Spirulina benefits: 10 reasons to try it

Spirulina benefits: 10 reasons to try it

What is spirulina?

Spirulina is one of the oldest life forms on Earth. In fact, this blue-green microalgae is partly responsible for producing the oxygen in the planet's atmosphere that billions of years ago allowed the planet's originating life forms to develop. Spirulina is the world's first superfood, and one of the most nutrient-rich foods on Earth.

Spirulina has between 55 and 70% protein (more than beef, chicken, and soybeans), 8 essential and 10 non-essential amino acids, as well as high levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), beta-carotene, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, phosphorus, nucleic acids RNA & DNA, chlorophyll, and phycocyanin, a pigment-protein complex that is found only in blue-green algae. 

This blue-green algae is a freshwater plant that is now one of the most researched, and alongside its cousin chlorella, most talked about superfoods today. Grown around the world from Mexico to Africa to even Hawaii, spirulina is renowned for its intense flavor and even more powerful nutrition profile.

What are the benefits of spirulina?

 1. Helps prevent cancer

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “A number of animal and test tube studies suggest that spirulina increases production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins, and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and chronic illnesses such as cancer.” (1)

This doesn’t come as a surprise as more than 70 peer-reviewed articles have been published in the scientific literature evaluating spirulina’s ability to affect cancer cells. (2)

In an article published this past April, Czech Republic scientists pointed out that, in addition to its ability to control blood cholesterol levels, “Spirulina is also rich in tetrapyrrolic compounds closely related to bilirubin molecule, a potent antioxidant and anti-proliferative agent.” (3)

When tested on human pancreatic cells, these researchers discovered that, “Compared to untreated cells, experimental therapeutics significantly decreased proliferation of human pancreatic cancer cell lines in vitro in a dose-dependent manner.” Essentially, this proves that consuming spirulina appears to be a potential natural cancer treatment.

2. Boosts energy

When you look at the chemical composition of spirulina, it’s no wonder that people who regularly consume it have an abundance of energy. Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends combining 1 teaspoon of spirulina powder with 12 ounces of lime juice and freezing the mixture in ice cube trays for a healthy boost.

According to Dr. Oz, spirulina and lime enhance energy performance because they unlock sugar from our cells and, when frozen, the cold from the ice boosts metabolic energy while giving our bodies a “wake-up call.” (4)

3. Reduces inflammation

The color of spirulina comes from the presence of a pigment called phycocyanin. This pigment has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects (5)

Inflammation in the body is associated with heart disease (6) and Alzheimer’s disease (7) among others.  

It is linked to the aging process (8) and when it flares out of control on a chronic basis, it can lead to an increased chance of mortality from a wide range of health conditions.

Because spirulina can help to reduce inflammation in your body, this means it has a protective effect against inflammation-related disease processes. 

4. Eliminates candida

If you have ever had a candida infection, you know that they can be incredibly stubborn and hard to eradicate.

While many candida infections are merely annoying, some constitute a serious health concern (9) 

Animal studies have shown that spirulina has a protective effect against candida (101112).

Spirulina benefits have been shown to promote the growth of healthy bacterial flora in the intestines, which in turn inhibits candida from thriving. Additionally, the immune-strengthening properties of spirulina will help the body eliminate candida cells.

5. Improves HIV/AIDS

Up until recently, epidemiologists have been puzzled trying to understand why people in Japan, Korea and Chad have relatively low HIV/AIDS rates. 

A study was conducted (13) to investigate a possible connection.  It was a small pilot study, but still an interesting one. 

The subjects were split into groups and were assigned to eat either 5 grams a day of brown seaweed, 5 grams per day of spirulina, or a combination of the two.  The trial ran a three-month period.

The results were promising.  The researchers concluded by stating, ​"Our pilot data suggest that Undaria, Spirulina, and a combination of both were nontoxic and over time may improve clinical endpoints of HIV/AIDS.”

6. Reduces cholesterol

Along those same lines, spirulina benefits have also been shown to prevent atherosclerosis and reduce elevated blood cholesterol levels. 

A recent animal study published in The Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology took rabbits, fed them a high cholesterol diet (HCD) containing 0.5 percent cholesterol for four weeks, and then fed them a HCD with 1 percent or 5 percent spirulina for an additional eight weeks. (14)

After the eight-week trial was complete, LDL levels decreased by 26 percent in the group eating 1 percent of spirulina and 41 percent in the group eating 5 percent spirulina, which heavily suggests that the more we eat, the more benefits we will receive! Serum triglycerides and total cholesterol were also significantly reduced.

7. Detoxes heavy metals (especially arsenic)

Affecting people all over the globe, chronic arsenic toxicity is a problem. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. is one of the countries affected by inorganic arsenic that is naturally present at high levels.

In one study (15) scientists treated patients suffering from chronic arsenic poisoning with 250 mg of spirulina extract with 2 mg of zinc twice per day for a 16 week period. 

They discovered that this treatment was effective in treating the arsenic poisoning.

Even if you are not suffering from chronic arsenic poisoning, you may very well have arsenic and other toxins present in your body from your drinking water.

Taking spirulina supplements regularly may help you to detoxify your body from these harmful pollutants.

8. Lowers blood pressure

In order to protect your cardiovascular health, you need to control markers of heart disease, one of which is blood pressure.

This study (16) looked at the effects of spirulina on blood pressure. It was found that simply taking 4.5 grams of spirulina each day without any other changes in diet was enough to drop blood pressure over a six-week time period.

9. Alleviates sinus issues

Known as allergic rhinitis, spirulina benefits the body by reducing the inflammation that causes people to experience sinus problems, according to numerous studies. (17) Compared to placebo trials, spirulina is effective at reducing itching, nasal discharge, nasal congestion and sneezing.

10. Helps you lose weight

Diets high in nutrient-dense protein-rich foods like spirulina promote weight loss and low-fat stores through a variety of mechanisms. Because it takes more energy to metabolize, for example, eating protein helps maintain lean tissue and contributes to fat burning. 

It can also curb hunger and overweight people seem to benefit the most. (18) To maximize this benefit, try eating your high-protein spirulina in the morning or during midday instead of at night.

  

Spirulina possible side effects

It’s absolutely critical to make sure that the quality and purity of the spirulina that you consume is of the highest standards. Particularly, like anything that comes from the sea, be certain to only purchase blue-green algae that is free from contamination. According to WebMD, contaminated spirulina can cause the following: (19)

  • Liver damage
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Thirst
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shock and even death

Also, some sources suggest that pregnant women and children should not consume algae. Contact your natural health care provider to confirm whether or not you should be using spirulina supplements. (20)


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