This post is an article on the amazing health benefits of spirulina. Keep reading!
One of the most nutrient-dense foods, spirulina is also one of the most sought-after superfoods nowadays. It is used as a dietary supplement, and anyone can buy spirulina in the form of tablets, capsules, and even powder that you can add to smoothies, drinks, salads, and others.
Spirulina is the cyanobacteria that are partially responsible for oxygen in the atmosphere, which ultimately allowed other tiny organisms to develop on our planet billions of years ago.
Story of Spirulina
What is amusing is that it is an edible blue-green alga, a healthy bacterial flora that can truly be an effective dietary supplement. Being the oldest life form on the planet, it is interesting that the Aztec people in Mexico used microalgae spirulina.
Later, considering that spirulina enhanced diet, it was cultivated in Chad, enveloped by Libya, Nigeria, and Sudan.
Nonetheless, it did not become an important part of the nourishment of the people till the 1960s. By the 1970s, it had earned international production and was on its way to becoming the most nourishing food source.
Like many people dislike eating aloe vera due to its bitter taste, it is the same as consuming spirulina. It tastes a little bitter; therefore, it is generally mixed with fruit juice or yogurt to improve the taste and give the nutritional punch.
1. What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is cyanobacteria or “blue-green algae,” which is safe for our consumption. While it can be eaten as a whole food in powder form to boost metabolism, it is normally taken in tablets. Spirulina naturally thrives in lakes and can even grow in conditions that would be far too drastic for other organisms.
In manufacturing, spirulina is gathered, freeze-dried, and then peddled as a powder, added to particular drinks and foods, or used in dietary spirulina supplements.
Spirulina has been linked with a range of health benefits, including improved immune function, decreased blood pressure, significantly reduced total cholesterol levels, decreased exercise-induced oxidative stress, and enhanced immune function.
It also reduces inflammation, high blood pressure, body weight, and risk of heart disease.
Spirulina consumption is largely seen in overweight hypertensive Caucasians.
2. Nutritional Value
Spirulina benefits are infinite and contain a vast array of vitamins, essential amino acids, antioxidants, and minerals, which are key for improving health. Clinical nutrition in one heaped teaspoon (7 grams) is:
- Total Calories – 20
- Protein – 4.02 grams
- Carbohydrates – 1.7 grams
- Fat – 0.54 grams
- Fiber – 0.3 grams
3. Health Benefits of Spirulina
This section will explore the scientific literature that has been published on the health benefits of spirulina and the impact that spirulina consumption has been found to have on human health.
While the Medical and Pharmacological Sciences department has completed some studies on spirulina, more analysis is needed to back up many of these proposed benefits.
3.1. Source of Antioxidants
A process called oxidation, like exercise-induced oxidative damage, can lead to ongoing inflammation and damage to cells. This may, over time, lead to chronic disease and cancer.
Spirulina is loaded with antioxidant compounds, like phycocyanin, which is responsible for spirulina’s dark blue-green color.
It helps dampen the risk factors like oxidation and hinder inflammation. Various academic research institutions indicate phycocyanin has advantages, including anti-inflammatory properties, neuroprotective qualities, and oxidative stress protection.
3.2. Spirulina May Maintain Eye and Oral Health
Spirulina is packed with zeaxanthin, a plant pigment that may decrease the risk of cataracts and age-related vision loss.
Its antibacterial characteristics may also help facilitate good oral health. Spirulina-enhanced mouthwash reduced dental plaque and the danger of gingivitis. It lowers the risk of oral cancer in people who chew tobacco.
3.3. Spirulina May Alleviate Hay Fever/Allergic Rhinitis
Spirulina seems to lessen the inflammation of nasal airways, which is a classic symptom of Hay fever. In one study, it was seen to alleviate symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, nasal discharge, and itching.
Inflammation in your nasal passageways causing nasal discharge are characteristic symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Allergic rhinitis is accelerated by allergens, like animal hair, pollen, or even wheat dust. Spirulina is a well-known treatment for symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Most of the researches that have been conducted has been either on animals or a randomized trial. So, more research is required before any health claims relating to spirulina can be substantiated
3.4. Improved Heart Health/Blood Pressure
Spirulina can reduce the risk of heart disease by lessening the amount of LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.
Recently the impact of spirulina supplementation on LDL cholesterol levels was investigated. It was found that by taking just 1 gram of spirulina every day over 3 months, total cholesterol levels dropped by 10%, reducing the risk of heart disease.
A small-scale 2016 study found that eating spirulina regularly for 3 months relaxed people’s blood vessels when they were overweight and had hypertension, thereby lowering blood pressure. This helps in reducing the risk of heart disease.
3.5. Immune Support
Several animal and test-tube surveys indicate that spirulina increases the production of antibodies and infection-fighting proteins. This helps boost immunity, endothelial function and helps ward off infection and chronic illnesses.
Though, it has not been tested in human beings.
3.6. Supporting mental health
A 2018 paper highlights that taking spirulina could play an important role in treating mood syndromes.
