Do a quick search on Google for "detox," and you'll be greeted by a swarm of suspect-looking products touting all kinds of benefits from life extension to better gut health and everything in between.
So often we look to fad diets, pharmaceuticals, and other "magic bullets" to fix our modern-day maladies but as the great Hippocrates once said, "let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food."
Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into a handful of foods rife with biologically active compounds and discuss their potential to enhance the human condition.
Functional Foods for Health & Wellness
Anyone who's completed 7th-grade science class is familiar with chlorophyll.
It is the plant pigment responsible for the green color of plants as well as the absorption of light during photosynthesis, which creates useable energy for the plant.
Chlorophyll has received interest as a dietary supplement due to its powerful antioxidant capacity as well as its potential to support liver and digestive function.
May Support Liver Health
Research into the health-promoting effects of chlorophyll is still in the early stages, but animal studies indicate the plant pigment may reduce the incidence of hepatic tumors by 29-64% and stomach tumors by 24-45%. <1>
Human research notes that chlorophyll may limit the uptake of ingested aflatoxin (carcinogen found on improperly stored food) by inhibiting the absorption of aflatoxin-B1, which leads to a reduction in biomarkers of aflatoxin-induced DNA damage. <2>
Supports Weight Loss
Chlorophyll may also offer added weight loss support. According to one particular study, individuals using a daily greens supplement containing chlorophyll lose more weight than those that didn't. <3>
In that same study, researchers also noted that the supplement group also experienced a reduction in LDL ("bad") cholesterol, a decreased desire for "palatable food," and an increased release of GLP-1.
In case you weren’t aware, GLP-1 stands for Glucagon-like Peptide-1. It is a gut hormone secreted from intestinal L cell that has been noted in several studies to reduce calorie intake as well as appetite. <4>
Promotes Skin Health
Chlorophyll is abundant in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that may help protect the skin from the sun's harmful UV rays as well as encourage younger, more vibrant looking skin due to its potential to neutralize oxidants and decrease oxidative stress. <5>
It’s also known to possess anti-microbial, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. <6> These various properties are why chlorophyll is often considered a “superfood” in certain circles.
If you look at the best fat burners on the market, they tend to all have a common ingredient in them, and no it's not caffeine.
It’s cayenne pepper extract, typically standardized for capsaicin.
As you likely know, cayenne pepper is a fiery chili pepper extensively used in Cajun cuisine for its ability to add a distinct "bite" and tongue-tingling heat to culinary fare.
But it’s so much more than that, as you’re about to see.
Supports Weight Loss
The reason for this is that cayenne has been well-studied by the scientific community in regard to its ability to promote weight loss.
Various studies have found that supplementing with cayenne (as well as capsaicin) <7,8,9,10>:
- Boosts metabolic rate
- Increases energy expenditure by 50 calories per day, without increasing the heart rate
- Enhances fat burning
- Reduces cravings
- Decreases appetite by increasing GLP-1 secretion
- Stimulates TRPV1 receptors
- Activates brown fat thermogenesis
Capsaicin's primary mechanism of action is the stimulation of TRPV1 receptors, which helps boost metabolism. The TRPV1 receptors are responsible for the increased body temperature you feel when biting into a chili pepper as well as the burning sensation in your mouth.
Interestingly, when TRPV1 receptors are activated, they draw calcium into cells which upregulates the production of antioxidant enzymes, while downregulation the production of various proteins that induce inflammation.
Finally, TRPV1 activation also releases antioxidants in the instance of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and fatty liver disease.<9>.
Promotes Vascular Health
Beyond weight loss, cayenne and capsaicin have also been noted to exert GI protective and anti-inflammatory benefits. <11> Of the 198 healthy human subjects given a supplement containing cayenne pepper extract, 178 of the participants reported improvements in GI symptoms.
Additional animal research notes that capsaicin also supports cardiovascular health due to increased endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS). <12> The mechanism through which capsaicin induces nitric oxide production is TRPV1 activation.
Offers Joint Pain Relief
Studies have found that cayenne pepper may provide a modicum of relief following surgery. The pungent pepper reduces the amount of substance P
-- a chemical that transmits pain signals to the brain.
By lowering the amount of substance P, the fewer messages there are that can reach the brain, allowing you to experience relief.
Cayenne has also been noted to help reduce pain from nerve damage in the feet or legs from diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia symptoms, and lower back injuries. <13>
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is the vinegar produced from crushed apples.
Following thorough mashing, the liquid is pressed from the apple goop. Yeast and bacteria are added to the apple liquid, where it is then allowed to ferment for some time, and ultimately converted to alcohol.
After this, a second fermentation is carried out where the alcohol produced during the initial fermentation is converted into vinegar via the acetic acid-forming bacteria acetobacter.
