Spirulina is a microalgae. The powder harvested from this green mossy plant is considered one of the most powerful superfoods in the world. This sea plant grows in warm freshwater lakes, but can also be cultivated in man-made reservoirs. Chock full of nutrients and protein (up to 70% more than beef or soybeans), the powder can be mixed into drinks or swallowed in tablet form, and offers a range of health benefits.
Spirulina contains antioxidants, which protect us from oxidative damage and inflammation. Phycocyanin is the main active component in the algae, and it is also what gives it the bright green color for which it is famous. Phycocyanin fights free radicals in the body that inhibit the production of inflammatory signaling molecules. By using the compounds in spirulina, the human body is better equipped to fight off chronic inflammation, which can lead to many diseases.
GLA or gamma-linolenic acid is an essential omega-6 fatty acid found in plants. The body naturally produces a certain amount of GLA, but requires more from external sources. Spirulina is a natural source of GLA, and also contains omega-3 fatty acids. For this reason, consumption can help reduce inflammatory diseases and other inflammatory conditions.
Spirulina is shown to have positive effects on blood cholesterol levels, acting as a protector of fatty structures by preventing them from oxidization. Oxidative damage or lipid peroxidation is a key factor in disease development. Eating spirulina can help prevent atherosclerosis, hardening, and narrowing of the arteries. It may also help reduce serum triglycerides in the body, increase antioxidant enzymes, and raise HDL, the good kind of cholesterol.
Spirulina can help in the fight against cancer. Studies conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center show that this algae increases antibody production and infection-fighting proteins in the body. Research suggests cancerous lesions called oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF), common in people with oral cancer, reduce in size with the intake of just one gram of spirulina per day.
The pigment phycocyanin has antihypertensive effects that help the blood vessels relax and dilate, lowering blood pressure. Regular consumption of spirulina could reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Spirulina is also good for the blood in other ways, aiding the supplementation of hemoglobin in red blood cells. This is especially useful for people with anemia.
Many people experience sinus issues, and ten to 20% of Americans have allergic rhinitis. Studies show taking spirulina regularly can reduce inflammation in the sinuses and nasal cavities, which can alleviate nasal congestion, discharge, and sneezing, and decrease that itchy feeling commonly associated with hay fever. Spirulina is becoming a popular alternative or supplement to pharmaceuticals for allergic rhinitis.
Spirulina is a natural energizer and can enhance cognitive and even physical performance. Because it increases your energy, spirulina is also connected to weight loss. Thanks to its high protein and nutrient content, the plant can also make you feel fuller longer, another factor suitable for weight loss. For this reason, it is best taken in the morning or afternoon, rather than in the evening.
Although there are minimal studies on spirulina and blood sugar control, the findings are positive. In a study with 25 patients with type 2 diabetes, the subjects saw a decrease in blood sugar levels after regularly consuming two grams of spirulina per day. When tested on animals, spirulina performed better than one of the popular pharmaceutical diabetes drugs. Along with a healthy diet, spirulina may help control blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Candidiasis is a microfloral imbalance that specifically affects the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina. Poor microflora balance contributes to many illnesses. Spirulina contains antimicrobial agents can help reduce candida. It also promotes the growth of healthy bacterial flora in the intestines, which fight candida and strengthen the immune system, which further helps the body fight imbalances. In the United States today, an overgrowth of candida is found in most people with autoimmune diseases.
One tablespoon of spirulina powder, about 7 grams, contains the following nutrients: 4 grams of protein, 11% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin B1, 15% of B2 and 4% of B3, 21% of the recommended daily intake of copper and 11% of iron. It also contains potassium, magnesium, and manganese. This amount has only 20 calories and 1.7 grams of digestible carbohydrate. The recommended daily dose of Spirulina powder or tablets is one to three grams, though some practitioners recommend up to ten grams per day.
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