Wednesday, 12 December 2018

A Guide for Easy-to-Digest Foods That Are Actually Healthy

A couple of sliced and whole bananas. Bananas are an easy to digest food.Bananas next to a cup of sliced bananas. Bananas are an easy to digest food.

When you're having digestive problems, you may not feel like eating anything. Even your favorite food may seem unappetizing when you're dealing with nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or other digestive issues. Fortunately, there are easy-to-digest foods that can help you feel better while making sure you get enough nutrients and stay hydrated.

What Is the Digestive System?

Your digestive system starts with your mouth and includes the entire gastrointestinal tract plus the pancreas.[1] When you chew, the digestive enzyme called salivary amylase begins to break down the food right away. This partly digested food passes down the esophagus to the stomach, eventually making its way through the small and large intestines, and out of the body as stool.

All the protein, fat, and carbohydrates you consume have to be broken down into smaller components during digestion. Proteins become amino acids, carbohydrates become simple sugars, and fats become fatty acids and glycerol. Your digestive organs process these smaller nutrients, allowing them to enter the bloodstream, circulate throughout your body, and give you energy and strength.[1]

Just like that, your digestive system has done its job. But when you eat foods that you have trouble digesting, you may end up with uncomfortable symptoms instead of nourishment.

Easy-to-Digest Foods

If you have a digestive condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), irritable bowel disease (IBD), or just have a sensitive stomach, you will want to eat easy-to-digest foods. In general, the flavor of these foods is more bland than spicy or robust.

Easy-to-digest foods are typically soft and low in fiber and fat. This makes them easier on the digestive system and less likely to cause or antagonize digestive concerns.[2] Eating easy-to-digest foods may bring relief from gas, diarrhea, stomach discomfort, or bloating — leading to a happy belly.[3]

Nut Milk Yogurt

Most yogurt is easy to digest, low in fiber, and contains probiotic microbes.[3] However, a large percentage of people are sensitive to dairy or lactose-intolerant, which is a major source of digestive complaints.

The solution? Try yogurt made from almond, coconut, rice, or cashew milk. Make sure to select unsweetened, plain yogurt. Fruit-containing yogurts may have extra fiber you do not need if you have digestive concerns. In addition, excess sugar makes digestive problems worse.[2] You can even try making your own vegan probiotic yogurt!


Bananas are often recommended for people with gastroenteritis, vomiting, diarrhea, or upset stomach.[4] Bananas contain potassium, an important electrolyte that can be depleted from your body when you have diarrhea or excessive vomiting. Eat bananas in a greener or just-ripened form. Overripe bananas with brown spots have more sugar and can have up to three grams of fiber, which can aggravate digestive problems.[4]


Applesauce is another soft food that is easy to digest.[4] Look for all-natural applesauce without extra sugar or preservatives. If you make your own applesauce, peel the skin off since it has more fiber. An easy way to make applesauce at home is to peel, core, and chop four large organic apples of any variety. Then, add them and water to a pan. Boil them for 20 minutes or until they're soft. Finally, take them out and mash them with a fork to make applesauce.

White Potatoes

White potatoes have simple carbohydrates and are an easy-to-digest comfort food when needed. Make sure that you remove all skins, cook them thoroughly in water, and mash them with plain, unsweetened nut milk if desired. And the bonus? Potatoes are an excellent prebiotic food that feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Vegetable Broth & Creamy Soups

The liquid in soup helps reduce dehydration from diarrhea or excessive vomiting, while the sodium can replenish lost electrolytes. The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends soup, particularly broth, for symptoms of ulcers, heartburn, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), nausea, and vomiting.[2] There are delicious organic vegetable broths that you can buy from the store or make homemade.

There are many types of soup that are easy to swallow and digest because they are warm and don't have a lot of fiber. The US National Library of Medicine also recommends creamy-textured soups, such as those made with pumpkin or carrots. Avoid soups with milk products, which can cause digestive issues.

Creamy Peanut Butter

While most nuts are high in fiber, when you blend peanuts, they are an acceptable easy-to-digest food. There's just one caveat — pick a variety without sugar or added ingredients. Look for an organic smooth, creamy peanut butter with just two ingredients: peanuts and salt, or make your own at home.

Low-Fiber Fruits

In addition to bananas and applesauce, there are several low-fiber fruits that are a good choice when you need an easy-to-digest food. The US National Library of Medicine recommends only these raw fruits in a "very ripe" state: watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, papayas, nectarines, peaches, and plums.

Low-Fiber Vegetables

If you are seeking vegetables that are easy to digest, the only vegetables you should eat raw include avocado, cucumber (without seeds or skin), zucchini, and lettuce (in small quantities, at first). For cooked vegetables, you can eat spinach, carrots, beets, yellow squash (without seeds), pumpkin, green beans, asparagus, and eggplant. These are the only vegetables that are considered easy to digest, so if you are on a special low-fiber diet, avoid all other vegetables.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, or kombucha can help digestion because they contain gut-boosting probiotics.[5] Sometimes an imbalance of bad to good bacteria causes digestive ailments. Try eating probiotic foods to help restore the balance.

However, fermented foods don't work for everyone and aren't part of most bland diets.[2] For example, people with IBS may want to avoid fermented foods because they can worsen symptoms.[6] If you just want to help balance your stomach bacteria to see if it will help your digestive woes, try some fermented foods and see how your belly responds.

Foods to Avoid

When you're having nausea, gas, bloating, or other digestive problems, there are some foods to avoid. They can make you feel worse while you're trying to heal. In general, foods with a lot of fiber, fat, or sugar are harder to digest, so skip them.[2]

Avoid these foods:

  • Dairy products: Since so many people are sensitive to the milk sugar lactose or they're lactose-intolerant, I recommend avoiding dairy products altogether.
  • Deli meats, hot dogs, and sausage: These are highly processed meats full of chemical additives and preservatives that are not good for sensitive stomachs.
  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain products: Whole wheat contains gluten, which many people are sensitive to. But any whole-grain item will have too much fiber for people who need easy-to-digest foods, and many also contain gluten.
  • Corn: Besides the fact that most corn is GMO (genetically modified) and should generally be avoided, corn is high in sugar and fiber.
  • Dried fruit: The act of drying fruit concentrates the sugar. Dried fruit is also high in fiber.
  • Spicy or acidic foods: Spicy and acidic foods can irritate your digestive system, causing heartburn and other uncomfortable digestive symptoms.
  • Seeds and nuts: Seeds and nuts are high in fiber and can irritate sensitive GI tracts. The only exception, as stated above, is smooth, additive-free peanut butter.
  • Fried foods and foods with high oil content: In general, fried foods are extremely unhealthy and you should avoid them.
  • Legumes: Legumes include peas, beans, and lentils and they generally have higher fiber content and cause flatulence. The only exception to this is that you can eat cooked green beans. Although legumes are usually a solid food choice, they're not ideal if you require food that's easy to digest.
  • Chocolate: Besides the fact that most chocolate comes with sugar, chocolate has caffeine and fiber that can irritate a sensitive digestive system.
  • Other foods worth mentioning: You should also avoid alcohol, spices, and caffeine since these tend to upset a sensitive stomach.

Do You Need to Eat Easy-to-Digest Foods?

