Malaysian men love tongkat ali, claiming the herb gives them more energy and helps them perform better in the bedroom. It’s so popular that you’ll find tongkat ali drinks and supplements in almost every supermarket and can choose to get your dose of the “Malaysian ginseng” in the form of cappuccinos, tea, energy drinks, pills, and even chocolate.

According to tongkat ali product manufacturers, this wonder herb can do anything from curing erectile dysfunction to boosting your performance in the gym. It’s been traditionally used for its aphrodisiac, antimalarial, antidiabetic, antimicrobial properties for ages, but how effective is the herb in the eyes of science?

What is Tongkat Ali? 

Tongkat ali is a shrub that grows in Malaysia and Indonesia, with the fancy schmancy scientific name of Eurycoma longifolia. Because its scientific name is quite a mouthful, we prefer calling it tongkat ali, or Ali’s walking stick, which *wink wink*, refers to its effects on Ali’s sexual health [1].

Ali's tongkat? | rightways-tan1.blogspot.com
Ali’s tongkat? | rightways-tan1.blogspot.com

What Does Tongkat Ali Claim to Do?  

1. Increase your libido

This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons people use Tongkat Ali, and according to them, it helps improve the libido of both males and females.

Scientific Evidence

In a double-blinded randomised clinical trial that tested 109 men for 12 weeks, researchers found that a daily supplementation of 300mg eurycoma extract increased the erectile and libido of the men by 8.4-8.7%. [2]

Verdict: The study backs it up, but it’s important to note that changes are minor. It’s also worth noting that the study was funded by a phytopharmaceutical company which produces tongkat ali products.

2. Elevate your testosterone level

Oh yea | naturaformula.info
Oh yea | naturaformula.info

Testosterone is a very important hormone to men, and helps to regulate a man’s sex drive, bone mass, fat distribution, muscle size and strength, as well as sperm production [3]. You’ll see why men like having more of this. But can tongkat ali really raise testosterone levels?

Scientific Evidence

One study on sexually sluggish and impotent rats showed the increase of serum testosterone bt 50% after 12 days of consuming 500mg/kg of tongkat ali [4].

In another study done on rats using a lower dose of tongkat ali, the herb failed to produce any effect when supplemented to both normal male rats and rats with removed testicles [5].

What about humans, you ask? This 12-week study on 109 men showed no significant changes in testosterone levels before and after daily ingestion of tongkat ali extract. [6]

Verdict: Inconclusive evidence due to lack of research, but the few studies that are available showed no increase in testosterone.

3. Improve sperm quality and quantity

Source: graphiclands.com
Source: graphiclands.com

Sperm quality and quantity is correlated with fertility, and who doesn’t want to always be optimally fertile? Let’s see if tongkat ali really helps in this case.

Scientific Evidence

75 sub-fertile men were prescribed a 200mg dose of tongkat ali with follow-up exams conducted every 3 months for 3 cycles. In all 75 men, there was an improvement in sperm concentration (by 65.5%), as well as sperm percentage (by 94.9%). [7]

However, in another study conducted in vitro (test tube experiment), semen samples of 40 men were divided and incubated with different concentrations of tongkat ali. The study found that the same dose failed to have any significant influence on sperm vitality. [8]

Verdict: It’s possible the tongkat ali could help with sperm concentration and percentage, and the first study on 75 men also showed some percentages of pregnancy. However, mixed results in researches call for more studies to support this claim.

4. Decrease stress levels

Sellers of tongkat ali claim that intake of the herb can help increase our tolerance to stress as well improve our general mood.

Scientific Evidence

In a double-blinded study published in 2013, 63 moderately stressed out subjects (both male and female) were assessed for 4 weeks. The researchers collected saliva samples from the subjects and tested for cortisol (the stress hormone) and testosterone, before giving 200mg/day of tongkat ali to one half of the subjects and a placebo for the other half. They found that those on the tongkat ali had 11% less tension, 12% less anger, and 15% less confusion than those on the placebo. Salivary cortisol were 16% less in those ingesting tongkat ali than placebo, while salivary testosterone was 37% higher compared to placebo. [9]

In a study conducted on mice, researchers found that tongkat ali gave the same effect as the drug anti-anxiety drug Diazepam. Mice were also fighting less, and that’s always good. [10]

Verdict: There aren’t many studies in this area as of now, but from the available research, it seems tongkat ali has a positive effect on stress levels.

5. Improve exercise performance

Source: muscleandfitness.com
Source: muscleandfitness.com

There’s been plenty of anecdotal “evidence” of how tongkat ali helped several people improve their performance in sports and the gym. But what does science say?

Scientific Evidence

A pilot study in 2002 conducted on 14 men found an increase in lean body mass and muscle strength after taking 100mg/day of tongkat ali for 5 weeks. They also experienced reduced body fat and increased muscle size. [11]

However, later studies could not replicate the results of the pilot study. 12 athletes ingested 150mg/day of tongkat ali for 7 days, but failed to show significant improvements in running or cycling endurance in the fitness test. [12]

Verdict: From the existing research, it appears that tongkat ali’s role in improving your exercise performance is insignificant. More research should be done in this aspect of the herb so we could draw a better conclusion.

So, Should I Start Taking Tongkat Ali? 

There are some support in the scientific world to some of the benefits of tongkat ali, so it wouldn’t hurt to try it out if you feel that it could help your current situation.

Beware of Fakes

However, you need to be aware that there are lots of fake products out there claiming to include tongkat ali as its principal ingredient but in fact consists of illegal substances. And once the authorities catch up with these unscrupulous producers, they just change the packaging and name of the product, so it’s really hard to figure out which is legitimate and which isn’t. [13]

Police checking out the fake tongkat ali coffee | Source: thestar.com.my
Police checking out the fake tongkat ali coffee | Source: thestar.com.my

Just last month, police seized 40,000 sachets of fake tongkat ali premixed coffee in Sabah, so do your homework before you purchase.

How to Choose Tongkat Ali Products

1. Research the producer

Google them. Find out if they’re legitimate, if their claims hold water, and if their business is sound (with proper certification etc).

2. Choose the right extract for you

The standard dosage of tongkat ali is usually 200-300mg of a 100:1 extract, usually taken in 1-2 doses in a day. However, there are no current scientific evidence supporting appropriate dosages, and it all depends on a myriad of factors including your age, health, and other conditions. We suggest speaking to your doctor and pharmacist about your interest in tongkat ali and see what they recommend.

Sidenote: Check the dosages in the bottles of tongkat ali coffee and other casual products in the supermarket as too low a dose won’t make a difference.

 3. Don’t buy it off random Facebook posts by random Facebook users

You never know where the products are coming from, if they’re using fake herbs or even if they could cause severe health issues.

Remember, just because tongkat ali is a natural herb doesn’t mean you can ingest as much of it as you want. Cyanide is natural too.

_____

Tofu, tempeh, and seitan are all products that can be used in place of meat. They’re all delicious, but very different and can be used in a variety of ways. Let’s break it down.

Tofu

Also known as bean or soya curd, tofu is a soft, cheese-like food made of condensed soy milk pressed into tight blocks and mixed with nigari. While this product can be rather bland, tofu easily absorbs flavors of other ingredients, such as spices. Tofu has been a staple in Asian countries for more than 2,000 years!

Because of its versatility, tofu can be used in a multitude of dishes to make vegan versions of omelets, desserts, cheeses, and smoothies! Today, you can buy tofu in the produce section of many stores, and a variety of companies use it to create delicious vegan alternatives.

Cooking with tofu is not as scary as you think! Check out these simple tofu chilaquiles!

Seitan

Also known as wheat gluten, seitan first appeared during the sixth century as an ingredient in Asian cuisine and has been a common meat substitute for more than a thousand years.

Traditionally, seitan was the product of rinsing and cooking wheat dough to remove the starch, leaving a protein-dense substance that turned out to be an excellent meat alternative. Today, you can buy ready-made seitan at the store, and a variety of companies, including GardeinTofurky, and Upton’s, use it to create delicious mock meats.

You can also buy “vital wheat gluten” at most natural food stores. This powder is easily transformed into a dense, delicious meat waiting to be added to your favorite recipes. Seitan easily takes on the flavors of your favorite seasonings. It’s also protein-packed (60 grams per cup!), cholesterol-free, and low-carb.

And to sweeten the deal, it’s super affordable and relatively easy to prepare!

Tempeh

This Indonesian staple, made by fermenting soybeans in banana leaves until a firm, earthy patty forms, has been a common meat substitute since around the 12th century. Tempeh contains more protein (31 grams per cup!) and dietary fiber than tofu, and its mild nutty flavor works great in a wide array of recipes.

Today, tempeh is readily available in a variety of brands, and you can buy it unseasoned and season it to your liking! Ready to get started cooking with tempeh? These Chesapeake tempeh cakes are sure to please!

Activated charcoal is a potent natural treatment used to trap toxins and chemicals in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t reabsorb them. It’s made from a variety of sources, but when used for natural healing, it’s important to select activated charcoal made from coconut shells or other natural sources.

One of the most popular activated charcoal uses is for the safe and effective treatment of poisoning and drug overdoses. It’s used in emergency trauma centers across the world. In addition, it’s used to reduce bloating and gas, lower cholesterol, treat bile flow problems safely during pregnancy, and even prevent hangovers.(1)

Research shows that activated charcoal works better than stomach pumping (gastric lavage) in some situations.(2)

How Does Activated Charcoal Work?

Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in its millions of tiny pores. Typically, however, it’s not used when petroleum, alcohol, lye, acids or other corrosive poisons are ingested.

It doesn’t absorb the toxins, however. Instead it works through the chemical process of adsorption. In the body, absorption is the reaction of elements, including nutrients, chemicals and toxins, soaked up and assimilated into the blood stream. Adsorption is the chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface.

The porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative electric charge that causes positive charged toxins and gas to bond with it. The nooks and crannies in activated charcoal are created through a heating process. It’s important to note that activated charcoal is not charcoal used in your barbecue grill! Barbecue charcoal is loaded with toxins and chemicals, and should never be consumed.

Top 10 Activated Charcoal Uses

Whenever you take activated charcoal, it’s imperative to drink 12-16 glasses of water per day. Activated charcoal can cause dehydration if adequate amounts of water aren’t consumed in tandem. In addition, this helps to flush out the toxins quickly and prevents constipation experienced by some individuals.

In addition to being a safe and effective treatment for poisonings and the removal of toxins from the system, additional activated charcoal uses include deodorizing and disinfecting, and it’s an important step to cure Lyme disease. Here are the top 10 activated charcoal uses:

1. Whitens Teeth

Have your teeth become stained from coffee, tea, wine or berries? Activated charcoal helps whiten teeth while promoting good oral health by changing the pH balance in the mouth, helping prevent cavities, bad breath and gum disease.

