Friday, August 4, 2017

The Top 5 Testosterone Boosters of 2017

It’s no secret, men start to lose “it” as they age.

“Nah, I still got it,” you tell yourself, until you realize how much more energy and drive you had ten years ago.

It is not uncommon for men, as they age into their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, start to regularly taking testosterone boosters for their everyday lives, helping them feel more energized, motivated, and aware.

If taken as directed, testosterone boosters can be an effective and discrete “revive” supplement for men who feel like they’re losing stamina and youth.

How do testosterone boosters work and are they really worth it?

We’ll cover this, along with the benefits and possible side effects of taking a testosterone boosting supplement.

Before we get there, we’ve ranked the best testosterone boosters of 2017, according to price, product quality, and customer reviews.

So what’s the #1 rated testosterone booster on the market?

1- Superior Labs Test Worx

Lowest price on Amazon

Superior Labs has the superior testosterone booster in their space: Test Worx.

Test Worx is kinda like the big brother to all the little guys on the market trying to keep up.

Using  biologically active EuryPeptide technology, Test Worx has made a name for themselves as one of the highest rated testosterone boosters ever to hit the market.

You pay a premium price, but you get premium ingredients (supposedly).

Here are the official ingredients:

Vitamin B3 as Niacinamide, Vitamin B6 as P-5-P, Vitamin B12 as Methylcobalamin, Zinc as Zinc Citrate, Tribulus Terrestris ( Standardized to 20% Saponins), Maca Root, Nettle Root, Eurycoma Longifolia Extract ( Lj100)( Standardized to 40% Saponins and 22% Eurypeptides), L-Arginine. Natural Rice Powder, Plant Cellulose (Vegetable Capsule).

Recommended dosage instructions for Test Worx are as follows:

“As a dietary supplement to take 2 TestWORx® capsules in the morning on an empty stomach. Cycle 5 days on, two days off. Take 1 week off in between bottles.”

If you experience adverse side effects such as nausea or an upset stomach, Test Worx can be taken with a meal rather than on an empty stomach.

60 capsules total in the bottle (6-week supply).

Buy Test Worx on Amazon

2- Nugenix

Lowest price on Amazon

Made by one of the most widely recognized brands in the supplement industry (GNC) Nugenix is a potent testosterone booster that gained serious popularity with a few late night TV infomercials.

Nugenix offers a unique blend of testosterone fuel based on three important ingredients – a proprietary blend of Testofen, L-Citrulline Malate and Tribulus Terrestris.

Here are the full ingredients:

Vitamin B-6 (as Pyridoxine Hydrochloride) 2.00 mg 100% Vitamin B-12 (as Methylcobalamin) 50.00 mcg 833% Zinc (as Zinc Chelate) 5.00 mg 33% Nugenix® Free Testosterone Complex 2103.00 mg L-Citrulline Malate Testofen® Fenugreek Seed Extract (50% Fenuside) Tribulus (fruit).

Recommended dosage instructions: Take 3 capsules daily with water on an empty stomach.

30 total servings in the bottle.

Buy Nugenix on Amazon

3- Blue Star Nutraceuticals STATUS

Lowest price on Amazon

Blue Star Nutraceuticals offers one of the most premium testosterone boosters on the market, offered at a premium price.

If you’re thinking about starting out with a light dosage testosterone booster for the first time, STATUS is probably not the product you’re looking for.

This one is potent and effective.

This particular testosterone booster contains mainly Zinc, Magneisum, and Vitamin B6, along with a few other extracts like KSM-66 ashwagandha, longjack extract 100:1, 3,3′-Diindolylmethane, trigonella foenum-graecum seed, fumaric acid, panax notoginseng, BioPerine black pepper, astragalus membraneceus root, sodium R-Lipoate, and succinic acid.

Specifically, 30 mg of Zinc when combined with 450 mg of Magnesium, supports testosterone production through the increase in luteinizing hormone (LH) at the pituitary gland. The addition of Vitamin B6 increases the bioavailability of Zinc and Magnesium to help increase free testosterone levels.

Recommended dosage instructions: Take 3 capsules of STATUS in the morning, with or without food.

30 servings per container.

Buy STATUS on Amazon


Lowest price on Amazon

TESTRO-X is one of the more underrated testosterone boosters on the market.

Their special formula is broken up into three sections, a micronutrient activation blend, a stress reduction blend, and the LH surge blend.

Micronutrient activation blend: Zinc Gluconate (15mg), Magnesium Citrate (150mg), and Boron Citrate (10mg).

Stress reduction blend: KSM-66 Organic Ashwagandha (400mg) and Forskohlii Root Extract (250mg).

LH surge blend: Inositol (200mg), L-theanine (100mg), and L-glycine (200mg).

Recommended dosage instruction: Take 3 capsules after dinner (the ashwagandha helps for a good nights rest). Take capsules every day on weekdays, but take weekends off for a micro cycle.

30 servings per container.

Buy TESTRO-X on Amazon

5- Prime Labs PRIME TEST

Lowest price on Amazon

Prime Labs offers one of the more affordable testosterone boosters on the market with a unique 9 main ingredient blend.

They have quite the exotic blend for how inexpensive this supplement is, per serving.

Here are the official ingredients:

Calcium (as Calcium Carbonate) 33.28mg Testosterone Blend 1484mg Horny Goat Weed (leaf) Tongkat Ali Extract 100:1 (root) Saw Palmetto Extract (fruit) Orchic Substance Wild Yam Extract (root) Sarsaparilla (root) Nettle Extract (root) Boron (as Boron Amino Acid Chelate) Magnesium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Microcrystalline Cellulose and Stearic Acid.

Recommended dosage instructions: Take 2 capsules per day, in the morning or evening.

30 servings per container.

Buy PRIME TEST on Amazon

What are testosterone boosters?

Testosterone is a hormone that is required for the growth and development of the male sex organs, along with the maintenance of other secondary male characteristics like chest and facial hair.

