Maybe you haven’t heard about the superfood spirulina yet, but its multiple health benefits might surprise you. Spirulina(Artgrisoura platensis)is an algae that grows in spirals of a green-blue color with a mild taste. Its history goes back to Aztecs who harvested it in Mexico. It is about 70% plant based protein. Since it doesn’t have hard cell walls, the protein is quickly and easily absorbed. It provides all eight essential amino acids making it easy to digest. It also provides 10 non-essential amino acids, eight minerals, and 10 vitamins. It is considered one of the best antioxidants on the planet.
Antioxidants are so important because they repair DNA cellular damage that leads to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and slow recovery from exercise. Performance athletes are well aware of this. Spirulina significantly increases exercise performance and fat oxidation(1). This study put runners on treadmills for two hours. They gave them 6 grams of spirulina a day. Blood samples were used for measurement and showed that fatigue was significantly improved and more fat was burned which continued after exercise. This allows athletes to feel less fatigued while exercising and recover faster.
An interesting study in India focused on pan tobacco chewers(2). These people commonly have leukoplakia, a form of oral cancer. The study provided only one gram(a quarter of a teaspoon) of spirulina per day for 12 months. During this time, the lesions(an area of abnormal tissue) that were present in the subjects regressed or went away. “Complete regression of lesions was observed in 20 of 44(45%).” There was no toxicity from this use and within only one year of stopping the spirulina, 45% had recurrent lesions. So, the continual use of spirulina kept the cancer at bay.
Another study in Greece gave subjects only 1 gram a day for just 12 weeks. Through blood testing, they found reduced triglycerides, reduced high and low lipoproteins, and lower total cholesterol, all at significant levels(3). The authors described this effect as “powerful.”
If you have PKU talk with your physician regarding that amino acid. If you take anti-coagulation drugs, are pregnant, or have autoimmune disease, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor for that as well.
In terms of its form, Supirulina comes in powder, pills and tablets. In general, a powder usually has better absorption into the body. Pills and tablets often contain fillers that bind the powder together. A powder also allows you to mix it into may different drinks or meals.
I’ve personally been using organic spirulina powder for over two years and I like to mix a tablespoon into my orange juice with broccoli powder every morning. The powder is easy to find on amazon and I notice that I have more energy and am less hungry during the day. If you’re dieting, a smoker, enjoy exercise or just want more antioxidants for health reasons, this superfood is for you. L. Johnson www.creativeretirementforwomen.com
(1) Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jan;42(1):142-51. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181ac7a45. (2) Mathew, B et al. “Evaluttion of chemoprevention of oral cancer with Spirulina fusiformis” Nutr Cancer. 1995;24(2):197-202. Retrieved on 6-29-15 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8584455 (3)Mazokopakis, E. E., Starakis, I. K., Papadomanolaki, M. G., Mavroeidi, N. G. and Ganotakis, E. S. (2014), The hypolipidaemic effects of Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) supplementation in a Cretan population: a prospective study. J. Sci. Food Agric., 94: 432–437. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6261 PHOTO: http://yurielkaim.com/7913/6-surprising-facts-spirulina-doctor-doesnt-know/