One sure tell-tale sign that winter has lost its grip is when those annoying mosquitoes start buzzing around and biting, and the irritation they cause doesn’t end there. Along with their trademark red and itchy welts resulting from the female’s bite, recent statistics show the number of cases of Dengue and Chikungunya fever are on the rise around the world. These and several other diseases are spread by the female mosquito when she is feeding and can be debilitating and, in some cases, fatal if left untreated. While there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the diseases spread by the female mosquito, it is obviously best to not become infected in the first place.
While the male mosquito feeds on plant nectar, just like bees, the female needs to ingest blood to obtain the protein she requires to produce her eggs. However, foiling her reproductive plans is relatively easy by following a few basic guidelines. These include always wearing bug spray and covering up with long sleeves and pants when outside in areas where mosquitoes exist. However, one of the most effective methods for repelling mosquitoes is hardly ever discussed.
Mosquitoes are attracted to mammals via various mechanisms, two of which are carbon dioxide from respiration and salt from perspiration. One way to repel or not attract these little pests is through the foods you eat. There are some foods that the smell will act as a natural mosquito repellent and others that will change the body chemistry enough so you will not attract mosquitoes. To help you become a natural bug repellent production factory, here are some foods you can eat to deter mosquitoes:
• Tomatoes, Beans, and Lentils
These three foods are grouped together due to their high vitamin B1, or thiamine, content. The Empire State Lyme Disease Association states that foods with vitamin B1 alters your body chemistry enough to emit an odor that, while undetectable to humans, repels mosquitoes. Adding these foods to your diet will also cause you to excrete a substance that helps to mask your natural odor that is attractive to mosquitoes and other bugs. Other sources of vitamin B1 include nuts, milk, oats, and oranges.
• Citrus Fruit
While oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, citrus contains a mosquito-repelling compound called nootkatone that can be used in multiple ways to ward off biting insects. While nootkatone can be applied to skin and clothes, it is also effective to eat foods that contain the substance as this results in producing a smell mosquitoes don’t like. Some delicious ways of enjoying citrus are eating the sweet varieties fresh, including fresh-squeezed orange juice and lemonade, and non-alcoholic citrusy Mimosas.
• Sushi with Seaweed
Seaweed is a natural insect repellent due to it’s high iodine content, and spraying liquid seaweed on plants or spreading it around garden beds help prevent bugs from attacking plants. Ingesting seaweed causes a skin secretion that mosquitoes don’t like one bit. However, go easy, as ingesting too much iodine can cause health issues.
Whether you like it hot or iced, coffee does double duty by giving you a boost of energy and keeping bugs away. As most insects are sensitive to smells, freshly ground coffee beans actually help to deter bugs when spread on the ground, and research has shown that coffee causes the body to give off a scent when ingested, which has a proven effect on repelling those ever-pesky mosquitoes.
• Hot Peppers
If you like or can at least stand to eat spicy foods, a hot pepper a day will help keep the mosquitoes at bay. Hot peppers, especially chili peppers, are known to repel mosquitoes due to the vegetable’s high capsaicin content. Capsaicin is the heat-producing compound that gives peppers their kick and has also been shown in studies to ward off mosquitoes and other insects, so the hotter the pepper is, the better it will work as an insect repellent. There are plenty of ways of incorporating hot peppers into your diet, from adding hot sauce to dishes to preparing spicy guacamole.
Lemongrass contains citronella oil, the same compound used in bug candles, an effective mosquito repellent. Lemongrass can be added to many dishes, a common ingredient in most Thai soups and curry recipes. Lemongrass can also be used to make a hot or cold tea or latte.
• Garlic, Onions, and Others
Come to find out, vampires aren’t the only blood suckers that garlic has an effect on warding off. When consumed, garlic causes you to release the compound allicin, which produces a scent that mosquitoes find distasteful. The body produces allicin from eating onions, chives, and shallots. Garlic and these other veggies add a savory flavor to many dishes. As a mega bonus, studies have shown that allicin also helps to inhibit the malaria infection that the female mosquito can transfer to humans while she is feeding.
• Apple-Cider Vinegar
This vinegar alters your normal body chemistry just enough to release an aromatic scent when you perspire, making you unappealing to mosquitoes. The easiest and most effective way of consuming apple cider vinegar is to swallow a tablespoon each day at approximately the same time. If you can’t stomach it straight, you can mix it with a teaspoon of honey or use the vinegar to make salad dressings.
What Not to Eat
Just as important as knowing what foods to eat to repel mosquitoes, knowing what foods not to eat is just as essential so you don’t unintentionally eat something that will attract the bloodsuckers to you. Here are the top three no-nos:
Studies have shown drinking alcoholic beverages can attract mosquitoes to your skin. One study, in particular, showed that drinking beer specifically changes your body odor to make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Scientists believe it is most likely the hops in beer that accounts for the smell.
• Salty Foods
Consuming excessive amounts of sodium causes your body to produce increased amounts of lactic acid that causes your sweat to give off a scent that is attractive to mosquitoes.
• Sugary Foods
While the jury is still out, there is some cursory evidence that eating a lot of sugary foods may cause you to emit a sweet odor that the female mosquitoes find appealing.
As you can see, changing your diet just a little can help keep you from being a staple on the mosquito’s. While eating the right foods, and avoiding the wrong ones, can help reduce the risk of being bitten, you should always wear an effective bug spray to deter mosquitoes whenever you venture outside in mosquito country. Proven® Insect Repellent makes a full line of picaridin based repellents, including an odorless bug spray proven effective against mosquitoes and ticks for up to 14 hours. Picaridin is derived from the black pepper plant and is recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the Environmental Working Group. Proven® products can be found in stores, on Amazon, or by visiting ProvenRepellent.com.