Spirulina Algae: An extensive list of health benefits makes superfoods a desirable addition to the diet of anyone who cares about health. One of these supplements is spirulina, the beneficial properties and contraindications of which are discussed not only by supporters of a healthy lifestyle – scientists and doctors are also showing noticeable interest.
It became a subject of scientific research several decades ago. During this time, a lot of interesting facts have accumulated about its effect on the body.
From the article you will learn:
- what is spirulina for;
- how to use;
- what is useful;
- can it harm and to whom;
- how to protect yourself when choosing;
- a simple recipe from the available products;
- what kind of “superfood” it is and where did it come from.
There are contraindications, it is necessary to consult a specialist (doctor).
Last Updated: October 3, 2022 (A few hours ago…)
Spirulina algae: what it is and what it is used for
Arthrospira is a popular food supplement and recognized superfood, trade name Spirulina. It is a complete vegetable protein containing all essential acids – the dried product contains up to 60% protein. It is also a rich source of potassium, iron, and essential fatty acids. Cyanobacteria have many beneficial properties.
Her track record includes:
- liver protection,
- strengthening the immune system,
- help in the treatment of anemia,
- regulation of body weight and appetite,
- lowering the level of “bad” cholesterol.
Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, are among the oldest microorganisms that have inhabited our planet for billions of years. They have an extraordinary ability to survive.
Cyano means blue in Greek. These microalgae contain chlorophyll (green), phycocyanins, and anthocyanins (blue), which, when mixed, give the product its characteristic blue-green color.
Due to their large size for bacteria, scientists first ranked them as plants. Now all forms of cyanobacteria, including spirulina, or Arthrospira (lat.), Are classified as bacteria. However, the name “blue-green algae” remained.
How this superfood is obtained
Under natural conditions, arthrospores live only in two lakes (in Africa and Mexico). The production of this food additive is established in Europe, the USA, China, India, Thailand, Pakistan, and many other countries. Spirulina farms are also opening in Russia.
Microalgae are grown in artificial reservoirs, then dried or frozen. In the first method of harvesting spirulina, preservatives and stabilizers can be added. As a result, digestibility and benefits are reduced, and potential harm is increased, therefore, the frozen option is preferable.
In order to obtain a product with a high level of safety and benefit, it is important to follow a number of rules in the production of spirulina. For example, due to its ability to absorb heavy metals from the environment, some farms regularly sample for their presence.
Ideally, cultivation should be in a controlled environment, free from pesticides and fertilizers, and away from contaminants. Try to choose manufacturers with a good reputation.
Spirulina chemical composition
Arthrospira is known for its “protein” properties, so it is often recommended for vegetarians and vegans as a source of easily digestible complete protein (includes all essential amino acids).
It contains a large proportion of other nutrients, often cited as a source of animal products.
- Vitamins of group B are up to 150 times more than in dairy and meat products, as well as eggs.
- It is even more interesting with vitamin A – it is 300-400 times more than in cheeses and butter.
- Vitamin E is three times more than in wheat germ.
- The beta-carotene content in atrospire is 25 times higher than in carrots.
- The high bioavailability of iron makes it one of the most important natural supplements for iron deficiency states.
Spirulina protein contains the substance phycocyanin – the strongest natural immunostimulant. Chlorophyll in the composition helps to heal the liver, has an anti-cancer effect. It also has an amazing array of anthocyanins, antioxidant phytonutrients. These anthocyanins are known for their powerful anti-carcinogenic properties.
Some of the antioxidants found in this microalga include selenium, phenolic acid, vitamin E, and carotenoids. Antioxidants destroy free radicals in the body that damage cells.
Microalgae spirulina: composition
|Omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids||2-2,6|
|Vitamins||mg / kg|
|Beta-carotene||1 100–2 400|
Spirulina: Properties and Health Benefits
This microalgae has rightfully earned the respect of doctors and scientists. Many studies, books and articles have been devoted to it. This is an effective tool for normalizing metabolism, compensating for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Action on the body:
- Provides an antioxidant, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory effect
- Reduces appetite, improves lipid profile
- Improves brain health, has neuroprotective effects, reduces mental fatigue
- Improves the condition of the intestinal microflora, reduces inflammation in it
- Protects and restores the liver in case of toxic damage
- Improves blood condition in case of anemia
- Reduces Hyperglycemia and Oxidative Stress in Diabetes
Children can be given both as a powder and as a tablet.
Spirulina: Benefits for Women and Beyond
Superfoods become a lifesaver during pregnancy. Synthetic vitamins and supplements are gradually losing ground due to their low effectiveness and risks of side effects.
Natural supplements enter the scene to help improve condition with minimal risk. Arthrospira’s nutritional value helps to maintain and promote health during pregnancy when nutrient requirements are increasing.
The benefits of spirulina for hair are equally relevant for women. A variety of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, cleansing nutrients, heals skin and hair. Consuming this cyanobacterium helps to deal with the causes of hair loss, loss of skin tone and other signs of aging.
The use of microalgae for the skin is not limited to ingestion – creams and masks with this cyanobacterium tone up, smooth wrinkles, and improve skin health.
