxidants in your body.
  • A 2017 research review found that turmeric “aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia”.
  • In one study of patients with ulcerative colitis, a common autoimmune disease, patients who took 2 grams of curcumin / day along with prescription medication were more likely to stay in remission than those who took the medication alone. 
  • Turmeric may reduce joint swelling and stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis. 
  • A 2018 study found that “turmeric shows pivotal role in the modulation of immune system”. 

Turmeric Adverse Effects / Risks 

When taken orally in supplement form, turmeric is usually well tolerated. 

In human studies, doses of up to 8000 mg / day of turmeric / curcumin have been used for eight months without toxic effects. 

The most common side effects were GI-related, including:

  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • abdominal distension
  • flatulence
  • dyspepsia
  • nausea
  • gastroesophageal reflux
  • vomiting
  • yellow stool
  • stomach ache

Turmeric extracts can trigger biliary colic (abdominal pain) in people with gallstones. About 7% of the adverse reactions reported to the MHRA for curcuma were for hepatobiliary disorders or abnormal liver function test results.

Turmeric or curcumin-containing preparations may cause heart rate or rhythm disorders.

Curcumin may also have antiplatelet (blood thinning) effects.

Talk to your doctor before supplementing with turmeric / curcumin

Turmeric Dosing

Research shows that 500 milligrams of a turmeric / curcumin supplement twice daily with food appears to be a safe and efficacious dose for most people. 

The dose that’s right for you depends on your overall health and pre-existing conditions you may have. More isn’t necessarily better, and in some cases can be worse, so talk to your doctor first. 

Another important caveat: on its own, curcumin is poorly absorbed. So look for a curcumin / turmeric capsule with piperine (a black pepper extract) or combine it with some healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc.) to increase absorption. 

It’s usually best to take turmeric with or immediately before a meal to avoid any side effects. 

Elderberry

What Is Elderberry? 

Elderberries come from a tree variety known as Sambucus. The berries and flowers of these trees are edible, but must be cooked before they’re consumed (because they’re toxic and can cause diarrhea, vomiting and nausea if consumed uncooked). 

Elderberry Immune Boosting Benefits 

A 2016 randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of 312 economy class passengers traveling overseas from Australia sought to investigate whether elderberry extract has beneficial effects on physical, especially respiratory, and mental health. 

Researchers found that the group that didn’t take the elderberry supplement had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days and the average symptom score over these days was also significantly higher. These data suggest a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers. 

Elderberry also may be an effective option for:

It should be noted that elderberry’s ability to fight the flu has been a point of contention, with one study showing “no evidence that elderberry benefits the duration or severity of influenza”. 

Elderberry Adverse Effects / Risks 

  • Raw unripe elderberries and other parts of the elder tree, such as the leaves and stem, contain toxic substances that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; cooking eliminates this toxin. Large quantities of the toxin may cause serious illness.
  • Little is known about whether it’s safe to use elderberry during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
  • Don’t rely on elderberry or other dietary supplements for prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They have not been shown to be effective.

Elderberry Dosing

Elderberry is available in many different types of products, including syrups, mouth rinses, and capsules. But there are currently no dosing standards for elderberry supplements. It has been studied in doses ranging from 500 mg to 1200 mg daily. 

Long story short, elderberry is a promising but understudied supplement: it may reduce the symptoms of colds and the flu, but the evidence is still preliminary.

Larger controlled clinical studies are needed to better understand the safety, efficacy, and dosing. 

Probiotics 

What Are Probiotics? 

Probiotics are gut microbes that may exert some health benefits. 

Which Probiotics Support Immunity? 

Here are the strain-specific probiotics that may work for boosting your immune system:

Probiotic Strain Immune System Benefit
Bifidobacterium bifidum Reduces cold and flu incidence.
Lactobacillus brevis Reduces the incidence of flu.
Lactobacillus GG Decreased risk of upper respiratory infections for children in daycare.
Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum  Reduces the risk of colds in school-aged children.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus Reduces the incidence of pneumonia in people in the intensive care unit.
B. longum  Helps prevent the flu in elderly patients.
Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei Reduces the number of days with symptoms and severity of colds.

Also, a 2016 review and meta-analysis of 23 randomized controlled trials found that probiotics appear to decrease the incidence of respiratory tract infections in children. 

See our article Which Probiotics Are Best for Immunity? for further reading on this topic. 

Probiotics Adverse Effects / Risks 

According to the Cleveland Clinic

Because microbes used as probiotics already exist naturally in your body, probiotic foods and supplements are generally considered safe. They may trigger allergic reactions, and may also cause mild stomach upset, diarrhea, or flatulence (passing gas) and bloating for the first few days after starting to take them.

There are certain people who need to use caution when using probiotic supplements, including those who:

  • Have a weakened immune system (those going through chemotherapy for example).
  • Have a critical illness.
  • Recently had surgery.

Caution should also be used when giving probiotics to very sick infants.

Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic supplement.

Probiotics Dosing

Probiotics are measured in colony forming units (CFUs), which indicate the number of viable cells. 

