Mushrooms Boost Brain Power

If you’re a fan of mushrooms, rejoice! These nutritious little fungi have several known benefits to our health, including lowering your chance of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. And now, there appears to be yet another advantage to eating mushrooms. New research shows that they may help protect the brain from degenerative conditions such as dementia.

The study, which took place at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, found that regular consumption of certain types of mushrooms may be associated with brain changes that reduce the risk of developing dementia.1 After analyzing 10 different types of mushrooms, the investigators determined that they promoted the increased production of nerve growth factor in the brain, which contributes to the formation of new neurons in the gray matter, an important factor in our ability to retain and retrieve memories.

What kinds of mushrooms were most beneficial? Unfortunately, not the white or button types that many of us include on salads or add to pizza. But several—including lion’s mane and reishi—were shown to actually improve cognitive functioning. And Cordyceps, demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in the brain, possibly enough to aid in staving off memory loss.

The list of brain-boosting mushrooms from the study is H. erinaceus, G. lucidum, Cordyceps, D. indusiata, G. frondosa, T. fuciformis Berk, Tricholoma, T. albuminosus, L. rhinocerotis, and Pleurotus. Many of these varieties can be found in specialty grocery stores or Asian food markets. To get some idea of what each of these mushrooms offer in taste and edibility, read on.

H. erinaceus
Lion’s Mane is similar in texture and flavor to seafood, so you can easily sauté it and base a great vegetarian meal around these mushrooms.

G. lucidum
Commonly called reishi, these versatile mushrooms are often used in tea. You can soak the dried mushrooms overnight, then remove them from the water and strain it. Boil the mushroom-enhanced water for flavorful tea. Another option for consumption is grilling reishi after soaking them overnight.

Cordyceps
Cordyceps is a popular ingredient in certain Chinese therapeutic soups. Often containing chicken and ginger as well, these soups are touted for their ability to strengthen the immune system, and cleanse the blood, liver, and kidneys.

D. indusiata
Reputed to be an aphrodisiac for women, this mushroom is a good source of protein and fiber. It has traditional uses in Chinese medicine and is a common ingredient in stir-fry dishes and soups.

G. frondosa
Also known as hen of the woods, this species of mushroom has an unusually delicate texture that appeals even to those who don’t find most mushrooms appealing. It is delicious sliced into large pieces and either sautéed or grilled.

T. fuciformis 
Another mushroom popular in China for both medicinal and culinary purposes, T. fuciformis is often used in soups with either beans or apples and figs.

Tricholoma
A form of the tricholoma mushroom is the matsutake. This is a meaty mushroom with a zesty flavor that lends itself well to steaming or grilling, and it pairs nicely with chicken or many kinds of fish.

T. albuminosus
Another meaty-flavored mushroom, T. albuminosus can be consumed without cooking. Whether eaten cooked or raw, it has a crunchy texture and may be boiled, grilled, steamed, or added to a soup.

L. rhinocerotis
Called the tiger milk mushroom, L. rhinocerotis is closely related to reishi mushrooms. It is used in medicinal practice in Malaysia and is often sliced and boiled before consumption.

Pleurotus
Also known as the oyster mushroom, this is one of the more common varieties on this list. Pleurotus is used in several Asian cuisines as a stand-alone dish or in soups and stir-fry meals.

Many of the positive health effects associated with these types of mushrooms are due to the presence of biochemicals called polysaccharides. Different variations of these polysaccharides in the mushrooms can help fight infections, prevent cancer, and improve kidney function.

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Herbal Bitters

At one point in time, bitters typically only made an appearance in the American diet in the form of black coffee or a dash of Angostura in a cocktail. But times are changing, and bitter-tasting herbs now rock the aisles of natural food stores, hipster bars, and the workshop offerings at herbal conferences. We can thank herbalists for bringing these herbs to the forefront of “mainstream” herbal consciousness, but medicinal bitters actually date back thousands of years and have played a major role in modern herbalism for decades.

What Is A Bitter?

Quite simply, a “bitter” is an herb that tastes bitter. Bitters stimulate bitter receptors on our tongue’s taste buds and elsewhere in the body. Strong classic bitters include gentian and wormwood, though we don’t tend to use either due to sustainable harvesting concerns and potential safety issues, respectively. Our favorite basic bitter is artichoke leaf. Fellow mild lettuce-family bitters include burdock, dandelion, chicory {radicchio, endive}, and certain varieties of lettuce. More complex bitters include coffee, which has high levels of the alkaloid caffeine, and herbs rich in the antimicrobial alkaloid berberine, including goldenseal, coptis, barberry, and Oregon grape root. Aromatic bitters include elecampane root, chamomile, lemon balm, and catnip.

What Do Bitter Herbs Do?

Although individual herbs can have different properties, we generally call on their bitter flavor to encourage a certain set of health benefits.

Turn on Digestion: Bitters are most well known for their ability to stimulate digestion and assimilation, particularly when you taste them on the tongue {versus taking them in capsule form} since this turns on digestive-system function. Peristalsis, the wave-like motion that moves food through the digestive system, kicks in, which promotes better transit time and elimination. Blood circulation to the digestive tract also increases, and the body produces more stomach acid and digestive enzymes. Interestingly, many people with acid reflux actually feel better with bitters because they improve function and signaling so that the lower esophageal sphincter shuts properly while food churns in the stomach. Bitters seem to stimulate vagal tone, improving the bi-directional communication between the digestive system and the brain.

Studies show that bitters such as gentian and artichoke leaf relieve and prevent dyspepsia, a broad group of digestive symptoms that includes belly issues with food {pain, discomfort, feeling too full}, bloating, burping, heartburn, GERD, and the loss of appetite. This effect makes bitters potentially useful in various digestive issues, such as indigestion, hiatal hernia, ulcers, gastritis, irritable bowel disorder, and gastroparesis. Finally, they boost the absorption of nutrients.

Bitters may not agree with everyone, but you can usually tell within a dose or two whether or not they’re helping you.

Boost Detoxification: Most bitters have a cholagogues action, meaning that they encourage the liver to produce and excrete more bile. The liver produces bile as a waste product when it filters the blood. The gallbladder stores this bile. After you eat and food passes from the stomach to the intestines, the gallbladder releases its contents via the common bile duct to join the partially digested food. Through this process, it leaves the body via your waste, but it also helps emulsify fats and aid digestion in the process. If you don’t have a gallbladder, your body excretes bile gradually throughout the day rather than via food-driven spurts, which is why it’s harder to digest fatty meals without a gallbladder. By improving bile production and excretion, bitters support detoxification as well as fat digestion – regardless of the status of your gallbladder.