If you're wondering who should eat easy-to-digest foods, there are a number of situations where they may help, whether it's to ease digestive problems, a short-term bout of diarrhea, a winter flu, or a more serious condition like irritable bowel syndrome. Make sure you talk to your healthcare provider before drastically changing your diet and avoiding specific foods beyond a short period of time as it's easy to miss out on important nutrients.

If You Have IBS or IBD

People with irritable bowel syndrome or irritable bowel disease may need to eat easy-to-digest foods. IBD is a chronic disorder that affects the large intestine, while IBS is a much less serious disorder. Some of the symptoms of both include gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and bloating. People with IBS and IBD may need to avoid gluten, reduce their fiber intake, and limit certain foods.[7]

If You Have Diarrhea

If you have an occasional bout of diarrhea, whether from food poisoning or a virus, you may want to eat easy-to-digest foods for a short period of time. Some of the common symptoms include loose stools, cramps, and stomach pain. In addition to easily digestible foods, you should avoid alcohol, fatty foods, spices, dairy, and caffeine. If you completely lose your appetite, stay hydrated by drinking more water.[8]

If You Have Heartburn

People with heartburn may also need to eat easy-to-digest foods. Two common causes of heartburn include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and gastroesophageal reflux (GER); GERD is a more serious condition than GER.

These conditions happen when stomach acids come back up and irritate the esophagus. In addition to a stinging sensation in your throat or chest, you may also have nausea, vomiting, and discomfort. Try eating easy-to-digest foods, and also avoid fatty foods, coffee, alcohol, spicy foods, tomatoes, and chocolate.[9] Eating smaller meals might also help.

Points to Remember

If you're having digestive problems, focus on eating easy-to-digest foods. Try to eat more nut milk yogurt, bananas, applesauce, creamy soup, vegetable broth, fermented foods, and certain fruits and cooked vegetables like spinach, beets, carrots, and pumpkins.

For digestive issues, you generally should avoid eating foods that are high in sugar, fat, or fiber because they can make you feel worse. For instance, don't eat fried foods, dried fruit, dairy, or whole-grain products.

If you want to improve your overall digestive health, then consider taking probiotics or digestive enzymes. These products can help you take control of your diet and normalize digestive symptoms.

What foods do you eat to ease digestion? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

The post A Guide for Easy-to-Digest Foods That Are Actually Healthy appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Monday, 10 December 2018

Magnesium Deficiency: Top Solutions, Causes, & Signs

Several magnesium-rich foods including dark chocolate, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats, and more.Several magnesium-rich foods that can help with magnesium deficiency.

Most health-conscious people have heard of magnesium (Mg), but many of them don't know a whole lot about it. Compared to other vitamins and minerals, it tends to fly under the radar. But, it's a vital nutrient that's essential for good health.

You may remember magnesium from the periodic table of scientific elements that was posted in your middle school science classroom. It plays a critical role in metabolism, and the body uses it for more than 300 biochemical reactions. Those processes support your immune system, promote a healthy nervous system and brain, maintain cardiovascular health, and build strong muscles and bones.

So, it's no surprise that when you do not get enough of this macromineral, your health can be negatively affected.[1]

What Is Magnesium Deficiency?

The human body doesn't produce magnesium; you have to get it through your diet. Magnesium deficiency occurs when you don't get enough magnesium in your diet or can't use the magnesium you do consume.

Normal magnesium levels fall between 0.75 and 0.95 mmol/L. Hypomagnesemia, which is an excessive magnesium deficiency, is a blood serum level below 0.75 mmol/L.[2]

While fewer than 2 percent of Americans have reached a clinically deficient state of magnesium, up to 75 percent of Americans don't meet the daily recommended intake.

Even though you may not feel the immediate effects of low magnesium, it can have short- and long-term implications for your health.[3]

What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?

Ultimately, not getting enough magnesium or not using what you do get is what causes magnesium deficiency. Sometimes, even when you get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium in your diet, your body is unable to use it. This can happen if the magnesium you consume is not well absorbed by your body — in other words, it has low bioavailability. There are different types of magnesium with varying levels of bioavailability. Additionally, certain conditions can also reduce the bioavailability of the magnesium you consume.

These include:[4]

  • Digestive ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Celiac disease
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Kidney disease and ailments, including kidney stones
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain types of chemotherapy
  • Alcohol dependency
  • Advanced age

What Are the Signs of Magnesium Deficiency?

There are a variety of magnesium deficiency causes and symptoms, though many people who aren't getting enough magnesium are asymptomatic.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Headaches
  • Myasthenia (muscle weakness)
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cramps
  • Decreased appetite
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Numbness and tingling sensations
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Seizures

When your levels of magnesium are low, you may experience other health issues. Below are some of the conditions and symptoms that commonly occur with low magnesium.

Hormone Imbalances

Magnesium keeps certain hormones balanced and under control. Specifically, magnesium helps the thyroid convert the hormone T4 into its usable form, T3, which affects metabolism. It also helps regulate cortisol — aka the stress hormone. When magnesium levels are low and these hormones become unbalanced, your insulin resistance may increase, you may gain weight, have skin problems, or struggle with anxiety or depression.[5]


Scientists have linked mental health conditions and neurological disorders that affect mood and memory to low magnesium levels. New research indicates that magnesium also protects the brain and nerve cells, preventing neurons from firing excessively, which scientists have linked to anxiety disorders.[6]

High Blood Pressure

Scientists have linked lower magnesium levels to increased hypertension (high blood pressure). Increasing your intake of magnesium and potassium can reduce high blood pressure — and can even make other blood pressure-lowering strategies more effective.[7]

Sleep Issues

Low magnesium levels also affect sleep and interfere with the body's ability to produce sleep-enhancing hormones. When this happens, it can cause issues such as restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, or insomnia.[8] Magnesium also calms your nervous system, which helps you go to sleep in the first place.


Studies show that people with asthma often have low magnesium levels. This deficiency — in addition to others, such as vitamin D — can even worsen asthma symptoms. Research shows that low magnesium levels correlate with more frequent asthma attacks.[9]


Low magnesium levels contribute to osteoporosis, both directly and indirectly. Magnesium is essential for building healthy bones, and a deficiency can cause abnormal bone formations.

Your body needs magnesium for proper calcium uptake. Magnesium also regulates the body's parathyroid hormones, which influence bone health. Through these interactions, low magnesium levels can indirectly contribute to the risk of developing osteoporosis.[10]

How to Check for Magnesium Deficiency

Less than one percent of the body's magnesium exists in blood serum, yet a blood test is usually how doctors measure magnesium levels. Some may use other methods, including testing magnesium levels in urine or red blood cells. More rarely, doctors will conduct an EXA test, which looks at magnesium levels in a sample of mouth cells.[11] Physicians consider 0.75 to 0.95 mmol/L to be a normal blood serum concentration, while less than 0.75 is low.

Best Foods for Magnesium Deficiency

Most people can get enough magnesium from eating a healthy, balanced diet. That means what you might expect — lots of vegetables, beans, fruits, and nuts and seeds — along with some foods you may not have considered, such as dark chocolate. Here are some of the best plant-based foods for magnesium:

Green, Leafy Vegetables

To get the most bang for your buck, go for dark, leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and collard greens. Leafy vegetables are among the most magnesium-rich foods available, and they provide other nutritional benefits. Make them a regular part of your diet for their magnesium content.

