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What is a Superfood?
“Superfood” is a non-medical term for foods with health-promoting properties. A superfood is a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
Food is made up of nutrients. Nutrients are needed for growth, metabolism and other body functions. Eating a wide variety of foods is the best way to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs. However, no matter how well we eat there are times, such as a when a health condition develops, that we experience a deficiency or insufficiency and our bodies need additional nutrients.
Superfoods can provide additional nutrients in the diet. Some common Superfoods include:
- Berries – blueberries, raspberries, tart cherries, cranberries, goji berries
- Tea – primarily green tea
- Leafy Greens – kale, spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, collard greens
- Dark Chocolate
- Wine and Grapes
Other nutrient dense foods that are considered Superfoods include:
- Blue-green algae
- Beets and beet juice
- Brazil nuts
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that grows naturally in oceans and salty lakes in subtropical climates. Originally, Spirulina was classified as a plant because of its pigmentation and its ability of photosynthesis. When Spirulina was first classified it was placed in the Arthrospira genus which includes cyanobacteria. As more research was down, spirulina was moved into the genus Spirulina. There are three species of spirulina that have been studied extensively – Spirulina platensis, Spirulina maxima, and Spirulina fusiformis.
Spirulina grows in microscopic spirals. These spirals tend to stick together making it easy to harvest. It has an intense blue-green color but relatively mild taste.
Spirulina has been a food source for the Aztecs and other Mesoamericans. After the sixteenth century when many of the lakes where the algae grew were drained for agriculture and urban development, the food fell out of common usage in central Mexico, however, it is still harvested from Lake Chad in Africa.
Why is Spirulina a Superfood?
Superfoods are nutrient rich foods that are considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Spirulina is rich in nutrients and contains significant amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins and iron. When Spirulina is dried, protein makes up 60-70% of Spirulina’s dry weight. For comparison, the dry weight protein content of soybeans is 36-56%.
Not only is Spirulina high in protein, but it is a complete protein source. Spirulina contains all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The nine essential amino acids cannot be made from the body and must come from food. Protein is used by every cell in our bodies, keeps our energy levels up and builds muscle mass and increases muscular energy.
NASA considers Spirulina one of the most important food components in food travel.
- Spirulina is a high-nutrient, low calorie food
- Spirulina has a high protein and vitamin content. Research suggests that spirulina has antioxidant and inflammation fighting properties as well as the ability to regulate the immune system
- Spirulina is one of the most chlorophyll-rich foods in the world. It helps remove toxins from the blood and boosts the immune system
- Spirulina contains several compounds shown to have antioxidant properties, including phenolic compounds, phycocyanins, tocopherols and beta-carotene
- Spirulina has 10 times more beta-carotene than carrots. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A and plays an important role in health
- Spirulina has antitoxic properties that could counteract pollutants in the body including: arsenic, fluoride, iron, lead, mercury
- Spirulina is a great source of essential fatty acids, so-called omega oils which are crucial for proper function of the brain, nervous system, tissue and cell regeneration
- Spirulina has the highest level of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) or “good” fat, compared to blue-green algae. GLA supports healthy brain and heart functioning.
Sounds pretty super to me, but what does this mean for my pet?
What can Spirulina do for my pet?
Many of the same benefits people find with Spirulina, your pet can too! The cornerstone of good health is good nutrition, and this applies to your pets as well as yourself.
Test tube studies and animal-based research suggest that spirulina may help to:
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve gastrointestinal health
- Aid in detoxification
- Reduce the rate of cancer
- Help allergies
Spirulina promotes a healthy digestive system and bowel function. It can be digested easily because of its structure where the cells do not have tough, fibrous walls. It does not contain much fiber.
Small amounts of spirulina can help balance and stabilize the immune system. It enhances the body’s cellular communication process, improves immune system function, enhances natural detoxification, can reduce allergies. Spirulina is not recommended in conjunction with auto-immune diseases where the immune system is already over-active.
Spirulina has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It contains phycocyanin-a photosynthetic pigment with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Spirulina can have a calming and balancing effect on dogs.
Spirulina improves kidney and liver function and can aid in treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It can help naturally detoxify heavy metals and other toxins. It can help heal eye infections and help maintain healthy and balanced skin and a shiny coat.
What PetAlive products contain Spirulina?
Nutrition is the cornerstone to good health and the right balance of nutrients are needed for growth, metabolism and other bodily functions. As a superfood, Spirulina has been found to be beneficial to many different bodily systems and functions. Spirulina can be found as an ingredient in the following PetAlive products:
We know that good nutrition is important to brain development and function. Spirulina is high in gamma-linolenic acid and omega oils which supports healthy brain function. Therefore, Spirulina is an important ingredient in the following Brain Health products:
Brain Health for Cats and Kittens
BY MARY ELLEN KOSANKE