Eating your greens just got a whole lot greener. Spirulina has been getting a lot of attention in the wellness world lately and for good reason. This vibrant blue-green supplement has been deemed the food of the future by many, let’s find out why.
What Is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a high nutrient blue-green algae. The vibrantly colored supplement gained popularity after NASA successfully used spirulina as a dietary supplement during space missions. Spirulina may have just started gaining recognition in the last few years, but it’s been used as a food for centuries. History shows that spirulina has been consumed all the way back to ancient Aztec civilizations.
In recent years many studies have been conducted regarding the clinical use of spirulina to help treat diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease- as well as studying it’s antiviral and antiallergy benefits.
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Nutritional deficiencies in the body are a main contributing factor to weakening the immune system. This is due to changes in the production of T-cells, also know as the cells that help to fight off illness in the body. Spirulina can help to deliver a wide range of nutrients to your daily diet, helping to sustain a healthy immune system.
Spirulina is high in protein, making it an incredible dietary supplement for anyone on a vegetarian or vegan diet. It’s also an easy way to add an extra does of antioxidants to your day.
According to Medical News Today, one tablespoon of spirulina contains the following nutrients:
- 4.02 grams of protein
- 1.67 grams of carbohydrates
- 8 milligrams of calcium
- 2 milligrams of iron
- 14 milligrams of magnesium
- 8 milligrams of phosphorous
- 95 milligrams of potassium
- 73 milligrams of sodium
- .7 milligrams of vitamin C
Evidence suggests that spirulina can aid in the fight and prevention of many life threatening diseases. Ongoing studies are being conducted on the effects of spirulina and tumor destruction, making a huge impact on cancer prevention. A study at UC Davis discovered that adding spirulina to immune system cells increased the production of infection fighting proteins significantly. These proteins, called Cytokines, are beneficial because they help to simulate the cells that target disease causing organisms.
“The more of these cells you have, the more attack forces you have … It’s like building up your army.”Judy Van de Water
Clinical immunology at UC Davis
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America and many developed countries. While genetic factors do play a significant role in heart disease, diet and lifestyle are the biggest contributing factors. Adding spirulina to your daily diet can help decrease your risk of heart disease by reducing LDL (Bad) cholesterol, and increasing HDL (Good) cholesterol.
Spirulina can help to manage blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. In a study from the Punjab Agricultural University Hospital diabetic patients were given spirulina supplements in the form of capsules for two months. The patients were split into three groups with two groups taking different amounts of spirulina and one group a placebo. The study concluded that 2 grams of spirulina daily is an effective tool in managing type 2 diabetes by significantly helping control glucose levels.
Spirulina is considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids that are essential for protein to be fully absorbed and digested in the body. If the body is deficient in amino acids the production of energy is less effective. Spirulina also contains B vitamins that are vital to ward off fatigue and maintain energy levels.
The antioxidants in spirulina help reduce chronic inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is is a contributing factor to many life threatening illnesses such as cancer. The plant pigment, phycocyanin, that gives spirulina it’s vibrant blue-green color has been found to reduce inflammation in the body.
Seasonal Allergy Relief
Spirulina contains anti-inflammatory properties by preventing the release of histamine in the body. Histamine is a chemical that’s released into the bloodstream when the immune system is trying to defend against allergens. The release of histamines can trigger reactions to these allergens resulting inflammation, itching, and sneezing. Seasonal allergies are a result of this release of histamine. Spirulina can help manage seasonal allergies by preventing the release of this chemical reaction.
While more studies need to be conducted, spirulina is showing promising results as an antiviral treatment for herpes, measles, mumps, influenza, and HIV. Most of these studies have been conducted in vitro and while the results are promising more studies on humans need to be completed before any conclusions are drawn.
How to Safely Consume Spirulina
Spirulina is generally safe to consume but due to it’s effect on the immune system those with autoimmune diseases or who are on immunosuppressive treatments should speak to a physician before taking.
It’s important to purchase spirulina from a brand that conducts third party lab testing due to the potential of harvesting from toxic waters. If spirulina is harvested from waters containing high amounts of mercury or lead this can result in toxicity in the body. The brand Earthwise conducts third party testing and regular testing from the FDA to ensure you’re getting a purely organic and safe supplement.
Spirulina can be consumed in capsules, pressed pills, and powder form. Powder forms can be consumed in water, juices, and smoothies. The taste can be somewhat fishy but adding to smoothies or juice is an easy way to mask the taste. Try Spirulina in my Green Goddess Smoothie Recipe for a tasty nutritious breakfast or afternoon refresher!