Testosterone boosters are simply supplements that contain natural ingredients that help you create more of this hormone and improve the production process to make it more efficient. A lot of the most common ingredients are just plants and herbal extracts.

While prescription testosterone boosters are only available to men who have unusually low levels of testosterone due to certain medical conditions, there are a number of legal non-prescription supplements on the market that can help boost testosterone levels in your body. [1]

How do testosterone boosters work?

Testosterone boosters contain ingredients that help your body produce more testosterone in a more efficient manner.

One common ingredient, D-Aspartic Acid or D-AA, is a naturally occurring amino acid that helps to convert cholesterol into testosterone. It also improves the communication between the brain and the testes, which helps to improve testosterone production.

Another common ingredient is tribulus terrestris, known to help increase muscle mass and performance in the bedroom, if you know what I mean. [2]

What are the benefits of testosterone boosters?

There are many possible benefits to taking a testosterone booster, but the most common ones are generally listed as these:

  • more energy and stamina
  • increased muscle mass and bone strength
  • better facial hair
  • increased sex drive and libido
  • better mood regulation
  • improved verbal memory and thinking ability

While none of these benefits are necessarily guaranteed,  most of the top testosterone boosters help your body to naturally produce a hormone that generally improves your body in these areas. [3]

What are the side effects of testosterone boosters?

The most well-known side effect of testosterone boosters is the possible increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.

It is important to note that in 2014, the FDA released a statement requiring all prescription testosterone boosters to disclose the possible risks on their labeling [2].

Continued in the FDA statement, “FDA has become aware that testosterone is being used extensively in attempts to relieve symptoms in men who have low testosterone for no apparent reason other than aging. The benefits and safety of this use have not been established.”

Other side effects, which are very rare, include:

  • sleep apnea
  • acne flares
  • enlarged breasts
  • testicular shrinkage [4]

The bottom line is to make sure that you are only taking your testosterone booster as directed and never exceed the recommended dosage unless specifically instructed to by a doctor.


Testosterone boosters aren’t for everyone. But if you’ve read this far, chances are, you’ve experienced some signs of low testosterone, and that’s perfectly normal.

The good news is, testosterone boosters are still legal to buy online and you have options when it comes to choosing the best one.

If you know you want to try a testosterone booster but you’re unsure which one to go with, you might want to check out our rankings at the top of the page. We’ve narrowed it down to the top five highest rated testosterone boosters in the industry.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Top 5 Prenatal Vitamin Supplements of 2017

Women who are pregnant have an important role of fulfilling the nutritional needs of their baby and themselves at the same time.

Depending on the diet of the mother, this is not always an easy thing to do.

(For the best general women’s multivitamins, click here)

Prenatal vitamins help ensure proper nutrition for the mother and the baby throughout the duration of a pregnancy.

So how do prenatal vitamin supplements work and are they really worth it?

We’ll cover this, along with the benefits and possible side effects of taking a prenatal vitamin.

Before we get there, we’ve ranked the best prenatal vitamins of 2017, according to price, product quality, and customer reviews.

So what’s the best prenatal vitamin supplement on the market?

1- VitaBalance Pregnancy Plus

Lowest price we found

VitaBalance offers one of the most well-rounded prenatal vitamin supplements the market has ever seen, with an emphasis on the three most important prenatal vitamin components: zinc, calcium, and folic acid.

Here’s exactly what’s in Pregnancy Plus:

How did VitaBalance come up with their prenatal vitamin formula?

Well, a lot of research has been conducted on what essential vitamins and minerals are involved during a pregnancy.

Calcium, zinc, and folic acid have all been recognized as crucial prenatal vitamin components.

Popular health encyclopedia WebMD states that “Women who are pregnant or might become pregnant take folic acid to prevent miscarriage and ‘neural tube defects,’ birth defects such as spina bifida that occur when the fetus’s spine and back do not close during development.”

Folic acid has even been brought up on The DR. OZ Show:

“While it is especially important for women of childbearing age, folic acid is critical for your health at any stage of your life, whether you are a man or a woman.”

What are people saying about Pregnancy Plus?

Here’s one recent review:

“I am just so relieved to know that I’m using a product that is trusted by so many other soon to be moms. It’s not easy knowing what advice to take on board when there is so much out there but with Pregnancy Plus I feel I’ve made the right choice.” – Jenny G.

Not only do they have stellar reviews, they’re one of the more affordable prenatal vitamin supplements on the market, too.

This supplement is manufactured in an FDA approved facility with GMP certifications.

Take 2 capsules per day (one in the middle of the day, one in the evening), 60 capsules in the bottle.

Buy Pregnancy Plus Online

2- Rainbow Light Prenatal One

Lowest price on Amazon

Rainbow Light is a leading brand founded in the multivitamin space (they have products in both the top men’s and women’s multivitamin rankings) but their prenatal vitamin might be their most impressive vitamin supplement yet.

The ingredients in the Prenatal One blend are sourced from superfood extracts that promote a baby’s development and support a mother’s energy and nutrition.

In particular, this prenatal supplement contains 30 milligrams of non-constipating iron to support metabolism and red blood cell production, 400 IU of vitamin D2 to promote healthy bones and teeth, plus 100 milligrams of vitamin C and 4,000 IU of vitamin A to support skin, eye, and immune system health.

Prenatal One contains plant-source enzymes plus 25 million probiotics to enhance digestion without an upset stomach.

It’s also a vegan and vegetarian-approved supplement, meaning no animal products or artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, or other additives and 100% free of gluten, soy, dairy, nuts, shellfish, and yeast.

Serving size: 1 tablet, 150 tablets in the bottle.

Buy Prenatal One on Amazon

3- MegaFood Baby & Me 2

Lowest price on Amazon

MegaFood’s Baby & Me 2 is one of the more expensive prenatal vitamin supplements on the market, but supposedly you get premium quality.

