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Spirulina is a form of blue-green algae that can be consumed as a dietary supplement. It is frequently described as a superfood due to its bountiful nutritional profile and health benefits. For instance, it contains an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fat, calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamins A, C, and K, and only a few calories. Its high protein content makes it especially appealing for people who are vegetarians or follow a vegan diet. Given that so many nutrients can be found in spirulina, it is no surprise that consuming it regularly can dramatically improve health. Now let’s take a closer look at the beneficial properties of these nutritious algae.
Supports Weight Control
People who want to lose weight, typically try to consume foods with few calories that provide an optimal supply of nutrients. Spirulina’s low-calorie, high-nutrient profile makes it an excellent food choice for people who are trying to enhance weight management. Fortunately, clinical research supports the use of spirulina to promote a desired weight along with healthier blood pressure levels and enhanced blood vessel health¹. More specifically, overweight individuals (those with a body mass index (BMI) of ≤ 29.9) who consumed 2 grams (2 g) of spirulina for at least 3 months experienced healthier blood pressure readings, stronger, more flexible blood vessels, a lower BMI, and reduced weight¹.
The reason that this form of algae is so beneficial is because in addition to its vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, spirulina contains a substance called nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to widen and this improves blood flow as well as blood pressure². Consuming spirulina also boosts metabolism, which increases the number of calories that the body burns and it heightens energy levels as well¹’². This means that eating spirulina regularly not only supports increased energy and better weight control, but also helps reduce the risk of heart problems, strokes, and kidney issues by heightening blood circulation³’ ⁴.
Targets Blood Sugar and Heart-Related Issues
Spirulina has anti-diabetic properties and has been the topic of focus for numerous studies regarding type 1 and type 2 diabetes⁵⁻⁷. In a 2018 study, spirulina was described as a nutraceutical food supplement due to its low toxicity and therapeutic influence on various processes in the body⁵. One such benefit involves spirulina’s ability to help lower blood glucose (sugar) levels when an individual is in a fasting state, such as before breakfast. People with diabetes typically have high fasting blood sugar levels, but taking spirulina improves the way the body regulates blood sugar. According to research, it supports lower amounts of A1c, which is a marker for the presence of increasing blood sugar and diabetes⁵‘ ⁶. Reducing this marker is associated with a lower risk of diabetes-related complications, including death⁷. Eating spirulina also appears to improve the body’s response to insulin, which is a hormone that helps the body use glucose (sugar) appropriately or store it as an energy source⁵. If the body is resistant to insulin or does not produce enough of it, glucose remains in the blood and lead to uncontrolled blood glucose levels , which can then lead to health problems. Therefore, a spirulina supplement may be quite useful for individuals with diabetes.
Although diabetes is a major health concern, insulin resistance (an improper response to insulin), high blood pressure, and unhealthy levels of fat also increase the risk of heart disease⁸. Indeed, high triglyceride (fat) and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels can cause blood vessel damage and heart problems⁵‘ ⁸. However, therapeutic approaches that have fat-lowering potential reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues. Accordingly, consuming about 1 gram or more of spirulina for several weeks (e.g., 12 weeks) is associated with lower triglyceride and LDL levels as well as an enhanced insulin response⁵‘ ⁹. These health benefits can dramatically improve overall health.
Demonstrates Potent Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Activity
Spirulina contains an active component called phycocyanin that protects cells throughout the body from damage by targeting free radicals (toxins) and other pollutants such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, to name a few¹⁰⁻¹². This disrupts the production of inflammatory substances, enhances the body’s ability to prevent chronic inflammation, and reduces the immune system’s workload¹¹. In other words, phycocyanin functions as an antioxidant that promotes the removal of harmful substances that are linked to various diseases (e.g., heart disease)⁸‘ ⁹. In doing so, it strengthens immune system activity and promotes healthy responses to inflammation.
