Supplements A-Z

Spirulina

Spirulina

One of the oldest life forms on Earth, spirulina is a blue-green microalgae that helped produce the oxygen in our atmosphere billions of years ago so that other life forms could appear (http://www.chinese-herbs.org/spirulina/). The original ‘superfood,’ spirulina is so nutrient dense that you could survive on it and water alone.

Hundreds of studies have confirmed spirulina’s powerhouse status. It has 60-70% complete protein, meaning it has all 8 essential amino acids and 10 non-essential ones that support good health. That’s more protein than beef, chicken or soybeans. According to Balch, it contains concentrations of nutrients “unlike any other single grain, herb, or plant.” Some of its other valuable components include: gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, vitamin B12, iron, nucleic acids RNA & DNA, chlorophyll and phycocyanin, which is found only in blue-green algae and has been shown to increase survival rates in mice with liver cancer (Balch).

Spirulina is highly digestible, protects the immune system, aids in mineral absorption and reduces cholesterol. Originally from warm alkaline lakes in Africa and Central and South America, spirulina was consumed by Aborigines of those places (including the Aztecs) for centuries, verifying its safety and healthful effects on the body.

WHY TAKE IT?

In his book Eat to Live, Dr. Joel Fuhrman talks about the importance of eating nutrient-rich foods to maintain healthy weight, avoid or correct chronic and degenerative disease and maximize longevity. Spirulina is perhaps the most nutritious food source known to humans and has been used all over the world for centuries for both its nutritional density and its medicinal qualities.

Spirulina is a source of vitality and life energy. Consumers of spirulina usually notice an increase in energy and overall health. It supplies nutrients needed to cleanse and heal while providing protection from all kinds of cancers as well as multiple viruses including influenza, herpes, mumps, measles and AIDS.

It’s common knowledge that we should all eat fish for the omega fatty acid content. Where do fish get their high omega content? Blue-green algae like spirulina. Omegas are essential in fighting heart disease, reducing arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, and depression as well as lowering bad cholesterol. The high content of vitamin B12 makes it excellent for the development of healthy nerve tissue and the metabolism of every cell in the body. This means spirulina helps with nerve damage and diseases such as fibromyalgia. Spirulina is also known for its high content of beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A, an essential nutrient needed for healthy immunity, teeth, bones, mucous membranes, skin and eyes.

Spirulina also contains all the other B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin E, calcium, chromium, copper, iodine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc. It has various antioxidants, phytonutrients and carotenoids. It protects the brain and detoxifies the liver and kidneys. It balances pH to reduce inflammation, the root of much disease. It balances the immune system, including calming an overactive one, which is significant because overactive (or inflamed) immune systems are responsible for autoimmune diseases. These usually have their root in poor nutrition and digestion, which spirulina also helps correct.

ADDITIONAL BENEFITS

Its superfood status means spirulina has many more benefits. It increases antioxidant protection, fights free radicals, fights the aging process, curbs appetite and promotes weight loss, supports health cardiovascular function, improves the digestion process and gastrointestinal health, creates beneficial flora in the digestive tract and makes the body produce more red and white blood cells which kill germs and viruses (http://www.chinese-herbs.org/spirulina/).

Spirulina’s antimicrobial effects help control the growth of pathogenic bacteria and yeasts. The chlorophyl means it is a blood cleanser. It also oxygenates the blood. Polysaccharides improve the functionality of bone marrow, thymus, and spleen cells.

Spirulina is good for the skin too: it improves age spots, eczema, acne and rashes. It’s good for the eyes as well, helping with glaucoma, cataracts and poor vision.

Studies have shown that spirulina improves allergies and respiratory function and enhances exercise performance.

Balch says taking spirulina between meals is beneficial for hypoglycemics because the high protein content stabilizes blood sugar levels.

HOW TO GET IT IN YOUR DIET

Spirulina is named for the spiraling shape it makes as it grows. It grows best in warm, fresh water lakes, but is also found in saltwater and natural springs. It is what gives bodies of water their dark green color. It is harvested and turned into a thick paste, dried, and packed into powder or flakes to be turned into tablets or capsules.

It is highly digestible and does not have the tough cell wall that others algae have. Most find the taste unpleasant. You can get flakes to add to food or smoothies, but most prefer to take it as a supplement, in pill form.