We often turn to dandelion, yellow dock, burdock, turmeric, artichoke, and other classic bitters for these benefits. Yellow dock has added laxative effects, burdock also boosts lymph detoxification, and dandelion leaf and root both enhance kidney detoxification. Artichoke leaf and turmeric help protect the liver from damage as well. New research suggests that bitters may also improve the cell’s ability to pump out toxins for removal.

Regulate Appetite and Reduce Sugar Cravings: Bitters have additional effects on the digestive system and brain-gut connection, as well as on endocrine function. In addition to supporting vagal tone, the stimulation of bitter receptors also regulates the production of gut hormones {CCK, leptin, and ghrelin}, as well as the sensitivity of your cells to these hormones. Among other things, these hormones affect your appetite and cravings. Taking bitters with meals can help people who tend to overeat feel healthfully full more quickly while also stimulating a better appetite in people who find themselves nauseated by food. {Note that taking strong bitters without any food can overstimulate the digestive system and aggravate nausea and hypoglycemia in sensitive people.} Regular use of bitters reduces your desire for sweets and increases your interest in healthy food, which can make it much easier to opt for good food choices and maintain a healthy weight.

Some herbalists believe that many of our obesity and appetite issues stem from”bitter deficiency.” As humans have selectivity adapted our food crops from their wild to current states, we have bred out bitter flavors in favor of sweet and starchy. Technology that allows us to process and refine foods furthers that divide. What was once a ubiquitous flavor in our diet is now quite rare, particularly in American cuisine. Other cultures still maintain the use of bitters in the meal, including citrus peel, bitter cordials, tamarind, artichoke, and wild bitter greens and lettuces. Even though we love our bitter coffee and chocolate, we sweeten and cream them past the point of recognition.

Lower Blood Sugar: We almost intuitively know that bitters reduce blood sugar when we sip black tea or coffee alongside something sweet. When consumed with sweets, bitters may reduce the glycemic effect of that food and improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin. This goes along well with the aforementioned ability of bitters to improve satiety as we eat, reduce sugar cravings, and improve our desire for healthy foods. Researchers think that insulin resistance may be caused in part by a lack of bitter stimulation of receptors on the pancreas.

Beyond The Bitter Basics

New research is revealing, even more, capabilities of the bitter flavor. We’re finding bitter receptor sites throughout the body, not just on the tongue or in the digestive tract. Here are a few potential benefits bitters may offer based on highly preliminary research:

  • Improving lung function by boosting bronchodilation.
  • Improving longevity by enhancing gene function.
  • Encouraging the parasympathetic “relaxation” response via its vagal nerve stimulation.
  • Promote bladder control.
  • Helping to regulate energy metabolism in the cardiovascular system, as well as heart rhythm and contractile force.
  • Supporting immune function.

Bitter Herbal “Coffee”

This coffee-like drink tastes particularly nice over ice. You may also enjoy adding chaga, cacao powder, and/or a pinch of ginger or nutmeg to the mix. It’s caffeine-free unless you use cacao.

1 part dandelion root

1 part burdock root

1 part roasted chicory root

1 part cinnamon chips or 1 cinnamon stick per cup {optional}

Simmer one heaping teaspoon of the blend per 8 to 16 ounces of water for 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy hot or cold. While it tastes great with cream and sugar, these offset the benefits.

Bitters Spray

Blends of bitters generally include strong bitters, warming spices, and perhaps a few other extras. Lightly sweeten them if desired. You can use dried herbs to make your own bitter tincture blend. Feel free to play around to create your own mix. Citrus peel/fruit, spices, elecampane, catnip, lemon balm, chamomile, holy basil, blue vervain, fennel, and other herbs make welcome additions.

1/2 oz dandelion root

1/2 oz artichoke leaf

1/2 oz burdock root

1/2 Tsp grated fresh ginger

1 cardamom pod

4 oz of 80- or 100-proof vodka

2 oz of maple syrup or vegetable glycerine {or substitute more vodka}

Combine all of the above in an 8-ounce jar with a tight lid. If needed, top it off with more vodka so that it’s filled to the brim. Shake every day or so. Strain after one month, bottle, and store in a cool, dark, dry spot.

To Use: Take 1 ml {30 drops} or 1-4 sprays by mouth or add 1-2 ml to plain seltzer and sip with meals.

 

15 Iron-Rich Foods for Healthy Energy Levels

Biologically speaking, iron is a trace mineral and an essential nutrient that your body requires to function properly. It helps with immune function, detoxification, and the creation of several proteins and enzymes. One of these proteins is hemoglobin, a complex protein used by red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.

Iron deficiency anemia is a condition that occurs when your blood doesn’t contain enough iron, hemoglobin, or red blood cells to transport the oxygen you need from your lungs to your tissues. While there are several types of anemia, iron deficiency is by far the most common. Over 1.6 billion people worldwide are anemic. Of these, several hundred million have iron deficiency anemia. If you suspect that you have an iron deficiency, consult your health care provider. They may want to check your hematocrit levels, which is a test to see if you have too few red blood cells.

There are two types of dietary iron-heme and nonheme. Heme iron comes only from animal sources-meat, poultry, and seafood. Plant sources contain only nonheme iron, which isn’t as easily absorbed by your body as heme. This may be because certain phytochemicals in plants, including oxalates, polyphenols, tannins, and phytates promote slower, more controlled iron absorption.

Despite this, vegans and vegetarians don’t suffer from iron deficiency at any greater rate than meat-eaters do. There may be two reasons for this. First, plant-based diets tend to be high in vitamin C, which acutely increases iron absorption. Second, because vegetables are relatively low in calories and high in nutrients, vegans and vegetarians take in significantly more iron per calorie consumed. In other words, 100 calories of spinach contain as much iron as 1700 calories of steak.

RDA of Iron

To prevent iron deficiency anemia, it’s important to consume the proper amount of iron for your body. Different life stages have different requirements, and women tend to need a little more than men. Consult these charts to find your recommended daily iron intake. Because of the slow, controlled bioavailability of nonheme iron, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board recommends that vegans and vegetarians consume 1.8 times the RDA for iron.