Nuts & Seeds

Many nuts and seeds are also high in magnesium. If you like to snack on almonds or peanuts, you're in luck. Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, and oats can add magnesium to your diet. If you do not like eating nuts as snacks, try adding them as toppings to non-dairy yogurt or blend them into a smoothie.


Add magnesium to the long list of nutrients in our favorite superfood — the avocado. The brain- and heart-healthy avocado is a nutritional powerhouse that will help you get enough magnesium and potassium.


Bananas are not only a great source of magnesium, but also potassium. Bananas can satisfy your sweet tooth while also providing you with your daily fill of these crucial nutrients, as well as vitamin C and fiber.


Packed with magnesium and other crucial minerals, figs are an often overlooked nutritional source. Dried figs are a great snack.

Dark Chocolate

Great news for dessert lovers: dark chocolate contains a significant amount of magnesium. That said, most sources of chocolate are high in sugar. Eat chocolate in moderation or add unsweetened cocoa powder to recipes or fresh fruit smoothies.

Whole Grains & Pseudograins

Many whole grains have high magnesium levels. The pseudograins buckwheat and quinoa not only have more magnesium, but they are also higher in protein and antioxidants than traditional grains like wheat, corn, and rice. As a bonus, buckwheat and quinoa are also gluten-free. If you haven't given them a try, do it!

How Much Magnesium Do You Need?

The RDA for magnesium varies by age. The average healthy adult male in his 20s needs approximately 400 mg of magnesium per day. The requirement for a woman of the same age is a bit lower at 320 mg. Pregnant women should increase their daily allotment to 350 mg.

The table below lists the current RDA for children and adults in the United States as established by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.[2] For children under 12 months, the chart lists adequate intake for non-breastfed babies.

If you have health considerations specific to you, talk to your healthcare provider about what serving size is best.

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 30 mg* 30 mg*
7–12 months 75 mg* 75 mg*
1–3 years 80 mg 80 mg
4–8 years 130 mg 130 mg
9–13 years 240 mg 240 mg
14–18 years 410 mg 360 mg 400 mg 360 mg
19–30 years 400 mg 310 mg 350 mg 310 mg
31–50 years 420 mg 320 mg 360 mg 320 mg
51+ years 420 mg 320 mg

*Adequate Intake

The Best Supplements for Magnesium Deficiency

If you're concerned that you aren't getting enough magnesium in your diet, consider supplementation. There are a variety of supplements available. How well they work depends on the amount of the mineral they contain, how well it dissolves, how well the gut absorbs it, and its bioavailability which is the proportion of a substance the body can use in its biochemical reactions.[12]

Magnesium can be absorbed through the skin, such as by soaking in a bath with Epsom salts. However, other than food, the most common way to get magnesium is through supplements. Options include magnesium orotate, magnesium chloride, or multipurpose supplements, which combine magnesium with nutrients that help absorption, such as calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K.

Magnesium orotate is one of the best choices for supplementation, as it's the most absorbable form of the mineral. IntraCal™ contains an ideal ratio of calcium to magnesium orotate for optimal absorption in the body.

Points to Remember

Getting adequate magnesium is crucial to achieving optimal health, yet more than 75 percent of people do not get enough of this macromineral. Magnesium plays a role in brain and nervous system health, metabolism, cardiovascular health, and more. Not getting enough magnesium can contribute to a host of health woes, including anxiety, sleep disorders, weight gain, and asthma. You can get magnesium from foods like chocolate, bananas, avocados, and figs, or through supplements.

Healthy adult men need 410 to 420 mg per day while healthy adult women need 310 to 320 mg per day, with amounts varying for children under 18 and pregnant women. A deficiency arises when the body either does not get enough or can't use the magnesium it does get. A normal blood serum level is 0.75 to 0.95 mmol/L, while less than 0.75 is low.

Have you ever had a magnesium deficiency? Do you take magnesium supplements or try to get enough in your diet? We want to hear your story! Leave a comment below.

The post Magnesium Deficiency: Top Solutions, Causes, & Signs appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Low-Oxalate Diet: One Way to Keep Away Kidney Stones

A basket of peaches. Peaches are a staple to a low-oxalate diet.A basket of peaches. Peaches are a staple to a low-oxalate diet.

Ask anyone who has had a kidney stone, and they'll tell you that it's one of the most unpleasant experiences they have ever had! Different types of kidney stones exist, but the most common is a calcium oxalate stone.[1] In some people, calcium oxalate accumulates in their body and forms stones that must be eliminated through the urinary tract or in stool. In the United States, kidney stones affect one in 11 people, with higher rates among men, and overweight men and women.[2]

If you tend to develop kidney stones, or if they run in your family, you may want to try a low-oxalate diet. Although a low-oxalate diet is commonly adopted by people who experience kidney stones, some experts also recommend it for autistic children. Preliminary evidence has linked a diet high in oxalate with autism; in some cases, experts recommend a low-oxalate diet as therapy.[3, 4, 5]

Here, we will describe how to start a low-oxalate diet, what you can eat, what to avoid, and the benefits of eating this way.

Quick Tips to Start a Low-Oxalate Diet

  • On a low-oxalate diet, you will keep your consumption of oxalate in foods to around 40 to 50 milligrams (mg) per day. Some experts say that up to 100 mg per day is acceptable.
  • When following this diet, you do not always have to avoid higher-oxalate foods. Your diet should consist mostly of low-oxalate foods with occasional medium- or high-oxalate items.
  • Spinach has the highest oxalate level of any vegetable or fruit — more than 100 times higher than even most high-oxalate foods. On this diet, you'll need to avoid it!
  • Most legumes are high in oxalate, but soaking them pulls the oxalate into the water (which you can then dump out).
  • Boiling vegetables reduces their oxalate content 30 to 90 percent.[6]
  • Consume 800 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day when following a low-oxalate diet because it reduces how much oxalate is absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Limit your sodium intake because it increases the amount of calcium in your urine, which can lead to stones.
  • If you are male, don't take high doses of vitamin C as it can increase your risk of developing stones.

What Is Oxalate?

Oxalic acid is a molecule that plants (and humans, actually) produce naturally and, as a result, it's in many plant foods. When it is bound to minerals — like calcium — it is called an oxalate. Although oxalate is present in plant foods, it isn't a nutrient. In fact, it's sometimes called an anti-nutrient because when oxalic acid binds to minerals like calcium, the body can't use those minerals. Second, oxalate is an insoluble crystal. When these crystals are small, they come out of the body easily. But, when they collect and grow in size, they're what we refer to as kidney stones, and they're painful and difficult to pass. Though other types of kidney stones exist, oxalate kidney stones are the most common.

What Increases Oxalate Levels?

Men who consume more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) per day have a higher risk of forming calcium oxalate kidney stones.[7] This is likely because the body converts vitamin C into oxalate.[8]

Taking antibiotics may also increase oxalate levels. Antibiotics kill good gut bacteria that feed on oxalate. With less of those beneficial bacteria, more oxalate persists to form calcium oxalate stones.[9]

Understandably, eating a diet high in oxalate is one thing that increases its level in the bloodstream and urine. If you tend to get kidney stones, you may consider this diet.

What Is a Low-Oxalate Diet?

