How to Improve Gut Health Naturally

microbiome git health

Your microbiome, the community of around 100 trillion bacteria, viruses, and fungi inhabiting your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, plays a pivotal role in health and disease

The microbiome has been implicated in multiple chronic conditions ranging from inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease to colorectal cancer.

Your microbiome has a direct impact on how you think, feel, and act too. 

We know that the gut microbiota undergo significant fluctuations over the course of one’s lifetime … and these modifications are frequently associated with undesirable effects on your health. 

But, these fluctuations are influenced by several controllable factors, such as lifestyle, stress, nutrition, and antibiotic use. A 2021 study showed “how little of the microbiome is predetermined by our genes and therefore how much is modifiable by diet,” according to researcher Sarah Berry. 

In this guide, we will cover four proven strategies for improving your gut health. We will talk about some exciting research that will show you how to 1.) breathe, 2.) move, 3.) exercise, and 4.) sleep better to create long-term, sustainable changes to your microbiome and in turn, your overall health and wellness. 

Let’s get started … 

Download the PDF Version of This Gut Health Guide Here

Breathing

deep breathing for gut healthYou know that feeling you get when you’re stuck in traffic and late for a meeting? Or somebody cuts you off then has the audacity to honk at you? 

These types of stressful events cause emotional responses like anger or fear, which prompt an immediate physical reaction within your body: your heart beats faster, your breathing gets quicker, and your stomach tenses up. 

This “fight or flight” response causes blood to move from your gut to the larger muscles, which hampers digestion, weakens your immune system, and increases inflammation.

The changes may not last long, and in the short term they aren’t harmful and may even be helpful in certain situations. But when they happen repeatedly, over time they can cause dysbiosis (when your gut bacteria are out of whack). 

The good news is, you can learn to recognize and turn off these automatic responses through deep breathing.

Before you dispel this as New Age mumbo jumbo, here’s some science to quell your skepticism.

According to the University of Michigan Health System

For those suffering from GI symptoms, diaphragmatic breathing offers specific benefits: Activating the diaphragm creates a gentle massaging action felt by internal organs like the intestines and stomach, which can reduce abdominal pain, urgency, bloating and constipation. While diaphragmatic breathing, you are facilitating the activation of the parasympathetic system, which can be thought of as the relaxation response of the body or the “rest and digest” state. 

Deep breathing has additional benefits, including:

Action Steps: 

  1. Read this primer on how to breathe better
  2. Practice deep breathing each day. Start with just 1-5 minutes then work your way up from there (I personally aim for 10-30 minutes each day, spread out over 2-3 sessions depending on the day). There are many different deep breathing techniques (progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, repetitive prayer, guided imagery, the Wim Hoff Method, to name a few).

Eating

foods to improve gut health naturally

Eating for better gut health is a highly individual affair. 

In this section, we’ll cover some different dietary approaches that may be beneficial for those GI issues. 

First, it’s important to talk to a specialist if you’re having digestive issues to make sure it’s not something more serious. I also highly recommend getting tested for food allergies and getting a gut intelligence test. These two tests will tell you exactly what foods you should and shouldn’t be eating, based on your unique physiology. 

Now let’s unpack a few dietary approaches that may (or may not) help improve your gut health. 

The FODMAP Diet

FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that aren’t absorbed properly in the gut, which can trigger symptoms in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other gut disorders. 

These substances include lactose, fructose, fructans, galactans, and polyalcohols (sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, and isomalt). 

Clinical trials suggest that most patients with IBS report a reduction in symptoms from following a low-FODMAP diet. 

Also, people with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) seem to benefit from a low-FODMAPs diet and often experience a reduction in gastrointestinal symptoms.

But despite the demonstrated beneficial effects, low-FODMAPs diet have generated some concerns, namely: 

  • IBS patients have been shown to have a dysbiotic microbiota, which might predispose them to additional pathological dysbiosis (a gut that’s out of balance that can lead to other health issues). 
  • In one clinical trial, microbiota of IBS patients submitted to 4-week dietary intervention was compared with that of an IBS patient with a habitual diet. The authors demonstrated a reduction in concentration and proportion of Bifidobacteria after the carbohydrate restriction. 
  • Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) patients on the low FODMAP diet experienced a reduction of beneficial Bifidobacteriaceae and an increase of disease-promoting Lachnospiraceae were observed in their gut microbiota. 

Taking probiotics might help offset some of this. According to this 2019 study

Supplementation of the diet with probiotics could help in maintaining the beneficial component of gut microbiota, especially considering the inverse correlation between Bifidobacteria and the symptomatology of IBS. 

The Impact of Ketogenic Diets on Gut Health

Low carbohydrate diets like keto, Paleo, and Atkins focus on drastically reduced carbohydrate intake in favor of fats and protein. 

More research is needed on the long-term effects of these diets on gut health. Here’s what we know so far, based the current body of evidence

  1. A few human and animal studies have shown different results demonstrating positive effects on reshaping bacterial architecture and gut biological functions, while others reporting negative effects as a lowered diversity and an increased amount of pro-inflammatory bacteria. 
  2. According to several different studies, better strategies are needed to maximize the benefit of ketogenic diets. Here’s what they recommend: 
    1. Introduce the use of whey and plant proteins (i.e., pea protein).
    2. Reduce the intake of animal protein.
    3. Implement fermented food and beverages (yogurt, water and milk kefir, kimchi, fermented vegetables). 
    4. Introduce prebiotics and probiotics. 
    5. Reduce omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids ratio (increase omega 3 while decreasing omega 6).
    6. Introduce an accurate quantity and quality of unsaturated fatty acids. 
    7. Avoid artificial sweeteners and processed foods.
    8. Test your microbiome if needed (analysis of 16S rRNA to identify biodiversity and richness).

Gluten Free Diets and Gut Health: What We Know So Far

What about a gluten free diet? It’s a low-carb world, and many people are pushing grains off their plate in an effort to control their waistline and improve GI symptoms. 

Gluten-free diets are essential for people with celiac disease and other medical conditions that are negatively affected by gluten. 

But for most people, gluten is unjustifiably vilified. 

A 2019 meta analysis published in the scientific journal Nutrients reported that in patients with cardiovascular disease, after two years on a gluten-free diet, the “imbalance of duodenal mucosal microbiota were not completely restored with a worsening in the reduction of bacterial richness.”

And while some potentially pathogenic bacteria such as E coli and Staphylococcus may decrease on a gluten free diet, levels of beneficial species as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus also remain low. 

Anti-nutrients: Good or Bad? 

Anti-nutrients are natural substances found in certain plant- and animal-based foods that can block the absorption of nutrients. A common refrain you hear from people who swear off grains is that anti-nutrients are terrible for you and cause all types of issues.  

That may not be the case though. 

According to the Harvard School of Public Health

  • The pros and cons of anti-nutrients on long-term human health is an area of active research. 
  • Though certain foods may contain residual amounts of anti-nutrients after processing and cooking, the health benefits of eating these foods outweigh any potential negative nutritional effects. 
  • Eating a variety of nutritious foods daily and avoiding eating large amounts of a single food at one meal can help to offset minor losses in nutrient absorption caused by anti-nutrients.
  • Many anti-nutrients have antioxidant and anticancer actions, so avoiding them entirely is not recommended.

Why Most People Should Not Give Up Grains

Based on the current body of evidence, whole grains have some unique digestive health properties that make them a valuable addition to the diet for most people. The pros outweigh the cons. 

Teresa Fung, adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, saysThe main benefit of whole cereal grains, such as wheat, oats, and barley, is in the fiber. Cereal fiber is different from vegetable fiber or bean fiber.”

A reduced risk of colon cancer has been linked to fiber from grains, but not necessarily fiber from other sources, such as fruits and vegetables, she says. 

Whole grains have other health benefits as well. They lower cholesterol levels and reduce chronic inflammation, which has been linked to cancer and heart disease. Reducing chronic inflammation inside the body may also help to control blood pressure.

A 2016 study published in the journal Circulation found that people who ate at least four servings of whole grains each day had a 22% lower risk of death from any cause during the study period, compared with people who didn’t eat as much. The study’s authors also found a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer associated with diets rich in whole grains.

