Spirulina is an edible form of blue-green algae called cyanobacteria. Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima are the two species.
The colour of these spiral-shaped algae with a dark blue-green colour is due to the presence of a pigment called phycocyanin.
Spirulina is present naturally in mineral-rich seas. It is available as a dark-green powder and is meant to be used as a food supplement. However, additional research is necessary to prove its effects.
The health benefits of Spirulina can be attributed to phycocyanin, which also gives it an exceptionally high antioxidant count that enables it to fight off free radicals that can harm the body’s cells and ultimately result in several diseases and premature ageing.
Consuming Spirulina is one best way to increase dietary protein and vitamin intake.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 7 g of dried Spirulina contains
- Energy – 20.3 Kcal
- Carbohydrates – 1.67 g
- Protein – 4.02 g
- Fat – 0.54 g
- Iron – 2 mg
- Vitamin C – 0.7 mg
- Calcium – 8.4 mg
- Magnesium – 13.6 mg
- Potassium – 95.2 mg
- Sodium – 73.5 mg
- Phosphorus – 8.26 mg
Health Benefits of Spirulina
The study on Spirulina’s effects on gut health is promising and ongoing. It supports the maintenance of gut function as we age.
Spirulina has prebiotic characteristics that the beneficial bacteria in the gut consume. Although studies have produced encouraging findings, more study is required.
Spirulina’s potential to fight cancer can be credited to the presence of a key ingredient, phycocyanin, which has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a nutritious food to ward off cancer and other ailments.
Also, other components like chlorophyll and beta-carotene in Spirulina have been shown to prevent cancer cells and age-related eyesight loss, respectively.
Spirulina, being rich in protein and other nutrients, is proven to promote weight loss while reducing fat stores. It is also high in fibre, which is necessary for maintaining satiety for a longer period of time and reducing appetite to lessen the urge to indulge in unhealthy snacking.
Eating foods high in protein helps to maintain lean tissue while assisting in fat burning because it requires more energy to metabolise than other foods. The metabolism will speed up, and the outcomes for losing weight will be improved by taking a spoonful of Spirulina daily, helping lead a healthy lifestyle.
A study states that spirulina supplements can considerably lower levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Spirulina and other blue-green algae are efficient natural remedies for lowering blood cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, and warding off cardiovascular disease. According to experts, Spirulina’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics give it its cardiovascular benefits.
Spirulina is a source of antioxidants that protect fatty substances like cholesterol from oxidation. According to research, Spirulina supplements may significantly lower plasma levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
According to a study, people who took a daily dosage of 1 g of Spirulina for 12 weeks saw a 16% reduction in triglycerides and a 10% reduction in LDL.
Researchers have looked into how Spirulina affects metabolic syndrome. High blood pressure, high sugar, high cholesterol and extra body fat around the waist are symptoms of metabolic syndrome and excess abdominal fat.
A person’s health can suffer if they have metabolic syndrome, which also raises the risk of type 2 Diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
They are several forms of anaemia. The most typical one is characterised by a decrease in the number of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood. Adults frequently experience anaemia, which can make them feel weak and worn out.
Spirulina supplements raise the haemoglobin level in the red blood cells and enhance immunological function in people with a history of anaemia.
Spirulina may help lower blood sugar levels. Animal studies also suggest that in some cases, the results have even outperformed some of the most popular Diabetes treatments, like Metformin.
In another human study, people with type 2 Diabetes who consumed 2 g of Spirulina daily for two months saw considerably decreased blood sugar levels.
Spirulina provides advantages in the management and prevention of diabetes. Taking spirulina supplements significantly reduced people’s fasting blood glucose levels.
Adding it to favourite foods like coffee, smoothie and food bowls is helpful for blood sugar control and Diabetes control since it has about 4 g of protein per tablespoon.
Numerous allergens, including dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and others, are causing issues and irritations for millions of individuals. Allergies can cause watery eyes, runny nose or an itchy throat.
Spirulina may reduce allergic rhinitis symptoms by preventing the production of histamine. When compared to the placebo group, human studies show that spirulina consumption alleviated symptoms like sneezing, nasal congestion, nasal itching and nasal discharge.
Muscle tiredness from exercise might be exacerbated by oxidative damage. Antioxidant properties in Spirulina can help athletes and physically active people reduce the harm from a workout.
Spirulina is advantageous because certain research has shown that it increases muscular strength and endurance. It improves endurance and delays the onset of weariness for a more extended time.
Spirulina can assist increase muscle strength, endurance and performance when it comes to the health advantages of exercise and fitness. In a study, men who took a 6 g spirulina pill daily for four weeks were able to exercise for an extended time without becoming fatigued.
How to use Spirulina?
Scientific research and data from long-term use indicate that a daily intake of 1–5 g of Spirulina has significant positive effects on health.
Some individuals take up to 10 grammes three times each day. However, the correct dosage of Spirulina intake is yet to be confirmed by further research.
The following are a few ways to consume Spirulina.
- Crunchy Spirulina is tasty as a snack between meals or as a flavouring for food like bread, salads, fruits and vegetables.
- Spirulina powder increases the nutritional value of foods or fruit or vegetable juices. It also tastes good when blended with yoghurt or added to soups, salads, spaghetti, and bread.
- Spirulina Capsules and Tablets can be taken anytime during the day, including in between meals. Cellulose is used to make capsules. They’re entirely vegetarian and gelatine free.
Precautions and risks of using Spirulina
Only under the guidance of a skilled healthcare professional should a person take dietary supplements, including Spirulina.
Despite being used in large dosages, Spirulina seems safe. It might, however, be contaminated with additional poisonous compounds. Therefore, it’s crucial to get a reputed brand of Spirulina.
It is mandatory to let the consulting doctor know that one is on spirulina supplementation during pregnancy.
Spirulina should not be consumed by people with the metabolic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU). The rare disorder prevents those affected from processing the amino acid phenylalanine. All of the amino acids are abundant in Spirulina, including phenylalanine.
Avoid Spirulina while having autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or multiple sclerosis. Theoretically, it can boost the immune system and aggravate the disease.
Spirulina is an edible blue-green alga. Researchers assert that Spirulina treats diseases like cancer, high blood pressure and obesity.
Fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, and K), fatty acids (DHA, EPA), beta carotene and minerals are present in Spirulina. This blue-green alga is also a rich source of protein.
For achieving optimal nutrition and exercise goals, working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist (RD/RDN) is helpful as they can guide the client on how to use Spirulina and the right Spirulina for consumption.
Is it advisable to take Spirulina every day?
Spirulina can be consumed in the form of a tablet or powder. The total daily consumption of Spirulina can be 5 g, although most studies research the health benefits based on a dose of 1-10 g per day.
Who should not take Spirulina?
Spirulina consumption is not recommended for individuals who have seafood, shellfish, or iodine allergy. Spirulina should not be taken when a person has the rare disease phenylketonuria as it includes the amino acid phenylalanine, which cannot be metabolised by those with the condition.
When should I take Spirulina, morning or night?
It is preferable to consume Spirulina at least four hours before going to bed because high-protein diets have been known to promote alertness, and Spirulina is the richest whole food source of protein.
Can I take Spirulina on an empty stomach?
No, it’s not mandatory to consume Spirulina on an empty stomach. It is advisable to take the supplement in the morning and wait 15 to 20 minutes before eating solid food to ensure that the body absorbs the nutrients.
Does Spirulina detox the body?
Spirulina is a food that is high in nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals. It assists in detoxifying the body and removing impurities and toxins. Spirulina detoxifies the body while also enhancing general health and boosting the immune system. This product is a great detox meal due to its high antioxidant content.