Many probiotic supplements contain 1 to 10 billion CFU per dose, but some products contain up to 50 billion CFU or more. 

However, higher CFU counts do not necessarily improve the product’s health effects.

And unfortunately, at this point there are too many strains and not enough clear evidence about the optimal dose for each strain, so probiotic supplementation can often take some trial and error. Be sure to stick with supplements that use strains that have been studied for safety and efficacy in clinical trials (like the ones mentioned above). 

How to Find the Best Natural Immune Booster Supplements  

There are a few things to look for to find the best immune boosting supplements for you

  1. Stick with supplements that are supported by research and have some efficacy and safety data to support them: vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, elderberry, and probiotics. 
  2. Choose a product with optimal doses for efficacy and safety (if optimal doses have been established). 
  3. Look for supplements made in the USA in a GMP-compliant, FDA-approved facility that have been third party lab tested for purity and safety. 

We recommend trying an elderberry with Vitamin C and zinc supplement, along with vitamin D and probiotics to support immune health

If you’re interesting in exploring Pure Food supplements for a strong immune system, read more here:

Pure Food Immunity Bundle: 4 Proven Immune Defense Supplements

Best Supplements for Autoimmune Disease

In 2016, I started experiencing some very strange, life-altering symptoms: debilitating fatigue, GI issues, and unbearably sore joints. 18 months and many doctors later, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called reactive arthritis.

It was a frustrating process, and I wish I would’ve had more information about how to better manage my condition at the time.

Autoimmune diseases are notoriously hard to diagnose, and oftentimes even harder to treat.

And while there are many approved drugs for certain conditions, some of them come with unwanted side effects, which leads many of us to seek out supplements and alternative / homeopathic treatment options that might help.

In this article, we’ll look at supplements that may help with certain types of autoimmune disease. More research is definitely needed in this area, but there are some clinical studies available to help us understand what may work and what appears not to.

It should go without saying, but always talk to your healthcare professional before taking supplements for your autoimmune conditions … especially if you’re taking other medications.

Let’s jump right in …

What Is An Autoimmune Disease?

This description from Cleveland Clinic sums it up well:

Imagine that your body is a castle and your immune system is your army fighting off invaders like bacteria. If your army malfunctions and attacks the castle, you may have lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and/or psoriasis, among a hundred other autoimmune diseases. You may experience pain, fatigue, dizziness, rashes, depression and many more symptoms.

Autoimmune conditions are becoming more and more common. 1 in 15 people in the U.S. now have an autoimmune disease. And unfortunately, they’re one of the top 10 causes of death in women in all age groups (up to age 64).

Let’s look at some of the different types …

Types of Autoimmune Disorders

There are over 100 types of autoimmune diseases. Here are just a few of the most common:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Psoriasis
  • Celiac disease
  • Graves’ disease

What Causes Autoimmune Disease?

The causes are still unknown but there are several risk factors that can increase your likelihood of getting one, including:

  • Certain medications (some blood pressure meds, statins and antibiotics appear to increase risk)
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Being female — 78% of people who have an autoimmune disease are women
  • Obesity
  • Infections

Scientists have also implicated the gut microbiome in numerous autoimmune conditions, including lupus, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Treatment Options for Autoimmune Disorders

Most autoimmune diseases are not curable, but you can manage symptoms with the right treatment methods. Everyone’s immune system, genetics and environment are different, and it’s important to work with your doctor (often a rheumatologist) to determine the best treatment approach for your autoimmune condition.

Common treatment options for autoimmune diseases include:

  • Painkillers
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Depression and anxiety meds
  • Insulin
  • Sleep meds
  • Plasma exchanges
  • Corticosteroids
  • Rash creams and pills
  • Intravenous immune globulin
  • Drugs that suppress (subdue) your immune system (like Humira and Enbrel)

Best Natural Supplements for Autoimmune Disease

Supplements can also play a role in keeping symptoms at bay. Here are few that show promise:

Zinc

According to a 2018 metaanalysis, zinc deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infections and higher risk of autoimmune diseases. People with autoimmune disorders tend to show lower zinc levels.

A research team published a 2020 review that states:

The immune system is highly affected by fluctuations of zinc. Zinc is required for the proper functioning of every immune cell; thus maintaining adequate zinc homeostasis is essential for supporting an effective immune response.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31841960/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793296/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128053782000036

Learn More About Pure Food Supplements Containing Zinc

Vitamin D

An analysis of more than 130 studies showed an inverse association between vitamin D and the development of several autoimmune diseases, such as SLE, thyrotoxicosis, type 1 DM, MS, iridocyclitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis vulgaris, seropositive RA, polymyalgia rheumatica.

And a 2021 research team hypothesized that high doses of Vitamin D may be used to treat autoimmune diseases.

Vitamin D resistance provides a plausible pathomechanism for the development of autoimmune diseases, which could be treated using high-dose vitamin D3 therapy.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31323357/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.655739/full

Quercetin

Quercetin is a natural flavonoid (neuroprotective antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits) that’s in nearly all fruits, herbs, and vegetables.

