The first time I heard about Spirulina was a few years ago at an ultra running event in the Himalayas. One of the athletes was consuming a certain green drink and I was curious to know whether it was cheat code to abet a great performance. I went up to the athlete and asked her what it was. She told me it is called Spirulina and it is a super food. At the time, super foods were common in the endurance athletics community. Super foods extended us with tremendous benefits and allowed us to consume it on the go. However I was not aware of Spirulina. I thanked her for sharing this information and went on my way. Later, I got to know, she had secured herself a podium position in the race. This raised a few questions in my head. What is Spirulina? Did the green juice give her a competitive edge over her competitors? Where could I get hold of this magic green powder? I needed answers.

After scouring through the internet I was amazed at the immense potential of this super food. It is claimed that Spirulina was the food of the 16th century Aztecs. Then, in 1940, a French scientist who was impressed by the life span of the people living in Lake Chad region in West Africa found that their robust health could be due to the significant amount of spirulina being harvested in the region. Things got really serious when NASA astronauts were given Spirulina as a supplement to keep healthy. If endurance athletes, astronauts and great civilizations adopted Spirulina to their diet, there would be solid reasons.

What is Spirulina?

Spirulina is a micro algae that grows in both fresh and salt water. It is a variant of cyanobacteria- a family of single celled microbes also known as blue green algae. Cyanobacteria, like plants, also have the ability to produce energy from sunlight by Photosynthesis. Now, let us move on to the qualities that make spirulina the super food it is now.

Eight health benefits of Spirulina:

1. The extremely dense nutritional profile:
In our fast paced lives, we find it hard to see if we are getting the necessary proteins and vitamins through the food we eat. Luckily for us Spirulina can help.
7 grams of spirulina( one table spoon) can contain:
20 calories
4.02g of protein
1.67g of carbohydrate
0.54g of fat
8mg Calcium
2mg Iron
14mg magnesium
8mg phosphorus
95mg of potassium
73mg of sodium
0.7 mg of vitamin C
Apart from these constituents, Spirulina also contains thiamine, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, vitamin A and Vitamin K.
No wonder NASA claimed one kilogram of Spirulina is 1000 kilograms of assorted vegetables.

2. Spirulina helps you lose weight:
The best method to lose weight after exercise is to reduce the amount of calories one consumes a day. However, reducing calories does not mean reducing the nutrients and the proteins the body needs for optimal performance. This is where supplements come in. Adding spirulina to your daily diet will give you the necessary nutrients and will help you consume lesser calories in general. Spirulina is a high nutrient, calorie low food. In 2016, observations claimed Spirulina can help with weight management. People who were overweight were consistently given spirulina as part of their diet for three months and there was a significant change in their body mass index.

3. Mental Health and Spirulina:
A lot of research is being conducted on how spirulina can improve the overall mental health of those who consume it on a regular basis. Spirulina is a source of triphtophan. Triphtophan is an amino acid that helps in producing serotonin. Serotonin elevates the mood.
People will health conditions such as depression and anxiety may have reduced levels of serotonin. So when you consume tryphtophan supplements, serotonin levels can be maintained.
More research is being conducted to understand the vast benefits of Spirulina.

4. Spirulina has anti-toxic properties:
All of us are at risk from being affected by pollutants be it water born or air born. Spirulina has antitoxic properties that could counteract pollutants in the body including iron, lead, mercury, fluorides and arsenic.

5. Boosts Metabolism:
Adding Spirulina to your daily diet will help you boost your metabolism. Having a higher metabolism will give the person more energy and having more energy will subsequently burn more calories. This could also aid weight loss. In 2014, a study was conducted where people consumed 6gms of spirulina on a daily basis and observations showed an overall improvement in health and metabolic rate.

6. Diabetes management:
Diabetes is a disease people are fighting all over the world. Instead of consuming medicines, people are making radical shifts in their lifestyle to manage diabetes better. A study conducted in 2018 showed that people who consumed spirulina had lowered fasting blood sugar levels. People are diagnosed with type 1 and type 2 diabetes will have higher fasting blood glucose levels. Having said that, an animal study in 2017, researchers gave spirulina orally to mice and they showed less blood sugar and high insulin levels. Spirulina shows promise against type 2 diabetes.

7. Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory:
Human DNA can be harmed by oxidative damage. This damage will in turn drive chronic inflammation and eventually could lead to cancer. Spirulina is a fantastic source of antioxidants which can shield you from oxidative carnage. The active component in Spirulina is called Phycocyanin, which can fight free radicals and inhibit production of inflammatory signalling molecules and provide anti-inflammatory effects.

8. Regulate Cholesterol Levels:
Studies indicate that spirulina can lower triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol.
There are also studies that claim spirulina improves the hemoglobin count in the body thus helps fighting anemia. Kindly note, more studies are being conducted to support these claims with more evidence.

HOW do we consume Spirulina?

Spirulina is available in tablet and powder form.
If you are buying the powder form, you can add it to your smoothie, sprinkle it on your salads and soups, make protein bars and mix it into energy balls.
People also consume spirulina in table form as a supplement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *