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 grey 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, grey 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 good 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

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 — for 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 these six weeks.  What they discovered at the end of the study is spirulina does 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 taken 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 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.

Discover the important health benefits of Spirulina #NutritionalTherapy #Health Click To Tweet

Spirulina is a superfood.  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.

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!

Fit & Fab Boot Camp Workout

Happy Wednesday! I always think of Wednesday as the ‘springboard’ day of the week, because doesn’t it feel like the second it passes Sunday is here already? I dunno, maybe that’s just me, but lately, life is just going by so quickly.

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I was sick for about six weeks, and during that time I couldn’t workout much, and it was making me so down in the dumps. I have such a hard time when I think back to the long periods in my life when I didn’t exercise regularly (even just moving my arms!) — no wonder I turned to other things to try and make myself feel human.

It is always so humbling when I’m getting back into the swing of exercising after many weeks of not having the ability to do so. I think of this whenever I think of people getting started with fitness — maybe for the first time in their life. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated — in fact, it isn’t — the best advice I can ever give about getting into shape or coming out of a fitness ‘slump’ is to find something you like and take it one workout at a time.

Overcoming a fitness slump? Get back on track by trying this Fit and Fab Boot Camp Workout! #bootcamp #fitfam #wednesdayworkout #HIIT Click To Tweet

I like to recondition myself by circuit and boot camp workouts. I love the endorphin rush I get after I’ve kicked ass for 45-60 minutes of challenging my body to move and build strength. It’s such a great rush.

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So, check out this fit & fab boot camp workout I put together to incorporate into my schedule this week. Time may be flying by IRL but it absolutely will during this fast-paced set of circuits. You can even do this workout outside if you bring along a pair of dumbbells when you hit the park. Save and share this on Pinterest and give it a try!

Let me know if you try it or what your favourite workouts for getting back on track are! And if you’re interested in some great HIIT workouts, check out this article over at Buffedd.com for some more inspiration!

Approval, Addiction and Approval Addiction

“If you are an approval addict, your behaviour is as easy to control as that of any other junkie. All a manipulator need do is a simple two-step process: Give you what you crave, and then threaten to take it away. Every drug dealer in the world plays this game.”

-Harriet B. Braiker

I don’t know if that quote resonates with you, but it sure makes a whole lot of sense to me.

Deeply ingrained within all approval addicts — or addicts in general — is the lack of a sense of self.  A lack of understanding of the self always leads us to believe that external approval and validation are the essential parts of holding together our identity.

Have you ever wondered why someone as sweet and giving as you always end up in relationships (romantic, friendship, business.) with people who don’t understand or appreciate all that you do for them?

And when things don’t go the way we want them to and that relationship fails to provide us with the feedback that we are “doing enough” or “accomplished enough” or “good enough” why we turn to external methods to preoccupy that discomfort?

Approval addiction is a layered disease and we struggle with it knowing full well that we should stop focusing on the compulsion to please others. It makes us feel as though we need to be doing something (regardless of the negative consequences that may occur), doing this something again despite knowing full well that we should stop and seeking that something whenever we are not getting what we ‘really’ need (even when that need has nothing to do with this something). Wow, that’s a lot of word vomit.

What I mean is, we crave the addictive behaviour because it relieves the emptiness within us.

The “disease to please” or approval addiction is at the heart of and is a connection to all other addictive behaviours.

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My addiction to disordered eating and drinking was always my attempt to fill the void where my self-awareness should have been.   If I could look, act and “be” someone who people liked and approved of, I was on the right track, and all was right and good in my world.

But as the saying goes, “you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

And you also can’t rely on others to validate you or make you feel like you are “enough”.  They will never be able to do it full-time, and at some point, you will realise that you need to find this from within

When the time comes, if you are not equipped to pick yourself up and be your own best friend, you are going to go back to that “something” you’ve always done and in return get that nothing that you always get.

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Only an inner experience of self-esteem and self-awareness can provide support for any external validation to be received from a healthy and balanced relationship.   You don’t owe anyone anything more than you will ever owe yourself.  And in this day and age of everyone communicating that they want to be more authentic and expect total authenticity from others, it is hard to tell if people are their ‘true’ selves or if their actions about just another attempt at pleasing others.

On any given day and with any given action we take, at best we can hope to please one out of three people — possibly less.  Given that statistic, it is safe to say that placing our happiness and self of worth in the hands of others gives us worse odds than winning the lottery.  Okay, maybe better odds, but it’s a gamble nontheless.

If you want any chance at inner peace in this life you must get to work learning what makes you honestly and sincerely happy.

Approval addiction is a layered disease and we struggle with it knowing full well that we know we should stop focusing on the compulsion to please others. Click To Tweet

I can say this with complete confidence because for the majority of my life I placed that burden on others and the consequences of that lead me to battle multiple eating disorders and the belief that I needed to control myself and my life with counterintuitive habits such as binge eating and drinking.

I’m not suggesting that everything was my fault.  Things happened, and the experiences I had throughout my life were real, and they made me believe and feel the way I did.  None of us can go backwards, and that includes continuing to live in the past. What’s done is done. Make today good, and the past will heal itself.

The one truth I know is this:  You cannot rely on anybody else to fix you or to make your life happy and complete because when you live this way you give yourself away. And as a result, you will always be searching for the next “something” to validate your life.

If you are interested in coaching, please contact me at erin@erinslifebites.com and be sure to subscribe for new posts and emails from me!

Calling All Inbetweeners

Hi.  I’m Erin, and I’m an Inbetweener.

I’m going to be a little bit controversial by publishing this post, but it’s something that I’ve thought about many, many, many, ma… a f-ton of times. 