A low-oxalate diet is, obviously, one that's comprised of foods that are low in oxalate.

Many healthcare providers recommend this diet as a preventative measure for people who have developed kidney stones.

The average oxalate content of most diets is around 70 to 150 mg per day.[10] On a low-oxalate diet, you will typically keep your oxalate intake at or under 40 to 50 mg per day. Although, some nutritionists say you can eat up to 100 mg of oxalate per day.[11, 12]

What Can You Eat?

When you follow a low-oxalate diet, you are not purely restricted to low-oxalate foods, as total consumption is what matters. Set a goal of keeping your oxalate intake below 40 to 50 mg per day. With planning, you can actually eat foods with medium levels of oxalate, or, occasionally, items on the high-oxalate list.

Also, think about portion size when considering whether to eat a high-oxalate food. For example, sunflower seeds are a high-oxalate food, but when you add a tablespoon of them to your salad, the serving size is small enough to provide valuable nutrients and a nutty flavor, while still keeping your overall oxalate levels low. On the other hand, when you eat multiple low-oxalate foods, it adds up.

Low-Oxalate Vegetables

The following vegetables are all low in oxalate. They are all good choices for someone following a low-oxalate diet.

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Green pepper 1/2 cup 5 mg
Mustard greens 1 cup 4 mg
Yellow squash 1/2 cup 4 mg
Cucumber 1/2 fruit 2 mg
Kale 1 cup 2 mg
Bok choy 1 cup 1 mg
Cabbage 1/2 cup 1 mg
Cauliflower 1/2 cup 1 mg
Peas 1/2 cup 1 mg
Zucchini 1/2 cup 1 mg
Chives 1 teaspoon 0 mg
Onions 1 small onion 0 mg
Romaine lettuce 1 cup 0 mg

Low-Oxalate Fruits

This list, while not exhaustive, provides some examples of low-oxalate fruits.

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Pineapple 1 cup 4 mg
Bananas 1 fruit 3 mg
Cherries 1 cup 3 mg
Limes 1/2 fruit 3 mg
Raisins 1 ounce (1 small box) 3 mg
Blueberries 1/2 cup 2 mg
Pears 1 fruit 2 mg
Cantaloupes 1/2 melon 2 mg
Strawberries 1/2 cup 2 mg
Apples 1 fruit 1 mg
Grapes 1/2 cup 1 mg
Mangoes 1 fruit 1 mg
Peaches 1/2 fruit 1 mg
Watermelon 1 slice 1 mg

Low-Oxalate Bread, Cereal, & Grains

There are not many healthy grains that you can eat when following a low-oxalate diet. Processed white flour and wheat flour, as well as brown rice flour, are high in oxalate so do not eat foods made with either, including bread, pasta, and crackers. Wheat germ is also extremely high in oxalate, so avoid it.

Wheat and gluten-containing grains should be avoided anyway because gluten can cause digestive and systemic issues in many people. But even gluten-free grains like millet, brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa are high in oxalate, and might need to be avoided on this diet.

The best choices for a low-oxalate diet are:

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Whole oat bread 1 slice 5 mg
Oatmeal 1 cup 0 mg

Low-Oxalate Protein Sources

There are many plant-based sources of protein that are low oxalate. It's not necessary to rely on meat and endure the negative health effects it causes.[13, 14] In addition, raising animals for consumption harms the environment in numerous ways. The best protein sources are certain legumes — but not all.

Most beans have high or at least moderate levels of oxalate, but if you soak them and then drain the water, oxalate levels in the beans are reduced.

Some moderate-oxalate protein sources include:[11, 12]

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Fava beans 1/2 cup 20 mg
Refried beans 1/2 cup 16 mg
Red kidney beans 1/2 cup 15 mg
Lentils 1/2 cup 5-10 mg
Garbanzo beans 1/4 cup 5-10 mg
Mung beans 1/2 cup 8 mg
Raw coconut meat 1/4 cup <5 mg
Black-eyed peas 1/2 cup <5 mg
Split peas 1/2 cup 5-10 mg
Lima beans 1/2 cup 5-10 mg

Low-Oxalate Drinks

Water is always the best choice of a beverage and, in fact, if you have kidney stones or are trying to prevent them, it's a good idea to increase your water consumption. Avoid draft beer or specially crafted beers, as they can be high in oxalate. On a low-oxalate diet, you can have the following beverages:

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Water infused with lemon 1 cup 0 mg
Pineapple juice 8 oz. 3 mg
100% Cranberry or Cran-apple juice 1/2 cup <5 mg
Grapefruit juice 1/2 cup <5 mg
Apple juice 1/2 cup <5 mg
Brewed coffee 1 cup <5 mg
Herbal tea 2 cups <5 mg
Wine 1 cup <5 mg

High-Calcium Foods to Eat

Sometimes people see the name "calcium oxalate stones" and think they must avoid foods with calcium. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Increasing your dietary intake of calcium will actually reduce the amount of oxalate in your body.

When calcium binds to oxalate in your intestines, it's more likely to be excreted in your stool before making its way to the kidneys.

Try to get two to three servings of calcium with each meal. If you eat a food that is high in oxalate, pair it with a high-calcium food. You can also get your calcium from certain vegetables or supplements.

Some studies link calcium supplements to higher stone formation rates — but only in people who already tend to get kidney stones, and this research is controversial.[13] Experts recommend getting your calcium from food or taking calcium supplements with meals to minimize the risk of stone formation.[15]

Avoid These High-Oxalate Foods

The good news is that you can still eat many foods on a low-oxalate diet.[11, 16] Below, we've listed common foods that are high in oxalate content. Occasionally, you can eat some of these, but do not eat them regularly if you are following the low-oxalate diet.

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Spinach, raw 1/2 cup 656 mg
Rhubarb 1/2 cup 541 mg
Buckwheat groats 1 cup 133 mg
Almonds 1 ounce (22 nuts) 122 mg
Corn grits* 1 cup 97 mg
Baked potato with skin 1 potato 97 mg
Beets 1/2 cup 76 mg
Navy beans 1/2 cup 76 mg
Cocoa powder 4 teaspoons 67 mg
Cornmeal* 1 cup 64 mg
Okra 1/2 cup 57 mg
Cashews 1 ounce (18 nuts) 49 mg
Raspberries 1 cup 48 mg
Soybeans* 1/2 cup 48 mg
Walnuts 1 cup 31 mg
Dried pineapples 1/2 cup 30 mg
Orange 1 fruit 29 mg
Sweet potato with skin 1 cup 28 mg
Grapefruit 1 fruit 24 mg
Soy milk* 1 cup 20 mg
Avocados 1 fruit 19 mg
Celery 1/2 cup 19 mg
Pumpkin seeds 1 cup 17 mg
Black tea 1 cup 14 mg

*Best avoided at all times.

One study found some foods raise urine oxalate levels more than others, even ones with a higher oxalate content.[16] These foods include spinach, rhubarb, beets, nuts, chocolate, tea, wheat bran, and strawberries. Although these foods offer important nutrients, they're best avoided if you follow a low-oxalate diet.

