Top 10 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

Top 10 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, as well as Indian ginseng and winter cherry, is a small evergreen shrub. It grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa.

Ashwagandha has been used for over 3,000 years in ancient Ayurvedic medicine practices to help relieve stress, increase energy levels, improve concentration and many more benefits. It’s now grown in popularity in the western world over recent years for its various health benefits as well (1).

So, let’s have a look at some of the amazing health properties that Ashwagandha can provide us!

Top 10 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

  1. Balance Blood Sugar
    Ashwagandha can reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes (2, 3)
  2. Treat Cancer
    Ashwagandha can help treat several types of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, brain, and ovarian cancer. The mechanism of action is through inducing apoptosis, which is the programmed death of cancer cells and impeding the growth of new cancer cells (4, 5, 6, 7)
  3. Reduce Stress
    Ashwagandha can help to reduce stress and levels of cortisol by up to 30% in chronically stressed individuals (8)
  4. Reduce Anxiety
    Ashwagandha can assist in reducing anxiety and improving sleep issues (9)
  5. Improve Depression
    Ashwagandha can help reduce symptoms of depression (10)
  6. Improve Male Fertility
    Ashwagandha can help boost testosterone and fertility in men by improving sperm count and sperm quality (11,12)
  7. Improve Body Composition
    Ashwagandha may help improve muscle strength, muscle mass and body composition and reduce body fat percentage (13, 14)
  8. Reduce Pain and Inflammation
    Ashwagandha can reduce inflammation, including inflammatory markers such as natural killer cells and c-reactive protein, and can act as a natural pain reliever (15, 16)
  9. Protect Cardiovascular Health
    Ashwagandha can reduce total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood (17, 18)
  10. Improved Cognitive Function
    Ashwagandha can improve memory, reaction time and attention span for many individuals (19)

Ashwagandha Risks

While it is generally considered safe, large doses of Ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. Liver problems might occur, but this is very rare.

Ashwagandha may also interact with thyroid, blood sugar and blood pressure medications and is not advised to consume when pregnant or breastfeeding. Ashwagandha might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. For this same reason, Ashwaganha is not recommended for people that are on immune suppressant drugs. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using Ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha may slow down the central nervous system. Healthcare providers worry that anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery might increase this effect. Stop taking Ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery (20)

How Do I Take Ashwagandha?

The recommended dosage of Ashwagandha depends on the type of supplement because extracts are more potent than whole Ashwagandha root or leaf powder. So, it is important to follow instructions on labels or seek advice from a qualified health professional. Standardized Ashwagandha root extract is commonly taken in 450–500mg capsules once or twice daily.

You can purchase whole Ashwagandha powder and add in your smoothies or sprinkle on your oatmeal or yoghurt. You can purchase If consuming Ashwagandha as a tea, it can be difficult to determine if you are getting enough to establish a therapeutic dose. However, if you’re just looking for a supportive herbal addition to your diet, tea or Ashwagandha Moon Milk are great options!

For more Ashwagandha supplement options, check out our online dispensary. This is one of our favourites:

If you have taken Ashwagandha in the past, or opt to try it now, come find us over on Facebook or Instagram and let us know how it worked for you!

REFERENCES
1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19633611/
2. https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/withania_review.pdf
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23125505/
4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17003952/
5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17003952/
6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20840055/
7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24046237/
8. https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/withania_review.pdf
9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23439798/
10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23439798/
11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19789214/
12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23796876/
13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26609282/
14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21170205/
15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26397759/
16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19504465/
17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16713218/
18. https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/withania_review.pdf
19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28471731/
20. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-953/ashwagandh

Cauliflower, Kale and Lentil Soup

Cauliflower, Kale and Lentil Soup

Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast

While this hardy soup is a comforting fit on wet or cold days, it is also filled with ingredients that help support your liver. Your liver is responsible for detoxification of toxins that have accumulated in your body. This detox soup recipe has multiple ingredients aimed at supporting liver function.

