Eating is one of life’s great joys. But what follows—digestion—is more work than wonder for your stomach. The stomach functions as a chemical and mechanical pouch solely designed to break down food for absorption. In addition to what the stomach does for digestion, it’s also your main food storage tank.

The stomach is also the first stop after you’ve swallowed food. Unlike other sophisticated organs, like the brain or liver, the stomach is a physical brute. In addition to a muscular lining to pulverize food into smaller pieces, highly acidic gastric juices are created to further dissolve your dinner. What the stomach does is tackle the tough work of preparing nutrients to be absorbed in the intestines.

Your stomach anatomy is unique, which helps it perform three vital food functions:

  • Temporary storage
  • Mixing and breakdown
  • Preparation for nutrient absorption in the intestines

Read on to learn more about how the stomach functions. You’ll also discover the way vitamin B12 and other nutrients are extracted from food, fun stomach facts, and how to care for your digestive system.

Your Stomach Anatomy Helps Accomplish What the Stomach Does in Digestion   

The entire digestive system is one continuous tube connecting your mouth (where food enters) to your anus (where waste is expelled). And your stomach anatomy is best described as an enlarged, pouch-like section of this digestive tube. The muscular, J-shaped organ is found in the upper part of your abdomen on the left side of your torso. At approximately 12 inches long and six inches wide—size may vary depending on the person, sex, build, and how much they’ve eaten—it connects your esophagus to your small intestine.

All digestion starts in your mouth, where food is chewed and combined with saliva. As each bite is sufficiently broken down, a digestive tube opens at the esophagus to allow food to travel to the tip of your stomach. Once there, an esophageal sphincter opens to pass chewed food into the stomach—one of the many key organs for extracting nutrients from your diet. If the sphincter doesn’t work properly, acidic gastric juices can leach into your esophagus which feels unpleasant—to say the least.

Your stomach anatomy is broken into four primary sections:

  • Cardia: Where contents of the esophagus enter the stomach.
  • Fundus: An expanded area connecting the esophagus to the stomach.
  • Body: The main, central region of the stomach.
  • Pylorus: Where digested food is dispelled into the small intestine.

The majority of what the stomach does for food digestion takes place in the organ’s body section, where chewed foods mix with acidic gastric juice and digestive enzymes. This content is churned through a series of muscle contractions called peristalsis. They are vigorous enough to ground solid foods down into a smooth food pulp for easy extraction of nutrients in the intestines.

The inner mucous lining of the stomach contains a series of folds that run its length—from the esophageal to the pyloric sphincters. These folds aid stomach functions by creating pathways for moving the food around and helping in digestion. While the majority of nutrient absorption takes place in your small intestine, the stomach does pull out some water, medication, amino acids, and water-soluble vitamins during its digestive stage.

Your stomach wall is made up of several layers of mucous membrane, connective tissue with blood vessels, nerves, and muscle fibers. Inner stomach lining also has glands that release the three to four liters of gastric juice needed every day to facilitate the absorption of nutrients. Its hydrochloric acid also breaks down food while digestive enzymes split up proteins.

Gastric juice is so virulent to organic matter it’s able to kill bacteria in your digestive system. To protect your stomach from the gastric juices, bicarbonate is produced in the pancreas and the stomach to neutralize the hydrochloric acid. In addition, mucus lines the walls of the stomach to reduce the effects of gastric juices. Once food has been transformed into pulp, the pyloric sphincter opens and pushes the material into your small intestine for further digestion and nutrient absorption. The stomach’s digestive job is done.

The Stomach Functions as a Key Cog in Vitamin B12 Absorption

Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient to keep your body’s nerve and blood cells healthy, while helping support DNA synthesis and red-blood-cell formation. Good sources of B12 are readily available in meats (beef, pork, and fish), eggs, milk, and fortified cereals. B12 is so vital to your body that three to five years’ worth of the essential vitamin is stored in your liver to continue healthy red-blood-cell production and other key functions.

While B12 is primarily absorbed in the small intestine, it can’t be used without first passing through the stomach. During the initial digestion process, B12 is pulled out of food and combined with a cell-recognition protein, called an intrinsic factor, from the parietal cells of the stomach.

Vitamin B12 supports the health of your entire body. This essential vitamin helps keep the body’s nerves and blood cells healthy and helps maintain the mechanisms for making new DNA. And without the digestive assistance from the stomach, the body wouldn’t be able to take on this vital nutrient.

Tips on How to Care for Your Stomach

You’ve learned how the stomach functions. Now let’s explore how you can support optimal stomach health. Caring for your stomach can have overlapping benefits for the rest of your body. And simple lifestyle changes go a long way to promote good stomach health and support your general well-being.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Water is vital for good health, and it is essential at all levels of digestion. Water helps soften food as you chew it, assists with its travel down the esophagus, and creates bulkier yet softer stool for waste removal. Water also aids in the breakdown of foods so your body can absorb the nutrients. Drinking eight glasses of water a day helps your stomach process food and supports proper hydration.

  1. Follow a Regular Eating Schedule

When you eat is almost as important as what you eat. Your body’s circadian clock is an internal biologic timer that coordinates daily behaviors: sleep/wake, hormone release, and heart function. It responds to environmental changes, like light and food, and helps coordinate your circadian rhythms with your surroundings.

When your clock is out of sync, it can negatively affect your health. Your body expects certain fuels (fats, sugars) at specific times of day. Eating at set times allows for proper digestion. Sporadic eating overworks your stomach as it digests food, sometimes causing bloating and indigestion. Studies show eating every 3–5 hours gives your stomach enough time to adequately process your food and fuel your body.

  1. Eat More Fiber

Fiber is a unique type of carbohydrate that’s essential to maintain a healthy weight and support overall health. While most carbohydrates are converted into sugar, fiber passes through your body undigested. It helps to regulate your hunger levels and assists with waste removal, supporting digestive health and overall well-being.

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers are found in oats, peas, beans, carrots, and citrus fruits. Insoluble fibers—wheat bran, nuts, and certain vegetables like cauliflower and potatoes—don’t dissolve in water to help materials move through your digestive tract.

Your stomach muscles and gastric acids break down food. And a diet rich in fiber helps bind the food pulp that’s passed from the stomach into the intestines. Once it reaches your colon, fiber feeds friendly gut bacteria and helps maintain your microbiome.

  1. Chew Your Food

Food is mostly digested in your stomach and intestines, but the process starts the second you take a bite. Chewing breaks down food into smaller pieces. This helps food to travel down your esophagus (to avoid choking) and assists your stomach with digestion. Chewing mixes saliva—which is packed with digestive enzymes—into your food to allow your body to absorb the greatest amount of nutrients.

Properly chewed food is easier for your stomach to mix with enzymes and digestive juices to continue breaking down nutrients for fuel. The better you chew your food, the easier it is for your stomach functions to carry on optimally.

Did you know these fun stomach facts?

  • Excuse me! Burping releases air molecules swallowed while eating. That’s why you burp when you drink carbonated beverages.
  • Belly size doesn’t correlate to stomach size. Regardless of your midsection’s girth, the average stomach is the same size, about 12 inches long and six inches wide.
  • On the front line. The acid in your stomach sterilizes and neutralizes bacteria and other toxins you might consume.
  • Home of hormones. Your stomach produces a variety of substances. This includes digestive enzymes, acids, and hormones that help stimulate hunger.
  • Stronger than steel. Stomach acid, or hydrochloric (HCl) acid, is powerful enough to dissolve most metals. Originally produced from green vitriol and rock salt, HCl is also known as muriatic acid, acidium salis, and spirit of salts.
  • Time for supper. A growling stomach is called borborygmic. It happens all the time, but it’s easier to hear when your stomach is empty.
  • Zero gravity diners. Muscles in your esophagus constrict and relax in a wave-like manner called peristalsis. This motion pushes food down your esophagus, which is why astronauts digest their food the same in space as on Earth.

Feed Your Body Right to Keep Up Healthy Stomach Function

It’s common for the stomach to be considered the home of your entire digestive process. But your stomach is just one of the many important organs that help your body absorb nutrients.

The best way to take care of your stomach’s health is to eat a balanced diet of whole foods, lean meats, plant-based fats, and to drink plenty of water. And while exercise doesn’t directly impact stomach functions, an active lifestyle can help burn excessive calories and help with heart health.

As the fuel tank for your body, your stomach temporarily stores the food that it later turns into the energy you need to power your life. So, the next time you feel something in the pit of your stomach, use these tips to give your belly the extra boost of support it needs.