Low-Oxalate Diet Meal Plan

The following is an example of what a low-oxalate diet might look like:

Day One

  • Breakfast: Chickpea scramble, coffee
  • Lunch: Greek salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and raw organic goat cheese with vinaigrette dressing
  • Dinner: Lentil chili, sliced pineapple for dessert

Day Two

  • Breakfast: Plain coconut milk yogurt with sliced banana and blueberries, coffee
  • Lunch: Roasted butternut squash topped with raw organic goat cheese
  • Dinner: Cooked black-eyed peas tossed with sautéed celery, red peppers, and onions in a vinaigrette dressing, fresh cherries for dessert

Day Three

  • Breakfast: Blueberry smoothie with banana and pea protein
  • Lunch: Romaine lettuce salad with avocado, cucumbers, mushrooms, and vinaigrette dressing
  • Dinner: Pumpkin soup

Other Natural Ways to Reduce Oxalate

There are several easy ways to reduce your oxalate levels, from drinking water to lowering your salt intake.

Drink Plenty of Water

When you drink a lot of water, your urine becomes less concentrated with substances that can cause kidney stones. The extra fluid intake causes you to urinate more, which means that oxalate is less likely to settle in your kidneys, bind together, and form stones.

One study found that people who produce between 2 to 2.5 liters of urine a day are 50 percent less likely to have kidney stones than those who urinate lesser amounts. In order to produce 2 to 2.5 liters of urine a day, you need to drink about eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water.[17]

Reduce Salt Intake

When you consume more salt, calcium concentrates in your urine resulting in a greater chance of developing oxalate stones. Try to limit your daily salt intake to 1,500 mg. To do this, you will need to read nutrition facts labels.

Many processed foods, such as canned food, fast food, and deli meat, are high in sodium, so avoid them — they are generally bad for your health anyway.

Limit Vitamin C Supplements

On a low-oxalate diet, you'll need to limit your vitamin C supplements. One study found that men taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day had a higher risk of developing calcium oxalate kidney stones than those who did not take vitamin C supplements.[7] Women who took the same amount of vitamin C did not have a greater risk of kidney stone formation, nor did men who took lower levels of vitamin C.

The researchers recommend that men who tend to form kidney stones reduce their intake of vitamin C supplements. Dietary intake of vitamin C — in other words, vitamin C from food — was not associated with kidney stone formation in men or women, though few participants in the study consumed more than 700 mg per day from diet alone.

Consume More Citric Acid

You can find citric acid in many fruits and vegetables, especially lemons and limes. Citric acid can reduce your chances of developing calcium oxalate stones.[18] When citric acid binds with calcium in the urine, it prevents it from bonding to oxalate. Citric acid also binds to existing calcium oxalate crystals, preventing them from getting larger, which means they are easier to excrete in urine.[19]

How to Get Started

Begin by keeping a food diary and using online resources to calculate how much oxalate you typically consume. Next, start looking at charts of low-oxalate foods and look for opportunities to replace a high-oxalate food with one that is low in oxalate. If you have many high-oxalate foods in your regular diet, try switching to moderate-oxalate foods and then to low-oxalate ones.

Points to Remember

Oxalate forms when oxalic acid in plants binds with a mineral, such as calcium. Oxalate can create kidney stones in some people. A low-oxalate diet is one way to reduce your risk of developing calcium oxalate kidney stones. Some experts consider a low-oxalate diet a promising therapy for autistic children, as well.

Followers of a low-oxalate diet should keep their consumption of oxalate around 50 to 100 mg. You can do so by consulting many of the charts available that list low-oxalate foods. In addition to a low-oxalate diet, you may also want to increase your consumption of water, calcium, and citric acid and decrease your salt intake.

If kidney stones are or have been an issue for you, check out our article about the best remedies for kidney stones. It has more than a few good tips to help support normal, healthy kidney function.

Is a low-oxalate diet something you've tried or considered? What insight can you provide? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

The post Low-Oxalate Diet: One Way to Keep Away Kidney Stones appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Monday, 3 December 2018

Varicose Veins: The 10 Best Natural Remedies to Try

Several horse chestnuts. Horse chestnut seeds and leaves are a natural remedy for varicose veins.Several horse chestnuts. Horse chestnut seeds and leaves are a natural remedy for varicose veins.

Varicose veins are a common condition in which enlarged veins are visible through the skin. Though varicose veins are usually unrelated to any serious medical conditions, some people feel uncomfortable because of their prominent blue or purple appearance or the itching, tingling, or discomfort that sometimes accompany them. Fortunately, you may be able to reduce their symptoms through healthy lifestyle habits and natural remedies. Let's discuss what causes varicose veins, how to know if they are merely a cosmetic concern or an indication of something deeper, and what home remedies can help.

What Are Varicose Veins?

Veins are varicose (pronounced VAR-ih-kos) when blood pressure or valve issues cause them to become swollen, twisted, and visible just under the surface of the skin.

Varicose veins can also form deeper inside the body, but typically they appear as bulging blue or purple veins on the legs or ankles. They occur more frequently in women than men. Experts think that the hormone estrogen, which is more dominant in women, may influence vein health.[1]

You can visually diagnose varicose veins yourself, or have it done at a doctor's office via an ultrasound test.[2]

Common Varicose Veins Symptoms

In some people, the only symptom of varicose veins is their blue or purple appearance. For others, varicose veins cause uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • An achy or heavy feeling in the legs
  • Throbbing, burning, tingling, or warmth in the legs
  • Leg cramps or pain
  • Skin discoloration
  • Itching

Spider vs. Varicose Veins

Spider veins are named for their appearance. With spider veins, tiny red or blue capillaries — the smallest blood vessels in the body — show beneath the skin in a spider web-like pattern.

Spider veins are smaller and finer than varicose veins and do not bulge out of the skin. They most commonly appear on the legs or face, and are usually a cosmetic issue.[3] Similar issues cause both varicose and spider veins: poor circulation, weak blood vessels, a sedentary lifestyle, and lack of exercise.

Natural Remedies for Varicose Veins

We will focus on remedies for varicose veins, though some of these also may help spider veins, as well. While these natural treatments may not completely eliminate varicose veins, they can provide symptom relief. Here are a few ideas to help with your varicose veins.

1. Use Essential Oils

Massage therapy cannot cure varicose veins, but it can help improve blood circulation in the leg muscles and reduce some of the swelling and discomfort associated with the condition.[4] Some massage therapists use essential oil to boost the benefits of massage therapy. Frankincense, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, lemon, lavender, and cypress oils help reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and decrease swelling. A 2017 scientific review found that 20 percent of all essential oil use is to relieve inflammation.[5] Rockrose and bay oils are particularly helpful for varicose veins.[5]

2. Exercise

Physical activity encourages blood to move through the veins, improving overall muscle tone and circulatory health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week.[6]

Activities like walking and bicycling provide the leg movement that supports vein health. The best shoes are low-heeled and fit snugly around your foot and ankle, which builds muscle tone in your calf muscles and promotes improved circulation.

If you are on a long flight, get up every couple hours and walk around. Likewise, at work, make sure to stretch your legs and walk around to promote healthy circulation.

3. Take Your Vitamins

Several vitamins support cardiovascular health, which can help reduce your chance of getting varicose veins and reduce their symptoms if they do appear. Research has linked low vitamin K with circulatory problems and age-related vein calcification that contributes to varicose veins.[7, 8]

Vitamin C plays a role in the production of collagen and elastin — proteins that affect vein elasticity. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that works to keep free radicals from damaging blood cells. Vitamins B-3, B-12, and folic acid promote healthy circulation. Make sure you get enough of these vitamins either through your diet or plant-based supplements.