This soup is filled with hearty cruciferous vegetables, pivotal for supporting the liver. Both cauliflower and kale are in the cruciferous vegetable family, and when consumed research shows that they increase the level of enzymes used by the liver to breakdown toxins (1). This is a required step before toxins can be removed from the body.

Garlic has also been identified as an excellent support for the liver. Garlic contains multiple sulphides, which also have the ability to increase detoxification enzymes in the liver. These enzymes work to breakdown toxins before they can be discarded from the body. As an added benefit, garlic increases glutathione levels, which serves to protect cells from damage from toxins (2).

Don’t forget about olive oil! Small studies have shown that even one daily teaspoon of olive oil improved levels of liver enzymes and resulted in better blood flow to the liver (3). This goes to show that every ingredient counts!

While this recipe instructs to use a stovetop, try using your crockpot or pressure cooker for added convenience!

Did you know that spring and fall are the ideal times to implement a detox? To learn more about when and why to detox, check out our detoxification and cleanse 101 article! Or, you can download your copy of our 1-week Detoxification Meal Plan today!

1-Week Detox Meal Plan

 

  1. Manchali, A., Murthy, K.N.C., & Patil, B.S. (2012). Crucial facts about health benefits of popular cruciferous vegetables. Journal of Functional Foods, 4(1), 94-106. doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2011.08.004
  1. Lushchak, V. (2012). Glutathione Homeostasis and Functions: Potential Targets for Medical Interventions. Journal of Amino Acids, 2012, 736837. doi: 10.1155/2012/736837

 

  1. Sofi, F., Giangrandi, I., Cesari, F., Corsani, I., Abbate, R., Gensini, G.F., & Casini, A. (2010), Effects of a 1-year dietary intervention with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid-enriched olive oil on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease patients: a preliminary study. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 61(8), 792-802. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2010.487480

Cauliflower, Kale and Lentil Soup

While this hardy soup is a comforting fit on wet or cold days, it is also filled with ingredients that help support your liver. Your liver is responsible for detoxification of toxins that have accumulated in your body. This detox soup recipe has multiple ingredients aimed at supporting liver function. 
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 5 servings

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Yellow Onions diced
  • 4 stalks Celery diced
  • 4 Carrots medium, peeled and diced
  • 8 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 head Cauliflower chopped into florets
  • 8 cups Kale Leaves chopped
  • 12 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 4 cups Lentils cooked
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until veggies are softened. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  • Add the cauliflower, kale, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the cooked lentils and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Divide between bowls. Enjoy!

Notes

Nutrition Per 1 Serving:
 
Calories - 426
Sugar - 17g
Fiber - 22g
Carbs - 62g
Fat - 13g
Protein - 22g
What is Chlorella?

What is Chlorella?

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

Chlorella is a type of algae that grows in fresh water. It has long been recognized as a superfood! There are over 30 different species, with the two most commonly researched being Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella pyrenoidosa. Chlorella is typically sold in tablet form or as a powder in health food stores and supplement stores. Chlorella has a strong, earthy flavour that might be described as “green,” to put it nicely… but, the benefits are definitely worth the intense flavour! If you find you don’t enjoy the green taste, you may prefer taking it in tablet form, or mixing it in with fruits and vegetables in a smoothie.

Nutrients in Chlorella

Chlorella is a good source of protein, vitamin A, iron, and zinc. It is one of the few vegetarian foods sources that is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids that we need to consume in our diets. A one-ounce (28g) serving of chlorella contains:

Calories: 115
Carbs: 6.5g
Protein: 16.4g
Fat: 2.6g
Fiber: 0.1g
Vitamin A: 14364 IU
Vitamin C: 2.9mg
Thiamin: 0.5mg
Riboflavin: 1.2mg
Niacin: 6.7mg
Vitamin B6: 0.4mg
Iron: 36.4mg
Magnesium: 88.2mg

