When it comes to superfoods, Spirulina is right there at the top of the list. It is known for its deep bluish-green hue, and a nutritional composition similar to that of chlorella, but this food has not always been popular, and in fact, it has only come into the spotlight recently. Spirulina supplements are all the hype at the moment.
What is Spirulina?
Though it is trending now, Spirulina has been dated back to the Aztec times, and maybe even earlier. The most common forms you can find are drink mixes, capsules and powder. So what exactly is Spirulina? It’s a spiral-shaped algae normally found on top of ponds. Although the algae is commonly found in Africa and some parts of America, it is now being harvested all around the world by simply creating the right conditions. Once harvested, it is processed for human consumption.
What Are The Benefits of Spirulina?
Many people know that Spirulina is supposedly good for them but they do not know the specifics. Maybe you know one or two reasons, but the following list will show you just why this superfood is just super.
1- Detoxes Heavy Metals
Spirulina has absorptive properties which allow it to detox a body that is contaminated by heavy metals, particularly arsenic. Where the body has toxins and poisons, Spirulina can be used as an antidote and an eliminator of pollutants, especially those found in drinking water. Scientists have successfully administered Spirulina to arsenic poisoning patients with very positive results. In most cases, people will not know that their drinking water is loaded with heavy metals, and the results can be fatal, therefore introducing some Spirulina supplements into ones diet is an excellent idea.
2- Helps Prevent Cancer
While the number of cancer cases continues to rise, there is a need for medication to fight this disease. Studies have revealed a correlation between consuming Spirulina with a reduction in cancer cells, especially those relating to oral cancers. Spirulina aids in regressing the cancer, and it has been found to be more effective in alleviating cancer symptoms when compared to other pharmaceutical drugs out there.
3- Improves Health in HIV/AIDS Patients
Spirulina has been linked to an increase in CD4 count in HIV/AIDS patients. Not only does this make the algae a part of the treatment process, but there are benefits to be had from it being a natural treatment. Some people have adverse reactions to antiretroviral treatment, and Spirulina provides a good alternative. From the studies conducted, there have been minimal negative reactions to the algae, but the viral load has not increased. Ingesting Spirulina and other types of algae by Japanese, Chadians, and Koreans has been used to explain their relatively low rates of the HIV/AIDS virus. If administered in the right quantities, spirulina will enhance the CD4 count and the body’s ability to fight off infections.
4- Improves Brain Performance
Studies have established the positive effects of Spirulina on brain performance and productivity. It can protect the brain from degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and it also inhibits brain processes that promote aging. Brain function is improved, and memory has also been known to become sharper as a result of eating Spirulina.
5- Helps Regulate Blood Pressure
Another medical condition that is on the rise is high blood pressure. Over 8 billion people have this ailment, and 70% of people who suffer strokes, also have hypertension. Spirulina possesses antihypertensive capabilities as a result of a pigment present in it. The pigment is called phycocyanin, and it can protect the heart by lowering and regulating blood pressure through the reversal of cardiovascular disorders.
6- Reduces Inflammation
The phycocyanin which protects the heart is also able to eradicate free radicals that cause inflammation in the body through anti-inflammatory effect. While normal inflammation is the body’s natural defence against threats, chronic inflammation is undesirable and Spirulina helps to combat this. Free radicals are also connected to skin damage, but Spirulina’s ability to eliminate free radicals also manages to keep your skin healthy and inflammation-free.
7- Boosts Energy
Spirulina provides energy in large quantities due to its ability to unlock the sugar in our bodies. Its chemical composition allows it to target the sugar in our bodies and make it work to produce energy. This in turn boosts our metabolism. The boost in metabolism tends to increase the immune activity which helps to fend off disease. Although research is still underway to conclusively prove the effects of the Spirulina, the trials that have been conducted so far have been successful and informative.
8- Promotes the Development of Good Intestinal Flora
We are aware that bacteria is bad, but there also exists good bacteria which helps our bodies in fighting disease. Imbalance good bacteria negatively affects digestion and worsens the effects of autoimmune diseases, therefore it is vital to keep the bacteria balanced. Spirulina promotes the growth and balance of bacteria which provides protection from disease and some which has been proven to be effective in combating cancer. Candida is better known as yeast infection is a common ailment that occurs as a result of bacterial imbalance. Spirulina is an effective treatment against this kind of infection because it promotes the production of good bacteria which in turn prevents the growth of candida, and aids in getting rid of the candida cells.
9- Regulates Blood Sugar
Diabetes is fast-becoming prevalent and it requires medications to keep it under control otherwise it can be fatal. Spirulina can reduce blood sugar levels significantly and there are results to show that it has outdone popular drugs that are on the market. Although not enough research has been conducted to determine the viability of it as a diabetes drug on its own, it is being considered as a natural remedy. Spirulina makes for great medication because it not only works on regulating the diabetes, but it also encompasses regulating several other medical conditions. It can be used in conjunction with other medications.
