health benefits of spirulina

When I was 17, during my summer break between my junior and senior years of high school,  I worked at a restaurant with some interesting characters, let me tell you.

I worked with this lady; we’ll call her for anonymities sake, Cindy.  Cindy was in her early 50’s and didn’t have a single wrinkle on her face or gray hair on her head, despite her vocation, she seemed biologically unphased by life.

Now Cindy wasn’t a marathon runner or even a ‘clean eater’ — though that term wasn’t quite as relevant as is today — and she was a longtime cigarette smoker.

One day I just asked her, “Cindy, how is it that you smoke and eat fried fish and have no wrinkles, gray hairs, and look like you’re still in your thirties?”  She said, “I dunno, I guess it’s because I drink chlorella and spirulina.  Every day.”

I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about, honestly, to me, it sounded like witchcraft.  But she explained to me that she was talking about drinking blue-green algae.  As you can imagine, at age 17, I thought she was bullshitting me.  Completely.  I’d believe she ate sea scuz every day and then I’d be caught drinking pond water the next day hoping I too had found the fountain of youth.

I chalked Cindy’s admission to me up to the fact that she probably had great genes (which is important, don’t get me wrong) and not because she was drinking magic Darwinian juice cocktails.

Fast-forward to years later when I decided to study nutritional therapy, and wouldn’t you know what I started reading multiple studies on?  Spirulina.

The magic stuff first mentioned to me by my ex-co-worker, Cindy, was, in fact, one of the most super foods substances I had ever read about.

What is spirulina?

Spirulina is a blue-green algae freshwater plant.

But don’t be turned off just yet! Researchers from around the globe have been studying and measuring the benefits of regular spirulina consumption.   And spirulina has been proven to be beneficial for easing a multitude of health issues and continuing research brings light to its amazing benefits with each passing year.

Spirulina can be purchased in multiple forms and be added to everything from smoothies to baked goods, making getting your daily fix super easy!

What is in spirulina?

Though it can vary from product to product, a serving of approximately 30 grams of spirulina contains:

  • 22 essential amino acids
  • Vitamins, including B-complex, vitamin E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Essential fatty acids

health benefits of spirulina

What health benefits does spirulina offer?

Cholesterol:  A recent study, conducted in Greece, gave a group of 52 adults with newly diagnosed dyslipidemia (high cholesterol/high triglycerides/low HDL) one gram of spirulina for three months.  Blood work taken at the beginning and end of the study and what they discovered was, participants, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol significantly decreased.  By how much?

  • Triglycerides dropped by 16.3%
  • Total cholesterol by 8.9%
  • LDL cholesterol by 10.1%
  • Total cholesterol to HDL ratio by 11.5%

Upon concluding this study, researchers discovered that spirulina supplementation could have a positive effect on lowering lipids, mainly triglycerides.

Reducing blood pressure:  One study, conducted in Mexico, evaluated a group of 16 men and 20 women — who had no diagnosed history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes — over a period of six weeks.  During the six weeks, participants were told not to modify their lifestyle or diet.  Participants were given three .5 gram tablets of spirulina every eight hours over this six week period.  What they discovered at the end of the study is spirulina does, in fact, have lipid-lowering effects particularly on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and Triacylglycerol (adipose tissue used for energy storage) as well as positive effects on lowering overall blood pressure.  The ultimate determination being?  Spirulina could is a useful supplement for dyslipidemic and hypertensive patients.

Allergies/Chronic Sinus Issues:  Do you suffer from seasonal allergies or chronic sinus problems?  My husband and I do, and it is unbelievable when we added up the cost of purchasing Sudafed, Loratadine, and Benadryl Plus for months on end.  Not to mention, pharmaceutical solutions are not the best things to be taking long-term.  One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2005 found that patients dealing with allergic rhinitis saw marked improvements in their sinus function after taking Spirulina.  The study separated patients into three groups.  The first group received a placebo, the second group received 1000 mg of spirulina, and the third group received 2000 mg of Spirulina.  Their findings?  The patients in the placebo group showed no signs of improvement.  The group given 1000 mg saw a slight improvement, while the group given the 2000 mg showed significant improvement with their allergic rhinitis symptoms.  Results were documented by measuring immune system signals in the bloodstream of the patients, including interferon and cytokines levels at the beginning and end of the study.

