Spirulina is a type of algae that grows naturally in warm waters. It’s name comes from the Greek word “spirus” which means sea. Its common names are blue-green alga, green alga or marine algae. It’s not just used for food but also as a source of protein and vitamins. Some studies have shown that it may reduce risk of heart disease, cancer and even Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Spirulina is also considered as a natural antibiotic.
Health Benefits of Spirulina:
1) Anti-cancer Properties: Studies show that spirulina may prevent colon cancer and other forms of cancer.
It may also protect against cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure. Other studies suggest that it could lower cholesterol levels and increase good HDL cholesterol levels in the body.
2) Antioxidant Properties: Spirulina may provide protection against free radicals and other harmful substances.
These compounds are produced when cells are damaged due to stress or aging. Free radicals cause damage to healthy tissue and organs causing disease. They can lead to cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia and many other diseases.
3) Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Spirulina may decrease inflammation in the body resulting in less pain, swelling and fatigue.
It may also help treat autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and inflammatory bowel disease.
4) May Treat Alzheimer’s Disease: According to studies, spirulina may slow down and even reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
It prevents brain cells from dying and prevents the breakdown of connections between neurons. This could be quite beneficial in treating diseases such as Alzhiemer’s disease, Parkinson’s and other memory related diseases.
5) Good Source of Protein and Vitamin: It’s a good source of plant-based protein for vegetarians and vegans.
It also contains B complex vitamins as well as vitamin E and can be used to enhance the nutritional value of other foods.
6) Purifies Water: Due to its high levels of phycocyanin, spirulina can be used as a natural method of treating water.
It helps to kill bacteria and other organisms that can make water unhealthy.
7) Reduces Cholesterol: Some studies show that spirulina has a positive effect on reducing cholesterol levels in the body.
It may help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
8) Lowers High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure or hypertension is considered to be one of the silent killers of modern society.
It has no symptoms and often there are no outward signs that something is wrong. High blood pressure or hypertension can lead to many other diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and eye problems. Larger studies are still needed to confirm these results but spirulina may play a role in preventing and reducing hypertension.
9) Enhances Athletic Performance: Some studies suggest that taking spirulina combined with regular exercise may help reduce tiredness and fatigue.
It may also improve endurance and allow you to exercise longer.
How does spirulina work?
Spirulina is a natural source of nutrients. It contains over 200 nutrients and minerals that are essential for humans. It is rich in protein, vitamins and anti-oxidants. These components have various health benefits such as helping the immune system, fighting disease, anti-inflammation and much more.
Is spirulina safe?
Spirulina is generally safe if taken in recommended doses. It is considered safe to eat and in most cases there are no side effects when spirulina is consumed. However, some people may experience allergic reactions so you should stop using spirulina and see a doctor if you have severe allergic reaction such as hives, trouble breathing, swelling lips, eyes, tongue or throat. Do not give spirulina to children or pregnant women unless instructed to by a physician.
Recent studies on spirulina have shown that it may be toxic to the liver in high doses. It is recommended that you only take spirulina supplements under the supervision of a physician.
Spirulina and cholesterol
Spirulina has been shown to help lower high cholesterol levels.
Sources & references used in this article:
Current knowledge on potential health benefits of Spirulina by A Belay, Y Ota, K Miyakawa, H Shimamatsu – Journal of applied Phycology, 1993 – Springer
Potential health benefits of spirulina microalgae by B Capelli, GR Cysewski – Nutrafoods, 2010 – Springer
Potential health benefits of Spirulina platensis by DJ Kumari, B Babitha, S Jaffar, MG Prasad… – Int. J. Adv. Pharm …, 2011 – researchgate.net
The potential health benefits of algae and micro algae in medicine: a review on Spirulina platensis by M Soheili, K Khosravi-Darani – Current Nutrition & Food …, 2011 – ingentaconnect.com