What is the Spirulina algae?
The spiral, blue-green Spirulina algae naturally grows in freshwater lakes, natural springs and saltwater lakes. It is also their deep blue-green color that gives the water a greenish colour. Spirulina is cultivated and harvested in reservoirs around the world.
Civilisations have cultivated spirulina algae all over the world for centuries and are highly valued for their health-promoting properties. The Aztecs extracted the microalgae from Lake Texcoco in Mexico. For the indigenous population in Chad (Africa), microalgae, due to their concentrated nutritional value and rich growth in the pure salt water lakes of the region, are basic foods.
Spirulina algae consists of 55 to 70 percent protein (this is a larger proportion than that in beef and chicken or soybeans) and contains all of the essential and non-essential amino acids, as well as high iron values, beta-carotene, minerals, and vitamins. This includes vitamin B12 and phycocyanin, a pigment-protein-antioxidant complex that is only present in blue-green microalgae. However, most diets lack these nutrients.
Spirulina provides people with long-lasting energy and strengthens the immune system. The antioxidant powers of the algae help the body function under optimal conditions. Children and other people who do not really like vegetables can also be persuaded to eat 'green stuff' this way. In addition to this, Spirulina helps busy people, who do not have time for a regular balanced meal, eat appropriately.
Where does Spirulina come from?
Microalgae were the first form of life on our planet. Billions of years ago, they transformed the previously CO2-based atmosphere into an oxygen-containing atmosphere in which other forms of life could also develop.
Most people are familiar with the large green or red algae that grow in lakes and in the sea, and are commonly referred to as seaweed. In contrast, microalgae are tiny, single-celled organisms that occur in different ways depending on their phytopigment and phytonutrient content. These microalgae are being researched intensively because of their health-promoting benefits.
Of the more than 30,000 types of microalgae, the teal like spirulina are the most primitive. They do not contain a nucleus and their cell walls, unlike those of other algae, have hard cell layers, are soft and easily digestible. Of all microalgae, the spirulina algae has proven to be the most effective and nutritious.
Spirulina is the very best example of a synergy effect. Although each nutrient has its own nutritional value and therapeutic property, they support each other to achieve things that they would not be able to do on their own.
It is therefore important to benefit from the synergy effect of the algae and to consume Spirulina as a basic food, instead of only relying on individual extracts.
Spirulina consists of both fat and water-soluble nutrients, which are available as individual extracts. However, if they are not taken together, their effectiveness remains limited. The aqueous cell interior requires water-soluble nutrients such as phycocyanin, while the lipid cell layers of the brain rely on fat-soluble nutrients such as beta-carotene.
A teaspoon of Spirulina gives the body what one or two servings of fruit and vegetables would provide. The nine most important nutrients contained in Spirulina give the algae the superfood status.
1. Beta carotene - The antioxidant for eyes, skin and the body's defences
Beta carotene is one of the most important antioxidants for the eyes, skin and immune system. It belongs to the group of fat-soluble antioxidants, the so-called carotenoids, which are responsible for the bright orange and yellow colouring of pumpkins, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A.
To protect the cells from oxidation, the body converts carotenoids into vitamin A, which then hunts for oxidised cells in the body. If, for example, skin cells oxidise due to sun exposure, vitamin A in combination with other vitamins and minerals present in Spirulina can attach to such cells and protect them from further deterioration.
It also contributes to the health of the skin and a radiant appearance and, together with other antioxidants, protects the cornea of the eyes and strengthens the immune system.
Beta carotene in food comparison
- 9500 IU Spirulina (3 grams)
- 8353 IU Carrot, small (50 grams)
- 7420 IU Papaya, large (781 grams)
- 9875 IU Pumpkin, 1 cup raw (116 grams)
- 845 IU Chlorella (3 grams)
2. Phycocyanin - The power of 'blue' in blue-green microalgae
Phycocyanin (Phyco means 'algae' and cyanine 'blue-green') is a powerful molecule found in spirulina and some other blue-green algae. It is a water-soluble pigment-protein-antioxidant complex, which gives Spirulina the impressive blue-green colour.
Spirulina is the only whole food that contains this blue antioxidant. Wheatgrass and chlorella are green due to their chlorophyll content, but only spirulina has blue and green antioxidants.