How Whole Grains Affect Your Microbiome

Whole grains break down slowly during digestion, which helps to keep blood sugar levels on an even keel. Similarly, some studies have linked whole grains with a lower risk of getting diabetes.

The fiber in whole grains acts as a prebiotic, which is a substance that helps to feed, grow, and sustain healthy bacteria in your intestines. 

One study found that “whole grains, including oats, constitute important sources of nutrients for the gut microbiota and contribute to a healthy gut microbiome.”

Another study published in 2019 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition showed “Increasing cereal fiber consumption should be encouraged for overall good health and for gut microbiota diversity.

Action Steps: 

Cleveland Clinic Gastroenterologist Christine Lee, MD, shares six tips to improve your gut health and digestion naturally.

  1. Eat five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Fill your plate with the colors of the rainbow, from red to dark green. Stock up on canned and frozen veggies for convenience, but also be sure to include lots of fresh produce into your meals. Try to add a few veggies with each meal. 
  2. Choose whole grains more often. Look for and choose packages that say “whole grains” more often than white or processed bread or other grains. Then also check the amount of fiber the product contains. Try to choose items with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving for the most benefit.
  3. If you eat meat, limit the amount of beef, pork, lamb and processed meats you eat. Choose poultry or fish more frequently than red meat and limit all processed meats, like salami, bacon and hotdogs. Smaller portions of meat (1-4 oz.), consumed less often, are also beneficial. Most people don’t need to consume more than 6-8 ounces of meat every day. Try replacing meat with some beans or other plant-based protein for more fiber. One half cup of beans provides the same amount of protein as in 1 ounce of meat.
  4. Experiment with healthier cooking options. Opt for steaming, poaching, stewing, microwaving, braising and boiling over grilling and frying. And don’t forget – it’s important to make sure your meat gets cooked thoroughly before eating it to reduce other digestive health risks, such as salmonella (author’s note: I spent a day in the hospital after getting salmonella … trust me when I say you don’t want to experience it). 
  5. Consume foods with probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help fight off the bad bacteria in your gut. They also produce healthy substances that provide nourishment for your gut. Good sources of probiotics include fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchee, raw apple cider vinegar, onion, garlic and sauerkraut. If those foods don’t suit your fancy, then a probiotic supplement may help. 
  6. Limit foods that have added sugars and animal fats. These foods can produce harmful chemicals in your GI tract and cause major damage over time. Read ingredient labels for sources of added sugars – they can be tricky! 

Sleeping

microbiome supplementsThere’s a direct link between sleep disturbances and gut health. 

Just as you can influence your waking routine, scientists have determined poor night-time practices and an unhealthy diet can change your gut flora and impact your risk of insomnia

There are several theories on how your gut microbes might affect sleep: 

  1.     The Gut-Brain Axis

The connection between our brain and our digestive system is a complex system connected by the vagus nerve. Key signals can be passed between these two, such as when we’re hungry, stressed, or even our emotional state.

If your gut microbiome shows signs of gut dysbiosis, leading to leaky gut syndrome, it’s possible neuroinflammatory metabolites may be traveling up the vagus nerve and penetrating the brain. These metabolites have been shown to influence our stress response, impacting our heart rate and disrupting sleep structure patterns.

  1.     Hormone Regulation:

Many microbes within our gut microbiome produce serotonin, a key biochemical that regulates our mood. Serotonin is also a precursor for melatonin, another hormone essential to our light-dark cycle that eases us to sleep. If the gut microbiome isn’t producing it’s fair share of serotonin, this hormone flow may cease to a trickle and change standard sleep patterns.

This theory has also been supported by the number of people suffering from mood disorders like depression who also report additional issues with sleep. Researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan said, “Changing which microbes are in the gut by altering diet has the potential to help those who have trouble sleeping.”

  1.     Immune System:

Scientists say our gut houses upwards of 70% of our immune system. When we’re at our optimal health, this “immune organ” works in peak performance like an efficient fighting machine. However, when our body is under long-term assault from toxic substances, invading bacteria, or injury, our immune system can interrupt normal processes and change how well we regulate our sleep cycle.

When the gut ecosystem becomes imbalanced, it can cause an immune reaction that permeates through the digestive lining and penetrates peripheral tissues. If this immune response reaches organs such as the lungs, the inflammatory response can impact breathing at night and increase the likelihood of disorders like sleep apnea.

Action Steps: 

  1. Improve your diet by following the Action Steps in the Eating section above.  
  2. Try a prebiotic / probiotic / digestive enzyme supplement
  3. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Try going to bed 20-30 minutes earlier than normal each night. Dr. Meeta Singh, a sleep disorder expert at Henry Ford Sleep Disorders Center says “If you increase your time in bed by even 15 – 20 minutes, you will notice a difference.”
  4. Don’t eat or drink caffeine in the afternoon. Caffeine can disrupt your sleep. Cut it out after 3 p.m.
  5. Don’t drink too much alcohol. 1 or 2 drinks a night should be your limit. Any more and your sleep will suffer.
  6. Keep your room as dark and quiet as possible. I have two young kids, so I know “quiet” is relative for many of us. But a room darkening shade and/or a sleep mask is a great investment if you don’t have them. And to drown out those loud kids, pets, partners, use ear plugs.
  7. Invest in a white noise machine and ear plugs if needed (check out the links for the ones I use). The Lectrofan white noise machine is the loudest and best white noise machine I’ve used … we have four of them in our house!
  8. Cut out screen time while in bed. Watch TV, check your phone, or dabble on your tablet outside of the bedroom. Studies show technology in the bedroom negatively impacts sleep.
  9. Spend 15-30 minutes winding down. Read, do yoga, stretch, foam roll, or meditate to wind down before bed. People who do sleep better.
  10. Invest in a good pillow and mattress. Think about how much time you spend in bed. A good mattress will probably set you back $1000+, but upgrading your pillow is a super easy sleep hack. I recommend the Coop Home Goods Pillow and body pillow. They’re highly rated on Amazon, hypoallergenic, and you can adjust the amount of memory foam inside to your liking.
  11. Use a sleep tracker. There are many sleep tracking products on the market now. I have used both the FitBit Charge 2 and Charge 3 with success, as well as the Withings Sleep Mat. All are $150 or less. I’ve heard good things about the Oura Ring too, but it’s a bit more expensive. 

Moving 

Studies suggest that exercise can:

  • Enhance the number of beneficial microbial species
  • Enrich the microflora diversity
  • Improve the development of commensal bacteria. 

Microflora diversity is indispensable to homeostasis and normal gut physiology and contributes to efficient signaling along the aforementioned brain-gut axis.

Exercise also improves the Bacteroidetes-Firmicutes ratio, which may contribute to reducing weight and gastrointestinal disorders, stimulate the proliferation of bacteria which can modulate mucosal immunity and improve barrier functions, and stimulate bacteria capable of producing substances that protect against gastrointestinal disorders and colon cancer. 

Here are some tips to improve your gut health with exercise …

Action Steps: 

  1. Schedule a little exercise every day. Add a recurring event on your calendar for 5-15 minutes of exercise every day. 5 minutes may not seem like enough, but you will often find that you want to do more when you have the time. And even if you only have time for 5 minutes, it’ll help you create a habit, which is imperative to long-term success. 
  2. Find some types of exercise you don’t hate. You’ll be more likely to stick with something you enjoy. So try different types of workouts until you find a couple you like doing. 
  3. Switch things up for best results. You need to constantly push your body outside of its comfort zone to create adaptation. The point of diminishing returns happens when you do the same thing for too long and it yields less and less desirable results relative to the work put in. Constantly seek out and try new ways of moving. 
  4. Don’t sit for more than 20 minutes at a time. If you spend a lot of time sitting, changing that habit is one of the best things you can do for your overall health (and particularly your gut health). Stand up and go for a 5-minute walk around your house, stretch, dance, do a few yoga poses. Try “walking meetings” whenever possible. Here are a few of my favorite exercises I do in between my daily tasks. 

