What Are the Health Benefits of Wheatgrass?

Wheatgrass is a grass that is closely related to wheat. It is a thick, dry grass that looks like hay or straw. It has played a role in natural and holistic medicine for generations.

Wheatgrass is harvested early in its development before it reaches full size — usually 7-10 days after sprouting. Grown primarily to make hay, or for animals to graze, wheatgrass may also offer several health benefits.

Wheatgrass is sometimes called “green blood” because it contains high levels of chlorophyll that gives wheatgrass products an unusual green hue.

Fast facts on wheatgrass:

  • Wheatgrass first became popular in the United States in the 1930s.
  • Wheatgrass must be processed before being consumed.
  • Some studies suggest that wheatgrass can improve health.
  • There is no evidence that wheatgrass poses health risks unless a person is allergic to it.

What is wheatgrass?

wheatgrass and wheatgrass drink

Wheatgrass has a number of health benefits and first became popular in the United States in the 1930s.

In the 1930s, agricultural chemist Charles F. Schnabel used young grasses to try to save dying chickens. The chickens survived and produced more eggs than other hens.

Quaker Oats and other companies began funding research into the benefits, and soon wheatgrass supplements, juices, and powders were widely available. Proponents of wheatgrass say that it is dense in plant nutrients that can improve health and offer supplemental nutrition.

When people consume the raw grass, they usually do so as part of a juice. Powdered wheatgrass is also available in capsules, liquid suspensions, or as a powder to add to smoothies.

Benefits of wheatgrass

Some of the benefits of wheatgrass include:

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Wheatgrass can be used to help relieve stomach pain and improve symptoms of other gastrointestinal problems.

Some studies have shown that wheatgrass acts as an antioxidant because of it contains vitamins A, C, and E.

Antioxidants reverse the effects of free radicals. These volatile compounds in the body have links to aging and other health issues, including cancer. Antioxidants help fight chronic inflammation, which occurs when the immune system reacts to particular health issues, such as arthritis, stomach problems, skin issues. Antioxidants might even help with mental health concerns, such as depression.

Many health benefits of wheatgrass may be due to its role as an antioxidant. So it may offer benefits similar to many other plant-based foods.

Cancer prevention and treatment

Like other antioxidants, wheatgrass may help prevent cancer. It could also supplement traditional cancer treatments. A 2017 study found that wheatgrass could slow the growth of oral cancer.

Other studies have reached similar conclusions. A 2015 study, for example, found that wheatgrass slowed the growth of colon cancer and caused some cancer cells to die.

Wheatgrass may also improve the effects of chemotherapy. One study has found wheatgrass can reduce side effects associated with chemotherapy.

Fighting infections

Some research has found that wheatgrass can kill or slow the growth of certain infections. This can be especially helpful in the treatment of infections that are resistant to antibiotics, or in people who are allergic to specific antibiotics.

2015 study carried out in a test tube found that wheatgrass has antimicrobial properties that can fight certain types of strep infections, as well as some forms of a bacteria called LactobacillusLactobacillus bacteria play a role in many infections, including dental infections.

Treating gastrointestinal distress

Practitioners of traditional medicine have long used wheatgrass to reduce stomach pain and manage minor gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea.

The purported gastrointestinal benefits of wheatgrass may be partially due to its fiber content. Wheatgrass is gluten-free, making it a good option for people with gluten intolerance.

Some research suggests that wheatgrass may be particularly useful in treating ulcerative colitis. Compared to a placebo, wheatgrass appears to reduce pain and other symptoms in some people.

For people who do not see improvements using traditional medications, wheatgrass might be an alternative remedy.

Preventing and treating diabetes

Research has found that wheatgrass may benefit those with diabetes. A 2014 study on rats, for example, found that wheatgrass could raise insulin levels, helping to lower blood glucose. By fighting inflammation, wheatgrass may also help reduce the side effects of diabetes.

Preliminary research points to the power of wheatgrass to fight obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes and can intensify the adverse health effects of diabetes.

Nutritional breakdown

In addition to the health benefits, wheatgrass offers a number of nutrients that are essential as part of a balanced diet.

Though low in calories, wheatgrass is a good source of protein. It is not, however, a complete protein. Like most plant-based foods, wheatgrass is an excellent source of fiber, which can help reduce blood glucose. Wheatgrass can also support healthy digestion and help people feel full for longer than they usually would.