Phycocyanin, a water-soluble protein, interacts with the chlorophyll in spirulina, making it an effective antioxidant. Scientists have called phycocyanin a 'miracle molecule' because of its multiple health benefits.
Phycocyanin is proven to:
- maintain a healthy liver and kidney function
- support the immune system
- protect the brain tissue
- promote detoxification of radioactive substances and metals in the body
- normalise the aging process of the skin
3. Zeaxanthin - The antioxidant for the retina, lens and brain tissue
Zeaxanthin belongs to the carotenoid family. Like beta-carotene, it is present in colourful fruits and vegetables and particularly affects the retina and the lens of the eye.
Zeaxanthin protects the eyes by absorbing harmful blue light and reducing glare. Over time, blue light can cause oxidative stress in the eyes. The antioxidant properties of zeaxanthin naturally reduce these harmful effects.
Zeaxanthin was found to be almost 500 times stronger than Vitamin E. The only antioxidant that proved even more effective in repelling singlet oxygen - the extremely unstable type of oxygen responsible for oxidation damage - was astaxanthin.
Zeaxanthin's ability to cross the blood-brain barrier to curb oxidative degeneration of brain tissue is another reason to consume zeaxanthin.
However, since the body does not produce zeaxanthin naturally, it can only get into the bloodstream through food and nutritional supplements. However, it is often extremely difficult to consume the sufficient amount of zeaxanthin from food because it requires large servings of certain types of fruit and vegetables.
A 3-gram serving of spirulina has more zeaxanthin than a bowl of spinach, one of the richest sources of zeaxanthin found in nature.
4. Iron for healthy blood and more energy
Iron is an essential part of life on earth - especially in its role as a blood-forming element. Over 70 percent of the body's iron is found in red blood cells and muscle cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen from the lungs to all of the cells in the body, the immune system in particular is dependent on the iron balance.
Iron is also needed to convert blood sugar into energy. Metabolic energy is critical for athletes because it allows muscles to perform optimally during training or competitions.
Vegetarians in particular tend to lack iron because meat is the most common source of iron. Since the body recognises Spirulina as a food and Spirulina's cell layers are absolutely compatible, the iron present in Spirulina is easily absorbed. This makes Spirulina an ideal source of iron: five milligrams of iron in a 3-gram serving of Spirulina make up 30 percent of the daily serving recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration.
5. Vitamin B12 for vegetarians and vegans
Vitamin B12 plays a central role in the normal functioning of the nervous system and blood production. Due to the fact that vitamin B 12 is mainly found in meat and meat products, vegetarians and vegans often suffer from a deficit.
The foods with the highest vitamin B12 content are boiled mussels, beef liver, and mackerel. Vegetarians and vegans must therefore find a way to integrate this important vitamin into their diet.
There are two different types of vitamin B12: Bioactive B12, which can be absorbed and used by the body, and inactive or analog B12, where this is not possible. Both forms are present in Spirulina.
According to a study, up to 80% of the vitamin B12 present in plants is the inactive analogue. Furthermore, the B12 content of plants, e.g. Spirulina, vary considerably, which depends heavily on the nutrient medium.
According to previous studies, the analog B12 in Spirulina does not appear to have any influence on the metabolism of the effective B12. However, further studies are still required for precise clarification.
6. Vitamin K for the health of arteries and bones
While the health benefits of vitamins A, B, C, D and E are well known, those of vitamin K are still being explored - and there are many benefits. However, the most important benefit is that this fat-soluble vitamin is involved in blood clotting. In fact, the K comes from the German word coagulation. Its special chemical effectiveness also promotes descaling of the arteries. Vitamin K has also been examined for its role in maintaining bone density, especially in the elderly.
Vitamin K has two main forms: K1 and K2. K2 is believed to be the form of vitamin K that has primary responsibility for maintaining healthy cardiovascular function. Consuming 3 grams of spirulina a day provides 50 percent of the daily dose of vitamin K recommended by the United States FDA. To get the same amount from food, you would need to consume a ton of green vegetables.
7. GLA - an essential fatty acid for the brain
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid, which is mainly found in hard-to-find algae oils such as evening primrose oil. Compared to the substance of evening primrose oil, the oils present in Spirulina are three times as concentrated. Omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: they are necessary for human health, but must be supplied to the body through food intake.
