It’s either overlooked or misunderstood, but spirulina is apparently good for your health. Like its cousin chlorella, this blue-green alga is prized for its incredible nutritional profile.
It is chock-full of essential nutrients and antioxidants that benefit not just your body but your brain, too. Spirulina’s benefits are so vast that it’s been one of the most talked about and researched superfoods today.
So, if you want to get to know this freshwater plant more and how it can favor your health, read on. Find out how spirulina can help detoxify your body, get rid of Candida, prevent your risk of cancer, and more in this article!
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is believed to be one of the oldest life forms on the planet. Grown in both salt and fresh water, spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria that be consumed by humans and certain animals.
While it wasn’t established yet who used this alga first, Africans and Aztecs added spirulina to their daily nutrition many centuries ago.
Aside from vitamins and minerals, spirulina also contains essential amino acids, which your body cannot produce on its own.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database, raw spirulina is an excellent source of protein, as well as potassium and sodium, two important minerals that also act as electrolytes.
This alga also has good amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, folate, and vitamins A and K.
What are the Health Benefits of Spirulina?
With its impressive nutritional profile, it’s no longer surprising why spirulina is abundant in health rewards, too. Prized as a superfood, spirulina is believed to play a role in improving one’s health.
From boosting immunity, detoxifying the body and relieving fatigue to lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol, spirulina proves to be worthy of the spotlight. Let’s take a closer look at its supposed benefits:
Spirulina helps to detoxify your body
Spirulina is often touted for its ability to detoxify the body from toxic chemicals, particularly arsenic, an element naturally present at high concentrations in drinking water.
Unfortunately, people from around the world are affected by chronic arsenic poisoning, specifically in countries such as Bangladesh, Chile, India, and Taiwan.
One study found that spirulina extract plus zinc helped to reduce arsenic in patients affected by chronic arsenic poisoning. The study concluded that spirulina-zinc combination may be useful in treating arsenic toxicity.
Spirulina prevents the risk of chronic diseases
High blood pressure plays an active role in many chronic diseases such as kidney disease, heart attacks, and stroke.
Aside from assisting in detoxifying the body, studies also showed that spirulina has a beneficial effect in lowering blood pressure, preventing the development of these illnesses.
In one study, it was found that spirulina reduced LDL or bad cholesterol as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure, which are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
An animal study also discovered that spirulina exhibited the same positive effect in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.
After an eight-week period, results showed that spirulina decreased total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol while elevating HDL or good cholesterol.
The research suggested that spirulina may reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, and prevent atherosclerosis.
Spirulina boosts energy levels
Looking for an energy booster for that afternoon slump? Spirulina might also help! Thanks to its abundance of nutrients such as iron, spirulina may also give you the energy boost you’ve been looking for.
Fatigue and exhaustion are common symptoms of iron deficiency, and since spirulina is a good source of iron, it can help you combat that tired feeling.
Spirulina also has powerful antioxidants that help invigorate the body in a number of ways. Antioxidants combat free radical damage, also known as oxidative stress.
Some of the effects of oxidative stress include the body’s reduced ability to produce energy, aging, increased risk of diseases, and even death.
Since spirulina is a powerhouse of antioxidants, it helps combat oxidative damage, boosting not just your energy levels but your overall wellness as well.
Spirulina reduces your cancer risk
Due to its ability to combat free radical damage with its mighty antioxidants, spirulina also helps to minimize your chances of developing cancer.
A number of animal studies found evidence that links spirulina to a reduced risk of cancer. Several other peer-reviewed articles have also been published to evaluate the alga’s effect on cancer cells.
In a more recent study, Czech researchers highlighted that aside from its ability to reduce blood cholesterol levels, spirulina also exhibits potential as an anti-proliferative agent for cancer, particularly pancreatic cancer.
Spirulina prevents Candida overgrowth
Candida is a yeast-like parasitic fungus that is commonly found in small amounts in some parts of your body, including your skin, intestines, and mouth.