According to a 2021 research paper titled Potential Implications of Quercetin in Autoimmune Diseases

In several recent studies quercetin has reportedly attenuated rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and systemic lupus erythematosus in humans or animal models.

Quercetin will be expected to become a potential opportunity and supplement for the treatment and prevention of autoimmune diseases.

However, the research team went on to point out that the direct effects of quercetin on immune imbalance in patients are still unconfirmed and further randomized, controlled clinical studies are needed to better understand the efficacy and safety of quercetin for the treatment of autoimmune disorders.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8260830/

https://www.jimmunol.org/content/184/12/6815

Turmeric / Curcumin

Curcumin is a yellow-hued polyphenolic compound that’s the primary bioactive substance in turmeric, a flowering plant of the ginger family best known as a spice used in curry.

It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-boosting properties, and is used as a supplement to help with many conditions.

Studies have shown that curcumin may support patients suffering from autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Curcumin inhibits these autoimmune diseases by regulating inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-12, TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma and associated JAK-STAT, AP-1, and NF-kappaB signaling pathways in immune cells.

The use of purified active compounds such as curcumin at higher doses for therapeutic purposes needs further study.

It has poor bioavailability alone, necessitating special formulations (notably black pepper extract) to be efficiently absorbed.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17569223/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28059453/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18662800/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19594223/

Learn More About Pure Food’s Turmeric Supplement

Glucosamine / Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are the building blocks for cartilage and appear to stimulate the body to make more cartilage.

There are conflicting studies on the efficacy glucosamine and chondroitin, but based on what we know now it does appear that glucosamine and chondroitin can reduce the rate of collagen (joint tissue) degradation and symptoms of osteoarthritis, particularly in the knees.

Glucosamine and chondroitin’s effectiveness for rheumatoid arthritis isn’t as clear, as only a handful of studies have been conducted in relation to RA. Here’s what we know so far …

For RA patients, glucosamine appears to have positive effects for pain. When compared to NSAIDs for pain relief, glucosamine has shown evidence to produce similar pain reduction in RA patients as NSAIDs, without the side effects.

Here’s what Hugh Duckworth, M.D. from the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network has to say:

In general, when taking Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate supplements, if no improvement is seen in two months, you’ll likely not see any improvement over time. Most physicians advise patients to stop taking the supplements altogether after six months if no indication of improvement presents itself.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3828858/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11350488/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6412843/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4138964/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930123057.htm

https://examine.com/supplements/glucosamine/

Learn More About Pure Food’s Glucosamine Supplement

Fish Oil / Krill Oil 

Fish oil and krill oil are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help your body reduce triglycerides, reduce the symptoms of depression, and improve some painful, inflammatory conditions.

The fatty acids EPA and DHA contained in fish and krill oils are involved in regulating various biological processes such as the inflammatory response, various metabolic signaling pathways, and brain function.

There have been a number of clinical trials assessing the benefits of dietary supplementation with fish oils in several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in humans, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches.

According to one research review published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition:

Many of the placebo-controlled trials of fish oil in chronic inflammatory diseases reveal significant benefit, including decreased disease activity and a lowered use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Another research team found that fish oil/krill oil may have “huge potential” to treat autoimmune diseases as type 1 diabetes, RA, SLE, MS.

An animal study found that krill oil helped protect against rheumatoid arthritis.

More research is needed, but fish and krill oils appear to have some benefits that may help people suffering from autoimmune conditions.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12480795/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907316/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11802309/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8401900/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4030645/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17875549/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6776881/

Learn More About Pure Food’s Glucosamine Supplement

Ginger

Zingiber officinale is a plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family, which has traditionally been used for treatment of RA in alternative / homeopathic medicines of many countries.

According to a University of Michigan Medicine study, the main bioactive compound of ginger root, 6-gingerol, is therapeutic in countering the mechanism that fuels certain autoimmune diseases in mice (notably antiphospholipid syndrome and lupus). Hopefully this will lead to human trials to further test the effectiveness of ginger for autoimmune diseases like lupus.

And in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, seventy active RA patients were allocated randomly into two groups who either received 1500 mg ginger powder or placebo daily for 12 weeks.

Disease activity score and gene expression of immunity and inflammation intermediate factors were measured before and after the intervention.

The research team found that ginger can improve RA by decreasing disease manifestations via increasing FoxP3 genes expression and by decreasing RORγt and T-bet genes expression.

Again, further study is needed but ginger may be a supplement worth talking to your doctor about.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30844477/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058601/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34159624/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26714420/

https://insight.jci.org/articles/view/138385

Probiotics

Research on the role probiotics play in autoimmune disorders is limited, but there are a few randomized, controlled trials that have shown that microbial modification by probiotics may improve gastrointestinal symptoms and multi-organ inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and multiple sclerosis.

One research review found that synbiotics and probiotics supplementation has significant effect on some inflammatory and oxidative stress markers; but, “the number of trials was too small and further investigations may be needed.”