It’s common to have an adversarial relationship with fat. You’re taunted by it when you look in the mirror. You curse your body fat. You pinch it and try hard to burn it off. But maybe instead of open hostility, it’s time to try to understand fat tissue—or, by its impressive, scientific name, adipose tissue.

This attitude isn’t the fault of the individual alone. Society at large has a complicated relationship with fat tissue. The conflict stems from a plethora of misunderstandings and misconceptions. The lack of knowledge about fat functions creates a simplified understanding of adipose tissue’s biological importance.

You can expand your understanding of all things adipose with the answers to common questions about fat tissue. Learn about formation, function, and fun facts that will reshape your relationship with body fat.

Q. Besides a constant source of ire, what is fat tissue actually?

A. The definition of fat or adipose tissue is fairly simple. It’s loose connective tissue that acts as energy storage. That’s the very basics of fat tissue.

The more formal name (adipose tissue) comes from the fact that this type of tissue is made up of adipocytes—commonly referred to as fat cells. The moniker fits because their main job is to store excess calories as fatty acids called triglycerides.

These reserves of energy in physical form are stashed throughout the body. You tap into the fatty acids in adipose tissue when energy intake and carbohydrate stores—as glycogen—are depleted. It’s a process that’s familiar to those on keto diets or who practice intermittent fasting.

One other easy misunderstanding about fat needs to be cleared up right away. Eating dietary fat of any type doesn’t transfer directly to adipose tissue. Sure, the fat tissue on your body is similar at a molecular level to the fat you eat. Lipids and fatty acids form the building blocks of all fats—including adipose tissue. But the fat you eat goes through a lot before it possibly is incorporated into adipocytes.

Digestion breaks down the fats you eat into component parts. Some of that energy is burned off. Some is used to build structures or for other health-maintenance purposes throughout the body. The leftover energy from dietary fat can then be stored in adipose tissue. So instead of avoiding fats in your diet, just look for healthy, plant-based sources. And remember the caloric price tag, because fat packs nine calories per gram.

Q. Is there more to adipose tissue than just fat? Or are there other components?

A. Your body fat is more complex than the simplified villain narrative that pervades pop culture. There are the adipocytes, of course, and plenty of small blood vessels to maintain circulation into the adipose tissue. Nerve and endocrine (hormone producers) cells as well as lymphatic pathways are also found in fat tissue.

But the biggest non-fat component of adipose tissue is the stromal vascular fraction (SVF). This important element is a collection of diverse cell types—including mature cells (vascular, smooth muscle, blood and immune cells, as well as fibroblasts) and stem cells. Millions of these SVF cells aren’t fat-filled, but provide structure and material that can adapt as the tissue needs fluctuate.

Q. What health and survival functions do fat tissue perform?

A. Of course, you don’t want too much adipose tissue, but having too little is a problem as well. That’s because fat isn’t just a physical punishment for unhealthy eating or a lack of exercise. It has crucial biological functions that keep you alive and thriving.

The main functions include:

  • Energy storage—This main adipose purpose (already discussed above) is a survival mechanism to make the most of bountiful food supplies by stashing some for later.
  • Heat—Animals in cold climates use blubber to keep them warm, and this phenomenon exists in humans—especially babies, but research is showing the role fat plays in heating adults, too.
  • Padding—Accumulated adipose tissue cushions your organs to provide a measure of protection.
  • Metabolic impact: Using secretions (hormones, cytokines, and other metabolites), adipose tissue helps regulate energy balance, appetite, and various metabolic actions.
  • Hormone production: As an endocrine organ, fat tissue makes a variety of hormones, like leptin, adiponectin, and resistin.

Q. Fat is an organ?!

A. Yes. You read that right—adipose tissue is considered an endocrine organ. And a big one, too. This designation is based on fat tissue’s ability to produce hormones—literally the definition of an endocrine organ.

Your adipose tissue’s communication and influence on metabolic activities are helped by the array of hormones it makes. Leptin is especially important for energy regulation. It interacts with your brain’s hypothalamus and helps maintain the body weight over time. It’s one of the reasons dieting is so hard.

Q. Are there different types of adipose tissue?

A. Indeed there are different forms of adipose tissue. And they’re conveniently color-coded to keep them separate.

White fat tissue acts as the energy storehouses for the extras from your diet. That’s also what’s pulled from when your body runs out of easily burned sugars. Your white adipose tissue also handles the hormone secretions that come from your body fat.

Brown fat tissue is thermogenic—packed with more blood vessels and to help maintain warmth. Science has known this kind of fat was in newborns. But up until recently, it wasn’t thought to play much of a role in adults.

Adipose tissue is also often described by where it is on the body.

Q. Where does fat accumulate?

A. The midsection is the first place you might look for body fat. But a round belly is only one place you’ll find fat-stuffed adipose tissue.

In fact, fat is all over your body.

Adipose tissue is tucked into the innermost layer of your skin. This subcutaneous fat is what you measure with calipers or pinch to check your weight-management progress. It’s also the fatty tissue that’s easiest to spot.

You can’t exactly see visceral fat—though evidence of it (a pot belly) can become apparent with too much accumulation. This type of fat describes the adipocytes clustered inside your abdominal cavity and around your internal organs. You need some for padding, but too much visceral fat can hamper health.

Fat is also laced between your muscle fibers (intermuscular fat) and inside your bone marrow. That yellow bone marrow—the kind where adipocytes are found—is important for stem cell production.

Q. Can you really not eliminate fat cells? What’s the process to remove adipose tissue and slim down?

A. You were born with tens of billions of fat cells and they aren’t going anywhere. You’ll likely have them, and maybe more, for the entirety of your life. That’s because, while you can’t naturally destroy fat cells, you can add more adipose tissue. And once it’s there, it doesn’t go away, either.

Sorry if that’s bad news. Liposuction can literally suck up and permanently remove adipose tissue located under your skin. But there’s simply no way to diet or exercise away your adipose tissue.

If that’s true—and it certainly is—how do you burn fat naturally to improve your physique?

Fat tissue is made up of adipocytes that act as little energy storage containers of lipids. When your body is in a state where it has to rely on stored fat for energy, the necessary amount of containers are emptied.

The storage structures stay, but they are no longer plumped up by the fat that filled them. This helps you look slimmer. Just remember that those adipocytes can be filled back up in the future—depending on your calorie expenditure and intake.

Q. Is there a correct amount of fat tissue?

A. Like most health indicators, there isn’t a single number that works for everyone. Instead, there is a healthy range for body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI).

Women with 10-31 percent body fat are considered in the healthy range. For men, the numbers are between two and 24 percent. If you’re looking to use BMI, the healthy range is 18.5–24.9.

There are other factors—age and activity level, for instance—that may make your target range slightly different. But the important takeaway about body fat is that you do need some, but too much isn’t good for maintaining optimal health.

Also, dealing with fat loss purely based on your weight isn’t the right approach. When you’re talking about fat tissue amounts, body composition is the keyword. That’s why the measurements you see above aren’t tied to a number to shoot for on the scale.

Use Your Knowledge About Adipose Tissue to Shape Your Health

Now that you understand more about your body fat—including a cool new name, adipose tissue—that doesn’t mean you’ll stop pinching it or trying to burn it off. But come at your relationship with fat from a place of knowledge and understanding.

Utilize your newfound knowledge to smartly design your lifestyle to achieve the right fat-related goals. Respecting the way adipose tissue works, the functions it performs, and its impact on your body can inform your dietary and exercise choices.

Next time you look in the mirror and are ready to curse your stubborn adipose accumulations, remember fat isn’t automatically bad. Fat tissue isn’t a black-and-white issue. Now you know adipose is a matter of brown and white tissue.

Teamwork creates awe-inspiring results. The intricate harmonies intertwining during a soaring duet. A delicate dance playing out during a doubles tennis match. Peanut butter’s salty crunch deliciously counterbalanced by the smooth sweetness of your favorite jelly. And don’t forget the amazing combination of calcium and vitamin D—complementary nutrients that help optimize your health.*

Huh? That last one isn’t exactly the Batman-and-Robin-esque dynamic duo you were expecting. But they are just one of many powerful pairs of nutrients that work together to support various aspects of your overall health.*

You need all the essential vitamins and minerals, but some are better acquired in combination. That’s because many vitamins and minerals interact with each other and certain pairs work to create beneficial nutrient synergy.

To be useful in maintaining health, nutrients have to be absorbed. And complementary nutrients are often helpful because they support proper absorption. This makes compounds available for your body to maintain healthy levels and utilize the nutrients it needs. Other pairs provide aid through optimized performance or transformations that support nutrient action.*

Complementary nutrients are a heartwarming—and in some cases heart-supporting—concept. Vitamins, minerals, and other healthy compounds combining for the good of your health. And you can take advantage of nutrient synergy to help you feel your best and live your life to the fullest.*

Pick up the following pairs to make sure you’re taking in plenty of nutrients that work together.

How Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin D Operate as a Power Trio

Here’s the recipe for a variety of important nutrient synergies:

  • add the most abundant mineral in the body (calcium)
  • toss in a powerful, hormone-like vitamin (D, that is)
  • finish it off with a mineral that impacts hundreds of enzyme systems (magnesium)

That essential trio accounts for many complementary connections. Calcium holds down the center of this tremendous trio. With the importance of that particular macromineral, it’s not a big surprise it relies on the most other nutrients to work optimally.*

Magnesium’s supporting act in service of calcium starts with absorption in the small intestine. The two minerals share similar passage into the blood stream, and both depend on comparable activation in the kidney. Through enzyme activity and the parathyroid hormone, magnesium also helps maintain normal calcium levels in your blood—providing important support for bone and overall health.*

Calcium’s utility is also complemented by vitamin D. That’s because the hormone-like vitamin helps maintain healthy calcium levels in two ways. First, it helps optimize absorption of the mineral in your gut. Second, vitamin D supports the regulation of calcium in your body.*

The regulatory functions of these complementary nutrients have an important role in maintaining bone health. That’s because vitamin D’s work supporting calcium regulation revolves around the optimal functioning of the bone mineralization process. Vitamin D acts as a key cog to maintain this process, which helps calcium fill in your bone matrix to optimize skeletal health and strength.*

The trio’s connections aren’t completely dependent on calcium. Magnesium works in so many enzymes that it also acts as complementary nutrient to vitamin D in two ways. The hard-working mineral helps optimize the metabolism and activation of the sunshine vitamin.*

Magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D are an excellent example of three nutrients that work together. So take advantage of their connections and the many ways they help maintain your overall health.*

Vitamin K Pairs Well with Calcium

When talking about calcium complements, vitamin K2 bears mentioning. Achieving the right balance of calcium and K2 supports the mineral’s important role in bone-health maintenance. And it does this while helping safeguard against the effects of too much calcium.*

This happens because vitamin K2 supports the action of osteocalcin. You need this compound in the body to collect calcium from the blood and help the mineral become part of your bones. Osteocalcin isn’t created in an active form. To ready it for work, you need the support of vitamin K2.*

Bones aren’t the only benefactors of this partnership. These complementary nutrients support proper calcium utilization, which helps maintain a healthy circulatory system. When calcium is shipped to the bones instead of settling in arteries, you’re able to maintain healthy, flexible blood vessels—supporting your heart and circulatory health.*

Two Ways Vitamin C Acts as a Complementary Nutrient

Vitamin C is plenty powerful on its own. You’ll summon antioxidant activity, circulatory support, and maintain healthy collagen production. And vitamin C plays well with two other important nutrients—iron and vitamin E.*

Under normal conditions, your body is good at taking in iron from meat sources. The same can’t be said of plant-based forms of the metal. But it’s vitamin C to the rescue, helping iron from plant sources become available for absorption in your gut cells.

Vitamin C and E are also both powerful antioxidants. And they happen to be a pair of nutrients that work together to support other parts of your health, as well. The immune system is one of the big recipients of their combined powers. Working together, the two vitamins help support healthy immune function. They also help provide proper antioxidant support during exercise.*

The Teamwork of Sodium and Potassium Involves a Delicate Balancing Act

Name a more powerful electrolyte duo than sodium and potassium. It’s hard to do. They’re both important forces for maintaining your body’s healthy fluid balance. And they act as complementary nutrients in other aspects of health, too.*

This relationship is especially key in conversations about maintaining healthy blood pressure already in the normal range. You need potassium to help balance out all the sodium in the modern diet and support heart health and keep blood pressure in the normal range.*

These potent electrolytes also combine to support bone and kidney health. They also work together to optimize the transmission of nerve and muscle signals. That’s because the intake of potassium by cells bumps out sodium, helping to maintain proper communication between nerves and muscles alike.*

Two Symbiotic B Vitamins: B12 and Folate

It seems right that a pair of B vitamins makes the list of complementary nutrients. Not all B vitamins work together as well as B12 and folate (B9), though.

Their teamwork helps support two of the most bedrock processes of life—cell division and replication. They also support the metabolism of homocysteine (a prevalent amino acid with ties to heart health). But this relationship starts at the absorption stage, where B12 supports a string of natural processes that make folate available for use in your body.*

Smart Food Choices Help You Maximize the Power of Complementary Nutrients

Food is a delicious delivery device for nutrients. Filling your meals with a variety of nutritious foods is the best way to have your diet constantly deliver packages of nutrients that work together.

Diversify by eating a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables. Pair your impressive array of plants with lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of water. (One reason you need the fat and water is to support proper absorption of the various vitamins in your diet.)

So load up a spinach salad (for the iron) with orange wedges (packed with vitamin C) and add in sunflower seeds (to add in vitamin E). Your taste buds will be happy while you crunch down on complementary nutrients your body can use to help you thrive.*


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Baked goods are a quintessential part of many celebrations. Whether you’re crafting a pecan or mince pie, babka, noodles, or the family’s secret recipe for soft rolls, most list flour as a main ingredient. This year, give your traditional recipes a tasty transformation by swapping for one of the top alternative flours.

When mixing up your favorite batter, flour serves as a binding agent to help hold your mixture together and add texture and flavor. Regular flour is made from ground whole-wheat kernels. Whole grains are nutritious, but as they’re processed down into heavily refined white flour, many of the beneficial ingredients are stripped away and its glycemic impact raises.

This is where alternative flours come in. These flour substitutes have gained popularity over the last several years, and for good reason. You can enjoy the same textures and cohesion as regular flour, but with a lower glycemic impact, more flavor, and a multitude of nutritional benefits.

What is an Alternative Flour?

Alternative flours are commonly made from nuts, seeds, beans, and other grains. Like regular flour, the whole ingredients are processed and milled into a semi-fine powder. Many, like chickpea and almond flour, offer similar binding properties. This makes the flour substitutes an easy 1:1 replacements in your go-to recipes—though some master bakers recommend a pinch more baking powder to offset almond flour’s slightly heavier weight.

Because they often contain more vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients than regular flour, alternative flours fit perfectly into popular dietary guidelines—ketogenic, paleo, low-carb, gluten-free, or wheat-free diets. Even if you aren’t focused on a specific eating plan, the added variety and additional fiber work wonders for your gut health.

Comparing White, Whole Wheat, and Almond Flours

To understand the health benefits of alternative flours, let’s first look at the average nutritional values of the two most common grain flours: white and whole wheat.

Unbleached White Flour, 1 cup (227 g)

  • 455 calories
  • 4 g carbs
    • 4 g dietary fiber
  • 9 g protein
  • 2 g fat
    • 2 g saturated fat
    • 6 g poly and monounsaturated fat
  • Glycemic load: 85

Although white flour is a good source of thiamin, folate, and selenium, the glycemic load of 85 is high. A healthy number to aim for is 55 or less. Additionally, white flour is stripped of its nutrients during the production process, and then added back later.

Whole-grain Wheat Flour, 1 cup (227 g)

  • 407 calories
  • 1 g carbs
    • 6 g dietary fiber
  • 16 g protein
  • 2 g fat
    • 4 g saturated fat
    • 2 g poly and monounsaturated fat
  • Glycemic load: 69

Like white flour, whole-grain wheat flour is a good source of thiamin, folate, and selenium. It has fewer total carbs, and a whopping 14.6 grams of dietary fiber to help your body respond to all you’ll throw at it during celebrations.

Cup-for-cup, whole-grain wheat flour is the clear winner over the unbleached white variety. Now, let’s see how almond flour stacks up.

Almond Flour, 1 cup (227 g)

  • 648 calories
  • 24 g protein
  • 24 g carbs
    • 14 g dietary fiber
  • 56 g fat
    • 3 g saturated fat
    • 7 g poly and monounsaturated fat
  • Glycemic Load: less than 1

While higher in calories than white or wheat, almond flour has almost no effect on blood sugar—and it’s full of healthy, monounsaturated fats and prebiotic, insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is an essential carbohydrate that makes you feel fuller, longer to help you maintain a healthy weight. And it supports good digestive health by feeding your gut bacteria.

Almond flour is a good source of a variety of phytonutrients, such as resveratrol and flavonoids, and it’s rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants. It also provides other essential minerals like calcium, iron, and manganese.

