Spirulina algae is a true superfood for the body but also, and above all, for the brain. A very recent review published in the journal Nutrients by a group of Italian researchers has shown, in fact, that spirulina is able to promote correct development of the neural system and to protect neurons from diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis (Trotta et al , Nutrients, 2022).
Spirulina, an elixir of long life
Already the Aztecs and Maya considered spirulina to be a food source of primary importance. Today, thanks to numerous scientific researches, we know that this blue green alga is a precious source of antioxidants, carotenoids, vitamins, especially of the B group, and minerals such as zinc, magnesium, selenium, potassium, calcium, iron and manganese. These substances give spirulina antidiabetic, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective and antiviral properties, also capable of modulating the immune system. In recent years, many researches have shown also the neuroprotective action of spirulina and we will focus our article of today on this aspect.
Spirulina for neuron development
Studies have shown spirulina's ability to benefit neurons at all ages. Indeed, this alga protects the development of the neuronal system. Even in the case of malnutrition on the part of the mother, the intake of spirulina has shown to improve cognitive function in children and promote proper formation of the neuron system. Spirulina is considered a supplement that can also be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but it is always better to ask your doctor before starting any treatment.
Spirulina against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
But the benefits of spirulina algae are also important as we age. In particular, with aging it is physiological that the levels of inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain increase, since the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant defense systems decrease. The problem is that this increases the risk of damage in the brain that can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Well, it has been observed that the intake of spirulina is able to increase the levels of glutathione in the brain. Glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidants in our body and can protect us from neurodegeneration. Not only that, spirulina has reduced the levels of malondialdehyde, which is an indicator of excessive lipid peroxidation and which occurs in high quantities in the case of Alzheimer's disease.
In addition to this, spirulina counteracted inflammation, which is considered the fuse of neurodegeneration, and improved memory. Also noteworthy is spirulina's ability to bind to iron that builds up in the brain. It is believed, in fact, that iron accumulations in some brain areas can lower the body's antioxidant defenses and pave the way for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, although the process remains poorly understood. Spirulina, by sequestering iron, helps prevent damage.
Spirulina and multiple sclerosis
Spirulina has also been shown to counteract multiple sclerosis. In fact, a substance contained in spirulina, phycocyanin, protects axons from the loss of myelin. Axons are the extensions of neurons responsible for the transmission of the nerve impulse. In multiple sclerosis there is a gradual loss of the myelin lining up to complete damage of the nerve cell.