Wheatgrass is a good source of vitamins A, C, E, and K, and of vitamin B6, zinc, iron, selenium, and manganese.

Risks

People who are allergic to other grasses may also be allergic to wheatgrass. Likewise, due to cross-contamination and cross-pollination, it is possible for wheatgrass to contain the pollen of other plants.

People with plant allergies should consult a doctor before trying wheatgrass.

Side effects

Some people experience nausea or constipation after consuming wheatgrass, perhaps due to its high fiber content. People with a history of constipation should talk to a doctor before trying wheatgrass.

Sometimes, the raw form of wheatgrass is contaminated by mold or bacteria. If preparing wheatgrass at home, wash it thoroughly to remove contaminants before using.

When consuming wheatgrass supplements, buy only from a trusted source. Consider contacting the manufacturer to ask what steps it takes to reduce the risk of contamination.

Wheatgrass taste and ideas for consumption

Wheatgrass tastes like grass, and it can overpower other flavors.

How to make it taste better

Mixing raw wheatgrass in a smoothie can still produce a drink that tastes like something out of a lawnmower. But combining wheatgrass with other ingredients that have a strong taste, such as pineapple or citrus fruit, can help balance the flavor.

Ways to consume wheatgrass

vegetable and fruit juices

Including citrus fruit or pineapple in a wheatgrass drink can help to improve the taste.

Some people prefer to take powdered wheatgrass in capsule form. This almost eliminates the taste and can make it easier to get a daily dose of the grass.

A few wheatgrass supplement manufacturers offer flavored wheatgrass capsules or tablets that include citrus fruits or other dominant flavors.

For people who prefer not to experiment with smoothie or juice recipes, these may offer a tasty solution.

Also,

Many studies on the benefits of wheatgrass have produced promising results but have not been well designed. This means it is not possible to know for sure whether wheatgrass can treat or prevent any specific medical condition.

Because most people tolerate wheatgrass well, it is safe to use alongside other treatments. Nobody should take wheatgrass as a substitute for medical treatment. To test the benefits of wheatgrass, try a daily wheatgrass smoothie or supplement.

As research evolves, it may become clear that wheatgrass is an effective medical treatment for other medical conditions. For now, however, the research is inconclusive.

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What is the AIP Diet?

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet is designed to help reduce inflammation in the body to relieve symptoms of autoimmune disorders. But what can you eat on this diet and what evidence is there of the benefits?

An autoimmune disease is any condition where a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks and damages its own bodily tissues. Inflammation is a common feature of an autoimmune disease. Examples include psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.

This article explores what the AIP diet is and what foods a person can and cannot eat if they want to follow the diet. It also considers the scientific evidence available to support the effectiveness of the AIP diet in the management and treatment of autoimmune diseases.

What is the AIP diet?

vegetarian sweet potato curry.

The AIP diet is a version of the Paleo diet, designed to help treat autoimmune diseases.

Also known as the paleo autoimmune protocol, the AIP diet is a much stricter version of the Paleo diet (which is based on meat, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds).

It advises eliminating foods that may cause inflammation in the gut and eat nutrient-rich foods.

The AIP diet is based on a belief that autoimmune conditions are caused by something called a “leaky gut”, which is medically now referred to as altered intestinal permeability.

The theory is that small holes in the gut cause food to leak into the body. This is thought to cause the immune system to overreact and start attacking bodily tissues in error.

By eating nutrient-rich foods and avoiding inflammatory ones, the AIP diet aims to heal any holes in the gut. This is thought to help:

  • reset the immune system
  • prevent the autoimmune response
  • reduce symptoms of autoimmune diseases
  • prevent the occurrence of secondary autoimmune diseases

People who do the AIP diet should follow it strictly for a few weeks and then slowly reintroduce foods that they have avoided.

The idea is to see if there is a reaction when the food is reintroduced. If there is a reaction, the suggestion is that a person should exclude this food from their diet long-term.

