What is Spirulina?
You may not have heard of Spirulina, but it has been popular for centuries. It is known that the Aztecs used to consume it way back in the 16th century and it is still incredibly popular today. NASA has proposed Spirulina as a plant that astronauts can grow and consume in space because it contains large amounts of nutrients that have powerful effects on your body and brain. It is currently a superfood that is creating quite a buzz and is well-known for both its colour and intense flavour. There are over 1200 peer-reviewed scientific articles relating to its health benefits.
Spirulina is an organism, a type of bacteria called cyanobacterium, that grows easily in both fresh and saltwater and is often referred to as blue-green algae. Like any plant, its energy is derived from sunlight via photosynthesis.
One teaspoon of spirulina powder contains 4 grams of protein, as well as significant levels of vitamins B1, B2 and B3, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese, but with only 20 calories, making it the most nutritious food in the world.
10 Proven Health Benefits of Spirulina
1. Spirulina May Reduce Blood Pressure
A dose of 4.5 grams of spirulina per day has been demonstrated to reduce blood pressure in individuals with normal blood pressure levels, thanks to an increased production of nitric oxide that enables blood vessels to relax and dilate. This could be an important breakthrough for those at risk of heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease.
2. Spirulina May Eliminate Candida
Candida can be found on most of the human body's orifices. We need to maintain a microflora balance in our body, otherwise, we become more susceptible to yeast infections, sickness and disease. Microflora imbalance can lead to leaky gut syndrome and digestive disorders, and candida overgrowth is a sign of autoimmune disease. Unfortunately, sugar-rich diets exacerbate the problem.
Spirulina studies have proven it to be a useful and effective anti-microbial agent, that can facilitate the growth of healthy bacterial flora in the intestines, which in turn prevents candida from thriving, while also boosting the immune system.
3. Spirulina Can Help the Body to Detox Heavy Metals
The World Health Organization have highlighted the problem of chronic arsenic toxicity all around the world including first world countries such as the USA. The biggest problem can be found in the Far East, however, where millions of people consume arsenic through unclean drinking water.
Researchers in Bangladesh looked to spirulina as a treatment and were amazed by the results. Of 24 patients offered spirulina extract with zinc, the researchers found that 47% of participants saw a decrease of arsenic in their body.
4. Spirulina Can Reduce Cholesterol
A recent animal study published in The Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology showed that spirulina can prevent atherosclerosis and reduce elevated blood cholesterol levels. The research undertaken on rabbits over an 8-week period, found that the more spirulina we eat the more benefits we will receive. Serum triglycerides and total cholesterol were reduced significantly.
5. Spirulina Will Improve Allergic Rhinitis
An inflammation in the nasal airways causes allergic rhinitis, that is often triggered by pollen, animal fur, perfume, dust etc. There is evidence that spirulina is effective at treating symptoms of the resulting runny nose, streaming eyes and sneezing etc. One study looked at 127 people with allergic rhinitis and prescribed 2 grams of spirulina per day. Symptoms were dramatically reduced.
6. Spirulina Can Be Effective Against Anaemia
The most common form of anaemia is categorized by a reduction in haemoglobin or red blood cells in the blood and can lead to weakness and fatigue, particularly among the elderly. A study of 40 older people with a history of anaemia, showed that a spirulina supplement actually increased the haemoglobin content of red blood cells and boosted the immune system.
7. Spirulina Lowers the Risk of Stroke
Spirulina supplements have been shown to prevent atherosclerosis which can lead to stroke. It is thought that consuming spirulina can reverse the damage of a poor diet.
8. Spirulina Can Speed up Your Weight Loss
Weight loss is promoted through diets that are high in nutrient-dense protein-rich foods like spirulina because spirulina needs more energy to metabolize thanks to being protein-rich. Consuming protein helps maintain lean tissue and contributes to fat burning. Spirulina will also curb your hunger, especially if you take it in the morning or at lunch.
9. Spirulina May Improve Muscle Strength and Endurance
Studies among athletes have suggested that spirulina may be a useful supplement to improve muscle strength and endurance. Certain plant foods have been shown to have antioxidant properties that can help athletes and minimize exercise-induced oxidative damage, and spirulina appears to be beneficial.
In one study, spirulina was shown to enhance endurance, and significantly increase the time it took for people to become fatigued, and in another, spirulina supplements helped to increase muscle strength but did not seem to have any effect on endurance.
10. Spirulina May Contain Anti-Cancer Properties
There is some evidence that spirulina can have anti-cancer properties because tests on animals have shown it can reduce occurrences of cancer as well as the size of and tumours. One study in India examined 87 people with precancerous lesions in the mouth, who were prescribed 1 gram of spirulina per day for a year. Some 45% of the spirulina group had a complete regression of lesions in the mouth, compared with 7% of the control group, but when they stopped taking the spirulina, the lesions resurfaced.
Updated: April 24, 2018 CET