Download the PDF Version of This Gut Health Guide Here

Grain Free Vegan Protein Balls

vegan grain free protein balls recipe

It’s not often you find a protein balls recipe that’s vegan, grain-free, Paleo / keto-friendly, has no added sugar, requires no baking, and still tastes delicious.

But that’s exactly what we’re bringing you with this new recipe. As you’ll see on our recipes page, we’ve made several variations of protein balls before but this one is quite unique.

It has a combo of several “superfood” nuts and seeds, including pistachios, walnuts, flax, chia, and coconut. Toss in some Pure Food Vanilla Protein Powder with Probiotics and you get a nutritious, guilt-free snack or dessert that kiddos will enjoy too (my 6-year-old had a blast preparing and eating these, as you’ll see in the pics that follow).

Health-wise, here are just a few of the perks:

Health Benefits:

Ingredient

Health Benefits

Walnuts Walnuts can help you improve cognitive (brain) function and also reduce the risk of other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, depression, and type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors for the development of dementia.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071526/

Pistachios Pistachios have a high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential. Among nuts, pistachios also have a lower fat and energy content and the highest levels of K, γ-tocopherol, vitamin K, phytosterols, xanthophyll carotenoids, certain minerals (Cu, Fe and Mg), vitamin B₆ and thiamin.

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26148925/

Flax Flaxseed is a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid, the lignan secoisolariciresinol diglucoside and fiber. These compounds provide bioactivity of value to the health of animals and humans through their anti-inflammatory action, anti-oxidative capacity and lipid modulating properties.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567199/

Coconut Coconut meat contains MCT oil, or medium-chain triglycerides. That’s the extract that people put in smoothies and coffee. MCT oil has unique benefits. It seems to lower two key hunger hormones, cueing a person to eat less. And MCTs convert more easily into energy compared with other sources of fat, like animal meat, so athletes consider it workout fuel.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4192077/

Chia Chia seeds contain healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Aside from this, the seeds are an excellent source of polyphenols and antioxidants, such as caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and others.

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31861466/

Dates Studies have shown that dates have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour properties.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3992385/

Pure Food Vanilla Protein Powder Pure Food Plant-based Protein Powder contains a multi-source protein blend that’s just as effective as whey with the digestive side effects. And unlike other plant proteins, it’s 100% organic, high in fiber and contains no sugar.

Protein Balls Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pistachios (shells removed, of course)
1/3 cup flax meal
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 T chia seeds
4 dates
1 T coconut oil (or other oil for greasing your pan)
1 tsp. vanilla powder or extract (optional)
Flaked salt (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. If your dates are hard or dry, place them in a bowl of hot water and cover to rehydrate. Let ’em sit for 5-10 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
  2. Add the walnuts and pistachios to a food processor and pulse for a minute or two until the nuts reach a fine “meal” consistency (there should be no visible large chunks remaining).
  3. Remove the seeds from the dates and add to the food processor. Pulse until they’re fully chopped (about a minute should do).
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, along with 1-2 T of water. Note: add the water 1 Tablespoon at a time. You will only need a little bit to make your mixture nice and sticky for rolling.
  5. Once all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and the mix feels slightly wet, grease your pan and start rolling into balls.
  6. Refrigerate or freeze for at least 1-2 hours before serving.

These will last for 7-10 days if you keep them refrigerated.

Nutrition:

Assuming you make 10 protein balls with this recipe, here are the nutrition facts for each ball:

Calories: 155

Fat: 12 grams

Carbs: 7 grams

Fiber: 3 grams

Protein: 6 grams

vegan grain free protein balls recipe

no bake protein balls

How to Breathe Better in 3 Simple Steps

deep vagus breathing tips

Just breathe.

Well intentioned advice, no doubt.

But unfortunately, most of us are pretty clueless about how to breathe properly to get maximum benefit out of something we do unconsciously, all day, every day.

The truth is, proper breathing is a skill … one that’s inborn yet often lies dormant because we either a.) have never learned how to do it the right way, or b.) don’t practice it.

What Happens When You Don’t Breathe Properly

  • Shallow breathing, which is our default mode when we’re stressed, restricts the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lowest part of your lungs—which is where many small blood vessels instrumental in carrying oxygen to cells reside—never gets its full share of oxygenated air.
  • The breath plays a vital role in maintaining a balanced body. Shallow breathing causes your nervous system to become unbalanced, resulting in much higher stress levels.
  • Your airways get constricted, which makes it harder for the air to travel from your mouth to your lungs. The result: your body has to work harder and breathe faster.
  • Your blood vessels constrict, which can lead to increased blood pressure and force your heart to work harder.

Every process and organ in your body depends on oxygen. For example:

  • Your brain uses about 20% of the oxygen you take in. When it faces an oxygen shortage, the brain will slow down, which negatively impacts other systems in your body.
  • Since your heart beats around 100,000 times in a single day, it is dependent on getting enough oxygen to pump blood to all parts of your body that need it. Poor circulation leads to a whole bunch of other issues too.
  • Oxygen powers your muscles, and a shortage makes them get stiff, tense, and tired faster, which impacts your ability to move each day.

3 Simple Steps to Breathe Better

Many holistic healthcare practitioners make it seem like you need to sit down and meditate for 30-60 minutes every day to gain any benefit from deep breathing.

While I do think anyone could benefit from this approach, it’s just not realistic for most people. That’s why I prefer a simpler system to improving your breathing that can be done pretty much anywhere, anytime.

Step 1:

Find a quiet, comfortable spot. If you don’t have access to one, then put on some noise-cancelling headphones with some relaxing music (or one of the apps we recommend below).

Step 2:

Sit or stand upright, and breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose. Feel the air expand downward and fill your entire belly. Breathe out through your mouth.

Step 3:

Engage your diaphragm. Put one hand on your abdomen, just below your belly button. Feel your hand rise about an inch each time you inhale and fall about an inch each time you exhale. Your chest will rise slightly, too, in unison with your abdomen. Remember to relax your belly so that each inhalation expands it fully.

Diaphragmatic breathing activates your parasympathetic system via the vagus nerve, improving your heart rate variability and restoring balance in your body.

Long story short: when you teach yourself how to breathe better and practice deep breathing for just a few minutes each day, you will reduce your stress and anxiety levels and increase blood and oxygen circulation throughout your body.

Videos, Books, and Apps to Help Improve Your Breathing:

Sources:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/take-a-deep-breath
  2. https://www.lung.org/blog/you-might-be-breathing-wrong
  3. https://college.acaai.org/better-breathing-guide/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137615/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6189422/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27995346/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5709795/
  9. https://www.wimhofmethod.com/vagus-nerve-stimulation

Try This Vanilla Apple Berry Smoothie Recipe Now

vanilla berry plant based smoothie recipe

I’ve been experimenting with some new smoothie recipes and this one was too good not to share!

It’s high in protein, loaded with antioxidants, and delicious!

Plus just 6 simple ingredients with no junk your body doesn’t need.

It’s the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt.

Ingredients/Instructions:

  • 2-3 scoops of Pure Food Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 apple (cored)
  • 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of frozen cherries
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Add ice and water to your taste and blend

This recipe will get you enough to feed a family of 4 (or some extra servings just for you).

vanilla plant based smoothie recipes

Try it out and let us know what you think!

How to Reduce Joint Pain Naturally with 10 Exercises

reduce joint pain naturally

After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes persistent inflammation and pain in my muscles, tendons, and ligaments, I’ve been on a quest to figure out how to reduce my pain and move better without the use of drugs.

One of the most impactful discoveries I’ve made has been a training protocol called Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT).

MAT was developed by strength coach and biomechanics specialist Greg Roskopf (who has worked with a long list of professional athletes, including Bryson DeChambeau, Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware, and Odell Beckham Jr. It’s designed to re-establish the communication pathways between the nervous system and the muscular system in order to restore muscle contractile capabilities.

The result: increased strength, flexibility, mobility, and coordination, lower risk of injury, and less pain.

I’ve put together a list of exercises that use MAT and several other techniques to address some of the most common sources of pain (neck, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, hips, etc.).

I do some combination of these every day. I recommend starting with 1 or 2 and seeing how you feel after doing them daily for a couple weeks. There’s also a link below if you’d like to find a MAT specialist.

