The Important 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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Get On Top of Your Pain With a Headache Journal

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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CREAMY CARROT AND GINGER SOUP

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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Cooking Butternut Squash Noodles With Pasta Texture

Happy Monday!  What did you do this weekend?  I had a good one for several reasons, but the three most important ones were definitely because it was SUNNY BOTH DAYS!

I ran 7 miles on Sunday (with ZERO knee pain), AND I got to meet Neil from none other than, Neil’s Healthy Meals and his lovely wife, Lynne on Saturday!  Neil, Lynne, Luke, and I all got together for lunch and had great laughs, food, and general conversation.  I love meeting bloggers I follow in real life!

So, back to the topic at hand today:  BUTTERNUT SQUASH NOODLES!

I’ve had a BUNCH of emails, comments, and in-person questions about my veggie noodle “porn” as one of my pals called it.  We’ve gone too far as humans, right?

Actually, who am I kidding?  LOOK at this zoodle …errr voodle errr …boodle…

how to cook pasta like butternut squash noodles

 

Whatever you call it, it’s magnificent!  I am a former pastaholic.  I put my hands up and admit it.  So when I tell you the following fact, it’s the absolute truth:  I have eaten actual pasta twice in the last eight months.  

Some people are super skeptical about purchasing a spiralizer.  I get it.  My first purchase was the Veggetti.   

I started out making zoodles (zucchini noodles), and at first, I was like, “Ugh, whatever, they suck.”

SO open-minded of me, right?

I stuck by my Veggetti, and I kept using it to make things like cucumber-based salads, carrot-based salads, and regular and sweet potato fries/pancakes.

Then I got an actual sprializer and started playing with the big kids:  Turnip, celeriac, cabbage, and most importantly BUTTERNUT SQUASH.

squashnoodles

So much more than a beautiful veggie

Cooking spiralized noodles has become a sort of trial and error process, for me.  Firstly, I had to contend with the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit heats switching to a British oven.  Secondly, I am SUPER picky about food texture.  I don’t like my veggie noodles watery and, if I’m making them for a pasta dish, I want them as close in texture to pasta as possible.

There are people who are afraid of change, and the idea of making vegetables into pasta is just something they downright fear.

Side-note:  I feel like there are people who read my blog who were not even born when Wayne’s World came out.

Whatever, I’m old.  It bears repeating.

Obviously.

BUT back to butternut squash noodles.

I’ve discovered there are three rules for cooking butternut squash noodles with PASTA texture:

  1. You must use your Blade C. (I ALWAYS get A and C backward.  Apologies!)
  2. You must cook the noodles FRESHLY spiralized.  (If you store them in the fridge for a few days they will leak moisture and shrivel up into nothingness in the oven. )
  3. You must cook them at a LOW heat (about 125 Celsius/ 250 Fahrenheit) for anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, tossing around the pan every 12-15 minutes.  (My oven takes about 53 minutes, to be exact.)

Your butternut squash noodles will have the most amazing texture if you follow these rules!  My husband devoured/loved my slow cooker marinara sauce best on our noodles.  When you can wrap your veggie noodles around your fork and bite down on that perfect texture, you’ll be like, “spaghetti who?”

..and it started from one amazing veggie!

IMG_20150412_183825087

Happy butternut squash noodle making!   Get creative or keep it simple. This vegetable in noodle form will seriously make you think twice about grabbing a box of pasta next time you’re at the shop.

Did I also mention it takes almost NO effort to make butternut squash noodles?

I’ve shared this before, but Ali over at Inspiralized.com has a great tutorial for how to prep and spiralize just about anything that can be spiralized.  Check out her tutorial here.

You might also like to see more of my spiralizer recipes here.

[Tweet “3 Rules For Cooking Spiralized Butternut Squash with Perfect Pasta Texture #Spiralized #VMeatlessMonday #CleanEats #GlutenFree via @BeetsPerMinute”]

Have you jumped on the spiralized noodle bandwagon yet?

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Good morning, Fitfam!  It’s been an entire week since I’ve posted anything, and besides the fact that you probably didn’t even notice, I’ve just been super busy.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am building up my own training and coaching business, and things are off to a great start.  I love being able to be busy, help people better themselves, and also never get bored!  So, this week’s topic at #TheFitDish with Jessica and Jill is “A Day In The Life:  A Photo Collection“.

First, a confession:  I have many weaknesses as a blogger, but one of the worst is my lack of photo taking skills.  My inability to take photographs is true in real life too.   I can visit a country and take 6 pictures!  Believe me, it infuriates many people!  So, with this week’s topic being a photo-centric post, I made an effort to take some photos to document what my Mondays look like!  Mondays have become a very busy day for me, I have different clients (and deadlines) at different places throughout the city.

So, without further delay, I give you…

A day in the life

5:30 AM — I’m up!  Getting in some water, stretching, and packing up the bag to head out the door!

6:30 AM — I’m on the train, on my way into City Centre  to meet my first client!

monday

7:15-8:30 AM  — My first client of the day!  We did some suspension training and cardio — woot woot!

monday1

8:40 AM — I head to the subway to head over to the West End to meet my next client!

monday Collage

9:15-12:00 — I headed to Loch Lomond ( about 20 minutes outside of Glasgow) for an outdoor workout and walk with a client who just wanted to get out of town and be in nature!  It wasn’t as sunny over there, but it sure was beautiful!

monday4

12:00-12:30 PM — Caught the subway back to City Centre to start my venture home!

monday5

12:30-1:30 PM — I decided to walk back to my apartment from City Centre!  Whilst on my way home, I took a shameless Instagram #OnAQuest photo of my S’mores Quest Bar!

https://instagram.com/p/6w80LkpU8w/

1:30-2:00 PM — LUNCH TIME!!  I had a chopped salad:  Spinach, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, corn, and chicken with chili lime dressing and a couple of pickles, because pickles…

monday7

2:00-4:30 PM — I am working with a nutritional therapy client, so I spent some time reviewing notes and getting together some food lists for our next appointment.  I also took this time to go through some emails, and to get together my assessment paperwork for a new client consultation at 6 pm!

monday13 (1)

4:30 PM — Time to get back on the train and head into City Centre to pick up some items at Holland and Barrett and a quick stroll outside, because the sun has actually been shining in Glasgow the past few days!

monday 171Collage

 

6:00 PM — Up the giant flight of stairs, to meet with my new client and perform fitness assessments and get her started!

monday11

7:00 PM — Met my husband for a ride back home (seriously, my legs were jelly)!

7:30-10:00 PM — Dinner (spiralized butternut squash noodles and slow cooker tomato sauce), a MUCH needed shower and some quality time with the hubby.  *Sigh*.

monday10

10:30 PM — Goodnight moon!  I am exhausted and I have a client at 7 am tomorrow!

What did your Monday look like?  Are you one to always take a photo?

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