OTHER THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Spirulina is one of the main go-to foods for protection from harmful radiation. It protects the organs and helps detoxify the radiation out of the body. It was used to treat the children of Chernobyl.

Spirulina has no side effects; it is very safe. It does contain iodine, to which some may be allergic. If you haven’t detoxed in awhile, add it to your regime slowly or you may experience the ill effects of detoxing.

Some of it is wild harvested and tested for safety and purity while other is farmed to control environmental contaminates. Research the brand you choose or ask a qualified supplement consultant at a health food store.

It is inexpensive, easy to find and it stores well. It is a great addition to your diet (as well as your disaster kit) so stock up!

Fish Oil

Fish Oil

There are a number of scientifically-proven reasons why supplementing with high-quality fish oil is an important part of a healthy diet. Your brain, joints, muscles, heart, and skin all rely on the omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients in fish oil to function as they should — without these nutrients, your body is much more prone to disease, degradation, and ultimately death. Here are five specific ways that fish oil helps prevent disease and promote lasting health and longevity:

1) Fish oil reduces disease-causing inflammation. Fish oil contains two powerful omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), that have been shown in numerous scientific studies to quell inflammation. When taken regularly, fish oil that contains a high ratio of both EPA and DHA can help lower the inflammatory response associated with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and chronic back pain, as well as protect against the development of these and other diseases that often result from chronic inflammation.

A 2008 study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, for instance, found that fish oil actually promotes the body’s own natural healing response to inflammation. Based on the findings, the omega-3s in fish oil help modulate the body’s immune response by maximizing healing potential and minimizing inflammatory damage, which in turn buffers the bodily conditions that typically lead to chronic illness.

2) Fish oil protects against cancer. EPA and DHA, the two most widely-researched components of fish oil, also appear to be powerful cancer fighters, as illustrated in a 2010 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Researchers from Seattle, Washington, found that women who regularly supplement with fish oils rich in EPA and DHA are roughly 32 percent less likely to develop the most common forms of breast cancer.
Similarly, a 2001 study published in the Lancet journal revealed that fish oil effectively inhibits the onset and spread of prostate cancer in men. The researchers involved with that particular study concluded that the DHA in fish oil is primarily responsible for thwarting prostate cancer, as this essential fatty acid activates a receptor in the body that possesses known anticancer properties.

3) Fish oil slows the aging process. Besides chronic inflammation, one of the primary causes of rapid aging is a shortening of DNA chromosomes known as telomeres, which are located on the ends of DNA strands. Over time, these telomeres, which act as “time keepers,” shorten, which slows the division of chromosomes responsible for sustaining health. Telomeres that are too short are also unable to facilitate the creation and repair of stem cells.

Supplementing with fish oil; however, can help protect the integrity of telomeres, which in turn can help slow the aging process. Researchers from Ohio State University (OSU) discovered recently that healthy adults who supplemented with between 1.25 grams and 2.5 grams of fish oil every day for four months altered their fatty acid profiles so significantly that the telomeres in their white blood cells remained far more preserved than normal.

4) Fish oil lubricates joints and builds muscle. Whether you suffer occasionally from acute joint pain following a heavy workout, or chronic joint pain in the form of gout or arthritis, you can benefit from the anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil. Often referred to as a joint lubricant, fish oil effectively targets the molecules that cause inflammatory flareups, as well as helps balance the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, making it an effective pain reliever in a variety of contexts.

Since EPA and DHA are capable of being stored in the phospholipid bilayer of cells when taken in high enough doses, fish oil can also be a powerful muscle builder. Based on the science, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help promote protein synthesis while limiting degradation, which is the perfect combination building lean body mass.

5) Fish oil protects against heart attacks, promotes brain health. The cardioprotective benefits of fish oil are perhaps its most well known attributes, as omega-3 fatty acids have been shown time and time again to protect both the heart and cardiovascular system against debilitating illness. Clinical evidence shows that omega-3s protect against high cholesterol by reducing systemic inflammation, as well as balance blood pressure and protect against heart disease.

Omega-3s also play a crucial role in brain health, as a significant portion of brain tissue is composed of these fatty acids. Supplementing with fish oil, in other words, can remedy a host of cognitive abnormalities like chronic “brain fog,” depression, neurological disorders, and dementia. Metabolically, omega-3s protect nerves, cells, and various other components of the brain against stress and inflammation, which in turn helps protect memory, hormone production, and nervous system function.