No matter how old or young, fit or sedentary you are, moving is the key to looking and feeling younger.

I guarantee these exercises will help you do just that.

10 of the Best Exercises for Reducing Aches and Pains

Exercise #1: Wrist Warm-up 

Areas Targeted: (Wrists and Elbows).

Notes: any time I lift weights, I always warm up my wrists and elbows with this routine.

Exercise #2: Face Pulls 

Areas Targeted: Neck, Back, Shoulders, Chest

Note: Face pulls and this exercise are amazing for improving your posture.

Exercise #3: 4 Point Hip Adduction

Areas Targeted: Glutes & Hips

Exercise #4: Lateral Leg Raise

Areas Targeted: Hamstrings, Glutes, Quads & Hips

Exercise #5: Shoulder Warm Up Routine

Areas Targeted: Shoulders

Exercise #6: Back Warm-up Routine

Areas Targeted: Back

Exercise #7: Side Lying Windmill

Areas Targeted: Back and Shoulders

Exercise #8: QL Stretch

Areas Targeted: Hips, Back, and Shoulders

Exercise #9: Upper Back and Shoulder Warm-up

Areas Targeted: Hips, Back, and Shoulders

Note: Start with no weight … this is advanced!

Exercise #10: The Scorpion

Areas Targeted: Hips, Back, and Shoulders

Note: Master the other warm-up moves first, this one is advanced.

MAT Resources:

What Is Muscle Activation? (quick overview from Greg Roskopf)

Functional Movement Exercises with Greg Roskopf (a little longer description of how MAT works)

Muscle Activation Exercises for Glutes, Core, Brain, Hips, Chest & Beyond (good all around MAT workout)

MAT for Tight Hips and Glutes (scroll down to see the exercises)

To get a personalized plan for you, find a MAT specialist here.

My Top Supplements for Reducing Joint Pain

While NSAIDs are the OTC drug of choice for reducing pain, there are serious long-term effects from chronic use. For that reason, I try and avoid ingesting NSAIDs and other pain pills. I know some people need them in order to function daily.

But whenever possible, try using topical diclofenac gel (naproxen) because it’s a much safer option. I have found that combining a bit of topical naproxen gel with some CBD oil (tincture oil or rub) results in near-instant pain relief for my sore knees, back, elbows, and neck and helps me sleep better.

But, just because this has worked for me, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you, of course.

If you have chronic pain, first talk to your doctor. Find out the root cause of your pain, then you can work on treating it.

Once you’re comfortable enough to exercise, these movements will help you reduce some of those aches and pains over time by building and repairing muscles and connective tissue in those oft-neglected areas you need it most.

Stay limber, friends!

Announcing DIGEST, Our New Digestive Health Capsule

pure food digestPure Food DIGEST is our new, soon-to-be released, daily all-in-one digestive health capsule.

Just 1-2 capsules per day can help you get relief from gas, bloating, constipation, IBS/IBD, leaky gut, and other common GI issues.

DIGEST is better than other digestive health supplements on the market because:

1. It’s formulated by a naturopathic doctor specializing in digestive health.

2. It contains a potent, proven blend of prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and anti-inflammatory roots and minerals…with ZERO ingredients sourced from China like most other manufacturers.

3. It utilizes delayed release capsule technology that allows the probiotics to make it past the harsh, acidic conditions of your stomach–where 60% of most probiotics die–to reach your intestines, where the good bacteria are more readily absorbed and exert the most health benefits to you

Long story short, DIGEST has the highest quality, doctor-backed ingredients and gives you more bang for your buck compared to other products.

Want to Learn How to Improve Your Gut Health Naturally? Download Our FREE Gut Health Guide Here

My 5 Favorite Strength / Flexibility / Balance Moves You Can Do At Home Without Weights

how to do a scorpion

While I admit my home gym setup is pretty solid, you don’t need any weights or equipment to keep your body running smoothly during times when you’re stuck at home.

In fact, right now is the perfect time to introduce new exercises and movements and correct some of those muscle imbalances (we all have ’em).

Here are 5 of my favorite functional, core-focused movements that will keep your muscles strong, flexible, and limber during quarantine! These will be particularly helpful for you if you spend a lot of time sitting.

Best of all, no weights required (but you can use them for some if you want).

Scorpion

Focus: Back, shoulders, hips, abs/core

This is one of my all-time favorite functional strength movements that works a variety of muscle groups. It’s excellent for improving rotational mobility and power, which is applicable to nearly every sport imaginable. I do this exercise in between days I lift weights. Here’s an explanation of how to do it on Men’s Health.

Two Step Getup

Focus: Shoulders, lower back, abs/core

This is another fantastic core movement for those who spend a lot of time sitting that can be done with or without weights. I do this exercise at least two days a week. Lie on your back, a light dumbbell in your right hand directly over your chest (or just raise your arm up with no weight), right knee bent. Press the your arm upward, propping yourself onto your left elbow. Pause. Push your torso off the floor. Pause. Do 5-10 reps on each side.

Squat to Hip Opener

Focus: Legs (quads, hips, hamstrings), lower back, abs/core

Deep squat + hip opener = one of the all-time great total body exercises. It’s great for tight hips and glutes and helps improve your balance too. Start standing and slowly drop into a deep squat (if you have bad knees, only go as far as you can). Stand back up, squeezing your glutes, and lift your right leg, driving your knee up. Rotate your thigh outward, flexing your right glute. Pause, then return to standing. Repeat on the other side. Do reps for 30 seconds on each side, and complete 3 sets.

Downward Dog with Calf Reach

Focus: Hamstrings, mid-back, abs/core, triceps

Here’s a great exercise to do if you spend a lot of time sitting. It combines a classic yoga pose with an added flexibility/mobility/core twist. First, get into a downward dog position. Now reach down with your right hand and grab your left calf. Hold that position for a few seconds then switch sides and repeat. Do 5-10 reps on each side. If you can only reach your knee or thigh area that’s fine … listen to your body!

Lateral Line Stretch

Focus: Shoulders, lower back, abs/core

Ok, this one is a bit easier. The lateral line stretch can help ease tension in your QL (quadratus lumborum), an abdominal muscle located deep within your lower back that often gets overworked and causes lower back pain. Here’s a YouTube video that explains how to do it:

3 Research-backed Ways to Stay Healthy and Get Sick Less

foods to eat to stay healthy

Given the current state of the world, I thought I’d take a minute to share my “secrets” for staying healthy and protecting your immune system.

After developing an autoimmune disease that caused me to get sick all the time from 2016 – 2018, I have only been sick one time in the past year (a minor cold that went away after two days).

To put that in perspective, my wife is an elementary school teacher and we have a 6-year-old in school and three-year-old in daycare. We have seen our share of germs run through our house (including, but not limited to, croup, bronchitis, the flu, pneumonia, stomach bugs, conjunctivitis, ear infections, sinus infections, hand foot and mouth disease, etc.). Not COVID-19, it seems.

Wanna know how I’ve managed to stay healthy while everyone around me is sick?

Read on to find out some proven methods you can use to give your immune system a boost.

Want to Learn How to Improve Your Gut Health Naturally? Download Our FREE Gut Health Guide Here

How to Stay Healthy: 3 Things You Should Focus On

1. Sleeping. If you struggle with sleep, I can’t stress the importance of creating habits that help you sleep better enough (more on this below). Sleep loss and disrupted sleep are strongly linked to inflammation. And inflammation makes you more susceptible to illness. I was an insomniac for years. While I still wake up a few times during the night, my sleep quality and consistency has improve exponentially since I started making sleep a priority. My best tips: i.) go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, ii.) sleep in a dark, quiet space (a white noise machine can do wonders), iii.) if your mind spins in bed, focus on slowing your breathing and thinking about the people you’re thankful for in your life.

2. Eating / Supplementing. What you eat has a profound effect on your immune system response. It’s well known the modern Western Diet is one of the worst culprits when it comes to inflammation. If you don’t put the right foods and drinks in your body, you will get sick more often. Period.

The tricky part is finding the “right foods” for you, and then creating systems (or habits) that’ll help you eat healthy habitually every day (most peoples’ systems do the opposite).

