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Spirulina has long been used to enhance energy and endurance, as well as for many other health benefits such as improved immunity, stress regulation and cardiovascular health.
The proclaimed enemy of many a child, greens are one of the most important parts of any well-rounded and nutrient-rich diet. Unfortunately, it is difficult to ingest adequate amounts of these nutrient-rich greens for several reasons. Salads, now ubiquitous, are often not much more than a bit of cellulose (fibre) and some water, making them a pleasant vehicle for the delicious toppings, but offering very little in terms of the important alkaline-forming vitamins and minerals. Vegetables, once canned, frozen, or cooked also lose a great percentage of their nutritional value.
Help is at hand, however. Spirulina and chlorella are forms of algae which provide an extremely potent and well-balanced nutrient profile. Spirulina is easily absorbed in tablet form which also alleviates the strong taste that comes with most powdered or liquified green food supplements.
WHAT IS SPIRULINA?
Spirulina is a highly nutritious form of algae used by many cultures as a source of protein and other nutrients. The United Nations World Food Conference has declared spirulina to be the best food for tomorrow. This is not surprising. Spirulina has six times more protein than eggs (it is 60% protein), 10 times more beta-carotene than carrots, and more iron than spinach. It has all the essential amino acids and is packed with enzymes and minerals. The enzymes are relatively more active than in cooked foods in which most enzymes are destroyed. It contains numerous vitamins and essential fatty acids plus chlorophyll, iron and pigments.
Studies show that spirulina not only has the benefits of its nutritional profile, without which immune cells cannot function, but the plant also appears to have a balancing effect on important cells and cytokines, i.e. it functions as an adaptogen. Spirulina is generally classified as a functional food and adaptogen.
In essence an adaptogen helps the body deal with physical and emotional stress by improving normal healthy function. This improvement of function is the result of helping the body have better access to energy and to eliminate toxic by-products of metabolism. Improvement is also due to anabolic effects (promoting tissue growth by increasing the metabolic processes involved in protein synthesis), and better use of oxygen, which enhances the body’s regulatory functions.
I was interested to find a study comparing spirulina with ginseng, one of the better known adaptogens.1 Results showed that spirulina has similar effects against acute stress induced in rats. Another study from the Ukraine showed that children suffering from tuberculosis and taking spirulina together with anti-tuberculosis treatment experienced a shortening of the acute phase symptoms together with a decrease in side effects of the drugs.2
None of these findings are remarkable in view of the considerable nutritional content of spirulina, together with its known immune-stimulating properties, its protective effects on the liver, and its ability to remove the burden of toxins. Spirulina has antioxidant, anticancer and antiviral properties together with cholesterol-lowering effects. These benefits all contribute to an improvement in health and lessening of ill health.
Any food product can cause allergies, but incidence is remarkably low with spirulina. The quality of the product used is important as algae also mop up toxins from the environment in which they are grown. In other words take care in choosing a product and buy only from reputable companies. It’s worth checking the label, or asking the supplier for certification that the product is safe and particularly free from aluminium – sometimes used to harvest the algae.
Spirulina improves exercise performance
Research published in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine shows that spirulina may be the perfect nutrient for athletes and validates its positive effects on energy and endurance.
Handful of frozen strawberries
Handful of spinach
1 tsp spirulina powder
1 tsp xylitol
250 ml almond milk
(Try to use organic ingredients wherever possible) Method
Thoroughly wash produce. Add the sliced banana to a glass and fill to the rim with frozen strawberries and spinach. Top up with almond milk. Transfer it all to a blender and add the sweetner and the spirulina powder. Blend until smooth. Use between a teaspoon of spirulina for a small glass and up to a tablespoon of spirulina for a larger glass. Start with a smaller amount if you are not used to the taste.
1. Nachankar RS, et al. Prevention of cold stress induced adrenal hypertrophy by Spirulina platensis. Acta Hort (ISHS) 2005; 680: 101-7.
2. Kostromina VP, et al. Evaluation of the efficacy of a plant adaptogen (spirulina) in the pathogenic therapy of primary tuberculosis in children. Lik Sprava 2003; 5-6: 102-5 (Pubmed PMID 14618819).
1. Belay A. The potential application of spirulina as a nutritional and therapeutic supplement in health management. Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association. 2002; 5: 27-48.
2. Torres-Duran PV, et al. Studies on the preventive effects of Spirulina maxima on the fatty liver development induced by carbon tetrachloride, in the rat. Journal of Ethnopharmacol 1999; 64: 141-7.
She is editor, publisher and founding member of Natural Medicine and Dreamcatcher Publications. She has a passion for knowledge and strives to share the work of the brightest minds and biggest hearts in healing. For Daleen natural medicine is more than taking a pill for an ill philosophy. Natural medicine also encompasses nutrition, lifestyle, spiritual health, exercise, and emotional and mental well-being. She is the mother of three children.
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