4. Take Horse Chestnut

Instead of taking medication for a mere cosmetic issue, consider horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). Horse chestnut seeds and leaves are a natural remedy for circulation issues, including varicose veins.

Studies have found that this herb promotes healthy blood circulation and reduces systemic redness and swelling. Scientists believe horse chestnut may "seal" leaky or inflamed capillaries, improve vein wall elasticity, and encourage normal blood density.[9] Use horse chestnut cream on the legs to soothe the sores that appear with varicose veins.

5. Change Your Diet

Constipation and straining to move your bowels puts increased pressure on veins and blood vessels throughout your body, not just at the rectum. A high-fiber diet can prevent constipation and keep varicose veins from worsening or manifesting in different ways, including hemorrhoids — which are bulging veins in the anus.[10, 11]

Drink plenty of water to stay well-hydrated and also discourage constipation, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. Eat foods rich in flavonoids, also called bioflavonoids, such as berries, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, cayenne pepper, and green tea. These offer an abundance of health benefits, including improving blood circulation, reducing arterial pressure, and relaxing blood vessels.

Some people recommend fish oil, but you can get the omega-3 fatty acids they contain from plant-based sources such as algae oil or flaxseed oil. Omega-3s help blood vessel elasticity.

6. Wear Compression Stockings

Compression stockings put firm pressure on the legs, which promotes blood flow toward the heart.[3]

Three different levels of compression hose exist. Reinforced pantyhose offer the lowest level of support; you can buy them anywhere you get pantyhose. Compression hose provide a higher level of pressure. The most intensive compression stocking is available by prescription and requires a special fitting session.

Compression hose may seem like shapewear (think Spanx) but it supports healthy circulation. Conversely, shapewear can actually restrict blood flow — especially if you buy a size too small. Put compression stockings on first thing in the morning and remove them at night for maximum benefit.[12]

Do not wear compression stockings at night as it may reduce and constrict circulation in your legs if you are not moving, as you do during the day.

7. Elevate Your Legs

Experts recommend you elevate your legs six to twelve inches above your heart to reduce the symptoms of varicose veins and possibly reduce their unsightly appearance. Not only does it feel great to elevate your legs, but it also reduces the force of gravity that constantly weighs on your muscles, veins, and circulation. While sitting or lying down, put a couple of pillows under your legs to elevate them. You or your partner can massage your legs while you are relaxing, as well.

8. Take Pine Bark Extract

Pine bark extract is another herbal remedy that may help with cramps and swelling associated with varicose veins. One study compared the effects of pine bark extract to compression hose on varicose veins in women who had given birth.[13] After six months, women taking the extract has fewer varicose veins, fewer spider veins, and fewer symptoms than those who used compression hose — and these positive changes persisted for 12 months. This reduced the patients’ desire for surgery, and they left the study feeling more satisfied.

9. Apply Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a liquid astringent made from the twigs, leaves, and bark of the witch hazel plant (Hamamelis virginiana). Witch hazel contains tannins and volatile oils that tone and soothe the skin and help constrict blood vessels.

Witch hazel should be applied topically. For relief from discomfort, itching, and swelling, thoroughly soak a washcloth with witch hazel and place it onto the varicose veins appear. Or you can try adding 1/2 to 1 cup of witch hazel to a warm bath and soak your legs in it.

10. Try Herbal Supplements

Some herbal supplements promote healthy circulation. In addition to witch hazel, horse chestnut, and pine bark extract, gotu kola (Centella Asiatica) is another supplement known to support healthy veins.

Popular Medical Treatments for Varicose Veins

A number of medical treatments are used to alleviate the discomfort and appearance of varicose veins, either together with or in place of natural remedies. We recommend trying natural remedies first and using more invasive techniques as a later resort, but, for the sake of complete information, here are the three most commonly used procedures for varicose veins.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is a common outpatient treatment for varicose veins. There are multiple variations, but the two most popular are endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) and endovenous radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

Both are non-surgical methods of treating varicose veins. With EVLA, laser beams heat the veins[14] and with RFA, lasers give off high-frequency radio waves[15] until abnormal veins collapse. The body reabsorbs the collapsed varicose veins within a few weeks.


Sclerotherapy is another non-surgical, outpatient medical treatment for varicose veins. Doctors will inject either a liquid solution or a foam into the varicose veins under ultrasound guidance.

Today, most sclerotherapists use a liquid solution that contains chemicals like sodium tetradecyl sulfate or polidocanol. These injected substances damage the internal lining of the vein, which causes the blood inside to clot so the body can reabsorb them.[16] We do not recommend introducing chemicals into your bloodstream in this way.

Endoscopic Vein Surgery

Sometimes, surgery is a possible treatment, but use it as a last resort. If your varicose veins cause you extreme discomfort or turn into ulcers, you might want to seek the advice of your healthcare professional.

In rare cases, varicose veins may carry the risk of blood clots, and your healthcare provider may recommend endoscopic vein surgery. Endoscopic surgery requires a few weeks of rest before you can resume your normal activities.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Poor circulation varicose veins. Increased blood pressure in the veins and weakened vein walls or valves may cause veins to bulge out. However, several factors increase your risk of getting varicose veins. Being aware of how lifestyle choices affect vein health can help you prevent varicose veins, especially if you adopt healthy habits in your younger years.


As you age, your veins become less elastic and flexible, which can cause blood to pool and clot. Older adults might also be more sedentary than they were during their younger years, which increases their odds of getting varicose veins. The condition affects up to 35 percent of all people in the United States, especially those who have other risk factors.[17]


If members of your family have had varicose veins, you are more likely to develop them. According to the National Institutes of Health, around half of all people with varicose veins have a family history of the condition.[3]

Spider veins are also hereditary. When these conditions do run in families, both varicose veins and spider veins can indicate conditions associated with vein weakness, like chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Becoming aware of your family medical history can help you stay healthier and make lifestyle choices to stay one step ahead.

Poor Circulation

Leg veins circulate blood in one direction — back to the heart. Along the way, the blood passes through a series of valves that open in a one-way direction. High blood pressure in the legs, called chronic venous hypertension, happens when vein valves become leaky or weak. Over time, blood gets trapped behind the valves and causes the swelling, leg cramps, and discoloration of varicose veins.[12]

Crossing your legs does not cause varicose veins, nor does too-tight clothing. However, they may worsen the condition once you have them.


Being overweight or obese puts added pressure on your venous valves, which may lead to varicose veins. Sedentary lifestyle habits often accompany excess weight, and this further contributes to varicose veins. Varicose veins may not be visible in overweight or obese individuals because of excess fat.

Too Much Standing or Sitting

People who live a more sedentary lifestyle have a higher chance of getting varicose veins. Sitting for long periods of time doesn't allow blood to circulate properly and it can pool in the legs.

