The health benefits of spirulina are many. Spirulina is a form of blue-green algae grown in alkaline waters, rich in phytonutrient antioxidants and has been used by people since ancient times. It is believed that spirulina was first discovered by Hernando Cortez and his Spanish Conquistadors in 1519. Spirulina is perhaps the best source of carotenoids and provides healthy doses of the B Vitamins such B12 as well as Vitamin K. It also contains a natural Vitamin E (tocopherol) level comparable to wheat germ. Spirulina provides more usable protein, as well as containing all of the essential amino acids, than just about all other protein sources. “Usable” means the amount that is properly digested and assimilated by the body due to the fact that it does not have cellulose walls, like yeast and chlorella do. For comparison, spirulina’s usable protein value is 65 percent, meats and fish from 15 to 25 percent, and eggs only 12 percent.
Spirulina’s anti-flammatory activities have been demonstrated in a large number of preclinical studies.(1) The main component of Spirulina is known as phycocyanobilin, which is about 1% of spirulina by weight. This compound has a novel mechanism of action, and mimics the body’s own bilirubin compound to inhibit a pro-oxidative complex called NADPH oxidase. Through inhibiting this complex, spirulina confers potent anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Because your liver is the main filter of your body and as such is bombarded with daily toxins, I believe it is always important to bring attention to supplements and foods that help to support and heal the liver. NAFLD is the most common cause of chronic liver disease in North America and is closely associated with the metabolic syndrome or the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome. Suspected NAFLD, especially in the 45-54-yr-old age group, is a strong independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease death. Potential treatments for this condition are weight loss, insulin sensitizing agents, lipid lowering agents, antioxidants and agents to reduce inflammatory cytokines. Animal studies suggest spirulina can protect your liver, most likely as a result of its high antioxidant properties and its ability to synthesize or release nitric oxide. Studies show that spirulina does the following for your liver:
- Prevents the buildup of triglycerides in your liver
- Inhibits lipid peroxidation
- Reduces liver inflammation
- Protects your liver from damage by heavy metals, like lead and mercury
Another interesting fact is that Australian research has shown that livestock feed that’s been enhanced with nutritious spirulina improves growth, fertility, aesthetic and nutritional quality in farm animals.(2)
DID YOU KNOW? Spirulina is an arthritis superfood. Researchers have found that one of spirulina’s pigments, phycocyanin, possesses anti-inflammatory properties similar to some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).(3) Considering the dangers linked to NSAIDs, particularly ulcers, spirulina should be viewed as an essential component of any arthritis program. No other green superfood contains this pigment. ~Dr. David Williams
Health Benefits of Spirulina
- supports liver health
- reduces pain sensitivity by inhibiting prostaglandins
- reduces allergy symptoms
- radiation protection
- useful with Type 2 Diabetes
- boosts Immune System
- great anti-inflammatory
- protects eye health
- prevents the buildup of triglycerides in the liver
- high in chlorophyll
- high concentration of bio-available iron
- binds with heavy metals
- increases fat burning during exercise
- increases energy
- 60% protein on average
- contains all essential amino acids needed for health
- high in B vitamins including B12 & K
- best known source of gamma-linolenic acid
- naturally rich in iodine
- high in minerals
- prevents & helps with cardiovascular disease, including hypertension
- contains Omega 3-,6 & 9s & especially high in Omega-3s
CAUTION: It is important to note that since the Fukushima nuclear incident, it is important to avoid anything, including spirulina, coming from Japan. Make sure your source of spirulina is organic and has been tested by an independent third party laboratory. The spirulina should be toxin-free, radiation-free and bromine-free. It should also be non-GMO, gluten-free and non-irradiated. In other words, be sure to do your research before purchasing any brand of spirulina. I personally recommend the powder or capsule form (easily put into smoothies) over the tablet form because of added binders and natural flavorings found in most tablets.
Spirulina-Spinach Smoothie Recipe
(Always use organic ingredients when available.)
Handful of frozen strawberries
Handful of spinach
1 tsp Spirulina powder
1 tsp healthy sweetener
Thoroughly wash produce. Add the sliced banana to a glass and fill to the rim with frozen strawberries and spinach. Top up with almond milk. Transfer it all to a blender & add sweetener & the spirulina powder. Blend until smooth. Use between a teaspoon of spirulina for a small glass & up to a tablespoon for a larger glass. Start with a smaller amount if you’re not used to the taste.
Recipe via: http://wholefooddiary.com/recipes/view/65/smoothie-with-spinach-and-spirulina/
(1) Deng R, Chow TJ. Hypolipidemic, antioxidant, and antiinflammatory activities of microalgae Spirulina. Cardiovasc Ther. 2010 Aug;28(4):e33-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-5922.2010.00200.x. Review.
(2) Holman BW, Malau-Aduli AE. Spirulina as a livestock supplement and animal feed. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2012 Aug 2. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2012.01328.x.
(3) Shih CM, Cheng SN, Wong CS, Kuo YL, Chou TC. Chia-Yi Christian Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China. Antiinflammatory and Antihyperalgesic Activity of C-phycocyanin. Anesth Analg. 2009 Apr;108(4):1303-10. doi: 10.1213/ane.0b013e318193e919.