Spirulina is increasingly gaining popularity not only among vegetarians and vegans but also among people who support a healthy lifestyle and care about their health. The growing demand for spirulina causes additional interest in this product and makes you figure out whether there are health benefits of spirulina and how to use it competently to maintain the body in excellent shape.
What is Spirulina
Spirulina is a unique alga of its kind, which in its composition contains a large number of nutrients:
- vegetable protein;
- vitamins A, groups B, C, D, E;
- potassium, and other minerals.
One of the active components of spirulina is also phycocyanin – this substance is a powerful immunomodulator. The protein content in spirulina reaches 68 percent – in terms of amino acid composition, this algae is ahead of a large number of plant proteins.
History of Spirulina
Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a free-floating filamentous cyanobacterium that has a long history of recorded use. There is evidence that Mayan and Aztec civilizations widely consumed dried spirulina cakes in pre-Columbian times, and for centuries, communities in Central Africa collected spirulina from the waters of Lake Chad for use as food.
Such alga is produced in Thailand, Chile, China, and India. Naturally growing spirulina is a rarity today. There are only two outbreaks in the world:
- Chad – a lake located in Africa;
- Chenghai – a lake in China.
This is the most valuable, safe, and expensive product.
Processing of the product is done delicately with the exception of overdrying, which allows you to save the maximum amount of active components and a pleasant taste in spirulina.
Spirulina received significant attention for its 60-70% protein content and high concentrations of phenolic acids, tocopherols, essential fatty acids, and B vitamins. Spirulina extracts have multiple therapeutic effects, including cholesterol reduction, immunomodulation, anticancer and antiviral effects.
Spirulina Health Benefits
Due to a large number of advantages, spirulina has a beneficial effect on the body and helps to cope with a number of problems:
- significantly increases the immune forces and accelerates recovery after illness;
- improves the appearance of the scalp and hair, prevents the appearance of acne and blackheads;
- makes the body more resilient and alert;
- removes toxins from the body, preventing intestinal pathology;
- the ration is saturated with a complex of vitamins, micro, and macro elements;
- metabolism, sugar concentration, and cholesterol levels are normalized.
Spirulina blue-green algae may have virus inhibitory properties. This is evidenced by an animal study published by Taiwanese virologists from Chang Gung University in Scientific Reports. Of course, extrapolating animal studies to humans is risky. However, this suggests, at a minimum, the potential for further study in humans.
In vitro study of the interaction of spirulina with the virus
In vitro, researchers exposed cells to various influenza viruses. Cells were also treated with various concentrations of an aqueous extract of spirulina. Researchers then determined the extent to which cells and viruses can form plaques. Viruses can glue cells together and form aggregates or plaques. The more plaques, the more viruses there are. The figure below shows that spirulina has reduced plaque size.
Researchers suspect that components of spirulina, such as phycocyanobilin, have inhibited the replication of viruses in cells.
Health benefits of spirulina and animal research
Then researchers introduced the deadly flu virus into the nose of laboratory mice. Spirulina extract was given to some mice 6 hours before exposure and a few days after it.
The doses used by the researchers varied. If the mice were human, they would receive 80-400 milligrams of extract daily. Based on the fact that the Taiwanese write about the extract, it comes down to 400-2000 milligrams of dried spirulina. The higher the dose of spirulina extract, the higher the survival rate of mice. Scientists sought to identify the main mechanisms involved in this process and found that spirulina extract disrupts the hemagglutination of viral particles in red blood cells, thereby inhibiting the infection process.
Results: spirulina suppresses the flu virus
“The cold water extract of spirulina […] significantly suppresses viral infection and replication in a wide range of influenza viruses,” the researchers write. “Survival was also improved in influenza-infected mice treated with spirulina extract.“
“With a long history of food consumption, a high tolerated dose and a wide range of influenza activity, spirulina extract can serve not only as a viable therapy for the treatment of influenza but also as potential prevention of the disease.“
Well-tolerated Spirulina extract inhibits influenza virus replication and reduces virus-induced mortality. Yi-Hsiang Chen, Gi-Kung Chang, Shu-Ming Kuo, Sheng-Yu Huang, I-Chen Hu, Yu-Lun Lo & Shin-Ru Shih. Sci Rep. 2016;6: 24253
Guide on Spirulina
Contraindications to the use of spirulina
The logical question will be whether there are contraindications to the use of spirulina: is its use allowed during pregnancy and lactation. Interestingly, it is completely safe for young mothers and newborns. Moreover, the product has a beneficial effect on the blood – chlorophyll supplies the body with additional minerals and vitamins. This alga is also effective in alleviating the symptoms of toxicosis.
Of the possible cases of refusal of the drug, hypersensitivity is distinguished, and with pathologies of the kidneys, the intake of spirulina must be approved by the attending physician.
Do the health benefits of spirulina spread on controlling overweight?
To be honest, in order to fight extra pounds, it is necessary, first of all, to develop the right diet, as well as pay attention to physical activity. With the damage of the metabolic rate, spirulina will help normalize metabolic processes, stimulating the burning of body fat. In addition, seaweed is effective in reducing appetite.
To achieve your goals when losing weight, the course of taking spirulina should be about 2-3 months.
Choosing the Right Spirulina
Spirulina developers are advised to start taking the asset with a low dosage. If the amount of 5 grams is considered the recommended daily norm, then at the initial stage, the dose should be halved and allowed to get used to the new product. An unusual reaction to spirulina is normal – you need to reduce the dosage and go through the adaptation process.
Spirulina is available in two forms: tablets and powder.
This format of the product will be comfortable for those who do not like the taste of the product.
Spirulina in powder format can be a component of green smoothies and other smoothies for breakfast, and can also be diluted with water and taken as a separate product.
Spirulina powder can be used as an ingredient in cosmetic masks for the skin of the face – they will help to cope with black spots, improve color, and increase the firmness and elasticity of the skin.
Algae is combined with olive oil, honey, decoctions of herbs, kefir, and oatmeal. To achieve the desired result, the course of the use of spirulina in cosmetics should be from 2 weeks.
The optimal daily dosage is one teaspoon or 5 grams. This amount of spirulina must be filled with water, insisted for about 10 minutes, after which you can use the product.
Great options for combining spirulina, which will help hide the specific taste of seaweed, are combinations with berries and fruits: grapes, apples, bananas, mangoes. A tandem with tomatoes and herbs is also possible.
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