When it comes to cooking, almond flour has a light, buttery flavor that blends well with savory or sweet baking. Because its binding properties are similar to regular flour, it substitutes at a 1:1 ratio. With an abundance of healthy benefits and its ease to swap it in recipes, almond flour is one of the best and most popular alternative baking and bread flours.

Flavorful Flour Substitutes

Now you know the nutritional baseline of white, wheat, and almond flours, you can compare other alternative flours. Here are the average nutrition facts for some of the most popular flour substitutes on the market.

Buckwheat Flour, 1 cup (227 g)

  • 560 calories
  • 16 g protein
  • 115 g carbs
    • 36 g dietary fiber
  • Less than 1 g fat
    • 0 g saturated fat
  • Glycemic Load: 71

Contrary to the name, buckwheat flour contains no wheat, and is gluten free. While it has the highest glycemic impact of any flour on this list, buckwheat is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients like folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.

Buckwheat flour has a strong, earthy flavor that’s ideal for muffins, tarts, and banana bread. It doesn’t bind well, so either find recipes specifically made for buckwheat flour, or mix it with other alternative flours to avoid crumbly baked goods.

Cassava Flour, 1 cup (227 g)

  • 460 calories
  • Less than 1 g protein
  • 28 g carbs
    • 8 g dietary fiber
  • Less than 1 g fat
    • 0 g saturated fat
  • Glycemic Load: 46

This flour is made from cassava root, and even though it’s generally low in nutrients, cassava flour contains vitamin C, folate, thiamine, and essential minerals like manganese and potassium.

Cassava is a popular alternative flour. Known for its neutral flavor and powdery texture, it’s commonly a 1:1 replacement for white flour. It tends to be a bit more absorbent, so bakers recommend using slightly less than an equal ratio compared to white flour. This will help maintain moisture in grandma’s famous cookie recipe.

Chickpea Flour, 1 cup (227 g)

  • 356 calories
  • 20 g protein
  • 53 g carbs
    • 10 g dietary fiber
  • 6 g fat
    • 6 g saturated fat
  • Glycemic Load: 44

Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus, and they also make for a tasty and healthy alternative flour. Relatively low in fat, with almost no saturated fat, chickpea flour has a medium-low glycemic index of 44. It’s also a fantastic source of folate—over 100 percent of your daily recommendation. It also gives you thiamine and minerals like iron, magnesium, and manganese.

Like almond flour, chickpea flour has a natural, light nutty flavor that’s ideal for many baked goods, but with stronger binding properties. You won’t regret swapping in this flour in your next batch of tortillas.

Coconut Flour, 1 cup (227 g)

  • 480 calories
  • 6 g protein
  • 72 g carbs
    • 40 g dietary fiber
  • 16 g fat
    • 13 g saturated fat
  • Glycemic Load: 50s

Coconut flour is low in fat and packed with dietary fiber and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). Derived from coconut oil, these triglycerides help deliver vital nutrients, such as vitamin E and Coenzyme Q10, to support your brain and heart health.

Coconut flour has a mildly sweet taste, which may affect the flavor profile of your cooking. Its binding properties aren’t a match for regular flour, as it absorbs more liquid. Mix with other flours, add an egg for additional moisture, or find recipes specifying coconut flour as an ingredient.

Oat Flour, 1 cup (227 g)

  • 420 calories
  • 15 g protein
  • 68 g carbs
    • 8 g dietary fiber
  • 5 g fat
    • 7 g saturated fat
  • Glycemic Load: 44

Oats make a great dairy-free milk, and they are just as good as a gluten-free flour substitute. Oat flour contains healthy fats, dietary fiber, antioxidants, thiamin, and iron. While not necessarily a nutritional superfood, it has a mild taste, binds well, and is easy to make at home with whole oats and a blender or food processor. If you’re looking to replace white flour on a budget, this could be your new go to.

Quinoa Flour, 1 cup (227 g)

  • 440 calories
  • 16 g protein
  • 72 g carbs
    • 8 g dietary fiber
  • 2 g fat
    • 0 g saturated fat
  • Glycemic Load: 53

While higher in carbs and glycemic impact compared to other alternative flours, quinoa is a nutritious grain full of phytonutrients. It’s also packed with B vitamins, calcium, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants.

Quinoa flour has an earthy, lightly bitter flavor and pairs well with spices. Like coconut flour, it absorbs more moisture when binding. Try it in your batch of gingerbread or tall stack of pancakes.

Elevate Your Baking Experience

When it comes to home cooking, there’s always an alternative flour fit for the job. Popular substitutes like almond and chickpea flour make for simple 1:1 swaps in any recipe, and are great to help you cater to the diets of your family and guests.

Use the information you just learned to choose the flour that’s right for you and your menu. Everyone at the table will enjoy your tasty twist on more satisfying, and nutritious, celebratory favorites.

You’re a bright, shining star. It shows in every aspect of your life. Now illuminate your inner beauty even more with brightening skincare. Glowing skin you can see—achieved by using proven brightening ingredients—is a trend that stands the test of time. After all, healthy-looking skin never goes out of style.

The goal of brightening skincare is to put the emphasis on a healthy-looking, radiant complexion—rather than seeking ways to cover up blemishes. Focus your skincare efforts on ways to highlight your natural beauty. You can do that by incorporating brightening and refining ingredients into your skincare routine.

So look deeper into ways to upgrade your skincare game to match your inner glow. Below you’ll find a breakdown of some of the best ingredients and approaches to give your skin a glow-up. Now you can start your search for skincare products to brighten and illuminate your complexion armed with the information you need.

Niacinamide is Your Brightening Skincare Superstar

Say hello to the real powerhouse of visible skin brightening. Niacinamide is a tough act to follow—because it is so effective in visibly transforming dull, patchy, uneven skin, into a gorgeous-, glowing-, radiant-looking complexion.

Niacinamide is a B vitamin (a form of vitamin B3 to be exact) and is one of the most effective skincare ingredients at visibly reducing the apparent contrast of dark spots or hyperpigmentation. Niacinamide can shrink the appearance of pores and reduce visible oil production. Not to mention improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, all while visibly evening out skin tone.

Beauty gurus and skincare aficionados alike love this active ingredient. That’s why so many skincare products—like the Celavive Dark Spot Corrector—rely on niacinamide to deliver visually dramatic results.

Another reason to love niacinamide is its compatibility with other antioxidants, specifically vitamin C. When niacinamide and vitamin C are combined, their antioxidant activity is amplified. Antioxidants help protect the skin for a beautiful complexion. With antioxidants like niacinamide and vitamin C working together, dark spots visibly fade to reveal fresh, younger-looking skin.

Shine with Vitamin C Derivatives

Bright-looking skin needs vitamin C—just like the vitamin is essential for the rest of your body. Vitamin C and its derivatives (ascorbic acid, ascorbyl glucoside, ascorbyl palmitate) are powerful antioxidants that provide help to keep your skin looking beautifully radiant. It is also important for a visibly bright, even-looking skin tone. Redness from dry skin can make your complexion appear splotchy. But vitamin C is a soothing agent that can help your skin look calm.

Collagen (the protein that gives skin its bounce) relies on vitamin C, too. Skincare products with vitamin C target the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and the visibly uneven texture of aging skin. Vitamin C helps skin look uniform, soft, and supple. And through collagen’s impact on skin hydration, vitamin C aids in the appearance of a plump and smooth complexion.

Adding skincare products with vitamin C to your skincare routine is a must. Serums like the Celavive Light Complexion Serum use vitamin C along with niacinamide and other brightening ingredients to transform the appearance of dull skin into a radiant, glowing complexion.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate for Glowing Skin

The best way to keep your glowing skin going is plenty of hydration. Hydrated skin stays visibly plump and smooth. And smooth skin gleams because light reflects well off of hydrated skin. This gives you that bouncy, beautiful glow you’re looking for.

The best hydrating ingredients lock water inside the skin. That’s because your skin is like a sponge. It absorbs and retains moisture and skincare treatments. So look for skincare products that seal moisture in and keep your skin looking hydrated and happy.

Ingredients like shea butter and jojoba-seed oil are just the ticket to brighter, more youthful-looking skin. These are potent moisturizers that help maintain hydration, without clogging up pores or causing blemishes.

Sheet masks are a real treat for your skin. These masks—including the Celavive Vivid White Sheet Mask, which is loaded with shea butter and jojoba-seed oil—are great for intense hydrating. These luxurious skin treatments are even better if they’re blended with brightening agents. Look for:

  • niacinamide
  • licorice extract
  • red algae
  • sugars that bind to water and flood your skin with moisture.

Try a brightening sheet mask a few nights a week to lock in that glow and moisture.