Foods to eat on the AIP diet

These include:

  • meat and fish, preferably not factory raised
  • vegetables (but not nightshades, such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes)
  • sweet potatoes
  • fruit (in small quantities)
  • coconut milk
  • avocado, olive, and coconut oil
  • dairy-free fermented foods, such as kombucha, kefir made with coconut milk, sauerkraut, and kimchi
  • honey or maple syrup (but only to be used occasionally, in small quantities)
  • fresh non-seed herbs, such as basil, mint, and oregano
  • green tea and non-seed herbal teas
  • bone broth
  • vinegars, such as apple cider and balsamic

Foods to avoid on the AIP diet

These include:

  • all grains, such as oats, rice, and wheat
  • all dairy
  • eggs
  • legumes, such as beans and peanuts
  • nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes)
  • all sugars, including sugar replacements (except for occasional use of honey)
  • butter and ghee
  • all oils (except for avocado, coconut, and olive)
  • food additives
  • alcohol

Recipes and snack options

Here are some AIP meal plans to get started.

Breakfast

Green smoothies in glasses on wooden chopping board, with spinach leaves, banana, and avocado.

A green smoothie can be nutritionally dense, and filling enough to replace a small meal.

This AIP smoothie recipe, from Paleo Mum, is a tasty breakfast meal replacement:

  • ½ banana
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 cup vegetable juice
  • 2-3 cups fresh leafy greens (for example, spinach and kale)
  • 1-2 scoops AIP-friendly (collagen) protein powder

Blend all the ingredients except for the protein powder in a food processor for up to 2 minutes. Add the protein powder and pulse the food processor to blend it in.

Lunch

This soup recipe from AIP Lifestyle is a simple and tasty idea for lunch that a person can make in advance:

  • 3 cups of fresh, washed baby arugula
  • 2 ½ cups of bone broth
  • 2 cups steamed parsnips
  • 1 cup roasted spring onions
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • pinch of salt

After heating the bone broth in a pan and steaming the parsnips, add all the ingredients into a food processor and blend.

Dinner

This quick and easy AIP chicken dinner idea is inspired by Eat Something Delicious:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 lb. frozen cubed sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 ¾ AIP-friendly herb blend (such as garlic and herbs)
  • 1 lb. frozen broccoli

Arrange the frozen vegetables and chicken in a baking tray and season with the oil, salt, and herb blend.

Cover the tray with foil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and roast in the oven for a further 20 minutes, or so.

Carob chip bars for snacking

This tasty snack idea is from Angel Slice:

  • 2 large ripe plantains
  • ½ pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp. tigernut flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tbsp. coconut butter
  • ¼ coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • ¼ carob chips

Blend all ingredients except for carob chips in a food processor. Pour into a greased loaf pan and add in the carob chips. Bake for up to 50 minutes. The bars can be served with whipped coconut cream on top as an addition.

Does the AIP diet work?

The logic behind the AIP diet is that avoiding gut-irritating foods and eating nutrient-rich ones will reduce inflammation and heal any holes in the gut.

This is believed to reduce or prevent the immune system from attacking bodily tissues. In this way, the AIP diet aims to reduce the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. But what evidence is there that it works?

The link between gut health and autoimmune disease

3D model of gut and digestive system in human body.

Gut health may affect inflammatory diseases. The AIP diet attempts to treat such diseases with a specific diet.

There is some scientific evidence to support the link between gut health and inflammatory disease.

2012 study suggested bacterial growth in the gut might be linked to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

This study in 2014 notes that the gut wall is maintained by networks of proteins. It explains that inflammation affects how well the gut wall functions. It also notes that food allergies can make the gut wall more porous.

The study concludes that problems with the gut wall are associated with autoimmune diseases. This goes some way to support the idea of the “leaky gut” proposed by supporters of the AIP diet.

However, the study adds that more research is needed to confirm that gut wall dysfunction is a primary risk factor in the development of inflammatory disease.

The AIP diet and autoimmune disease symptom reduction

2017 study found that eliminating certain foods as part of the AIP diet can improve symptoms of the autoimmune disease inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

This is one of the first clinical studies into the effectiveness of AIP diet. Further studies are required to support claims that it can reduce symptoms of other autoimmune diseases.

Also,

Research suggests that autoimmune diseases may be linked to how porous the gut wall may be.

It follows that a diet that promotes gut health may be beneficial for those with autoimmune diseases. There is evidence that one such regime, the AIP diet, may reduce symptoms of the autoimmune disease IBD.

More research is needed to say with certainty that the AIP diet can improve symptoms of all autoimmune diseases. However, the AIP diet is a healthful diet that people with autoimmune diseases may find beneficial. This diet may also reduce the need for certain medications or high dosages.