One thing is for certain though: our microbiomes play a role in many autoimmune diseases. An article published in the journal Nature had this to say:

Scientists are trying to understand the mechanisms behind the apparent ability of the gut microbiota to trigger or to sustain autoimmune conditions. They hope to turn that knowledge into better therapies for conditions that are currently difficult to treat — perhaps even in the form of simple probiotic pills.

Future studies are definitely needed to assess safety issues and understand optimal strains and combinations.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30340338/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33642142/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213508/

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00197-z

Learn More About Pure Food’s Probiotic Supplement

Summary: Will Autoimmune Supplements Work for You?

Ultimately, it’s up to you and your doctor(s) to decide which treatment options are best for your autoimmune conditions.

Before taking any supplement, it’s important to have a conversation with a healthcare professional so they can evaluate the potential benefits, risks, and side effects based on your unique condition. This is especially important if you’re taking medications to ensure there are no drug interactions you need to worry about.

More research is definitely needed in this area, but supplements may be able to help you alleviate at least some of your symptoms, depending on your condition.

Again, talk to several different healthcare experts so you’re armed with as much knowledge from as many experts as you can and then use that knowledge to make informed decisions that are best for your unique autoimmune condition.

Speaking from experience, it can be an arduous journey, but once you identify 1 or 2 supplements that work well for you, it can make quite the difference in how you feel.

Lactose / Dairy Free Protein Shakes for Weight Loss, Lean Muscle Gain

If you’re looking to lose weight and/or gain muscle using protein shakes, without the unpleasant side effects that come from lactose / milk / dairy, then we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we’ll share:

  • Why so many people can’t digest lactose from dairy products properly (and the potential health implications).
  • What protein powders are best for lactose intolerance.
  • How to find the best dairy / lactose free protein shakes for you.
  • 8 delicious, non dairy protein shake ideas you can make today to help with weight loss.

Let’s get started!

What Is Lactose?

Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products.

What Is Lactose Intolerance?

When you’re lactose intolerant, you can’t fully digest lactose in milk and other dairy-based foods and drinks. This can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, gas and bloating after eating or drinking dairy products.

Lactose intolerance affects an estimated 36% of Americans and 68% of the world population.

Lactose intolerance also seems to impact people from certain ethnic populations and races more prominently, including Latin Americans, African-Americans, Native Americans, Asians, East Europeans and Middle Easterners.lactose free protein shakes

Why Are So Many People Lactose Intolerant?

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Too little of an enzyme produced in your small intestine (lactase) is usually responsible for lactose intolerance. You can have low levels of lactase and still be able to digest milk products. But if your levels are too low you become lactose intolerant, leading to symptoms after you eat or drink dairy.

Certain diseases that affect the digestive systems (including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease), stomach or intestinal infections, and injuries to the small intestine (from surgery, trauma, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy) may reduce the amount of the digestive enzyme lactase available to process lactose properly.

What Types of Foods Are High in Lactose?

High lactose foods include the usual suspects like milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy products. But lactose is often hiding in common grocery store foods like bread and baked goods, chocolate and many types of candy, salad dressings and sauces, breakfast cereals and cereal bars, instant potatoes, soups, rice and noodle mixes, lunch meats, mixes for pancakes, biscuits, and cookies, margarine and butter.

Most people also don’t realize that lactose is also present in about 20% of prescription medications, such as birth control pills (oral contraceptives), and about 6% of over-the-counter medications, including many tablets for stomach acid and gas.

So if you’re on a lactose-free diet, it’s important to scrutinize ingredient lists and food labels.

What Protein Powders Are Best for Lactose Intolerance?

Most milk-based protein powders, including whey protein, contain lactose. So it comes as no surprise that these types of animal proteins can lead to gut disturbances for folks who are lactose intolerant.

There are certain whey protein powder brands that are lactose-free and/or contain the digestive enzyme lactase, which helps your body break down lactose. But it’s up to you the consumer to determine if these products are actually “non-dairy” like they claim to be.

Vegan / plant based protein powders are completely free of any dairy, so these may be a safer / more suitable option if you’re trying to avoid lactose.

How to Find the Best Non Dairy Protein Powders for Your Health Needs

First off, what are your health goals? What do you want your protein powder to do for you?

Help you feel better?

Look better?

Lose weight?

Do you care where the ingredients come from and if they’re organic? Or is cost more important to you?

For example, I choose supplements that help me look and feel better. I want my supplements to be organic and plant-based whenever possible, free of dairy and other allergens, and have no sugar added (because added sugar is one of the biggest causes of weight gain).

I also look for ingredients grown in the U.S. and Canada instead of China, where most brands source their ingredients from.

So determine what your top 3-4 most important criteria are, and then find a protein powder that fits your needs. It takes a little work, in full disclosure, because most of the top selling brands have ingredients that come from China, added sugar, and hidden junk that may not be dairy free.