At normal levels, Candida causes no harm, but when it begins to grow uncontrollably, that’s when the problem occurs. Candida overgrowth causes an infection called candidiasis.
Data from the Center for Diseases and Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that invasive candidiasis affects at least 46,000 individuals yearly in the United States alone.
Thankfully, spirulina appears to be helpful in combating Candida as it exhibits anti-microbial properties. Animal studies also found that spirulina enhanced the condition of experimental rats with candidiasis.
The findings of the studies suggest that spirulina may also improve the human immune response against microbial infections, particularly Candida overgrowth.
Spirulina lowers risk of mental decline
Other studies show spirulina’s potential in preventing mental decline, reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2011 study concluded that spirulina may prevent memory loss by reducing the accumulation of an Aβ protein, lessening oxidative stress, and improving the catalase activity.
Another research found that spirulina exhibited a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease.
While both studies used animal models, findings are still encouraging, especially for people who are dealing with memory problems, and neurodegenerative diseases.
How to Choose the Best Spirulina Powder
You can harvest spirulina where it naturally grows, particularly in warm waters. It is at its best and most potent when it is properly harvested from non-contaminated sources.
Today, though, spirulina is commonly taken in its supplement form, either as a tablet or a powder. If this is the direction you’re heading towards, it is important to make sure that you only choose the best.
So, how will you know you’re choosing the best spirulina powder?
First, identify its source. Whether it is in tablet or powder form, you have to make sure that it came from a clean source, and is free from chemicals or pollutants.
One of the best ways to figure this out is through its label. The label or product description of your spirulina powder or tablet must clearly state its origin. If this information is missing or is not clearly indicated, look for another.
One great example of a quality spirulina powder is Naturya’s Organic Spirulina Powder, which has been tested for mercury, lead, and other heavy metals and contaminants.
Remember that when it comes to your health, what you take in your body matters. So, make sure that you are only buying quality products that do not only come from reliable and safe sources but deliver results as well.
How to Use Spirulina Powder?
If you’re already convinced that spirulina will do wonders for your health, we’ve also listed some of the best ways you can fit it into your regular nutrition:
You can add one tablespoon of spirulina powder to two cups of natural, unsweetened fruit juice. Perk it up with banana slices and a few ice cubes, then blend it away for a healthy smoothie.
Spirulina powder in guacamole? Why not? You can also blend one to two tablespoons of spirulina powder with your guacamole ingredients, and dress your favorite salad with it.
Chug a very nutritious drink by mixing one tablespoon of spirulina powder into two cups of your favorite veggie juice. Just remember to drink it immediately.
Cheese powder is so overrated. Why not try sprinkling a tablespoon of spirulina powder over your popcorn instead? Interesting, isn’t it?
What are the Potential Risks of Consuming Spirulina Powder?
While spirulina is considered generally safe for consumption, some may be contaminated with harmful bacteria and toxic metals, especially if it is grown in unsafe sources.
Contaminated spirulina may cause adverse effects such as nausea, weakness, thirst, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, liver damage, and even death.
This is why it is important to know where your spirulina was sourced from, and ensure that it was tested for toxins.
If you have certain autoimmune conditions, you are advised to avoid taking spirulina supplements as it may worsen the symptoms of lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other conditions associated with overactive immune systems.
People who are taking certain medications like blood thinners (warfarin) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications are also advised to avoid spirulina consumption as it may increase bleeding.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, refrain from taking spirulina as well since it has not been fully established yet whether it is safe to take during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
If you have other considerations, it is always best to talk to your doctor first to know whether spirulina supplementation is a wise choice for you.
Often confused with chlorella, spirulina boasts its own value as a superfood. Its benefits sure sound promising, especially if you want to boost your health.
So, if you are considering to add spirulina to your regular diet, make sure that you are getting it only from reliable sources or from reputable brands if it comes as a supplement.
High-quality spirulina powder will not only keep you away from potential risks but also make you enjoy the maximum potentials of this powerful alga.