Together with omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids have a strong antioxidant effect on brain tissue and thus protect the brain against cognitive decline through oxidative degradation. These antioxidants are also known for protecting arteries, skin and bones, and for their contribution to metabolism and reproduction.
8. Trace elements
Every second of the day, the body relies on trace elements to generate billions of tiny electrical impulses. Without this, not a single muscle - including the heart - would be able to function. The brain would not work and the cells would not be able to use osmosis to balance water pressure and absorb nutrients.
Traditionally, the primary form of broadband mineral supply has been to consume fresh grains, fruits, and vegetables grown on nutrient-rich soil. Unfortunately, nutrient-rich natural soil is becoming increasingly rare in today's world. Eons of algae growth and aggressive modern farming methods have brought many earth minerals to the surface, from where they were washed into the oceans.
Spirulina is grown in ponds enriched with a small percentage of water pumped to the sea surface from a depth of approximately 609 m. This is the deep sea area where trace elements such as iron, zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, manganese, chromium, fluorine, and molybdenum can be found. Spirulina absorbs these minerals in the delicate lamellae, makes them available to the human body and thus ensures the creation and restoration of health.
9. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) SOD is an enzyme that works like an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in the body by neutralising free radicals and contributing to cell repair in connection with age-related degeneration.
The combination of nutrients in Spirulina is what gives the blue-green microalgae the superfood status. Just 3 grams are enough to provide many of the nutrients necessary for optimal health.
- Sustainable energy
- Promotion of the immune system
- Reduction of heavy metals and radiation
- Antioxidant benefits
- Important source of iron
- Supply to the brain cells
- Support the liver and kidneys
- Protection of the heart and circulation
Spirulina for more energy
People consume enormous amounts of coffee and other caffeinated drinks, mainly for one purpose - to give themselves an artificial energy boost to help them get through the day. The body is actually able to meet its own energy requirements as long as it works optimally. However, consuming too much processed food, sitting for too long at the desk, lack of sleep and other health problems exhaust the body's natural energy reserves.
A change in lifestyle is out of the question for most people, so supplementing with Spirulina is a kind of practical alternative. With the synergy of beta-carotene, iron, vitamins, phycocyanin, and other nutrients, Spirulina can give sustained constant energy. Since it is also a natural food, it does not contain any chemicals that could counter health.
In 2006, a small, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted on non-sports male and female students to test their endurance and energy levels. Each participant took 2.5 grams of spirulina or a placebo before each meal - a total of 7.5 grams per day.
The students' blood was checked at the beginning and end of the study. They were also tested on a treadmill to see how long it would take them to become exhausted. After three weeks and without any further changes in their diet or exercise, the students who took Spirulina lasted 7.3 percent longer on the treadmill. In addition, the oxidative stress parameters in the blood decreased by 25 percent.
Another small study was done on nine men with an average age of 23, but they were relatively athletic and exercised regularly. During the double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the observed group took six grams of spirulina daily for four weeks.
Scientists found that Spirulina users tired less quickly, burned more fat, and improved their overall antioxidant capacity (among other health markers). The endurance of these relatively athletic men increased by a full 32 percent compared to the seven percent of the first group.
If you look at the chemical composition of Spirulina, it is not surprising that people who consume it frequently have an abundance of energy. Dr. Oz recommends mixing 1 teaspoon of spirulina powder with 12 ml of lime juice for a healthy burst of energy and freezing the mixture in ice cube trays.
According to Dr. Oz improve spirulina and limes energy performance by releasing sugar from our cells. When frozen, the cold of the ice increases the metabolic energy and acts as a 'wake-up call' for the body.
If the human body were strong and responsive every day, life could be enjoyed to the fullest and the immune system would be supported all year round. Spirulina's combination of nutrients works like an acrobat's net - should the immune system crash, it will be caught.
Medical research has shown that Spirulina contributes to a healthy immune system time and time again. In fact, higher defenses and increased energy reserves top the list of health benefits associated with spirulina.
Many claim that after starting with the daily Spirulina intake, their energy levels have improved and they feel healthier overall. A survey of almost 200 Spirulina users complements this phenomenon with a series of individual reports. A large number of different types of consumers were used for the survey, which differed from each other by the amount consumed and the frequency of consumption.