Here’s what the people at MegaFood have to say about their prenatal vitamin product:

“MegaFood takes pride in knowing we deliver the promise of farm fresh foods to you in everything we make. It’s not easy, but we believe farm fresh whole foods are the best way to deliver authentic nourishment and not just vitamins and minerals alone. And that’s the difference between feeling good and feeling really good.

Feeling good and trusting what you are putting into your body is of even greater importance as you go through pregnancy. We have included a comprehensive list of ingredients tailored to meet the changing needs of your body and your growing baby, and you can rest assured knowing that our formula is certified gluten-free, dairy free, soy free, vegetarian safe, kosher, and Non-GMO.”

Farm fresh foods is an interesting concept, definitely not something you see offered by other leading prenatal vitamin products.

Here are the ingredients contained in Baby & Me 2: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin E, vitamin K1/K2, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, niacin, vitamin B6, biotin, pantothenic acid, iron, iodine, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, potassium, choline, silica, stearic acid, and plant cellulose.

Take 2 tablets daily, 120 tablets in the bottle.

Buy Baby & Me 2 on Amazon

4- NatureMade Prenatal Multi + DHA

Lowest price on Amazon

NatureMade is another big name in the health supplement space. Their prenatal vitamin supplement contains traditional prenatal ingredients (calcium, zinc, folic acid, etc.) along with 200 mg of the essential omega-3 fatty acid, DHA.

The serving size is only one softgel per day, which is nice compared to other leading brands that require you take 2-3 capsules per day. Also one of the more affordable prenatal vitamin supplements for the quantity of servings in the bottle (90).

Here are the ingredients: gelatin, soybean oil, glycerin, water, soy lecithin, yellow beeswax, resin, ascorbyl palmitate, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin E, and calcium (as calcium carbonate).

It is important to note that this supplement contains wheat. However, there are no artificial flavors, preservatives, or yeast. All colors have been derived from natural sources – no synthetic dyes.

1 softgel per serving, 90 softgels in the bottle.

Buy Prenatal Multi + DHA on Amazon

5- Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal

Lowest price on Amazon

One of the highest priced prenatal vitamins on the market, Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal is a whole-food multi-nutrient formula, specifically formulated to meet the unique needs of women during pre-conception, pregnancy, and lactation, by providing the nourishment to support both Mom and her developing baby.

This particular supplement is RAW – meaning no high heat, synthetic binders, fillers, artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors or additives commonly used in tablets.

The ingredients in this prenatal vitamin are blended in a base of 23 fruits and vegetables together with food cofactors for exceptional nutritional value.

Non-GMO Project Verified; Also 100% gluten and dairy free.

Take 1 capsule 3 times daily – 60 servings per bottle.

Buy RAW Prenatal on Amazon

What are prenatal vitamins and how do they work?

All pregnant women deserve the best health since they are taking care of two people at once.

Prenatal vitamin supplements are there to help mothers and their babies stay on top of their nutrition throughout the entire pregnancy duration.

It is important that women who are pregnant have the proper vitamins and minerals to keep the baby inside their womb healthy, while maintaining adequate health themselves throughout the entire pregnancy. 

Folic acid, iron and calcium are three of the most important vitamins that women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant need to keep themselves and their baby healthy.

Folic acid helps prevent the possible risk of neural tube defects, or NTDs.

NTDs are one of the serious birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. The neural tube is actually part of the embryo from which the baby’s brain and spine develops. This defect will most likely occur in the early stages of development.

Women who take folic acid at the very early stages of their pregnancy or before conception are reported to reduce their baby’s risk of neural tube defects by as much as 70% (1). 

The specific amount that you need may be instructed by your doctor, but it can be anywhere from 400 micrograms to 800 micrograms.

Iron, on the other hand, is highly needed during the first 6 months of pregnancy.

It is used to produce hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen to different organs and tissues throughout the body.

Women who are pregnant need to produce extra blood for their babies as well, so there’s a good chance you could use the help of an iron supplement.

The suggested iron intake increases by 50% as soon as a women becomes pregnant. Generally, this means an increase from 18 mg / day to 27 mg / day (2).

Deficiency in iron might also result in a premature birth or a low birth weight. Although this is very easy to treat with the help of an iron supplement, it is still highly recommended that women who are pregnant are aware of the issue.

Calcium is a third crucial ingredient for pregnant women. Obviously calcium is something needed by everyone, but it actually plays a crucial role in the pregnancy process for both the mother and the baby.

For babies:

  • Helps develop stronger bones and teeth
  • Helps healthy heart, nerve and muscle growth
  • Helps develop normal heartbeat rhythm

For pregnant women:

  • Lessens the possible risk of hypertension
  • Helps avoid Preeclampsia

It is recommended that women who are 19 and older and pregnant consume over 1,000 mg of calcium every day. For pregnant women 18 and younger, 1,300 mg of calcium intake is recommended (3).

The best way to tell if you need a prenatal vitamin or not is to simply ask your doctor on your next visit (more than likely, your doctor will be on top of this already and now you’re here to narrow down the best prenatal vitamin on the market).

What are the benefits of prenatal vitamins?

There are more than enough benefits of taking prenatal vitamin supplements, which is why they are highly recommended for anyone who is pregnant.

In pregnancy, everything should be considered with a close eye, just to ensure safety and healthiness for both the mother and baby.

The benefits of prenatal vitamins supplements are, but not limited to:

  • reducing the possible risk of birth defects
  • lessen the chances of premature birth
  • giving new born babies higher chances of maintaining normal weight
  • help pregnant women maintain better health throughout the pregnancy

These benefits are definitely something that any pregnant women would probably wish to achieve during their pregnancy (4).

The help of prenatal vitamin supplements will boost overall being and especially the well being of the baby inside the womb.

If you are currently taking any other medications, make sure you check with your doctor before combining any new supplements.

What are the side effects of prenatal vitamins?

There aren’t many known side effects of prenatal vitamins, as long as the supplement is taken as directed.