Anyone with an autoimmune disease looking to try the AIP diet should discuss this with their doctor.

Is Vegetarianism the Natural Option?

In the world of nutrition, there’s no debate as fiery and fierce as the one between meat eaters and vegetarians. In this Spotlight feature, we ask whether or not humans were designed to be vegetarian.

Some people choose a plant-based diet for health reasons, while others do so with more ethical concerns in mind. On the other side of the dinner plate, some meat lovers put little thought into whether they should or shouldn’t eat meat, while others will defend their right to chow down on animal muscles until the end of time.

Passions can run surprisingly high when it comes to dietary decisions. Food is a matter of survival, and deep down in our primate brain, we still feel that we need to defend our food sources.

Today, we are not concerned with the ethics of the meat industry; it’s not that they aren’t important, but that we are more focused on the biology involved. Similarly, we tend not to dabble in the debate surrounding the environmental impact of meat rearing; we will leave that for others to chew over.

This article will be served in two courses. First, we ask whether or not humans are “designed” to eat meat — did we evolve to consume it? Then, we will ask which option is best for our health.

So, are we carnivores?

This is the first question to answer, and, anatomically, it seems to be a simple one. We don’t look like carnivores; our teeth are no good for ripping flesh, and our guts are too long. Are we herbivores, then? No; our guts aren’t long enough, and our teeth don’t quite fit the bill.

We are, it seems, omnivores; our bodies can handle both meat and plant matter pretty well. It’s not quite that simple, though. Just looking at an animal’s teeth and gut is no surefire way to distinguish its diet. The panda — with killer canines and a bamboo diet — is an excellent example.

That being said, it is true that most creatures have a gut suited to the diet that they consume. Lions, for instance, have huge, smooth-walled stomachs for holding hunks of animal. Many herbivores, meanwhile, have massive, plant-destroying factories in their abdomens, where bacteria smash apart the tough constituents of plant matter.

We, humans, like to think of ourselves as special, and, in many ways, you could argue that we are. But when it comes to our internal tubing, we are monumentally average.

Rather boringly, the human gut is very similar to that of our closest relatives: monkeys and apes. It follows that, if we are looking to work in harmony with our guts’ design, our diet should be at least similar to our cousins’.

When we examine the diet of virtually all monkeys and apes, it’s nuts, fruits, leaves, insects, and the occasional snack of flesh. You may have seen rather shocking footage of adult chimpanzees killing and eating baby ones, but that’s a relative rarity compared with the quantities of non-meat products consumed.

From these observations, we can perhaps conclude that evolutionarily speaking, we shouldn’t necessarily be vegetarian and evolved to eat only the occasional tidbit of animal matter.

Meat eating and human evolution

Eating meat, according to some evolutionary scientists, gave early humans a vital head start. Meat is packed with energy and protein that may have helped us to develop and nurture the over-sized bundle of cabling between our ears.

Human evolution illustration
Can human evolution help to settle the debate?

The expensive tissue hypothesis states that to have a larger brain, we need to save metabolic energy elsewhere. To do this, our guts were shortened.

But this brought another issue: having a shorter gut meant that our diet had to be of a higher quality to provide enough nutrients. Enter the animal-based diet. It is worth noting that this theory is not roundly supported.

Some researchers believe that hunting prey contributed to our bipedal stance and that planning and conducting a hunt could have assisted the development of language, communication, and complex societies.

But, just because something has been done for eons, it doesn’t mean that we necessarily need to continue down the same path.

Modern life is different; the options that lie on the dinner table are much more varied. Our forebears did not have access to tofu, for instance, and a human living in colder climes would struggle to find cashew nuts on her daily forage.

Once we’ve adapted, we can still go back

Evolution is endless, adaptation ongoing. Animals don’t continue to drink milk after weaning. If they tried it, it would make them sick. The enzyme that mammals need to break down lactose in milk — lactase — is not produced into adulthood. But now, entire populations of humans produce lactase long after they have stopped drinking their mother’s milk (known as lactase persistence).

At some point, a group of humans began making this change, and, because it gave them access to more calories and other nutritional goodies, they survived in favor of those who couldn’t stomach cow (or goat) juice. We have adapted to make use of an energy-rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. So, is it natural to drink milk? If not, does that mean that we shouldn’t drink it?