Try getting both allergy and microbiome testing done as a first step. I recommend Viome for the microbiome test … it’s $120 or so. These tests will tell you exactly which foods you should / shouldn’t be eating. As I said in one of my emails, personalized nutrition is the future of healthy eating. And the future is here and accessible to all!

My “systems” that help me stay healthy include:

  • foods to eat to stay healthyCooking everyday. I know that if I get takeout or go to a restaurant then I’m usually not going to eat as healthy. So I try to only eat out about once a week and the rest of the days I make time to cook for myself and my family. I schedule time on my calendar from 5-6ish every day to cook dinner and prepare lunches for everyone for the next day.
  • Planning meals ahead of time. Even if you don’t like cooking, you can still create systems that help you eat better by having a plan for meal time. If you don’t have a plan, you’ll likely succumb to the easy way out (which is usually food you know isn’t going to help you stay healthy). It can be as simple as writing down a more nutritious takeout option you’re thinking about for dinner instead of fast food, or as complex as tracking everything you eat (I prefer the former, personally). Be deliberate and specific about what you are/are not going to eat today.
  • Avoiding trigger foods and sticking with foods I know don’t cause an inflammatory response in my body. Again, go see an allergist and get your microbiome tested to see which foods are good/not good for you.
  • Spending most of the grocery budget on perishables. I don’t like wasting food, so I know if I load my shopping cart with fresh fruits and vegetables, I will make sure they get eaten. Minimize the processed, carb-laden snacks in favor of fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds (or smoothies with all of these, ideally!). One of my easiest systems I use is creating a grocery list without junk food on it each week. If it’s not on the list, I don’t buy it.
  • Drinking lots of water. Staying hydrated is one of the keys to immunity. Drinking sugar-sweetened coffees and sodas is not. Also, 1-2 glasses of red wine a night may help with immune response.
  • Taking supplements. These are some of the supplements I take each day that are proven by research to keep your immune system strong:
  1. Probiotics / Digestive Enzymes
  2. Zinc / Calcium / Magnesium
  3. Vitamin D
  4. Vitamin C

3. Exercising. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. It’s well known that our bodies break down as we age. But there’s an easy way to drastically slow that progression: get up and frickin move!

As many of us age we “let ourselves go” and this leads to an endless cycle of injuries and rehab. Exercise is the absolute best way to keep your muscles, bones, and tissues strong. Being sedentary, on the other hand, is one of the worst things you can do for your immunity.

There’s no excuse not to exercise (unless you’re injured and rehabbing an injury). Find something you enjoy doing (walking, golf, tennis, gardening, hiking, biking, swimming, yoga, etc.) and schedule it into your damn calendar every day or every other day. Even 5 minutes makes a difference. Make exercise part of your daily system and you will get sick much less. If you’re still not convinced, check out some of the conclusions from this 2019 research paper:

  • Regular exercise training has an overall anti-inflammatory influence mediated through multiple pathways. Epidemiologic studies consistently show decreased levels of inflammatory biomarkers in adults with higher levels of physical activity and fitness, even after adjustment for potential confounders such as BMI.
  • There is increasing evidence that the circulation surge in cells of the innate immune system with each exercise bout and the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect of exercise training have a summation effect over time in modulating tumorigenesis, atherosclerosis, and other disease processes.
  • Recent studies indicate that exercise and physical fitness diversifies the gut microbiota, but more human research is needed to determine potential linkages to immune function in physically fit individuals and athletes.

Now, the researchers in that study also cautioned that overtraining and stressful competitions can make you more susceptible to getting sick. So it’s important to make time for recovery if you’re exercising hard like I do (stretching, foam rolling, light yoga, percussion and/or massage therapy, chiropractic care, etc.).

Long story short, the best way to stay healthy is to take care of your body (because it’ll take care of you if you do).

Want to Learn How to Improve Your Gut Health Naturally? Download Our FREE Gut Health Guide Here

Difference Between Pure Food Protein and REAL MEAL Replacement Powder

Here’s a quick breakdown of the difference between Pure Food Protein and REAL MEAL, our plant based meal replacement powder:

Pure Food Protein Powder Pure Food REAL MEAL
Powder Per Full Sized Pouch 512 grams 530 grams
Servings Per Full Sized Pouch 28 24
Nutrition Facts Per Serving 68-70 calories

1 gram of fat

4 grams of carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar)

11 grams of protein

85 calories

3 grams of fat

6 grams of carbs (3 g fiber, 0 g sugar)

11 grams of protein

Nutrition Facts Per 2 Servings 136-140 calories

2 grams of fat

8 grams of carbs (4 g fiber, 0 g sugar)

22 grams of protein

170 calories

6 grams of fat

12 grams of carbs (6 g fiber, 0 g sugar)

22 grams of protein

Ingredients Organic pea protein, organic brown rice protein, organic hemp protein, organic cacao, organic mesquite, organic lucuma, organic vanilla extract, organic stevia leaf, GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans) probiotic Organic pea protein, MCT powder, organic pumpkin seed protein, organic brown rice protein, organic hemp protein, organic green banana powder, organic chia seed powder, organic cacao, organic vanilla extract, sea salt, organic monkfruit
Cost $39.99/tub

($34.99 w/ Subscribe & Save)

$39.99/tub

($34.99 w/ Subscribe & Save)

Available Flavors Cacao, Vanilla Cacao

Long story short, REAL MEAL is a bit higher in calories than Pure Food and better suited as a meal replacement. It has some different ingredients that offer unique benefits compared to Pure Food Protein Powder. It tastes slightly sweeter and smoother. I use them both regularly.

If you decide to give REAL MEAL a try, you can get it here on our website or through Amazon.

18 of the Best Health Supplements That Actually Work

Article Summary:

  • Most nutritional supplements are just marketing hype.
  • Some supplements, however, are backed by multiple research studies. You’ll learn about 15 with solid efficacy/safety evidence below.
  • You’ll also find out which ones, specifically, may help with these health challenges: Energy / Focus, Gut Health, Immunity, Pain / Inflammation, Fat Loss / Lean Muscle Gain, Relaxation / Anxiety

Download Our FREE Gut Health Guide Here

Do nutritional supplements work?

While it’s true that most dietary supplements are complete junk that don’t do much of anything, saying all supplements have no benefit is just plain absurd.

Because there are a handful of health and wellness supplements that have very promising health benefits.

In this article, you’ll learn about 15 of the best supplements that help address some of the most common health challenges (losing weight, easing digestive issues, increasing energy, boosting immunity, alleviating pain, and decreasing anxiety).

Each of the supplements you will learn about has multiple peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled research that support its efficacy and safety.

I’m confident you’ll find something in here that can help you.

Click the links below to jump around or scroll down to get started.

Energy/Focus

Rhodiola

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginseng

Gut Health

Probiotics / Digestive Enzymes

Turmeric / Curcumin

Fiber

Immunity

Zinc

Vitamin D

Pain / Inflammation

Glucosamine / Chondroitin

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol)

Muscle Gain / Weight Loss

Protein Powder

Creatine

Beta Alanine

Stress / Anxiety / Sleep

Ashwagandha

Lemon Balm

Reishi Mushroom

CBD

 

The Best Supplements for Energy / Focus

There’s no shortage of supplements touted for their ability to help you improve energy and focus.

Unfortunately, most don’t work.

Here are three that do:

Rhodiola

Rhodiola rosea health benefits research

Rhodiola rosea is an herb that’s native to the arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and Alaska. It has a long history of use as a medicinal plant in Iceland, Sweden, France, Russia, and Greece.

Rhodiola is a popular adaptogen, a class of plants can help your body combat physical, chemical or biological stressors.

It’s most researched benefits are as-follows:

Benefits Evidence
1. Reduce Fatigue
2. Improve Cognition

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11081987
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19170145
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12725561
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10839209
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15256690
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21036578
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22228617
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0108416
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17990195

Preliminary evidence has also looked at neuroprotection and lowering symptoms of depression, among other possible benefits (although more research is needed on these).

Is Rhodiola Safe?