These side effects have been reported for prenatal vitamin supplements, and you should consult your doctor if symptoms persist:

  • constipation
  • darkened or green stools
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • upset stomach
  • vomiting

It is recommended that you take a prenatal vitamin supplement with 8 oz of water and avoid taking the supplement with dairy products, as this will not make the supplement work as well.

If you take any type of anti-acids, refrain from taking them within two hours of taking your prenatal supplement (5).


All-in-all, it is a very good idea for a pregnant women to consider taking a prenatal vitamin.

Not only are you increasing your baby’s chance for healthy survival, a prenatal vitamin allows you to keep your own health in check throughout crucial development processes.

Don’t stress too much about which prenatal vitamin brand to choose. We’ve done the research to narrow down the best five prenatal vitamin products on the market, ranked at the top of the page.

Happy baby makin’!

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Monday, July 24, 2017

The best probiotic foods everyone should eat

Probiotics are living microorganisms that deliver a range of health benefits when included in the diet. (1) Traditional fermented food sources of these bacteria exist in nearly every culture, and can also be taken in supplement form.

These beneficial microorganisms are believed to improve brain function and digestion, and may also promote heart health and better skin. (2, 3, 4, 5)

This list of healthy fermented foods containing beneficial probiotics can help you round out your health plan and get the most out of your menu.

1. Kefir and Traditional Buttermilk

These fermented milk products may be well-tolerated even by those who are lactose intolerant because friendly bacteria have already begun to digest the milk sugar (lactose) that causes problems for some people.

The name “kefir” is derived from the Turkish word “keyif,” referring to feeling good after eating it.

Kefir grains added to goat or cow’s milk are cultures consisting of yeast and lactic acid bacteria; the potent bacterial action of the several strains contained in kefir have been valued as a healthy food for centuries. (6)

Animal studies indicate bone health is supported by the consumption of kefir; it may also provide protection against infections, as well as helping to correct digestive problems. (7, 8)

Buttermilk can refer to any one of several fermented dairy products, but the only kind containing live cultures is the traditional type, which is the liquid remaining after butter is made.

Commonly used in Pakistan, India and Nepal, traditional buttermilk is skinny on calories and rich in several important nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin and vitamin B12. (9)

Keep in mind that cultured buttermilk found on supermarket shelves does not contain live probiotics.

2. Yogurt

Perhaps the best-known probiotic food in Western cultures, yogurt is made from milk fermented with several bacterial cultures, including bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria. (10)

Like kefir, yogurt is better than milk for people who are lactose intolerant since the fermenting process has already begun.

Yogurt has also been shown to support healthy bone mass and can help keep blood pressure in recommended ranges. (11, 12)

Studies indicate that children eating yogurt after taking a course of antibiotics have fewer problems with diarrhea, and patients with irritable bowel syndrome often experience improvements when they include yogurt in their diets. (13, 14)

This highly nutritious food should be chosen with care, since many yogurt products available don’t contain live cultures. Look for products labeled with the words “live” or “active.”

3. Some Cheeses

While cheese is a fermented product, only certain types contain live probiotics. Bacterial cultures don’t always survive aging processes, so read labels carefully.

Cheddar, mozzarella, gouda and cottage cheese may offer the benefits of probiotics, along with vital nutrients like selenium, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B12. (15, 16, 17)

Research indicates eating dairy products like fermented cheese may reduce the risk of developing heart disease, as well as cutting the chances of being diagnosed with osteoporosis. (18, 19)

4. Sauerkraut

Fermented cabbage is made using the same lactic acid bacteria found in the dairy products mentioned above. It’s been around forever, and is popular in Europe and other parts of the world.

Often served with sausage, sauerkraut is both salty and sour, and will keep well for months in an airtight container.

Sauerkraut is an excellent source of fiber, as well as providing vitamins B, C and K; minerals you’ll get from sauerkraut include iron and manganese, and the antioxidants in this fermented food support eye health. (20, 21)

The pasteurization process kills friendly bacteria, so read labels to make certain you choose an unpasteurized product.

5. Natto

This fermented soybean product is a Japanese kitchen staple, usually served with rice at breakfast. The bacterial strain it contains is called Bacillus subtilis.

A high-protein food, the texture of natto is slimy and the flavor is strong. It also packs a distinct aroma, but studies show older Japanese men who consumed natto regularly were more likely to have dense, healthy bones, perhaps because of its high vitamin K2 content. (22)

Studies show natto consumption may also help prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, as well as supporting cardiovascular health. (23, 24)

6. Tempeh

Also made from fermented soybeans, tempeh originates in Indonesia and has become popular worldwide as a high-protein substitute for meat.

The flavor has been described as earthy and nutty, and it’s made in the form of a patty that holds together well and can be fried in slices, cubed, or crumbled.

While soybeans are known for their high phytic acid content, the fermentation process significantly decreases the amount of this substance that can inhibit mineral absorption. (25)

Another fermentation bonus is the vitamin B12 produced by bacteria, which isn’t available in soybeans; this can help vegetarians get an important nutrient present mostly in animal foods. (26)

7. Miso

Considered a seasoning, this soybean product is cultured with salt and koji fungus, and is traditionally used to flavor Japanese dishes.

Another version of miso can be made by combining soybeans with grains like rye, barley or rice. Miso soup is a popular breakfast food in Japan, and the salty seasoning comes in various colors, each with a slightly different taste.

Rich in protein and fiber, miso delivers a range of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. (27) Japanese women who eat generous quantities of miso have a lower risk of breast cancer and stroke. (28, 29)

8. Kimchi

A spicy side dish originating in Korea, kimchi is usually made with cabbage, but other vegetables can also be used.

Fermented with its own strain of bacteria called Lactobacillus kimchii along with lactic acid bacteria, this popular food is seasoned with garlic, scallions, chili flakes, ginger and salt, and is believed to improve digestive health. (30, 31)

9. Kombucha

This fermented drink is made with either green or black tea, and is popular worldwide, especially in Asian countries.