- 15 percent had not taken Spirulina in more than a month at the time of the survey
- 16 percent have only used Spirulina for less than two months
- 30 percent have used Spirulina for less than six months
- 31 percent only took Spirulina one to five days a week (the label recommends taking it daily)
- 27 percent did not consume the recommended amount of three grams of spirulina a day
Although these subjects had very different usage patterns, almost 77 percent of them noticed an improvement in their immune system when they started using Spirulina. Furthermore, 80 percent of them stated that they had more energy. Surveys like these must be considered individually, but at the same time they also signal the positive properties of a dietary supplement with spirulina.
Eric Gershwyn, physician and professor at the University of California, Davis, launched an allergy and clinical immunology program at the college in 1977. As an expert on the immune system, he examined the role Spirulina plays in strengthening the body's immune system. In one study, Gershwyn looked at the immune system of 40 healthy men and women over the age of 50 who had never suffered from a chronic illness.
He administered 3 gram tablets of spirulina to each of them for 12 weeks and found that the two immunity parameters for measuring the body's defences - the number of white blood cells and certain liver enzymes - had increased in the majority of the test subjects. Thereby, Spirulina's positive importance for strengthening the immune system was shown for the first time.
In 2002, researchers in Mexico and Russia independently observed Spirulina's strengthening effects on immune cells that were exposed to infections under laboratory conditions. They found that Spirulina showed antiviral properties by protecting cells from infection with certain viruses and slowing the reproduction of specific viruses.
According to numerous studies, Spirulina supports the body in so-called allergic rhinitis by reducing the inflammation caused by frontal sinus problems. Compared to placebo studies, Spirulina has been shown to be effective in reducing itching, sneezing, nasal discharge, and constipation.
The fibrous, soft mucopolysaccharide layers that make up the blue-green microalgae react like cotton in a water-filled bowl: they absorb the water around them. The fibres that make up the mucopolysaccharides also have the ability to bind toxins - especially heavy metals such as mercury and lead. Spirulina essentially acts like tiny brooms, sweeps out the toxins and safely disposes of them.
In many developing countries, tap water contains a high level of heavy metals and other toxins. Scientists have been experimenting with spirulina and zinc to find out whether people who have been exposed to drinking water toxins and who have previously been given this microalgae-zinc combination are better physically prepared for the harmful effects.
A general reduction in toxicity was observed after 16 weeks. Studies with laboratory rats using high lead contents showed similar results. Spirulina helped the rats detoxify the lead in their brains. Because spirulina is also full of antioxidants, brain tissue has also been shown to be more resistant to oxidative damage.
In 1986, a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, exploded and exposed the residents living in the area to extremely high radiation levels. Scientists checked the strength by measuring the radioactive substances contained in the urine samples of the residents. Based on their knowledge of Spirulina's tendency to bind toxins to their own mucopolysaccharide layers, scientists administered five grams of spirulina to children in the region. After six months, the level of radiation in the children's urine had decreased by 50 percent.
Antioxidant benefits of spirulina
Like the Greek legend of Sisyphus, who kept rolling a boulder uphill just to watch it roll down again and again, antioxidants have to remain strong enough to prevent free radicals from spreading through the body and the associated cell degradation.
The external signs of free radical damage are shown, for example, by lines, wrinkles and dry skin. But free radicals also affect the tissues of muscles, heart, circulation, brain and other organs internally. At the cellular level, free radicals can cause DNA damage, which speeds up the ageing process.
Although Spirulina appears to be mostly green, the alga actually contains four different pigments, each of which is known for its antioxidant power that acts on different parts of the body. This can overlap.
- Green: chlorophyll (for detoxification)
- Orange: beta-carotene (for eyes, skin and immune system)
- Yellow: zeaxanthin (for eyes and brain)
- Blue: phycocyanin (for liver, kidneys, brain and the immune system)
Spirulina also has superoxide dismutase or S.O.D., an antioxidant enzyme that effectively complements the body's natural S.O.D.
Many antioxidant extracts are either water or fat soluble. Spirulina, on the other hand, has both types. The contained antioxidants beta-carotene and zeaxanthin are fat-soluble, which gives them the advantage of penetrating fat cell membranes, while the water-soluble chlorophyll, phycocyanin and S.O.D. in the rather watery center of the cell.