8 Lactose and Dairy Free Protein Shake and Meal Replacement Recipes for Weight Loss

We used our protein powder, Pure Food, for these smoothie recipes, but any non-dairy protein powder option will work (as long as it doesn’t contain added sugar).

dairy free protein shake recipes

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Probiotics, Digestive Enzyme, and Other Supplements for IBS and IBD

Anyone who suffers from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) know the symptoms can have a major impact on your daily life. Of course we’re talking about two very different conditions, one (IBD) being more serious and life-altering.

In this article, we’ll discuss the best (science-backed) supplements to treat IBS and IBD. We’ll look at the vitamins, minerals, and other supplements (like probiotics and digestive enzymes) along with several other therapies indicated for these conditions.

What’s the Difference Between IBS and IBD?

While they may present with similar symptoms, IBS and IBD are definitely not the same thing.

According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is classified as a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which means there’s a disturbance in bowel function, but not enough to constitute a “disease.” Symptoms include intermittent abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, or alternating episodes of both.

IBS affects at least 10-15% of adults in the U.S. and women are affected more often than men. It is the disorder most commonly diagnosed by gastroenterologists, and one of the most frequently diagnosed conditions among U.S. physicians. Symptoms often begin in your late teens or early twenties.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), on the other hand, is characterized by chronic irritation and ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common disorders.

The disorders are usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 30, but can develop at any age. IBD can lead to destructive inflammation and permanent harm to the intestinal tract, and significantly increases one’s risk of developing colon cancer.

Treatments for IBS and IBD

Treating IBS

Treating IBS generally involves relieving symptoms so that you can live as normally as possible.

You can usually treat mild symptoms with lifestyle changes like:

  1. Managing stress
  2. Eating healthy (particularly a diet high in fiber)
  3. Getting enough sleep
  4. Exercising

Doctors often recommend removing high gas foods from your diet (like carbonated and alcoholic beverages and FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols). This includes certain grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products.

Research also shows that some people with IBS can improve symptoms by removing gluten (wheat, barley and rye) from their diets.

In addition, the following treatments have been shown to help certain people:

  • Fiber supplements
  • Laxatives
  • Anti-diarrheal medications
  • Anticholinergic medications
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • SSRI antidepressants

Medications approved to treat IBS include:

  • Alosetron (Lotronex)
  • Eluxadoline (Viberzi)
  • Rifaximin (Xifaxan)
  • Lubiprostone (Amitiza)
  • Linaclotide (Linzess)

Researchers are also investigating several newer treatments for IBS, including:

  • Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT)
  • Hypnosis
  • Peppermint
  • Stress reduction
  • Probiotics (more on this below)

Treating IBD

IBD is much trickier to treat.

According to the Mayo Clinic, IBD treatment often involves drugs (many of which come with serious side effects) and/or surgery. The following are among the most common treatment options, depending on which area of the colon is affected:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Ccorticosteroids and aminosalicylates, such as mesalamine (Asacol HD, Delzicol, etc.)
    • Balsalazide (Colazal)
    • Olsalazine (Dipentum)
  • Immune system suppressors
    • Azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran)
    • Mercaptopurine (Purinethol, Purixan)
    • Methotrexate (Trexall)
  • Biologics
    • Infliximab (Remicade)
    • Adalimumab (Humira)
    • Golimumab (Simponi)
    • Certolizumab (Cimzia)
    • Vedolizumab (Entyvio)
    • Ustekinumab (Stelara)
  • Antibiotics
    • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
    • Metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • Other medications and supplements
    • Anti-diarrheal medications. A fiber supplement — such as psyllium powder (Metamucil) or methylcellulose (Citrucel) — can help relieve mild to moderate diarrhea by adding bulk to your stool. For more-severe diarrhea, loperamide (Imodium A-D) may be effective.
    • Pain relievers. For mild pain, your doctor may recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). However, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) and diclofenac sodium likely will make your symptoms worse and can make your disease worse as well.
    • Vitamins and supplements. If you’re not absorbing enough nutrients, your doctor may recommend vitamins and nutritional supplements, including digestive enzymes.

Do Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes Work for IBS and IBD?

Probiotics and IBS

In a meta-analysis of more than 30 studies published in The American College of Gastroenterology, researchers found that certain probiotic strains may improve overall symptoms, as well as gas and bloating, in patients with IBS.

The probiotic strain Bifidobacterium bifidum, in particular, has been reported to adhere particularly well to intestinal cells, and therefore may have an advantage in altering the intestinal microbiota and increasing the intestinal barrier.

In a clinical study published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Bifidobacterium bifidum significantly improved overall IBS symptoms, as well as individual IBS symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, and fecal urgency.

A 2020 study that looked at 59 studies, including 6,761 patients found that:

Probiotics are effective and safe for IBS patients.

And yet another 2020 metaanalysis concluded that probiotics can improve IBS symptoms compared to placebo.

Finally, a 2010 research study looked at specific probiotic strains, and found the following ones appear to work to treat some IBS symptoms:

  • Bifidobacterium (B. longum, B. infantis, B. breve)
  • Lactobacillus (L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus, L. plantarum, L. helveticus, L rhamnosus GG)

Probiotics and IBD

Studies on probiotics for the treatment of IBD are limited.