Made with bacteria and yeast, kombucha has a reputation for imparting a range of health benefits, but studies have been done only in the lab, so clear evidence to back up the claims aren’t available yet. (32)

Since it’s a fermented drink, it’s reasonable to believe it may have benefits similar to other foods we’ve covered here, and the probiotic content could make valuable contributions to overall health.


There are many other types of fermented foods besides the ones on this list, and if you aren’t already enjoying this beneficial class of foods, you may want to experiment and see which ones might tickle your taste buds.

Summary: Probiotic microorganisms found in fermented foods like these may improve digestive health, sharpen mental processes, protect the cardiovascular system, and help promote good bone density while providing a wide range of vital nutrients.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

11 unhealthy foods you should avoid

11-unhealthy-foods-margarineMisconceptions about which foods are “healthy” and which foods aren’t often originate in the barrage of advertising most of us are subject to in this technology-oriented age.

Capitalizing on the current buzz in nutritional trends is an integral part of tending that bottom line for food corporations, but it can be confusing for consumers.

These 11 foods are presented as healthy choices, but if you’re eating them without knowing these facts, you may be sabotaging your desire for strength and wellness.

1. Whole Wheat Bread

Most of the bread labeled “whole wheat” is made with grains that have been pulverized into a fine flour that will raise blood sugar levels just as fast as bread made with white flour. In fact, the glycemic index (GI) of many whole wheat breads is similar to white breads. (1)

The darker appearance of breads marketed as whole wheat sometimes comes from added colorants (2), and remember that “whole grains” lose their wholeness when they’ve been over-processed.

Even if you’re getting the real deal, keep in mind that the wheat available today has lower nutritional value than it did in about a half-century ago, when some of the good properties were sacrificed through gene manipulation designed to increase crop yields. (3)

2. Agave Nectar

Since everyone knows sugar is bad, the market has been flooded with alternative sweeteners. Billed as a “natural” sweetener, agave nectar is a popular choice, but it’s even worse than sugar.

The fructose content of agave nectar is about 85%, much higher than sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

Agave nectar rates lower on the GI scale than sugar and doesn’t spike blood sugar levels in the same way sugar does; that’s because the liver processes fructose, and overloading this vital organ by ingesting foods high in fructose content can lead to serious metabolic disorders. (4)

The natural qualities of agave nectar are destroyed in processing, and while “nectar” makes it sound attractive, it’s really a syrup.

3. Organic and Vegan Junk Foods

Just because a processed food is made with organic ingredients doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

For example, organic raw cane sugar hits the bloodstream with the same punch as white table sugar, and it delivers the same nutritional value: zip.

Vegan foods designed to replace the animal-based counterparts are similar. If you have any doubts, check the ingredient label on a package of vegan bacon.

4. Commercial Salad Dressings

Many people depend on commercially prepared salad dressings to get down their quota of vegetables, which are incredibly healthy but often bland, especially when eaten raw.

Most salad dressings on supermarket shelves are made with ingredients that will cancel out the benefits of your vegetables.

Common ingredients include trans fats, sugar, chemical additives, and processed vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, which most of us already eat far too much of.

You’re better off using your own healthy ingredients to make a dressing at home, even if it’s just a simple olive oil and vinegar drizzle.

5. Brown Rice Syrup

Another sweetener marketed as “natural” and “healthy,” brown rice syrup is made from cooked rice that’s been exposed to enzymes to break down the starch into simple sugars.

It’s pure glucose and will spike blood sugar in a flash. (5)

All the nutrients contained in rice are lost in processing, so it’s full of empty calories, just like table sugar.

Recent analyses of brown rice syrup pulled off grocery shelves indicates a small percentage products are contaminated with arsenic. (6)

Skip the brown rice syrup and check into other alternative sweeteners with actual health benefits, like xylitol, stevia and erythritol.

6. Sweet Drinks Like Fruit Juice and Sports Drinks

Many commercial fruit juices are loaded with chemicals and flavorings that have nothing to do with fruit.

Even if you’re a careful label-reader and believe fruit juice must be healthy since it comes from fruit, keep in mind the sugar content of fruit juice is comparable to any sugar-sweetened drink. (7)

When the fiber is removed from fruit, it speeds up the assimilation process, jacking up blood sugar.

While sports drinks usually contain a bit less sugar and the focus is on maintaining electrolyte balance through adding salts lost through perspiration, they were developed for athletes.

While everyone who works out with any enthusiasm is likely to break a sweat and perhaps sustain it for a while, most people are better off drinking water.

7. Packaged Low-Carb Foods

Numerous studies over the last decade confirm that following a low-carb diet is a great way to improve overall health and lose weight. (8, 9)

Marketing packaged junk foods labeled “low-carb” is an excellent route to higher profits for manufacturers.

While indulging in the occasional low-carb junk food treat won’t set you back when you’re adhering to a low-carb diet, all you have to do is read the label to see that these products are usually loaded with chemicals and artificial ingredients.

8. Processed Foods Labeled “Fat Free” and “Low Fat”

The myth that saturated fat is bad for you has been thoroughly disproven by science in recent years, but food manufacturers are still cleaning up on products tailored to appeal to misled consumers.

Added sugar is the most common strategy used to compensate for the missing fat that made the food taste good in the first place.

Saturated fat won’t damage your health, but eating excessive amounts of sugar will really mess up your metabolism. (10, 11)

While there may be some exceptions, most low fat and fat free foods are heavy on sugar content.

9. Margarine

When people believed saturated fat caused heart disease, food manufacturers were quick to offer margarine as a substitute, with products often labeled “heart healthy.”

Margarine was originally loaded with trans fats; while that’s changed in modern times, the replacement is highly processed vegetable oil laced with chemicals to make it taste and look like real butter.

Data from the Framingham Heart Study confirms that margarine-eaters are more likely to die of heart disease than those who eat butter. (12)

10. Gluten-Free Junk Foods

A full third of Americans reported they were trying to avoid gluten in 2013. (13)

Many people find gluten in the diet causes a variety of health issues (14), and the demand for gluten-free products continues to grow.