Compared to Chlorella, another health-promoting microalgae, Spirulina has five times the antioxidant power and a total of about 30 percent higher antioxidative activity. Furthermore, laboratory conditions have shown that spirulina has a stronger protective effect than chlorella for human liver cells.
The algae resist pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF, suppress cyclooxygenase-2 / (COX-2) expression and reduce PGE2 production.
They also reverse the age-related increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines in the brains of older male rats. In a study in older women, taking Spirulina for weeks resulted in a decrease in the amount of cytokines (IL-6) in the blood and their production, which showed Spirulina's anti-inflammatory properties.
In addition, taking Spirulina increases natural killer cell activity in terms of the ability to kill tumors.
Treatment with Spirulina protects the activity of cellular antioxidant enzymes, which play a role in oxidative cell damage. NADPH oxidase is relevant for vascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, various autoimmune diseases, allergies, skin damage, and osteoarthritis.
The algae contain PCB, which has the ability to inhibit this enzyme. PCB leads to strong containment of NADPH thanks to its antioxidant activity.
Spirulina as an iron source
Essential minerals are those that the body cannot produce itself and must therefore ingest through food.
One of the most important minerals in the body is iron. Without iron, muscle and blood cells (hemoglobin) would not be able to deliver oxygen. Spirulina is a natural source of iron. The body is able to absorb more iron from spirulina than from other mineral-rich foods like beef. Researchers in Montpellier, France, found that consuming spirulina leads to bioavailability that is 6.5 times higher than that of beef.
A study in Calcutta, India, compared two random groups of women: one received only a supplement consisting of iron, folic acid and B12, while the other was administered spirulina together with them. The study found that adding spirulina to the supplement resulted in women having higher hemoglobin levels than those who had not received spirulina.
A healthy iron store and the resulting increased amount of hemoglobin are particularly important for pregnant or breastfeeding women. In a study with animals, researchers discovered that spirulina improved hemoglobin and iron storage in pregnant or lactating rats. This improvement was compared to a diet rich in iron sources, namely casein and wheat gluten.
Vitamin C plays an important role in improving iron absorption in the body. Even with the rich iron content of spirulina, the consumption of oranges, strawberries, broccoli and other foods containing vitamin C is important. Spirulina also contains vitamin B12 and folic acid, which help the body absorb iron.
Spirulina supports the brain cells
Why is all the attention given to blueberries when there are so many other types of fruits and vegetables? The answer is: because of their high antioxidant content.
However, not many knew this until Dr. Paula Bickford, a professor at the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, has done extensive research on the health benefits of eating blueberries. Her knowledge was so widespread that thanks to her, blueberries established themselves as superfoods.
Following this work, Dr. Bickford's attention to Spirulina too. In her research, she focused specifically on the effects on the brain. In a comparative study of the effects of spirulina, blueberries and spinach on the brain health of laboratory rats, one group of animals received spirulina, another blueberry and another spinach, while the latter received a controlled food that did not contain any of the aforementioned substances was administered. Dr. Bickford found that the rats that ate one of the three antioxidant-rich foods daily for four weeks were at a sustained level of increased cognition. Spirulina in particular had a significant positive effect on the brain scans of the rats.
Dr. Bickford also examined the effect of spirulina on stem cell proliferation. Laboratory rats were given a dose of spirulina daily for 30 days. Stem cells are important for learning processes and memory functions and essentially function like a repair system in the human body. They can split into an unlimited number to regenerate other cells. Dr. Bickford found that 'a diet enriched with spirulina and other nutraceuticals can help protect the stem / progenitor cells from damage'.
This means that Spirulina may support the brain's ability to withstand signs of degradation. Although these results have yet to be demonstrated in human clinical trials, the use of spirulina in animal studies has always shown a number of potential neurological benefits. Put simply, all signs indicate that spirulina is a neuroprotective supplement.
Many other scientists are trying to find out exactly how Spirulina supports the brain. The laboratory found that spirulina promotes lead detoxification, improves motor functions and protects the brain from oxidative stress.
In addition to the neuroprotective effect, Spirulina also appears to protect against the damage or killing of neurons by overactivation of receptors. Certain doses significantly reduce dopaminergic losses in response to toxins.
