Spirulina: The Superfood You've Been Missing
WHAT IS SPIRULINA?
Spirulina is used as food throughout many parts of Africa, and Mexico, but more recently it has become a very popular supplement.
It shows such great promise that it was at one time coined “best food for the future” by the World Health Organization, thanks to its ability to help mitigate the impact of malnutrition.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
As a supplement, spirulina is made from two particular non-toxic species of blue-green algae, Arthrospira platensis, and Arthrospira maxima.
The algae upon being harvested is then dried and compacted into “cakes” where the nutritional value becomes apparent.
Apart from being a nutritional powerhouse, spirulina is highly beneficial for your health as well when consumed. Its most noteworthy benefits include:
- Anti-oxidant activity
- Liver health
- May reduce fatigue
- Prevents cognitive decline
- Improves heart health
- Bolsters the immune system
RESEARCH ON SPIRULINA
POTENT ANTI-OXIDANT ABILITY
Arguably, the most exciting benefit of spirulina would have to be its ability to reduce oxidative damage on cells. This activity is attributed to the presence of compounds such as phenols, flavonoids, and phytocyanins.
Apart from its ability to reduce the impact of direct oxidative damage, it can also deal with the by-products of the oxidative process.
One such byproduct, known as thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) is released in response to oxidative stress and is thus a useful indicator of it.
Spirulina was able to significantly reduce the levels of these byproducts produced, and also protect natural anti-oxidant enzymes such as glutathione
A staggering number of adults walk around with fatty liver disease and have no idea. Previously limited to heavy alcohol drinkers, today diets high in processed fats and carbs are responsible for the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Although studies are limited, there was evidence that consumption of 4.5g spirulina daily was able to improve triglyceride levels and symptoms of fatty liver disease.
It is believed that this benefit can be attributed to its anti-oxidant property as well, which limits the oxidation of free fatty acids that can wreak havoc on the body.
Not only this, but it can help to slow down natural inflammatory processes that affect the liver as we age, and also reduce elevated liver enzymes and markers.
CAN REDUCE EXERCISE-INDUCED FATIGUE
In athletes, the ability to effectively buffer fatigue can make the difference between having an “OK” workout, or having a stellar career made out of their passion.
In that regard, spirulina might be the one to keep your eyes on. Small scale studies have shown that it has promise in trained and untrained men, helping to improve physical output, endurance, and reduce both mental and physical fatigue.
This could help explain why more and more athletes are seeking out spirulina these days.
SPIRULINA HAS A BENEFICIAL EFFECT ON THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
There are certain parts of the body that are more involved in immunity, including bone marrow, and the spleen. Spirulina has been shown to help slow down the rate of death of cells in these organs, which are important for producing immune boosting products.
It may also help to increase the production of white blood cell subtypes such as macrophages, lymphocytes, and natural killer cells.
These cell types play important parts in handling bacterial, viral, and even cancerous cells and are critical to remaining healthy.
But that’s not the end of its immunity boosting ability. It is also capable of stimulating the hormone erythropoietin, which determines the rate of red blood cell synthesis.
Within red blood cells are proteins that are cytotoxic to bacteria and yeast- effectively acting as decoys that the pathogens invade and subsequently die.
MAY HELP SLOW COGNITIVE DECLINE
There is a time that comes when we aren’t as mentally sharp as we were in our prime. This is a natural age related development, one that we will also experience.
While this is true, the speed at which we go through this can differ significantly based on genetics, and environmental factors, to name a few.
Spirulina can reduce the degree of harmful inflammation our brains encounter and can signal pathways that help maintain neuronal plasticity and function during periods of excessive stress.
Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, is thought to be precipitated by chronically elevated inflammatory processes in the brain, which lead to the formation and deposition of beta-amyloid proteins- structural abnormalities that affect normal function.
It may even have promise in Parkinson’s disease, as preliminary rodent studies have garnered interest in the way it can help to slow the death of cells that produce dopamine.
MAY SUPPORT CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
Spirulina can help boost your cardiovascular health in a few different ways. For instance, its anti-oxidant property can reduce damage to the PKG protein which shields cardiac cells from stressors.
In addition to this, it may help improve your cholesterol and triglyceride values to reduce your cardiac risk.
Spirulina is available in the form of powders, capsules, or even liquids. Traditionally it is consumed as-in, in the form of cakes.
It is important to realize that being a supplement not regulated by the FDA, there are no definitive dosage guidelines.
However, based on the studies conducted, the optimal range lies in the 2g-10g daily zone. Benefit can be seen from consumption of as little as 400mg too.
To a large degree, the amount you will consume depends on the expected benefits you hope to yield.
Spirulina appears to be well-tolerated when consumed in the dose range mentioned previously. Rodent studies have also found that those fed up to half their daily calories from spirulina did not develop any adverse effects.
Very rare allergic reactions have been reported to spirulina, which would render it contraindicated for your consumption.
In addition to this, because it is high in the amino acid phenylalanine, it is not advised for consumption in people diagnosed with phenylketonuria
INTERACTIONS WITH MEDICATION
Spirulina may adversely interfere with immunosuppressive medication and may either increase or decrease the metabolism of others.
It needs to be used cautiously along with chemotherapeutic agents and painkillers.
WHERE CAN I BUY SPIRULINA?
BrickHouse Nutrition's Field Of Greens contains an efficacious dose of spirulina and several other fruits and vegetables.
One scoop of Field of Greens gives you the full spectrum of colors with fruits, veggies, herbs, spices, and more. This nutrient-dense superfood powder helps with overall well-being by aiding in anti-oxidation, lipid metabolism, and glucose metabolism.
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