Probiotics may induce clinical remission in active ulcerative colitis when compared to placebo, according to a 2018 study.

Another 2018 research review found that:

Studies on probiotics in animal models of IBD are promising, and clinical results in IBD patients are encouraging; however, the data are limited, and few studies are placebo controlled. Additional placebo-controlled, double-blind studies in IBD are required before recommendations can be offered for routine use of probiotics in IBD.

More recently, a research team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has created a living-material that uses a strain of genetically engineered E.coli Nissle gut bacteria as a locally acting probiotic. The engineered bacteria produce a network of nanofibers that directly binds to mucus to fill inflamed areas like a patch, shielding them from gut microbes and environmental factors. This probiotic-based therapeutic strategy protected mice against the effects of colitis induced by a chemical agent and promoted mucosal healing.

The Probiotic Associated Therapeutic Curli Hybrids (PATCH) approach, as we named it, creates a biocompatible, mucoadhesive coating that functions as a stable, self-regenerating Band-Aid and provides biological cues for mucosal healing.

-Neel Joshi, Ph.D.

Joshi and his team think that their approach could be developed as a companion therapy to existing anti-inflammatory, immuno-suppressant, and antibiotic therapies to help minimize patients’ exposure to harsh medications with serious side effects and potentially provide protection against IBD relapses.

Best Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements for IBS

According to Harvard Medical School, the following supplements may be effective for treating IBS:

  1. Fiber. Soluble fiber supplements (Metamucil or ones with psyllium husk) can be helpful for constipation. Taking large amounts of fiber can affect absorption of medications though, so Harvard recommends taking your meds 1-2 hours prior to taking any fiber supplement. Soluble fiber is also found in foods such as beans, avocados, oats, flax seeds, sweet potatoes, and pears. Drinking lots of water is important too when taking a fiber supplement for IBS.
  2. Probiotics. An analysis of nearly 1,800 patients from multiple studies showed that taking probiotic supplements can help reduce pain and symptom severity in IBS compared to placebo. 
  3. Peppermint Oil. Peppermint oil can help relax the GI tract and decrease abdominal pain associated with IBS.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements for IBD

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, the following supplements may help with IBD:

  • Calcium
  • Folic acid
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamins A, E, and K
  • Zinc

Summary

More research is needed to understand which strains of probiotics and/or digestive enzymes work for IBS and IBD. But early results look promising. If you have either of these conditions, talk with your GI doctor to understand which supplements, if any, you should be taking.

How to Find the Best Dr Formulated Probiotics: 3 Things to Look for

Not all probiotic supplements are created equal. Even ones that are doctor formulated can be complete junk, and a waste of your hard-earned money.

That’s why we put together this guide to help you find the best Dr. formulated probiotics. Read on to find out the most important things to look for to find the right probiotics for your unique health needs.

Why You Should Choose Dr. Formulated Probiotics

Probiotics are microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits. There are over 500 different types, which is one of the reasons why it’s important to look for probiotics that are formulated by healthcare experts, not giant corporations.

Large corporations put profits over health. Their number one goal is generating more value for their share holders.

(Most) doctors understand which strains offer the most benefits, and which ones are safest. When you choose a product created by marketers instead of physicians, it’s probably a safe bet their products are going to contain the cheapest, lowest quality ingredients possible.

Other Things to Look for When Choosing a Probiotic Supplement

Aside from looking for Dr.-developed probiotics, there are several other criteria to pay attention to when selecting probiotics:

  1. Where the ingredients come from. Most supplement companies source their ingredients from countries like China, where ingredients are cheap and regulations aren’t as stringent. On top of that, they often use highly allergenic mediums to spawn their probiotics and/or as fillers in their products (like dairy, corn, soy, and gluten). These allergens can lead to inflammation and other issues, which defeats the purpose of taking a probiotic supplement in the first place). We recommend looking for products that are sourced from North America (like Pure Food DIGEST).
  2. What type of capsule they use. Here’s a little-known truth about probiotic supplements–even many of the ones that are developed by doctors: most probiotic strains will die in your stomach before they reach your lower gut, where they convey the most benefit. That’s why it’s so important to look for a probiotic with a delayed release capsule. Otherwise, you’re wasting your money.
  3. What types of strains they use. Not all probiotic strains have been extensively studied in peer reviewed research studies for safety and efficacy. The ingredient list should tell you exactly what strains they use. It’s up to you to determine if those strains are actually beneficial to you. If you’re not well versed in nutritional science, we recommend showing the label to a trusted medical professional who is, and letting them share their thoughts on the effectiveness of each strain. Or try this strategy …

How to Find the Best Doctor-Developed Probiotics for You

The number one thing to do when looking for a new probiotic supplement is:

Identify the condition or conditions you’re looking to treat, and then find a product with probiotic strains that actually have been proven to work for those conditions.

It’s amazing how many folks just buy the best selling product at Amazon or another store, instead of doing their research and figuring out what products are best for them.

A good place to start is PubMed, the online database of medical studies. If you’ve never used PubMed to conduct online research before, it’s actually quite easy. Here’s how …

Head over to Google and type in the name of the condition you’re looking to treat, along with the word “probiotics”.