For daily brightening and hydration, find a cream that does double duty. An ingredient list that includes niacinamide, red algae, and added vitamin C can help you achieve a gorgeous glow—plus, the necessary moisture your skin depends on. Find a cream—like USANA’s Celavive Luminous Moisture Cream—that can be used twice daily to achieve a gorgeous glow. This will help you illuminate your inner beauty on a daily basis.

Get Your Glow On

Do your research to find what kind of skincare treatments will work best for you—and for your skin type. Look for hydrating and brightening benefits, as well as ingredients that support visibly healthy skin for a beautiful look.

You can check brighter-looking skin off your beauty bucket list. Add brightening skincare to your daily routine—with effective active ingredients like niacinamide and vitamin C—to put a visibly luminous, radiant complexion within reach.

When it comes to digestion, your job is easy. You cook, chew, swallow, and clean up. But after your plate is empty, the hard part starts. A cohort of digestive worker bees handles the arduous task of transforming chunks of chewed up nutrition into more useful forms. And from your mouth to small intestine, digestive enzymes bear the brunt of breaking down your diet into accessible, absorbable pieces.

You’re probably more familiar with the mechanical methods used to turn your afternoon apple into glucose, fiber, and micronutrients. That’s because you can feel your teeth biting, cutting, and grinding food up. You can even detect the churning of food in your stomach.

Digestive enzymes’ work goes undetected while it’s happening—because it occurs on a microscopic scale. Enzymes are specialized proteins throughout your body that support the activity of various important chemical reactions. These enzyme-driven reactions happen all the time without you knowing. But you’d feel the absence if your digestive enzymes took a day off.

That’s because these specialized proteins support healthy digestion. The enzymes working all along the digestive conveyor belt aid in breaking down food. This action is why digestive enzymes help you feel less bloated and full, while also assisting with other occasional issues that can occur when you eat too much.*

But that’s only one of the ways digestive enzymes support your health. Your body can’t use what it can’t absorb. Creating smaller molecules out of your food’s macronutrients is key for maintaining optimal whole-body nourishment. After enzyme-aided reactions occur, your dietary nutrition is able to soaked up by the small intestine—and eventually spread to the cells of your body.*

Without digestive enzymes, eating would be nothing more than an excuse to gnash your teeth. So follow your food’s digestion journey and meet the important digestive enzymes at each stop that help support the breakdown and healthy, efficient absorption of your dietary nutrition.*

A Quick Guide to Natural Digestive Enzymes

Specific chemical reactions in your body require unique enzymes to support their normal activity. This could make for a very lengthy list of digestive enzymes. But here are four of the most important and well-known digestive enzymes and how they’re involved in supporting healthy digestion:*

  • Amylase for starches
  • Lipase for fats
  • Protease for proteins
  • Lactase for the milk protein lactose

You can also think of amylase, lipase, protease as categories of enzymes. Along the digestive journey, there are different subsets of each main enzyme type that breaks down the major macronutrients.

The Mouth: It Starts with Saliva

Your mouth waters at the sight or smell of an impending meal. This isn’t some cartoonish reaction to a delicious dinner. It’s an important step that delivers the digestive enzymes that kick off digestion.

Your salivary glands are responsible for producing several enzymes carried in saliva and mixed with food as you chew. These specific digestive enzymes—including amylase—start the process of breaking down carbohydrates into simpler sugars.

The Stomach: More than Acid

Your stomach growls, rumbles, and expands if it gets too full. That makes your stomach the central concern when you talk about eating. And it does have a big, messy job to do—one that couldn’t be completed without the help of digestive enzymes.

Along with stomach acid, a protease called pepsin—released by the cells of your stomach wall—combines with fat- and carb-crunching enzymes to disassemble macronutrients. That’s how the fats, carbs, and protein of your diet are churned, mixed, and deconstructed into a liquid called chyme.

At this point, your meal is well on its way to a state of acceptable absorbability. But there are a few more organs and their enzymes that need to join the digestive party before nutrient absorption happens.

The Pancreas: A Powerful Enzyme-Excreting Organ

Your pancreas provides a lot of juice to help move food closer to its digestive destiny. Between your stomach and small intestine, enzymes produced in the pancreas take a turn breaking down your food further. They enter through ducts into the duodenum—located in the very upper portion of your small intestines.

These diverse digestive enzymes are secreted to specifically disassemble proteins into amino acids or peptides, and fats into their component fatty acids and glycerol. Carbohydrates are also further simplified at this stage of digestion.

Although not a digestive enzyme, bile from the liver is also key at this stage to helping support the breakdown of fats you eat.

The Small Intestine: Enzymes at the Site of Absorption

You wouldn’t recognize that apple or sandwich you ate by the time it reaches your small intestine. It’s been chewed up, churned about, and broken down.

But there’s one more set of digestive enzymes needed to finish the job and make final preparations for absorption. These enzymes finish the job of simplifying carbohydrates into glucose or fructose and further deconstruct proteins into their base building blocks—amino acids.

At that point, the digestive enzymes have done their job. Your food’s nutrients are ready to be absorbed and distributed throughout your body to help maintain your energy and overall health.*

Stock Your System with Foods Containing Natural Digestive Enzymes

You’ve read about the digestive enzymes your body produces throughout your digestive system. But you can support healthy digestion by adding some enzyme-enhanced foods to your diet.*

Select your favorites from the list below and build meals around them for a boost of digestive enzymes that can help you maintain normal digestion. They’ll also help you maximize your meals by supporting the processes that make nutrients as available as possible for absorption.*

  • Honey
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Bananas
  • Papaya
  • Fermented foods (like sauerkraut, miso, or kimchi)
  • Avocado
  • Kiwi
  • Ginger

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Earl Grey. Masala chai. Matcha. Ceylon. Oolong. The benefits of tea are almost as limitless as the varieties consumed across the globe. Steeping tea leaves has been a cultural staple for thousands of years. This complex beverage lets you enjoy deep, richly diverse flavors, and also reap the powerful health benefits.

Tea is a steeped drink stemming from the Camellia sinensis plant. It originated in China and Southeast Asia, and has evolved into several varieties through its travels across the globe. Variations are derived from how the leaves are processed, and differ in flavor, nutrients, and health benefits.

Tea is rich in micronutrients that can support a variety of body systems. It’s also a safe and efficient source of caffeine to boost your energy. Knowing how to select the tea that’s right for you, and what to avoid, will help you experience the health benefits of tea for yourself.

One Plant, One Hundred Names—A Guide to Tea

Whether you hardly drink tea or practically swim in the stuff, here’s your friendly, in-depth guide to tea. Take a sip of some of these healthy tea favorites:

  • Green:

Green tea is made from leaves quickly heated and dried after harvesting to prevent oxidation. It’s often considered the “true tea” by many, as it’s thought to have originated in China nearly 5,000 years ago.

Green tea is known for having less caffeine and for being exceptionally high in flavonoids (an important type of phytonutrients) that support many body systems. This includes proper heart function.

  • Black:

Black tea is produced by allowing the leaves to fully oxidize during processing. This exposes the plant’s cell walls to oxygen, turning them dark brown. Black tea is considered a Western European style of processing tea, while Asian cultures prefer green tea.

Black tea contains more caffeine than green tea, but not as much as brewed coffee. Although this healthy tea also contains flavonoids that can support immune health, green tea is widely considered to be healthier.

  • White:

White tea is the least processed variety. Its leaves are harvested before they are fully developed and quickly dried to prevent oxidization. This process results in the most delicate and freshest tea available.

This tea option is exceptionally high in antioxidants and fluoride. It also contains less caffeine than both green and black tea.

  • Oolong:

Oolong is a traditionally Chinese, partially oxidized tea. And while it has a complex processing system, it is often described as a step between green tea and black tea. Some oolong teas have attributes similar to green tea, while others are almost indistinguishable from black tea.

Oolong is also very rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. The complex harvesting and drying process make oolong tea’s caffeine content unique. The levels generally fall somewhere between the caffeine content of green and black teas.

  • Herbal:

Herbal teas are not made from Camellia sinensis, so in the purse sense, are not really tea. They derive their flavors and health benefits from other sources. Popular herbal ingredients include: chamomile, peppermint, ginger, cinnamon, rooibos, and several other plant materials.

Still, many herbal teas also contain important antioxidants that can help support your health in a variety of ways.

Healthy Tea’s Foundation: Polyphenols, Flavonoids, and Antioxidants

Traditional teas—especially green tea—owe a number of health benefits to polyphenols. These micronutrients are found in certain plant-based foods. They’re filled with antioxidants that help defend against cell-damaging free radicals and can support digestive, immune, and cardiovascular health.

