Ancient cultures around the world learned to rely on certain foods in their geographical area for nourishment and survival. Some of these foods were valued for extraordinary properties that enabled the population to thrive in severe environments and provided nutrients and substances that supported healing, strength, stamina, fertility and longevity. Even today, there are a number of locations around the world known as longevity hotspots where the people enjoy diets made up of these special foods and live unusually long, vibrantly healthy lives of 100 years or more. Until recently, many of these foods were unknown to the general population, however, advances in technology and ease of travel have led to the discovery and research of a growing number of these “superfoods” that are now available to us on a global scale.
Superfoods are distinguished from other foods in that they have a dozen or more unique properties that contribute to health and vitality. They offer superior nutrition containing life-supporting protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and phytonutrients of such high potency, that they are considered both a food and a medicine. Superfoods can increase vital force and energy, boost the immune system, balance and enhance hormone and neurotransmitter production, and increase libido and fertility. They also aid in alkalizing, cleansing and detoxifying harmful substances from the body. Superfoods are so nutrient dense, that when eating them less food intake is needed in the diet to satisfy nutritional requirements for health. Superfoods also provide a natural way to obtain essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids and other nutrients as nature intended minimizing the need for nutritional supplements.
Currently there are approximately 25 known superfoods that are enjoying popularity among health-minded people and the list is growing all the time. Some of these foods can be eaten alone, while others are best blended with other ingredients. One of the best resources on the subject is David Wolfe’s book simply titled “Superfoods”. Let’s take a look at some of these magical foods.
Goji Berry, also known as wolfberry, is a deciduous bush that grows naturally in Asia and Central America, with some varieties found in the southwestern United States. Goji berries can grow in the harsh climates of the Himalayan Mountains and the burning hot desert of Arizona, surviving temperature swings of 40 degrees. This ability to adjust to such extremes gives goji berries exceptional adaptogenic properties which help those who eat them more easily cope with physical and emotional stress. The most researched and nutritionally potent variety of Goji berry is lycium barbarum, which grows in the mountains and valleys of Tibet, Mongolia and China where it has been revered for over 5,000 years as a supreme tonic for vitality, immunity, strength, mood enhancement, and longevity. In fact, the province in China where gojis are grown has more centenarians than any other part of the country. The legendary Chinese herbalist Li Qing Yuen who is famous for popularizing goji berries is said to have lived to the age of 252 (1678-1930) which is the most extreme documented case of longevity known. He drank a daily tea of goji berries daily. Geronimo, the famous Apache Indian known for his great power and strength lived in an area where goji berries were a staple of the native diet. Lycium is Greek for “school of learning”. The Chinese believed that when one ate, studied, and grew goji berries, it imparted to them the wisdom of Chinese medicine.
Goji berries are one of the most nutritionally dense foods on Earth containing an extraordinary cornucopia of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Gojis contain 18 amino acids including all eight essential amino acids making it a complete protein. They also contain 21 trace minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, copper, selenium, germanium and zinc, as well as vitamins A, C, B-Complex and E (which is rarely in fruits). Goji berries have one of the highest ORAC scores for antioxidants of any food including blueberries. Antioxidants help to protect the DNA from damage by free radicals and radiation which cause aging and disease. Goji berries have the highest amount of carotenoids of any food, including carrots. Research shows that the higher the carotenoid content of the body, the longer the lifespan potential. Goji berries also have significant levels of zeaxanthin and lutein which support eye health and prevent macular degeneration. Goji berries provide a tremendous boost to the immune system due to the presence of polysaccharides, beta-carotene and germanium. Beta-carotene and germanium stimulate the body’s natural interferon production, which enhances immunity and helps to prevent and heal cancer.
The numerous phytonutrients in goji berries benefit the body in many ways. Sesquiterpenoids have a powerful natural anti-inflammatory effect and stimulate the secretion of human growth hormone, which enables the body to retain its youthfulness, enhances libido, and increases longevity. Betaine protects the DNA and the liver, promotes muscle growth, and enhances memory. Beta-sitoserol is anti-inflammatory, lowers cholesterol, and helps heal impotence and prostate enlargement. Physaline has anti-cancer and anti-leukemia properties, and helps heal hepatitis B. Solavetivone is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial adding to the many immune enhancing properties of goji berries.
In Chinese medicine it is said that goji berries harmonize and increase jing energy of the adrenals and kidneys which enhances strength, sexual energy and longevity. Goji berries are delicious when eaten whole and taste like a cross between a cranberry and a raisin. Just an ounce a day is sufficient. Goji berry juice and powdered goji berries can be added to smoothies. You can also grow your own goji berries by soaking the berries for a day, then removing the seeds and planting them in a sunny spot. They will grow successfully in most climates. Whole goji berries are typically dried after harvesting and may lose their softness and flavor when purchased in bulk. Heaven Mountain Chinese goji berries from Dragon Herbs are highly recommended for quality and taste.
The oldest and perhaps most nutritionally complete superfood is spirulina, a blue-green spiral shaped algae in the class of cyanobacteria. The blue pigment comes from phycocyanins and anthocyanins, and the green color is from chlorophyll. Spirulina contains the highest concentration of chlorophyll of any plant food, which is used to convert sunlight into a vast array of nutrients including pure protein, vitamins (except for a usable form of B12), minerals, fatty acids, carbohydrates and all other nutrients needed to sustain life. One could live on spirulina alone for an extended period.