Our bodies are layered with a range of evolutionary changes: from a shift to meat millions of years ago, to microbiome shifts when we started eating wheat, barley, and other crops. We are a now mishmash of compensations and add-ons that have helped us to survive over the years.

If we say that we want to eat as our ancestors did, do we mean Homo erectus, Neanderthals (who may well have eaten more plants than is often imagined), Australopithecus (who walked the earth around 4 million years ago), the earliest primates (around 50–55 million years ago), or something in-between?

If the preceding ramblings mean anything, it is that we should only eat meat if it benefits us now. The important question is how it impacts our bodies today.

Meat: In sickness and in health

Whether eating meat is natural or not doesn’t make a lot of difference. Nobody realistically thinks that we should meticulously go back to what our earliest ancestors ate simply because it was a long time ago.

From a medical point of view, we should only eat meat if it is healthful to do so. Over recent years, there has been a growing mountain of evidence in support of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet and the health risks of pounding too many burgers into our bodies.

A large-scale meta-analysis carried out in 2016 reported “a significant protective effect of a vegetarian diet versus the incidence and/or mortality from ischemic heart disease (25 percent) and incidence from total cancer (8 percent). Vegan diet conferred a significantly reduced risk (15 percent) of incidence from total cancer.”

Vegetarian diets are also tied to a lower risk of metabolic syndromediabetescancer (again), and lower blood pressure, and they may fend off childhood obesity. On this matter, at least, the jury is well and truly in.

Health benefits of eating meat?

Meat is rich in protein and vitamin B-12 and is also a good source of iron, so it’s easy to see how incorporating meat into their diet might have helped our ancestors to survive.

Today, however, protein is much easier to come by — in nuts and beans, for example. Vitamin B-12 can be found adequately in cheese, eggs, milk, and artificially fortified products, and iron can be picked up from legumes, grains, nuts, and a range of vegetables.

With this in mind, rather than asking, “Should we eat meat?” we should probably be asking, “Is there a safe level of meat?” and, “Which types are worst?” In short, we can split meat into four types: white, red, processed, and fish.

Fish and white meat are roundly considered fairly healthful — as long as you aren’t deep frying them or wrapping them in bacon. For red meat and processed meats, though, it’s the reverse.

Red and processed meats are associated with colon cancer and heart disease. The majority of studies conclude that eating more of this meat is a bad idea. But how much is too much, and what levels are safe, are harder to quantify.

Dr. William Kormos, editor in chief of Harvard Men’s Health Watch, writes, “As for how much meat consumption is ‘safe,’ many studies show a small rise in the risk of disease at levels of 50–100 grams (1.8–3.5 ounces) of red meat consumed daily.”

Processed meats (salted, smoked, or cured) are also associated with a higher risk. In contrast, there does not appear to be a measurable risk from eating red meat once or twice a week.”

Dr. William Kormos

So, should we be vegetarians? Well, when the burger hits the fan and the kebab lady sings, there will still be no clear answer. Humans have eaten meat for a really long time, but a diet with minimal meat is much more healthful. And today, we don’t need meat nutritionally. I can’t make your choice for you though — sorry.

How Many Calories Should I Eat a Day?

The number of calories you need to eat each day depends on several factors, including your age, size, height, sex, lifestyle, and overall general health.

As an example, a physically active 6ft 2in male, aged 22 years, requires considerably more calories than a 5ft 2ins sedentary woman in her 70s.

It has been discovered that factors such as how you eat your food can influence how many calories get into your system. The longer you chew your food, the more calories the body retains, a team from Purdue University found.

If you would like to learn more about calories – what they are and what they are important for – you might want to take a look at our Knowledge Center article all about calories. The rest of this article will discuss how your body uses calories and how many your body might need to achieve optimum energy levels.

Facts on daily calorie intake

Here are some key points about daily calorie intake. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.

  • Recommended calorie intake depends on factors such as age, size, height, sex, lifestyle and overall general health.
  • The longer you chew your food, the more calories your body retains.
  • Recommended daily calorie intakes in the US are 2,700 for men and 2,200 for women.
  • Eating a big breakfast could help with weight reduction and maintenance.
  • When food is eaten may matter as much as what and how many calories are eaten.
  • Average calorie consumption in industrialized nations and a growing number of emerging economies is higher than it used to be.
  • Approximately 20% of the energy used in the human body is for brain metabolism.
  • Ideal body weight depends on several factors including age, bone density and muscle-fat ratio.
  • The types of food that calories are acquired from are highly important in terms of nutrition.
  • A 500-calorie meal consisting of fruits and vegetables is much better for your health and will keep you from being hungry for longer than a 500-calorie snack of popcorn.