Health Benefits of Chlorella

  • Detoxification: Chlorella is great to consume during detox, as it can bind to heavy metals and other toxins, helping to eliminate them from the body. It can also effectively lower the amount of dioxin in the body, an environmental pollutant that accumulates in certain foods. (3)
  • Immune system support: Chlorella helps enhance immune functioning and accelerate wound healing (4). One study suggested that taking chlorella supplements for a short period of time can stimulate the immune system in healthy adults. (5)
  • Cardiovascular health: Chlorella may help lower high blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels. (4)
  • Diabetes: Chlorella may assist in managing blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity, factors in pre-diabetes and diabetes. (6)
  • Antioxidant protection: Chlorella contains multiple antioxidants, which protect against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a phenomenon that occurs when there are more damaging “free radicals” in the body than there are protective antioxidants to neutralize them. Oxidative stress is a contributing factor in end-stage diseases such as cancer development. (6)

Chlorella vs. Spirulina

Chlorella and Spirulina have often been compared to each other. Although they are both forms of algae, with many similar health benefits, they do have unique differences. Spirulina grows in both fresh and salt water, where as chlorella grows only in fresh water. Chlorella also boasts higher levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and vitamin A; while Spirulina contains selenium to support the immune system and thyroid health. However, both are great sources of protein, B-vitamins, and antioxidants, and can be a nutritious addition to the diet.

Precautions

Chlorella is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. With that said, chlorella can cause side effects, especially during the first few weeks of taking it. This includes flatulence, green discolouration of stools, nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

It should also be noted that chlorella may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, and it may not be indicated for those with certain autoimmune conditions or pregnant people due to its ability to stimulate the immune system. Consult your doctor or another qualified health professional before including chlorella in your diet if these apply to you.

How To Use Chlorella

Chlorella can be purchased in tablet, capsule, extract, or powder form. “Broken cell wall” chlorella is recommended, as it has its hard outer shell has been broken open, so the body can better access and absorb the nutrients inside. Powdered Chlorella can be added to smoothies, pesto, or salad dressings for a nutritious boost.

Chlorella Supplements

If you’re more likely to take a chlorella supplement than cook with it, we’ve got you covered!

 

If you try out a chlorella supplement, or our Detox Green Smoothie With Chlorella, come join us over on Facebook or Instagram and let us know what you think!

References:

1)      https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/569428/2

2)      https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2765/2

3)      Nakano S, Takekoshi H, Nakano M. Chlorella (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) supplementation decreases dioxin and increases immunoglobulin a concentrations in breast milk. J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):134-42. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2006.023. PMID: 17472477.

4)      Merchant RE, Andre CA. A review of recent clinical trials of the nutritional supplement Chlorella pyrenoidosa in the treatment of fibromyalgia, hypertension, and ulcerative colitis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001 May-Jun;7(3):79-91. PMID: 11347287.

5)      Kwak JH, Baek SH, Woo Y, Han JK, Kim BG, Kim OY, Lee JH. Beneficial immunostimulatory effect of short-term Chlorella supplementation: enhancement of natural killer cell activity and early inflammatory response (randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial). Nutr J. 2012 Jul 31;11:53. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-53. PMID: 22849818; PMCID: PMC3511195.

6)      Panahi Y, Darvishi B, Jowzi N, Beiraghdar F, Sahebkar A. Chlorella vulgaris: A Multifunctional Dietary Supplement with Diverse Medicinal Properties. Curr Pharm Des. 2016;22(2):164-73. doi: 10.2174/1381612822666151112145226. PMID: 26561078.

Detox Green Smoothie with Chlorella

Detox Green Smoothie with Chlorella

Two Glasses with Detox Green Smoothie

Along with storing some vitamins and minerals, our liver is vital for removing toxins from our body.

Over time our body accumulates both natural and man-made toxins. As our cells are hard at work performing many functions, they produce natural toxins as a by-product. 

At the same time, we are likely consuming man-made toxins (i.e. chemicals) from the air, food, and water we consume. A healthy liver will work to rid our bodies of these toxins, and consuming a healthy diet is important to support the liver in its natural detoxification process.