It works to whiten teeth by adsorbing plaque and microscopic tidbits that stain teeth. This activated charcoal use is cost-effective and an all-natural solution for a bright smile.

BE CAREFUL, it can (and will) stain grout and fabrics. Protect counters, floors and clothing before using.

To whiten your teeth naturally, wet a toothbrush and dip into powdered activated charcoal. Brush teeth as normal, paying special attention to areas showing the most staining. Sip a bit of water, swish through mouth thoroughly and spit. Rinse well, until spit is clear.

For best results, brush your teeth with activated charcoal two-three times per week.

Note: If you have crowns, caps or porcelain veneers, it’s possible that activated charcoal will stain them. In addition, if your teeth become sensitive, quit using it. <

2. Alleviates Gas & Bloating

One activated charcoal use often overlooked is to alleviate uncomfortable gas and bloating. It works by binding the gas-causing byproducts in foods that cause discomfort.

A study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that activated charcoal prevents intestinal gas following a typical gas-producing meal.(4)

Dosing recommendations to alleviate gas and bloating: Take 500 milligrams one hour prior to a typical gas-producing meal, with a full glass of water. Follow with an additional glass of water immediately thereafter to help get the charcoal into your system, where it can bind with gas-producing elements.

3. Treats Alcohol Poisoning & Helps Prevent Hangovers

While activated charcoal does not adsorb alcohol, it does help quickly remove other toxins from the body that contribute to poisoning. Alcohol is rarely consumed in its pure form; mixers that include artificial sweeteners and chemicals are common. Activated charcoal removes these toxins.

In addition, when activated charcoal is taken at the same time as alcohol, some studies show it can significantly reduce blood alcohol concentrations.(5)

Princeton University’s First Aider’s Guide to Alcohol indicates that activated charcoal is administered in some situations related to alcohol.(6) This includes if the individual is unconscious or showing signs of acute alcohol poisoning.<

4. Mold Cleansing

Most people don’t think about mold living in their bodies, but it can. Toxic mold causes depression, kidney and liver failure, decreased brain function, heart disease, eye irritation, headaches, vomiting, impaired immune system function, and severe respiratory distress.

Homes that have flooded, or even those with small leaks under a sub-floor or in the walls, can create an environment where mold can thrive. Poor ventilation contributes to the problem, and bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms are particularly prone to mold growth.

If there is visible mold in your home, it must be mitigated properly. It’s important to wear gloves and a protective mask to keep from inhaling toxic mold during cleanup. Baking soda, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and borax can be used to clean mold off hard surfaces and keep mold from growing in the future.

If you or your family experience symptoms including wheezing, rashes, watery eyes, coughing or headaches that aren’t explained in other ways, your home should be evaluated for mold spore levels, even if no visible mold is detected. It can thrive behind drywall, under floors and in ventilation ducts.

5. Water Filtration

Activated charcoal traps impurities in water including solvents, pesticides, industrial waste and other chemicals. This is why it’s used in water filtration systems throughout the world. However, it doesn’t trap viruses, bacteria and hard-water minerals.

According to a study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, activated carbon filters (activated charcoal), removes some fluoride. (7) Avoiding fluoride and detoxing from it is important for oral health, proper immune system functioning, and healthy kidneys and liver.

Drinking water is essential to good health; however, typical tap water is toxic and laden with chemicals, toxins and fluoride. Ingestion should be limited whenever possible. Activated charcoal water filters are available for whole-home systems, as well as countertop models. Drink eight-10 glasses of pure water per day to help soothe the digestive tract, fight fatigue, keep organs operating, and provide lubrication for joints and tissues.

6. Emergency Toxin Removal

As mentioned above, one of the most common activated charcoal uses is to remove toxin and chemicals in the event of ingestion. Most organic compounds, pesticides, mercury, fertilizer and bleach bind to activated charcoal’s surface, allowing for quicker elimination, while preventing the absorption in the body.

Activated charcoal is also used in the event of an accidental, or purposeful, overdose of many pharmaceutical drugs and over-the-counter medications. It’s effective for aspirin, opium, cocaine, morphine and acetaminophen. It’s important that the proper amount is administered as quickly as possible — definitely within an hour of ingestion.

In the event of poisoning, call 911 immediately. Proper dosing is imperative. According to the University of Michigan Health System, 50 to 100 grams (not milligrams!) is used in cases of poisoning in adults and 10 to 25 grams for children.(8)

In addition, activated charcoal can be used in cases of food poisoning when nausea and diarrhea are present. Adults take 25 grams at onset of symptoms or when food poisoning is suspected, and children should be given 10 grams. Increase dosage as necessary. Remember, it’s essential that adequate water is consumed when activated charcoal is taken. <

7. Skin And Body Health

Activated charcoal uses extend beyond internal applications. For external treatments, it’s effective at treating body odor and acne and relieving discomfort from insect bites, rashes from poison ivy or poison oak, and snake bites.

After a mosquito bite or bee sting, mix one capsule of activated charcoal with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil, and dab on affected area. Reapply every 30 minutes until itching and discomfort are gone. As activated charcoal stains nearly everything it touches, wrap with a bandage.

To treat bites from snakes and spiders, including the Brown Recluse or Black Widow, you want to cover a larger area than just a small bandage, as the bacteria and viruses that lead to tissue damage need to be mitigated quickly.

Create a wrap out of fabric that’s big enough to go around the affected area twice. Dab the mixture of coconut oil and activated charcoal on the fabric, and wrap. Secure with bandages. Reapply every two to three hours, rinsing well between applications.

To treat acne, mix one capsule of activated charcoal with two teaspoons of aloe vera gel, and smooth over face. Let dry and rinse off completely. The activated charcoal binds with environmental toxins and dirt that contribute to acne. It’s also good for spot treatments.

8. Digestive Cleanse

Activated charcoal uses help promote a healthy digestive tract by removing toxins that cause allergic reactions, oxidative damage and poor immune system function. By removing the toxins from your system, you can reduce joint pain, increase energy and increase mental function.

Environmental factors, including pesticides on food, chemicals in the water we drink and exposure to mold, create a toxic burden in our bodies. It’s important to routinely cleanse the digestive tract to support overall health and wellness. To complete a digestive cleanse with activated charcoal, take 10 grams 90 minutes prior to each meal, for two days.

During the cleanse, eat only organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meat, and wild fish. If during the cleanse you find you are constipated, this is a sure sign you’re not consuming enough water! Drink a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon and a touch of honey every half hour until constipation is relieved.<

9. Anti-Aging

Activated charcoal uses include helping prevent cellular damage to kidneys and liver, as well as supporting healthy adrenal glands. It’s imperative to cleanse toxins and chemicals routinely from the body. Activated charcoal benefits major organs by helping the body flush out the toxins and chemicals that cause the damage.

Aging is a natural part of life, but due to the toxic load we are exposed to through food, our homes and workplaces, and our environment, to prevent pre-mature aging we must get rid of them.

For this activated charcoal use, take two capsules per day after exposure to nonorganic foods, heavy metals or after contact to other toxins. This supports better cognitive function, a reduction in brain fog, healthier kidney and liver function, and a healthier digestive tract.

10. Reduces High Cholesterol

Studies around the world show that activated charcoal reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol as much as some prescription medications. In one study, total cholesterol decreased by 25 percent, LDL cholesterol decreased by 41 percent, while HDL increased by 8 percent — in just four weeks.(9)

Study participants took three doses of eight grams each for the period of the study. As mentioned below, don’t take activated charcoal within 90 minutes to two hours of taking any prescription medication or supplements as it can prevent proper absorption.

Activated Charcoal For First Aid

I recommend activated charcoal as a part of first aid kits, both at home and at work.(3) In the event of an emergency where toxins, drugs or chemicals are ingested, it’s imperative to call 911 immediately. If you have activated charcoal on hand, be sure to tell the operator; the operator may advise to administer it prior to the first responder’s arrival.

Depending on the amount of toxins or chemicals ingested and types of toxins, multiple doses may be required. At the hospital, physicians are able to administer more as needed.

Activated Charcoal Side Effects

For the activated charcoal uses mentioned here, it’s generally deemed safe for most individuals. However, it’s always good to be aware of any medical conditions such as intestinal bleeding or blockages, holes in the intestines, chronic dehydration, slow digestion, or a recent abdominal surgery, as they may affect how activated charcoal reacts in your body.(10)

Additionally, activated charcoal can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, supplements and interfere with prescription medications. Take activated charcoal 90 minutes to two hours prior to meals, supplements and prescription medications. Potential adverse interactions with the following drugs can occur:(11)

  • Naltrexone (used for alcohol and opioid dependence)
  • Acrivastine
  • Bupropion
  • Carbinoxamine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Meclizine
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Morphine Sulfate Liposome
  • Mycophenolate Mofetil
  • Mycophenolic Acid
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Suvorexant
  • Tapentadol
  • Umeclidinium
  • Acetaminophin
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Theophylline

BUY FOOD GRADE ACTIVATED CHARCOAL

TIPS On Buying Activated Charcoal

When selecting activated charcoal for any of the uses above, it’s vital that you know what it’s made from. Not all activated charcoal supplements are created equally.

Look for activated charcoal made from coconut shells or identified wood species that have ultra-fine grains. In the powdered form, many products have added artificial sweeteners to make them more palatable; avoid these.

Nature’s Way Activated Charcoal is a brand I trust. This Premium Coconut Activated Charcoal also comes highly recommended. Click on the links to buy.

How To Use Activated Charcoal

  • Activated charcoal is great for removing toxins but it is not meant for long-term use.
  • Take activated charcoal at least two hours away from your medicines or supplements.
  • Use activated charcoal as soon as you realized the ingestion of toxins.
  • Add about 1 teaspoon of activated charcoal powder into an 8-oz glass of water, stir and drink. Repeat as necessary but no more than twice a day.

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Thank you Sara Ding for this article and she is also he founder of Juicing-for-Health.com.

There are a lot of types of fasts being promoted right now, like water fasting, dry fasting, juice fasting, intermittent fasting and more. But with so many different beliefs and theories being promoted, there’s also a lot of confusion.

When fasting is done right, it can be a very helpful healing tool, but so often the way it’s done prevents true healing. So I want to offer some guidance and make sure you understand the safest way to fast for your constitution and circumstances.

Before we move into the details of different fasts, it’s important to understand how your body—and especially your liver—works. Read Liver Rescue: Answers to Eczema, Psoriasis, Diabetes, Strep, Acne, Gout, Bloating, Gallstones, Adrenal Stress, Fatigue, Fatty Liver, Weight Issues, SIBO & Autoimmune Disease for advanced healing information that explains the liver’s role in detoxification and health in far more detail than an article can. The book is an important foundation for anyone looking to cleanse, fast or invest in their health.

