Spirulina, a type of non-toxic algae, is a rich source of phycocyanobilin and provides you with many nutrients, including lots of protein and vitamin B12. Some human studies have confirmed that supplementing with spirulina may help improve glucose metabolism and protect the heart at the same time. Animal studies are quite promising as well and found spirulina to be as effective as some prescription drugs, especially when you want to treat neurological disorders.
Most of these benefits come from its phycocyanobilin content, which works quite like the body’s bilirubin compound and inhibits an enzyme to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage. Here are some other reasons why you may want to include this super food in your diet.
A Nutrient Power House
You may want to try spirulina because it is a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. It also provides you with loads of protein; in fact, 62% of spirulina is composed of amino acids. It also contains calcium, vitamin B1, antioxidants, and iron. Thanks to the presence of all these nutrients, spirulina is often used as a nutritional supplement. However, it is important to bear in mind that if you want to take it just to increase your intake of protein, you will be better off switching to meat, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. That is mainly because you have to take spirulina in larger quantities to get a substantial amount of protein.
Some animal studies have confirmed that spirulina may help increase the production of infection-fighting proteins, antibodies, and other cells that help increase your immunity. With a stronger immune system, you are less likely to worry about developing common infections. It also lowers your risk of developing chronic illnesses, such as cancer. Some studies have found that spirulina may help detoxify your body by eliminating heavy metals, like arsenic from your body. This effect comes from its chlorophyll content. This detoxification will also help boost your immune system.
Increased Energy and Weight Loss
Many experts believe that supplementing with spirulina may help increase energy production in the body. It is supposed to work by unlocking sugar from your cells, which in turn improves metabolic energy. Some studies have also notice a 20-30% increase in power output after taking spirulina for 8 weeks. Here is another study to show the effect:
- 2g Spirulina daily for 8 weeks was associated with an increase in power output and mean power output but not with muscular endurance. Source
With increased energy and power output, you are likely to work better in the gym, which in turn will help gain lean muscle mass and reduce weight as well. It may also help with fat burning and suppress your appetite to make it easier to lose weight. You are likely to feel hungry when there is a fluctuation in your blood sugar levels. Spirulina may help by regulating blood sugar level – it may also lower HbA1c, which is a marker of blood sugar levels. With a more stable blood sugar level, you are less likely to deal with hunger pangs and this in turn will support weight loss.
Another reason to try spirulina is that it can reduce elevated cholesterol levels. It contains protein, amino acids, and the essential fatty acid called “gamma linolenic acid (GLA)”. You cannot find many food sources of this essential fatty acid, which is why it makes great sense to include spirulina in your diet to lower cholesterol. Many scientific studies have also confirmed this benefit. For instance:
- One 2008 study tested Spirulina’s lipid-lowering effects on 78 adults, ages 60 and 87. The volunteers took 8 grams of Spirulina supplements, or a placebo, a day for 16 weeks. At the end of the study, there were significant reductions in cholesterol among those who were treated, according to the abstract published in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.
Another study have shown that individuals with fatty liver noticed an improvment in liver function when they took 4.5g of spirulina for 3 months. In an another study, 8g of spirulina taken for 12 weeks led to a significant improvement in lipid metabolism in diabetics.
Powerful Antioxidant Properties
Antioxidants work by preventing oxidative damage to cells in your body. They prevent DNA damage and lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Your body can make antioxidants, but it needs more from dietary sources. While some studies have found that taking antioxidants in a supplement form may not lower cancer risk or improve overall health, things are different for dietary sources, such as spirulina. In supplements, you get a purified form of antioxidants. In spirulina, these antioxidants are part of a complex mixture of minerals and vitamins, which is the reason why they are going to be more effective in this case. In a study conducted on people at an increased risk of oral leukoplakia, it was found that spirulina helped treat lesions in 45% of the users. Moreover, antioxidants in spirulina may help accelerate recovery in athletes – this is probably another reason why spirulina prevents muscle fatigue and promotes energy production.
Better Management of Allergies
The use of spirulina is supposed to help you manage your allergy symptoms in a much better way. Research suggests that spirulina has anti-inflammatory properties and is therefore effective against allergies and sinus issues. Its use may also help treat nasal congestion and other related problems, such as sneezing and itching. A study has found that 2g of spirulina taken for 6 months greatly reduced symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
It is true that there are many reasons to try spirulina, but you should also practice some care when you first introduce it into your routine. It is generally considered safe, but some people may experience certain side effects, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions. People who have a metabolic condition called Phenylketonuria should stay away from spirulina, because they cannot process amino acid phenylalanine found in this algae.
The biggest concern will always be associated with the quality of spirulina. Unless you buy a reputable brand, there will always be a risk of contamination. Moreover, there is no data available about how spirulina react in pregnant women, so you should avoid it when pregnant or breastfeeding.
It is also important to avoid spirulina if you have rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, or another autoimmune disease. Taking spirulina may make your condition worse, so talk to your doctor before you use it.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.