It also significantly increases the neuronal density, which suggests neurogenesis or the formation of new nerve cells. Spirulina protects the stem cells in the brain from an inflammation-related reduction in their growth.
It also has mechanisms to prevent the accumulation of proteins and toxins that occur in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases and is able to prevent inflammatory and toxic effects.
Spirulina supports the liver and kidneys
The liver and kidneys are responsible for converting food into energy and safely disposing of unwanted by-products. The body's own antioxidants allow the liver and kidney cells to do their job without falling victim to contact with free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that are formed during normal metabolism and exposure to environmental stress factors - such as strenuous physical activity, air and water pollution, chemicals in food, and various radiation sources, including sunlight.
When the body's antioxidants can no longer withstand the number of free radicals, the liver and kidneys are no longer able to function as required.
That is where Spirulina comes in. Spirulina's antioxidant spectrum of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are immediately passed on to those areas of the body that are about to lose the fight against free radicals.
In several international studies, scientists have tested the spirulina algae for their antioxidant effects on the liver and kidneys. For this purpose, rats were exposed to a known oxidant and it was observed whether spirulina increased the ability of liver and kidney cells to resist the oxidation.
The results clearly showed a positive link between spirulina and the function of liver and kidney cells.
The vitamins and phenolic compounds found in Spirulina work together and help protect the liver. In rats, supplementation reduced lipid oxidation, reduced oxidative stress, and normalised liver enzyme levels. People with fatty liver who took 4.5 g of spirulina daily for six months experienced an improvement in their liver function.
Spirulina protects the heart and circulation
When you say that food is good for the heart, it usually means that it is good for the cardiovascular system. The heart is perhaps the hardest working organ in the body, but it does not work alone. To do its job, it needs the arteries to carry nutrient-rich blood to all areas of the body. The veins, however, are responsible for directing the used blood back to the heart.
The concentration of antioxidants - especially phycocyanin - present in Spirulina supports this system. Phycocyanin is known for its ability to protect the heart cells as well as cells surrounding blood vessels. Its presence helps prevent cell oxidation.
In a human clinical trial conducted in Mexico, scientists administered 36 subjects 4.5 grams of spirulina a day and measured various cardiovascular indicators before and after taking spirulina. The group consisted of a diverse mix of men and women between the age of 18 and 65.
At the same time, they were told to go on with their lifestyle without any food restrictions. After six weeks of taking Spirulina, scientists found that the subjects' systolic and diastolic blood pressure had decreased.
In another human clinical trial in Korea involving 78 healthy older men and women ages 60 to 87, scientists wanted to investigate Spirulina's nutritional effects on the cardiovascular system. The men and women received either 8 grams of spirulina or a placebo daily for 16 weeks.
The researchers found that spirulina has beneficial effects on lipid profiles, defence variables and antioxidant capacity in healthy, older men and women and is suitable as a functional food. Cardiovascular function is impaired when blood flow decreases due to an unhealthy lipid level. By adding Spirulina to the normal diet of these men and women, the establishment of optimal lipid levels was promoted, which in turn had a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular function.
Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. Researchers examined the effects of a Spirulina intervention on patients with type 2 diabetes. After twelve weeks of supplementary intake, a noticeable drop in blood pressure was observed.
When spirulina was administered to mice in addition to a diet high in fat and cholesterol, the total cholesterol level in the blood was significantly reduced.
In human studies, the use of this supplement in women leads to a reduction in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol and LDL increase with age, which may be the cause of heart disease.
However, taking Spirulina significantly lowers cholesterol and LDL levels in the elderly. It has also been shown in rats that this dietary supplement protects the heart cells from oxidation and cell damage.
Spirulina against Candida
According to the researchers, 'the Candida species belong to the normal microbiota of the human mucous membrane located in the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract and vagina.' This means that without a healthy microflora balance, the body is much more susceptible to disorders and diseases.
In fact, a leaky gut syndrome and digestive problems are linked to an imbalance in the microflora. The excessive increase in candida is also a typical symptom of most autoimmune diseases.
Due to our switch to a sugar-rich diet with many unnatural components, antibiotic resistance and ineffective antifungals (medications for fungal diseases), there has been a significant increase in fungal infections since the 1980s.
Fortunately, Spirulina can help. A number of studies in animals have shown that spirulina can be used as an effective antibacterial agent, especially for candida.