You might be interested to learn that acetic acid, as well as another organic acid naturally occurring in apples (malic acid), are responsible for the distinct sour, tart flavor of cider vinegar (and tart apples like Granny Smith).
In its raw, unpasteurized form, apple cider vinegar is rich in many amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and various other healthful nutrients. More specifically, apple cider vinegar contains high amounts of iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chlorine, and several B vitamins.
Now it should be mentioned that not all apple cider vinegar is created equal.
In the store, you’re likely to find two distinct types:
The main difference between the two types of cider vinegar is that unpasteurized variety contains the “mother.”
“Mother” is a collection of proteins, enzymes and gut-friendly bacteria that give unpasteurized apple cider vinegar its murky, cobweb-esque appearance. The “mother” is also the reason for most of the supposed benefits of apple cider vinegar.
Conversely, pasteurized apple cider vinegar does not contain “mother” (due to the pasteurization process), but it does contain malic acid and pectin, which may offer other benefits.
It’s also no secret that apple cider vinegar is one of the hottest ingredients commonly seen in trendy “detoxes” and “cleanse” protocols. But, where did this belief that raw, sour wine (vinegar is from French word vin aigre
meaning “sour wine”) had these purifying properties?
Let’s take a look at the research.
Supports Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Several research studies have been carried out to investigate the effects of vinegar consumption on postprandial (after feeding) blood glucose levels. Researchers observed that consuming vinegar led to significant reductions in blood sugar levels in the hours after a meal. <14,15,16,17>
It should be mentioned that the above-referenced studies used acetic acid (the type of acid in white vinegar), not apple cider vinegar.
Still, apple cider vinegar does contain a fair amount of acetic acid.
More recent studies using apple cider vinegar note that it does indeed lead to lower blood sugar levels following a meal. <18>
For the study, participants consumed either two tablespoons apple cider vinegar or 2 tablespoons of water with 1 ounce of cheese before bedtime. The following morning, researchers gathered blood glucose measurements from each and found that the individuals receiving apple cider vinegar had a blood sugar reading 4–6% lower than the control group .<18>
A prior 2003 study noted that consuming cider vinegar alongside a high carb “meal” (consisting of orange juice and a buttered white bagel) had better insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose readings than the control group consuming the same meal sans cider vinegar. <19>
Due to these results, apple cider vinegar may be useful for pre-diabetics and diabetics to help reduce blood sugar following a meal.
Promotes Weight Loss
One of the main reasons individuals turn to apple cider vinegar (besides the fact that it’s a fantastic ingredient to use in salad dressings and BBQ sauces) is weight loss.
This is based on some prior animal research has found that ingestion of acetic acid (one of the acids naturally occurring in apple cider vinegar) increases fat burning and reduces fat accumulation and increases fat oxidation. <20,21> Thus far, only one human study has been conducted assessing the effects of apple cider vinegar on weight loss. The trial included 155 obese Japanese individuals and gave them one of three treatments:
- 15 mL of vinegar
- 30 mL of vinegar
The 30 mL vinegar group lost ~4.19 lbs. of weight, while the individuals consuming 15 mL of vinegar lost ~2.65 lbs. of weight. Individuals in the placebo group lost no weight. <22> For this study, participants self-reported their food intake, which opens up the possibility for some inaccuracies regarding reported vs. actual intake of food.
At this point, it’s premature to say that apple cider vinegar is a “knockout” fat loss ingredient, but there is some additional evidence to suggest it may support your weight loss efforts...
Studies have found that consuming apple cider vinegar slows gastric emptying, which means it takes food longer to travel through the GI system. This can lead to increased feelings of fullness and may help to reduce food intake at subsequent meals. <23>
And, research has found as much. When human subjects consume vinegar before a meal, they consume 200-275 fewer calories for the remainder of the day. <17>
As you know, anything that can help you feel fuller and help you eat fewer calories can be very helpful when trying to lose weight. Based on the current body of evidence, apple cider vinegar may be one such tool to include in your arsenal of weight loss support supplements.
There's no shortage of "superfoods" on the market. From goji berries to kale to spirulina, mother nature is rife with micronutrient-rich foods to support health and wellness.
That’s why SteelFit® has created Pure Steel™ Apple Cider Vinegar
Natural Detoxifier with Cayenne Pepper and Chlorophyll.
Pure Steel™ Apple Cider Vinegar contains numerous micronutrients that help cleanse and purify the body, all in the effort to make you more resilient inside and out.
Mix a scoop in with lemon water to get some added hydration, vitamin C, and digestive support and be on your way to a happier, healthier you!