Iron Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Nonvegetarians

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0-6 months .27 mg .27 mg N/A N/A
7-12 months 11 mg 11 mg N/A N/A
1-3 years 7 mg 7 mg N/A N/A
4-8 years 10 mg 10 mg N/A N/A
9-13 years 8 mg 8 mg N/A N/A
14-18 years 11 mg 15 mg 27 mg 10 mg
19-50 years 8 mg 18 mg 27 mg 9 mg
51+ years 8 mg 8 mg N/A N/A

Iron Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vegans and Vegetarians

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0-6 months .27 mg .27 mg N/A N/A
7-12 months 20 mg 20 mg N/A N/A
1-3 years 12 mg 12 mg N/A N/A
4-8 years 18 mg 18 mg N/A N/A
9-13 years 14 mg 14 mg N/A N/A
14-18 years 19 mg 27 mg 48 mg 18 mg
19-50 years 14 mg 32 mg 48 mg 16 mg
51+ years 14 mg 14 mg N/A N/A

15 Plant-Based, Iron-Rich Foods for Healthy Energy Levels

Some of the most potent plant sources of iron are fortified cereals and flour. However, fortified foods and enriched flour are heavily processed and carry their own health risks. It’s always best to get your nutrition from natural sources. Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based foods that you can incorporate into an iron-rich diet. Here are 15 of the top vegan food sources of iron.

1. Spirulina

A favorite in green juices and smoothies, spirulina is a blue-green algae rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. One tablespoon of spirulina contains 2 mg of iron.

2. Spinach

The list of health benefits from dark leafy green vegetables seems endless. They contain an abundance of antioxidants, folate, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. Most dark leafy greens also have a high iron content. Salad greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and bok choy are all excellent choices, but when it comes to iron, spinach brings the muscle. One cup of cooked spinach contains over 6 mg of the mineral.

3. Dried Beans

Beans are an excellent source of iron, though the exact content varies by type. White beans have one of the highest iron concentrations with almost 8 mg per cooked cup. One cup of cooked lentils provides 6.6 mg of iron, and the same quantity of kidney beans or chickpeas nets you about 5 mg. Other iron-rich beans include cowpeas, lima beans, and navy beans.

4. Green Peas

They belong to the same family of legumes as beans, so it’s no surprise that green peas are a respectable source of iron-2.5 grams per cooked cup.

5. Tempeh and Nattō

Soy products, like tofu, have an extremely high iron content. Unfortunately, soybeans are the most heavily genetically modified crop in the United States. As of 2016, 94% of all soybeans are GMO. To avoid the health risks associated with soy, look for products that are both organic and fermented. For a product to be considered organic, it cannot contain GMOs.

Nattō is a fermented soy product that boasts a very high iron content-an astounding 15 mg per cup. The iron concentration in tempeh isn’t nearly as high, but each cup of the fermented soy product still contains a respectable 4.5 mg.

6. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are a boon to both heart health and overall wellness. They’re a natural source of several potent antioxidants, containing vitamin E, flavonoids, and lignans, particularly sesamin and sesamolin. These phytochemicals provide many health benefits. Sesame seeds are also a great source of iron. Just one ounce of the seeds contains 4.18 mg.

7. Dried Fruit

Fruit is a very good source of iron. Dried fruit may be even better, as it concentrates the nutrients in a small, non-perishable package. A half cup of dried fruit has the same nutrients as a cup of fresh fruit. Just make sure that you choose dried fruit with no added sugar. Some fruits sold as “dried” are actually “candied,” which means they were heated in a sugary syrup. Avoid “dried” dates, pineapple, and cherries for this reason.

Good choices include apricots, raisins, and prunes. Ten dried apricot halves contain 2 mg of iron while five prunes have 1.2 mg. One-half cup of raisins has 3 mg of the trace mineral.

8. Dark Chocolate

Good news! Dark chocolate has a wonderfully high iron content. Per ounce, dark chocolate has a higher iron density than steak. One 100 gram bar of 70-85% cacao chocolate contains 12 mg of iron. Unfortunately, this isn’t a free pass to eat all the chocolate you want. Eat dark chocolate in moderation, but when that irresistible sweet tooth hits, you could do a lot worse.

9. Pumpkin Seeds

Already a favorite autumnal treat, there are good reasons to start eating pumpkin seeds year-round. Also known as pepitas, one ounce of pumpkin seeds contain 4.2 mg of iron. They’re also a concentrated source of zinc, magnesium, and fatty acids.

10. Quinoa

Though classified as a whole grain, quinoa is technically a seed. While South Americans have been cultivating the plant for almost 5000 years, quinoa has seen a surge in popularity amongst North American health enthusiasts in the last several years, and it’s not very hard to see why. The seed is gluten-free and rich in protein, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, and thiamine (vitamin B1). And let’s not forget iron! A cup of cooked quinoa contains almost 3 mg of iron.

11. Whole Grains

Refined grains use only the endosperm of a grain. This improves shelf life but robs the grain of many nutrients, including iron. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel?bran, germ, and endosperm, because of this, whole grains retain a much higher nutritional value. Brown rice, oats, and barley are all excellent choices for iron.

12. Dandelion Greens

While many people consider dandelions a nuisance, dandelion greens make a healthy addition to any salad. One hundred grams of raw dandelion greens contain 3 mg of iron. They’re also very high in vitamin C, which makes the iron they contain all the more absorbable.

13. Coconut

Coconut water and coconut oil are enjoying an all-time high in popularity right now, but what about coconut meat? Raw coconut meat packs in about 2.5 mg of iron per 100 grams. That’s around 10 mg for a whole coconut. Try it with a little lime and chili for a tart and spicy treat.

14. Curry Leaves

Curry leaves are a wonderful staple of Indian cooking and feature a high iron content. When used as a spice, curry is not consumed in large enough quantities to add a significant iron boost. However, curry leaf extracts are frequently used in high-quality, natural, vegan iron supplements. But don’t let that stop you from adding curry leaves to your cooking. Curry leaves, like most spices, also contain a wealth of other beneficial phytonutrients.

15. Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is a thick, dark syrup created as a byproduct of extracting sugar from sugar cane. While refined sugar has been completely stripped of its nutritional content, blackstrap molasses retains all the vitamins and nutrients found in the original plant. Basically, molasses is all the nutritional content that was stripped from refined sugar.

Because of this, blackstrap molasses has a very high nutrient density. Just one tablespoon contains anywhere from 3.5 to an astonishing 12.6 mg of iron-twice as much as a rib eye steak! It’s also a significant source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

Supplementing With Iron

For most people, a diet that includes plenty food-derived iron should be sufficient to prevent iron deficiency. In certain cases, such as absorption issues or pregnancy, iron supplements may be the key to maintaining healthy iron levels. Do your research and look for natural supplements, as the synthetic versions lack the co-nutrients that let our bodies process and absorb the vital constituents of your food. You may want to find a supplement in pill form as liquid iron supplements can stain teeth.

