Today we have a guest blogger, Tom Hines, from Nutrition Geeks. Thanks Tom for the info!
Modern eating habits
Our modern day diet contains sweets, refined carbohydrates, aerated colas, saturated oils, salts; not to mention other unhealthy ingredients like artificial sweeteners and preservatives. In addition, a lot of healthy constituents are missing from these foods, chiefly, high quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fibers. All of these have collectively led to a number of so called metabolic syndromes or disorders which were non-existent a century ago. Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and a number of cancers have their origin in unhealthy living and dietary habits. In fact, some early researchers had surmised that the basis of all diseases is oxidative stress and unhealthy food. There has been a renewed interest in this theory of late.
Combating stresses of modern life
As the world progresses towards better facilities, our lives are getting easier. Gone are the hunter-gatherer days when an individual had to be fit to catch a prey. No one walks long distances since the advent of the car. Technological advances have affected us in all spheres of life. This has lead to our society gradually becoming ‘soft’ and unfit. To combat these changes, fitness and health guidelines recommend more physical activity and imbibing of health food. A rapid advance in nutrition science has helped us better understand our daily dietary needs. However, the rough and tumble of modern day life causes great stress on the human physical and mental health. A simple and effective way to counter these unwanted stresses is supplementation with superfoods.
Food supplements to combat stress
A wide variety of health and sports supplements are available. Of these, protein powders and vitamin supplements are the most commonly used. However, these do precious little to combat the stresses of day to day life. More recently, focus has shifted to the so called green superfoods. These, by definition, are of plant origin and contain all the nutrients required for sustenance of life. Indeed, many consider them to be ‘complete foods’, i.e. when consumed alone, they are capable of sustaining human life. A number of green superfoods are available in the market to choose from. Spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, wheat grass, stevia, ginseng, wheat germ oil and garcinia to name a few.
Spirulina is a microscopic plant which is quite versatile. It can grow in all sorts of environments including rivers, springs and lakes. It is a blue – green algae which manufactures most of the nutrients through the utilisation of sunlight (photosynthesis).
Spirulina is quite rich in its protein content (60%). Also in terms of digestibility, spirulina protein is second only to egg protein. Add to that, the impressive range of other contents: vitamins like A, B complex, C, E, Folic acid, pantothenic acid, inositol and minerals like calcium, iron, chromium, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium. Additionally, it also contains beta carotene and phtyochemicals.
Spirulina has glucose and cholesterol reducing effects and thus has been claimed to affect diabetes and cardiovascular diseases favorably. It has a gastrointestinal protective effect due to promotion of bacterial flora in the gut. Anti-inflammatory action due to phycocyanin present in Spirulina has been allegedly shown to protect against rheumatic arthritis. Also, a study in India showed regression of oral cancer lesions due to chewing of tobacco leaves. Spirulina has also shown promising results in fighting HIV in a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School. Last but not the least, allergies, including asthma, have been shown to benefit in some way from daily supplementation with Spirulina.
Chlorella is single-celled, blue – green algae. Much like Spirulina, it utilizes sunlight to produce nutrients. It is considered an efficient food source; it is rich in proteins and other essential nutrients. In the dry state, the constituents by weight are: proteins: 40%, carbohydrates: 20%, fats: 20%, minerals and vitamins: 10% and fiber: 5%. It is also a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), comprising almost 40% of all fatty acids present.
Chlorella has been claimed to reduce blood levels of lipids and cholesterol. In addition, it has shown promising results in patients with high blood pressure. Also, enhanced immune functions and improved wound healing have been documented to occur by some. Renewed vigor and vitality are the other positive effects associated with chlorella.
Daily supplementation with superfoods, can potentially, help prevent the symptom profile of some of the more modern diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, etc. Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties form the basis of their effectiveness in conditions like arthritis and asthma. Moreover, they prove quite effective in combating a wide variety of stresses due to their anti-oxidation properties.
Superfoods are, as the name suggest, ‘super’, in the way they provide a ‘complete food package’ and help human beings fight diseases and infections.
About the Author
Tom Hines, co-owner of NutritionGeeks.com (MN #1 Now nutritional supplement retailer), has been working in the nutrition industry since 1997, is a competitive powerlifter, lives with his wife Netti and three boys TJ, Grady and Brock on the prairie in west central Minnesota, spends his leisure time coaching youth wrestling, working with his horses and being play toy #1 for his boys.