What Fasting Means For Your Liver

Your liver is an intelligent and powerful organ. It has a critical job of processing and disarming the many toxins we inherit and encounter in our modern world: toxic heavy metals, undiscovered strains of viruses and bacteria, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, solvents, plastics, pesticides, everyday household chemicals and more.

Your liver works to capture those toxins and hold onto them in order to keep them from floating around in your bloodstream and harming your heart, brain, central nervous system and other organs. When the circumstances are right and your liver is able to detoxify, it releases these toxins so they can be eliminated ideally through your urine and bowel movements.

In Liver Rescue I talk about how the liver doesn’t like to be pushed. It’s like a child standing on the diving board for the first time working up the courage to jump when she’s ready. If someone sneaks up and suddenly pushes that child from behind, trust is broken. And, she’s going to be more wary about getting back up on that board to jump again.

The same thing happens to your liver if it’s pushed into detoxifying through an unsafe or harsh fast. An inappropriate fast forces your liver to release too many toxins at once. When the toxins flood the bloodstream, the kidneys and bowel can still only eliminate a small portion at a time. The rest floats around in the bloodstream.

This sudden barrage of poison in the bloodstream causes two kinds of problems. First, the toxins can wreak havoc on your pancreas, spleen, nervous system, brain and heart. Second, the spillover puts your liver in a state of alarm, so the organ works on overdrive trying to gather up and seal in the toxins once more. It’s exhausting to your liver, which makes it harder for it to heal later and potentially more reluctant to release toxins in the future. After all, like the child who was pushed off the diving board and now fears jumping off, the liver that was pushed might hold tighter to the toxins in the future (which means the liver itself becomes increasingly toxic).

When Not to Fast

One important thing to know about fasting is that doing it right takes preparation. If your liver is really toxic, it’s not the time to do a fast. If you’ve been eating a standard American diet, a lot of animal products, or a high fat, high protein diet, or if you haven’t been eating many fruits and vegetables, it’s not a good idea to do a fast. Even if you’ve been eating a clean diet for a long time but you’ve inherited poisons or been exposed to a lot of chemicals or pathogens, it’s also best to not jump into a fast right away.

Fasting should also be avoided by people who have a weaker or sensitive constitution, which is the result of an overload of pathogens and toxins in the body (see Liver Rescue for more information), and by people who have nervous system problems, adrenal issues or a heart that isn’t that strong.

In all of these cases, instead of doing something intense like a fast, you’re much better off making continual, gradual changes. This way, your liver can safely and continually flush out toxins. With time, you’ll clean things up to the point where you’re ready to consider a fast.

Where to Begin for Safe Cleansing

A great place to start is by drinking lemon water upon waking and then 30 minutes later drinking 16 ounces of straight celery juice. Start avoiding the foods that feed pathogens, including gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and canola oil. It’s also important to avoid pork. Anyone who wants to cleanse and heal can help their body by lowering their fat intake, whether it comes from healthy or unhealthy sources (although the unhealthy sources are best to reduce or eliminate first.) The lower your fat intake, the easier your liver can detoxify and heal and the more prepared you will be to do a smartly designed fast when the time comes.

If you don’t think you eat much fat, consider how much protein you consume. Protein-rich foods such as eggs, beef, chicken, soy products, nuts, and others are inherently high in fat also. Continually eat better and better, so your liver can adapt to the changes over time.

After you’ve cleaned up your diet with these suggestions, then you’ll be at a point where you can consider the 28-day cleanse I describe in my book Medical Medium, or the 90-day cleanse in Thyroid Healing, or the Liver 3:6:9 Cleanse from Liver Rescue. All of these cleanses are designed to work perfectly in harmony with the body’s needs, not to push the liver in an unproductive and harmful way like most cleanses and diets out there, and are based on plenty of delicious foods to still give your body the nourishment it needs to heal.

At some point, your body will be cleared out enough and nutritionally fortified enough that you can try a fast. For some people, it may even take a year or two of drinking celery juice and following my food guidance or cleanses to get to the point where you’re ready. At that time, here’s what you need to know:

Water Fasting

Water fasting is what it sounds like—it means you ingest water only, and no food. Short term water fasting is a helpful tool for some people in some circumstances. But it is definitely not for people who haven’t gotten to a point where their bodies are already pretty well cleaned out and who have healthy levels of nutrients in their bodies.

At that point, if you want to water fast, it should typically only be done for one to two days. It’s critical you stay well hydrated and drink plenty of water during that time. It’s also really important to stay home, get lots of rest and take it easy during a water fast. Weekends are a good time to try it. Driving around or doing physical work is not safe. When you’re water fasting, you can suddenly get a dizzy spell, experience a big blood sugar drop or feel weak.

The other thing to know is that people can easily become addicted to water fasting. Once they go two or three days, sometimes they don’t want to stop. They want to do four days and then five and it can become hard to break the addiction. On a water fast, people can sometimes experience moments of clarity and euphoria because of the adrenaline that’s released during water fasting so they want to keep going. Be careful. It’s better to do water fasts periodically—even once a month if you wish—but only for a couple days versus doing a longer water fast.

Unfortunately, a lot of people try a water fast because they’re sick. They’ve often been sick for a while, are nutritionally deficient as a result and have viruses in their system (learn more about the many undiscovered strains of viruses that cause hundreds of different illnesses and symptoms, including autoimmune conditions, in Thyroid Healing and Medical Medium).

Under these conditions (or for people who try to water fast too long), the fast weakens the immune system. That allows the viruses that made people sick in the first place to proliferate, so people end up getting sicker as a result. Many people who fast, including fasting experts, don’t understand what’s really happening, and they mistakenly attribute the illness surge as a sign of detoxification.

People who have neurological problems should definitely stay away from water fasts. It’s too hard on the central nervous system and can weaken it greatly. That means water fasting is not for you if you experience issues like anxiety, depression, headaches, migraines, chronic fatigue, restless legs syndrome, fibromyalgia, back pain, ringing in the ears, tremors, twitches, bad nerve pain or burning sensations. People who have neurological issues also typically take longer, maybe a couple of weeks, to recover from a water fast.

If you’re interested in water fasting, I recommend reading Liver Rescue before you get started. It’ll give you a great background on what’s happening in your body and what you need to do to cleanse and prepare your body so you can fast safely when the time is right.

Dry Fasting

Here’s what you need to know about dry fasting: Never do it. Ever. Dry fasting is when you don’t eat or drink anything, not even water. This is traumatizing and harmful to your body and brain. It fills your bloodstream with so many poisons you can nearly go into sepsis. The toxins spill out of the liver but they don’t get flushed out of the body. Dry fasting is incredibly destructive for your liver, kidneys, nervous system and brain—it actually kills brain cells.

Juice Fasting

Juice fasting, which is when you only consume juice, can be a good choice. But again, as with water fasting, you need to be prepared. You need to have spent enough time drinking daily celery juice and lemon water, eliminating the foods that feed pathogens, lowering your fat and animal product intake and eating lots of fruits and vegetables. These steps will get your body cleansing on their own. Then, as I mentioned earlier, you can try the Liver 3:6:9 Cleanse from Liver Rescue and/or the 28-day cleanse I describe in Medical Medium. These cleanses are safe and effective and can even become your permanent way of life if you wish.

Then you may be ready for a juice fast. But take it easy—don’t jump into a long-term juice fast. It can put too much pressure on your liver. It’s also important that you don’t drink only green juices (like kale, spinach and celery) that lack carbohydrates. One reason you need to include some carbohydrates is to slow down your cleanse. And again the purpose of that is so that your liver doesn’t get forced into dumping too much poison into your bloodstream at once. Also, the fruits you would include as part of your juices contain important nutrients that will nourish your body and also support your adrenals as you cleanse.

Include at least one of the following carbohydrates in at least one juice per day: apples, cucumbers, pears, oranges and watermelon. Including these carbohydrates also protects your brain because it needs the glucose, or natural sugar, from these fruits to keep from getting injured during a fast.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is when you limit the number of hours you eat over a day, usually by waiting to eat until later in the day. I support this for certain people for a period of time in some circumstances. Some people feel like it’s not helpful to eat right away in the morning because their digestive system can’t handle it yet. In this case, I recommend people drink lemon water (with some raw honey if possible) and even celery juice if they can in the morning and then wait until maybe 11 a.m. for their first snack. Or, some people can go a little while longer if it feels right. Then later in the afternoon and in the evening they eat their meals.

This can be a helpful method for people who have an inflamed intestinal tract or hypersensitive nerves in the lining of their stomach, duodenum and small intestinal tract. For these people, any time they eat, it rubs and hurts. They may feel better if they wait half a day to eat, and it gives their digestive tract a rest. If that’s you and it feels better, you can try intermittent fasting for a while. Just remember it’s not a long-term way to eat. Rather, it’s something you may need to do for a month or for six months or so but it’s then important to return to eating frequently so you can properly care for and give your adrenals, brain, liver and the rest of the body the critical glucose they need.

You can read more about why it’s important to eat frequently in the Adrenal Fatigue article on the blog. To give your body the best support possible, consider grazing on snacks like these Adrenals snacks every two hours. Eating something every couple or few hours is especially helpful for people who have issues with their adrenals, blood sugar, nervous system or liver.

Moving Forward in Health

I highly recommend you check out Liver Rescue before doing any fasts so you can get more guidance on doing it safely. This will protect you for the long haul and help you heal. Sometimes people who have done a fast that didn’t truly serve their body in the past “hit the wall” in terms of their health and mental clarity years later because their brain runs out of glycogen storage (which an unhealthy fast dramatically accelerates). In these cases they usually don’t even know what they lost by doing the fast, and they never restored themselves afterward. Trying to “fast-track” your health with a fast usually backfires.

One other red flag to watch out for is fasting programs that include herbs and tinctures that have alcohol in them. Any kind of alcohol kills the beneficial internal bacteria and microorganisms in your gut. If a program sells products with alcohol, it’s important to avoid it.

Another piece of information that’s missing from many fasts is the importance of proper recovery. It’s so critical for your health and healing that you take the time to build yourself back up afterward. This is something I cover more in Liver Rescue as well, but one of the best ways to recover is to continue drinking a lot of straight celery juice every day. This will protect and restore your brain, liver and entire body. Take your time as you ease back into eating. Stick with fresh fruits, leafy greens and vegetables and their juices for a period until you feel you have adjusted back to consuming solid food. This could be a good time to do another round of the 28-day cleanse in Medical Medium.

I hope this information helps you to know whether fasting is right for you at this time and to make the best decision for your health.

Kimchi health benefits includes providing probiotics that help promote digestion, boosting immunity, providing fiber to the body, aid in weight management, assists in diabetes management, rich source of vitamin A, detoxifies the body, cures eczema, helps prevent asthma attack, helps prevent ulcers, improves skin quality, help fight cancer, and promotes healthy heart.