Cruciferous vegetables have been identified as an important ingredient to support your liver. This category of vegetables includes kale, as found in this recipe. When consumed, it can help increase the enzymes used by the liver to breakdown toxins, which is an important step before toxins can be discarded (1).

One of the specific types of toxins produced by cells and consumed as pollutants, are compounds called free radicals. Free radicals contribute to aging and can exacerbate a number of medical conditions. Our body uses antioxidants to detoxify free radicals. A number of vitamins serve as antioxidants including vitamin A, E, and C (2). Lemon is particularly high in vitamin C and is therefore a great food choice to neutralize free radicals.

Packed with kale and lemon, along with some of our other favourites including cucumber, pear, and ginger – this Detox Green Smoothie is the perfect fit to add to your detox meal plan! Plus, with a 10-minute prep time, this is an awesome recipe to accommodate your busy morning routine.

You can learn more about “detoxing 101“, including key differences between detoxing and cleansing in this article! Or, if you can download your copy of our 1-week Detox Meal Plan today!

1-Week Detox Meal Plan

References:

1. Manchali, A., Murthy, K.N.C., & Patil, B.S. (2012). Crucial facts about health benefits of popular cruciferous vegetables. Journal of Functional Foods, 4(1), 94-106. doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2011.08.004

2. Abdullah, M., Jamili, R.T., & Attia, F.N. (2020). Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid). [Updated 2020 Nov 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499877/

Detox Green Smoothie with Chlorella

Along with storing some vitamins and minerals, our liver is vital for removing toxins from our body. Over time our body accumulates both natural and man-made toxins. As our cells are hard at work performing many functions, they produce natural toxins as a by-product. At the same time, we are likely consuming man-made toxins (i.e. chemicals) from the air, food, and water we consume. A healthy liver will work to rid our bodies of these toxins, and consuming a healthy diet is important to support the liver in its natural detoxification process.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 1 serving

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Banana frozen
  • ½ cup Pineapple
  • ¼ Cucumber
  • Handful Spinach and/or Kale
  • 2 tbsp Hemp Hearts
  • 1 inch Ginger
  • 1-2 tsp Chlorella
  • 1 cup Nut Milk of Choice substitute coconut water

Instructions
 

  • Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blend and enjoy!
Detoxification 101

Detoxification 101

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

Modern living is full of exposures to toxins. These toxins are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the products we put on our skin, and the chemicals we use to clean our homes. We are constantly exposed to toxins.

The human body has an amazing ability to detoxify itself through various mechanisms. The liver is our main organ of detoxification. It is a very resilient organ that filters toxins or metabolites out of our blood, transforms them into less harmful substances, which then allows them to be purged from the body.

In modern day, people often look at “detoxes” and “cleanses” as a “quick fix” to lose weight, feel better, and have more energy and we often hear these words being used interchangeably but is there a difference between a detox and a cleanse? And do they actually work?

What Is The Difference Between A Detox And A Cleanse?

Detox” and “cleanse” are frequently used interchangeably, but when it comes down to it, these processes serve two different purposes. A cleanse refers to supporting existing pathways, in essence “opening up doorways” within the body, such as the bowel and urinary system. A detox, on the other hand, refers to liberating and removing toxins at a deeper level, such as those stored in our cells or fat deposits.

Cleansing is regulated by the nervous system and detoxifying is regulated by our endocrine system. Cleanses are more of an ongoing lifestyle approach, where as detoxes are a short-term purpose-driven approach.

What Is A Cleanse?

Simply put, a cleanse is the naturally stimulated elimination of waste products. It is a way to help open the exit channels or “doorways” that naturally eliminate toxins from the body. The channels that help to do this includes:

  • Bladder (urine)
  • Bowel (stool)
  • Skin (sweat)
  • Lungs (exhale)

There are multiple cleansing strategies that can be used to support natural elimination, such as: adequate clean water intake to help usher out toxins through the bladder; probiotics and fiber to help ensure regular and healthy bowel motion to excrete toxins through our stools; skin brushing, sweating, and sauna, to help with releasing toxins through the skin; and deep breathing, belly breathing, or yoga to help expel toxins from the lungs.