I personally recommend Iron Fuzion™, Global Healing Center’s own iron supplement. Iron Fuzion uses iron extracted from the leaves of organic Murraya koenigii, better known as the curry tree, to create a natural, safe, vegan iron supplement.

Food as Medicine: Mango (Mangifera indica, Anacardiaceae)

History and Traditional Use

Range and Habitat

Mangifera indica (Anacardiaceae) is a tropical tree that grows from 33 feet to 131 feet in height and produces large, oval-shaped fruits that are red and gold when ripe, though some cultivars are green or yellow.1 The smooth-edged leaves of the mango tree are reddish when young, becoming dark green and shiny as they mature. The tree produces small pinkish-white flowers that precede the fruit.2,3 The mango fruit is a drupe, or stone fruit, containing a large single seed surrounded by fleshy pulp and a thin, leathery skin.4 The mango tree begins to bear fruit four to six years after planting and continues to produce fruit for about 40 years.3,4 Trees older than 10 years tend toward alternate or biennial bearing, producing fruit every other year.5

While the most commonly used part of the plant is the fruit, the mango tree has a variety of traditional uses that make use of the roots, peel, stem bark, leaves, flowers, and seed kernels. These parts typically contain greater amounts of bioactive compounds, including mangiferin, then the fruit.4 Belonging to the same plant family as the cashew (Anacardium occidentale) and pistachio (Pistacia vera), the mango is native to India and Burma, and has been cultivated since 2000 BCE.2 The mango was introduced to Africa about 1,000 years ago and to tropical America in the 19th century.1,2 Wild fruits have a minimal resemblance to the cultivated mangos, having a much smaller size and unpleasant turpentine-like taste. Currently, mangos are grown in tropical and warm temperate climates.3 India remains the largest producer, growing 65% of the world’s mango crop.5

Phytochemicals and Constituents

The macro- and micro nutrient composition and bioactive compounds present in M. indica contribute to its many health benefits. Mango fruits are a rich source of vitamins A, B and C. Mangos are also a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.3 Soluble fiber can help prevent cardiovascular disease and improve gastrointestinal health.

Mango is a source of many pharmacologically and medically important chemicals, including mangiferin, mangiferin acid, hydroxy-mangiferin, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and carotenes.6 Different parts of the plant have different chemical compositions. The bark, for example, contains catechins, amino acids, and phenolic and triterpenoid compounds.7,8 Due to these constituents, mango bark extract has shown antioxidant, immune system-enhancing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activities, which correspond to many of mango’s traditional medicinal uses.7 The xanthone mangiferin is found in many different plants across the Anacardiaceae family and shows promising results in the areas of antitumor, anti-diabetic, and anti-microbial actions.

The health benefits of the fruit pulp are due to its high concentration of antioxidant nutrients and phytochemicals, such as carotenoids. Carotenoids play an important role in protective health mechanisms against some forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and macular degeneration, as well as improving immune health.9 Specifically, mangos are high in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Mango also contains smaller amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids important for maintaining eye health and preventing macular degeneration. These phytochemicals are antioxidants, meaning that they slow or prevent the oxidative process, thereby preventing or repairing damage to cells in the body.10

The polyphenols that have been identified in the mango fruit include gallic acid, Gallo-tannins, quercetin, isoquercitrin, mangiferin, ellagic acid, and beta-glucogallin. These polyphenols have powerful antioxidant activity as well as other potential therapeutic effects. Gallic acid, for example, is known to have anti-inflammatory and antitumor activities, while ellagic acid has been found to exhibit antimutagenic, antiviral, and antitumor effects.4

The most biologically active compound that has been studied in the mango tree is mangiferin. Mangiferin is synthesized by the plant as a chemical defense compound.6,11 Plant parts that contain the highest amounts of mangiferin include the leaves, stem bark, heartwood, and roots. Currently, researchers are investigating potential methods of processing mango bark and peel into a palatable ingredient or food additive. Mangiferin (not to be confused with the previously mentioned mangiferin) is one of a number of enzymes present in mangos that improves digestion. Others include catechol oxidase and lactase.3

Historical and Commercial Uses

Mangifera indica has been used in Ayurveda, India’s primary system of traditional medicine, for more than 4,000 years. The mango was thought to have aphrodisiacal properties and is still viewed as sacred today.3A variety of the plant’s parts are used as a paste or powder for cleaning the teeth, and the juice of the mango is considered a restorative tonic, as well as a treatment for heat stroke.6 Numerous parts of the mango tree are used in Ayurvedic medicine as an antiseptic, an astringent to tone lax tissues, a laxative, a diuretic, and to increase sweating, promote digestion, and expel parasitic worms or other internal parasites.12 The seeds have been used as an astringent and as a treatment for asthma. Fumes from the burning leaves are used as an inhalant to relieve hiccups and sore throats.6 The bark is used as an astringent in diphtheria and rheumatism (disorders of the joints and connective tissues), and the gum was used in dressings for cracked feet and for scabies (an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite [Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis]).

Current Ayurvedic practices use various parts of the mango for different ailments. For diarrhea, mango leaves are pounded together and taken with rice water.13 For nosebleeds, the juice of the mango seed is placed into the nostrils. For an enlarged spleen, ripe mango juice is consumed with honey. To treat gonorrhea, mango bark is pounded and added to milk and sugar. In some tropical countries, mango is actually used as a meat tenderizer, due to the power of the proteolytic enzymes that break down proteins.3In traditional ethnoveterinary medicine, all parts of the mango are used to treat abscesses, broken horns, rabid dog bites, tumors, snake bites, stings, heat stroke, miscarriage, bacterial illness, blisters and wounds in the mouth, inflammation of the inner ear, colic, diarrhea, liver disorders, excessive urination, tetanus, and asthma.14

Among the Tikunas, an indigenous people of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, a mango leaf decoction was used as a contraceptive and abortifacient. Reportedly, taking a cupful on two successive days during menstruation acted as a contraceptive, and taking it for three days caused abortion.11,15

Mango fruit is processed at two stages of maturity. Green fruit is used to make chutney, pickles, curries, and dehydrated products like dried mango, amchoor (raw mango powder), and Panna (green mango beverage). Ripe fruit is processed into canned and frozen slices, pulp, concentrate, juices, nectar, jam, purée, cereal flakes, toffee, and various dried products.4

Modern Research

Studies indicate that M. indica possesses myriad therapeutic properties, including antidiabetic, antioxidant, antiviral, cardiotonic, hypotensive, and anti-inflammatory.6 Each of the mango’s parts — fruit, pulp, peel, seed, leaves, flowers, and bark — can be used therapeutically.

