Today, Mexico City sits in a dry basin, but back in the 16th century, the area was filled with the waters of Lake Texcoco. That was home to the Aztecs, who built a city on an island in the lake and used its waters as a food source. They would scrape a slimy blue-green substance they called "tcuitlatl" off the water's surface using fine nets. They'd then dry it into square cakes that, according to a Franciscan missionary in the early 1500s, they ate a great deal of.
The Aztecs may not have known why this staple was good for them, but it sure was. These days, it seems their pond scum is the same substance we call spirulina, a photosynthesizing bacterium (nope, not algae) that's packed with all the essential protein-building amino acids, vitamins like niacin and the B's, minerals like calcium, iron and potassium, and inflammation-dousing antioxidants.
One animal study found that a spirulina supplement boosted immune activity, helping fight off fungal and bacterial infections. Another study published in 2017 found that 60 obese folks who took a 1-gram spirulina supplement daily for 12 weeks lost more weight and had lower cholesterol levels than a control group. Is it better than a daily multivitamin (1/2 morning and 1/2 night)? We don't know, but both act as insurance against an inadequate diet.
So, if you're looking for a boost from a food that's like you'd get from a multivitamin, try mixing powdered spirulina into your smoothie or sprinkle it onto baked fish.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.