It’s pretty amazing that even after thousands of years of eating for survival, exploring the healing powers of food, and studying its effects on the body there is still room for new discoveries to be made when it comes to the healthiest and best foods to eat. But it happens every day!
It’s exciting. It’s overwhelming. How do you distinguish the truly nourishing superfoods from the snake oil?
At Integrative Nutrition, we think it’s great to keep an open mind to new wellness trends and experiment with different foods, supplements, and products. In many cases, trying out the newest superfood craze is a great thing! They’re nutrient-dense, have many health benefits, come with a long and fascinating history of being used by native people in the geographic areas where they grow, and are usually easy to incorporate into almost any type of diet.
One superfood that’s gaining popularity with a rise in scientific studies is moringa.
If you’ve heard the buzz around moringa it might be tempting to rush to the nearest health food store and start tossing this stuff into your morning smoothies, but do you really need it?
Let’s explore this plant and its possible side effects…
What it is:
Moringa is a plant native to parts of Asia and Africa, as well as growing in the tropics. It has 16 known varieties, and its leaves, roots, bark, flowers, fruit, and seeds are used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including malnutrition. It can be applied topically to prevent skin infection, taken orally as a supplement, or made into an oil.
Like many superfoods, moringa touts a plethora of potential health benefits, but not enough studies have been done in humans to reach any definitive conclusions. From the research done so far, moringa may likely…
- Balance blood sugar
- Reduce inflammation
- Lower cholesterol
- Treat infections
- Increase milk production in new moms
- Regulate thyroid function
- Increase availability and absorption of nutrients
- Increase sex drive
Additionally it has been used to treat headaches, fevers, constipation, and joint pain, improve kidney function, and control disorders of the circulatory system and even as a natural form of birth control. However, these uses are anecdotal and the effectiveness of moringa to treat these ailments hasn’t been confirmed.
Do you need it?
It’s important to keep in mind that most of the studies done so far on moringa have been done with animals, or very specific human trials with a limited sample size. So while it looks to be a promising plant with many potential benefits, there is some risk in taking a strong medicinal herb without having all the necessary information to confirm its safety, especially if you are seeking to treat a particular health condition.
The thing to remember here is that just because a plant has promising medicinal uses, doesn’t mean you need it for everyday health maintenance or prevention. There are many other foods, including your garden-variety affordable superfoods, which can provide many similar health benefits with less risk.
At Integrative Nutrition we teach bio-individuality, the notion that there’s no-one-size-fits-all diet. The foods that make you feel your best may make another person feel terrible. It’s all about finding what works for you and respecting what works for others.
What’s been your experience? Have you tried moringa? Or would you rather not? Let us know why or why not in the comments below!