A 2000 study found that mango stem bark extract showed a powerful scavenging activity of hydroxyl radicals and acted as a chelator of iron.6 Although iron is an essential mineral, it is toxic in excessive amounts. Iron chelators could be an important approach to lessen iron-induced oxidative damage and prevent iron accumulation in diseases in which accumulation is prevalent, such as hemochromatosis, a metabolic disorder in which the body absorbs too much iron, and thalassemia, a rare, inherited blood disorder caused by a lack of hemoglobin, which results in fewer healthy red blood cells.4 This same study found a significant inhibitory effect on the degradation of brain cell membranes in an animal model and prevented DNA damage caused by some chemotherapy treatments.6,16

Polyphenolic compounds and related bioactivity are higher in the mango peel than the fruit, and higher still in the leaves and stem bark.4 The bark is one of the main parts of the tree used for medicinal purposes. A standardized aqueous extract of M. indica stem bark called Vimang (LABIOFAM Entrepreneurial Group; La Habana, Cuba) has been developed in Cuba. This extract has shown antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties and has been used in many countries for the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding, diarrhea, syphilis, diabetes, scabies, cutaneous infections, and anemia.4,7

Much of the current research looks at extracts of mango bark or seed. There is a limited amount of literature that looks into the consumption of the mango fruit itself. However, a 2011 study looked at the consumption of freeze-dried mango fruit and its effects on weight loss and glucose tolerance, compared to hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic drugs, in mice fed a high-fat diet.17 In the study, consumption of freeze-dried mango prevented the increase in fat mass and the percentage of body fat. Compared with controls, mice given the freeze-dried mango had improved glucose tolerance and lowered insulin resistance.

Functional and medicinal properties of the non-fruit portions of the mango provide promising data for future uses of the plant and may allow for less waste of the non-edible parts of the mango. The mango peel, for example, constitutes about 15-20% of the mango fruit and typically is discarded prior to consuming the fruit. In commercial processing, the discarded peels become a wasteful by-product.18 A 2015 study conducted chemical analysis and determination of the bioactive compounds in a flour made from green mango peel.19 The mango peel flour had 54 g of total dietary fiber per 100 g of dry sample, compared to 1.8 g of total dietary fiber in wheat flour. The mango peel flour also contained 21.7 mg/g of total phenolic contents and 22.4 mg/g of total flavonoid contents.

The results of this study suggest that the mango peel flour exhibited functional properties similar to wheat flour, and could serve as an acceptable substitute in baked goods and other flour-containing foods. Dietary fiber in mango peel has been shown as a favorable source of high-quality polysaccharides due to its high starch, cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and pectin content combined with its low-fat content.18 In Vitro starch studies suggest low glycemic responses from mango peel fiber, which suggests a potential use for diabetic individuals.

Mango kernel oil has recently attracted attention due to its unsaturated fatty acid composition.18 Mango kernel oil has been widely researched for its function as an antioxidant and antimicrobial agent due to its high polyphenolic content.4 The major phenolic compounds in mango seed kernels are (in order of decreasing concentration): tannins, vanillin, coumarin, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, caffeic acid, gallic acid, and mangiferin, all providing antioxidant protection.

Health Considerations

Possibly explained by its distant relation to poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix, Anacardiaceae) and poison ivy (T. radicans), mango peel may be irritating to the skin,3 particularly to people who are highly sensitive to these plants. This is due to the presence of alk(en)ylresorcinols, a mixture of substances that can cause contact dermatitis to those who are allergic or sensitive to it.20 Alk(en)ylresorcinol is similar to urushiol, the toxic resin that causes an itchy rash in those who come into contact with poison ivy. These allergens are more prevalent in the peel than the flesh. In one study, four patients developed hives and eczematous rash after exposure to mangos or mango trees. Children and other persons with food allergies should take caution when handling and consuming mango. Although allergy to mango is infrequent, mango has been identified as an allergy-provoking food in some individuals with other food allergies.


Nutrient Profile21

Macronutrient Profile: (Per 1 cup mango fruit)

99 calories
1.35 g protein
24.7 g carbohydrate
0.63 g fat

Secondary Metabolites: (Per 1 cup mango fruit)

Excellent source of:
Vitamin C: 60.1 mg (100.2% DV)
Vitamin A: 1,785 IU (35.7% DV)

Very good source of:
Folate: 71 mcg (17.75% DV)
Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g (10.4% DV)
Vitamin B6: 0.2 mg (10% DV)

Good source of:
Vitamin K: 6.9 mcg (8.63% DV)
Potassium: 277 mg (7.9% DV)
Vitamin E: 1.48 mg (7.33% DV)
Niacin: 1.1 mg (5.5% DV)

Also, provides:
Magnesium: 16 mg (4% DV)
Riboflavin: 0.06 mg (3.53% DV)
Thiamin: 0.05 mg (3.33% DV)
Phosphorus: 23 mg (2.3% DV)
Calcium: 18 mg (1.8% DV)
Iron: 0.26 mg (1.44% DV)

DV = Daily Value as established by the US Food and Drug Administration, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Recipe: Mango and Watermelon Salad

Adapted from Mango.org22

Ingredients:

  • 2 large, ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1 cup watermelon, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cup fresh arugula, washed and dried
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  1. Combine mango, watermelon, onion, pepper, tomato, and arugula in a large bowl. Toss to combine.

  2. Whisk together remaining ingredients and taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary. Drizzle dressing over the salad, toss to

    combine,

    and serve.