The benefits of Spirulina have been shown to be particularly useful in promoting the growth of a healthy intestinal flora, which in turn prevents the development of Candida. In addition, Spirulina's defensive properties help the body eliminate candida cells.
Spirulina and HIV / AIDS
Until recently, epidemiologists were confused by the fact that people in Japan, Korea and Chad had relatively low HIV/AIDS rates and were trying to understand this. A possible explanation, published in the Journal of Applied Phycology in 2012, may be that people in these regions regularly consume a certain amount of algae.
Researchers took 11 HIV patients who had never taken antiretroviral medication and divided the participants into three groups: one had to eat 5g of brown seaweed every day, the second group 5g of spirulina and the third group consumed a combination of both.
After completing the three-month test phase, two key findings were made:
- Neither the seaweed types nor the combination had any noticeable side effects.
- Both the CD4 cells (white T-helper blood cells that fight infections and are used to control HIV) and the HIV-1 viral load (HIV biomarkers) remained stable.
The results were so promising that one participant volunteered to continue the study for another 10 months, after which he actually benefited from the clinically significant improvement in CD4 cells and reduction in HIV viral load.
Spirulina and cancer screening
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a number of animal and test tube studies indicate that spirulina causes increased production of antibodies, anti-infectious proteins and other cells to improve immunity and defense against infections and chronic diseases such as cancer.
This is not surprising since more than 70 specialist articles on the evaluation of Spirulina's effectiveness against cancer cells have already been published in the scientific literature.
In an article published in the Czech Republic, scientists point out that, in addition to being able to control blood cholesterol, spirulina is also rich in tetrapyrrole components, closely related to the bilirubin molecule - a powerful antioxidant and antiproliferative agent.
In tests with human pancreatic cells, these researchers discovered that 'experimental therapy compared to untreated cells significantly reduced the growth of human cell lines in pancreatic cancer in vitro and in a dose-dependent manner'. In essence, this proves that consuming Spirulina can prevent different types of cancer from developing!Spirulina administration has been shown to increase survival in mice injected with liver tumor cells. Lymphocyte activity in these mice also increased significantly above normal, which corresponds to Spirulina's effects on the immune system. Daily intake of this supplement maintains or accelerates normal cell function to prevent cancer or inhibit its growth.
Spirulina lowers the blood pressure
Scientists have found that the pigment phycocyanin contained in spirulina has antihypertensive (hypotensive) effects. Japanese researchers claim that the reason for this is that blue-green algae consumption reverses endothelial dysfunction in the metabolic syndrome.
This sounds very promising for Americans, since the metabolic syndrome has quickly become a major cause of preventable disease and increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Spirulina lowers cholesterol
Similarly, the properties of Spirulina have also shown that they can prevent arteriosclerosis and lower blood cholesterol.
For a recent animal study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, rabbits were taken, given cholesterol-rich food (HCD) containing 0.5% cholesterol over a four-week period, and then given a 1% or HCD 5% spirulina for an additional eight weeks.
At the end of the eight-week study, LDL levels decreased by 26% in the 1% spirulina group and 41% in the 5% spirulina group. This clearly suggests that the more spirulina you consume, the greater the benefit. Serum triglycerides and total cholesterol have also been significantly reduced.
Spirulina reduces the risk of an infarction
In the previous study, researchers also found that Spirulina supplementation reduced the inner layer of the aorta by 33% to 48%, suggesting that it could prevent arteriosclerosis and subsequent strokes.
It should not be forgotten, however, that this clinical study was carried out on animals still supplied with HCD. However, she underlines that regular consumption of spirulina can literally reverse the damage caused by poor nutrition. It is hard to imagine the health benefits of the heart if a person eats a balanced diet.
Spirulina accelerates weight loss
A diet full of nutritious and protein-rich foods such as spirulina promotes weight loss and low-fat energy storage through a variety of mechanisms. Since more energy is required for metabolism, the protein consumption helps maintain low-fat tissue and promote fat burning.
This way, the feeling of hunger can be alleviated. Obese people seem to benefit most from this. For optimal use of this beneficial property, you should try to consume the protein-containing spirulina instead of at night in the morning or during lunch.