What is Kimchi?

Kimchi is among the oldest traditional dishes originating in Korea, which has been around as early as 37 BC – 7 AD. Its name is derived from ‘shimchae,’ meaning ‘salting of vegetables.’ Kimchi was cited in antique journals dating back thousands of years ago. At present, kimchi is a national dish in Korea and is among the leading food trends worldwide. There are several different recipes for preparing kimchi, but all have vegetables and seasonings in common such as the napa cabbage, Korean radish, cucumber, scallion, red chili paste, red pepper powder, and so forth.

Kimchi goes through a fermentation process inside tightly sealed jars ranging from days to months. During this process, the taste, texture, and nutritional quality of kimchi drastically changes and improves; hence, the escalating popularity of the napa cabbage as a ‘superfood.’ More and more people outside Asian countries are starting to realize that apart from kimchi’s distinctive and exotic flavor, the spicy dish holds a list of health benefits as well.

Nutrition Info of Kimchi?

Calories 33.9
Carbohydrate 7 g
Dietary Fiber 0.8 g – 3% RDA
Omega-3 fatty acids 25.6 mg
Omega-6 fatty acids 137 mg
Protein 1.1 g – 2% RDA
Vitamin A 805 IU – 16% RDA
Vitamin C 4.4 mg – 7% RDA
Vitamin E 0.5 mg – 2% RDA
Vitamin K 7.5 mcg – 9% RDA
Thiamin 3% RDA
Riboflavin – 2% RDA
Niacin 0.6 mg – 3% RDA
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg – 5% RDA
Folate 29.5 mcg – 7% RDA
Pantothenic Acid 0.1 mg – 1% RDA
Choline 2 mg
Calcium 22.2 mg – 2% RDA
Iron 0.7 mg – 4% RDA
Magnesium 12.4 mg – 3% RDA
Phosphorus 20.1 mg – 2% RDA
Potassium 84.2 mg – 2% RDA
Sodium 781 mg – 33% RDA
Zinc 0.2 mg – 1% RDA
Copper 0.1 mg – 3% RDA
Manganese 0.2 mg – 9% RDA
Selenium 1.4 mcg – 2% RDA

13 Surprising Health Benefits of Kimchi

13 Surprising Benefits of Kimchi

1. Kimchi Provides Probiotics that Help Promote Digestion

Kimchi has a gamut of gut-friendly bacteria just like yogurt. The process of fermentation of the spicy napa cabbage not only enhances the flavor, but also develops probiotics that promote gut integrity. Probiotics thrive off the glucose molecules present in the vegetables. The longer it ferments, the more probiotics develop.

Although different bacteria are involved during the fermentation process, probiotic bacteria remains more prevalent while other bacteria types are suppressed owing to kimchi’s presence of garlic, ginger, and the overall salting of cabbage, which ensures kimchi is safe from pathogenic bacteria.

Repopulating your gastrointestinal tract with good bacteria prevents digestive disorders and promotes regular bowel movements. Kimchi is also rich fiber, which is vital for proper digestion and fluent peristaltic movement of food along the intestines. Furthermore, probiotics eliminate harmful bacteria in the stomach that causes inflammation and indigestion. Moreover, fermented foods such as kimchi treat constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and leaky gut syndrome.

2. Kimchi Helps Boost Immunity

Probiotics promote a healthy digestive system, which in turn stimulates better assimilation of nutrients that promotes proper body functions and strengthens the body’s responses against infections. In addition to probiotics, kimchi contains garlic, red peppers, and ginger that are notable for their benefits for the immune system. Red pepper exhibits anti-carcinogenic and anti-bacterial properties, which also helps prevent spoilage in kimchi. Garlic, on the other hand, promotes longevity by lowering inflammation and fighting off viruses. Lastly, ginger helps relax intestinal muscles, fights bacteria, and aids in the faster healing of intestinal ulcers. Furthermore, the cabbage exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The cruciferous vegetable detoxifies feature biochemicals that effectively flushes out toxins and heavy metals from the liver and kidneys.

3. Excellent Source of Fiber

Kimchi is comprised of herbs, spices, and mostly vegetables, which are high in fiber that is both satiating and ideal for overall health. Cabbage, its main ingredient, is high in fiber yet low in calories and carbohydrates. People whose regular diet includes fiber-rich foods such as vegetables are less prone to diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and digestive problems. Fiber-rich foods also help you eat less since it absorbs water and makes you feel full.

4. Aids in Weight Management

Eating kimchi is a nutritious and delicious way to lose weight. According to studies, consumption of probiotic foods such as kimchi reduces food cravings and helps with appetite regulation. Studies suggest that a healthy microbial ecosystem within the stomach is the new holistic approach in treating obesity. Kimchi is a low-fat and low-calorie food, but high in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

Fiber alone provides a satiating feeling and enables slow gastric emptying so you won’t have to prevent the need to snack. Moreover, the thermogenic effects of kimchi’s hot red pepper flakes helps boost metabolic function and contributes to weight loss. Many speculated that the reason why Korea has a low overweight population is due to their diet of vegetables and fermented foods.

5. Assists in Diabetes Management

Studies suggest that kimchi is beneficial to diabetic patients. Diabetics are susceptible to a long list of health complications such as a poor gastro-intestinal tract. Probiotics help restore a healthy flora in the gut and reduce the chances of diabetes diarrhea that may cause dehydration. Probiotics also curb sugar cravings and help lower blood sugar levels.

6. Rich in Vitamin A

Every 100 g serving of kimchi provides 16% of the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that plays a vital role for maintaining sharp eyesight, normal neurological functions, healthy skin, and so forth. As an antioxidant, vitamin A provides immune support, fights inflammation, and scavenges free radicals that may cause macular degeneration.

7. Detoxifies the Body

Our bodies are exposed to pollutants, UV damage, toxins, and other harmful chemicals every day. Harmful chemicals can be acquired through water bottles, canned foods, and more. Fortunately, kimchi contains a gamut of antioxidants that help flush out toxins that may lead to hormonal imbalance, negative neurological effects, and so forth.

8. Cures Eczema

Probiotics present in kimchi not only strengthens gut integrity, but also extends its effects on the skin. The good bacteria in kimchi help suppress inflammation.

9. Helps Prevent Asthma Attacks

Kimchi has anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent asthma attacks. Asthma is a respiratory condition, but also has strong ties to an allergic reaction to food and allergens.

10. Helps Prevent Ulcers

Kimchi contains lactic acid bacteria that produce dextrin, an anti-microbial compound that inhibits bacterial growth such as the H. pylori, a type of bacterium that is associated with several types of gastric ulcers. Pathogenic bacteria enter our body through the food we eat; hence, eating kimchi minimizes the possibility of such bacteria from spreading.

11. Improves Skin Quality

A poor complexion is an indication of vitamin A deficiency, but a diet high in antioxidants slows down skin aging naturally and effectively. Kimchi is rich in vitamin A, which promotes faster wound healing and skin renewal. As mentioned earlier, vitamin A promotes healthy skin. It is essential in formation of epithelial skin cells and glycoproteins that help cells connect together to form tissues. In addition, vitamin A fights acne and assists collagen and elastin production so skin stays supple and smooth.

12. Cancer Fighting Food

Kimchi is a cancer-fighting food since its ingredients contain powerful antioxidants, phenols, and flavonoids that protect the body against oxidation through inhibiting reactions promoted by oxygen or peroxides. Garlic, cabbage, radishes, ginger, scallions, and red peppers all feature an array of antioxidants and exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, which are all beneficial in the prevention of chronic diseases that are linked with oxidative stress.

Antioxidants are natural scavengers that erect a protective barrier against oxidative damage while reversing the damages caused by these free radicals. In addition, studies suggest that capsaicin, which is found in red peppers, minimizes the probability of lung cancer development while allicin, another compound present in garlic, helps prevent thyroid, stomach, and liver cancer.

13. Promotes Heart Health

Garlic, which is among kimchi’s list of ingredients is rich in allicin and selenium. Allicin, on one hand, is notable for its cholesterol-lowering effects; hence, reducing the probability of cardiac disorders. Likewise, selenium prevents fatty deposits from forming within artery walls and reduce the threat atherosclerosis.

Conclusion

Kimchi is an exotic dish that is deeply entrenched in Asian history. It is the Korean soul food contrary to America’s milkshake or Italy’s pizza. However, the popularity of this strong, spicy dish has spread far from its place of origin. More and more people are now eating kimchi for its flavor and health benefits. In fact, it is among the leading trending foods worldwide. You may have heard of it from friends, but it would be best to have your own jar of kimchi so you can experience yourself its amazing flavor and health benefits.

In this post we take look at the top ten reasons for eating fermented foods. To find out what these exciting and compelling reasons are, read on!


Fermented foods are becoming a hot topic, and for good reason. They bring a host of health benefits to the table (literally).  There are so many amazing reasons to eat fermented foods, so we decided to compile the top ten for you.

By now most of us probably have heard about some of the benefits associated with fermented foods, and get the idea that we should include some in our diet.

But, if you want to get super pumped to start eating some fermented foods asap, read this list of 10 reasons why you should eat them. Because folks, there are some amazing benefits that fermented foods can hold, which are not always on your typical list article.

The most common benefit tied to fermented foods is their probiotic qualities. The fact that fermented foods are a source of probiotics is by now common knowledge. However, to really appreciate how valuable this is, we are going to take a deep dive into how this can work to boost your body in far reaching ways.

Fermented foods have been described by Mind Body Green as one of the cheapest ways to do something big for your health and well being. And after compiling this researched list, we can’t agree more with them.

So, are you ready to get the low down on the 10 awesome reasons why you need to eat fermented foods? Let’s get started!

#1 Your Gut Health Will Increase

It is now becoming well known that fermented foods can dramatically boost your gut health. Fermented foods are teaming with probiotic bacteria, the same ones which live in our digestive tracts.

The role of the probiotic bacteria in our digestive tracts is massive. They cover the entire surface of the digestive channel, from mouth to anus, and do most of the work associated with the digestive system. The bacteria are responsible for the proper absorption of food, the efficient elimination of waste, and a lot more. If they are out of whack, this can result in a number of minor or chronic issues.

Therefore, if you supplement your gut with fermented foods and the probiotics in them, this can have the capacity to upgrade your digestive tract, clear any digestion and waste elimination issues. Which means that you can expect to enjoy heightened nutrient uptake, fewer toxins and less waste hanging around, and regularity in the bathroom department.

When talking probiotics and fermented foods, an automatic question is whether or not fermented foods are as strong as probiotics in supplement form. There is not too much data out there on this, however there is one set of findings that is pretty astounding. Dr Mercola and his team had a sample of fermented vegetables lab tested for probiotic strains. And he states that “when we had the vegetables tested, we found that in a four- to six-ounce serving there were literally 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, or about 100 times the amount of bacteria in a bottle of high-potency probiotics.”

