“Eat your vegetables, it’s good for your health.”
This was probably one of the most common phrases that our parents used when we were young. Granted, we already know the benefits and importance of eating fruits and vegetables.
But what if I told you to “eat your algae” instead?
In recent years, the emphasis on health food has been on the rise and the algae family has been very much in the limelight.
Certain types of algae have been found to be extremely nutritious and beneficial to health. So much so that they can be classified as “superfood ingredients“.
Spirulina is one of the algae that has shown great promise as a health food.
You might be wondering why this alga is in the spotlight. Here’s everything you need to know about Spirulina and how it could be the next powerhouse protein.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a blue-green alga that belongs to a non-toxic species of Arthrospira bacteria.
Despite its humble appearance Spirulina has an extremely high protein and vitamin content.
At 55-70 percent protein (4.03g) per 7g serving, Spirulina is an excellent source of vegan protein — something worth considering if you’re a vegan and you feel that it is difficult to meet your daily protein requirements.
Spirulina is extremely nutrient-dense. It contains essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C, K, B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and more.
Additionally, each serving of Spirulina is very low in carbohydrate (1.67g), fats (0.54g), and calories (20kcal).
This makes Spirulina a great option for those who are weight-conscious and are looking to add more essential micronutrients into their diet. At 20 calories per serving, there’s no need to worry about Spirulina ruining your diet.
Benefits of Spirulina
Apart from helping individuals stay nourished, Research has indicated that Spirulina has a variety of other health benefits thanks to its high antioxidant content and inflammation-fighting properties. As such, it is increasingly being considered a superfood.
Spirulina helps prevent cancer and chronic diseases
Oxidative damage by free radicals is harmful to the cells and tissues in our body.
Such damage can increase inflammation which leads to the increased risk of cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Certain structures in the body are more susceptible to oxidative damage.
For example fatty structures are prone to the process of lipid peroxidation which is caused by free radicals, and it speeds up the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease (1).
Oxidative damage, however, can be protected against by increasing the intake of foods such as Spirulina as it is packed with antioxidants. The dual action of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties might help reduce the odds of contracting cancer and other chronic diseases.
Spirulina can aid the management of diabetes
Currently, diabetes drugs are necessary for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels.
Emerging research has found that Spirulina could be effective at reducing blood sugar levels too.
A two-month study on type-2 diabetic patients saw that 2g Spirulina per day resulted in a significant reduction in blood sugar levels (2).
In certain cases, Spirulina was more effective than the popular diabetes drug Metformin (3).
Managing blood sugar levels is key to lowering the risk of diabetes-related health complications. Spirulina could be an alternative method of blood sugar control for helping diabetic patients manage their condition in the future.
Anemia is a condition where there are insufficient red blood cells in your body.
This condition is relatively common in older adults and it leads to constant feelings of fatigue and weakness.
One study found that anemic individuals who consumed Spirulina supplements saw an improvement in their red blood cell numbers, hemoglobin content and immune function (4).
While the results on the cellular effects of Spirulina are preliminary, from a dietary point of view, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Spirulina can improve the health conditions of anemic individuals.
Spirulina has so much micronutrient content to offer and it contains vitamin C and iron — which anemic individuals are often deficient in. By filling in the mineral deficiencies, Spirulina helps individuals suffering from anemia improve their symptoms, strengthen their immune system and improve their overall health condition.
Muscle and strength endurance
Apart from being a superb source of vegan protein — which is essential for building or maintaining muscle mass — Spirulina can be seen to help improve athletic performance too.
Studies have found that endurance athletes who consumed Spirulina saw improvements in their training performance. They were able to run for longer distances before experiencing fatigue in their muscles (5).
Additionally, Spirulina also led athletes to improve their VO.2 max and fat burning levels which are extremely important for athletes looking to improve their sports performance and body fat-to-muscle ratio (6).
Unlike performance-enhancing drugs which are harmful to an athlete’s health, Spirulina could potentially provide that added boost to go further and improve in a number of sports — all while maintaining overall body health.
How does Spirulina work?
Spirulina contains an active component known as phycocyanin which is the key to its impressive antioxidative properties.
Phycocyanin is a powerful pigment which has antioxidant properties that help combat free radicals in the body and hinder the production of excessive inflammatory signaling molecules. This allows Spirulina to serve as an antioxidant and reduce inflammation in the body (7).
Its antioxidative properties may also play a role in decreasing the carbohydrate oxidation rate in the muscles which plays a role in slowing down the rate of muscular fatigue (6).
Additionally its rich nutritional profile helps strengthen the immune function of the body, which slows down the susceptibility of age-related anemia among the elderly (4).
What dosage of Spirulina should I consume?
Existing research that has examined the effects of Spirulina used a variety of Spirulina dosages.
Generally consuming 1-8g of Spirulina per day has been found to be effective in eliciting noticeable health benefits from Spirulina (8).
When looking for supplements make sure that they include a sufficient amount of the ingredients which are proven by science to achieve specific benefits — Spirulina is no exception.
SuperGreen Tonik provides 2g of Spirulina per serving which makes it a good choice if you are looking to hit your daily Spirulina intake.
But what makes SuperGreen Tonik an even better choice is that it contains the right amounts of other superfoods too — Ashwagandha Root Extract (500mg), Bacopa Monieri (300mg), Chlorella (1g), and Rhodiola Rosea (300mg) just to name a few.
SuperGreen Tonik is a potent supplement which offers you all the benefits of different superfoods, giving you the edge in detoxing the body, boosting brain functioning, and strengthening your immune system.
Consider adding SuperGreen Tonik into your diet today to fill in the nutritional gaps in your current diet and improve your overall health and well-being.
Check out our article “Limitless green powder – nootropics and daily veggie” to learn more about how the superfoods found in SuperGreen Tonik help to enhance your health.
Side effects of Spirulina
Currently, there are very few side effects associated with Spirulina supplementation.
Common side effects are usually as a result of allergic reactions. Because Spirulina belongs to the algae family, individuals who are allergic to seafood, seaweed, and other sea vegetables should refrain from consuming Spirulina without the supervision of a medical practitioner (9).
While the Dietary Supplements Information Expert Committee of the United States Pharmacopeia reviewed that Spirulina does not pose a health risk, we do not recommend consuming Spirulina in excessive amounts as there are no additional benefits beyond taking 8g Spirulina per day (8).
Summary of Spirulina
Spirulina is an alga with numerous health benefits.
Packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it offers a big boost of multivitamins to your diet.
Research conducted on Spirulina indicates that it could be helpful in reducing the risk of cancer and chronic diseases. It is also useful in helping to maintain blood sugar levels, combatting anemia and improving exercise performance.
Spirulina is safe for consumption and has few side effects as long as it is not consumed in excessive amounts.
Consider adding Spirulina to your diet if you are looking for a food that offers you excellent macro- and micro-nutrients as well as additional health benefits to improve your overall well-being.