The high content of amino acids and vitamins helps skin regeneration, nourishes and rejuvenates. Arthrospira-based acne products have also been shown to be effective and safe.
The power of spirulina for men
Helps with erectile dysfunction disorders, and also has a positive effect on the possibility of conception in idiopathic male infertility (in cases where the causes of impaired fertility are not clear).
In addition, this superfood improves performance, reduces mental and physical fatigue.
Eating Spirulina: How To Take For Maximum Benefits
Arthrospira is available in powder, granule, capsule or tablet form. There is also a frozen version, but the price for such products is higher.
Choose the manufacturer carefully, find out the composition – chemicals may be added to the final product to increase shelf life or shape.
When cooking, it is more convenient to use spirulina in powder; how to take it for the best results, there is no universal answer. If you have a specific task, and even more so – a diagnosis, you need to get advice from a competent specialist (doctor, nutritionist).
General recommendations are as follows:
- The daily preventive rate for adults is 2–5 g, for children – 1–2 g.
- It is advisable to use it half an hour before meals with one or two glasses of water.
- Accepted in courses of 3-4 weeks. Then take a break for 1-2 weeks and you can repeat it.
When is it better to take spirulina and why
Ideally, consume in the morning on an empty stomach. As a result, the detoxification process will intensify and the healing effect will accelerate.
Taking on an empty stomach with water will help:
- reduce cravings for sweets,
- accelerate the elimination of toxins,
- get rid of excess weight,
- improve metabolic processes,
- fill up faster while eating.
If you are planning to use spirulina for weight loss, this is the option for you! As a bonus, an improvement in lipid profile and cardiovascular function awaits you.
And also arthrospira can be combined with another unicellular alga – chlorella . In this case, the therapeutic effect is enhanced (do not forget to recalculate the dosage).
Some people don’t like the taste of spirulina at all – how to drink if the additive tastes unpleasant? Use the capsule version, or rather choose another manufacturer – perhaps this arthrospira is contaminated with other microalgae, which creates an unpleasant swampy taste.
Three tips on how to properly take microalgae with other foods
- This superfood is not intended to be cooked.
- Better to add to freshly prepared dishes. Put the half-eaten in the refrigerator.
- Combine with several glasses of liquid whenever possible. This will enhance the effect.
Spirulina Banana Smoothie Recipe
To avoid losing the nutritional value of arthrospira when making smoothies follow two rules:
- do not heat,
- do not add cow’s milk.
In the first case, nutrients are destroyed, in the second, their digestibility is impaired. It is best to use plant-based milk such as oatmeal, coconut, or sesame.
The simplest smoothie has only three ingredients:
- 1 glass of water or vegetable milk
- 1 ripe banana;
- 1 teaspoon of spirulina (you can with a slide).
Peel the banana, mix with the rest of the ingredients in a blender. This is the base, you can add berries, pieces of fruit, vegetables and herbs to it.
Spirulina: contraindications and potential risks
Despite the numerous beneficial properties proven by science, this blue-green alga has nuances that do not allow it to be used without reservations. There are three main risks here, the full list of contraindications is below.
Risk 1. Heavy metals and microcystin
Spirulina batches may be contaminated with fragments of other forms of cyanobacteria that contain the toxin microcystin. The use of this toxin is fraught with intestinal disorders, and with prolonged use, even liver cancer. There is also a risk of contamination of the product with heavy metals. Therefore, be extremely scrupulous in choosing a manufacturer.
Risk 2. Cleansing and blood-thinning properties are not useful for everyone
The ability to thin the blood, accelerate the removal of toxins and toxins from the body impose restrictions on some diseases. For example, with chemotherapy, spirulina can interfere with the drug’s drug effect, as it promotes the rapid elimination of harmful substances. It is the same with sand and stones in the kidneys and liver. The use of this cyanobacterium along with turmeric, garlic, and other blood-thinning products or drugs is also not recommended.
Risk 3. Specificity of the additive
Individual intolerance is likely, the side effects of which may include headache, sweating, nausea, difficulty concentrating and facial flushing. Therefore, it makes sense to start taking spirulina with small doses.
Full list of contraindications:
- kidney and liver stones,
- individual intolerance,
- recently suffered strokes and heart attacks,
- taking anticoagulants (drugs or substances that thin the blood).
- Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus. Spirulina supplements stimulate the immune system, which can worsen the condition in these conditions.
- Children’s age up to a year. At this tender age, you should take a closer look at everything that enters the body. Since the production of this algae carries risks, make decisions with informed and balanced judgment.
- Pregnant and lactating women. Reasons similar to the previous point.
- Hypertension (especially if hypertensive crises occur).
Taking good care of your body is the responsibility of every person. Thanks to superfoods, it has become possible to reduce the time it takes to organize healthy meals. But it’s important to remember that not every superfood is super healthy. Spirulina is one such food that can vary in quality.
There is a sea of superfoods on the market. Minimum quality control. This creates a situation that requires a thorough approach to the selection of the manufacturer. Fortunately, the community of people trying to lead a healthy lifestyle is growing. At the same time, the mass of quality information on these topics in free access is increasing.
May your journey to the world of health be responsible, joyful, and successful!