Boosts weight loss:  A study conducted at the University of Medical Sciences in Poland used a double-blind study on a group of 40 patients with hypertension but no evidence of another cardiovascular disease.  Patients split into two groups; one group received 2.0 grams of Hawaiian spirulina, while the second group was given a placebo to take over the course of three months.  Their BMI, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and stiffness index (SI) were measured before and after the study concluded.  Their findings?  After three months, the group that received spirulina showed reductions in BMI, overall weight, systolic blood pressure, and stiffness index vs. the placebo group whose tested parameters showed no changes.

Spirulina is a super food.  I add it to my breakfast smoothie each morning and add it to anything from pasta sauce to baked goods.  The brand I like to use is Naturya Organic Spirulina Powder — it’s affordable, organic, and ticks all of the boxes for my husband and me to consume.  My husband has a gluten intolerance issue, so I always have to check every label so carefully.  Here are the nutrition and ingredient facts for this product, but there are many other great brands to choose from on the market.  Just be sure to buy spirulina that is free from contamination.

health benefits of spirulina

Source: www.hollandandbarret.com

What is contamination free spirulina?

Spirulina comes from the ocean, therefore depending on how it is processed by the manufacturer, it could potentially contain harmful substances which could lead to unnecessary health issues.  There is not much data out there concerning spirulina use for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children.

Alway check with your health care provider before taking this or any supplement to be on the safe side!

Have you added spirulina to your daily diet yet?

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25 Minute HIIT Cycling Routine + Playlist

I know you’ve been wondering where I’ve been.  No?  It’s cool, why would you?  Haha.  Maybe you have been wondering, and if you have, I’ve been focusing on some other projects and dealing with life.

2017 has been a strange and stressful year.  There are so many changes going on in the world — even as an expat; in the UK that are crazy just like back in the states.  Honestly, some days I forget what year we’re living in right now.

But enough about that.  I get requests for fun workouts and playlists from time to time, and recently I’ve had several requests for HIIT cycle routines, which happen to be some of my favorite workouts to create and do, so I’m always happy to share them.

Life is crazy, and not everybody has 60-90 minutes to put into their workouts.  It doesn’t make you a failure or unmotivated either – and if anybody tells you that, they are dead wrong.

If you’re like me, you have days (maybe multiple) when you just don’t feel like doing anything.  And this is entirely okay.  Do not beat yourself up for not feeling it some days and sitting out your workout.  It’s not a morality thing, it’s self-care, and it’s 100% up to you how and when you move your body.

You don’t need to spend your entire day to get a fun, sweaty, and effective workout that you can be proud of.  Believe me; every little bit helps and if you’re not doing your workouts for you, then who?

I still remember the first Spinning class I ever attended; one of my best friends was the instructor, and after literal months of twisting my arm, I finally agreed to participate.

I didn’t have the shoes, so my foot came loose.  Repeatedly.  My ass was killing me from the seat.  I couldn’t walk.  I wasn’t smitten with the idea of going back, but my friend assured me that you have to give it a few classes before you make your final judgment.

As a fitness professional, who also went on to become a Spinning instructor, I would always tell newbies that they need to give it the three class try.  Most of them would and fell in love with indoor cycling too.

One of the things that make indoor cycling workouts so much fun is the music.  Nothing will make you more motivated and pumped to push yourself than hearing a high energy song.

25-Minute HIIT Cycling Workout + Playlist

25 Minute HIIT Cycling Workout + Playlist

 

So, if you’re looking for a fun and quick HIIT cycling workout and playlist, pin this one and save it for your next workout.

I’m going to be posting a couple more of these HIIT cycling workouts over the next couple of weeks since they seem to be what people are after.

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how to get on top of your pain with headache journaling

Headaches are right up there with taxes regarding things that happen in life that people can’t avoid.  For some people, if they had to pay taxes as frequently as they suffer from headache pain, they would be bankrupt many times over.

There are many reasons people suffer from headache pain, including chronic headaches and migraines.  One of the most frustrating parts of dealing with headache pain is not knowing their direct (or indirect) cause.  In fact, many people suffer from headaches as a result of unknown food allergies and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

So, here is a proactive tip for how you can better investigate the source of the pain you may be experiencing.

