Spirulina is a microscopic type of algae that contains up to 70% protein. Its consumption provides the body with many valuable minerals and vitamins (including B vitamins) and can have a positive effect on the lipid and carbohydrate metabolism of our body. It also shows antioxidant activity. Scientific research has highlighted the ability of spirulina to lower blood pressure and blood glucose. It is usually available as a green-blue powder or as tablets. It is an addition to cocktails and an ingredient in some cosmetics. Its properties have already been appreciated by the Aztecs.
Spirulina - what is it?
The name spirulina comes from the type of cyanobacteria from which the biomass for the production of this product was obtained. In 1979, the first dietary supplement using spirulina was introduced to the market. Currently, two types of algae are used: Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima. These are cyanobacteria found in the aquatic environment. They do not have cell walls, so all the nutrients they contain are easily absorbed by our body. Spirulin is obtained from soil, swamps, fresh and salt waters and hot springs. Where is the arthrospira bacterium found? The natural area of occurrence is the alkaline and saline African lakes and Mexico. Cultivation also covers Asia, Central and South America. Spirulina is available in several forms. We can buy it in the form of tablets, capsules, and most often powder. Its taste varies depending on where it is sourced from. The sea food can have a fishy flavor. On the other hand, spirulina obtained from freshwater regions is more delicate in taste and has a pleasant aroma. The blue and green color comes from the substance it contains, which has a strong antioxidant effect. This characteristic color is also influenced by the high magnesium content.
Spirulina, chlorella or young barley?
All the plants listed above are natural supplements. They are gaining more and more popularity. How are they different? Both Spirulina and Chlorella are a type of algae. The former is classified as cyanobacteria. Chlorella, on the other hand, is green algae. So they differ in their protein profile. In the case of cyanobacteria, the absorption of proteins is much higher. When it comes to young barley, it differs from those mentioned above mainly in the type of chlorophyll and the cell structure. It is a multicellular plant unlike spirulina and chlorella. It contains more fiber and less antioxidants and fatty acids. So what to choose? It all depends on the diet and other supplementation. If our diet is low in fatty acids (EFAs), it is better to reach for Spirulina or Chlorella, which have similar properties. When we provide our body with valuable fatty acids from other sources, we can reach for young barley.
What does it contain and how does it work?
Scientific research indicates the extremely valuable nutritional and healing properties of spirulina. The vast majority of it consists of proteins (even 70% of them in dry matter). These are mainly exogenous amino acids (i.e. leucine, methionine, tryptophan), which are the source of wholesome protein. There is no cellulose in the cell walls of Arthrospira bacteria, which improves the absorption of nutrients. Spirulina also provides essential fatty acids, including the most valuable g-linolenic acid. It is a source of carbohydrates responsible for stimulating the immune system. Some of them are also involved in DNA repair processes. It is also a treasury of vitamins (including B-group and b-carotene) and minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium).
Spirulina - for whom and for what?
Scientists confirm that research into the therapeutic properties of spirulina is very promising. It has been noticed that it can have a positive effect on blood pressure, due to the numerous trace elements it contains (mainly sodium and potassium). Thus, its consumption can prevent cardiovascular diseases, i.e. hypertension. Research studies in rats also indicate the ability of spirulina to inhibit cholesterol absorption. This is due to phycocyanin C, which has antioxidant properties. Moreover, taking spirulina may be beneficial in treating diseases such as diabetes. Scientists confirm that supplementation with spirulina reduces fasting blood glucose. Studies conducted on a group of elderly people have demonstrated the ability of spirulina to increase the body's resistance to intracellular pathogens and parasites. Tests on rats have shown that spirulina is able to suppress an allergic reaction. Despite the fact that this substance is one of the best-studied supplements of this type, the need for further observations is indicated to confirm the properties described above.
Side effects. Contraindications.
It is safe to take spirulina unless you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Common allergic reactions include headache, rash, vomiting and nausea. Such symptoms may also appear in the event of an overdose of spirulina. It should also be remembered that when taking it, you may experience increased thirst and itching of the skin, which is often associated with cleansing the body of toxins. Spirulina can have a positive effect on strengthening and nourishing the entire body. Scientists confirm that it is a healthier, natural alternative to synthetic vitamin preparations. Due to the fact that spirulina provides, among others iron and is a source of B vitamins, after consultation with a doctor, it can also be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Does spirulina lose weight?
A tablespoon of spirulina (about 10 grams) is just 35 calories. Scientific studies on the weight loss properties of spirulina have shown that it can lead to slight weight loss. The first tests were performed in 1986. Subsequent studies showed no relationship between the amount of spirulina administered and the number of kilograms lost. It is assumed that this effect of spirulina is related to its influence on the composition of the intestinal microflora in our body. Scientists argue that taking supplements containing spirulina almost triples the amount of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria in our digestive system. This translates into proper digestion and weight control.
How to eat?
The powdered form of spirulina makes it easy to use in many ways. What can it be combined with? First of all, it is worth using it for cocktails or smoothies. You can also add it to your favorite juice. It is also a good idea to use it as a dye. Add a teaspoon of powder to pasta or potato dumplings and surprise your guests with the original color of the dinner dish. You can also use spirulina to prepare a sauce that will add variety to your vegetable salad. All you need is avocado, lemon juice, a few drops of olive oil and a teaspoon of spirulina.
Dosage. When to take - morning or evening?
It is best to start supplementing with spirulina from lower doses and observe the body's reaction. Typically, 1 to 8 grams of this substance is used daily. The average dose is 5 grams. Children should not take more than 6 grams of spirulina a day. It's best to divide the daily dose into three portions and take it in the morning, at noon and in the evening. When will the first effects appear? Typically, you will feel better after about 2 weeks of using spirulina. How long can you take it? The regularity of consumption is important. It is worth including it permanently in your diet.
Dissolve a portion of the product, ie: 5 g (1 scoop) in 100 ml of water, once a day, preferably after a meal, immediately after preparation.
Do not exceed the recommended daily dose. The product cannot be used by people who are allergic to any of its ingredients. Keep out of the reach of small children. Store in a dry place at room temperature in tightly closed packages.
Dietary supplements cannot be used as a substitute for a varied diet. Remember that only a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet ensure the proper functioning of the body and maintain good condition.