The replacement ingredients in these foods may be gluten-free, but they’re also often devoid of nutrients, and the refined starches will spike blood sugar in exactly the same manner as products containing wheat.

Choosing foods that are naturally free of gluten is a better idea.

11. Vegetable Oils

Studies have shown that eating vegetable oils like grapeseed and canola can reduce blood cholesterol levels in the short term (15), but it’s important to remember high cholesterol isn’t a disease, it’s a risk factor.

If you’ve been following advice to include highly processed vegetable and seed oils in your diet, you should know several controlled trials show these products raise the risk of being diagnosed with cancer and developing heart disease. (16, 17, 18)

Dropping the numbers on a single risk factor like cholesterol levels may not be worth the price. Stick with butter, olive oil and coconut oil.

Summary: There are many products besides the ones covered here that are promoted as “healthy” even though they’re not. Your bottom line is more important than net profits of giant corporations; know what you’re buying and how it will affect your body so you can make informed food choices.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Insulin resistance symptoms and treatment


Insulin resistance occurs when cells no longer respond to the message delivered by insulin. The pancreas secretes more insulin to try to fix the situation, and excess circulating insulin can build up to create a condition called hyperinsulinemia.

Insulin is a hormone involved in the regulation of many vital processes in the body. Problems with this important hormone can lead to a number of common modern health issues.

When cells no longer respond to insulin the way they’re designed to, it’s called insulin resistance; a study conducted in 2002 indicated nearly a third of Americans may be suffering from this condition. (1)

Among certain groups, the problem is even more widespread.

Estimates for the number of obese women with insulin resistance run at 70%, and obese children and young adults may clock in as high as 33%. (2, 3)

In many cases, lifestyle modifications can result in dramatic improvements in this condition. Read on to find out about causes and how to overcome insulin resistance.

Insulin 101

Secreted by the pancreas, insulin controls nutrients in the blood; its main job is to regulate blood sugar levels, but it also plays a role in the metabolism of protein and fat.

The carbohydrates in meals increases the amount of sugar in our bloodstreams, and pancreatic cells sense the change and release insulin, which circulates in the blood, signaling cells to pick up sugar.

Cells follow orders, taking up sugar for energy use or storage, and blood sugar levels drop; but if this process isn’t working, blood sugar levels stay high, leading to imbalances that can cause harm or even death when levels are extremely elevated.

This can go on for a long time, with blood sugar and insulin levels continuing to rise; the issue can eventually lead to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, a serious disease that affects nearly one in ten people worldwide. (4)

Note the distinction between insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity:

  • Insulin resistance means your insulin sensitivity is low
  • Insulin sensitivity means you are sensitive to the message insulin is delivering to cells

So insulin sensitivity indicates normal function, where cells respond to the message to uptake sugar from the blood, while insulin resistance is the opposite circumstance that results in high blood sugar levels.

Causes of Insulin Resistance

Researchers believe one of the main triggers for insulin resistance is elevated levels of free fatty acids in the blood. (5)

The build-up of fatty acid metabolites and fats inside muscle cells, for example, may block signals sent by insulin; the term for this build-up is intramyocellular fat. (6)

This type of fat accumulation is due to eating more calories than necessary and packing around excess weight. Obesity, weight gain and overeating are all associated with developing insulin resistance. (7)

Belly fat that can build up around the organs is thought to release fatty acids into blood, along with inflammatory hormones leading to insulin resistance. (8)

People who aren’t overweight can also be insulin resistant, but it’s not as common. (9)

Other potential causes for insulin resistance include:

  • High fructose intake from a diet high in sugar (added sugar, rather than whole fruit) (10)
  • Inflammation and high levels of oxidative stress (11)
  • Sedentary lifestyle (12)
  • Imbalances in gut bacteria (13)

Social factors, heredity and race may also play a role in establishing risk factors for insulin resistance; studies show Asians, blacks and Hispanics are more likely to develop this condition. (14)

Are You Insulin Resistant?

If you’re overweight and have a lot of belly fat, you may be insulin resistant. Besides having high fasting blood sugar levels, there are several other ways to determine if you’ve developed insulin resistance.

HOMA-IR is a fairly accurate blood test used to estimate resistance from insulin and blood sugar levels. Oral glucose tolerance tests are another method; after an oral dose of glucose is given, blood sugar levels are tested over the following few hours.

Acanthosis nigrans is a skin condition where dark spots appear on the skin, sometimes indicating insulin resistance.

Low levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind), as well as high blood triglyceride measurements, are two other possible signs of the condition.

Insulin resistance is present in two extremely common health conditions: type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.


Metabolic syndrome, also called insulin resistance syndrome, is a combination of risk factors associated with heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems, including: (15, 16)

  • Elevated blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Central obesity (high amounts of belly fat)
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • High measurements of blood triglycerides

Insulin resistance is associated with type 2 diabetes as well; cells no longer respond to insulin, and eventually the pancreas cannot keep up with the demand for more. An insulin-deficiency develops. (17, 18)

Stopping this process may result in preventing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome; people with these conditions are 93% more likely to get heart disease. (19)

Other chronic diseases associated with insulin resistance include:

  • Fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic) (20)
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) (21)
  • Alzheimer’s disease (22)
  • Cancer (23)


Insulin resistance does not have to lead to serious health issues. In many cases, simple lifestyle choices can improve or reverse the condition.

Here are ten changes you can make to positively influence insulin sensitivity:

  1. Increase the amount of exercise you get (24)
  2. Reduce belly fat
  3. Quit smoking tobacco (25)
  4. Eat less sugar and stop drinking sweetened beverages, especially sugary sodas
  5. Base your diet on whole foods, including fish and nuts
  6. Get adequate omega-3 fatty acids (26)
  7. Add supplements like berberine and magnesium (27, 28)
  8. Improve the quality of your sleep (29)
  9. Manage stress (30)
  10. Practice intermittent fasting (31)

Eating a low-carb diet has also been shown to improve health markers linked with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, partly through positive effects on insulin resistance. (32, 33)

While this list isn’t intended as medical advice, note that the suggested actions are all associated with good health habits.

