Spirulina has caught the attention of millions, based on its health-boosting properties. This microalgae isn’t just a trendy health product either. It’s been used for centuries based on its high nutritional value and overall health benefits. It’s the perfect supplement to boost immunity and protect your health.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a type of algae which is highly rich in protein, minerals, vitamins, carotenoids, and antioxidants. Based on its nutritional profile, it helps to protect our cells against damage. Containing nutrients such as beta-carotene, zinc, B-complex vitamins, iron, selenium, manganese, and more, it’s a nutritional powerhouse.
Based on research, it’s said that spirulina could boost immune function, protecting users against viral infections, allergies, and potentially even cancer. Available in multiple forms, this algae thrives in warm climates and warm alkaline water.
Uses For Spirulina
There are numerous reasons why taking spirulina is beneficial to your health, which is why there’s a wide range of uses for this algae in its supplement form.
Immune Function Support
In a number of studies, it has been reported that spirulina helps to increase the production of antibodies, proteins which fight infections, and other cells that improve immune function. In turn, this helps users maintain their health and fight off infection and chronic illness.
Since spirulina is so rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, it’s no wonder that consuming spirulina supplements would protect your health by boosting your immunity. Antioxidants combat damage from free radicals, helping to reduce one’s risk of cancer, heart disease, and a wide range of other chronic illnesses.
One of the most common chronic illnesses that affects society today is cancer. When studied on human participants, spirulina reduced precancerous lesions known as leukoplasia in people who chewed tobacco. Lesions were more likely to be reduced within the experimental group in comparison to the placebo group.
Approximately 62 percent of spirulina is made up of protein, making it higher than some meat sources. Since vegetable protein is easier to digest than animal protein, it also supports a healthy weight. In turn, this makes spirulina an excellent supplement for athletes.
In fact, many athletes take advantage of spirulina in order to boost performance and endurance levels. Studies have shown that spirulina increases metabolism and helps burn fat more effectively. This helps build lean muscle mass, which also improves overall metabolism.
When athletes train, it’s inevitable that they’ll begin to accumulate some toxic free radicals. By consuming spirulina and including it within one’s routine, they can essentially reduce their risk of damage while protecting their immunity and boosting performance.
Illnesses and Allergies
When it comes to antibiotic-related illnesses, the medications prescribed destroy both good and bad bacteria. To maintain your health, you need to promote colonies of good bacteria, such as the probiotic known as Lactobacillus acidophilus.
When studied in test tubes, spirulina was shown to promote the growth of healthy bacteria, promoting positive health. Other infections such as HIV, herpes, and influenza were all shown to be positively impacted by spirulina in test tubes as well.
Once again, studied in test tubes and within animal studies, spirulina was linked to protection against allergic reactions. It’s believed that it stops the release of histamines, which are the substances that create allergy-related symptoms. This is what causes a runny nose, hives, soft-tissue swelling, and watery eyes.
More Health Benefits of Spirulina and Supporting Research
To expand on spirulina’s effects on cancer and oral health, one study tested a spirulina supplement on 87 people within India who were regular tobacco chewers. Of course, these tobacco chewers are at an increased risk for oral cancer. Over the course of one year, it was found that 45 percent of those who took a spirulina supplement, experienced a complete regression in oral lesions, in comparison to 7 percent in the control group.
In terms of athletes, spirulina is believed to aid in recovery. After intense workouts, individuals experience muscle fatigue and oxidative stress due to exercise. In a 2010 study, researchers examined recreational runners over the course of four weeks. It was found that runners who took spirulina experienced improved performance levels and showed an increase in antioxidant levels.
Several studies have also shown that spirulina can potentially reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels. In a 2008 study, participants took 8 grams of spirulina daily, for 16 weeks. Those who were treated with spirulina experienced significant reductions in cholesterol.
In a separate study, 52 adults between the ages of 37 and 61 were examined. Participants had high cholesterol and were instructed to take 1 gram of spirulina daily, for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, average levels of cholesterol and triglycerides both decreased. This is why spirulina is often recognized as a preventive measure against heart disease.
Possible Side Effects of Spirulina
There are potential side effects of spirulina which is why you should discuss dosing with your doctor. Spirulina is safe, even at high doses, however, some spirulina is contaminated with potential toxins. This is why it’s critical that you source you supplements from a trusted source.
If you suffer from a metabolic condition known as phenylketonuria (PKU), you should avoid use. Since spirulina is rich in amino acids, including phenylalanine, individuals with this condition will not metabolize this component. You should also avoid use if you suffer from MS, lupus, or arthritis. This is because of the way in which it stimulates your immune system, potentially affecting your symptoms.
There are a few possible interactions as well, especially regarding medications that suppress one’s immune system. These include Humia, Imuran, Neoral, Enbrel, Remicade, Arava, and CellCept. Like always, speak with your doctor regarding any questions or concerns.
How to Take Spirulina
A standard dose of spirulina is between 1 and 3 grams. However, doses up to 10 grams have been reported in studies. Remember, always follow the guidelines on the supplement’s label you’re taking. Start with smaller doses and see how you feel and your body reacts.