Spirulina has been touted as one of the world’s greatest superfoods, with a whole host of nutritional benefits. So, why should you include spirulina in your diet?
What Spirulina Contains
Spirulina is a truly amazing food in that is one of the most complete food sources to be found anywhere in the world. It contains the following:
- High levels of protein – in fact, it is higher in protein than meat is!
- Amino acids
- High levels of beta carotene
- Vitamin B12
- Gamma Linolenin Acid (GLA)
- Vitamin E
- Antioxidants, including one called phycocyanin that is only found in spirulina
In fact, spirulina contains over 100 nutrients!
Uses for Spirulina
Spirulina can be used for many things, and it is best known for its anti-ageing, energy-boosting, and health-maintaining properties. It is especially useful for vegetarians. This is because vegetarians often have difficulties in getting enough protein, iron, or vitamin B12.
The amino acids that make up protein are vital in the human body as they help with the growth of muscles, help produce enzymes and hormones, and also aid the immune system. Spirulina is an excellent source of protein, and it contains eight of the essential amino acids required by the body as well as ten non essential amino acids which are often not part of a vegetarian diet.
However, the protein in spirulina can benefit all people, not just vegetarians. This is because vegetable protein is water soluble and excess amounts are discharged from the body. In contrast, excess amounts of animal proteins are stored as fat and over time; this fat may impact upon the body’s blood vessels and coronary system.
Spirulina is the richest source of beta carotene in nature and the carotenoids are powerful antioxidants, reducing cell damage within the body. As well as the antioxidants, spirulina is highly concentrated in nutrients and is easily digested, making it one of the best anti-ageing foods. Also, as people grow older, they may eat less or fail to digest their food as well as they used to. Taking spirulina can help these people to build the levels of the healthy bacteria, lactobacillus in the gut, which helps with the absorption of nutrients and also eases disorders such as constipation. Spirulina is also great for helping maintain the body in an alkaline state, countering the effects of acidic foods such as soft drinks, meat, eggs and dairy products.
Who Can Take Spirulina?
Spirulina can be of great benefit to many different groups of people including:
- teenagers in the “growth spurt” phase
- pregnant or nursing mothers
- elderly people
- people with busy daily lives
However, it should be avoided by people that suffer from hyperparathyroidism, who are allergic to seaweed or seafood, or people that currently have a high fever.
How to Take Spirulina
Spirulina can be bought from the chemist, your local health food store or online. However, you should always check the label to ensure that the product is pure and to ensure that it has been produced in a safe growing area. When buying spirulina, it is a good idea to buy no more than six months’ worth at a time. It is ideal to use it all within three months of opening the packet. Keep spirulina away from heat and light.
Always follow the instructions on the bottle when taking spirulina. Take it with cold or warm water, and avoid drinking coffee, soft drinks or alcohol for at least half an hour after taking spirulina in order to avoid destroying the nutrients and enzymes it contains. Try to drink more water through the day as well – an extra 500 millilitres should be sufficient.Originally published on Apr 17, 2008