CategoriesIngredients

Spirulina

What are its benefits?

Research has shown benefits from spirulina’s protein, phycocyanin, may include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pain relief, and brain-protective effects. It has been shown to block tumor growth and kill cancer cells. It can reduce absorption of cholesterol, lowering cholesterol levels. It reduces triglyceride levels. Spirulina increases nitric oxide production in the body, which can help blood vessels relax. Furthermore, spirulina’s vitamin and mineral content supports a healthy immune system.

 

Specific microbiome studies have been carried out:

    • A recent study showed the prebiotic qualities of algae like spirulina. A sugar in algae, sulfoquinovose, stimulates the growth of very specific key organisms in the gut microbiome. These key organisms include the bacterium Eubacterium rectale, one of the ten most common gut microbes in healthy people. It ferments sulfoquinovose via a metabolic pathway only recently deciphered, producing a sulfur compound, dihydroxypropane sulfonate, which in turn feeds other beneficial intestinal bacteria that eventually produce hydrogen sulfide gas. The delicate balance of these metabolic pathways was also noted: in low amounts, hydrogen sulfide can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the intestinal mucosa. But increased hydrogen sulfide production by gut microbes (typically seen in people with diets high in fat and meat) is associated with chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer.
    • A second study demonstrated that spirulina might help protect against age-related liver inflammation by modifying pathways in the microbiome.

What is it?

Spirulina is a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) that is a highly nutritious food component. It is a source of thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), copper, iron, and magnesium. It also contains a protein called phycocyanin.

Sources

CategoriesIngredients

Moringa

What are its benefits?

Moringa leaves are packed with nutrients, containing (by weight) more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, and more protein than yogurt. Notably, its protein provides all the essential amino acids. Moringa’s complex profile also includes other macronutrients (dietary fiber, carbohydrates, fats). While amounts of specific micronutrients vary by sample, the leaves have been found to contain such compounds as vitamin A, iron, folates, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, copper, manganese, zinc, phytate, oxalate, flavonoids, carotentoids, and phenols. Its phenols, flavonoids, and other micronutrients are thought to be responsible for some of the health benefits of moringa:

  • A number of human studies have indicated that consuming moringa leaf has anti-diabetic, anti-cholesterol, and anti-obesity effects.
  • A number of other studies point to a range of other benefits such as antioxidant effects, protection of tissues, pain relief, lowering of blood pressure, and immune system support.
  • A 2018 study of obesity in mice suggested that moringa was effective in reducing weight gain and its consequent metabolic disturbance in the obese mice group. The obese mice group was also noted to have an imbalance in their gut microbiota, and after they were fed moringa, this imbalance was improved. The study concluded that moringa may contribute towards the “regulation of weight gain and inflammation associated with high-fat-induced-obesity through gut bacteria modulation.”
  • A separate 2018 study suggests that it may be phenolic compounds that inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria like Escherichia coli, while they promote the growth of friendly bacteria like Lactobacillus.

What is it?

A tree that grows in India and many other tropical and subtropical countries, moringa has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. All parts of the tree, including seeds, bark, roots, sap, and flowers, can be utilized, but the leaves are especially beneficial because of their nutritionally complex makeup. The “Miracle Tree”, as moringa is sometimes called in India, is seen as a promising crop for developing areas due to the plant’s resistance to drought, its rapid growth pattern, and its leaves that retain many nutrients even when dried.

Sources

CategoriesIngredients

Maca

What are its benefits?

Nutritious maca root is a great addition to the diet. It is a good source of carbs, is low in fat, and contains a fair amount of protein and fiber. It’s also high in some important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, copper and iron. Further, it contains various bioactive compounds, including polyphenols and glucosinolates.

 

Various studies have looked at maca’s health benefits:

  • Randomized clinical trials in humans indicate that maca has a positive effect on energy and mood, may decrease anxiety, and may improve sexual desire in men and women.
  • One review of four studies in menopausal women found that maca helped alleviate menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and interrupted sleep.
  • The polyphenols and glucosinolates in maca have an antioxidant effect.
  • A handful of studies show it may boost endurance and performance in sports.

In terms of polyphenols’ effects on the microbiome, recent research is encouraging. Due to the chemical structure of most polyphenols, they are not easily absorbed, so they have a longer time in the intestine to interact with microbiota. Studies support that dietary phenols reaching the gut microbes (along with the metabolites generated) modify and produce variations in the microbiota through their prebiotic effects on beneficial bacteria and antimicrobial action against pathogenic microflora.

  • Specifically, dietary polyphenols can affect populations of bacteria by interfering with their “quorum sensing” ability, membrane permeability, and sensitizing them to chemicals that are seen by the body as foreign. Polyphenols have other effects as well – they can affect gut metabolism, immunity, and can have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • The mechanism is thought to be that the gut microbiome changes polyphenols into bioactive compounds, which then influence the intestinal ecology and affect health. Studies in animals and in humans have shown that prescribed amounts of particular polyphenols may inhibit certain bacterial groups, while others can then flourish in the now-available ecological niche.

What is it?

The maca plant (Lepidium meyenii) is found in the Andes and is sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng. It is a cruciferous vegetable with a long history of culinary and medicinal use in Peru. The main edible portion of the plant is the root. It exists in several colors, such as white, golden, red, and black. It is dried and ground into powder and has an earthy, nutty flavor.

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