Spirulina and diabetes
Studies suggest that spirulina can reduce blood sugar levels in humans. In a study of 25 patients with type 2 diabetes, taking 2 g daily for 2 months resulted in an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels. HbA1c, a parameter for long-term blood sugar regulation, has decreased from 9% to 8%, which is impressive. Studies suggest that a 1% reduction in this parameter can reduce the risk of diabetes-related death by 21%. Additional studies are necessary in this area. Animal studies show that spirulina can significantly reduce blood sugar levels. In some studies, it even surpassed metformin, a medication that is often used against diabetes.
Who should take Spirulina?
Nowadays, as people live longer, the desire to stay strong and healthy is stronger than ever. However, since the majority of people live hectic lives, meals are often quickly prepared and eaten quickly. Most people want to eat healthy, but at the same time they do not want to spend a long time preparing it.
Centers for disease control and prevention recommend consuming five to six servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Even for those who try to eat healthy, however, this is quite a challenge.
Spirulina is a nutritional supplement suitable for all ages. It is recommended for representatives of the older generation who have suffered from certain nutrient deficiencies more than younger people and whose bodies may not be able to absorb, use or store nutrients efficiently enough. Many older people also take medication for an extended period of time, which can affect their nutrient balance.
Because it may not be easy for you to meet your nutritional needs through food intake, Spirulina is an ideal supplement - one that the body can easily digest and use. Spirulina is an energy-rich food source and is completely bioavailable due to the soft cell layers.
If there is no time for shopping or cooking, taking Spirulina replaces 'green stuff' consumption. This does not mean that Spirulina is the all-round solution for a junk food diet. To maintain optimal health benefits, Spirulina should be taken along with a nutritious diet and an active lifestyle.
Children who dislike vegetables, as well as students who do not live at home, are predestined target groups because they often consume too much processed food and should therefore add spirulina to their diet.
Research supports the consumption of three grams of spirulina per day for the general health of adults. Children, on the other hand, only need one to two grams per day depending on their body weight.
Clinical trials have shown that a spirulina dosage of up to 10 grams daily does not cause any side effects, with many active people even preferring a larger amount. Spirulina can be taken in tablet or powder form, since both are equally beneficial.
It can be taken either with or without food, once or many times a day. For most people, spirulina leads to an increase in energy, which is why it is best to take it four hours before bedtime.
Pets and algae
Spirulina is not only beneficial for humans, as animals and plants can also benefit from it. Veterinarians recommend Spirulina for endurance and general strengthening.
Award-winning koi carp are given spirulina to improve their colour and health. Bird breeders enrich the bird feed with spirulina in order to give the plumage more colour and shine.
Spirulina is also used intensively by aquaculture companies to promote a greater disease resistance of various fish and crustaceans, as well as to increase their general quality and colouring.
Gardeners can use Spirulina as an all-round algae food. For house and apartment, it is recommended to add a small amount of spirulina to flower pots. You will notice the difference it makes. For organic farmers, spirulina is also a natural fertiliser.
Spirulina compared to Chlorella
Because the two microalgae belong to similar species, it is easy to understand how scientists have mistaken spirulina for chlorella in the 1940s. Despite the strong contrasts, the two are still being mixed up today.
Here are the four main differences:
First, Spirulina is a spiral, multi-cellular algae without a real cell nucleus. It has a blue-green colour and can grow up to 100 times larger than Chlorella. In comparison, Chlorella is a spherically shaped single- celled microorganism with a nucleus and a compact green colour.
Second, the growth conditions are considerably different. Spirulina grows best under slightly alkaline conditions - especially in ponds and rivers. The algae also needs a lot of sunshine and mild temperatures.
Chlorella also grows in fresh water, which is usually home to other organisms, which makes harvesting more complicated.
Third, spirulina and chlorella are also very different in how they are consumed. Due to its hard, indigestible cellulose layer, chlorella has to be processed mechanically, for example, so that it is suitable for human consumption. Otherwise, the body is unable to release and utilise the nutrients.
This process is costly, which is why Chlorella is usually more expensive than Spirulina. In contrast, Spirulina has a completely digestible cellulose layer, can be consumed immediately and processed more easily in the body.
Spirulina and Chlorella also differ in terms of their nutrient and vital substance content, although both are considered superfoods. Spirulina contains more essential amino acids, iron, protein, vitamin B and vitamins C, D and E.