Spirulina has grown on Earth since the dawn of life an estimated 3.5 billion years ago and is responsible, along with other forms of algae, for releasing oxygen into the atmosphere required for other living organisms to evolve. Spirulina forms the basis of the entire food chain and is the fundamental nutrient source for all life. It is found in alkaline lakes and waterways where toxic microorganisms cannot live and thrives in tropical and subtropical climates. Spirulina was a staple diet of the Ancient Aztecs in Central America and the natives of northern Africa for thousands of years. With the scientific discovery of spirulina’s superlative nutritional profile, modern harvesting began in earnest in the 1970s.
Spirulina is made up of 65% protein, the highest concentration of any food including meat, and is more rapidly absorbed by the body than animal protein. Spirulina converts sunlight into protein more efficiently than any other living thing. It is a complete protein containing 18 amino acids including tryptophan, which is essential for the production of serotonin, and all 8 essential amino acids.
Spirulina contains as much iron as red meat and can increase the production of red blood cells and improve blood quality. The blue pigment phycocyanin in spirulina helps to produce more stem cells in the bone marrow and increase both red and white blood cells. In Earth’s early history, the abundance of antioxidants in spirulina helped to protect its DNA from ultraviolet radiation in the atmosphere and it imparts this benefit to us when we eat it. The chlorophyll is both a blood builder and blood purifier and rich in magnesium, which is essential to cellular energy production, proper bowel elimination, cardiovascular health and nervous system balance. Spirulina contains 10 times the amount of chlorophyll of that found in green vegetables and 10 times the amount of beta carotene found in carrots. It is also loaded with zeaxanthin and lutein for eye health. Spirulina is high in superoxide dismutase (SOD) which is regarded as one of the most important metabolic enzymes and antioxidants for optimum health and longevity.
Spirulina is the only green food that offers a rich source of the essential fatty acid gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). GLA is found most abundantly in mother’s milk and is an essential nutrient for growth and development. Paul Pitchford, author of “Healing with Whole Foods”, recommends spirulina to people who were never breastfed to support the hormonal and mental development that may not have been nutritionally supported in early infancy. GLA is important for healthy skin and hair, is a natural anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever, and helps reduce allergies. Spirulina is a good source of sulfur-bearing amino acids which are important for joint health and the detoxification of heavy metals and harmful chemicals from the liver and nervous system including the brain. The nutrients in spirulina contribute to healthy skin and can improve age spots, eczema, acne and rashes. Animal studies have shown that Spirulina greatly enhances the immune system. Calcium-spirulan, a sugar molecule unique to spirulina has been shown in hamsters to block the herpes virus from entering the cell so that it can be dealt with by the immune system. Spirulina is a popular nutrient in powdered green drinks and can be added to smoothies or taken in capsule or tablet form. It is highly recommended as a primary food for alkalizing the body, which aids detoxification and balances pH.
Bee pollen is another superfood that offers numerous benefits. It takes one bee 8 hours of working daily for one month to gather just one teaspoon of pollen granules. Due to its high concentration of plant nutrients, bee pollen is an alkaline food that has one of the most complete nutritional profiles of any substance in nature. Many people take bee pollen as an alternative to a multi-vitamin mineral supplement. It contains up to 40% pre-digested protein including all 22 amino acids, making it 5 to 7 times greater in protein than meat, eggs, or cheese. Its fatty acid spectrum is comprised of 70% omega 3, 4% omega 6, and 17% monosaturated and saturated fat. It contains all of the B vitamins (though not a usable form of B12), vitamin C, D, E and K. Bee pollen has up to 60 major and minor minerals, including rare elements such as gold and the alchemical ormus minerals. It is also rich in carotenoids and rutin, which stabilizes vitamin C and helps to strengthen capillary walls. Other nutrients include lecithin, polysaccharides and simple sugars, and a wide variety of antioxidants giving it a high ORAC reading and contributing to longevity. Bee pollen has steroidal hormone substances, and nucleic acids RNA and DNA which are important components in the diets of many centenarians. Bee pollen contains at least 11 major enzymes which aid digestion and metabolic function, with over 5000 minor enzymes and coenzymes making it the most enzyme rich food on the planet. Adding fresh local bee pollen to the diet can help to heal seasonal pollen allergies.
Bee pollen is a natural aphrodisiac and fertility food. It can reduce prostate problems and rejuvenate the sexual organs. Bee pollen fortifies the body and increases energy, strength, endurance, and performance making it a favorite food for athletes. It also enhances and shortens recovery time after workouts. The British Sports Council reported that bee pollen increased strength by 40% to 50%, and the British Royal Society noted that bee pollen actually increases height in adults. Over 40 research studies confirm the therapeutic effects and safety of bee pollen. Studies show that bee pollen is rapidly absorbed. Within 2 hours after ingesting bee pollen, its constituents appear in the blood, cerebral spinal fluid and urine.
Bee pollen is available fresh or dehydrated and can be eaten alone or blended in smoothies. Start with just a few granules to test for sensitivity, then work up to 2 or more tablespoons a day for superior nutrition and energy. The fresh bee pollen from YS Organics is one of the purest, best tasting bee pollen products available.
Daily intake of superfoods can provide an immense nutritional boost to the body and mind and add years of quality life to our experience. Superfoods are truly nature’s gifts.