What to Eat to Repel Bugs

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Garlic
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Garlic releases a sulfur gas called allicin when it is attacked by insects. The compound is toxic to bugs if they consume it. Allicin is also the compound that causes the strong odor in garlic. When we consume garlic, the smell can be emitted through our skin and interfere with bugs’ sense of smell. This makes it hard for bugs to smell us and therefore bite us. Allicin, however, breaks down quickly when heated, so you may want to consider eating your garlic raw. Click here for a Garlic Salsa recipe.

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iStock-Thinkstock

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Lemongrass
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The oils found in lemongrass are a well-known natural bug repellant because they mask our odor, but consuming lemongrass may have the same protective properties. So make sure to add lots of lemongrass to your soups and curries. Click here for the Lemongrass Chicken recipe.

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IstockMigin

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Chiles
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Capsaicin, the heat-generating compound in chiles is already used as a natural insecticide and is known to stop the itchiness caused by bug bites, but eating chiles may also prevent bug bites. Bugs apparently do not like the smell that emanates from our bodies when we consume food that contains capsaicin. Click here for the Marinated Olives with Fennel, Lemon, and Chile Peppers Recipe.

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Istock/ALEAIMAGE

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Grapefruit
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Grapefruit contains a compound called nootkatone that repels mosquitoes. Nootkatone is also supposed to be effective against ticks and scientists are conducting research to see if it will work against other insects. You may want to consider adding grapefruit to your breakfast more often. Click here for Grapefruit, Fennel, and Feta Salad recipe.

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Istock/Mistika

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Marmite/Vegemite
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People either love Marmite or hate it, but when it comes to mosquitoes, they all hate it. Some evidence suggests that when we eat Marmite, our skin gives of an odor that repels mosquitoes. So if you love Marmite, go ahead and spread a lot of it on your toast. Click here for the Soft Boiled Egg with Marmite Soldiers recipe.

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Istock/EllenMoran

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Bananas
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Some people swear that bananas are a natural bug repellant when eaten because bananas contain vitamin B and a chemical called 3-octanol. Others swear that bananas attract bugs because they are high in potassium. Foods high in potassium increase the amount of lactic acid that our bodies produce, thus attracting bugs. So whether your third slice of banana bread will help keep away bugs is still debatable. Click here for the Healthy Banana Bread recipe.

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Istock/DNY59

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Onions
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Onions contain the same chemical, allicin that garlic does. While eating tons of onions may not make you very popular among friends and family, they may help keep bugs away, so consider adding more onions in your diet. Leeks, chives, and shallots also contain allicin. Click here for the Onion Dip Recipe.

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Istock/Billberryphotography

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Beans/Lentils
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They are cheap and nutritious and they may also prevent bug bites. Beans and lentils are high in vitamin B-1, also known as thiamine. The smell that thiamine releases after consumption is supposed to repel bugs. Now you have the perfect excuse to consume a whole tube of hummus or add even more refried beans to your huevos rancheros. Click here for the Red Lentil Soup recipe.

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Istock/MmeEmil

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Tomatoes
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A common home remedy for bug bites is to rub tomato juice on the bites. But consuming tomatoes may actually prevent bug bites from happening. Tomatoes are another good source of thiamine and a diet rich in thiamine may make you less enticing to bugs. Click here for the Tomato Soup recipe.

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Istock/Filonmar

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Apple Cider Vinegar
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There’s an old wives’ tale that in order to keep ticks and mosquitoes away, people should start taking one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar three times daily at least three days before they plan to be outside all day. Just remember, this could be worse. It could be cod liver oil instead of apple cider vinegar. Click here for more reasons to use Apple Cider Vinegar.

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iStock-Thinkstock