Edition 32: June 2011
Primitive urges behind superfood craze
LET US consider for a moment the reasons behind our current fascination with “superfoods”.
What is it that attracts us to a natural substance that is said to provide us with a huge part of our dietary requirements in a single shot? Is it all about sustenance and health or it more deeply ingrained in us?
Maybe it goes back to survival instinct; any singular concentrated form of nutrition would have been much sought-after and revered for its ability to sustain the human organism for a longer period of time.
Anything that increased strength and endurance for travelling long distances over difficult terrain would have been prized and the very fact that a little of it would go a long way and was easy to carry would have added to the attraction.
The animal kingdom has always instinctively sought out the densest sources of food. Let us not forget that we are merely an evolved animal who has forgotten how to feed itself naturally.
The superfood awakens our animal nature again to what our bodies actually need, reaching beyond the superimposed aberrant desires for fleeting taste sensations.
This is the essence of the superfood; even today when we don’t need to eat the amounts we do, superfoods represent a return to a higher regard and respect for the real nutritional value in food.
They encourage us to look deeper into the strata of proteins, natural lipids, vitamins and minerals and the myriad of other associated components that make up a whole food and this is a good thing; this fastidious attention to quality and intensity of real nourishment.
There is no doubt that some foods just measure up superior to others in the vast array of bio-available constituents that they offer us to optimise our health and for improved physical and mental performance. Choosing a superfood means we truly value what we put in our mouth and it allows us to witness how quality food can reward us in our ongoing quest for living a wholesome, authentic life.
What Herb is That?
Is spirulina nature’s most perfect food?
WHEN WE say 'let Food Be Our Medicine', spirulina fits the bill perfectly with its copious nutrients all working together in a synergistic way to provide energy and vitality.
These tiny blue green coils harvest the energy of the sun and turn it into a treasure chest of bio-available nutrients.
Spirulina is considered one of nature's most perfect foods because it performs such a broad spectrum of activities in the body, exhibiting powerful healing and regenerating capabilities.
It is a microscopic spiral-shaped blue-green algae that has been around for the past 3.6 billion years or so; since life began. Spirulina has a long history of safe usage and is still consumed by Indigenous peoples today.
The Aztecs consumed spirulina in Mexico more than five centuries ago and it was a favourite among native peoples in the Sahara desert region. For the past 20 years, it has become popular as a food supplement, especially as its nutritional profile shows it can replace many more expensive supplements.
The United Nations and the World Health Organisation recommend spirulina as safe and nutritious for children. Studies with malnourished children in Mexico, India, Rwanda and Zaire have shown spirulina to be beneficial when intestines are unable to absorb nutrients effectively.
It has also been shown to benefit AIDS patients in whom malabsorption associated with opportunistic infections is problematic. Spirulina was chosen by NASA to enrich the diets of astronauts on space missions.
Spirulina contains the eight essential amino acids as well as 10 non-essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for anyone not consuming animal protein. It is rich in enzymes, chlorophyll, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorous.
It is rich in B complex vitamins including B6, biotin, B12, panthothenic acid, folic acid, inositol, niacin, riboflavin and thiamine. It is a good source of essential fatty acids, including linoleic, and arachidonic acid. Spirulina contains 4,000mg/kg of carotenoids as alpha and beta carotene, xanthophylis, cryptoxanthin, echinenone, zeaxanthin, and lutein. It is one of the few sources of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), providing 30mg per serving.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
SPIRULINA can be cultivated in a pure culture, away from contaminants. Its nutritional profile, coupled with its ability to be grown vertically as well as horizontally, makes spirulina a potential answer to the deepening world food crisis. Spirulina is sustainable food that offers more nutrition per acre than any other food, and delivers 20 times more protein per acre than soybeans and 200 times more protein per acre than beef.
Superoxide dismutase (SOD), the powerful antioxidant made naturally by the body, declines as we age; abundant supplies of anti-ageing SOD can be replenished by adding spirulina to the diet.
The pigment that gives spirulina its blue cast is phycocyanin, found in a concentration of about 7 per cent. Phycocyanin is related to the human pigment bilirubin, which is important to healthy liver function and digestion of amino acids.
This specialised blue pigment is only found in blue-green algae. Another pigment in spirulina is porphyrin, a red compound that forms the active nucleus of haemoglobin.
Scientific studies reveal spirulina's remarkable power to suppress an overactive immune system.
It can help balance and stabilise the immune system, freeing up metabolic energy for vitality, healing and assimilation of nutrients.
People with immune system imbalances may feel chronic fatigue and low energy. Spirulina’s polysaccharides enhance cellular communication processes and the ability to read and repair DNA. People taking spirulina usually feel greatly energised.
Spirulina also stimulates the immune system by enhancing the production of antibodies and cytokines. Under the influence of spirulina, macrophages, T and B cells, are activated. Spirulina sulfolipids have been proven effective against HIV, herpes virus and influenza virus. Spirulina is a powerful anti-inflammatory with anti-histamine properties which works especially well on the sinuses.
Research has found that high doses of spirulina give a protective effect against allergic rhinitis. It promotes mucosal immunity, improving the symptoms of nasal discharge, sneezing and nasal congestion and itching.
