Top 11 Health Benefits of Spirulina
Are you looking for a perfect superfood to replenish your health and boost your immune system? Spirulina could be an ideal choice.
We are living in a world where the popularity of superfoods is growing at a tremendous rate.
Although several imposters are there in the market at present, none can beat the nutrient content of spirulina. This blue-green alga is one of the most researched and well-known superfoods in today's world.
Following are the top 11 health benefits of spirulina:
1. Extremely rich in nutrients
This green alga is immensely rich in nutrient content. This includes vitamin A.B, C and E.
Essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, selenium and zinc will help to nourish the body and maintain a healthy functionality of internal organs.
A standard dose of up to 10gm/day is effective in keeping your body healthy and strong.
Studies have shown that one-quarter of the world's population is anaemic. This means they don't have enough iron content in the body to produce enough haemoglobin.
An anaemic person develops symptoms such as lack of stamina, dizziness and unhealthy complexion.
Giving Iron supplements to compensate for the loss may not be a good idea, as the supplements given as ferrous sulfate have many side effects such as headache and constipation.
The high iron content present in this alga (70-100 mg / 100 g) should be emphasized in this case. In addition to this, one notable advantage is that the iron content present in here is readily absorbable (about 30-40% )
Interestingly, spirulina is also used by NASA as a useful supplement to the astronauts working in outer space.
2. Helps in weight loss
For most people, maintaining a healthy diet while opting for weight loss is very challenging. Weight loss occurs when people eat fewer calories than their regular intake.
Spirulina is a highly nutritious and low-calorie food. Adding it within your diet can help people to lose weight without losing essential nutrients in the body.
An experiment conducted in 2016 suggested that this superfood helps in weight management. The results of the analysis have shown that people who consumed it continuously for three months showed an improved BMI(Body Mass Index) ratio.
3. Helps to maintain blood sugar
Scientists are suggesting that spirulina may help to manage diabetes.
A review study conducted in 2018, has shown significant results in lowering the fasting blood glucose levels of diabetes patients who were supplemented with spirulina.
Since it is very natural for diabetic patients to show high blood sugar after fasting, this offers a promising solution to naturally control diabetes for acute cases.
In 2017, an animal study was conducted by giving spirulina extracts to mice who are having type 1 diabetes.
The results showed:
- Higher insulin levels
- Reduction in blood sugar levels
- Improved liver functionality
Human trials have also given improved results. A batch of 25 people who were having type 2 diabetes was provided with 2 grams of spirulina per day.
The results showed a notable reduction in fasting blood glucose and postprandial blood glucose levels.
4. Reduces cholesterol
Studies have indicated that spirulina helps to lower blood cholesterol.
Blood cholesterol is unhealthy fat found in a person's blood. Excess cholesterol in the body often results in clogged arteries and heart diseases.
A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis indicated that taking these supplements will have a positive impact on lipids present in the bloodstream. The study showed promising results when it comes to reduction in overall cholesterol.
The HDL cholesterol( good cholesterol ) levels were increased while the LDL (bad cholesterol ) levels were reduced.
A study which was conducted in 2013 throws further light on the effectiveness of spirulina.
In the study, fifty-two adults who were diagnosed with dyslipidaemia were administered 1g dosage orally for 12 weeks daily
After the end of this period, it has been noted that the overall cholesterol of the participants has been significantly reduced.
5. Boosts metabolism
Having an excellent metabolic rate helps the person to feel vibrant and energetic. This also helps to burn an increased number of calories per day.
Studies have shown that spirulina helps to boost the overall metabolic rate.
A pilot study conducted in 2014, involving a group of 13 men who were having non-alcoholic fatty liver has shown a significant reduction in fatty liver and an improved metabolic rate.
6. Helps to control allergies
Many users who are taking spirulina on a regular basis have reported a significant reduction in allergies.
