5 Health Benefits of Sex: Stress Relief, Deeper Connection, & More

When we think of sex, a variety of thoughts or reactions can come to mind. While some may be embarrassed to discuss it openly, others view it as a natural occurrence or expression of love between two people. But have you ever wondered about the health benefits of sex?

The truth of the matter is that while sex certainly supports a deeper connection between partners, it has some pretty incredible health benefits. So, let’s take a look at some of the top benefits of sex to learn all about how it actually supports whole-body health!

5 Health Benefits of Sex

Is sex good for you? When consensual, the short answer to this is a resounding yes! Curious about how it supports your health? Here are five of the top health benefits of sex.

1. Lowers cortisol levels

During times of stress, cortisol (the stress hormone) rises to help your body adapt to the stress and respond accordingly. But with our busy modern lives, chronic stress is on the rise, which results in consistently elevated cortisol levels. The result? We’re left feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and unable to successfully complete our everyday tasks.

Interestingly, one of the major benefits of sex is its ability to help lower cortisol levels, resulting in more feelings of calm. Research has shown that when a majority of women experienced feelings of arousal, desire, and satisfaction, they also showed a decrease in cortisol levels.

2. Boosts endorphins

Another one of the great benefits of sex is its ability to boost endorphins, also known as the “happy hormone.”

According to a 2016 review of clinical studies, researchers confirmed that most physical exercise, including sex, not only helps to reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels but also stimulates the production of endorphins. Known specifically to naturally elevate your mood, endorphins are also known to help relieve pain and reduce stress.

Interestingly, the 2016 review also confirmed that one of the top benefits of sex is the release of oxytocin, which not only promotes emotional bonding but also supports cardiovascular health.

3. Reduces blood pressure

Speaking of cardiovascular health, another one of the top benefits of sex is its ability to help reduce blood pressure!

According to one European study, those who reported having sex more frequently were revealed to have slower heart rates and lower blood pressure than people who had sex less frequently.

Meanwhile, other research has shown that men who had sex at least twice each week were almost 50 percent less likely to develop heart disease in comparison to men who had sex once a month.

4. Fights insomnia

If you’re exhausted due to insomnia, odds are that having sex is the last thing on your mind. You just want to sleep! But you may be surprised to learn that one of the best benefits of sex is that it actually fights insomnia and promotes better, more restful sleep.

According to a 2016 study, women with a history of insomnia who had sex and achieved an orgasm shortly before going to sleep were not only able to fall asleep easier and faster but also stay asleep longer.

5. Supports satisfaction in relationship

Finally, as humans, we’re hardwired to seek and crave emotional connection—something that’s essential for our well-being. And perhaps one of the greatest benefits of sex is that it promotes bonding and forming a deeper connection with your partner.

Research has shown that the release of oxytocin that happens during sex not only supports feelings of trust but also promotes feelings of love and bonding in couples. That said, studies have shown that it’s also vitally important to continue to foster an emotional connection outside of the bedroom with your partner in order to reap the full benefits of having a healthy, loving, romantic relationship.

Benefits of sex - Dr. Pingel

Key Takeaways:

Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

Almost everyone loves to include pumpkin in many recipes during the fall—and I’m no exception. But I like to make sure my recipe is as healthy as possible by including health-supporting ingredients that are also big on flavor. So, I created this incredible Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole for breakfast—and it was delicious!

Rich, filling, and guilt-free, it’s one of those recipes that you will turn to again and again. Plus, it can be made the night before, meaning there’s minimal prep in the morning. All you have to do it get up and pop it in the oven! But aside from being easy for busy mornings, what makes this Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole healthy? Keep reading to learn more about the ingredients!


Key Ingredients

First, my Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole features the obvious star: pumpkin. As you may recall, pumpkin is a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. And vitamin A has been shown to support immunity, eye health, and even memory.

Additionally, this pumpkin French toast casserole recipe contains coconut sugar in place of inflammatory table sugar, meaning you’re able to enjoy the sweetness without the unwanted effects to your waistline and blood sugar levels!

Finally, another key ingredient in this recipe is that it calls for a tablespoon of cinnamon. Known to support your health in many ways, cinnamon was found to help lower fasting blood glucose levels by up to 29 percent and even improve insulin sensitivity! Plus, it naturally contains anti-inflammatory properties and supports healthy blood pressure levels.

