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Spirulina, benefits, properties and warnings of this superfood

June 14, 2023
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Spirulina, benefits, properties and warnings of this superfood

Spirulina provides vitamins, minerals, amino acids and precious antioxidants, helps keep blood sugar and cholesterol under control, protects the lungs from pollution and asthma damage, reduces the body's allergic response, strengthens the body, counteracts mental fatigue and protects the brain, microbiota, vision and bones

Health is largely determined by what we eat, we have now become aware of it. And it is thanks to this awareness that the industry is adapting to the different habits of consumers and is opting for a progressive reduction of chemical additives, at the same time shifting attention to foods or supplements considered healthy. An example is represented by algae, in particular spirulina. Today we will talk about the properties of spirulina by referring to the most recent studies in the field. And what emerges is that spirulina has rightfully earned the title of superfood, but let's try to understand better.

Spirulina, nutrients and properties

Spirulina, scientific name Arthrospira platensis, is a blue algae that grows in salty, alkaline and warm water lakes. This alga is easily digestible as its cell wall lacks cellulose.

In addition to this curiosity, spirulina algae is characterized by a high intake of nutrients. In particular, this seaweed brings important unsaturated fatty acids, all 9 essential amino acids, namely those that the body cannot produce on its own but needs to be introduced with food, chlorophyll, carotenoids, such as beta carotene, astaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin, and phenolic compounds. Not only that, spirulina is also characterized by an interesting content of vitamins, such as vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, A, E and K, folic acid and minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese and selenium [1].

Spirulina for brain health

Spirulina is precious for brain health, since it is able to stimulate cerebral blood circulation and counteract damage to the blood vessels that supply the brain. Not only that, spirulina algae improves cognitive function and motor skills, thanks to its antioxidant action and ability to restore neurotransmitters, which can be reduced in case of neurodegeneration [2].

In addition to this, studies have observed the neuroprotective action of spirulina even in the case of multiple sclerosis, since this alga helps reduce neuroinflammation [1]. Finally, spirulina counteracts mental fatigue [3].

Spirulina against cellular degeneration

Spirulina algae helps to counteract cellular degeneration. The anti-tumor action of spirulina has been proven above all with regard to the lungs, since the alga was found to be able to force apoptosis, namely the programmed death, of diseased lung cells [1].

Spirulina, cholesterol and blood sugar

Spirulina algae is an ally against diabetes due to its hypoglycemic effect. This action is due to the presence of chromium in spirulina. In fact, chromium binds to a peptide, called Apo LMWCr, which in turn binds to insulin receptors with a final result of reducing blood sugar [1].

In addition to this action, spirulina has been shown to help keep triglyceride and bad cholesterol values under control, while increasing the values of good HDL cholesterol [4].

Spirulina and bones

Spirulina strengthens bones through several processes. First, it increases vitamin D in the blood. Vitamin D is vital for skeletal health, as it helps calcium fix in bones, thus keeping bones strong.

Then, spirulina counteracts hyperglycemia which in turn activates a chain reaction that causes the weakening of the bone structure [1].

Spirulina for eye health

Spirulina is a precious source of zeaxanthin and lutein. Zeaxanthin and lutein are antioxidant substances of the carotenoid family, the first present above all in the central part of the macula while the second in the peripheral part of the macula. These substances are able to protect the macula, which is the central part of the retina, from damage from blue light and free radicals, reducing the risk of cataracts and age-related maculopathy [5].

Spirulina for lung health

Spirulina has an important protective action on the lungs. In the previous paragraphs, we have already had the opportunity to see that the intake of this seaweed helps to counteract cellular degeneration in the lungs. Other research has also shown that spirulina is able to protect the lungs from free radical damage that can be released in following exposure to cigarette smoke and environmental pollutants, but also by conditions such as asthma [6]. In addition, spirulina is also an ally when it comes to making the lungs, and the entire body, less susceptible to the action of allergens. Indeed, spirulina is anti-inflammatory and inhibits the release of histamine, which is a substance that, if in excess, can lead to the development of an asthma crisis [7].

Spirulina for the intestinal microbiota

Studies have demonstrated the prebiotic action of spirulina, capable of supporting and stimulating the proliferation of good intestinal bacteria with benefits for the whole organism [1]. In fact, a healthy microbiota is able to counteract chronic inflammation, support the immune system and protect organs such as the liver, brain and lungs.

Spirulina for sportsmen

Spirulina algae can be a valid supplement for sportsmen, or in any case for those who love an active life. In fact, studies have observed that spirulina intake can help counteract fatigue and free radical damage resulting from intense physical activity. Not only that, spirulina also seems to accelerate muscle recovery processes following sessions of physical activity [8].

Spirulina, how to take it and warnings

Spirulina algae is available on the market in the form of powder, flakes and capsules. Spirulina consumption is generally considered safe [1]. Only make sure of the quality of the spirulina you buy, that it comes from controlled cultivation areas and that it is pure, as contamination by heavy metals and cyanotoxins, that are substances that can be toxic to the liver, is possible.

As for the dosage, the advice is to follow the instructions on the package, which often offer low-dose capsules to be taken several times a day. In any case, especially if it is the first time you take spirulina, start with the minimum dosage, one capsule, and then increase as the body gets used to it.

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