Summary: Evidence shows insulin resistance can play a role in raising risk factors for many modern chronic diseases; making lifestyle choices that help prevent or correct this vital issue may be one of the most positive actions you can take to enjoy good health.

Ranking the 5 best fitness trackers of 2017

best-food-appsPeople who take time to track food intake and calorie counts intermittently are more successful in losing weight and keeping it off than those who don’t. (1, 2)

It’s not necessary to know what you’re eating every meal or every day, but giving yourself a periodic, accurate update is important; this can help you stay in ranges that will help you meet goals and make yours a success story instead of a bust.

Keeping a food record is much easier in this digital age; you don’t need to use books or written journals to know where you stand with food intake each day. All the information you need is accessible through your computer or other device.

There are many apps available for tracking food, and most of them won’t cost you anything unless you decide to upgrade to premium versions.

These are the five best you can find online:

1. MyFitnessPal

One of the reasons this app is so popular is the huge database users draw from; this includes more than five million foods, as well as a feature that allows you to download recipes from the internet and calculate caloric content.

Creating custom dishes is also possible on MyFitnessPal, and you can save favorite meals so they’ll be quick and easy to add in when you eat them again.

Home page layout makes it simple to see calories consumed, the portion of recommended intake remaining for the day, as well as the number of calories burned through exercise.

For those who use a fitness tracking device, syncing the app is usually an option; you can include exercise stats in the log without spending a lot of time.

There’s even a barcode scanner, making it easy to add information from certain packaged foods.

The pie chart you’ll see onscreen shows ratios of protein, carbs and fat, and there’s a place to enter notes about how you felt or other relevant aspects of the day in relation to food intake and exercise.

You can track goals, interact with others in the chat forum, share recipes or tips, and look over meal planning ideas.

Most features are available in the free version, and upgrading will run you $49.99 for a year.


  • Large database includes a good selection of restaurant foods
  • Caloric counts are automatically calculated for downloaded recipes
  • A “quick-add” feature lets you enter calories without fussing over details


  • Other users upload most of the foods, so accuracy and duplicate entries may be an issue
  • Difficult to adjust for serving size

2. LoseIt!

This app can also connect with other devices to make entering information about exercise simple and fast. Food and exercise records are easy to enter, and a personalized recommendation for caloric intake is provided.

The database is extensive, and once you enter age, height, weight and goals, you can monitor calories on the home page.

The barcode scanner is handy for adding information from packaged foods, which can be saved for quick entry the next time.

You get daily and weekly total calorie counts, with weight changes presented in graph form. The chat community is active, and participating in “challenges” is always an option, as well as organizing one of your own.

The premium membership, running at $39.99 a year, allows you to set more goals and enter additional information, along with a few other extras.


  • Database includes restaurant foods and grocery items that have been entered by an “expert” team
  • You can set reminders to add information about snacks or meals


  • Navigation can be difficult
  • Adding the nutritional value of home-cooked meals is a clunky process
  • Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals cannot be tracked

3. FatSecret

This completely free app offers a nutrition database, exercise log, food journal, calorie counter and weight chart, as well as healthy recipes.

The barcode feature is included so you can scan packaged foods, and totals for all categories are accessible in graph form for each meal as well as for the day’s food.

FatSecret offers a monthly summary, which shows daily calorie consumption and averages that can help you track ongoing progress.

You’ll find the calorie-counter quite user-friendly, and chat forums are active, with recipe-swapping, success stories and frequent “challenges” to keep you motivated.

There are lots of recipes, and articles and other information are also available.


  • Large database includes supermarket foods as well as restaurant choices
  • When information is added by users, it’s highlighted so you can verify if desired
  • “Net carb” counts can be helpful for those following a low-carb plan


  • Some users find the interface confusing and cluttered

4. Chron-o-meter

Food intake, body weight and exercise are all easy to track with this app. The exercise database is excellent, and separate settings are available for pregnant and lactating women, as well as those with other special needs.

Recommendations for macronutrient intake can be adjusted according to specific diets you may be following, including low carb, paleo and low-fat vegetarian plans.

The simple food diary is fast and easy to use, and a bar chart below shows a daily breakdown for protein, carbs and fat, as well as total calories.

You can track micronutrient intake including vitamins and minerals, and for less than $3 monthly, you get extra features like advanced analysis and no advertisements.


  • Simple to use
  • Data syncing with other devices
  • Micronutrient tracking


  • Home recipes can only be added on the website; once you add something, the app can access relevant information
  • No social forum
  • Website use is free, but the app costs $2.99

5. SparkPeople

The massive community of SparkPeople offers a variety of resources including articles by experts, trending news in health and wellness, videos of exercise demos, and recipes.

This app is a good choice for people who appreciate a lot of support and interaction with others.

You’ll find the free database impressively large, but many of the features are only accessible to users who have upgraded their accounts.

Adding recipes is easy, and you can get food info by scanning barcodes of many packaged items. A user-friendly food diary converts calories and macronutrients at the end of each day with the option of viewing as a pie chart.


  • Abundant resources


  • Some users are overwhelmed by the amount of information on the site
  • Content is spread between apps that are customized, such as for pregnant women
  • Logging foods can be tricky

When you’re working on physical improvements, accessing the information you need to keep yourself headed in the right direction can make all the difference.

Most people only need to track occasionally, for a few weeks or less, in order to make crucial adjustments or corrections needed to meet goals.

Summary: Tracking food intake can be integral to success whether you’re trying to gain weight, lose weight or maintain previous losses. Food apps for use on your computer and personal devices make the process much simpler and easier.