Too much time on your feet can cause varicose veins for a different reason — it increases the pressure on veins as gravity draws the blood down your legs. One study of hairdressers — who spend a lot of time on their feet — showed that after age 45, varicose veins became an occupational hazard.[18]

Experts recommend standing up and moving around every 30 minutes if you are sedentary, or taking a break to sit down (and elevate your feet, if possible) every 30 minutes if you spend hours at a time standing up.[19]


Many pregnant women develop varicose veins during pregnancy because the extra weight of the growing fetus puts pressure on the circulatory system, especially in the legs. Overall blood volume also increases during pregnancy, which can make veins stretch and dilate. For some women, multiple pregnancies make varicose veins worse. For others, varicose veins disappear after childbirth.[20]


When varicose veins go untreated, they can cause significant discomfort and even disrupt daily life. In addition to making the legs feel warm, heavy, and achy, varicose veins can break through the skin and cause skin ulceration, which might itch and cause pain.

One study of more than 425,000 adults in Taiwan found that people with varicose veins have a significantly higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).[21] People with DVT should take precautions when traveling by air, making sure to move around often and explore other preventative measures with their healthcare provider.[22]

If you have varicose veins, stay aware of your health history, and act accordingly. If you are overweight or do not exercise, incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle. Even elevating your legs, taking the stairs at work, or increasing your activity level can help. If you have circulatory problems, try supplements known to help. Find out your family history and follow a healthy diet full of antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Points to Remember

Varicose veins are a very common condition in which twisted, enlarged veins in the legs become visible through the skin and bulge outward. People with varicose veins may experience discomfort, swelling, tingling, and itching. Family history, age, weight, and lifestyle all influence your likelihood of developing varicose veins. They are addressed with natural remedies and sometimes minimally-invasive medical procedures.

While options for medical intervention include laser therapy, sclerotherapy, or endoscopic vein surgery, first consider trying less-invasive natural remedies. Effective strategies to reduce the symptoms and appearance of varicose veins include massage, elevating your legs six to twelve inches above your heart, and wearing compression stockings. You can increase your intake of vitamins C, E, and K, or try supplements like horse chestnut or pine bark extract — both of which have shown positive results in studies.

Have you tried any of these remedies before? Please tell us about your experience below!

The post Varicose Veins: The 10 Best Natural Remedies to Try appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Wednesday, 28 November 2018

DASH Diet: A Vegetarian Meal Plan for Heart Health

A salad of fresh fruit and vegetables in a bowl. Fruits and vegetables are a staple to the DASH diet.A salad of fresh fruit and vegetables in a bowl. Fruits and vegetables are a staple of the DASH diet.

If you’ve been thinking about changing your diet in order to lose weight, lower your blood sugar or blood pressure, or just improve your overall health, you might have heard about the DASH Diet. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet was named the “best overall diet" for eight consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report.[1]

Some of this distinction is owed to the fact that research suggests the diet may promote weight loss, lower your cholesterol, and help prevent diabetes. Many nutritionists applaud the diet for being less restrictive and more sustainable over the long haul compared to other eating plans.

Quick Tips to Start the Vegetarian DASH Diet

  • Eat at least one serving of vegetables at every meal.
  • Have a serving of vegetables or fruit at every snack.
  • Replace refined grains such as white bread, white pasta, and white rice with whole grains such as whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and oats.
  • Add beans or lentils to vegetarian dishes to boost the protein and fiber content, which will help satisfy your appetite with less food.
  • Snack on raw nuts, such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pistachios.
  • Cook with low-sodium seasonings such as herbs and spices rather than salt and processed condiments.
  • When grocery shopping, choose low-sodium foods.
  • When you crave sweets, choose fruit rather than candy or baked goods.

What Is the DASH Diet?

Scientists created the DASH Diet with funding from the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The goal of the DASH Diet was to design an eating plan that reduced high blood pressure.

You have hypertension if your systolic blood pressure is 140 mmHg or higher or your diastolic blood pressure is 90 mmHg or higher.

DASH Diet recipes emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fat, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. The diet limits sugar and sodium and encourages foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber, protein, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. While originally designed for omnivores, it is easily adapted by people who wish to follow a plant-based diet.

What Can You Eat?

One of the most attractive aspects of the DASH Diet is the diverse selection of foods it allows. In fact, the list of foods you can eat is, thankfully, longer than the list of foods to avoid — plus they’re easily found in grocery stores and farmers markets. The exact number of servings for each food type varies depending on your caloric needs. Those listed below are recommendations for an 1,800-calorie diet.[2]


Aim for four to five servings of fruit daily. A serving is one medium piece of fruit, a quarter cup of dried fruit, a half cup of fresh or frozen fruit, or a half cup of 100 percent fruit juice.

The DASH diet allows all fruit, including apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, watermelons, peaches, apricots, pineapples, strawberries, and tangerines. Good dried fruits include dates, figs, prunes, or raisins.


Aim for four to five servings of vegetables daily. A serving is one cup of raw leafy vegetable, a half cup of cut-up raw or cooked vegetables, or one-half cup of 100 percent vegetable juice.

This diet allows you to eat any vegetable. Good options include broccoli, green beans, peas, kale, collard greens, bell peppers, spinach, winter or summer squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.


Aim for six servings of whole grains every day. A serving is a slice of bread, one ounce of dry cereal (check the Nutrition Facts label for the recommended serving size), or a half cup of cooked rice, pasta, or oatmeal.

Other healthy grains include whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, and organic popcorn. Whole grains provide an excellent source of fiber. I recommend you avoid grains that contain gluten and look for gluten-free options like buckwheat, brown rice, amaranth, teff, and quinoa (which is technically a seed).

Nuts, Seeds, & Legumes

Aim for four servings per week. A serving is one-third cup of nuts, two tablespoons nut or seed butter, two tablespoons whole seeds, or a half cup cooked legumes. Choose any nuts, seeds, or legumes — lentils, navy beans, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans are all good options.

Healthy Fats

Aim for two to three servings of healthy fats daily. A serving is one teaspoon vegetable oil (olive, peanut, or avocado) or coconut oil. Technically, one tablespoon regular salad dressing or mayonnaise, or two tablespoons low-fat salad dressing or mayonnaise also qualify but those options are not ideal.

Low-Fat Dairy

The vegetarian DASH Diet recommends fat-free or low-fat dairy. If you do eat dairy, always choose organic products that come from pasture-raised animals. If you're opting for a plant-based version of the DASH diet, try non-dairy yogurt, cheeses, or milk, like almond or coconut milk instead.

Foods to Reduce or Eliminate

Although the DASH Diet is diverse, there are a few foods you should eliminate or reduce your intake of.


On the vegetarian DASH diet, you will not eat any meat. The standard DASH diet recommends avoiding beef, pork, and ham because they are high in saturated fat and sodium. The vegetarian DASH Diet requires avoiding consumption of all meats, even lean cuts of chicken and fish.

Full-Fat Dairy

The DASH diet restricts full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, and other sources of dairy since these choices are high in saturated fat.

Added Sugars & Sweets

The DASH diet allows for no more than five servings of low-fat sweets per week. Examples of a serving include one tablespoon sugar, jelly, or jam, a cup of lemonade, and a half cup of sorbet or gelatin dessert. Better yet, skip the refined sugar and reach for some fresh fruit when you crave something sweet.


There are two sodium limits on the DASH Diet: 1,500 milligrams or 2,300 milligrams daily. Generally, the lower your sodium intake, the lower your blood pressure.