Recommended daily calorie intakes

Recommended daily calorie intakes vary across the world. According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, the average male adult needs approximately 2,500 calories per day to keep his weight constant, while the average adult female needs 2,000. US authorities recommend 2,700 calories per day for men and 2,200 for women.

The NHS stresses that rather than precisely counting numbers (calories), people should focus more on eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, being physically active, and roughly balancing how many calories are consumed with the numbers burnt off each day. If you eat your five portions of fruit and vegetable per day, you will probably live longer, Swedish researchers reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (July 2013 issue).

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the average person’s minimum calorie requirement per day globally is approximately 1,800 kilocalories (7,500 kJ).

Worldwide food consumption
Daily calorie consumption varies considerably around the world
(countries in grey indicates “no data available”)
Image by Interchange88

Over the last twenty years, sugar has been added to a growing number of foods we consume. Unfortunately, food labels in the USA and Europe do not include details on how much-added sugar there is. Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist, wrote in BMJ in June 2013 that “(it has become) almost impossible for consumers to determine the amount of added sugars in foods and beverages.”

Timing could be as important as how many calories you eat

A big breakfast helps bring your weight down or keep it down – researchers from Tel Aviv University explained in the medical journal Obesity that a large breakfast – one containing approximately 700 calories – is ideal for losing weight and reducing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

When we eat our food probably matters as much as what and how many calories we eat, team leader Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz added.

Portion sizes

In industrialized nations and a growing number of emerging economies, people are consuming much more calories than they used to. Portion sizes in restaurants, both fast food ones as well as elegant places, are far greater today.

Comparing cheeseburger sizes over the last 20 years
The average cheeseburger in the USA 20 years ago had 333 calories, compared to the one’s today with over 600 calories

What is the difference between calories and kilocalories?

Scientifically speaking, one kilocalorie is 1,000 calories. However, the term calorie in lay English has become so loosely used with the same meaning as kilocalorie, that the two terms have virtually merged. In other words, in most cases, a calorie and kilocalorie have the same meaning.

A kilocalorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water from 15° to 16° Celsius (centigrade) in one atmosphere.

A “small calorie” refers to the traditional scientific term of calorie, meaning one-thousandth of a kilocalorie.

Internationally, most nations talk about food energy in kJ (kilojoules). 1 kcal (kilocalorie) = 4.184 kJ.

In this article, the term “calorie” means the same as “kilocalorie” or “kcal”.

Calorie intake calculator

The Harris-Benedict equation, also known as the Harris-Benedict principle, is used to estimate what a person’s BMR (basal metabolic rate) and daily requirements are.

Your BMR total is multiplied by another number which represents your level of physical activity. The resulting number is your recommended daily calorie intake in order to keep your body weight where it is.

This equation has some limitations. It does not take into account varying levels of muscle mass to fat mass ratios – a very muscular person needs more calories, even when resting.

BMR Equation

    • Male adults
      66.5 + (13.75 x kg body weight) + (5.003 x height in cm) – (6.755 x age) = BMR
      66 + ( 6.23 x pounds body weight) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.76 x age) = BMR

 

  • Female adults
    55.1 + (9.563 x kg body weight) + (1.850 x height in cm) – (4.676 x age) = BMR
    655 + (4.35 x kg body weight) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age) = BMR

Daily calorie calculators

You can use our BMR calculators below to work out your BMR and daily calorie recommendation. One calculator uses metric measurements and the other uses imperial measurements – the choice is yours.

1) Metric BMR Calculator

Please note that both of these calculators require JavaScript to be enabled in your browser settings. Results will appear in the box underneath these calculators.

Gender: Female
Male
Age:
(years)
Height:
(in cm, e.g: 183)
Weight:
(in kg, e.g: 63)

2) Imperial BMR Calculator

Gender: Female
Male
Age:
(years)
Height:
feet:
inches:
Weight:
stones:
pounds:

 

BMR calculation results will appear here.