How to prevent diabetes

low-carb-diabetesMore than 400 million people around the world are affected by the growing epidemic of diabetes. (1)

Complications associated with this complex disease can be greatly reduced by good management of blood sugar levels, and following a low-carb diet has been shown effective for this purpose. (2)

While a healthy body can efficiently break down dietary carbohydrates into tiny units of glucose that become blood sugar, this process doesn’t work properly for diabetics.

We’ll take a close look here at how low-carb diets can be used to manage blood sugar levels.

Diabetes 101: How Food Affects Blood Sugar

When blood sugar levels rise after eating the consumption of carbohydrates, insulin is produced by the pancreas. This hormone is necessary for blood sugar to be taken into cells and used to fuel body processes.

Blood sugar stays within a fairly narrow range during the day when everything works right; this is vital, since both low and elevated blood sugar levels can lead to serious harm.

The two most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2; people have been diagnosed with these disorders at all ages.

  • Type 1 diabetes is characterized by an autoimmune process that destroys pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin; to facilitate glucose entering cells, type 1 diabetic patients inject insulin several times daily for blood sugar regulation. (3)
  • Type 2 diabetic patients produce enough insulin at first, but cells grow resistant to the hormone, resulting in high blood sugar levels; the pancreas pumps out more insulin in an attempt to restore balance in the bloodstream, but eventually beta cells can’t keep up with the demand. (4)

Of the three macronutrients in food (carbohydrates, fats and proteins), carbs have the most significant impact on blood sugar levels.

When diabetic patients eat large quantities of carbohydrates, they may need to take bigger doses of diabetic medication or insulin to manage blood sugar.

Trials and Studies

A number of studies show that low-carb diets can be very effective in treating diabetes. (5, 6, 7, 8)

Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, placing diabetic patients on a low carb diet was standard treatment for the disease. (9)

Those who follow the diet usually have good long-term results. In one study, type 2 diabetic patients following a low-carb diet were closely observed for six months, then re-evaluated three years later. Those who stuck with the plan had well-controlled blood sugar. (10)

Type 1 diabetic patients had similar results over a 4-year study period using a restricted carbohydrate diet. (11)

In some studies, dramatic improvements in both blood sugar levels and weight were noted by restricting carb intake to less than 20 grams daily. (12)

Other research indicates comparable results can be achieved by limiting carbs to 20% of dietary intake, or between 70 and 90 grams daily. (13)

Since everyone has a unique response to carbohydrates, the best way to pinpoint optimal carb amounts is measuring blood sugar levels an hour or two after meals.

Nerve damage begins to occur at 140 mg/dL (or mmol/L), so monitoring levels with a blood glucose meter can help patients determine optimal carbs for their bodies; some may need to keep carbs at 6 per meal, while others may be able to handle up to 25 or 30.

Carbohydrates and Food Choices

Fiber in plant foods is not broken down into glucose; sugar and starch content jacks up blood sugar.

Seeds, nuts, blueberries and vegetables are the preferred sources of carbohydrates because they are nutrient-dense and high in fiber.

When you’re looking at carb content of various foods, subtracting fiber carbs leaves a carb count that is called “net,” or “digestible” carbs.

For example, a cup of cauliflower delivers 5 carbs, but 3 are from fiber, so net carbs are only 2.

Inulin is a type of prebiotic fiber that has been shown to positively affect blood sugar levels and other health markers in diabetic patients. (14)

Be wary of sugar alcohols such as erithritol, mannitol and xylitol, which may be used to sweeten diet products like candy; these can raise blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.

For example, if carbs from mannitol are subtracted from total carb counts found on product labels, the result may be inaccurate. (15)

Also, fitness trackers may be a good resource for tracking intake.

These are examples of foods you can eat freely, some of which will also help make certain you’re getting plenty of protein:

  • Eggs, meat, poultry and fish
  • Cheese, avocados and olives
  • Low-starch vegetables
  • Quality fats and oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil, butter, cream cheese and sour cream

Depending on your level of carb tolerance, these foods can be eaten in smaller quantities:

  • Starchy vegetables high in fiber, such as acorn, hubbard and butternut squash (a cup or less)
  • Cottage cheese (½ cup) or Greek yogurt (1 cup)
  • Berries (1 cup)
  • Peanuts and nuts (1 to 2 ounces)
  • Chia or flax seed (1 to 2 tablespoons)
  • Dark chocolate at 85% cocoa (up to 30 grams)
  • 5 ounces of liquor or 4 ounces of dry wine

Lowering carb intake will usually drop insulin levels, causing the kidneys to release both water and sodium. (16)

Low-carb foods that can help replace lost sodium include olives and broth, and adding a little salt to meals is fine unless you’re on a low-sodium diet as part of a plan for treating kidney disease, congestive heart failure or hypertension; in cases like these, consult your physician.

Foods such as these are higher in carbs and can raise blood sugar levels:

  • Sweetened drinks like juice and soda; beer
  • Fruit, except for berries
  • Milk
  • Legumes, including beans, lentils and peas (greens beans and snow peas are exceptions)
  • Yams, potatoes, sweet potatoes and taro
  • Grains (including corn), bread, cereal and pasta
  • Candy, deserts, baked goods, ice cream, etc.

If you take insulin or other medications to control diabetes, it’s vital to speak with your doctor before adopting a low-carb diet.

Blood sugar levels can fall dramatically in short periods of time when carb intake is reduced, and adjustments to medications may be necessary to prevent hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood sugar levels.

Some patients have been able to stop taking medications altogether when following a low-carb diet. (17)

Other methods proven to help manage blood sugar levels include:

  • Getting good quality sleep (18)
  • Tegular resistance training and aerobic exercise (19)
  • Reducing stress (20)

Many diabetics have had good results in dropping blood sugar levels by following a low-carb diet. Be sure to speak with your doctor before making dietary changes.

Summary: Restricting carbohydrates can be effective in reducing the risk of complications for patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes; blood sugar levels may also be improved, and some patients are able to decrease or discontinue medications.