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Moringa; More Than Just Another Superfood

 

Moringa benefits

On the western margin of Agua Caliente, Mark Olson, a professor of evolutionary biology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, has a farm. “It may look like a shitty little field with runty little trees in a random little town, but it’s an amazing scientific resource,”

This is the world’s largest and most diverse aggregate of trees from the genus Moringa, which Olson believes are “uniquely suited to feeding poor and undernourished populations of the dryland tropics, especially in the era of climate change.”

Olson began to study Moringa in 1995, while he was getting his Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis.

With funding from the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society, he spent nearly two decades collecting the seeds of the tree’s thirteen known species, travelling throughout Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Africa.

 

Moringa For Malnutrition

He began planting the farm in Agua Caliente two years ago, and his hope is to use the six hundred trees there to develop an optimal breed of Moringa—one that could become a staple food source in dry tropical regions all over the world.

According to David Lobell, the deputy director of Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment, these regions are a nutritional hot zone. They are already home to at least two billion people, a figure that is expected to grow.

“If you look at climate models, the conditions are projected to intensify more than in most other climatic regions,” Lobell said. “So the already hot, dry climates will become really hot and really dry, relative to their current state.” Hot and dry are precisely the conditions in which the Moringa thrives.

“This is a plant so tenacious, resilient, versatile, generous, and flat-out eccentric as to be Dr. Seussian,” Olson said. “Nothing else in the plant kingdom really compares.” 

And not only does it succeed in harsh conditions, it also grows weed-fast—about a foot per month, to a height of as much as twenty feet.

 

A Nutritional Powerhouse

Moringa oleifera, the most commonly farmed species, is a nutritional Swiss Army knife: it produces edible leaves that are unusually rich in protein, iron, calcium, nine essential amino acids, and Vitamins A, B, and C.

Jed Fahey, a biochemist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who has collaborated with Olson on Moringa research for more than a decade, has found that the tree’s leaves and pods have strong anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties, and may also contain enzymes that protect against cancer.

Mature Moringa seeds can be pressed for vegetable oil, and the seed cake that is left over can be used to purify drinking water. (It contains a protein that makes bacteria glom together and die.) When dried, crushed seeds can also serve as a good fertilizer.

As an agricultural crop, the tree does have its drawbacks. The broad genetic variation within Moringa oleifera has made it hard to cultivate efficiently on big farms, where crop uniformity is critical for ease of care and harvest.

Moreover, its leaves are smaller and more delicate than baby spinach, and are prone to wilting after they are picked—a challenge for farmers who can’t chill their produce.

And Moringas limitations are culinary, too. Its leaves, like cilantro, taste best when removed from their chewy stems, a tedious process when cooking large quantities.

Both the leaves and the pods contain an oil that gives them a bold, peppery flavor—like arugula, but stronger—which can be off-putting to some palates. 

 

The New Kale

For now, Moringa is gaining more popularity among wealthy, Western superfood enthusiasts than among the underserved populations of the dry tropics.

Powdered Moringa leaves have become a trendy ingredient in power bars and smoothies in recent years.

However, Olsen says “Trumpeting dried Moringa as the cure du jour for people in the rich West misses the real potential of this plant."

He sees Moringa as a kind of anti-superfood—not something to be frittered away as a luxury supplement, like açaí berries sprinkled on oatmeal, but to be used as a staple, an essential form of sustenance.

Fahey agreed. “When you look at maps of the areas in the world where Moringa grows, and then at maps where populations are undernourished, it’s amazing—they almost exactly overlap,” he told me. And, given the pressures of climate change, this correlation may strengthen in the coming decades.

Whether or not this humanitarian vision succeeds, Olson’s Moringa research has already begun to generate scientific value, in particular his investigation into the tree’s mechanisms for harnessing and storing groundwater, and for moving water into its leaves.