References

  1. Van Wyk B-E. Food Plants of the World. Portland, OR: Timber Press; 2006.
  2. The National Geographic Society. Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society; 2008.
  3. Murray M, Pizzorno J, Pizzorno L. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books; 2005.
  4. Masibo M, He Q. Mango bioactive compounds and related nutraceutical properties: A review. Food Rev Int. 2009;25:346-370.
  5. Morton JF. Mango. In: Morton JF. Fruits of Warm Climates. Miami, FL: J.F. Morton; 1987:221-239.
  6. Shah KA, Patel MB, Patel RJ, Parmar PK. Mangifera indica (Mango). Pharmacogn Rev. 2010;4(7):42-48.
  7. Wauthoz N, Balde A, Balde ES, Damme MV, Duez P. Ethnopharmacology of Mangifera indica L. bark and pharmacological studies of its main c-glucosylxanthone, mangiferin. Int J Biomed Pharma Sci. 2007;1(2):112-119.
  8. Hamid K, Algahtani A, Kim MS, et al. Tetracyclic triterpenoids in herbal medicines and their activities in diabetes and its complications. Curr Top Med Chem. 2015;15(23):2406-2430.
  9. Hewavitharana AK, Tan ZW, Shimada R, Shaw PN, Flanagan BM. Between fruit variability of the bioactive compounds, B-carotene and mangiferin, in mango. Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013;70:158-163.
  10. Johnson EJ. The role of carotenoids in human health. Nutr Clin Care. 2002;5(2):56-65.
  11. Schultes RE, Raffauf RF. The Healing Forest: Medicinal and Toxic Plants of the Northwest Amazonia.Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press; 1990.
  12. Johnson EJ. The role of carotenoids in human health. Nutr Clin Care. 2002;5(2):56-65.
  13. Amra (Mangifera indica) National R&D Facility for Rasayana website. Available here. Accessed May 19, 2016.
  14. Williamson EM. Major Herbs of Ayurveda. London, UK: Elsevier Science Limited; 2002.
  15. Duke JA, Vasquez R. Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1994.
  16. Martinez G, Delgado R, Perez G, Garrido G, Nunez Selles AJ, Leon OS. Evaluation of the in-vitroantioxidant activity of Mangifera indica L: extract (Vimang). Phytother Res. 2000;14:424–7.
  17. Lucas EA, Li W, Peterson SK, et.al. Mango modulates body fat and plasma glucose and lipids in mice fed a high-fat diet. Brit J Nutr. 2011;106:1495-1505.
  18. Tiwari BK, Brunton NP, Brennan CS. Handbook of Plant Food Phytochemicals: Sources, Stability and Extraction. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2013.
  19. Abidin NSA, Mohamad SN, Jaafar MN. Chemical composition, antioxidant activity and functional properties of mango (Mangifera indica L. var Perlis Sunshine) peel flour. Appl Mech Mater. 2015(754-755):1065-1070.
  20. Knödler M, Reisenhauer K, Schieber A, Carle R. Quantitative determination of allergenic 5-Alk(en)ylresorcinols in mango (Mangifera indica L.) peel, pulp, and fruit products by high-performance liquid chromatography. J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57:3639-3644.
  21. Basic Report, 09176, Mangos, raw. Agricultural Research Service, USDA website. Available here. Accessed May 19, 2016.
  22. National Mango Board. Mango and watermelon salad. Mango.org website. Available here. Accessed May 18, 2016.

The Best Laxative Foods for Natural Constipation Relief

Constipation is a taboo subject for many people. If you’re too embarrassed to discuss it, know that you are far from alone. Constipation affects about 14% of adults in the United States and accounts for an astounding 3.2 million medical visits every year. It’s a common and widespread issue. Nobody wants to talk about it, but for the sake of our health, maybe it’s time we opened a dialogue.

Americans spend three-quarters of a billion dollars on laxatives every year, and it’s not helping. Pharmaceutical laxatives and stool softeners often make constipation worse. Laxative overuse can lead to dependency, making it difficult or impossible to have a bowel movement without using strong laxatives. Over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives also tend to produce some serious side effects including abdominal cramps, dehydration, dizziness, low blood pressure, electrolyte imbalance, and bloody stool.

A better plan is to incorporate foods into your diet that have a natural laxative effect. While pharmaceutical laxatives tend to result in explosive emergencies, these foods produce a mild laxative effect. They won’t send you sprinting for the restroom, but if you incorporate a few of them into your daily diet, they should keep things moving so regularly that laxatives become completely unnecessary. Even better, these foods don’t come with the unpleasant side effects that make constipation more miserable than it needs to be.

22 Natural Laxative Foods

High-fiber foods, like fruits, vegetables, and beans, support gut health and promote regularity. In addition to a high-fiber diet, look for foods that can stimulate the digestive system, encourage enzyme activity, or assist in detoxification. When possible, consume foods that are organic, pesticide-free, seasonal, and fresh. Avoid big-box grocery retailers and look to your local farmer’s market or organic produce store for the healthiest raw fruits and vegetables.

Each of the following 15 foods produces a natural laxative effect without the unwanted side effects of OTC laxatives. These foods can help relieve common symptoms of constipation, as well as many other gastrointestinal issues. Before you start taking laxatives or stool softeners, try incorporating more of these laxative foods into your diet. You will be surprised at how well they work. Here is a list of 22 of the best laxative foods and drinks.

1. Prunes and Plums

We might as well start off with the fruit that’s most famous for its laxative properties. Recognized as “nature’s laxative,” prunes and plums are naturally rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, potassium, and iron. They are especially high in dietary fiber, which is what gives them their relieving properties. Prunes also promote the health of beneficial bacteria in the gut, making them a great addition to any colon-cleansing diet.[6] Prunes are one of the best laxative foods for babies, but remember that you shouldn’t give solid food to infants under four months old.

You can also try prune juice, but be sure to read the ingredients label and get one that’s made only from prunes and water. Avoid anything with added sugar.

2. Bananas

Bananas are high in pectin, a soluble fiber that normalizes bowel function. This makes them a natural bulk-producing laxative, and a great way to promote easy digestion. Since bananas have a high potassium content, eating a banana a day will help restore valuable electrolytes to your intestinal tract. Bananas also contain a natural compound called fructooligosaccharide, which can help beneficial bacteria proliferate in your large intestine.

Be sure the bananas you pick are fully ripe. Unripe bananas contain heavy starches and can cause constipation.

3. Apples

An apple has as much dietary fiber as a bowl of bran, and it tastes a lot better. The high pectin content stimulates the bowels and provides bulk for breezier bowel movements. If you’re looking for laxative foods for children and toddlers, apples are a good choice. While your little ones might shy away from prunes, a sweet, tasty apple is usually an easy sell.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Speaking of apples, don’t forget apple cider vinegar (ACV). ACV contains acetic acid, which helps food break down more efficiently in your stomach. I recommend only raw organic apple cider vinegar as it still has the “mother of vinegar,” the living nutrients and bacteria that provide the bulk of ACV’s health-promoting properties.

5. Berries

High in antioxidants, berries rank among my favorite foods. They also help relieve constipation with their high dietary fiber content. I recommend consuming the following berries during any colon cleanse and on a daily basis afterwards—blueberries, strawberries, bilberries, cranberries, blackberries, goji berries, and acai berries. If you opt for berry juice, make sure that it contains only natural ingredients and no added sugar.

6. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is one of the oldest and most popular medicinal plants known to man. The bulk of the aloe vera leaf is filled with a gel that contains beneficial vitamins, minerals, amino acids, phytonutrients, and enzymes.