Spirulina comes in tablets or powdered form. It's a cost efficient way to add a huge nutrient boost. Most people benefit from a standard dosage of 10 grams (one heaped teaspoon) twice a day. The powder mixes easily with moist foods or liquids and may be incorporated into soups, sauces and dressings. It is perfect for adding richness to a smoothie and combines well with some sweet treats. For those who dislike the flavour, it mixes beautifully with chocolate.
Spirulina’s vitamins and minerals exhibit antioxidant properties that aid in the elimination of toxins and free-radicals, helping the body fight disease and stay healthy.
These elements act as natural anti-cancer agents aiding in the fight against cancer. Recognised studies have revealed spirulina’s ability to prevent cancer, arrest the development of cancer progression and cause tumour regression.
Indeed, spirulina is a potent antioxidant and body detoxifier that facilitates the elimination of toxins from the body. It is particularly adept at binding to toxic metals and ushering them out of the entire system.
Rampant industrialisation and its waste has led to the increased presence of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and lead, which infiltrate into our bodies in tiny amounts and wreak havoc with our health. Metal toxicity is can come from many sources such as deodorants (aluminium) and some dental fillings (mercury).
Spirulina contains a wealth of antioxidant vitamins and minerals (such as selenium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, and chromium) which reduce the toxic effects of cadmium, and of free radicals generated by inflammatory processes. Spirulina has been found to reduce kidney toxicity resulting from heavy metals and pharmaceutical drugs. It has also been shown to promote the elimination of dioxin.
Spirulina enhances the cardiovascular system and promotes lower blood pressure (Systolic and diastolic). Components of spirulina strengthen body tissues, especially connective tissue, making it more elastic and resilient; this along with its anti-inflammatory property helps reinforce the tissues of the heart and guards against artery deterioration.
Japanese and Indian studies have shown spirulina to improve the cholesterol ratio and further studies revealed a weight reduction effect along with the cholesterol normalising effects. In spite of its nutritional clout, spirulina does not pack a lot of calories.
Algae a powerful alkalising and healing food
Spirulina has the ability to temper the appetite and stabilise blood sugar levels, which helps suppress food cravings; another boon for overweight people. Where there has been any excess in the diet from over eating meat, dairy or rich refined chemical-laden food, spirulina helps cleanse the system admirably, overcoming liver stagnancy.
Spirulina provides a tremendous boost to digestive function, ensuring maximum nutrition from food is assimilated. Spirulina suppresses harmful bacteria such as e-coli and stimulates beneficial flora, especially lactic acid bacilli and bifidobacteria, which aid in the release of nutrients from food and enable the production of energy, promoting Vitamin B6.
Consumption of spirulina protects the resident intestinal micro-flora, which helps decrease excess levels of candida albicans that lead to thrush.
The massive amounts of chlorophyll, iron, protein, and other nutrients in micro-algae help overcome anemia. Hycocyanin, a phytonutrient found in spirulina, stimulates the bone marrow to produce blood cells more effectively.
Vegetarians greatly benefit from this outstanding dietary aid, which helps prevent (or reverse) anemia and replenish B12, which is essential for building red blood. It is a superior to using iron sulphate (ferrous sulphate), which is poorly absorbed and can cause digestive upset. The iron boost helps fatigue, eyesight problems, menstrual problems as well as skin disorders.
For those suffering from depression, additional spirulina in the diet works wonders for elevating bad moods and it also helps with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) as it is considered a neuro-stimulant and relaxant nervine.
This food stimulates the opening of neural pathways, and is thus of value in treating cocaine, amphetamine and other “speed-like” substance addictions. The bitter element to spirulina helps focus the mind, improving concentration during meditation and prayer. Overcoming depression or sluggish physical or mental condition with this mental stimulant is an excellent application of food as medicine.
Character: Slightly salty, cooling, increases yin fluids. It is rich in the rare blue pigment phycocyanin, a biliprotein which has shown to inhibit cancer-colony formation. The predominant blue pigment tends to promote astringency - a drawing together.
Properties: Nutritive, tonifying, alkalising, astringent, detoxifying, builds and enriches blood, cleanses the arteries, enhances intestinal flora, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, immune-stimulant, antioxidant, anti-depressant, digestive, cardiovascular tonic, anti-viral, anti-allergic, antihistamine
Uses: Anaemia, hepatitis, gastritis and other inflammations, diabetes, hypoglycaemia, obesity, overeating, malnutrition, poor skin tone, chronic skin disorders, cancer, high blood pressure, addiction, depression, AIDS, sinusitis, viruses.
Safety: Spirulina's safety has have proven by many toxicological studies, even when consumed in large amounts. The nutrients found in spirulina exist in natural harmony and integrity, making them much more bio-available, absorbable and safer that those found in multi-vitamin and mineral capsules, or in supplements containing isolated nutrients.
BLUE-GREEN algae and spirulina, which is a specific form of blue-green algae, are found in nature growing in the still, alkaline waters of lakes and ponds. They supply the fresh burst of primal essence that manifested when life was in its birthing stages, being the generators of the oxygen found in our atmosphere, which allowed all higher life forms to evolve. The single cells contained everything needed by life to evolve into the rich diversity we find on earth today.
Primitive foods such as spirulina contain the highest food energy, the highest nutrient value and use up the least amount of the planet's resources. Spirulina supplies essential minerals that may be missing from conventional foods grown in depleted soils. Spirulina grows in water containing ionic trace minerals that are absorbed and chelated by the organism, creating a colloidal form easily absorbed by our bodies.