I am not going to be shy about communicating on this blog that I find myself very lost these days when it comes to where I fall into society as I am a ‘master of none’ when it comes to fitting neatly into any particular social group.

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I see so many posts on social media (to which, I am a minimalist ‘user’ of these apps) of women coming at each other for who online should be seen and heard and which opinions should matter and it is easy to walk away from these conversations thinking, “Where the hell do I fit in here?” 

Maybe fitting into the conversation isn’t necessary to you, but it should be to some extent. 

Over the years – from previous blogs I created (RIP, BeetsPerMinute.com) – I have been told I’m a fatphobic personal trainer, sizeist, too fat to be a personal trainer, and that my opinion doesn’t matter because of the package, I come in.  I obviously can’t relate because I am too thin, too fat, or too up my own ass.

Oh, and I live in a foreign country.

It’s exhausting, and I’m not kidding.

And if you’re reading this post, you have probably experienced this too. 

Firstly, I am not a fatphobic person.  I have struggled with my weight and was diagnosed and treated for multiple eating disorders.  I prefer to take care of myself, eat well (but let’s be real, I eat chips, chocolate and diet soda most days of the week) and care for my mental health and how I care for myself creates the package I come in.  I don’t think I’m better than anybody else or that by being who I am; I am saying the package other people come in is any worse.

I work to HELP people repair their relationship with food, and their bodies and part of that is that I talk about exercise and making healthy choices whenever possible. 

On the other hand, I’ve heard comments about how I don’t “look like a trainer” or perplexed looks when I drink a Coke Zero or eat a cheeseburger because people who ‘preach’ – (okay, then) health and fitness shouldn’t be broadcasting such devious behaviour. 

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Sometimes, it simply feels like I can’t win.  I am sure most people feel this way – especially other women. 

These days it feels like no matter what you think or says you are offending somebody.  And sure, people have always been offensive, and I am in no way saying disrespect and degradation should be allowed or excusable, but it would be nice to feel like it’s okay to be still acknowledged as a struggling and evolving human even if somebody else thinks your life is more comfortable than theirs. 

So, what is an Inbetweener – I mean, besides a HILARIOUS British tv show?

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An Inbetweener is a person who is between two extremes, two contrasting conditions.

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I think there are a lot of us Inbetweeners.  Hell, even my age makes me feel like I’m smack dab in a grey area of existence.  I’m too young to be middle-aged and too old to be ‘finding myself’ (as if…).

And too thin to be fat, but too big to be considered skinny and too old to have children but too young to say ‘I’m too old to have children.’

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That’s a very brief overview of the ways that a person can feel like an Inbetweener, but those are just a few that I struggle with. 

And it all comes down to egos (mine included) negatively controlling our identities.  I won’t wax philosophical too deeply here.

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I recently read Ryan Holiday’s book; Ego is the EnemyIn his book, Holiday touches on how social media gives instant fame and recognition thus fuelling ‘ego’ — a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance — in today’s modern society. 

He discusses how people trap themselves with ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ and develop an obsession with themselves. And that Twitter is the worst showcase of the ego at work by placing the focus on an extreme notion of one’s thoughts and opinions being important.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some great stuff on Twitter and obviously I encourage the sharing of tweets, but Holiday’s take on the ego’s role in social media usage made me think about that saying, “If everyone is special no one is”.

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I mean I have this blog, and it’s nothing special, but I enjoy writing about the things I think about and if you want to read it, awesome.  But like also, why do I think anybody would like it?  Would I hope people do? Of course.

The ego's role in social media usage made me think about that saying, “If everyone is special no one is”. #ego #selfawareness Click To Tweet

But see, the key to taming the ego is sharing your gifts with others while remaining humble about it – and this is something many people fail to do these days.

People will protect themselves and their opinions (egos) no matter the result. 

Even if the result of such protection forces many people to feel as though they don’t belong in any particular group. 

Or maybe we don’t need to belong, after all.

What do you think?

5 of My Favourite Mocktail Recipes

It might seem that alcohol is everywhere and tough to avoid, but according to statistics, young people (and I don’t necessarily count myself as one of them!) are drinking less than people in the same age group did 10-15 years ago.  Remember when everybody used to smoke and now when a person lights up we are like:

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Is it possible that drinking is on the same trajectory?  I live in Glasgow, and the drinking culture seems alive and well and thriving; this is especially evident when I go out for my early Saturday morning run and have to dodge piles of uneaten chips and other unpleasantries of the night before.

All of this information is more confirmation that I have made the right choice to embrace sober living and steer clear of alcohol and its short-lived-fun shelf life.

Just because I have given up drinking alcohol doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy a delicious and pretty beverage.  Mocktails are on the rise; I even attended Club Soda’s mindful drinking festival in Glasgow back in October.

I never thought I would be typing enthusiastically about a festival without alcohol.

I also never thought I would be typing enthusiastically about my passion for making mixed drinks without alcohol in them, but here I am.

5 Mocktail Recipes That Won't Make You Miss the Booze #mindfuldrinking #alcoholfree Click To Tweet

Here are five of my favourite mocktail recipes

Raw Raspberry Shrub (via BBC Good Food)

5 of My Favourite Mocktail Recipes

Cucumber, lime and elderflower cooler (via Tesco Real Food)

Mountain Mojito Mocktail (via Town and Country)

Rose Lemon Spritzer Mocktail (via Elle Decor)

Non-Alcoholic Pimms (via Club Soda)

CHEERS!

Do you have a favourite non-alcoholic drink?  Do you think that it is becoming less of a stigma not to order non-alcoholic drinks on a night out?  Would you attend a mindful drinking festival?

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