Avoid “whole leaf” or “outer leaf” aloe products—these contain aloe latex, a bitter yellow liquid derived from the skin of the aloe leaf. Aloe latex is a very harsh laxative and can cause cramping. What you want is inner leaf aloe, a much more mild laxative. Inner leaf aloe juice or high-quality supplements are readily available.

7. Ginger

Ginger is one of the best laxative spices and has been an important ingredient in traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Indian medicine (and cuisine) for hundreds of years. The piquant root is known for effectively relieving gastrointestinal distress, which is why many commercial laxatives contain ginger extracts. Dried ginger is also an ingredient in many laxative teas. Ginger works by relaxing the intestinal tract, allowing elimination to proceed smoothly.

8. Turmeric

Like ginger, turmeric has a long history of culinary and medicinal use in many Eastern cultures. It gets both its rich golden color and its healing properties from a natural phytochemical compound called curcumin. Clinical trials have found that curcumin can have a tremendously positive effect on many gastrointestinal issues, including irritable bowel syndrome and constipation.

9. Bitter Melon

Bitter melon, also known as Goya, bitter gourd, and balsam-pear, is a vegetable grown in tropical regions around the world and appreciated for its health-boosting properties. It is less known in the United States, but if you can find it, I recommend giving it a try. Loaded with beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients, constipation relief is just one of bitter melon’s many uses. The vegetable is also used for eczema, weight loss, kidney stones, liver issues, and dozens of other applications.

10. Leafy Green Vegetables

When you are ready to detox your body, fill your refrigerator with kale, spinach, dandelion greens, alfalfa, chard, mustard greens, arugula, or other dark leafy greens. Why? They act as natural laxatives and are high in dietary fiber, calcium, folic acid, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and K. These essential nutrients aid your digestion and overall health.

11. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are great laxative foods, rich in fiber and vitamins A, C, and K. Additionally, they are very high in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect you from developing colon cancer and prostate cancer. If possible, I recommend buying locally-grown, organic tomatoes.

12. Avocados

Avocados are packed with beneficial nutrients such as dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin K, and folate. If you eat one avocado a day, it will provide you with approximately 30% of your daily fiber needs. Furthermore, avocados contain an antioxidant called lutein along with vitamin E, magnesium, and healthy monounsaturated fats. Avocado also improves the absorption of nutrients from other foods.

13. Coconut Oil

In animal studies, researchers have discovered that coconut oil may help protect the colon and digestive tract from damage, keeping your primary route of elimination clear and in good health. Look for raw, organic extra virgin coconut oil. This assures that it’s unrefined and contains no harsh chemicals or genetically modified additives.

14. Legumes

Legumes like beans and peas are one of the very best laxative foods. They aid digestion, are high in fiber and are low in both fat and cholesterol.

15. Raw Seeds and Nuts

Incorporate more raw seeds and nuts into your diet. Not only are they delicious, seeds and nuts are rich in fiber, vitamin E, protein, zinc and other essential nutrients. Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, cedar nuts, and sunflower seeds are all great choices.

16. Carrots

High in pectin, they add bulk to stool and can stimulate bowel contractions. If you’re eating carrots to help relieve constipation, eat them raw. Raw carrots are more effective at relieving constipation than cooked.

17. Broccoli

Extremely high in antioxidants and fiber, broccoli can help stimulate detoxification enzymes in the digestive tract. Broccoli sprouts are more effective than the fully-grown vegetable, containing a higher concentration of beneficial nutrients.

18. Cauliflower

Eating cauliflower will increase the amount of glucosinolate in your system, which supports the production of enzymes in the liver. These liver enzymes help flush carcinogens and other toxins from your body. There are many excellent cauliflower recipes to help you add this great-tasting veggie to your diet.

19. Cabbage

Much like other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, eating cabbage helps flush out toxins and soften stool for easier bowel movements. To maximize the potential of cabbage, consume it as kimchi or sauerkraut for the probiotic benefits. Speaking of probiotics…

20. Probiotic Foods

Every normal, healthy human gut is home to around 100 trillion beneficial microorganisms. Together, these organisms are called your microbiota, and they are critical to your gastrointestinal system and overall health. Fermented foods help stock your system with these beneficial bacteria. Consuming plenty of probiotic foods keeps your microbiota healthy, aids digestion, and eases constipation. Kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut are all excellent examples of probiotic foods.

21. Watermelon

Watermelon isn’t just a classic summertime treat; it’s a great healing food as well. The large fruit contains high levels of dietary fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and B6. Chinese traditional medicine prescribes watermelon as a mild laxative. Watermelon is also, of course, a great source of water—92% by volume. As for why that’s important, read on.

22. Water

Last, but most definitely not least, don’t forget to hydrate! Drinking plenty of purified water is one of the best natural ways to relieve constipation. Water is vital to all bodily functions and makes up 60-80% of your body weight. It helps moisten the intestines, regulating bowel flow. Imagine going down a waterslide, then imagine trying to go down that same slide dry, and you’ll see how important water is for easy bowel movements.

Drink half your body weight in ounces every day. In other words, if you weigh 180 lbs, you need at least 90 oz of water daily. Be sure to add more if you’re doing anything that makes you sweat. Healthy liquids, like detox water and coconut water count toward this total, but skip soft drinks, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, caffeinated beverages, and fruit juice with added sugar—those all dehydrate you.

Foods That Cause Constipation

Now that we’ve gone through such trouble to incorporate all these laxative food into your diet let’s not undo our hard work. There are some foods that cause constipation. If you are prone to irregularity, avoid ice cream, cheese, meat, and processed foods.[27] Caffeine can also trigger constipation in people with irritable bowel syndrome. Those with IBS should avoid caffeinated products like coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate.

A Word of Caution on Laxatives for Weight Loss

Many people ask me about the best laxative foods for weight loss. I would like to remind you that pharmaceutical laxatives, should never be taken for weight loss. They simply don’t work that way, and trying to do so can cause serious issues. Abusing laxatives this way is a type of bulimia.

Supplements for Gentle Colon Cleansing

A healthy diet is the safest, easiest, most sustainable way to prevent constipation and support overall health. However, in extreme cases, supplementation can help.

If you still find yourself constipated, then it’s likely the sign of something else. I recommend a full colon cleanse to improve digestion, support colon health, and relieve occasional constipation. Oxy-Powder® is Global Healing Center’s scientifically formulated, all-natural colon cleansing supplement. It uses the power of oxygen to cleanse and detoxify your entire digestive tract.

detox water

Enjoy These 10 Detox Water Recipes All Year Long!