Just remember to purchase Ceylon cinnamon for the most benefit, which offers more benefits than the more common cassia cinnamon.


How to Make Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

To make my Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole, heat coconut milk over the stove until steaming and then steep two bags of chai tea for about 5 minutes. Next, combine pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, coconut sugar, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in a bowl.

Once the mixture is smooth, use it to coat the bread. Then, transfer your bread to a greased baking dish and top with pecans. Let it set for 10 minutes and then bake at 350 degrees F for about 50 minutes.

I like to serve my pumpkin French toast casserole with agave syrup, but maple syrup tastes amazing, too! And there you have it—the most amazing Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole recipe you’ll ever make!


Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

Serves: 8

Time: 50 minutes

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pinge;



2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

2 bags chai tea (decaffeinated, if desired)

⅓ cup unsweetened pumpkin puree

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup coconut sugar

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 pound sprouted whole grain bread, cubed (gluten-free)

½ cup pecans, roughly chopped

Topping: maple syrup or agave (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a pot over medium heat, warm the coconut milk until steaming. Remove from the heat and add the bags of chai tea. Steep for 5 minutes, then remove and discard the tea bags.

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pinge;

2. In an extra-large mixing bowl, combine the infused coconut milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, coconut sugar, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Whisk until smooth.

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pingel

3. Add the bread to the pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a lightly greased baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with the pecans. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pingel

4. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden.

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pingel

5. Serve warm. Top with maple syrup or agave, if desired.

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pingel

Tip: Prep this the night before. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

5 Times You Need to Get a Second Opinion

Today I want to discuss with you a topic near and dear to my heart: how to know when you should get a second opinion. We live in a culture where doctors are revered and we’ve been told not to question them or their decisions for our health.

But the truth of the matter is that we shouldn’t see their comments as decisions but more as recommendations that we then consider in light of what we instinctually know about our personal health situation. Now, sometimes a physician’s recommendation is on point, but other times it’s not.

So, how do you know when to follow your doctor’s advice and when to seek a second opinion? Keep reading to get the answer to this along with why getting a second opinion is important and what you should expect.

What Is a Second Opinion?

Let’s start by discussing something that may sound obvious but perhaps isn’t quite what you’re expecting: What is a second opinion?

Technically speaking, getting a second opinion is seeking advice from an expert (in this case it’s as a doctor) to see if this assessment and advice aligns with those of the first expert. In healthcare, this expert is often referred to as a “second opinion doctor,” and can be anything from a general practitioner (such as a medical doctor or naturopathic physician) to a specialist, depending on your situation.

In order to dive into more details about seeking out a second opinion doctor and what to expect and why it’s important, let’s take a look at the different situations that warrant getting a second opinion.


5 Situations that Warrant a Second Opinion

So, when and why is a second opinion important? Let’s take a look at some of the top health-focused situations in which you will want or need to seek a second opinion.

1. Your doctor has diagnosed you with a life-changing condition or illness.

Whether it’s a diagnosis of a lifestyle-induced illness or a hereditary condition, receiving the news that you have an illness that could either shorten your life or radically change your lifestyle is devastating.

Sometimes there’s a question of whether or not this is really happening and if the doctor could have made a mistake. That’s why I always recommend seeking a second opinion from a qualified medical expert. Have your second opinion doctor review any labs, imaging, history of symptoms, etc. before providing his or her thoughts. Also, be aware that your second opinion doctor may want to run his or her own labs or tests, too.

2. Your doctor has recommended medications that come with major and/or undesired side effects.

Don’t think that seeking out a second opinion is only necessary in cases of life-or-death diagnoses. The truth is that certain medications such as statins and metformin come with a variety of undesired side effects that can leave you feeling worse than you do now!

If your physician has recommended that you begin a new medication to support anything from your blood sugar levels to your blood pressure or cholesterol, I always recommend seeking a second opinion—and this is where consulting with a naturopathic physician can be a great choice. He or she will look at all of your history and test results and help you determine if there are all-natural alternatives to certain medications or if you do, in fact, need to begin certain medications.

The caveat here, though, is that if you do decide to start on a new medication for something that can be improved with lifestyle changes, you’ll want to consult with your doctor about what measures you can take—with everything from your diet to your exercise habits to your stress management—and develop a plan to reduce your need for those medications over time.