This is pretty impressive, and if Dr Mercola’s lab tests are accurate, then probiotic foods can actually be a lot more potent than over the counter probiotics.

# 2 You May Enjoy Brighter & Calmer Moods

No, fermented foods are not a drug. But they do help the body to produce the right neurochemicals!

Science has discovered that there is a direct link between the digestive system and the brain. The term for this is the gut brain axis. To put it very basically, the gut is responsible for sending signals to the brain and vice versa. And, what’s more, the gut is responsible for the production of the neurochemicals that our brains needs.

Neurochemicals play a key role in mood regulation, and are highly important to the function of the brain and the way in which it reacts to circumstances and stimuli.

If one’s gut bacteria levels are down, then there is a possibility that this might be affecting the production of neurochemicals.

Which is why studies are saying the boosting probiotic levels through eating fermented foods can play a role alleviating depression and anxiety.

# 3 You May Sleep Better

Sleep can be hard to fit in, in these busy times, and lying awake or having a restless night is simply the worst. It leaves one feeling groggy, slow, hungry the whole day, and emotions can wear thin.

But, the good new is that if one suffers from mild but annoying sleep problems, eating ferments foods may help. According to Dr Ellen Vora, one of the first foods you should be eating to optimism your sleep, is fermented foods. This is thanks to the gut brain connection, and the role that the probiotic bacteria play in conjunction with the brain and its neurochemicals. In layman’s terms, if the gut is in a state of inflammation, this will send stress signals to the brain.

And, as we all know, feeling stressed out is not conducive to great sleep. Which is why, supplementing with and eating fermented foods, can have a positive effect on your zzzz’s and may result in deeper sleep that leaves you refreshed and energized in the morning.

# 4 Your Immune System Will Get Stronger

Another key area which eating fermented foods can benefit, is the immune function of one’s body. Science has now established that roughly 80% of our immune system resides in our gut. And part of this is comprised directly out of the naturally occurring gut bacteria.

Therefore studies are now concluding that including fermented foods into one’s diet can dramatically boost one’s immune system, as well as one’s digestive tract.

The benefits of this is two fold, because not only will your immune system be stronger, but also, because of this one is likely to experience fewer colds and flues and other viral infections. These types of infections are taxing to the body, and it has to use resources to fight off the viruses once they take hold. If the body is relatively free from infections optimum health can be more easily achievable.

# 5 You Skin Will Benefit

Internal health is very important for glowing skin. So much so that glowing skin is an external indication of good health. And one of the reasons why it is so attractive!

Fermented foods have been proved by studies to hold anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation is the enemy when it comes to skin. Dermatologists have singled it out as playing a key role in many skin issues.

So by supplementing your body with fermented foods, and thereby getting a steady stream of probiotic bacteria into your system, you will be potentially reducing skin harming inflammation. Hello dewy glow!

Additionally, because a healthy gut means better nutrient absorption, if you eat fermented foods regularly, you will probably take up increased levels of vitamins and minerals. Good levels of vitamins and minerals are also key to a healthy and radiant skin, so its a win win.

# 6 Your Food Cravings May Get Healthier

How’s that for an awesome added bonus to enjoy from eating fermented foods? Science is revealing that hunger signals and food cravings are created in the gut by the bacteria there, and then picked up by the brain as an impulse.

An example of this is the sugar and carb cravings associated with a candida overgrowth. Candida is a naturally occurring bacteria in the gut. However if other species are deficient, it can grow into this space. Eventually it can dominate the gut biome and cause serious problems.

When candida is in dominance in the gut, it sends out the signal to the brain for what it wants to eat. And that is carbs and sugar. Candida thrives on simple sugars. And, it actually has the power to direct the body to eat more of what will support its growth.

Ingesting fermented foods will work to augment and balance your gut biome. And through this, you stand a good chance to start experiencing healthier food cravings. Balance gut, balanced food cravings.

# 7 Healthy Weight Loss Can Become Easier

Before we go on, let’s just make one thing clear. Fermented foods are not some panacea for overnight weight loss. And we are in no way advocating that people turn to fermented foods simply as a weight loss option.

However, the role that fermented foods can play in a healthy weight loss plan are quite exciting.

Firstly, fermented foods increase gut health and through this optimize digestion. This can lay the ground for easier weight loss. Secondly, a healthy gut also means better waste and toxin elimination. Excess waste and toxins hanging around in the body can contribute to water and fat retention. Studies have revealed that the body has the tendency to lock up hard to eliminate toxins in fat cells. The body may even create additional fat cells for this purpose. And be slow to let them go, as they are acting like storage units for the harmful toxins.

In short, optimizing one’s gut with fermented foods, can lead to toxins being more easily excreted. This could allow the body to create fewer fat cells. And, potentially be able to break down those that were created for toxin isolation.

# 8 Fermented Foods Are Naturally Low Carb

During fermentation, the probiotic bacteria that drive the process, feed on sugars and carbohydrates. These are the ones present in the foods that one is fermenting. They convert the sugars into lactic acid, which is a naturally occurring compound found in certain foods.

So essentially, during the fermentation process, a large portion of the sugars present, are swapped out by the bacteria for lactic acid. The lactic acid is what makes fermented foods tart.

Generally the sugars and carbs in the types of food that we ferment are not unhealthy. However maybe you are on a mission to reduce as many carbs and sugars out of your diet. In that case you will be happy to know that fermented food is automatically low carb.

# 9 Fermented Foods Are Ultra Cost Effective

Fermented foods are an incredibly budget friendly way to boost your health. Fermented foods are the cheapest and most cost effective way to supplement with probiotics. Store bought probiotic supplements tend to be pretty pricey. In comparison, fermented foods are much much lower in terms of price point.

Buying live fermented foods is not that pricey, although it is usually a little more expensive than pasteurized versions. However if you compare the cost to supplements, it is minute in comparison. And, you get something to eat!

If you choose to make your own ferments, such as kefir, kombucha or fermented vegetables, then you can reduce the costs even further.

To break it down, kombucha requires only water, sugar and tea. Kefir requires only milk, and for fermented vegetables all you need is some vegetables, salt and water. None of these are expensive items, in fact, they are some of the cheapest!

# 10 Fermented Foods Can Help To Eliminate Environmental Toxins

Environmental toxins are hard to avoid. Unless one lives high up in the Himalayas, you probably come into contact with a fair amount of environmental toxins. And there is not much that one can do about it.

Which is why this particular ability of ferment foods is so valuable. Studies have now revealed that the probiotic bacteria have the ability to bind to certain environmental toxins. They then assist to excrete them while protecting the body from taking up the toxins. The findings of one study done in 2016, showed that probiotic bacteria in the gut were able to ‘bind to, but not metabolize, organophosphate pesticides and reduce intestinal absorption in vitro’. Which means that if enough bacteria are present, one might ingest pesticides but be protected from the absorption of them.

The probiotics in fermented foods also have the power to assist the body in eliminating heavy metals. Considering that heavy metal toxicity is difficult for one to treat, this is quite ground breaking. A study published in 2012 stated that:

Lactobacilli and potentially other bacterial types used in the food industry or as probiotics are ideal organisms to use as an adjunct tool to prevent/reduce heavy-metal toxicity and prevent absorption of metals into the human body.

Final Word

The science is coming in which shows that fermented foods hold a number of far reaching benefits to the body. Better digestion can improve health in multiple and compounding ways. Which may lead to better sleep, better skin, moods, weight loss and a boosted immune system. Research is now also revealing that they might be invaluable in assisting the body in dealing with hard to eliminate environmental toxins. Including heavy metals and pesticides.

The probiotic flora in our bodies can be negatively impacted by a variety of things. From stress, contraceptive pills, chlorinated water, to lack of sleep and exercise. Which means that many of us may have a microbial depletion or imbalance. The more one looks at it, the more eating fermented foods seems like a no-brainer.

Additionally, fermented foods are incredibly cheap when you compare them to over the counter probiotic supplements. While being just as potent, if not more.

In short, eating fermented foods can upgrade you body, digestive system and health and well being, all while on a budget!

Posted on Jan 31st, 2019 by Daniela Klein


When you count all the little folds, the total surface area of our gut is about 3,000 square feet. That’s larger than a tennis court. Yet, only a single layer of cells separates our inner core from the outer chaos. The primary fuel that keeps this critical cell layer alive is a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate, which our good bacteria make from the fiber we eat. We feed the good bacteria in our gut, and they feed us right back. As shown in my video, Prebiotics: Tending Our Inner Garden, our good gut bacteria take the prebiotics we eat, like fiber, and, in return, provide the vital fuel source that feeds the cells that line our colon—a prototypical example of the symbiosis between us and our gut flora.

How important are these compounds that our good bacteria derive from fiber? Researchers have explained that a condition known as diversion colitis “frequently develops in segments of the colorectum after surgical diversion of the fecal stream.” What does that mean? If you skip a segment of the bowel (like with an ileostomy) so food no longer passes through that section, it becomes inflamed and can start bleeding, breaking down, and closing off. How frequently does this happen? It can occur up to 100% of the time, but the inflammation uniformly disappears after you reattach it to the fecal flow.

We didn’t know what caused this. Perhaps it was some kind of bacterial overgrowth or bad bacteria? No, it was a nutritional deficiency of the lining of the colon due to the absence of the fiber needed to create the short-chain fatty acids. This was proven in a study wherein researchers cured the inflammation by bathing the lining in what it so desperately needed: fiber breakdown products. Severe inflammation was gone in just a few weeks, demonstrating that when we feed the good bacteria in our gut, they feed us right back.

It makes sense that we have good bacteria in our gut that feed us and try to keep us healthy—they have a pretty good thing going. Our guts are warm and moist, and food just keeps magically coming down the pipe. But if we die, they lose out on all of that. If we die, they die, so it’s in their best evolutionary interest to keep us happy.

But, there are bad bugs, too, like cholera that cause diarrhea. These have a different strategy: The sicker they can make us, the more explosive the diarrhea, and the better their chances of spreading to other people and into other colons. They don’t care if we die, because they don’t intend on going down with the ship.

So, how does the body keep the good bacteria around while getting rid of the bad? Think about it. We have literally trillions of bacteria in our gut, so our immune system must constantly maintain a balance between tolerating good bacteria while attacking bad bacteria. If we mess up this fine balance and start attacking harmless bacteria, it could lead to inflammatory bowel disease, where we’re in constant red-alert attack mode. Researchers explained, “The mechanisms by which the immune system maintains this critical balance remain largely undefined.” That was true…until now.