The polyphenols found in tea, particularly one called Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), have been the focus of much scientific research. This research suggests ECGC is responsible for most of the recorded health benefits of tea, including:

From this evidence, the best way to make the benefits of tea a part of your healthy lifestyle is to choose brews high in polyphenols, especially ECGC. Although it can be difficult to know the exact levels of ECGC in the tea you buy, studies show green tea generally contains the most and black tea the least. To get the most polyphenols and flavonoids, buy teas that are high-quality and fresh.

Tea and Caffeine: Energy Unlocking Power

When the midday slump hits, a lot of people turn to caffeine (coffee, green tea, black tea, or man-made energy drinks) for a quick source of energy. Diet and sleep are certainly the cornerstones of solid energy levels, but life throws a lot at you. And you probably find yourself occasionally outmatched and reaching for more support.

Caffeine gives you a boost two ways:

  1. Increasing your metabolism
  2. Exhilarating your central nervous system

But you don’t want to overdo it. Caffeine is potent, and too much can make you overly anxious and even shaky. A healthy adult shouldn’t consume more than three to four hundred milligrams per day. Some people—including pregnant women, adolescents, and children—are more sensitive to caffeine and will need to limit their intake even more. And remember, high doses of caffeine can lead to a hard crash. So, you may want to spread out your caffeine consumption to smaller amounts throughout the day.

With recent research around tea polyphenols, green tea is becoming widely known as a healthy, safe, and efficient source of caffeine. It may not pack the same punch as black tea or coffee, but it’s high in antioxidant and polyphenol, making green tea a fantastic way to boost a healthy lifestyle with efficient energy.

Health Benefits of Tea at a Glance

  Caffeine content per cup/250ml Estimated ECGC content Antioxidant activity Common Varieties
Green 30–70 mg High High Matcha, Dragonwell, Sencha
Black 47–90 mg Low Moderate Earl Grey, Ceylon, Assam
White 6–55 mg Moderate High Bai Mudan, Darjeeling White
Brewed Coffee 90–160 mg None Moderate N/A

Steeped in Sugar

The health benefits of tea are as diverse as it is flavorful. But many companies and manufacturers take advantage of this knowledge to sell cheap and unhealthy products.

A lot of pre-brewed teas and iced teas are filled with sugar. Tea lattes and trendy bubble teas are also loaded with sugar and calories. All of these options may seem healthy because they contain tea, but you’re better off to avoid them.

Instead, do what humans have been doing for generations. Put on the kettle, brew yourself some fresh tea, and curl up on the couch to enjoy its delicate flavor and healthy tea benefits.

A healthy diet and plenty of water are benchmarks for proper nutrition. But how your body removes waste is equally as important as what goes into your system. Your kidneys are responsible for removing waste products from the body—along with other crucial actions. And while much focus is placed on other organ-specific health—like your heart and liver—learning how to take care of your kidneys can be a cornerstone of optimal health.

Your kidneys perform a variety of tasks:

  • waste removal via urine
  • balancing your body’s fluid levels
  • releasing hormones to help maintain normal blood pressure
  • activate vitamin D into a usable form used to help promote bone health
  • control the production of red blood cells

Your kidneys regulate so many key functions to maintain your whole-body health. That’s why kidney health is crucial to keep your body operating at peak performance.

Learn more about how kidneys function, the ways vitamin D and kidney health connect, and how to take care of your kidneys—including the fuel they need for optimal health.

How Kidneys Function

Make a fist. That’s approximately the size of your kidney. You’re born with two kidneys located in the back of your abdomen, just under your ribcage on each side of the spine. They are slightly different sizes. Your right kidney is smaller and sits lower to make room for your liver.

To oversimplify how kidneys function, consider this: blood comes into the kidney and is filtered, good blood then returns to the circulatory system by way of the renal vein, and waste is expelled though the ureter into the bladder.

Taking a deeper look starts with a discussion of anatomy. Your kidneys contain millions of functioning units called nephrons. A nephron is the structural and functional unit of the kidney. They filter blood plasma to produce urine, while also reabsorbing water, sodium, and glucose back into the circulatory system.

Each nephron contains a renal corpuscle (the blood filtering component of the kidney) and a renal tubule (a secondary collection system for the filtered blood). Blood first passes into the renal corpuscle and enters a filtration space called the glomerulus. The glomerulus has a special barrier that keeps blood cells, proteins, and larger molecules in the blood, while allowing water, ions, and smaller molecules to exit the blood. This is the first step in creating urine.

At this point, the soon-to-be urine has most of the water and electrolytes that were in the blood. While the blood is lacking in these nutrients. The renal tubule moves most of the water, electrolytes, and other nutrients back into the blood. It leaves behind some water, urea, and other waste products.

This is one reason why staying hydrated is important. Without enough water, the kidneys can struggle to filter everything out and then pull the essential nutrients back into the bloodstream.

After filtering is complete, blood exits the kidney through the renal vein back to the heart. The waste and toxins pulled from the blood stream are sent through the ureter to the bladder for urination.

More Than a Filter

Balance in life is crucial, and your kidneys contribute to the balance in your circulatory system. Kidneys help regulate extracellular fluid volume, important to keep blood flowing to vital organs.

Examples of extracellular fluids are interstitial fluid, blood plasma, and lymph. The kidney also controls osmolarity and ion concentrations, making sure the extracellular fluids don’t become too diluted or concentrated. Osmolarity is key for proper fluid transportation because it’s a mechanism that allows extracellular fluids to pass across one membrane into another.

This ensures consistent levels of key ions (charged atoms or molecules)—including sodium, potassium, and calcium. Your kidneys also help with the regulation of blood plasma pH levels, which prevents your blood from becoming too acidic or basic.

Finally, kidneys produce the hormone erythropoietin (EPO). EPO plays a role in the production of red blood cells. Acting like a shield, EPO protects red blood cells during infancy, and, in turn, stimulates the stem cells in bone marrow to increase the production of additional red blood cells. Because red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, it is important to maintain a proper level of EPO to maintain healthy production of new red blood cells.

Vitamin D and Kidney Health

Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because it can be produced in your skin from a response to sunlight. The kidneys play a key role in converting vitamin D into a useful nutrient for the body. People acquire vitamin D from two places: exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet B radiation and from their diet—food and supplements.

The kidneys pull vitamin D out of the blood, which is then sent to the skeletal system. But vitamin D is important for many reasons. An example is how it helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body to maintain healthy, normal levels. Specifically, vitamin D helps support healthy calcium absorption from the intestines. And when your body has optimal levels of calcium, it can maintain healthy bones, teeth, and muscles.

Through vitamin D, you can see why learning how to take care of your kidneys benefits other key organs and systems in your body, as well.

Tips on How to Take Care of Your Kidneys

You’ve learned how kidneys function. Now let’s explore how you can support optimal kidney health. Caring for your kidneys can have overlapping benefits for the rest of your body. And simple lifestyle changes go a long way to promote good kidney health and improve your general well-being.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Water is vital for good health, and it certainly assists your kidneys. Drinking eight glasses of water a day helps your kidneys have the fluid necessary to remove excessive sodium and toxins from your system.

The eight glasses number isn’t a recommendation. In fact, the exact volume of water you need to consume depends on your health and lifestyle. A good indicator you’re drinking enough water is straw-colored urine. If urine is too dark, it may be a sign of dehydration. Too clear, and you’re drinking too much water.

  1. Monitor Blood Pressure

The kidneys play an important role in blood pressure regulation. Healthy blood pressure readings are between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. Anything higher is considered to be elevated blood pressure. Your circulatory system and kidneys work in concert to keep your blood flowing at an even, healthy level. Speak to your physician or health-care provider if you have concerns about your blood pressure.

  1. Maintain Normal, Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Keeping your blood sugar in the normal, healthy range helps maintain your kidney and overall health. Your kidneys are already hard at work filtering nutrients from your blood back into your body and removing waste. So keep your kidneys running smoothly by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels in the normal range.

  1. Exercise and Remain Active

While you can’t flex your kidneys, you can support them by walking, swimming, or cycling 150 minutes a week. Anything—from hikes in the forest to dancing—can help you stay closer to your ideal weight and avoid putting additional strain on your kidneys. Being overweight can raise your blood pressure, which is bad for your kidneys. But regular exercise is good for your waistline and your overall health.

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand for good health. But if you really want to show your kidneys some love, you’ll eat a low-sodium diet. Excessive sodium in your system is difficult for your kidneys to filter out. Consider eating a diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, and whole grains. Avoid kidney-damaging foods like processed meats, excessive dairy, and packaged meals.