Keep a ‘headache journal’ – I know, that sounds so fun, doesn’t it?

But hear me out.

One of the best ways to communicate your symptoms to a health care practitioner is to keep track of any patterns or changes you encounter.  Keeping track not only gives you the power to make changes on your own but gives your doctor or therapist the best chance of taking control of your symptoms.

To maintain an efficient symptom diary, you’ll need to track the following:

  1. Time of day.  Do you get your headaches first thing in the morning?  At 3 pm?  Jot them down, whenever they happen.
  2. What you’re eating.  Keep track of the foods you are eating.  You might start to notice that after that scoop of peanut butter at breakfast, you start to experience your pain.  If you see a dietary connection, take a few days off from the foods you ate and see if you can start to narrow down any foods that might be triggering your headaches.
  3. Activities you performed up to three hours before a headache began.  Were you writing up a work assignment?  Working out?  Again, this will help you narrow down what activities might be triggering your headache pain.
  4. The time once your headache goes away.  Once your pain has subsided, write down the time to better assess the duration (and intensity) of your pain.

Also, some of the most common food allergies linked to headaches are:

  • Wheat
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Peanuts

 

If you suffer from two or more headaches per week, the first step to getting to the source of your pain is to catch its pattern.

Have you ever started a journal to take control of your chronic pain?

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carrot and ginger soup recipe

I love carrots.  I love carrots with tzatziki.  I love spiralized carrot noodles.  I love carrot cake.  I love carrot juice.  I love the color orange.

You get it.

Carrots are good for you and are one of the easiest foods to prepare for a quick snack or to add to your favorite dishes.

In addition to loving carrots, I also happen to love soup.  The more colorful the soup, the better I find.

Oddly enough, despite my obsession with carrots, I had never made a carrot based soup.  I would add chopped carrots to many of my soup bases, but I never thought to make the carrot one of the stars of my soup show.

Until the other day, that is.  I had an abundance of carrots and wanted to make soup.  My go-to soup is usually butternut squash or broccoli, but I didn’t have either of those items on hand.  Just lots.  Of.  Carrots.

And a bit of fresh ginger for digestion.

As a result, creamy carrot and ginger soup happened.

 

Flour and dairy free, this soup can be with chicken or vegetable stock (for vegetarians).

Carrots get a bad rap sometimes from low-carb and keto communities, but they are, in fact, excellent for you.

 

Carrot and ginger as a combination is both high in vitamins A (Beta-Carotene), C, and K but also high in fiber, vitamin B6, and potassium and loaded with potent anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.

With just over 100 calories per cup, this soup is perfect for a light lunch or starter before the main course.

I only added a bit of salt and pepper to season my carrot and ginger soup, but you could get inspired and experiment with different spices to create your version of this very basic recipe!

carrot and ginger soup recipe

What’s your go-to soup recipe?  Do you love carrots as much as I do?

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aerobic endurance indoor cycling workout with playlist

Happy May!  It’s been sunny in Glasgow for the past four days.

After living here for over two years now (I know, I cannot believe it myself), it is evident to me that May is probably the best month weather-wise in Glasgow.  In other words, it rains the least.  Having said that, it will probably rain the rest of the week!

I am still not completely over bitching about the amount of rain and gloom there is living in Scotland.  Obviously.  So, I am always super grateful for indoor cycling/Spinning workouts.  You still end up wet at the end, but it’s just your sweat and not the rain.

Too much?

A friend of mine requested that I post more indoor cycling workouts (with playlists available on Spotify) that she can bring to the gym.  So, because I am such a good friend, I have decided to add a new indoor cycling workout each week for the next 12 weeks!

This week’s ride is an aerobic endurance ride called “hills and valleys” – and it’s really fun.  The ride will take you through a series of challenging climbs and recovery flats that will make you feel like you’ve spent the morning/afternoon riding through a scenic, hilly countryside setting.

This ride can burn up to 700 calories and will build up strength and endurance.

Add this workout to your weekly routine 2-3 days and start to see and feel the results!

Get the Spotify playlist here.

Pin this workout to take to the gym with you!

aerobic endurance indoor cycling workout with playlist

Will you try this workout?  Let me know if you do!

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