For example, if I was looking for information on how to treat IBS with probiotics, I would conduct a google search that said:

best probiotic strains for ibs pubmed

In the results, you’ll see a nice list of research studies you can pore over on your own:

dr formulated probiotics

And there you have it! If you have questions about probiotics, leave them in the comments and we’ll get back to you with an answer.

How to Get in the Best Physical and Mental Shape of Your Life this Year

Why do so many people set health goals in January only to have them fizzle out by February?

The truth is, 99% of effort (when it comes to most things in life–work, relationships, health) is wasted.

The secret is to find that 1% that works for YOU.

The big question: how do you do this?

It starts with discovering or identifying those healthy behaviors, actions, or efforts that you actually enjoy, and then GOING ALL IN on those behaviors.

When you do this, you create habits.

And habits are what lead to drastic, sustainable changes to your health.

For example, I realized about 15 years ago that I really enjoy cooking. So I went all in, buying cook books, searching for healthy recipes online, and experimenting with healthier versions of my favorite foods in the kitchen every day. Today, I still prepare almost every meal for my family, and it’s one of those “keystone habits” that has made an enormous difference.

You don’t have to make big changes overnight, because you’re setting yourself up for failure when you do that (case-in-point: all the new January gym-goers who slog through workouts they hate, only to stop going by March).

So long story short, instead of setting goals this year, cultivate new habits. I advise doing some self-reflection and answering these two questions:

  1. What have I learned that works for me based on my past experience?
  2. What have I learned doesn’t work for me? (Note: it’s amazing how often humans repeat the same mistakes over and over … if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten).

When you find those few things that you enjoy and work for you, invest in them. Just like money, compound interest is the “secret sauce” to big returns in the long-run when it comes to your health.

It’s OK (and encouraged) to start small. If you love cycling, invest in 5-10 minutes every other day. If meditation has worked for you in the past and you enjoy it, but you can’t seem to stick with it, then schedule just 2 minutes every day.

That’s how you create habits that stick and find your 1%.

Top 10 Gifts to Buy Yourself for a Healthier You in 2022

As nice as it is to give gifts to others around the holidays, guess who’s the one person most of you probably aren’t thinking about this time of year?

Yourself!

That’s why I put together a list of 10 of my best health and wellness-related recommendations for a healthier you in 2022!

These are truly the gifts that keep on giving (unlike the jelly of the month club) because they are all investments in your health that will pay dividends many times over if used consistently.

So here ‘ya go …

10 Health and Wellness Gifts to Buy Yourself This Year

  1. Exercise Band Set. Using exercise bands is one of the best ways to strengthen and lengthen muscles, boost functional strength, improve mobility and balance, and increase flexibility. I incorporate them into most of my workouts these days. Bonus: you can take them with you anywhere.
  2. Percussion Massager Gun. One of my favorite purchases in the last two years, a percussion massage gun helps relieve muscle aches and pains. This thing has helped me recover faster countless times, particularly when I get knots in my neck and back area (which is often). You can also try the newer Theragun Wave, which is a mini version that may be better suited for spot treatment. Better yet, treat yourself to regular massage therapy if you’re able!
  3. Viome Gut Intelligence Test. I’ve said it before, but personalized nutrition is the future and Viome is at the forefront. For $99, they will analyze your unique gut bacteria composition and tell you which foods you should/shouldn’t be eating.
  4. 23andme Health and Ancestry Kit. How cool is it that you can now learn about your family history through genetic testing? On top of that, 23andme’s health reports will tell you i.) genetic factors that may influence your chances of developing certain health conditions, ii.) whether you have specific genetic variants that may not affect your health, but could affect your children’s health, iii.) how your DNA may affect your body’s response to diet, exercise, and sleep, and iv.) the genetics behind your appearance and senses. Pretty amazing stuff.
  5. White Noise Machine. Struggle with sleep? This white noise machine is a life saver. Best investment I’ve ever made in my sleep.
  6. Calm Subscription. Taking time to meditate and breathe each day offers too many benefits to list–from improving your mood and memory to lowering blood pressure. Calm is a highly-rated app that has guided meditations sessions specifically for anxiety, work stress, grief, sleep, and more. I also love their ambient music tracks for focusing during the workday.
  7. Arbor Day Foundation Membership. Even if you’re not a gardener or green thumb, you can impact future generations long after you’re gone by helping plant trees. Make a donation or buy trees directly from their mail order catalog (at great prices) and they’ll ship them in the mail for you along with planting instructions. 
  8. My Immune Health Supplement Stack: Get sick less and recover faster by taking this Immunity Support stack daily: 1 Zinc + vitamin C capsule, 1 vitamin D3 capsule, and 2 Pure Food Digest capsules (1 with your two largest meals).
  9. Ullo Wine Purifier. Love wine but hate hangovers? Then try this wine purifier that removes sulfites, one of the most common causes of the dreaded wine headache.
  10. Books / Audiobooks:

So there you have it. Let us know what investments you’re making in your health this year in the comments!