- McQuistan TJ, Simonich MT, Pratt MM, et al. Cancer chemoprevention by dietary chlorophylls: a 12,000-animal dose-dose matrix biomarker and tumor study. Food Chem Toxicol. 2011;50(2):341–352. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2011.10.065
- Jubert C, Mata J, Bench G, et al. Effects of chlorophyll and chlorophyllin on low-dose aflatoxin B(1) pharmacokinetics in human volunteers. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2009;2(12):1015–1022. doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-09-0099
- Montelius, C., Erlandsson, D., Vitija, E., Stenblom, E.-L., Egecioglu, E., & Erlanson-Albertsson, C. (2014). Body weight loss, reduced urge for palatable food and increased release of GLP-1 through daily supplementation with green-plant membranes for three months in overweight women. Appetite, 81, 295–304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.06.101
- Dailey MJ, Moran TH. Glucagon-like peptide 1 and appetite. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013;24(2):85–91. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2012.11.008
- Hsu, C., Chao, P., Hu, S., & Yang, C. (2013). The Antioxidant and Free Radical Scavenging Activities of Chlorophylls and Pheophytins, 2013(August), 1–8.
- Subramoniam, A., Asha, V. V, Nair, S. A., Sasidharan, S. P., Sureshkumar, P. K., Rajendran, K. N., Ramalingam, K. (2012). Chlorophyll revisited: anti-inflammatory activities of chlorophyll a and inhibition of expression of TNF-alpha gene by the same. Inflammation, 35(3), 959–966. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10753-011-9399-0
- Janssens PL, Hursel R, Martens EA, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Acute effects of capsaicin on energy expenditure and fat oxidation in negative energy balance. PLoS One. 2013;8(7):e67786. Published 2013 Jul 2. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067786
- Janssens, P. L. H. R., Hursel, R., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. (2014). Capsaicin increases sensation of fullness in energy balance, and decreases desire to eat after dinner in negative energy balance. Appetite, 77, 44–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.02.018
- McCarty MF, DiNicolantonio JJ, O'Keefe JH. Capsaicin may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health. Open Heart. 2015;2(1):e000262. Published 2015 Jun 17. doi:10.1136/openhrt-2015-000262
- Zheng J, Zheng S, Feng Q, Zhang Q, Xiao X. Dietary capsaicin and its anti-obesity potency: from mechanism to clinical implications. Biosci Rep. 2017;37(3):BSR20170286. Published 2017 May 11. doi:10.1042/BSR20170286
- Mózsik, G. (2014). Capsaicin as New Orally Applicable Gastroprotective and Therapeutic Drug Alone or in Combination with Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in Healthy Human Subjects and in Patients. In O. M. E. Abdel-Salam (Ed.), Capsaicin as a Therapeutic Molecule(pp. 209–258). Basel: Springer Basel. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-0348-0828-6_9
- McCarty MF, DiNicolantonio JJ, O'Keefe JH. Capsaicin may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health. Open Heart 2015;2:e000262. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2015-000262
- Anand P, Bley K. Topical capsaicin for pain management: therapeutic potential and mechanisms of action of the new high-concentration capsaicin 8% patch. Br J Anaesth. 2011;107(4):490–502. doi:10.1093/bja/aer260
- Ebihara K, Nakajima A: Effect of acetic acid and vinegar on blood glucose and insulin responses to orally administered sucrose and starch. Agric Biol Chem 52: 1311–1312, 1988
- Brighenti F, Castellani G, Benini L, et al: Effect of neutralized and native vinegar on blood glucose and acetate responses to a mixed meal in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 49: 242–247, 1995
- Sugiyama M, Tang AC, Wakaki Y, et al: Glycemic index of single and mixed meal foods among common Japanese foods with white rice as a reference food. Eur J Clin Nutr 57: 743–752, 2003
- Johnston CS, Buller AJ: Vinegar and peanut products as complementary foods to reduce postprandial glycemia. J Am Diet Assoc 105: 1939–1942, 2005
- White AM, Johnston CS. Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(11):2814 LP-2815.
- Johnston CS, Kim CM, Buller AJ. Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003;27(1):281 LP-282
- Kondo, T., et al., Acetic acid upregulates the expression of genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes in liver to suppress body fat accumulation. J Agric Food Chem, 2009. 57(13): p. 5982-6.
- Fushimi, T. and Y. Sato, Effect of acetic acid feeding on the circadian changes in glycogen and metabolites of glucose and lipid in liver and skeletal muscle of rats. Br J Nutr, 2005. 94(5): p. 714-9.
- Kondo, T., et al., Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem, 2009. 73(8): p. 1837-43.
- Hlebowicz, J., et al., Effect of apple cider vinegar on delayed gastric emptying in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study. BMC Gastroenterol, 2007. 7: p. 46.