When people think of algae in their environment, most will shudder and hastily move toward their trusty cleaning products. However there is a beneficial type of algae that actually cleans the body and skin!
Out of the many single-celled organisms existing on the planet, there was one that came before all the rest — blue green algae. Some 3.9 billion years ago, these creatures somehow miraculously got the engine of life revving by way of the world’s first great pollution — pollution by oxygen. Every breath we take is thanks to this primordial food. In addition to making our planet rich with oxygen, over millions of years they were also busy harnessing the sun’s abundant energy via chlorophyll and phycocyanin, transforming the entire spectrum of light into nutrients upon which all of life was born!
This mind blowing background is important to consider, as the non-toxic, human friendly varieties of edible algae are referred to as a primordial or “foundational food.” Scientific research points to a correlation between ingesting such foundational foods and corrections of chromosome damage, cellular rejuvenation and reduction of free radicals — all of which relate to longevity, youth and ultimately younger looking skin. Although there are a handful of different algaes that provide such benefits, this article specifically addresses those of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA), and the many way it supports radiance in both the body and mind.
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Known as the “invisible living flower of the water,” this beneficial superfood is the only edible freshwater algae in the world that grows abundantly in the wild. The most notable region of natural AFA growth can be found in the clear fresh waters of Klamath Lake in Southern Oregon. Fed by mineral-rich waters from nearby dormant volcanoes and natural springs, the pristine river valley of Klamath Lake along with the region’s abundance of sunshine makes it the perfect geographical climate for growth of AFA. The wild microalgae are an excellent source of phytonutrients, plant-based proteins, minerals, essential fatty acids and a wide spectrum of micronutrients, making it a profoundly nourishing food with a plethora of benefits.
According to Brian Clement, Ph.D., founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute, aquatic blue-green algae is one of the top food sources to consume for a number of reasons. AFA is used as a source of dietary protein, B vitamins, beta-carotene and iron, as well as biologically active enzymes, chlorophyll, fatty acids and neuropeptides. It’s also a good source of arginine, known to build muscle tone, and contains all eight essential amino acids, as well as some copper, magnesium, zinc and potassium. All of these compounds play a key role in keeping overall body functioning in check.
Additionally, AFA contains blue photosynthetic pigments called phycocyanin, which contain potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to promote a strong, healthy immune system.
Certain types of algae are actually a common add-in to various topical skin products due to their lifting and toning properties. Whether it’s in the form of single celled organisms or sea kelp, this slimy green miracle substance is really great for the skin. The high concentrations of AFA’s fatty acids and proteins help the skin in several major ways.
First, it helps strengthen the fibers in the skin, which tones and lifts its appearance. The fatty acids also help improve the skin’s structure, making it firmer and more elastic.
Second, the proteins help the body make new tissue and skin cells. It can also repair damaged cells and replace dead or worn out cells. When dead skin cells are sloughed off, the body requires protein to make new cells. Consider that these tiny creatures have spent millions of years on the planet’s watery surface, evolving mechanisms to protect their DNA from UV damage. These mechanisms are conserved cross species, meaning they work in human skin, too!
As it is water-based by nature, AFA also provides purifying hydration, helping to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Research has also found that AFA has great properties for sensitive skin. To top it all off, AFA is easily absorbed, enabling it to deliver maximum benefits to the skin.
When referring to AFA, Dr. Gabriel Cousins, Director of Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center and author of “Conscious Eating and Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine,” states, “This is probably the best single food for the brain that exists.” With a host of scientific evidence suggesting that it promotes greater mental clarity, focus, concentration and mental well-being, the properties of AFA that enhance the central nervous system are a big bonus.
AFA contains Phenylethylamine (PEA), which is also known as the “love molecule.” This substance is found to occur naturally in several other foods, including chocolate. PEA has been known to induce a natural high or euphoria, which may contribute to the noted feelings of well-being some AFA users report when describing cognitive benefits.
AFA can be taken in capsule, powder or frozen liquid form. When taken in frozen form, a recommended starting dose is approximately one tablespoon, and can be increased from there.
Whichever form is taken, advise your client to hold the AFA in their mouth for a few seconds before swallowing, and to drink plenty of water during the day, as it may have a detoxifying affect.
IN SPA TREATMENT
Create your own mask in the spa for noticeable skin enhancement with the following recipe:
Mix ½ teaspoon dry AFA along with a few drops of thawed liquid AFA or water to form a smooth paste. Apply generously to a clean face, avoiding eyes. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes or until completely dry. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat face dry. Follow with toner and moisturizer. This mask can be applied once or twice per week for optimal results.
Don’t miss Erik's workshop Superfoods & Super Herbs: why they’re super for your skin, at the Spa + Wellness Summit, held on may 20-22 at the Pennsylvania convention center