This research on what Olson calls Moringa’s “ingenious plumbing” may help climate scientists and forest ecologists understand how other trees will and could behave in increasingly water-scarce conditions.

Even if Moringa doesn’t manage to trump kale, it may hold a key to surviving the hotter, drier days to come. 

This is an excerpt from an article in the New Yorker

  

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10 Scientifically Backed Health Benefits Of Moringa

Moringa health benefits

 

The powdered leaves of the Moringa tree are fast becoming the latest superfood trend, with many health experts now proclaiming it as the must have addition to your morning smoothie.

Hailing from the foothills of the Himalayas and coastal regions of Tamil Nadu, the Moringa tree - known as the 'Miracle Tree' or the 'Tree of life' - has been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic medicine to treat and prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, anemia, arthritis, liver disease, and respiratory, skin, and digestive disorders.

But it's not until relatively recent times that we in the West have caught on with over 250 clinical trials being carried out exploring its incredible skin, energy and health giving properties.

Here are 10 scientifically backed health benefits of adding moringa to your diet:

 

1. Packed With Goodness

Moringa contains a whopping 92 nutrients including 46 antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatories and all essential amino acids. It is particularly rich in calcium, potassium, protein and vitamins A, C, and E, with additional macro minerals, trace minerals and phytonutrients.

Cosmopolitan magazine wrote "Moringa's nutritional profile reads like a health nut's wish-list."

2. Fights Off Those Nasty Free Radicals

Free radicals are molecules that cause oxidative stress, cell damage and inflammation which can lead to chronic diseases.

Moringa contains antioxidants such as flavonoids, polyphenols and ascorbic acid which combat free radicals keeping the body's cells healthy and functioning at their best.

3. Boosts Immune Health

With 3x the amount of iron than spinach, vitamin A, zinc, thiamine (B1), niacin (B3) and vitamin B6, Moringa helps the formation of normal red blood cells and contributes to the normal functioning of the metabolism and immune system, enriching the blood and carrying oxygen into our muscles, organs and tissues.

 

4. Combats Inflammation

According to a report published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Moringa contains an unheard of mix of 36 anti-inflammatories such as kaempferal, leucine and quercetin that work in the same way as many anti-inflammatory drugs.

A trial conducted by The Laboratoire de Pharmacologie et de Physiologie in Senegal discovered that an aqueous root extract of Moringa had a similar effect as the potent anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin.

5. Clearer, More Youthful Skin

Due to its Omega 3 fatty acids, trace mineral content and full range of amino acids, Moringa is fantastic for nourishing the skin, reducing inflammation and contributing to healthy cell regeneration.

This helps to prevent lines and wrinkles whilst retaining suppleness.
Leading UK facial expert Abigail James states “I have added Moringa powder as a super food to my diet for years and know it’s amazing for the skin.”

6. Proven Anti-Aging

There are many touted superfoods such as goji berries, blueberries, acai and pomegranates that are great for their anti aging properties but the Moringa plant tops them due to its abundance of a plant hormone called zeatin.

In an experiment by The University of Aarhus in Denmark, a “youth-preserving effect” on human connective tissue cells was confirmed using zeatin. Skin cells showed an improved ability to respond to oxidative stress.

Hala El-Shafie - Founder of Nutrition Rocks - thinks it's a great addition to your skin regime: "Moringa is an excellent natural source of vitamin A and iron......whilst also providing a rich source of antioxidants for healthy skin."

 

7. Stronger Bones And Teeth

Moringa contains healthy doses of calcium and magnesium. These two trace minerals work together in synergy so you get even more out of them; whilst calcium is needed to build strong bones and teeth, we also need magnesium to help us absorb it.

8. Reduces Diabetes Symptoms

Several studies have shown that Moringa may considerably help lower blood sugar levels.

Sri Aurobindo Medical College in Indore, India conducted a clinical trial amongst diabetic patients. It concluded that Moringa had a significant effect on the blood sugar levels 2 hours after intake among hyperglycemic individuals.