If you think about it, there has to be a way for our good bacteria to signal to our immune system that they’re the good guys. There is. And that signal is butyrate. Researchers found that butyrate suppresses the inflammatory reaction and tells our immune system to stand down, so butyrate “may behave as a microbial signal to inform [our] immune system that the relative levels of [good] bacteria are within the desired range.” Butyrate calms the immune system down, saying in effect, “All’s well. You’ve got the good guys on board.” This ultimately renders the intestinal immune system hyporesponsive, (i.e., accommodating) to the beneficial bacteria. But, in the absence of the calming effect of butyrate, our immune system is back in full force, attacking the bacteria within our gut under the assumption that those are obviously not the good ones since butyrate levels are so low.

We evolved to have butyrate suppress our immune reaction, so should our good bacteria ever get wiped out and bad bacteria take over, our immune system would be able to sense this and go on a rampage to destroy the invaders and continue rampaging until there were only good bacteria creating butyrate to put the immune system back to sleep.

But what if we don’t eat enough fiber? Remember, our good bacteria use fiber to create butyrate. So, if we don’t eat enough fiber, we can’t make enough butyrate. We could have lots of good bacteria, but if we don’t feed them fiber, they can’t make butyrate. And when our body senses low levels of butyrate, it thinks our gut must be filled with bad bacteria and reacts accordingly. In other words, our body can mistake low fiber intake for having a population of bad bacteria in our gut.

Our body doesn’t know about processed food—it evolved over millions of years getting massive fiber intake. Even during the Paleolithic period, humans ingested 100 grams of fiber a day. So, on fiber-deficient Western diets (Spam on Wonder Bread, anyone?), when our body detects low butyrate levels in the gut, it doesn’t think low fiber. As far as our body is concerned, there’s no such thing as low fiber. So, instead, it thinks bad bacteria. For millions of years, low butyrate has meant bad bacteria, so that’s the signal for our body to go on the inflammatory offensive. That’s one reason why fiber can be so anti-inflammatory and one of the reasons it’s said that “[f]iber intake is critical for optimal health.”

It’s important to note that we’re not referring to fiber supplements here, but whole plant foods. Fiber supplementation with something like Metamucil may “not replicate the results seen with a diet naturally high in fiber.”

Written By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM on March 6th, 2018

When you count all the little folds, the total surface area of our gut is about 3,000 square feet. That’s larger than a tennis court. Yet, only a single layer of cells separates our inner core from the outer chaos. The primary fuel that keeps this critical cell layer alive is a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate, which our good bacteria make from the fiber we eat. We feed the good bacteria in our gut, and they feed us right back. As shown in my video, Prebiotics: Tending Our Inner Garden, our good gut bacteria take the prebiotics we eat, like fiber, and, in return, provide the vital fuel source that feeds the cells that line our colon—a prototypical example of the symbiosis between us and our gut flora.

How important are these compounds that our good bacteria derive from fiber? Researchers have explained that a condition known as diversion colitis “frequently develops in segments of the colorectum after surgical diversion of the fecal stream.” What does that mean? If you skip a segment of the bowel (like with an ileostomy) so food no longer passes through that section, it becomes inflamed and can start bleeding, breaking down, and closing off. How frequently does this happen? It can occur up to 100% of the time, but the inflammation uniformly disappears after you reattach it to the fecal flow.

We didn’t know what caused this. Perhaps it was some kind of bacterial overgrowth or bad bacteria? No, it was a nutritional deficiency of the lining of the colon due to the absence of the fiber needed to create the short-chain fatty acids. This was proven in a study wherein researchers cured the inflammation by bathing the lining in what it so desperately needed: fiber breakdown products. Severe inflammation was gone in just a few weeks, demonstrating that when we feed the good bacteria in our gut, they feed us right back.

It makes sense that we have good bacteria in our gut that feed us and try to keep us healthy—they have a pretty good thing going. Our guts are warm and moist, and food just keeps magically coming down the pipe. But if we die, they lose out on all of that. If we die, they die, so it’s in their best evolutionary interest to keep us happy.

But, there are bad bugs, too, like cholera that cause diarrhea. These have a different strategy: The sicker they can make us, the more explosive the diarrhea, and the better their chances of spreading to other people and into other colons. They don’t care if we die, because they don’t intend on going down with the ship.

So, how does the body keep the good bacteria around while getting rid of the bad? Think about it. We have literally trillions of bacteria in our gut, so our immune system must constantly maintain a balance between tolerating good bacteria while attacking bad bacteria. If we mess up this fine balance and start attacking harmless bacteria, it could lead to inflammatory bowel disease, where we’re in constant red-alert attack mode. Researchers explained, “The mechanisms by which the immune system maintains this critical balance remain largely undefined.” That was true…until now.

If you think about it, there has to be a way for our good bacteria to signal to our immune system that they’re the good guys. There is. And that signal is butyrate. Researchers found that butyrate suppresses the inflammatory reaction and tells our immune system to stand down, so butyrate “may behave as a microbial signal to inform [our] immune system that the relative levels of [good] bacteria are within the desired range.” Butyrate calms the immune system down, saying in effect, “All’s well. You’ve got the good guys on board.” This ultimately renders the intestinal immune system hyporesponsive, (i.e., accommodating) to the beneficial bacteria. But, in the absence of the calming effect of butyrate, our immune system is back in full force, attacking the bacteria within our gut under the assumption that those are obviously not the good ones since butyrate levels are so low.

We evolved to have butyrate suppress our immune reaction, so should our good bacteria ever get wiped out and bad bacteria take over, our immune system would be able to sense this and go on a rampage to destroy the invaders and continue rampaging until there were only good bacteria creating butyrate to put the immune system back to sleep.

But what if we don’t eat enough fiber? Remember, our good bacteria use fiber to create butyrate. So, if we don’t eat enough fiber, we can’t make enough butyrate. We could have lots of good bacteria, but if we don’t feed them fiber, they can’t make butyrate. And when our body senses low levels of butyrate, it thinks our gut must be filled with bad bacteria and reacts accordingly. In other words, our body can mistake low fiber intake for having a population of bad bacteria in our gut.

Our body doesn’t know about processed food—it evolved over millions of years getting massive fiber intake. Even during the Paleolithic period, humans ingested 100 grams of fiber a day. So, on fiber-deficient Western diets (Spam on Wonder Bread, anyone?), when our body detects low butyrate levels in the gut, it doesn’t think low fiber. As far as our body is concerned, there’s no such thing as low fiber. So, instead, it thinks bad bacteria. For millions of years, low butyrate has meant bad bacteria, so that’s the signal for our body to go on the inflammatory offensive. That’s one reason why fiber can be so anti-inflammatory and one of the reasons it’s said that “[f]iber intake is critical for optimal health.”

It’s important to note that we’re not referring to fiber supplements here, but whole plant foods. Fiber supplementation with something like Metamucil may “not replicate the results seen with a diet naturally high in fiber.”

By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM on March 6th, 2018

Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy, which is a form of alternative medicine.

However, some of the health claims associated with them are controversial.

This article explains what you need to know about essential oils and their health effects.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants.

The oils capture the plant’s scent and flavor, also called its “essence.”

Unique aromatic compounds give each essential oil its characteristic essence.

Essential oils are obtained through distillation (via steam and/or water) or mechanical methods, such as cold pressing.

Once the aromatic chemicals have been extracted, they are combined with a carrier oil to create a product that’s ready for use.

The way the oils are made is important, as essential oils obtained through chemical processes are not considered true essential oils.

Bottom Line: Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and flavor, or “essence,” of their source.

How Do Essential Oils Work?

Essential oils are most commonly used in the practice of aromatherapy. They are either inhaled, or diluted then rubbed on the skin.

Essential oils are not meant to be swallowed.

The chemicals in essential oils can interact with your body in a number of ways.

When applied to your skin, some plant chemicals are absorbed (1, 2).

It’s thought that certain methods can improve absorption, such as applying with heat or to different areas of the body. However, research in this area is lacking (3, 4).

Inhaling the aromas from essential oils can stimulate areas of your limbic system, which is a part of your brain that plays a role in emotions, behaviors, sense of smell and long-term memory (5).

Interestingly, the limbic system is heavily involved in forming memories. This can partly explain why familiar smells can trigger memories or emotions (6, 7).

The limbic system also plays a role in controlling some unconscious physiological functions, such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. Some people claim that essential oils can exert a physical effect on your body in this way.

However, this has yet to be confirmed in studies.

Bottom Line: Essential oils can be inhaled or applied to the skin. They may stimulate your sense of smell or have medicinal effects when absorbed.

Popular Types

There are more than 90 types of essential oils, each with its own unique smell and potential health benefits.

Here’s a list of 10 popular essential oils and the health claims associated with them:

  • Peppermint: Used to boost energy and help with digestion.
  • Lavender: Used for stress relief.
  • Sandalwood: Used to calm nerves and help with focus.
  • Bergamot: Used to reduce stress and improve skin conditions like eczema.
  • Rose: Used to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
  • Chamomile: Used for improving mood and relaxation.
  • Ylang-Ylang: Used to treat headaches, nausea and skin conditions.
  • Tea Tree: Used to fight infections and boost immunity.
  • Jasmine: Used to help with depression, childbirth and libido.
  • Lemon: Used to aid digestion, mood, headaches and more.

Bottom Line: There are over 90 commonly used essential oils, each associated with certain health claims. Popular oils include peppermint, lavender and sandalwood.

Health Benefits of Essential Oils

Despite their widespread use, little is known about the effectiveness of essential oils in treating health conditions.

Here’s a look at the evidence for some of the common health problems that essential oils and aromatherapy have been used to treat.

Stress, Anxiety and Depression

It has been estimated that 43% of people who have stress and anxiety use some form of alternative therapy to help with their condition (8).

Regarding aromatherapy, initial studies have been quite positive. Many have shown that the smell of some essential oils can work as a complementary therapy to treat anxiety and stress (9, 10, 11).

However, due to the scents of the compounds, it’s hard to conduct blinded studies and rule out biases. Because of this, many reviews on the stress- and anxiety-relieving effects of essential oils have been inconclusive (12, 13).

Interestingly, using essential oils during a massage may help relieve stress, although the effects may only last while the massage is taking place (14).

A recent review of over 201 studies found that only 10 were robust enough to analyze. It also concluded that aromatherapy was ineffective at treating anxiety (15).

Headaches and Migraines

In the ’90s, two small studies found that dabbing a peppermint oil and ethanol mixture on participants’ foreheads and temples relieved headache pain (16, 17).

Recent studies have also found positive effects against headaches when applying peppermint and lavender oil to the skin (18, 19).

It has also been suggested that applying a mixture of chamomile and sesame oil to the temples may effectively treat headaches and migraines. This is a traditional Persian headache remedy (20).

However, more high-quality studies are needed on this.

Sleep and Insomnia

Smelling lavender oil has been shown to positively affect the sleep quality of women after childbirth, as well as patients with heart disease (21, 22).