3. Your doctor has recommended surgery.

While some surgeries are absolutely necessary and critical, others aren’t—but it can be hard to truly discern that on your own. If your primary physician has recommended a surgical procedure, it’s always a great idea to seek a second opinion just make sure that surgery is, in fact, the appropriate next step and that you have exhausted all other options.

Anytime you go under the knife, you’re putting external stress on your body, so you want to make sure the outcome is worth the experience.

4. Your insurance requires a second opinion.

Sometimes your insurance requires a second opinion before it will pay for a procedure. If you’re seeking a second opinion due to insurance demands, begin by asking your doctor for a referral to another physician and take along all necessary documentation to provide an entire health picture.

Things to make sure you include are all medications and/or supplements you’re currently taking, test results, lab work, and anything else your current physician may have taken into account when making his or her recommendation.

5. Your instinct is that something isn’t quite right with the first opinion/recommendation.

I can’t overstate how many of my patients have first come to me because their guts were screaming that the recommendation from their first doctor wasn’t the right fit or approach for them.

Whether you feel a diagnosis was incorrect or suspect there’s a better, more natural and gentler approach that could work for you, if your gut is telling you to seek out a second opinion doctor before moving forward with a certain medical decision, trust your instincts! After all, seeking a second opinion may not only save your sanity—it can also save your life! And if nothing else, the peace of mind that seeking a second opinion will provide is well worth it.

Second opinion - Dr. Pingel


How to Get a Second Opinion

Finally, if you’re wondering how to get a second opinion, take heart that it should be a relatively straight-forward process. You can begin by asking your doctor to recommend someone to provide one.

Now, one common question people have is if doctors are offended by second opinions. Here’s my answer to that: If your doctor is offended, then you may not have the best doctor-patient relationship, and that’s a red flag. A good doctor will encourage you to ask questions and avoid any kind of judgmental behavior.

If your doctor refuses to provide a reputable recommendation for a second opinion doctor, ask friends and/or family about their physicians. You can also search for specialists, depending on your medical situation, and call to schedule an appointment for a second opinion.

When you do make the call, someone from the doctor’s office should tell you what they need you to bring, and they will likely have you fill out intake forms as well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what to expect from the appointment, including how long the doctor will spend with you, what experience they have with certain situation/areas of expertise, and whether they tend to take a more conservative or aggressive approach.

Each of these important answers will help you to determine if this is the right second opinion doctor for you. Remember, the whole point of getting a second opinion is to help you best determine your next course of action for your health—and feeling confident in the expert from whom you’re seeking that second opinion is critical for you to be truly empowered in your health journey.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Fall Candle

Fall is upon us, meaning the cooler, crisp air leaves us craving warmth and coziness (cue hygge lifestyle!)—and perhaps even the infamous PSL (aka pumpkin spice latte)! So, I thought what better way is there to combine some classic fall favorites than to create a recipe for a DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Fall Candle?!

After all, the options you can buy in stores are full of synthetic, toxic ingredients that really aren’t safe for you or your family to breathe in. In fact, research has shown that your average store-bought candle exposes you to indoor air pollution, fragrances linked to both developmental and reproductive negative effects, the carcinogens formaldehyde and benzene, and toxic paraffin wax that has been linked to everything from asthma to cancer!

The truth of the matter is that the only way to avoid these harmful substances is by knowing the source of your candle or making your own that’s made solely from a base of soy, coconut or beeswax.

How to Make a PSL Fall Candle

For this DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Fall Candle, I used soy wax as my base, which I melted in a pot over medium-low heat. Then I added in a few tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice from my kitchen spice rack! And that’s it—simple, pure, whole ingredients that I can feel comfortable using around my family, which means you can, too!

Once you stir the pumpkin spice into the wax, you have the base of your fall candle ready to go. All it has to do is set! For that step, simply hold a wick in the center of a glass jar as you pour in the pumpkin spice wax mixture. I used skewers to hold the wick in place as the wax set, as it tends to take a few hours.

And that’s all there is to it! Once the candle is set, light the wick, curl up with a good book and blanket, and enjoy the warm scents of fall as you relax, unwind, and de-stress from a long day. To get the full recipe, keep scrolling—and I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!


DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Fall Candle

Makes: 1 candle

Time: 10 minutes (+ 4 hours to set)

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel


2 pounds grated soy wax

3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

1 glass mug or jar

1 wick

2 skewers or popsicle sticks


1. In a pot, melt the wax over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until liquid.

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel

2. Remove from the heat and add the pumpkin pie spice. Stir to incorporate.

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel

3. Hold the wick in the center of the glass as you pour in the wax mixture.

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel

4. Use skewers to hold the wick in the center until the candle is set.

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel

5. Once set, light your candle and enjoy!

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel

How To Take Time For Yourself: The Art of Micro-Moments 

Today I'm prescribing something specific for you: Take time for yourself—even if it's just a few moments. Now, I know what you're thinking: "But, Dr. Pingel, I can't—I'm just too busy/overwhelmed, etc."

I get it; I've been there myself as I struggled to find the balance of it all. The idea to take time for yourself can seem impossible at first. But that's when I started incorporating the art of micro-moments—and it changed everything for me, from how I felt to how I viewed time management to even how I interacted with my family! And these were all positive changes!

Keep reading to learn more about what micro-moments are and how they can benefit your health and help restore balance to your life!

Why You Need to Take Time For Yourself

Do you ever feel like you’re on autopilot—simply going through the motions of your day just to get everything done? You aren’t alone; researchers have found that at least 47 percent of people spend their days on “autopilot,” meaning they’re following automated behaviors while their thoughts are elsewhere.

The result? They aren’t as engaged and report a significant decrease in happiness. And that’s not really surprising, is it?

How often do we “make it through the day” with the hope of having a more peaceful, restful tomorrow—only to be met with the same demands the following day? We live life in the fast line with no signs of being able to hit the breaks anytime soon.

Eventually, we run ourselves into the ground because our bodies are so exhausted that they can no longer keep up, and that’s when we not only enter “autopilot” mode but also begin to experience symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, crippling fatigue, elevated blood pressure, and more.

And perhaps one of the worst effects? We miss out on the very things that mean the most to us—being there for our loved ones and truly experiencing those special moments. It’s hard to realize that in our attempts to make it through our to-do lists by not stopping with the goal of having more time later on, we’re inevitably losing what little time we’d hoped to gain.

So, what’s the solution? Counterintuitively, you absolutely must take time for yourself throughout the day. It allows your mind and body to take a much-needed break so that you aren’t completely mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day.

When you take time for yourself, you can be mentally and emotionally present more often when you’re needed most—by your kids, grandkids, spouse, friends, extended family, and more. But with all your demands and busy schedule, how can you possibly carve out time for yourself throughout the day?

If you can't remember the last time you took time for yourself, you need to incorporate the art of micro-moments!


Take time for yourself - Dr. Pingel


Micro-Moments For Your Health: What They Are & How They Work

A micro-moment is defined as a very short period of time that serves a specific purpose or holds some importance. When you consider this in terms of your health, you’re carving out very short moments of time to do something highly personalized for yourself that helps to find balance, recenter, and emerge feeling more restored and energized.

For me, dancing is my go-to micro-moment exercise. If I’m ever feeling overwhelmed or in need of a quick energy boost, I carve out 3 to 5 minutes to dance to an upbeat song—whether it’s in my office, in my kitchen, or even outdoors! Dancing is what I love and something that brings me joy and energy, but that may not be the best micro-moment activity for you.

Perhaps you love to read or cook or craft—whatever the activity is, just make sure that when you take time for yourself, you’re doing something that truly fills your soul and brings you happiness.

Here are some steps to take to prioritize micro-moment activities along with some suggestions on what to do.

3 Steps for Making Micro-Moments

Not sure where to start? Check out these top tips for what to do when you take time for yourself and how to set aside that precious time that’s usually otherwise spoken for!

1. Add it into your schedule.

On Sunday night, look at your schedule for the week ahead. Pick a time that you know doesn’t usually fill up with meetings or calls and also that won’t require you to be “on” for others—such as when your kids are sleeping or at school or your spouse has left for work.

Schedule at least two 5-minute increments of time each day (more if possible!) for your micro-moment activity and set a reminder so you don’t forget!

2. Change your environment.

Even if you’re just moving into the next room or stepping outside, it’s important to remove yourself from any distractions, such as your computer or phone, for your micro-moment activity. Allow yourself to be fully in the moment, which you can do because you know you’ll be gone for less than the time it takes to go to the restroom!

Remember, anything that comes up in the next 5 minutes or so can absolutely wait until you get back.