Spirulina is a source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that should be present in a balanced diet and supports serotonin production. Serotonin plays a fundamental role in mental health.
People with mental health disorders like depression and anxiety may have reduced levels of serotonin. Taking tryptophan supplements to maintain healthy serotonin levels may support mental well-being, making spirulina a medicinal food.
3.7. Anti-Cancer Properties
Phycocyanin — the plant pigment that gives blue spirulina its blue-green color. Multiple antioxidants in spirulina have anti-inflammatory effects on the human body. Chronic inflammation can lead to cancer and other chronic disorders—
Spirulina has been found to decrease inflammation in the body and suppress tumor growth and destroy cancer cells. The immune-enhancing protein in spirulina is being studied for its high potential in cancer treatment.
3.8. Protein Supplement
Spirulina is a rich source of protein and other nutrients, and it has been used as a nutritional supplement.
Though spirulina contains protein, you would have to take huge quantities to see any effect. Other sources of protein, like legumes, nuts, and meat, give protein in smaller servings.
3.9. Managing Diabetes
One of the health benefits of spirulina can manage the symptoms of diabetes, although research is needed before doctors can recommend it.
High fasting blood sugar is a common issue in people with diabetes. A 2018 review study found that spirulina supplementation considerably lessened people’s fasting blood glucose levels. This implies that spirulina supplements may help people control diabetes type 1 and type 2.
These results suggest that blue-green algae are a good food to support type 2 diabetes management.
3.10. Allergic Reactions
Animal studies suggest that spirulina may defend humans against allergic reactions by curbing the release of histamines, substances that contribute to allergy symptoms.
These include a runny nose, watery eyes, and soft-tissue swelling. However, whether these initial investigations will help people with allergies is not known.
Alongside zinc, spirulina appears to be promising as a treatment for chronic arsenic poisoning.
Although, further research is required before doctors can provide medical advice for treating any health condition.
3.11. May Improve Muscle Strength and Endurance
Exercise-induced oxidative damage is a major cause of muscle exhaustion. Some plant foods have antioxidant properties that can help physically active people minimize this damage.
Spirulina appears helpful, as some surveys pointed to improved muscle strength and endurance.
3.12. Boosting Metabolism
Consuming spirulina may help improve a person’s metabolism. A higher metabolic rate may make individuals feel as if they have more energy and a better immune system. The number of calories burnt each day will be more, which may help in weight loss.
In a 2014 study, people who took 6 g of spirulina daily experienced effective metabolic effects, alongside weight loss and better quality of life.
3.13. May Be Effective Against Anemia
There are various kinds of anemia. The most common one is a reduction in hemoglobin or red blood cells in your body.
Anemia is relatively common in grown-ups, causing weakness, weariness, and exhaustion. Spirulina increases the hemoglobin content of red blood cells.
3.14. Antibiotic-related Ailments
Although antibiotics destroy undesirable microorganisms in the body, they may also slay “good” bacteria named probiotics.
In test tubes, spirulina has increased the growth of L. acidophilus and other probiotics, but More research is needed to determine whether spirulina will have the same effect on humans.
Insights Into Benefits and Potential Drawbacks of Spirulina Supplementation
Dr. Kevin Huffman, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, a board-certified bariatric physician as well as the CEO and Founder of Ambari Nutrition, explains the benefits and drawbacks of spirulina supplements:
“Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae recognized for its health-boosting properties, notably bolsters the immune system.
It boasts an array of essential nutrients–high concentrations of protein; vitamins A (Beta Carotene), B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3(Niacin), C, D, and E; along with trace minerals such as iron and zinc—all crucial to strengthening our natural defenses—providing robust protection and enhancement to the immune system.
Moreover, spirulina boasts of phytonutrients— such as phycocyanin and chlorophyll— that exhibit robust antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; these assets aid in waging a war against harmful components: free radicals that potentially weaken the immune system.
Spirulina boasts high concentrations of nutrients beneficial to cardiovascular health, demonstrating potential as a heart supplement: it contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and Omega-3 fatty acids— [both] proven agents in reducing inflammation and regulating blood pressure.
Furthermore, its essential amino acids and considerable protein content serve dual roles—they diminish LDL (bad cholesterol) levels while simultaneously promoting HDL (good cholesterol).
Moreover, phycocyanin–a pigment discovered in spirulina— connects to heart protection, [specifically] restricting the growth of atherosclerotic plaque.
Spirulina supplementation can also bolster the health of our digestive system: its high fiber content promotes regular bowel movements, preventing constipation and paving the way for healthier digestion.
Furthermore, spirulina fosters an environment conducive to healthy gut bacteria growth – a key factor in enhancing nutrient absorption and improving overall gut health.
Despite the necessity for further research in this field, several studies propose that spirulina possibly enhances cognitive function: its antioxidants potentially decrease brain inflammation and guard neurons against damage.
Moreover, spirulina may possess an inherent capacity to reduce protein accumulation–a precursor of brain plaque and memory impairment in Alzheimer’s disease.