10- High Source of Protein, Vitamins, and Minerals
Spirulina can be correctly classified as one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. This food has close to 70% protein, and while it may not be consumed in a way that meets the daily intake, the protein content is still relatively high. Spirulina has all the essential amino acids required by the human body, and this makes it a protein powerhouse. Besides the protein, and the ability to boost energy, it is also packed with a large number of vitamins and minerals. It has significant quantities of riboflavin, niacin, folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, potassium, Vitamins K and C, omega-3 fatty acids, and some moderate amounts of sodium. Consuming Spirulina not only gives you plenty of protein, but you are also guaranteed a lot of vitamins and minerals.
11- Balances Cholesterol Levels
One other leading cause of strokes besides high blood pressure is high cholesterol levels. To maintain cardiovascular health, it is important to keep cholesterol levels at a healthy level. There is this misconception that cholesterol is bad when actually only high levels of it are undesirable. Cholesterol becomes a problem at unregulated high levels. But at the right level it plays an important role in neurological function. It also helps with producing hormones, cell membranes, Vitamin D, and bodily acids that aid in digestion. Spirulina works to cut cholesterol levels where they have been found to be high. There is evidence that Spirulina lowers total serum cholesterol while the good HDL cholesterol changes very little, which means that the algae targets and gets rid of LDL cholesterol which is undesirable in the body.
12- Combats Allergies
Studies have shown that Spirulina acts as an antihistamine. It fights off allergic reactions which include sneezing, itching, nasal congestion, headaches, sore throats, and watery eyes. Spirulina is considered superior to other antihistamines because it is natural and it poses no adverse effects like other medications. Several antihistamines have been linked to cases of dementia due to their anticholinergic nature. These drugs inhibit the transmission nerve impulses. They also have a negative impact on the peripheral and central nervous systems. These can bring on the onset of dementia and other mental disorders. It’s great to have a safer alternative on the market, especially with the increase of people affected by dementia.
13- It Is A Powerful Antioxidant
Antioxidants stop the molecules in our bodies from oxidizing. Oxidation leads to cell damage, lots of diseases, and chronic illnesses. To stop this from occurring, we know we have to consume antioxidants which are normally found in fruits and vegetables. It turns out Spirulina is a powerful antioxidant because it has phycocyanin which reduces inflammation. A test conducted on Spirulina showed that it has the ability to prevent oxidation four times as much as blueberries.
14- Fights Anemia
Anemia is a health condition which affects many people and it is often characterised by feelings of sickness and fatigue. Although many types of anemia exist, iron-deficiency anemia is the most common. It is a result of a decrease in red blood cells in the body. Spirulina supplements have been discovered to increase red blood cells in iron-deficiency anemia patients. While more studies are still underway, the results from earlier studies are very promising.
15- Aids in Weight Loss
Weight loss involves striking a balance between the amount of calories consumed and those expended. Weight gain is a result of taking in more calories than those that are used. Spirulina can help in weight regulation and loss because it is packed with protein. We tend to ingest more calories than is necessary because we usually do not stop eating until we feel full. Protein can be used to combat this problem in two ways. Firstly, protein will give you a sense of feeling full, so that you do not continue eating. Secondly, protein speeds up metabolism, therefore the body is able to burn through the calories faster. The overall effect is taking in fewer calories, and more efficient calorie burning, which when combined, lead to weight loss.
16- Stop Malnutrition
Food security remains a very big issue worldwide. People are trying to find ways to increase our food stores to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. Spirulina is being widely considered as a source of protein and other essential nutrients in the war against hunger. Because of its nutrient concentration, it is easy to see why this superfood would be considered to curb malnutrition. With a little more research, we may see Spirulina play an important part in providing nutrition, especially for children.
While Spirulina can pretty much be consumed by everyone, there are a few exceptions that must be kept in mind. People with any kind of auto-immune diseases and those with the metabolic disorder known as phenylketonuria (PKU) must steer clear of Spirulina. Additionally, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers must avoid Spirulina or consult with their physicians before taking any because it is possible for the fetus or the feeding baby to have PKU.
How Much Should I Take?
Spirulina is considered safe for most people with a few previously mentioned exceptions. Taking too much has been known to cause stomach upsets. The recommended daily intake amounts range from 2,000 to 3,000 mg which is normally taken in 500mg doses. Although the algae is safe to take in high dosages, it is advisable not to overdo it. You should always source yours from reliable and certified manufacturers or suppliers who get the Spirulina from safe sources. If you take it in a responsible way, you should see positive results in no time. Your body will thank you for it. Now that you know why you should take Spirulina, go ahead and try it out and reap its many benefits.