One review examined 15 studies on essential oils and sleep. The majority of studies showed that smelling the oils (mostly lavender) had positive effects on sleeping habits (23).

Reducing Inflammation

It has been suggested that essential oils may help fight inflammatory conditions. Some test-tube studies show that they have anti-inflammatory effects (24, 25).

One mouse study found that ingesting a combination of thyme and oregano essential oils helped induce the remission of colitis. Two rat studies on caraway and rosemary oils found similar results (26, 27, 28).

However, very few human studies have examined the effects of these oils on inflammatory diseases. Their effectiveness and safety are unknown (29, 30).

Antibiotic and Antimicrobial

The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has renewed interest in the search for other compounds that can fight bacterial infections.

Essential oils, such as peppermint and tea tree oil, have been investigated extensively in test tubes for their antimicrobial effects. In fact, they have shown some positive results (31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39).

However, while test-tube study results are interesting, they do not necessarily reflect what’s happening within your body. They don’t prove that a particular essential oil could effectively treat bacterial infections in humans.

Bottom Line: Essential oils may have some interesting applications for health. However, more research is needed in humans.

Other Uses

Essential oils have many uses outside of aromatherapy.

Many people use them to scent their homes or freshen up things like laundry.

They are also used as a natural scent in homemade cosmetics and high-quality natural products.

It has also been suggested that essential oils could provide a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to man-made mosquito repellents, such as DEET.

However, results of their effectiveness have been mixed.

Studies have shown that some oils, such as citronella, may effectively repel certain types of mosquitoes for around 2 hours. Protection time may be extended up to 3 hours when it is used in combination with vanillin.

Despite this, no oils have been as effective as DEET at preventing bites from all species of mosquito for long periods of time (40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45).

The properties of essential oils also indicate that some of them could be used industrially for extending the shelf life of foods (39, 46, 47, 48).

Bottom Line: Aromatherapy isn’t the only use for essential oils. They can be used in and around the home, as a natural mosquito repellent or industrially to make cosmetics.

How to Choose The Right Essential Oils

Many companies claim that their oils are “pure” or “medical grade.” However, these terms aren’t universally defined and therefore hold little weight.

Given that it is an unregulated industry, the quality and composition of essential oils can vary greatly (49).

Keep the following tips in mind in order to choose only high-quality oils:

  • Purity: Find an oil that contains only aromatic plant compounds, without additives or synthetic oils. Pure oils usually list the plant’s botanical name (such as Lavandula officinalis), rather than terms like “essential oil of lavender.”
  • Quality: True essential oils are the ones that have been changed the least by the extraction process. Choose a chemical-free essential oil that has been extracted through distillation or mechanical cold pressing.
  • Reputation: Purchase a brand with a reputation for producing high-quality products.

Bottom Line: High-quality oils only use pure plant compounds extracted by distillation or cold pressing. Avoid oils that have been diluted with synthetic fragrances, chemicals or oils.

Safety and Side Effects

Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Plants and herbal products contain many bioactive compounds, which may be harmful to your health in some cases. Essential oils are no different.

However, when inhaled or combined with a base oil for use on your skin, most essential oils are considered safe.

Nevertheless, they may cause some side effects (50):

  • Rashes.
  • Asthma attacks.
  • Headaches.
  • Allergic reactions.

While the most common side effect is a rash, essential oils can cause more serious reactions, and they have been associated with one case of death (51).

The oils that have most commonly been associated with adverse reactions are lavender, peppermint, tea tree and ylang-ylang.

Oils that are high in phenols, such as cinnamon, can cause skin irritation and shouldn’t be used on the skin without first being combined with a base oil.

Eating essential oils is not recommended, as it could potentially be harmful and in some doses fatal (52, 53).

Very few studies have examined the safety of these oils for pregnant or breastfeeding women, which are usually advised to avoid them (54, 55, 56, 57, 58).

Bottom Line: Essential oils are generally considered safe. However, they may cause serious side effects for some people, especially if applied directly to the skin or ingested.

Take Home Message

Essential oils are generally considered safe to inhale or apply to the skin, as long as they’ve been combined with a base oil. They should not be eaten.

However, the evidence for many of the health claims is lacking, and their effectiveness is often exaggerated.

For minor health problems, using essential oils as a complementary therapy is probably ok.

But if you have a serious health condition or are taking medication, you should discuss their use with your doctor.

The “Day of Silence” in Bali, known as Nyepi Day, that occurs on March 17, 2018, is an occasion unique to any other in the world. If you’re planning a trip to Bali this year, you’ll want to read up on the details of Nyepi and how it affects you as a visitor. At Blue Karma Resort, we’re happy to help with the details below.

NYEPI: WHAT HAPPENS ON THE YEARLY DAY OF SILENCE

Nyepi is a New Year celebration, but it’s not the kind of party you’d expect—it’s pretty much the opposite. During this Bali Day of Silence, for 24 hours beginning at 6am, all normal activities cease.

Traffic stops on the Bali roads. Locals don’t venture outside of their area. No activities continue or ensue. Even lights are left off as it gets dark outside. Patrol men known as pecalang can be seen in the streets during Nyepi making sure the rules are followed and enforced. The day is taken very seriously!

The day is an opportunity to relax, sit in meditation or thought, and also to give the Mother Nature a day of rest and rejuvenation from human beings.

Papier-mache statues known as ogoh-ogoh are made in the weeks before Nyepi and displayed in the streets and in meeting halls throughout Bali. These statues are intricately built to look like mythical beings. Their purposes are to purify the environment around them.

PREPARING FOR NYEPI

The night before Nyepi, New Year’s Eve, is the complete opposite of the New Year Day, full of noise and celebration.

Each household in Bali performs blessings at their family temple and chases away forces known as bhuta kala by making lots of noise, banging pots and pans in the home, and lighting bamboo torches. The ogoh-ogoh statues are manifestations of these spirits.

Anyone walking out into the streets on Nyepi Eve, which starts about 7pm, would see and hear firecrackers, parade processions in the streets, and bamboo cannons going off.

WHAT BALI GUESTS CAN AND CAN’T DO FOR NYEPI

Don’t expect to travel to Bali on Nyepi Day, as transportation and the airport stops along with everything else. Whether you’re coming or going, back sure your travel day is not on March 17th if you’re travelling in 2018. The following year’s dates are:

  • March 7, 2019
  • March 24, 2020
  • March 14, 2021
  • March 3, 2022
  • March 22, 2023
  • March 11, 2024
  • March 29, 2025

If you’re staying at a Bali hotel for Nyepi, prepare to stay within your hotel premises during the entire Silent Day. You don’t have to participate in every aspect of Nyepi, such as leaving all lights off (unless you would like to), and can enjoy the hotel offerings as before.

However, any normal activities around the island, including restaurants, bars, and beaches, won’t be happening. It’s a great opportunity to participate in the Silent Day! Kick back and enjoy the soothing sounds of Bali or open up that book you’ve been meaning to read.

Blue Karma Resort is happy to accommodate you during your trip to Bali this year, whether or not you’re here during Nyepi. Our staff are friendly and eager to ensure your stay provides a luxurious experience of Bali culture and everything it has to offer. Check out our conveniently-located hotel in both Ubud and Seminyak to book a stay today!

The north of Thailand is blanketed by rolling green hills and rice fields, while the south blooms in abundance with tropical fruits and vegetables.

Visitors to Thailand often laud the country for its healthy food — noodle dishes, curries, stir fried vegetables and tofu, and overfilling plates of rice.

These dishes are generally considered healthier as they’re freshly prepared and made with local produce, but if you’ve ever watched a street vendor make your food, you’ll have noticed the copious amounts of oil, salt, sugar, and MSG that cooks add to these dishes.

Moreover, visitors to Thailand may have romanticized ideas of where their food comes from: of farms and homesteads in Thailand, of mangoes and bananas pulled off of a neighbors tree perfectly ripe, of fresh ingredients found in markets that make their way to a kitchen within a day of their picking.

However, the reality is that these fantasies are more often than not oversimplifications of the Thai food industry. Indeed, those searching for organic produce may be quite shocked at the reality behind the fruits and vegetables found in Thailand’s markets and supermarket chains.

While its true that the large majority of fruit and veg is domestically produced and through some channels quite fresh, when investigating the chemical residue lurking on the outside and inside of the produce, we are sent down a rabbit hole that seemingly never ends.

In this post, I explore that rabbit hole.

pesticides thailand

Pesticide Use: Law, Evaluation, Control, Contamination

A major exporter of rice, rubber, corn, tropical fruit, and cassava, Thailand’s farmlands supply many of the world’s countries with bulk produce — so much so that it equates to about $10 billion USD per year.

To meet this demand, the Kingdom relies heavily on pesticides to control insect populations and increase the yield of said crops. In the past, the country has lost nearly 50% of its produce to insect scourges and other threats, so needs must, right?

Over the past ten years, Thailand’s agricultural exports have risen to make up at least 40% of the country’s GDP; therefore the nation’s use of pesticides has exploded exponentially to nearly four times the initial amount.

While this increased use may benefit crop yields, it also threatens the health and safety of this produce and makes it difficult for the government to regulate pesticide use in rural Thai farms.

Chemicals to combat insect infestations and other bacterial threats to crops include herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, plant growth regulators, and other pesticides.

Thailand is fourth out of 15 Asian countries regarding the severity of pesticide reliance, and over-spraying plants has contributed to issues like insect resistance and pest resurgence.

In an attempt to mediate the effects of these hazardous chemicals, the Royal Thai Government has enacted Hazardous Substance Act B.E. 2535 (HSA), which seeks to control the use of these harmful chemicals and reduce the risks of handling pesticides.

Corrosive and explosive chemicals are regulated by the act, as are toxic chemicals, pathogenic substances, radioactive material, and pesticides: in total there are 1,233 substances regulated.

The HSA is used to regulate most hazardous substances used in Thailand. It also seeks to prevent harmful exposure of these chemicals to people and the environment.

As enforcement, the Royal Thai Government created the Hazardous Substance Committee (HSC) to regulate chemical use across the Kingdom. Unfortunately, the targeting of specific (and harmful) chemical groups has negated the efficacy of this regulatory group. In addition, issues arise when pesticide samples are taken and are measured at differing ‘acceptable levels.’

Alarmed that your food contains pesticides at all? Most produce does, even in trace amounts. Many governmental agencies have established a standard called the Maximum Residue Level (MRL), which is the acceptable amount of chemical a food can contain (measured in milligrams of chemical per kilogram of produce) — this is not a safety measure.

In Thailand, it’s not uncommon for MRL values to have conflicting regulation standards, causing mass confusion in the food industry, and allowing for potential mistakes when it comes to the amount of pesticides (and antibiotics, bacteria, mold, micro-organisms, borax, formalin, and toxic coloring) included in foods.