Allergic rhinitis is a condition which occurs when any allergens such as pollen, dust or hair from pets get inside the nasal passages. As a result of this, the nasal passages get swollen, causing various symptoms such as the runny nose, persistent sneezing, nasal congestion and itching.
A study conducted in 2013, indicated that this blue-green alga is useful in relieving nasal congestion and minimizing allergies by reducing the amount of histamine.
A 2011 review indicates that there is enough evidence to support the effectiveness of spirulina in combating allergies.
However, more extensive trials are required to understand the full impact.
In another study, a group of 127 people who were diagnosed with allergic rhinitis were given 2 grams of this superfood per day.
Severe allergic symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, nasal discharge and itching were reduced after a period of constant use.
7. May help in protecting against cancer
Individual shreds of evidence from research have indicated that spirulina could help in fighting against cancer.
Research done on animals who were fed with this alga indicated that it can reduce the tumour size and the probability of cancerous growths.
Its anticancer effects on mouth cancer is a well-documented one. One study examined over 87 people from India with oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF) in the mouth.
Notable reduction in the lesions has been noted for those who took 1 gram dosage every day for a year.
Once the daily intake has been stopped, almost half of them redeveloped the lesions in the next year.
8. Improves colon health
When compared to other forms of algae such as chlorella, spirulina is very easy to digest. as it lacks a sturdy cell wall
Studies have indicated that regular intake can help to keep the gut strong and healthy.
The problem with senior adults is that they tend to lose the gut bacteria as they age. Spirulina is known to help the digestive metabolism by preserving the gut bacteria that help maintain healthy digestion.
In a study conducted in 2017 involving older mice has indicated that spirulina may help to retain the healthy gut bacteria during the ageing process.
9. Helps to build stamina and improve muscle strength
For people who regularly work out, muscle fatigue after strenuous exercise is a common occurrence.
Oxidative damage as a result of intense workout is one of the major contributing factors for muscle fatigue.
For physically active individuals, consuming foods with antioxidant properties can help to minimize the wear and tear of muscles and retain the vigour.
Certain studies have indicated that spirulina can help to improve endurance capacity and retain muscle strength.
10. Helps to maintain good mental health
Until now, we have only discussed the effects of spirulina on physical health.
However, research has also shown visible effects in treating mental health disorders as well.
Mental disorders such as depression, eating disorders, sleep disorders, and various anxiety issues occur due to imbalanced production of serotonin.
Tryptophan is a natural amino acid precursor in 5‐HT biosynthesis, that is responsible for the production of serotonin. Studies have shown that spirulina helps in tryptophan production, thereby helping in maintaining serotonin levels.
11. Helps people suffering from HIV
Until recently, scientists were so perplexed with the question of why people living in eastern countries have a relatively low rate of AIDS.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Phycology in 2012 helped to throw some light on this baffling question. It has been noted that people who are living in eastern countries consume algae regularly.
For the study researchers took 11 HIV patients and split them into three groups. One group was asked to eat 5 grams of brown seaweed every day while the other group was asked to take spirulina in the same quantity.
The third group ate a combination of these two.
After the end of three months, it was found that the helper T-cells remained stable with the viral load remaining the same.
Spirulina is, therefore, a superfood with multiple health benefits to boast about. That said, it is suggested to consult your healthcare provider if you have a pre-existing medical condition, like an autoimmune disorder, etc.
Additionally, the vitamins and minerals in spirulina may sometimes interact with some of your existing medications. A medical professional will be able to guide you regarding the recommended dosage.
If you are planning to purchase spirulina, be sure to buy from a reputable brand, as it is very crucial to make sure that the purity and quality of the product that you consume is of high standards.
Hyumi is a certified nutritionist under the Singapore Nutrition & Dietetic Association (SNDA), she has 8 years of professional experiences in providing health consultations & advice for clients and corporates alike, all the while researching & developing new functional ingredients for better formulation. Hyumi obtained her Degree in Food Sciences & Nutrition from University Malaysia Sabah
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