Enhances Mental Health
Spirulina is an excellent source of essential amino acids such as leucine, valine, isoleucine, and tryptophan¹³. Tryptophan, in particular, is linked to enhanced mental performance because the brain requires this amino acid to make a chemical messenger in the brain (neurotransmitter) called serotonin. Adequate levels of serotonin play a major role in mental well-being. When serotonin production in the brain is low, the occurrence of issues such as anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity tend to increase.¹³’ ¹⁴
The brain’s rate of serotonin production depends on the level of tryptophan that is readily available in the body. Factors that influence serotonin levels include: the amount of tryptophan in relation to other amino acids that are circulating in the body, the ability of cells to transport tryptophan to the brain, and the concentration of enzymes that support tryptophan activity in the brain¹⁴. A continuous supply of tryptophan is necessary in order for the brain to rapidly increase serotonin production in response to different types of mental stimulation. Serotonin subsequently influences central nervous system activity by regulating mood and mental performance.
Interestingly, this process is also dependent upon the digestive tract, as ample amounts of tryptophan must first be released from the spirulina that is consumed. There are also nerves in the digestive tract that influence brain signals. They require specific nutrients including amino acids in order to properly transfer signals between the brain and gut. This means that the gut and brain work in unison to support mental health and spirulina supplies both organs with the nutrients they need to help regulate mood, mental performance, and even proper digestive function¹⁵.
Accordingly, research shows that the tryptophan in spirulina can help target mental health problems such attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), anxiety and eating disorders, substance abuse disorder, autism, schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder¹³. Therefore, regular dietary supplementation with amino acids that influence the production of chemicals in the brain such as serotonin is an optimal way to boost and maintain optimal mental performance. Spirulina contains high concentrations of tryptophan, which works together with the additional nutrients in this form of algae to improve overall health.
Supports Healthy Responses To Allergens
People who are allergic to pets, dust, pollen, or other allergens may experience a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, and even coughing. This type of reaction is known as allergic rhinitis. Clinical research provides evidence that eating spirulina can help improve allergy-induced symptoms for some people¹⁶‘ ¹⁷. Allergens (e.g., dust, pollen, pet dander) stimulate an immune response, increased histamine levels, and inflammation, especially in the lining of the nose. It is the combination of these factors that leads to allergy symptoms. Spirulina influences the activity of white blood cells that play a role in the immune system’s response to allergens and it also disrupts the production of histamines and other inflammatory substances that worsen allergy symptoms¹⁶‘ ¹⁷. In so doing, a spirulina supplement can dramatically improve nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, and nasal discharge (a runny nose) in individuals who have allergic rhinitis¹⁷.
Similar to its ability to support a more healthy response to allergens, spirulina promotes the removal of environmental pollutants that stimulate a similar immune system response¹². This is particularly, beneficial for people who live in urban and suburban areas that may have high levels of allergens and pollutants as well as women who are often exposed to allergy-inducing substances in the healthcare products they use. The symptoms that are associated with persistent reactions to harmful substances (e.g., dust, pollen, heavy metals) can lead to fatigue and even skin issues. However, spirulina can also help target these types of issues by boosting red blood cell health and blood circulation in addition to enhancing immune system activity¹⁸. Heightened circulation increases energy and enhanced blood flow allows more oxygen and nutrients to be transported to the skin, which is a process that supports the healing of the skin. This means that spirulina helps target allergies, pollutant exposure, fatigue, and skin health.
Take Home Message
Spirulina, also known as blue-green algae, is a low-calorie superfood that supplies the body with an ample amount of nutrients. It has numerous health-boosting properties and its unmatched nutritional profile is associated with powerful antioxidant, immune system stimulating, mental performance-enhancing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic activity, among others⁵‘ ⁹‘ ¹⁰⁻¹³.
In addition, for people who have been struggling to lose weight or find a good source of protein without having to consume large amounts of calories, spirulina is a well-balanced nutritional option that has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to help people lose weight and lower their BMI¹’ ⁵‘ ⁹. This is especially useful for women, as weight control often becomes more difficult with age, and certain conditions (e.g., diabetes) may also make it harder to maintain a desired weight.
Spirulina has a unique taste that may initially be hard for some people to get used to. The wonderful thing is the our Premium Super Green Powder makes it easy and palatable to take spirulina. You don’t have to hold your nose anymore to get the health-enhancing potential of spirulina in order to reap its full benefits.
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