  1. Don’t Smoke

There are a thousand reasons to quit smoking. Here’s one more: Nicotine is bad for blood pressure, and therefore bad for kidney health.

Did You Know?

  • You Only Need One Kidney to Live. You’re born with around 1.5 million nephrons—about 750,000 per kidney. You only need 300,000 to filter your blood daily.
  • Hearts Pump, Kidneys Filter. Your kidneys filter half-a-cup of blood every minute. This is about 45 gallons of blood per day.
  • Same but Different. Kidneys are asymmetrical. The right kidney is smaller and sits lower than the larger left kidney to leave space for your liver.
  • DIY Kidney. Dutch doctor Willem Kolff made the first dialysis machine with a sausage casing, orange juice can, and a washing machine. The washing machine spun to filter the pumped-in blood.
  • Water in Moderation. Too much liquid can cause hyponatremia, a condition where too much water in the system dilutes sodium the kidneys can’t remove.
  • Swap It Out. The first successful kidney transplant was performed by Joseph E. Smith in Boston, Massachusetts in 1954.

Start Maintaining Your Kidney Health Today

A lifestyle focused on kidney health is good for total body health. A balanced diet combined with exercise is critical to maintain kidney health. And while you’re tending to the needs of your kidney, you’re also helping the other systems in your body. What’s good for the kidneys also helps the digestive system, heart, and immune system.

The human body is complex and integrated—with the kidneys playing a major role in supporting your overall wellness. Your kidneys are equally intricate and complex organs that help keep your body in balance. Making small steps to maintain a healthy blood pressure in the normal range can help your kidneys to function properly, too.

Your heart pumps. Your kidneys filter. Your stomach digests. Your brain runs the show. But what about your hard-working, multitasking liver? It doesn’t receive the respect or admiration it so rightly deserves. Learning facts about the liver is the best way to awaken appreciation for your most under-the-radar organ.

This list of 27 facts will finally shine a much-deserved spotlight on the underrated organ’s anatomy, function, and how to support liver health. At the end, you can school your friends and family with facts about the liver that goes beyond the basics to spread the liver love around.

Anatomy Facts About the Liver

  1. Skin wins the battle of size for organs overall. But your liver takes the title for largest internal organ—and, weighing in around three pounds, is second overall.
  2. You aren’t alone in having a liver. Living things with spinal cords (vertebrates) also have livers. All of them. It’s that important.
  3. The liver looks like it has a larger head section and a smaller tail. But it can be further divided into thousands of lobules—tiny segments with their own ducts.
  4. Your liver has the capacity to hold 10 percent of your body’s blood. It doesn’t always have that much, but it does go through a lot—handling about 1.5 liters every minute.
  5. The liver isn’t just an organ—it’s also a gland. That’s because it secretes bile into the intestines.
  6. As long as you have a quarter of your liver left, the organ can fully regenerate to original size and regain full function. This is more of an evolutionary necessity than a neat trick. And it’s the reason liver donors can give someone half their liver and survive.
  7. Too much fat is bad for your liver. But it’s normal for this important organ to be comprised of about 10 percent fat.

Liver Facts to Explain the Organ’s Many Important Jobs

  1. Speaking of fat, one of the hundreds of jobs the liver has is metabolizing fat. This is done through the bile produced in the liver.
  2. Your liver can make up to a liter of metabolism-inducing bile every day.
  3. Bile also plays a role in metabolizing your other macronutrients—proteins and carbohydrates. So, the liver’s bile production is key to breaking down a large swath of your diet and making sure it can be used to support your overall health.
  4. The liver is more than a production facility and metabolism force. It also provides a warehouse for a variety of important nutrients—including glycogen (stored glucose), iron, copper, and a variety of fat-soluble vitamins.
  5. What you put in your body is filtered by your liver. It takes out and deals with dietary nutrients, toxins, drugs, alcohol, and a few hormones.
  6. Besides filtering, the liver has many functions connected to blood. Your body’s ability to form blood clots—with the support of vitamin K—is aided by the bile produced in your liver. It also:
    • creates an important protein in blood serum (albumin)
    • pieces together a hormone involved in blood pressure regulation (angiotensinogen)
    • handles bilirubin from broken down hemoglobin
  1. Immunity is helped out by the liver. Your two types of immune protection—innate and adaptive—are both supported by processes in your second largest organ.
  2. Your liver acts as a switching station that determines whether the body’s nutrient intake—delivered through the portal vein—is stored, further processed, placed in a detoxification process, or sent out as waste.
  3. Detox is probably the first place your mind goes when you think of your liver. It deals with detoxifying the substances you take in with a two-phase approach. The first liver detoxification pathway (Phase I) neutralizes compounds, while Phase II deals with byproducts of the first phase and makes substances water soluble for removal.
  4. Glutathione is one of the most important antioxidants in your body. You synthesize it and can find glutathione throughout your body. But it’s up to 10 times more concentrated in the liver. That’s because it plays a role in Phase II detoxification.

Facts to Help You Maintain Your Liver Health

  1. If you can call organ meats popular (and that depends on your culture and preferences), liver would top the list. Edible animal livers are packed with protein, iron, and various vitamins.
  2. Surprise—what you eat has a lot of impact on the organ that deals with your dietary intake. One important aspect of maintaining liver health is eating enough fiber. It works to help out this powerful detox organ through weight-management support and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.
  3. Even though fat is part of your liver’s composition, eating too many fatty foods can hamper the health of your body’s biggest detoxifying organ. Saturated fat is especially harmful, but omega-3 fatty acids and healthier options like olive oil are smart choices.
  4. That caffeine jumpstarting your day and keeping your going in the afternoon is processed in your liver. But caffeinated beverages—especially coffee and green tea—have been shown to have benefits that help support liver health.
  5. Weight management is important for overall health—and your liver is no different. Carrying extra weight strains the liver and can eventually impact function. Watching your diet and exercising regularly will help manage your weight and support your liver.
  6. Easing up on your sugar intake is an important step for managing your weight. And it’s especially impactful for your liver—mostly due to the ties your liver has to glucose storage. One step you can take is switching from sugary drinks to plain water. It will also help you maintain healthy hydration levels.
  7. A diet built on a broad foundation of fruits and vegetables is a must for optimal health. Along with an abundance of micronutrients you need for overall health, some plants provide liver-supporting benefits. Eat more broccoli, spinach, berries, grapefruit, and grapes to help maintain your liver health.
  8. Your liver is in charge of dealing with the alcohol you drink. While drinking in moderation is more easily tolerated, too many wild nights can stack up and start impacting the degree to which your liver does its many jobs.
  9. Medications have to be broken down by the liver so they can be effective. But mixing prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and even some supplements can cause issues for your liver. Make sure to follow usage instructions and tell your health-care providers and pharmacists all the supplements and medications you’re taking. They can help you avoid potentially harmful interactions.
  10. Protecting your liver means taking proper precautions around environmental toxins. Cleaners and other chemicals you inhale have to be processed and neutralized in the liver. That protection is part of your biggest detoxification organ’s job, but you can make it easier by wearing proper personal protective equipment—like a mask—when dealing with chemicals.

Share These Facts About the Liver

The liver isn’t such a strange, magical detoxifier now. You know more liver facts that shed light on all the important functions and ways to keep yourself healthy. Don’t keep all this liver information to yourself. Share it to help your friends become liver lovers, too.

Dieting fills your thoughts with food—what you can eat, and, especially, what you can’t. It can also be exhausting and detrimental to your health and weight-management goals. Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating helps shift your mind from asking “what can I eat” to “when is it best for me to eat.”

The transition is more than dislocating one issue and entrenching another. Focusing your feeding to specific times and incorporating measured intervals of fasting has shown benefits for weight and overall health. This has turned intermittent fasting (sometimes abbreviated IF) into a topic that keeps growing in popularity—from the health-conscious to the general public.

It’s time to go beyond the buzz to explore what this unique approach to eating is, has to offer, and how to start intermittent fasting.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Proponents of the IF way of life say it’s a silver bullet for a whole host of health goals, while detractors dismiss the approach as just the latest fad—or worse, a “starvation diet.”

The concept of intermittent fasting itself is quite simple: consume food within a limited number of hours—also known as your “feeding window”—and abstain from eating and drinking most beverages during the other hours of the day.

IF has several eating schedules—you’ll dive into those later. You can even call it “time-restricted eating”—shifting focus to the eating part of the equation. No matter the name or schedule, the underlying philosophy of feast/fast cycles provides benefits, as well as a contrast to average diet types.

Is Intermittent Fasting Just Another Diet?