Rhodiola is generally recognized as safe but might cause dizziness, dry mouth, or excessive saliva production for some people. Here are some other information safety considerations:

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn’t enough reliable information about the safety of taking Rhodiola if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Rhodiola might simulate the immune system, which may impact people with autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and others.
  • Diabetes: Rhodiola might reduce blood sugar levels, so should be used with caution in patients taking insulin or other diabetes medications.
  • Low blood pressure: Rhodiola might lower blood pressure, so should be used with caution in patients taking blood pressure meds.

If you’re on any medications or have pre-existing conditions, talk to your doctor before taking any nutritional supplement.

Ginkgo Biloba

ginkgo biloba supplement

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species. Most ginkgo supplements are made with extract prepared from its fan-shaped leaves.

The most helpful components of ginkgo are believed to be flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant qualities, and terpenoids, which help improve circulation by dilating blood vessels.

These are the biggest benefits of taking a ginkgo supplement, based on the body of evidence available today:

Benefits Evidence
1. Reduce cognitive decline (particularly in people who have dementia).
2. Improve short term memory.*
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22459264
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23196025
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8741021
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hup.470020305
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22086747
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10890330
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21802920
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22700031
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12404671

*Note: Ginkgo’s effect on memory enhancement has had conflicting results. While some evidence suggests that ginkgo extract might modestly improve memory in healthy adults, most studies indicate that ginkgo doesn’t improve memory, attention or brain function.

Is Ginkgo Biloba Safe?

When used orally in moderate amounts, ginkgo appears to be safe for most healthy adults. Here are some important safety considerations when taking this supplement though:

  • In certain people, ginkgo can cause headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, upset stomach, constipation, and allergic skin reactions.
    • If you are epileptic or prone to seizures, avoid ginkgo.
    • If you are older, have a bleeding disorder or are pregnant, don’t take ginkgo because it might increase your risk of bleeding.
    • Ginkgo might interfere with the management of diabetes.
  • Don’t eat raw or roasted ginkgo seeds, which can be poisonous.
  • Possible interactions include: Alprazolam (Xanax), Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs, herbs and supplements, Anticonvulsants, Antidepressants, Certain statins, Diabetes drugs, Ibuprofen

Ginseng

Ginseng root supplement for

The herbal remedies collectively referred to as “ginseng” are derived from the roots of several different plants. One of the most commonly used and researched of the ginseng plants is Panax ginseng, also called Asian or Korean ginseng.

The main active components of Panax ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.

Results of clinical research studies demonstrate that Panax ginseng may improve psychologic function, immune function, and conditions associated with diabetes.

Benefits Evidence
1. Improve cognition and focus.
2. Reduce blood sugar.
3. Boost happiness and well being.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15982990
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20737519
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16401645
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8721940
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11895046

Is Ginseng Safe?

  • Overall, Panax ginseng appears to be well tolerated, although caution is advised about combining it with some pharmaceuticals, such as warfarin, oral hypoglycemic agents, insulin, and phenelzine.
  • Because ginseng may affect blood sugar levels, people taking drugs for diabetes should not use ginseng without talking to their doctor first. Ginseng can interact with warfarin and with some medicines for depression. Do not take ginseng without consulting your doctor if you take any medications. Caffeine may amplify ginseng’s stimulant effects.
  • Given the lack of evidence about its safety, ginseng is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The Best Supplements for Gut Health

GI issues plague so many of us these days. 

Here are some supplements that can offer relief:

Probiotics

best probiotic supplements

I wrote about probiotics in my article Do Probiotics Work? Here’s What Science Really Says.

Here are the biggest takeaways from that piece:

  1. Many foods claiming probiotic content don’t contain strains that can survive the harsh conditions of your stomach. 
  2. Eating fermented foods is good … but not the same as taking probiotics.
  3. More strains doesn’t always means better. What’s more important is finding a product/strain that has been studied to treat the health condition you’re looking to improve.
  4. Talk to your doctor (preferably a gastroenterologist) about which probiotics you should be taking for specific health conditions.
  5. Diet and lifestyle are still the most important determining factors of gut microbial composition.

With that in mind, here are some strains that do appear to work for GI health:

Benefits Evidence
1. L. acidophilus produces a number of powerful antimicrobial compounds in the gut that can inhibit the growth and toxin producing capabilities of some 23 known disease-causing pathogens.

2. Bifidobacteria consume old fecal matter, have the ability to remove cancer-forming enzymes, and protect against the formation of liver, colon, and mammary gland tumors.

3. L. salivarius helps digest foods for a healthy intestinal tract and makes vital nutrients more assimilable.

4. L. plantarum has the ability to eliminate thousands of species of pathogenic bacteria (such as E. coli).

5. B. coagulans appears to help alleviate abdominal pain and diarrhea in IBS patients, decrease gas, and improve bowel movements.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3700768/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3539293/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908950/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5031164/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29409331
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30141154
https://bmcgastroenterol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-230X-9-85
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09168451.2014.972331

Are Probiotics Safe?

Probiotics are mostly unregulated, which is a problem. Certain studies have reported probiotic-related deaths and others have shown adverse events

That’s why’s it’s so important to make sure the strain(s) you’re taking have been studied for safety and efficacy in peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled clinical trials.

Personally, I take two capsules of Pure Food DIGEST (Digestive Enzymes + Probiotics + Prebiotics) every day–one capsule with breakfast and one with dinner–and it has made a huge difference in how I feel. 

Turmeric / Curcumin

turmeric curcumin health benefits

Turmeric is a spice that’s a member of the ginger family. It’s commonly used in several types of Asian cuisine. Turmeric roots contains a yellow-colored compound called curcumin that has some pretty impressive health properties.

In addition to the digestive benefits below, there is strong evidence that shows turmeric is high in anti-oxidants, which help protect your cells from damage and can help reduce inflammation, pain, anxiety and even symptoms of depression.

Benefits Evidence
1. Relieve IBS
2. Aid digestion
3. Ease heartburn
4. Reduce gas and bloating
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3882399/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5553098/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731878/

Is Turmeric Safe?

According to JECFA (The Joint United Nations and World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives) and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) reports, the Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) value of curcumin is 0–3 mg/kg body weight.

Despite this well-established safety profile, some negative side effects have been reported. A small percentage of people in several clinical studies reported nausea and diarrhea.

Fiber

foods high in fiber

Dietary fiber is a plant-derived nutrient that can’t be digested by your body. This is a good thing because fiber helps move material through your digestive system.

Problem is, most Americans still aren’t getting enough of it from their diet, especially if you follow a low carb or ketogenic diets.

The recommended daily intake of fiber is at least 25-30 grams. Most people get around 15.

A 2019 meta analysis of studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years showed that the health benefits of eating at least 25g or more of dietary fiber a day included:

Benefits Evidence
1. Lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, many types of cancers.
2. Improve digestive health.
3. Live longer.
https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l159
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3399949/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25552267

If you’re struggling to get enough fiber from whole foods in your diet, then a supplement containing a little extra fiber may help. In rare cases, eating more fiber can lead to side effects. Here are some specific examples:

Is Fiber Safe?

  • Fiber supplements may decrease the absorption of some medications. Therefore, you should not take supplements within 2 hours of taking other medications.
  • When using fiber supplements or increasing dietary fiber intake, you should gradually increase your intake over a few weeks to avoid or reduce adverse effects such as intestinal flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and cramping.
  • If you have a preexisting medical conditions, and especially one in which you need to restrict fluid intake (e.g., renal dysfunction or congestive heart failure), or if you’re currently taking any medications you should discuss the use of fiber supplements with your primary health care provider.
  • If you have intestinal ulcerations, stenosis, or disabling adhesions you should avoid fiber supplements because of the possibility of fecal impaction or intestinal obstruction.

The Best Supplements for Immunity

Zinc

is zinc good for immunity

Zinc is an essential trace mineral and the second most abundant metal in humans. Since the human body does not store excess zinc, it must be consumed regularly as part of the diet. Zinc deficiency in humans is quite prevalent, affecting over two billion people

Here are some proven benefits of taking a zinc supplement:

Benefits Evidence
1. Boost your immune system.
2. Treating common cold and recurrent ear infections, the flu, upper respiratory tract infections.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277319/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3636409/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748737/

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Zinc

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0–6 months 2 mg 2 mg    
7–12 months 3 mg 3 mg    
1–3 years 3 mg 3 mg    
4–8 years 5 mg 5 mg    
9–13 years 8 mg 8 mg    
14–18 years 11 mg 9 mg 12 mg 13 mg
19+ years 11 mg 8 mg 11 mg 12 mg

Source: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc

Is Zinc Safe?