Because of these flawed regulatory measures, an increased amount of pesticides are present in produce, causing import countries to complain about the potential safety of the food (and initiate trade issues).

Levels of Pesticides in Thai Produce

While visitors to the Kingdom may believe that their food is farm-fresh, the implications could be overwhelmingly negative, based on the farmer and their pesticide practices. While MRL regulation is still faltering in some regulatory agencies, those who regularly consume Thai produce are putting themselves at risk.

A non-profit agency, the Thailand Pesticide Alert Network, has reported that nearly 64% of Thai produce exceeds its MRL, and should be deemed unsafe.

On a larger scale, studies found that produce from some provinces in Thailand contained a much higher rate of pesticide residue than their counterparts from developed countries.

After studying Chinese kale, pakchoi, and morning glory, scientists detected pesticides 97-100% of the time, regardless of whether the vegetables were purchased in a local market or in a supermarket.

In addition, researchers found that the pesticide levels in the vegetables exceeded their respective MRL at 35-48% for Chinese kale; 55-71% for pakchoi, and 42-49% for morning glory.

Interestingly, the lower percentage of the range was attributed to supermarket produce; the higher percentage was attributed to local market produce.

On average, there were 28 pesticides used, including aldrin, atrazine, captan, carbaryl, carbofuran, carbosulfan, chlormefos, chlorpyrifos, chlorothanlonil, cypermethrin, deltanethrin, diazinon, dichlorvos, dicofol, chlorpyrifos… the list goes on.

These chemicals can cause a host of issues in those who accidentally come in contact with undiluted concentrations or trace residues, including neurological effects, nervous system malfunctions, kidney damage, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, muscle spasms, a reduced ability to fight infection, birth defects, and damaged reproductive organs.

While these findings are significant, please note that researchers chose produce from certain markets and provinces in Thailand, including Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya, Pathumthani, Samutsakorn, and Nakhon Ratchasima.

Researchers noted that it was difficult to obtain information about the suppliers and their pesticide practices. The study also clarified that the findings were exclusive to three target vegetables and a number of providers in central Thailand. Sample sizes were small, and the study was targeted.

In short, this study cannot be presumed representative of practices all over Thailand.

Farmers Poisoned by Pesticide Use

The sad reality of farming is that many in the industry are poisoned by exposure to these chemical pesticides.

While reported numbers rise into the thousands, scientists from the Ministry of Public Health are hesitant to confirm the veracity of these numbers, as they note that many farmers who fall ill from pesticide use may not report their problems to a local doctor or emergency care center.

While reports from the ‘90s suggest a range of 4,000-5,000 affected, studies indicate that the real number of farmers affected could total nearly 40,000 annually (Ref: ipm-info.org)

One should note at this point that some farmers increase their own risk of being poisoned by not following government guidelines: not using proper protective clothing, over-using pesticides and by using banned pesticides.

The Department of Agriculture concluded in a study that nearly 68% of vegetable farmers in Kanchanaburi were affected by some type of pesticide poisoning. Another study indicates that 90% of Thai farmers are impacted by agricultural chemicals.

A local farmer, Mr. Manit Boonkiaw who grows vegetables in Nonthaburi Province attested to the use of chemicals, saying:

Spraying was carried out all the year. One day I would spray and the next day the crop would be harvested and sent to market. I knew how dangerous that was. I always had headaches and felt dizzy after spraying pesticides, so I never used to eat those vegetables. I used to have a small plot that I didn’t spray; those were the vegetables for our own consumption.

The sobering reality for farmers across the Kingdom is driven by the demand for cheap food and large yields of it. Mr. Boonkiaw continues:

I know a lot of vegetable farmers who would like to reduce the amount of pesticides. They know that pesticides cost a lot of money and are bad for their health, but they are worried about the market situation. The middlemen don’t care about pesticides; they never ask what chemicals have been used. And the consumers want cheap vegetables that look good. They should realize that the good-looking vegetables are often contaminated with dangerous pesticides. If consumers would pay a better price for non-chemical vegetables, a lot more farmers would grow them. (Ref: ipm-info.org)

Organic Vs Safe Food Labelling

While the realisation that pesticide laden foods are affecting both consumers and farmers may lead some to pay closer attention to their produce, it’s not always so easy.

The increase in demand for ‘safe’ foods has resulted in a number of marketing techniques wherein fruits and vegetables are labeled ‘pesticide safe.’

The intention isn’t necessarily to mislead, but studies show people often mistake these foods for ‘organic’ or ‘pesticide free’.

The authorities have set standards for ‘safe’ food that are not as stringent or as regulatory as those deemed ‘organic’, and it doesn’t mean pesticides aren’t present.

‘Safe’ food is tested to make sure that residues are within the MRL, whereas organic produce does not use pesticides at all.

In Thailand, organic food is certified through the Organic Agriculture Certification of Thailand (ACT). Much of the country’s organic goods are produced by Green Net Cooperatives — both initiatives are covered by the Earth Net Foundation, which has a vested role in bringing organic farming to the hills of Thailand.

Their mission is moral, but the progress is slow. Only one out of 5,000 rai of farmland is currently organic.

And while the push for organic is noble, it isn’t always 100% effective. As has been seen in countries in the western world, organic crops are often infected by spraying in adjacent fields. And of course, some growers may not be entirely honest.

In 2016, the Bangkok Post reported that nearly 25% of organic-certified produce had been found to contain some type of pesticide residue. These foods included red chilli, basil, long beans, Chinese kale, Chinese cabbage, morning glory, tomatoes, cucumbers, oranges, guava, dragon fruit, papayas, and mangoes.

Though the organic movement has had some difficulty spurring momentum, the idea of growing food without pesticides is undeniably more healthful and environmentally friendly than the current standard agricultural processes. But the issue lies in educating consumers about the differences between organic, safe, and chemical-free certification standards in order to help the population make healthier choices based on scientific standards and regulatory limits.

Effects of Pesticides on Public Health

Perhaps the most devastating results of pesticide use are the health repercussions for those in close contact with food production or those who routinely consume tainted produce. Among these are the unborn.

Studies have shown that nearly 200,000 children born in Thailand annually to agricultural workers are at risk of exposure to toxic pesticides while still in the womb. Those that do not grow up on a farm are at risk for toxicity through diet, home, and other environmental factors.

Researchers found that women who worked in agricultural occupations were much less likely to consider the use of pesticides as unsafe for either themselves or their developing child. Risk was not mediated because of pregnancy.

In other studies, researchers have looked for health symptoms associated with pesticides from rice farming. These scientists studied blood samples to draw conclusions, and found that rice farmers had an increased difficulty in breathing and experienced chest pain, dry throat, cramps, numbness, diarrhea, and anxiety. The scientists concluded that exposure to pesticides in the rice fields may be associated with illnesses of the respiratory tract, in addition to muscle issues.

Children in farming communities are also not immune to the effects of these harmful chemicals.

Researchers studied children who reside in agricultural areas like Pathum Thani Province, and found that these communities of 6-8 year olds had higher urine levels of organophosphate pesticides than did children who lived in residential areas. An increased presence of this pesticide has serious implications for the future development and health of the child.

Markets vs. Supermarkets

While Westerners generally associate market produce as the ‘healthier,’ and the more ‘natural,’ those living in Thailand would do well to adjust those notions after reading a couple of the aforementioned studies.

It’s easy to consider local, independent sellers to have produce that seems more “organic” because the crops appear to be local and hearty. Often the produce looks very organic because it’ll show obvious signs of pest invasion — for instance, chewed leaves, and even an odd caterpillar.

But, as previously explored in the study regarding Chinese broccoli, the pakchoi, and the morning glory, local markets proved to have higher MRL of pesticides than did supermarket produce.

Pesticide Risk by Province

While certain studies of Thai produce highlight specific provinces or regions of the Kingdom as producing unsafe or potentially harmful produce, it can be helpful to take a step back and view the country as a whole.

In a study that measured the amount of money dedicated to pesticides on each farm annually, scientists were able to map out patterns of pesticide use over the entire country.

Northeastern Provinces averaged 388 Baht of pesticides per farm, annually, while the southernmost tip of the Kingdom averaged 1021 Baht/farm — making it statistically likely that food from these regions is the least contaminated.

Provinces in Central Thailand, averaging 7,094 Baht/farm likely have the most pesticide residue in food, while regions to the north — averaging 3622 Baht/farm — are in the moderate range of pesticide use.

pesticides-map-thailand

Environmental Effects

And of course, no discussion of pesticides would be complete without an investigation of how these chemicals are affecting natural resources, like forests, animals and water.

Pesticides don’t just kill pesky creatures that eat crops; they soak into surrounding ground and kill useful insects that help support the circle of life by pollinating, producing honey/nectar and providing a protein source to other animals.

Harmful chemicals can leak into bodies of water like rivers, irrigation canals, rice paddies, and ponds and kill creatures like fish, frogs, turtles and snakes. As smaller animals are contaminated, larger predators are poisoned after hunting them.

In this way, chemicals are carried up throughout the food chain. The effect of pesticides on animals in Thailand is tangible — the endangered species list contains over 40 species of mammals and over 100 different types of birds.

Organochlorine pesticides – mentioned in the section about children living in farming communities – continue to be an issue as they perpetually contaminate large bodies of water.

There are major levels of these compounds in rivers of Southern Thailand. Effects include endocrine disrupting diseases, like breast, testicular and prostate cancer. Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River has been found to have high levels of these pesticides.

You can read more on this study here. 

Summary & Advice

While it may be counter-intuitive, studies show that shopping for produce at supermarkets over local market stands may help consumers avoid dangerous MRL levels and pesticide contamination.

While the wide use of pesticides has caused concern, there are foods you can buy in Thailand that are generally free from pesticide levels.

For example: Researchers found that pesticide residue in watermelons and durians were significantly lower than these fruits’ recommended MRL level. Previous studies showed that Chinese cabbage was also free of pesticide contaminants.

Health conscious consumers can also avoid toxic pesticides by avoiding off season produce. The head of the Biodiversity Sustainable Agriculture Food Sovereignty Action Thailand group (BioThai) — Kingkorn Narindharakul Na Ayudhaya — noted that those concerned can “mitigate the risk by avoiding off-season and popular legumes.”

Those flocking to supermarkets in hope of finding safe food have a friend in Samrit Intaram, the Manager for The Mall Group (a shopping complex business). Mr. Intaram noted that his company decided to create a market for non-chemical products, using independent testing to determine chemical levels.

After deciding that his stores should only have pesticide-free vegetables, he vowed to buy exclusively from certified organic growers. These growers include farms like Lemon Farm Pattana Cooperatives, who sell food in eight stores around Bangkok.

While organic farming and a safe food practices may just be gaining a foothold in fertile Thailand, be assured, a revolution in food is coming.