The DASH Diet allows for moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages. Moderation means no more than one drink per day for women and two per day for men.

Keep in mind that one drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of spirits. Also, know that there’s virtually no health or nutritional benefit to consuming alcohol and a long list of benefits associated with avoiding it entirely.

Sample DASH Diet Menu

The following meal plan is an example of what following the DASH Diet could look like.

Day One

  • Breakfast: Steel-cut oatmeal with peanut butter and banana
  • Lunch: Greek salad
  • Dinner: Whole grain spaghetti with sauce and side spinach salad

Day Two

  • Breakfast: Plain coconut milk yogurt with walnuts and berries
  • Lunch: Black bean and vegetable wrap
  • Dinner: Lentils with brown rice and kale

Day Three

  • Breakfast: Slice of toast, two-egg veggie omelet, orange
  • Lunch: Pita with hummus and vegetables
  • Dinner: Three bean chili with chunky tomatoes

The Top 5 Health Benefits of the DASH Diet

Although the DASH Diet was created to help people lower their high blood pressure, the diet has other health benefits as well, so don't dismiss it if your blood pressure is in the healthy range (a systolic reading between 90 to 120 mmHg and a diastolic of 60 to 80 mmHg).

1. Lower Your Blood Pressure

Studies have found that the DASH Diet significantly reduces systolic blood pressure and that consuming fewer calories while on the diet compounds the effect.[3] Following a low-sodium diet alongside the DASH Diet may help reduce your blood pressure even more.[4]

2. Lose Weight

Being overweight is a risk factor for hypertension. Losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds may help lower blood pressure.[5] The DASH Diet is one plan that may help with weight loss. After 24 weeks on the DASH Diet, people lost three pounds more than other dieters and almost half an inch more off of their waistline.[6]

3. Reduce Your Diabetes Risk

The DASH Diet is appropriate for people living with diabetes, since the diet may help reduce blood pressure as well as weight. Some studies suggest the diet may also improve insulin sensitivity and therefore reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, but more research is necessary.

The DASH Diet may help those living with metabolic syndrome — a pre-diabetic condition that includes hypertension, high blood sugar, and excess weight — to lower their blood pressure and manage their symptoms.

4. Lower the Risk of Some Cancers

The DASH Diet may reduce the risk of colorectal[7] and breast cancer.[8] Plus, some components of the DASH Diet — like eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts and less dairy, salt, and meat — are associated with reduced risk of some types of cancer.[9]

In many ways, long-term good health is the cumulative effect of consistently making healthy dietary (and lifestyle) choices. Combining the principles of the DASH diet with a plant-based foundation is a good way to compound the health benefits each has to offer.

5. Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. By reducing your blood pressure, you help your heart. But following the DASH Diet also helps lower “bad" LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. High levels of LDL lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, which increases your risk or heart attack and stroke. Hypertension increases the risk of stroke, but the DASH Diet reduces this risk.[10]

How to Get Started

The DASH Diet seems easy to start, but — depending on your current diet — it may significantly shift how you eat. A few simple steps will ease the transition.

Check Your Current Eating Plan

Keep a food journal for a day or two, tracking what you eat and how much you eat at each meal and how often you snack. An easy way to do this is to download an app that tracks the sodium and nutrient levels of food. Then compare your current habits to the DASH Diet plan. You'll quickly see what you're already doing, plus what changes you need to make.

Start Gradually

You don't have to go all the way overnight. Start with one or two changes, such as eating at least one serving of vegetables at every meal, and then add more as those old changes become new habits. These changes will add up.

Remember, It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect

You don't have to hit every single serving recommendation every single day, nor do you need to consume exactly 2,300 mg or 1,500 mg sodium daily. Strive to reach the recommended intakes but keep in mind that overall trends matter the most. So if the majority of your meals for the week fit the DASH Diet, view that as a success.

Be Active

Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity daily or one hour of activity if you are trying to lose weight. You can split this time up into 10-minute segments if that is easier. Choose something you enjoy, whether that's walking, hiking, swimming, dance class, yoga, or anything else. The important thing is to move.

Follow Other Healthy Lifestyle Practices

Other changes can further reduce blood pressure and keep you healthy.

  • If you smoke or chew tobacco, stop. For tips and ideas, check out our how to quit smoking guide.
  • Manage your stress with a massage, meditation, or relaxation techniques.
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

Points to Remember

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet, or DASH Diet aims to reduce high blood pressure. However, the diet is appropriate for nearly everyone — not just people with high blood pressure. In addition to this benefit, following the DASH diet may help with losing weight, lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease. The DASH Diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and limits red meat, added sugar, salt, and alcohol.

Have you tried the DASH diet? What did you think? Leave a comment below and share your experience with us.

The post DASH Diet: A Vegetarian Meal Plan for Heart Health appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Monday, 26 November 2018

Beat Seasonal Blues Naturally with these Flower Remedies from BACH Original

I truly love this time of year – the start of the holiday season. But as they do, it is usually under the familiar conditions of shorter days, busier lives and colder weather. It is a beautiful time, but it is also a time where there is a lot of pressure from society to be, well, merry.  The reality is, this time of year can be really challenging and stressful for many. It is important – more than ever during this time to beat seasonal blues naturally – that we prioritize our self-care habits and rituals.

Whether that means taking a long bath, finding a quiet corner to meditate, practising your yoga or getting out into nature, we can all benefit from a little more attention to our wellbeing. All of these practices are beneficial and I would also add to the list to reach for the healing power of plants. Today’s post is how to beat seasonal blues naturally with this super simple combination of BACH Original Flower Remedies. Here’s my favourite mood-boosting blend. 

BACH™ Original Flower Remedies’ ACH Blend: Beat the Seasonal Blues

So here is the very simple recipe using BACH™ Original Flower Remedies to help you find a state of peace and balance, naturally, during this time of year. 

 What You’ll Need

– 30 mL mixing bottle 

– Bottled or filtered spring water

– 2 drops BACH® Impatiens, to help you become less irritable so you can calmly cope with these changes

– 2 drops BACH® Hornbeam, to help you stop procrastinating so you can face the day (and the cold weather)

– 2 drops BACH® Mustard, to help lift sudden sadness to help you return to joy and inner peace of mind

– 2 drops BACH® Wild Rose, to help bring liveliness and interest back into your life

– 2 drops BACH® Gentian, to overcome setbacks (such as a long winter season!) with positivity and acceptance


– In a 30 mL mixing bottle add two drops of each of the BACH™ Original Flower Remedies.

– Fill the remainder of the bottle with spring water.

– Take four drops at least four times per day.


Your personal blend can last between two and three weeks, if you keep it in a cool dry place or in the fridge.

Alternatively, you can add a preservative: before putting the water into your mixing bottle, add one teaspoon of brandy, cider vinegar, or glycerin. I chose to use apple cider vinegar, as I always have that on hand in my cupboards. 

Well, loves, I am wishing you a very joyful time of year, and with that, a reminder, take care of yourself. 

Lots of love,



* Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.

Please consult your healthcare practitioner prior to introducing any new supplement or drug to you or your child.

This is a sponsored post; however, I only agree to do sponsored postings when I really love the brand. 

The post Beat Seasonal Blues Naturally with these Flower Remedies from BACH Original appeared first on Living Pretty, Naturally.