Castor oil packs are another great cleansing tool and can be used on different parts of the body. It helps move the lymphatic system, places the body into the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), which is optimal for the body to detoxify and repair! Plus, it helps stimulate peristalsis and pooping!

In addition to toxins, a cleanse aims to remove everything from fecal matter to parasites and fungi stuck in your system. It can also help to purge unhealthy gut bacteria and replace them with more beneficial bacteria.

What Is A Detox?

Detoxification, or “detox” is a process of removing toxins from inside individual cells, and focuses on metabolic pathways to do this. Detoxification helps to make toxins non-toxic or less toxic, and able to be cleansed out of the body. Detoxification typically involves individual cellular structures, the liver and kidneys, some mucus membranes, and even the brain.

The tools that can assist in supporting detoxification usually include various vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants that are needed as cofactors to help the liver breakdown toxins through its phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification pathways. Sometimes herbs, phytochemicals and neutriceuticals can be used to help liberate buildup toxins that have been stored deep down in our cells causing us problems.

A typical detox diet could involve a period of fasting, followed by a strict diet of fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, and water. Sometimes a detox also includes herbs, teas, supplements, and colon cleanses or enemas.

When Would You Do A Cleanse Or Detox?

Are you experiencing signs and symptoms that your nervous system, endocrine system or immune system are not working well together? These three systems all help to remove the build-up of excess toxins from the body. If you are struggling with various skin, digestive issues, or fatigue – it may be your body crying out for a “bath”, so to speak. Remember, symptoms are just your body’s language to tell you things are out of balance

The human body naturally detoxifies itself more efficiently in the spring and fall. So, those are the ideal times for implementing a cleanse and/or detox, to help synchronize with your body’s natural rhythms during these seasons.

Is It Safe To Do A Cleanse Or Detox?

The goal of a detox is similar to the goal of a cleanse, but they don’t work in the same way.

The most important factor to remember is that you SHOULD NOT do a detox until all your “exit doors” (bowel, bladder, lungs and skin) are all functioning well and are “open”. It is imperative to ensure all “doorways” are open prior to attempting a detoxification. Liberating toxins with a detox, before addressing the body’s ability to release those toxins through the “exit doorways”, can be more dangerous that doing nothing. In short, when your body releases stored toxins from the cells, they need to be expelled from the body. If your exit pathways are not working well, then these toxins released from the cells can circulate around the body causing more harm and damage than if they’d been left in “storage”. This could completely mitigating any potential positive gains from a detox. Not ensuring exit doors are open can lead to constipation, severe headaches, rashes, fatigue, brain fog, and more.

Your body also needs to be in a parasympathetic state (a calm and relaxed state) and not sympathetic state (fight or flight response, such as when we are stressed). Stress inhibits our ability to detoxify and cleanse. For example, if we are stressed we are less likely to have a bowel motion. So, incorporating deep breathing, mediation, yoga and other stress management techniques are crucial to optimize any cleansing or detox experience.

As we detox, we may go through a period of feeling worse before feeling better, so be sure you plan a time to do this when you are not too stressed, will have time to rest, and don’t have too many things on the go.

Who Should Not Do A Detox?

At-risk populations include children, adolescents, older adults, those who are malnourished, pregnant or lactating women, individuals with an eating disorder, and people who have blood sugar issues, such as diabetes. Although it is good practice for anyone to consult a health professional for guidance around cleansing and detoxification, for individuals with the pre-existing conditions such as the above, getting appropriate guidance from your doctor or other qualified health professional is critical.

 

The bottom line is: a detox is not a quick fix. Cleansing and detoxification are natural processes that can be supported through dietary and lifestyle changes. Making small daily adjustments to encourage the body’s natural abilities to continue to detox can be a great start for long-term health and wellness!

If you’re ready to support your body’s detoxification process, you can download your copy of our 1-Week Detox Meal Plan today!

1-Week Detox Meal Plan