3. Choose an activity you can lose yourself in.

While meditating for short bursts of time may work for some, if you’re like most people, learning how to take time for yourself—even if it is just a few moments—is going to be a big adjustment at first. So choose something engaging.

Is there a certain book you’ve been dying to start, a song you love to dance to, or a craft you’re in the process of creating? Do you love writing or going for a bike ride? It doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as it’s totally about you and something you love. Remember, the point here is to do something that brings you joy and fulfillment.


How to Extend Beyond Micro-Moments

Once you become accustomed to how to take time for yourself by utilizing micro-moments each day during the week, consider expanding that time on weekends or in the evenings. You can treat yourself to lunch or go watch a movie you’ve been dying to see.

Perhaps you can sign up for a dance class once a week like I do or join a walking club. Once you begin to take time for yourself on a regular basis, you’ll be surprised to see the changes unfold not only in your mind and body but also in your relationships.

And if you find that you’re still struggling in your efforts to begin taking time for yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your family and those you love most want the best for you—and that means pitching in to help you feel and be your best. Remember, prioritizing your health is the single best way to give back to those you love.

Upcycling Food: What It Is + 5 Ways to Get Started

Have you heard of upcycling food? It's a newer trend in the food space where you create dishes that would have otherwise been tossed out. It's a great way to cut back on food waste and even lower your grocery bill, but it can be hard to get into the frame of mind needed to execute it properly.

To learn more about upcycling food and how to do it, keep reading about this rising trend and discover how you can incorporate it into your life on a regular basis.

Upcycling Food: What It Is and How To Do It

If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably already in the habit of recycling certain things, such as plastic, glass, and more. But what if you could take it a step further and cut back on your food waste while also saving money on your grocery bill and even support the climate, too?

I’m talking about upcycling food. Upcycled food is simply creating a dish made from ingredients that otherwise would have been tossed out, such as scraps from a prior meal. Think leftovers but on a whole new scale.

The first benefit that comes to mind? You’ll no longer be tossing as much uneaten food, which accounts for 6 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world. But there’s more.

You’ll also be saving yourself some money by making your food stretch further—and we all know that organic, fresh produce isn’t exactly what you’d call cheap! In addition to meals, you can also use your food scraps for other purposes, such as homemade cleaners! The options are truly endless.

But how practical is it? I’m so glad you asked!  Let’s take a look at some of the top ways you can get in on the trend of upcycling food.


Upcycling food - Dr. Pingel


How To Upcycle Food: 5 Ways to Use Upcycled Food

Here are 5 of my top tips for upcycling food.

1. Turn fruit into on-the-go snacks.

Whether you have a dehydrator or an oven, you can dehydrate your favorite fruits to make dried fruits for on-the-go snacks. So, how is this a tip for upcycling food?

If you’re anything like most people, we don’t always get around to eating our produce before it begins to lose its freshness. But by dehydrating your fruit, it will last longer and serve as a quick and easy snack for when you’re craving a little sweetness.

2. Toast bread into croutons.

Just as with our produce, it’s pretty common for bread to go stale—especially when you’re nearing the end of the loaf. One thing I love to do is cut up my gluten-free bread and pop it into the oven to create croutons for my salads. It’s a great way to add texture, saves on the cost of (and chemicals in) store-bought croutons, and cuts back on excess food waste!

3. Save citrus peels for cleaning solution.

I’ve been known to add a little lemon peel to my water from time to time, but I also love to steep citrus peels in vinegar for a quick and effect at-home cleaning solution! I like to pack a jar full of peels and then fill it with vinegar for at least a week.

Then, combine the vinegar with a little castile soap, lemon oil, and water, much like this recipe shows, and there you have it—a versatile, multi-purpose cleaner!

4. Transform vegetable greenery into pesto.

If you love pesto, this is one upcycling food trend you’re going to want to try! Simply use your vegetable greenery (I often use carrot top greens) as the base for a delicious pesto.

Just blend your greens with some nuts, basil or sage, olive oil, and garlic and watch your family ask for seconds—never knowing your secret ingredient!

5. Use apple cores to make apple juice.

Finally, one of the most common scraps that makes for a great upcycled food is an apple core! Personally, I like to use apple cores as the base for a healthy homemade apple juice.

Place a small pot of water on the stove and throw in your apple core(s). Add in a little honey or monkfruit sweetener, and a delicious apple juice awaits you! You can also add a little cinnamon for extra health benefits.

Key Takeaways