Superfoods are now the go-to when it comes to supplementing diet with other healthy compounds found in nature. One of the most well-known superfoods known from studies to fight diseases is spirulina. But how does spirulina work? What are its components? How do you include it in your diet?
With the onslaught of illnesses and viral diseases such as MERS-CoV, Ebola and other strains you need to strengthen your immune system and overall health. But with the popularity of fast food chains, processed foods and instant meals, how are you going to stay away from temptations and eat healthy?
Staying healthy and eating healthy requires determination. Once you put your guard down, you will be exposed to many attacks. According to data, the top diseases that affect the population include cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, asthma, arthritis, kidney diseases, oral diseases and depression. So how do spirulina help?
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is said to be one of the oldest inhabitants of the earth. It is derived from microalgae that produces oxygen in the atmosphere. Spirulina contains 60-70% complete protein and other nutrients. It is grown in places from Mexico and Africa but Hawaii also has it. They thrive in tropical or subtropical waters and grow well in waters with high salt content although other types of the algae may also grow in fresh water lakes.
Spirulina gives water its dark green appearance. Some spirulina products known today are either grown naturally or cultured under natural conditions. Those which are taken straight from its natural habitats though have the big chance of getting contaminated by bacteria and toxic substances called microcystins since it easily absorbs nutrients and other substances from water. Spirulina needs high temperature to help it grow thus making it impossible to grow it in cold and temperatures. Once exposed to low temperature, it may stop reproducing and die fast.
This known superfood also contains vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and antioxidants. NASA even uses it as food for astronauts while in space. Certain Japanese seniors thrived on the consumption of spirulina and water alone for more than 20 years. And yes, they survived and were healthy.
Here are some of the conditions that may be helped by spirulina:
#1 Helps prevent cancer
Several studies have tried linking spirulina to cancer prevention. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, several animal and test tubes studies already suggested spirulina has the ability to increase production of antibodies and proteins that fights infections while it increases cells that improves immunity against illnesses such as cancer.
In PubMed data on the other hand, 70 peer reviewed articles already have been published regarding spirulinas ability to fight cancer. Scientists from Czech Republic also pointed out spirulina’s richness in tetrapyrrolic compounds that are closely related to bilirubin molecules which is known to be a potent anti-proliferative agent.
#2 Improves HIV
Consumption of algae is said to be related to a person’s improved immunity against HIV/AIDS. Take for example the case of Japan, Korea and Chad, they have low rates of the said disease but has high consumption rates of algae. This is as revealed in the study published in Journal of Applied Phycology.
The study had three groups of HIV patients who have never taken antiretroviral and assigned one group with 5 grams of brown seaweed to eat every day, one group to eat 5 grams of spirulina and one group to eat a combination of both. The study went on for three months and showed promising results. Participants who continued for 10 months showed significant improvement in CD4 cells (T-helper white blood cells that fight infection) and decreased HIV viral load.
#3 Detoxifies heavy metals
Spirulina can detoxify heavy metals especially arsenic. Inorganic arsenic is usually high in some countries around the world. This results to chronic arsenic poisoning. In Bangladesh where arsenic poisoning is high, researchers evaluated the use of blue green algae as an alternative cure.
The researchers gathered patients and split them into two groups. The first group received a combination of spirulina extract at 250 grams and zinc at 2 grams twice daily while the second group received placebo. Those who received spirulina decreased their arsenic content in their body 47%.
#4 Eliminates Candida
Candida and improper balance of micro flora in the body results in sickness and disease. Candidiasis is said to be the leading cause of mycosis related death in the US.
Spirulina though is found out to be an effective anti-microbial agent especially Candida. It helps promote healthy bacterial flora in the digestive track. Since spirulina strengthens immunity, the Candida cells will be eliminated.
#5 Lowers blood pressure
Spirulina contains phycocyanin pigment which contains antihypertensive effects or lower blood pressure. Spirulina effects reverse the endothelial dysfunction in metabolic syndrome.
#6 Reduces cholesterol
High cholesterol is one of the major problems of a big part of the population today plus it leads to other serious diseases. In a recent animal study from the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, rabbits that were fed with high cholesterol diet for four weeks and then fed with spirulina for eight weeks showed reduction in LDL.
#7 Boosts energy
Regular consumption of spirulina helps boost energy. This is due to the capacity of spirulina to unlock sugar from the cells.
#8 Lowers chances of stroke
According to study, consumption of spirulina as supplement can lower intimal aorta surface by 33% to 48% suggesting that it might prevent atherosclerosis and stroke. This leads to the conclusion that it can reverse the damage done by poor diet.
#9 Speeds up weight loss
Fitness fans, rejoice! Spirulina is a superfood that promotes weight loss and is protein rich. It takes more energy to metabolise thus contributes to fat burning. It also helps curb cravings for food. This ability of spirulina helps overweight people the most.
#10 Reduce sinus issues
Spirulina has the capacity to reduce inflammation in the sinus known as allergic rhinitis. This is according to numerous studies conducted. It reduces the symptoms of itching, nasal discharge, congestion and sneezing.
#11 Helps against Diabetes
In a study in 2008, it has been found that those who have spirulina supplementation have experienced a significant reduction in blood fat levels among people with type 2 diabetes. It is also found to reduce inflammation and decrease blood pressure.
Other benefits of spirulina include the reduction of ADHD symptoms and prevention of viral infections.
More Spirulina Information
Spirulina, like other superfoods Chia and Quinoa, is hailed from South America. It too was a staple for the Aztecs and is their primary source of protein. Until today, Lake Texcoco remains and abundant source of spirulina.