Healthier Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups-Low Sugar

I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

I don’t, however, love the 11 grams of sugar per cup or the lengthy list of artificial, inflammation-promoting ingredients:

Milk Chocolate [Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Non-Fat Milk, Milk Fat, Lactose, Lecithin (Soy), PGPR, Emulsifier], Peanuts, Sugar, Dextrose, Partially Defatted Peanuts, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil [Palm Kernel Oil, Soybean Oil], Contains 2% of Less of: Corn Syrup, Contains 2% of Less of: Salt, Contains 2% of Less of: Palm Kernel Oil, Contains 2% of Less of: Artificial Color (Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 1 Lake), Contains 2% of Less of: Confectioner’s Glaze, Contains 2% of Less of: Lecithin (Soy), Contains 2% of Less of: Modified Corn Starch, Contains 2% of Less of: TBHQ and Citric Acid, Contains 2% of Less of: To Maintain Freshness, Contains 2% of Less of: Carnauba Wax, Contains 2% of Less of: Vanillin, Contains 2% of Less of: Artificial Flavor.

So I decided to create a healthier chocolate peanut butter cups recipe.

Let’s compare this recipe to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups:

  1. Higher in protein (6 grams vs. 2 grams).
  2. Lower in sugar (4.5 grams vs. 11 grams).
  3. Contains only all-natural, plant-based ingredients (no dairy, soy, or gluten).

Now, a quick disclaimer: this peanut butter cup recipe is higher in fat (16 grams per cup) so moderation is important (as with any sweet treat).

But I’ll substitute a little fat in my diet for sugar any day of the week (particularly from coconut oil, which contains medium chain triglycerides, which may have some health benefits).

Let’s take a look at the ingredients.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ingredients

*Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free

Bottom Layer (Chocolate)

Top Layer (Peanut Butter)

  • 1/3 cup all natural, unsweetened peanut butter
  • 2 T coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 T maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean powder or extract

This recipe made about 10 peanut butter cups for me.

How to Make This Healthier Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups Recipe

  1. Mix all ingredients for bottom chocolate layer together in a bowl. You may need to add a tiny bit of water or more coconut oil to get it to the right consistency. It should be just thick enough that you can slowly pour it out of the bowl.
  2. Mix all ingredients for the top layer in a separate bowl.
  3. Grease your cupcake tray (I used a flexible silicon 12-cup tray but any will work).
  4. Scoop the bottom layer equally among the 10 cups, followed by the top layer.
  5. Put the tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours (make sure it sits flat…if your tray is flexibly, you may need to set it on a baking sheet before putting in the freezer).

Make sure you keep any leftovers in the freezer.

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 10

Per Serving:

Calories: 193

Fat: 16 grams

Carbs: 9 grams (2 grams of fiber, 4.5 grams of sugar)

Protein: 6 grams

 

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7 Things Everyone Can Do to Make a Difference This Holiday Season

The holidays are a tough time for so many people. But, one of the best ways to cope with the holiday blues (and be a better human) is to do things to help others.

We get so caught up with our own problems that sometimes we forget that many people have it much, much worse than us.

Here are some things you can do this holiday season to make a difference in others’ lives and feel better about yourself.

  1. Sign up to be an organ donor. The way I see it, when my time has come, I know I can’t take my organs with me, so why wouldn’t I donate them to someone who can use them? You are literally giving the gift of life to up to 8 people … what better way to go out than that? Sign up here.
  2. Donate your money, used goods, and/or time. I realize many people may not have extra money to give and are just doing their best to get by. But everyone has a) time, and b) stuff they don’t use anymore. Organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army will take your used stuff, sell it, and use the proceeds to make a difference in your local community. If you do have money to donate, one of my favorite charities is Feeding America, which helps provide meals for the 1 out of every 9 Americans who face hunger every day.
  3. Help an animal in need. If you’re an animal lover, here are some ideas from Petfinder to help out our furry friends.
  4. Call or spend face-to-face time with someone you love. As a society we’ve become reliant on email and text. While efficient, they are obviously not nearly as personal as face-to-face communication or talking to someone over the phone. So pick up the phone and call a friend or family member you haven’t talked to … especially those ones that may be alone around the holidays.
  5. Plant a tree in a loved one’s honor. Trees add value to your home, regulate the temperature of your house and neighborhood, and provide food for wildlife. And, what better way to remember someone you care about than planting something beautiful that will provide benefits to the world long after you’re gone? A $50 membership to the Arbor Day Foundation makes a great gift (plus they’ll give you 5 free trees)! They have great deals on trees and shipments arrive in both spring and fall.
  6. Give a toy to a child in need. If you have the resources, you can score some great deals on toys around the holidays and donate them to the Marine Toys for Tots program. It’s a wonderful way to put a smile on a child’s face this holiday season.
  7.  Support our brave military members and their families. Soldier’s Angels is a great organization that offers a number of ways to help you make a difference in the lives of our military service members, veterans, and their families.

Let us know what you’re doing to give back this holiday season!