  • Zinc is likely safe for most adults when applied to the skin, or when taken by mouth in amounts not larger than 40 mg daily.
  • In some people, zinc might cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, metallic taste, kidney and stomach damage, and other side effects. Using zinc on broken skin may cause burning, stinging, itching, and tingling.
  • Zinc should not be inhaled through the nose, as it might cause permanent loss of smell. Avoid using nose sprays containing zinc.
  • Taking more than 100 mg of supplemental zinc daily or taking supplemental zinc for 10 or more years doubles the risk of developing prostate cancer. There is also concern that taking large amounts of a multivitamin plus a separate zinc supplement increases the chance of dying from prostate cancer.
  • Taking 450 mg or more of zinc daily can cause problems with blood iron. Single doses of 10-30 grams of zinc can be fatal.

Vitamin D

vitamin d immunity benefits

Vitamin D is a nutrient your body needs to keep your bones healthy. Our bodies can only absorb calcium, the main part of bones, when vitamin D is present. 

Vitamin D is not naturally present in most foods … but you will often find it in fortified milk, cereal, and fatty fish such as salmon.

Our bodies can also make vitamin D from sunlight. 

The amount of vitamin D your skin makes from sunlight depends on several factors, including the time of day, season, latitude and your skin pigmentation. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, vitamin D production might decrease or be completely absent during the winter months. Sunscreen, while important for preventing skin cancer, also can decrease vitamin D production.

Many older adults, in particular, don’t get regular exposure to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D. 

If your doctor suspects you’re not getting enough vitamin D, a simple blood test can check the levels of this vitamin in your blood.

Taking a multivitamin with vitamin D may help improve bone health. The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for people ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years.

Benefits Evidence

1. Decrease risks or falls and fractures in the elderly. 
2. Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Lowering risk of colorectal cancer.
4. May improve inflammation and clinical symptoms in COVID-19 patients.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17302660/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19307517/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17296473/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32871238/

 

Is Vitamin D Safe?

  • Taken in appropriate doses, vitamin D is generally considered safe.

  • However, taking too much vitamin D in the form of 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. Taking vitamin D and aluminum-containing phosphate binders, which may be used to treat high serum phosphate levels in people with chronic kidney disease, might cause harmful levels of aluminum in people with kidney failure in the long term.
    • Anticonvulsants. The anticonvulsants phenobarbital and phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek) increase the breakdown of vitamin D and reduce calcium absorption.
    • Atorvastatin (Lipitor). Taking vitamin D might affect the way your body processes this cholesterol drug.
    • Calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux). Don’t take vitamin D with this psoriasis drug. The combination might increase the risk of too much calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia).
    • Cholestyramine (Prevalite). Taking vitamin D with this cholesterol-lowering drug can reduce your absorption of vitamin D.
    • Cytochrome P-450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates. Use vitamin D cautiously if you’re taking drugs processed by these enzymes.
    • Digoxin (Lanoxin). Avoid taking high doses of vitamin D with this heart medication. High doses of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which increases the risk of fatal heart problems with digoxin.
    • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others). Avoid taking high doses of vitamin D with this blood pressure drug. High doses of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which might reduce the drug’s effectiveness.
    • Orlistat (Xenical, Alli). Taking this weight-loss drug can reduce your absorption of vitamin D.
    • Thiazide diuretics. Taking these blood pressure drugs with vitamin D increases your risk of hypercalcemia.
    • Steroids. Taking steroid mediations such as prednisone can reduce calcium absorption and impair your body’s processing of vitamin D.
    • Stimulant laxatives. Long-term use of high doses of stimulant laxatives can reduce vitamin D and calcium absorption.
    • Verapamil (Verelan, Calan SR). Taking high doses of vitamin D with this blood pressure drug can cause hypercalcemia, and might also reduce the effectiveness of verapamil.

The Best Supplements for Pain / Inflammation

Almost a third of Americans suffer from chronic pain–nearly 100 million people.

Prescription pain medications like opoids have become a major problem though.

Here are some supplements that can help relieve pain naturally, without the use of prescription meds:

Glucosamine / Chondroitin

glucosamine chondroiton for joint pain

Glucosamine is a supplement derived from shellfish that may provide minor pain relief and help people who suffer from arthritis (particularly of the knee).

Chondroitin is a supplement frequently paired with glucosamine as a combination therapy to help with joint pain and stiffness, and other symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Benefits Evidence
1. Decrease pain.
2. Lessen arthritis symptoms.
3. Reduce collagen degradation.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11279782
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17265490
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12860572
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12374520
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19724889
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29980200

Are Glucosamine / Chondroitin Safe?

  • No serious side effects have been reported in large, well-conducted studies of people taking glucosamine, chondroitin, or both for up to 3 years.
  • However, glucosamine or chondroitin may interact with the anticoagulant (blood-thinning) drug warfarin (Coumadin).
  • A study in rats showed that long-term use of moderately large doses of glucosamine might damage the kidneys. Although results from animal studies don’t always apply to people, this study does raise concern.
  • Glucosamine might affect the way your body handles sugar, especially if you have diabetes or other blood sugar problems, such as insulin resistance or impaired glucose tolerance.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

omega 3 fatty acid supplement health

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fats—your body can’t make them from scratch and therefore must get them from food. Foods high in Omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts, flax seeds, and leafy vegetables.

Omega-3 fats are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and help regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.

There are three main omega-3s:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) come mainly from fish, so they are sometimes called marine omega-3s.
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the most common omega-3 fatty acid in most Western diets, is found in vegetable oils and nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fat, especially in grass-fed animals.

Omega-3 fats have been shown to help with a variety of health conditions …

Benefits Evidence
1. Prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.
2. Control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.
4. Reduce symptoms of depression.
5. Reduce arthritis-related joint pain.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21975919
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150191/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21903025
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295086/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26387397
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16531187

I personally use Krill Oil, and highly recommend it.

Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids Safe?

  • Side effects of omega-3 supplements are usually mild. They include unpleasant taste, bad breath, bad-smelling sweat, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Several large studies have linked higher blood levels of long-chain omega-3s with higher risks of prostate cancer. However, other research has shown that men who frequently eat seafood have lower prostate cancer death rates and that dietary intakes of long-chain omega-3s aren’t associated with prostate cancer risk. The reason for these apparently conflicting findings is unclear. 
  • Omega-3 supplements may interact with drugs that affect blood clotting.
  • It’s uncertain whether people with seafood allergies can safely take fish oil supplements.

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol

Pine Bark Extract Pycnogenol

Pycnogenol, also known as “French Maritime Pine Bark Extract,” contains catechins similar to those found in green tea, grape seed extract and cocoa polyphenols. 

Pcynogenol does appear to possess dual anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and its benefits include increased blood flow and improved blood glucose control.

Benefits Evidence

1. Promotes healthy aging. 
2. Improves symptoms of knee pain for patients with osteoarthritis.
3. Shows anti-inflammatory effects.
4.Increases antioxidant capability. 
5. Improved endothelial function in hypertensive patients.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30215292
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18570266 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3203267/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12530550
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14659974

Side Effects

  • One study showed unwanted effects of a “mild and transient nature,” such as gastrointestinal problems, vertigo, headache and nausea. 

The Best (Legal) Supplements for Building Muscle and Losing Fat

Protein Powder

protein powder plant

Proteins are organic molecules made up of amino acids (the building blocks of life). Protein helps build, maintain, and replace the tissues in your body. Your muscles, organs, and immune system are made up mostly of protein.

It’s well known that eating an adequate amount of protein is necessary if you’re trying to alter your body composition (gain muscle, lose fat, etc.).

Many folks, particularly those who follow a plant-based diet, struggle to get adequate protein from food alone though.

That’s where taking a protein powder supplement may help.