Not only is intermittent fasting not a fad diet, it’s not even really a diet. It doesn’t contain a prescribed list of foods to avoid or eat. Instead, the concept of periodic fasting is closer to a shift in lifestyle. And it’s been around for a long time. Human history is stuffed with examples of cycles of feasting and fast. The reason it seems strange or fad-like is that IF sidesteps common weight-loss maxims.

If you’ve ever struggled even slightly with your weight, you’ve likely heard some version of the idiom, “eat less and move more.” It’s understandable to think this logic makes perfect sense—burn more calories than you consume and you’ll lose weight. It’s the simple math of calorie balance that makes weight-management seem easy. But for most the simplicity and ease turns out to be mostly theoretical.

The human body is complex, and recent research shows that calorie consumption is only one factor at play when it comes to weight loss or gain. What else is there then? Every function in the human body is controlled by hormones. And a key hormone that influences weight gain is insulin.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

The pancreas’ most powerful hormone—insulin—increases in your body whenever you eat. Insulin stimulates the absorption of glucose into muscle, fat, and liver cells. The cells either use this glucose for energy or it is converted to fat for long-term storage. This fact isn’t necessarily bad—having energy storage for lean times is necessary for human survival.

The inverse is also true of insulin: when you aren’t eating, blood glucose levels remain lower and levels of the hormone drop. This sparks your body to burn more stored fat as fuel when your body demands energy. And for those looking to lose weight, burning fat is a goal and a very good thing.

Obese people typically have higher insulin levels than folks within normal weight ranges. This is usually because their bodies are less sensitive to insulin, so it takes more insulin to get the same effect in the body.

Exercise has long been the go-to method for increasing insulin sensitivity, and in turn reducing levels of the hormone in the body. Research has also shown that intermittent fasting is another tool you can use to reduce insulin resistance.

Most traditional diets only take aim at improving what you eat or restricting calories, but without also addressing when you eat and how often you eat has its own benefits. Intermittent fasting helps lower your persistent insulin levels. This encourages your body to turn its stored fat into energy after burning through the sugars the body usually uses as fuel.

Along with rebuilding your body’s healthy response to insulin, intermittent fasting also helps you limit calories. That’s the basis of all weight-loss techniques. And intermittent fasting is another solution to help you burn more calories than you take in.

Experience the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

If skipping a meal sounds hard, there’s plenty to help you push through. Here are some of the wide-ranging health benefits that can help propel you through the occasional cravings:

  1. Weight Loss: This the primary goal of many intermittent fasters. Evidence and testimonials back this benefit, but it’s not a quick fix. Long term, reduced calorie intake and lower insulin levels can help you manage your weight. But achieving the amount of weight you want to lose may not happen immediately. Your patience can pay off, though.
  2. Fat Burning: You’ve likely heard that if you don’t eat multiple times a day, your body will hold onto everything you eat because it thinks it’s starving. In other words, if you eat more, you’ll weigh less. Huh? Fasting has been around for thousands of years. Ancient human ancestors’ sporadic access to food, means the human body had to adapt to times of feast and famine. So when you’re fasted to the point of glycogen (stored sugars) depletion, your body burns fat. This change of fuel is important for weight loss, altering body composition, and supports overall wellness—from cardiovascular health to more optimal sleep.
  3. Support for Metabolic Health: Intermittent fasting aims to help normalize your body’s relationship to insulin. Sensitivity to the important hormone is important because it helps maintain blood sugar levels. Studies have suggested intermittent fasting can help support a more normal insulin sensitivity. That means evidence points to periods of fasting helping maintain balanced insulin levels and support healthy blood-sugar outcomes.
  4. Triggering Autophagy: When people choose to fast for non-weight reasons, it’s usually tied to autophagy. This cellular process is your body’s way to cleanup and manage cell damage. A variety of stressors—environmental, nutritional, and fasting—prompt your cells to basically take out the trash. This recycling program for damaged proteins helps supports optimal cellular health.
  5. Better Cognitive Function: Your brain burns a lot of calories. But that doesn’t mean fasting will dampen your cognitive fire. Actually, quite the opposite. Intermittent fasting has ties to many brain benefits—from clearer thinking and memory help to protection and support for neural growth.
  6. Improvements in Your Relationship with Food and Your Body: Diets make you almost obsess about food. Fasting periodically allows you to step back and consider food from a slight remove. If you only eat a limited amount of times, what you eat needs to be worth it. This can help you focus on healthy, delicious foods. Intermittent fasting also doesn’t judge food choices—so you can also escape the guilt of a slip-up. Fasting can connect you to your body. It helps you learn to listen to your hormonal signals about food—when you’re hungry and when you’re full.

Choose Your Own Fasting Adventure with Flexible Eating Schedules

Dieting can feel very inflexible. Eat this, don’t eat that. But food flexibility isn’t the only customizable aspect of intermittent fasting. There are many popular feeding-and-fasting schedules for you to pick from. Each offers slightly different challenges and benefits, so you can find what works best for your goals and your body.

You can look at fasting as a separation of hours feeding and fasting. Some common ratios are: 16:8, 18:6, and 20:4: The first number is your hours of fasting per day. The second is your eating window. Starting with a 16-hour fast is usually best for beginners.

Instead of focusing on hours you’re feeding or fasting, you can think about it in terms of meals. Two meals a day goes well with a 16:8 timeframe. That means skipping one meal—breakfast or dinner. With one meal a day, you’re further concentrating your eating to allow for longer fasts. You can choose the meal that works best for you. Also know you can add a snack or dessert if need be—just keep your feeding window short.

Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) is as simple as it sounds—cycling between days of feeding and fasting. That doesn’t make your feeding day a cheat-day eating extravaganza. But you should eat at least two meals a day when you can. Modified ADF involves doing a meal or snacks totaling 500 calories on your fast day.

You can even approach intermittent fasting on a weekly basis with non-consecutive fast days. Popular options involve choosing to eat five days and fast two, or going for four feeding and three fasting days. It allows some normalcy on feeding days and can help accommodate social pressures. Fasts on 5-2 or 4-3 optimally last 36 hours. That means eating dinner and waiting until lunch on your next feed day (two days later) to eat again.

Extended fasts are used sparingly. They go for 24-72 hours—a long time, which explains their more occasional nature. Fasting for such long periods is not for beginners and shouldn’t be attempted until you are fat-adapted and able to better read your body during fasts. They also should be done with proper precautions in place.

How to Start Intermittent Fasting—8 Quick Tips

  1. Decide your eating window: Be realistic about what’s important and where you can make the sacrifice to fast. Also, be honest about where it’s non-negotiable. Is it best to eat in the morning? Would you rather only eat with your family or friends? Social considerations are important. Intermittent fasting is flexible, so you can tailor it to your life instead of letting a string of exceptions hamper your progress.
  2. Educate yourself: You’ve come this far—so you’re off to a great start. Read more about your chosen fasting option to understand more about the science behind it. Plenty of information is available from those more experienced in intermittent fasting. Use their wisdom to learn where mistakes can be made. Also check out this helpful blog about IF challenges.
  3. Fast clean: That means no cream or sugar in your coffee. The point of the fast is to avoid spiking your insulin.Sticking to unsweetened tea, coffee, and lots of plain water are your best bets. Even flavored, zero-calorie options could ramp up your appetite. And that rookie mistake can make you feel hungrier than you were before.
  4. Open your window wisely: Plan how you’ll open your window, because your hunger could complicate or cloud your ability to choose wisely. Don’t go full bore after a longer fast. Start small. Listen to your body. Leading with foods that are high protein and high fat are great options—but find what works for you. If you aren’t mindful about how you open your window, consequences could await. You can be headed for gastric distress and a trip to the bathroom.
  5. Proper refeeding is as important as fasting: The amount of eating and quality of food are key to help your body make it through your next fast. You need to have an eight-hour window after a longer fast. During that time eat nutritious foods full of the typical dietary targets—plant-based fats, lean protein, along with lots of vegetables and fruits.
  6. Turn to tech: Use apps to track your fast. Set alarms to remind you of the schedule you’re on. A smart scale is also a good way to keep track of your progress. Record notes about your experiences so you can pay attention to what works to open your window or beverages that inadvertently break your fast.
  7. Be patient: It takes time to become used to your new eating approach. Your body is adjusting—go easy on yourself. Journaling, taking pics, and celebrating non-scale victories can help you push through until you start fully seeing and feeling the benefits of intermittent fasting.
  8. Talk to your healthcare professional: Doctors are now more familiar with this approach to eating and can be helpful. They can also help you determine if fasting is right for you. A history of eating disorders, pregnancy or nursing, and being on certain medications may mean you should opt out of fasting or approach it carefully.