Your daily calorie requirement

To work out a figure for your daily calorie requirement, we apply levels of physical activity to the equation as per the guide below. If you have entered information into the calculator above, you’ll see your personal calculations:

    • Sedentary lifestyle – if you do very little or no exercise at all
      Your daily calorie requirement is BMR x 1.2.

 

    • Slightly active lifestyle – light exercise between once and three times per week
      Your daily calorie requirement is BMR x 1.375.

 

    • Moderately active lifestyle – if you do moderate exercise three to five days per week
      Your daily calorie requirement is BMR x 1.55.

 

    • Active lifestyle – if you do intensive/heavy exercise six to seven times per week
      Your daily calorie requirement is BMR x 1.725.

 

  • Very active lifestyle – if you do very heavy/intensive exercise twice a day (extra heavy workouts
    Your daily calorie requirement is BMR x 1.9.

The human body and energy usage

For the human body to remain alive, it requires energy. Approximately 20% of the energy we use is for brain metabolism. The majority of the rest of the body’s energy requirements are taken up for the basal metabolic requirements – the energy we need when in a resting state, for functions such as the circulation of the blood and breathing.

If our environment is cold, our metabolism increases to produce more heat to maintain a constant body temperature. When we are in a warm environment, we require less energy.

We also require mechanical energy for our skeletal muscles for posture and moving around.

Respiration or specifically cellular respiration refers to the metabolic process by which an organism gets energy by reacting oxygen with glucose to produce carbon dioxide, water and ATP energy. How efficiently energy from respiration converts into physical (mechanical) power depends on the type of food eaten, as well as what type of physical energy is used – whether muscles are used aerobically or anaerobically.

Put simply – we need calories to stay alive, even if we are not moving, and need calories to keep our posture and to move about.

How much should you weigh?

As with how many calories you should consume, your ideal body weight depends on several factors. These include your age, sex, bone density, muscle-fat ratio, and height.

    • BMI (Body Mass Index) – some say BMI is a good way of working out what you should weigh. However, BMI does not take into account muscle mass. A 100-metre Olympic champion weighing 200 pounds (about 91 kilograms), who is 6 feet (about 1mt 83cm) tall, who has the same BMI as a couch potato of the same height, is not overweight, while the couch potato is overweight.

 

    • Waist-hip ratio – this measurement is said to be more accurate at determining what your ideal weight should be, compared to BMI. However, the waist-hip ratio does not properly measure an individual’s total body fat percentage (muscle-to-fat ratio) and is also limited.

 

  • Waist-to-height ratio – this way of determining ideal body weight is probably the most accurate one available today. It was presented by Dr. Margaret Ashwell, ex-science director of the British Nutrition Foundation, and team at the 19th Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, on 12th May 2012. It is also a very simple calculation; easy for lay people to work out.

Dr. Ashwell’s team found that:

Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world.”

Put simply, to achieve and/or maintain your ideal body weight, “Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height.”

If you are a 6ft (183cm) tall adult male, your waist should not exceed 36 inches (91 cm).

If you are a 5ft 4 inches (163 cm) tall adult female, your waist should not exceed 32 inches (81 cm)

How do I measure my waist? – according to the World Health Organization (WHO), you should place the tape-measure half-way between the lower rib and the iliac crest (the pelvic bone at the hip).

Calories and different diets

A chef's salad
Taking 500 calories from this dish is much better for the health, preventing hunger, and maintaining a healthy body weight than the equivalent calories in popcorn with butter or toffee

Simply counting calories, and ignoring what you put in your mouth might not lead to good health.

Insulin levels will rise significantly more after consuming carbohydrates than after eating fats (no rise at all) or protein. Some carbohydrates, also known as carbs, get into the bloodstream in the form of sugar (glucose) much faster than others. Refined flour is a fast carb, while coarse oatmeal is slow. Slow-release carbs are better for body weight control and overall health than fast carbs.

A 500-calorie meal of fish/meat, salad, and some olive oil, followed by fruit, is much better for your health and will keep you from being hungry for longer than a 500-calorie snack of popcorn with butter or toffee.

There are several diets today which claim to help people lose or maintain their body weight. Some of these have been extremely successful and good for participants, but are notoriously difficult to adhere to long-term.

Crooked Bear Creek Holistic Wellness Center recently published an article discussing the “Eight Most Popular Diets”. The rankings were based on how many articles mentioned them favorably, how popular they were generally and which ones received the most positive feedback.

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.