9. Packed With Protein

Because Moringa has all essential amino acids, it is classed as a full protein. This is good for building muscle mass and is vitally important in helping to build and maintain healthy muscle, cartilage, bones and skin.

Moringa's protein content rivals that of meat, making it an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.

Dr. Monica G. Marcu, in her book “Miracle Tree” writes "Compared to soybeans, one of the best known and most valuable plant sources of protein, Moringa’s leaves fare great. The two plants have similar protein quality and quantity."

10. Improves Training And Recovery Time

We already know that Moringa is a great source of protein but it also contains high amounts of blood-pumping iron and potassium. Its iron content - 3 times the amount found in Kale - helps the blood deliver more oxygen to your muscles, aiding in faster recovery.

And its potassium content - 3 times the amount found in bananas, is important for increasing muscular energy and assisting in protein synthesis.


How To Use Moringa

Moringa is available in many different forms. You can try it in a dried powder form, supplement pill, as a tea, or as an oil.

Perhaps the most popular way to add Moringa to your diet is to blend the powder into your daily smoothie or sprinkle into your soup or sauce for an supercharged injection of goodness.

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Moringa Reduces Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms Study Reveals

Moringa for urinary tract infection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common type of infection in the body, affecting millions of people each year.

UTIs include acute as well as chronic cystitis, prostatitis, pyelonephritis, and urethritis.

Lower urinary tract infection is more common among women with an incidence of one in five women at any point throughout their life.

Antibiotics are widely used to treat UTIs; however, they have their own limitations like resistance, reinfection, and relapses. 

 

Moringa UTI Treatment

Moringa oleifera is one of the common Indian herbs used for different conditions related to the urinary system such as urolithiasis and benign prostrate hyperplasia.

This plant has been used in India and other parts of Asia for thousands of years for nutritional as well as medical purposes.

In traditional literature, preparations of the Moringa oleifera are claimed to be effective in a wide spectrum of inflammatory and infectious diseases.

 

Study

The Faculty of Ayurveda, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India conducted a study to evaluate the value of Moringa oleifera stem bark as a potential medicine for UTIs.  

30 patients with UTI were randomly divided into two groups with 15 patients in each group.

Moringa was given to patients of the first group (trial group) and modern medicines were prescribed to the other group of patients.

 

Results

After treatment 66.67 % were cured, 13.33 % improved, 13.33% patients had no change, and 6.67% relapsed in the moringa trial group.

In the control group 46.67% were cured, 26.66% improved, 6.67% patients have no change, and 20% relapsed. 

This is an encouraging result which clearly favors promotion of Moringa oleifera as a remedy for UTIs.

Moringa oleifera was tested against a variety of microorganisms like E. coli, S. aureus, B. cereus, P. aeruginosa, and P. mirabilis. It showed a prominent effect against E. coli, which is a major causative factor in UTIs.

In the study, Moringa oleifera provided symptomatic relief to the patients during the trial; possible explanation for this effect might be due to the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents present in the plant.

Urinary tract infection in addition aggravates the oxidative stress in some cases like diabetes and pregnancy.

So the powerful antioxidant activity of Moringa oleifera is effective against oxidative stress produced in UTI, probably because of phenolic component.

Painful and inconvenient, a UTI results in frequent urges to urinate with little production of urine and is accompanied by a severe burning sensation.

The study observed increase in urine amount indicating diuretic benefits of Moringa. The diuretic abilities of Moringa also appear to inhibit infection-causing bacteria to the wall of the bladder.

 

Conclusion

From the clinical study, it has been concluded that stem bark of Moringa oleifera is effective on most of the symptoms of urinary tract infection. 

For more info on this trial click here.

Other Research 

UTI is not the only condition that researchers are looking to treat with moringa.

Many other trials have been conducted, including treatments for cancer, diabetes, asthma, anti aging, arthritis and breast milk supply.

  

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