Here are some known benefits:

Benefits Evidence
1. Build lean body mass (muscle).
2. Reduce body fat.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
4. Strengthen bones as you age.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25926512
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777747/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25628520
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905294/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907525/

Protein Powder Side Effects

  • Since protein powders are dietary supplements, the FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products.
  • Some proteins, particularly dairy-based ones, may cause digestive distress. People with dairy allergies or trouble digesting lactose can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they use a milk-based protein powder.
  • Protein powders often have gut-disrupting gums and fillers, as well as added sugars or artificial sweeteners, many of which are carcinogenic.

Find out how to pick the best protein powder for you with this free guide.


Creatine

does creatine build muscle

Creatine is an amino acid found in your body’s muscles and in your brain. Though it can be made synthetically, most people get creatine through seafood and red meat. The body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys also make creatine.

Creatine is one of the best supplements for building lean body mass and increasing athletic performance.

Here’s proof …

Benefits Evidence
1. Increase power and anaerobic running capacity.
2. Build lean mass.
3. Decrease fatigue.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12945830
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14636102
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11677005
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19387386
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17194255

Is Creatine Safe?

  • When used orally at appropriate doses, creatine is likely safe to take for up to five years. However, there is concern that creatine taken in high doses is possibly unsafe and could damage the liver, kidneys or heart.
  • Creatine can cause: Muscle cramping, Nausea, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Gastrointestinal pain, Dehydration, Weight gain, Water retention, Heat intolerance, Fever
  • Don’t take creatine if you have a history of kidney disease or you have conditions such as diabetes that increase the risk of kidney problems. There also is some concern that creatine might increase mania in people who have bipolar disorder.
  • Many drugs might interact with creatine and increase the risk of kidney damage. Possible drug interactions include: Nephrotoxic drugs, Caffeine and Ephedra. Combining caffeine with creatine might decrease the efficacy of creatine. Combining caffeine with creatine and the supplement ephedra might increase the risk of serious side effects, such as stroke.

Beta Alanine

Beta alanine muscle growth

Betaalanine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the body. 

While beta alanine hasn’t been studied as much as creatine, there’s some compelling evidence about the effects of beta-alanine on body composition:

Benefits Evidence
1. Improve exercise performance (particularly HIIT).
2. Stimulate lean body mass growth.
https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-015-0090-y
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19210788
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3313163/

Is Beta Alanine Safe?

  • Beta-alanine may interact with some heart medications and with drugs for erectile dysfunction.
  • Its safety has not been established for children, people with particular diseases or conditions, or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Err on the safe side and talk to your doctor before you take beta-alanine.

The Best Supplements for Anxiety, Relaxation, and Sleep

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha benefits

Ashwagandha is a plant that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

It’s one of the most effective adaptogens and may also provide neuroprotection and enhance athletic performance.

Benefits Evidence
1. Reduce anxiety and stress levels.
2. Increase power output.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19718255
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21170205
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26609282

Is Ashwagandha Safe?

  • Ashwagandha is probably safe when taken by mouth short-term. The long-term safety of ashwagandha is not known. Large doses of ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Do not use ashwagandha if you are pregnant. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might cause miscarriages. Not enough is known about the use of ashwagandha during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
  • Diabetes: Ashwagandha might lower blood sugar levels. This could interfere with medications used for diabetes and cause blood sugar levels to go to low.
  • High or low blood pressure: Ashwagandha might decrease blood pressure. This could cause blood pressure to go to low in people with low blood pressure; or interfere with medications used to treat high blood pressure.
  • Stomach ulcers: Ashwagandha can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Don’t use ashwagandha if you have a stomach ulcer.
  • “Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Ashwagandha might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using ashwagandha.
  • Surgery: Ashwagandha may slow down the central nervous system. Healthcare providers worry that anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery might increase this effect. Stop taking ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
  • Thyroid disorders: Ashwagandha might increase thyroid hormone levels. Ashwagandha should be used cautiously or avoided if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid hormone medications.
  • Possible Drug Interactions
    • Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants).
    • Sedative medications (Benzodiazepines).
    • Sedative medications (CNS depressants).

The following haven’t been studied as much as ashwagandha but preliminary evidence suggests these can also help ease anxiety:

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm anxiety

Lemon balm is a perennial herb from the mint family. The leaves, which have a mild lemon aroma, are used to make medicine. 

According to several small studies, it does appear effective at inducing calmness and reducing anxiety:

Benefits Evidence
1. Reduce anxiety.
2. Increase sense of calm.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12062586
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15272110
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22207903
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4245564/

Is Lemon Balm Safe?

Lemon balm is likely safe for most people. When taken by mouth, lemon balm can cause some side effects including increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and wheezing.

When applied to the skin, lemon balm may cause skin irritation and increased cold sore symptoms.

Special precautions should be taken for the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lemon balm during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
  • Diabetes. Lemon balm might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use lemon balm.
  • Surgery: Lemon balm might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. Stop using lemon balm at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
  • Thyroid disease: Don’t use lemon balm. There is a concern that lemon balm may change thyroid function, reduce thyroid hormone levels, and interfere with thyroid hormone-replacement therapy.
  • Possible Drug Interactions: Sedative Medications (CNS depressants). Lemon balm might cause sleepiness and drowsiness.

Reishi Mushroom

reishi mushroom supplement facts

Reishi, also known as ganoderma lucidum or lingzi mushroom, is frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine. Its popularity extends to Japanese and Korean medicine, and it has been making its way west.

Reishi has anti-oxidative/anti-stress effects and also has a therapeutic effect on insulin resistance, reduces the risk of prostate cancer, and can help treat a variety of conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.

On top of that, the lingzi mushroom is well known for its anti-cancer effects. It is able to activate natural killer cells, increasing their activity and the body’s ability to fight tumors, and reduces the chances of metastasis, which is when cancer spreads to another part of the body, in certain types of cancers.

Benefits Evidence
1. Reduce anxiety and stress levels.
2. Improve subjective well being.
3. Reduce fatigue.
4. Slows development of certain types of cancer.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15857210
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22203880
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20518254

Is Reishi Safe?

Reishi mushroom may cause side effects including dryness of the mouth, throat, and nasal area along with itchiness and rash, stomach upset and diarrhea, dizziness and headache, nosebleed, and bloody stools.

Special precautions should be taken for the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking reishi mushroom if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
  • Bleeding disorder: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in some people with certain bleeding disorders.
  • Low blood pressure: Reishi mushroom might lower blood pressure. There is a concern that it might make low blood pressure worse. If your blood pressure is too low, it is best to avoid reishi mushroom.
  • A clotting disorder called thrombocytopenia: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in people with thrombocytopenia. If you have this condition, do not use reishi mushroom.
  • Surgery: High doses of reishi mushroom might increase the risk of bleeding in some people if used before or during surgery. Stop using reishi mushroom at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Possible Drug Interactions

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs). Reishi mushroom might decrease blood sugar.
  • Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs. Reishi mushroom might decrease blood pressure in some people. Taking reishi mushroom along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs). High doses of reishi mushroom might slow blood clotting. Taking reishi mushroom along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

CBD

I felt compelled to give an honorable nod to CBD because everybody’s talking about it.

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a compound derived mainly from hemp plants (which are cousins of the marijuana plant–so it does not cause a “high” like THC found in marijuana).

With the passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, as long as CBD is extracted from hemp and grown by licensed farmers in accordance with state and federal regulations, it is now legal to purchase.

And according to the World Health Organization, it’s safe:

In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.

World Health Organization

Although research is preliminary, it appears CBD has some legit benefits, the strongest scientific evidence being for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications.

More recently, CBD is quickly becoming the treatment of choice for people who suffer from anxietyinsomnia, and chronic pain.

A study from the European Journal of Pain showed showed that CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.

More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims but its effects appear to be very promising.

The Bottom Line About Supplements

1. Do your homework. Make sure whatever supplement you’re thinking about taking has been studied for safety and efficacy. Examine.com and Pubmed are good sources.

2. Talk to your doctor before taking any new supplement. Especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.

3. Listen to your body. If a supplement makes you feel better, keep taking it. If it doesn’t, stop taking it.