Detox water has become a wildly popular diet craze. Many hail it as a miracle diet and think it can support weight loss. Could this be a revolutionary new way to drop pounds and trim the physique, or is it just another fad diet? Let’s start by understanding what detox water is.

What Is Detox Water?

Detox water is basically water (I recommend distilled water) infused with fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs. Sometimes called infused water, many people use it as part of a body detox strategy.

Water is crucial to your health. Every part of your body depends on water to thrive. Water is key to many basic physiological functions; water keeps your bloodstream fluid, moisturizes your skin, and even helps eliminate waste. Both the quantity and quality of water a person drinks directly impacts the health of their body.

Unfortunately, I know many people who don’t enjoy drinking water. Some say it’s tasteless and dull. That’s what makes detox water so excellent. It adds flavor to plain water while also infusing key, beneficial nutrients. If you’re looking for a simple health-conscious choice, detox water is a great option.

Some of the Most Popular Ingredients

Some detox waters add nutritional value to water. Others provide a tasty alternative to less healthful drinks such as soda, energy drinks, or coffee. The best do both.

Many popular detox water recipes include citrus fruits like grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime. These fruits are both tasty and heavy in vitamin C. Many types of detox water also include healthful herbs like mint, basil, rosemary, oregano, and ginger. Other popular ingredients include cucumber, berries, watermelon, apple, cinnamon sprigs, aloe vera, and even apple cider vinegar. I even like adding a dash of Himalayan Salt for additional flavor and a mineral boost.

10 Detox Water Recipes to Try at Home

Each of the following recipes is simple and anyone can make them. You’ll notice that many of these recipes use approximate measurements like “a handful.” Play around and find what’s most tasty to you. Detox water recipes don’t need to be exact. These are just a few that I’ve made while experimenting in my own kitchen. I encourage you to experiment yourself to find what you like!

Every one of these recipes follows the same basic formula, only the add-ins differ.

Start with one gallon of purified water (room temperature is fine). Combine the other ingredients in a glass container, stir gently with a wooden spoon, and refrigerate for 3-4 hours to allow all ingredients to mingle. Serve and enjoy!

These ingredients are best when fresh. I recommend drinking your detox water within 24 hours of making it.

1. Cucumber Mint Water

Cucumber water makes for a healthy, mellow drink. Adding a little mint makes this a refreshing delight on even the hottest day.

  • Slice about ? of a cucumber into roughly 15 – 20 thin slices
  • Add 5 – 7 whole fresh mint leaves to cucumber slices
  • Add a pinch of Himalayan salt

Pro-Tip: Once you’ve added these ingredients to your water, use your wooden spoon to crush up the mint leaves against the bottom of the container. This releases flavor and makes your water delicious!

2. Watermelon Citrus Water

Watermelon citrus water makes an excellent summertime treat. Perfect for picnics.

  • Cube about 1 cup of fresh watermelon
  • Squeeze the juice of ½ lemon and ½ orange
  • Add 1 lemon wedge
  • Add 1 orange wedge
  • Add 5 – 8 cucumber slices to mellow the harsh citrus flavor

3. Herbal Oregano Water

Adding savory herbs like rosemary and oregano to a fruity drink may seem weird to some people. But, trust me, if you haven’t tried it, you should. The strong flavors of the herbs compliment the sweetness of fruit like lemon or watermelon.

  • 1 ½ – 2 (to taste) fresh stalks of rosemary
  • 1 ½ – 2 (to taste) dried organic oregano leaves (you can substitute 1 teaspoon oregano essential oil)
  • ½ cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1 cup cubed watermelon

Pro-Tip: Boil the rosemary and oregano in water before adding to the rest of the mixture. This will help better combine their flavor with the other ingredients.

4. Sweet Herbal Cucumber Water

The oranges in this recipe add vitamin C. The dash of Himalayan salt gives it a mineral boost that distilled water alone lacks.

  • 1 whole cucumber, sliced thin
  • 2 orange wedges
  • 2 pinches rosemary
  • Add a dash of Himalayan salt

5. Kicking Lemon Ginger Water

I call this “kicking” because the chili and ginger give it a kick. Definitely recommended if you like a little spice.

  • Squeeze fresh juice from 2 whole lemons
  • Add a third lemon, cut into wedges
  • Mince about 1-inch fresh ginger root (peeled)
  • Add 1 tablespoon (to taste) of fresh ground red chili powder

6. Strawberry Basil Water

Strawberries are high in antioxidants, potassium, vitamin C, and many other nutrients. They make for a delicious berry beverage.

  • 10 fresh, whole strawberries
  • 2 lemon wedges
  • Freshly squeezed juice from ½ lemon
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves

7. Cool Ginger Mint Water

Ginger has been used for thousands of years to help a variety of ailments. Some of the ginger’s health benefits include helping to ease an upset stomach and soothing a sore throat. But, you don’t have to wait until you get sick, this drink is tasty anytime.

  • 1 cucumber sliced thin
  • 2 inches fresh, peeled ginger root
  • 2 Lemon/lime wedges
  • 10 – 12 fresh mint leaves
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt
  • Bonus: Add a dash of peppermint essential oil

8. Citrus Aloe Water

This infusion combines the great taste of citrus with the extraordinary healing power of aloe vera. I highly recommend it.

  • 2 whole oranges, quartered
  • Fresh juice squeezed from ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup fresh inner leaf aloe vera gel
  • Add mint leaves to taste

9. Strawberry Grapefruit Water

Vitamin C is one of the best possible detox vitamins. Found in both strawberries and grapefruit, this water recipe provides a double-blast of it.

  • 1 whole cucumber sliced thin
  • 2 whole grapefruits (quartered)
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • Add mint leaves to taste

10. Tangy Cucumber Lemon Water

You may notice that this recipe has lemon twice. That’s no mistake. Regular cleansing is important to your overall wellness, and lemon water is great for a natural detox. This recipe really lets you double-down on the healthful properties of lemon water.

  • 1 ¼ – 1 ½ whole cucumbers, sliced thin
  • 2 lemon wedges
  • Freshly squeezed juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, red chili powder
  • Dash of Himalayan salt

Can These Detox Water Recipes Benefit Your Health?

Again, these recipes are just a few suggestions and the possibilities are endless. Everything is up for experimentation, so get a jug of distilled water and experiment! If you’re looking for an easy way to make more health-conscious choices in your daily life, detox water is a great option.

These detox water recipes are a great step towards improving wellness. If you’re committed to boosting your health in a big way, I recommend the 9-step body cleanse kit, which is a complete approach to detoxifying your body from head to toe. All the while, support your wellness efforts with detox water!