Spirulina, like any supplement, does carry certain risks: some individuals may experience digestive discomfort; others might suffer from allergic reactions or headaches post-consumption–and it’s [particularly] risky for those with Phenylketonuria (PKU).
PKU signifies an inherited disorder that elevates [levels of] phenylalanine in the blood; hence, those affected should refrain from consuming spirulina due to its content of this specific amino acid.
While most people can safely ingest spirulina, it may, however, interact with specific medications: for instance – the effects of anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs might be potentiated by spirulina.
This interaction raises the risk of excessive bleeding. Moreover, individuals using medication to manage immune disorders should exercise caution – given that spirulina [has] the potential to stimulate their immune system and thus conflict with these medicines.
Before initiating any new supplement regimen, [always] [engage in consultation] with your healthcare provider— [particularly] if you are on medication.”
4. Is Spirulina Good For You?
Considering that spirulina strengthens the body with a range of crucial micronutrients in huge quantities. It can be stated that spirulina can have a constructive impact on health.
Modern research has indicated that spirulina may have innumerable benefits on health and fitness. Spirulina may also be used by those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, anemia, and hypertension. However, more research is required to confirm this.
5. How to Consume Spirulina Supplements
There are many different spirulina species, only some of which are identified on commercially available label products. Spirulina maxima (cultivated in Mexico) and Spirulina platensis (cultivated in California) are the most popular type of blue-green algae.
So do you want to start lapping up the usefulness of spirulina? Well, we don’t blame you. Here are the simplest ways to get some spirulina in your body.
5.1. Spirulina Powder
Spirulina powder is the most common way. You can purchase dried spirulina online or in health food stores or general stores that stock supplements.
Spirulina powder has a benefit in that it’s quite versatile. You can use it with smoothies, salads, juices, vegetables, and much more.
5.2. Spirulina Tablets/Capsules
Spirulina tablets are popular because they pack your daily dose into an easy-to-swallow tablet.
Generally, you take spirulina pills 1 to 3 times every day. For those on the go who don’t have time to measure powders, they’re perfect.
6. Potential Risks of Spirulina
Since spirulina has impressive nutrient activity, you should talk to your physician before taking it. It may pose health hazards for some, including:
6.1 Auto-Immune Diseases
Analysis shows that it can support immune system function, but this could aggravate symptoms in people with auto-immune illnesses like lupus, multiple sclerosis, or arthritis. Talk to your medic before adding spirulina to your food if you have an auto-immune disorder.
Spirulina planted in the wild may be polluted with heavy metals and bacteria. Some of these toxins may damage your liver.
6.3 Bleeding Disorders
It can help reduce blood clotting. It may heighten the risk of bleeding in people with particular bleeding conditions.
Spirulina might influence blood sugar levels, so those with diabetes should regulate their blood sugar when taking spirulina as it might disturb the body’s glucose concentrations.
6.5 Pregnancy Concerns
There is not sufficient exploration to indicate whether blue-green algae is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Due to the toxin risk, doctors suggest that pregnant ladies avoid spirulina.
Creative and Nutritious Ways of Incorporating Spirulina: Culinary and Dietary Insight
“I frequently experiment with various types of superfoods, including spirulina.
[Being] packed with protein, vitamins, and other essential nutrients, spirulina has become a popular ingredient in my kitchen, especially when its nutrient-dense profile [is considered].
In my cooking experience, I’ve found spirulina to be incredibly versatile. [T]he strong, earthy flavor can be effectively masked by blending it into smoothies or [mixing] it into sauces.
I’ve also created some innovative recipes like spirulina pancakes, energy balls, and salad dressings, enhancing the nutritional value of these dishes.
However, the downside is that too much can render a rather overpowering taste, and it’s important to strike the right balance in [terms of] quantity.
[Additionally], some people may find it difficult to digest initially, so I recommend starting with smaller amounts to see how your body reacts.
While spirulina gives an instant boost of energy and nourishment, its taste and digestion aspect can sometimes be a drawback.
Incorporating it creatively and moderately into your diet can help reap the maximum benefits of this superfood!”
Closing Thought: Spirulina, a boon?
Spirulina is a boon for the body, regardless of the age of the person. It is one of the most significant natural sources for the environment and humans to maintain a healthy balance.
The best way to have this nutrient-rich alga is to eat them raw. However, nowadays, it is also available in powdered and capsule forms as a vitamin supplement.
While more research needs to be performed on spirulina to substantiate the effects that supplementing it has on health, there do appear to be numerous advantages associated with spirulina. Spirulina has a lot of potential to give you a super healthy body.
So, It is good for gut health, diastolic blood pressure, and conditions like metabolic syndrome as spirulina increases the production of beta carotene and grants the body many health benefits.
With that being said, it should be used with caution, and those with certain disorders must talk to their doctor before taking spirulina.
We hope you found this article interesting and beneficial enough.
Guest Author: Saket Kumar