Blue-green algae are one of the most nutrient dense, protein- and vitamin-packed foods available. Considered a superfood, the spirulina variety comes in capsule, tablet, powder, or oil forms. Algae products are harvested from Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon. The algae are chilled, frozen, and dried at low temperatures before being processed into the desired form. As both a food and medicine, algae have provided sustenance for centuries. Humans have consumed both the spirulina and chlorella varieties since the Aztec civilization of the 14th century. This powerful energy booster is a popular choice for people seeking to lose weight.
The amino acids present in spirulina make it a rich source of protein. Researchers suggest that amino acids make up 62 percent of spirulina algae. Although it is used as a diet supplement, a large quantity would be needed to match protein sources like nuts, whole grains, and meat. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues and to make chemicals like hormones and enzymes. Proper protein consumption is vital for keeping healthy skin, blood, bones, muscles, and cartilage.
Algae supplements are more than just a health craze. They are packed with essential vitamins the body needs for optimal functioning. The nutrients found in blue-green algae include calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, E, B12, and B6. Vitamin A is important for maintaining normal vision, immune system function, and a healthy reproductive system. Vitamins C and E are strong antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Vitamin B12 protects against types of anemia and B6 keeps the brain and nervous system functioning. Blue-green algae contain more than 64 vitamins and minerals including antioxidants, which are essential for preventing cell damage.
Large, engulfing blood cells called macrophages often act as the body’s first line of defense in fighting infection. Spirulina helps boost the cell activity to improve communication with T-cells that fight off infection. Some of the latest research has suggested algae can help fight the flu. In colder months, it is important to make sure you have a tough immune system. It will give you the extra kick you need to avoid recurring cold and flu symptoms. Algae can even help fight herpes and HIV, according to early animal studies. Scientists believe more research could lead to new medications to fight these diseases.
In addition to supporting the immune system, blue-green algae can protect the liver from harm and help those with chronic fatty liver disease. The supplement is beneficial for those with hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver failure. Scientists have discovered through studies that spirulina has liver-protecting qualities that guard against lead acetate damage and non-alcoholic fatty livers. Based on ultrasounds conducted after the studies, some doctors have been recommending algae as a treatment. Several studies show spirulina's antioxidant properties enable it to help remove free radicals, harmful metals, and liver toxins from the body. Research also offers hope for cancer patients who receive certain chemotherapy medications; algae can help reduce liver damage and renal failure the pharmaceutical causes.
Many people experience the aches and persistent pains associated with aging joints and muscles. Organs and tissues in the body can also experience these aches and pains. Inflammation is often tied to cancer and age-related diseases. Algae help relieve the pain associated with inflammation and related conditions such as arthritis. Blue-green algae contain omega-3 fatty acids and chlorophyll, natural sources of antioxidants. They also act as an inhibitor in the production and release of histamine, a chemical that triggers inflammatory responses.
People who are trying to manage weight may try brown algae instead of the blue-green variety. Brown algae contain fucoxanthin, a natural pigment that promotes fat-burning by increasing the amount of thermogenin in the body. Some studies suggest brown algae also increases resting energy expenditure, which also burns fat. Study participants experienced lower liver fat and lower blood pressure, as well.
Many types of algae slow the growth of cancer cells, according to several studies. While this does not definitively prove algae is a direct remedy, it does suggest it may be an option for natural cancer treatment. Research shows algae effectiveness in inhibiting oral cancer and fighting precancerous mouth sores. Participants took one gram of spirulina by mouth per day for a year. In addition, spirulina minimizes the effects of chemotherapy.
Blue-green algae can act as a natural barrier against major contributors to heart disease. It improves blood lipid profiles, prevents inflammation and stops oxidative stress. Additionally, it can decrease atherosclerotic lesions or plaques in the blood vessels. All of these factors make it an effective agent against cardiovascular conditions.
Spirulina has helped reduce the fats in blood because it contains an abundance of phytosterols, which lower blood cholesterol. These phytosterols decrease the amount of LDL or bad cholesterol in the body. Chlorella is also an effective natural remedy. It contains niacin, fiber, carotenoids, and antioxidants that improve blood lipid levels. People who take 5-10 grams of chlorella each day can lower LDL cholesterol and ultimately lower high blood pressure.
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Stem cells are important for the function of the body’s organs because they repair damaged cells and divide to replenish dying cells. As you age, however, your stem cells’ ability to restore cells decreases. This makes the interior of your body more susceptible to oxidative stress, and over time the body is less able to repair itself. Blue-green algae have been found to promote human stem cell proliferation and may slow down the effects of aging.
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