Spirulina: what is it for, benefits and contraindications

Spirulina, what is it for?  Benefits, uses and contraindications

The spirulina It is a seaweed with a blue green color of fresh and salt water, rich in nutrients and for this reason it has become very popular in recent years. So much so that today it is considered a super food to all effects. In fact, unlike many other algae, which are taken in the form of food, here the consumption is mainly via supplements.

In fact, spirulina can be found on the market in loose powder, to be added to smoothies and fruit juices, or in tablets, with concentrated extract and possible addition of other elements. In some cases it is also possible to find it in flakes, or you can buy bread and pasta to which this herb has been added.

But let’s understand better what is spirulina, what are its beneficial effects on health and any contraindications. But also to understand when and how it is best to take it and in what dosages. The correct daily amounts keep you safer from possible side effects.

Spirulina: what it is and what it is used for

Spirulina is familiarly considered by all to be an alga, which is not wrong, but it is not entirely accurate. In fact it would be more correct to say that theArthrospira platensis, its official name, is a cyanobacteria, therefore not a green alga but a blue alga (the first contains chloroplasts, the second does not), which lives mainly in freshwater basins with an alkaline pH.

But there are also artificial crops in salt water, as some varieties of Spirulina seem to be very adaptable to healthy growth in sea water. In recent years, as we have already mentioned, his fame has grown exponentially, becoming one of the natural remedies most common to treat mainly anemia and iron deficiencies.

Legend has it that the Aztec peoples already consumed it as a health elixir, but its popularity began to grow for about ten years now. In detail, when one NASA study elected it as a health food for spacecraft crews, also very easy to grow even in space.

A 7-gram spoonful of dried spirulina powder, with only 20Kcal and less than 2g of carbohydrates, contains 4g of protein and only 1g of fat. In addition, it boasts 11% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin B1 e Ferro, 21% of the RDI for Copper and 15% of the RDI for Vitamin B2.

B2, or Riboflavin, is one of the most important B vitamins for human health, as it is involved in many biological processes in our body. The deficiency of this element can cause, among other things, a slowdown in the processes of growth and assimilation of food, as well as causing dermatosis.

What are the benefits of spirulina?

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We wrote it and we reiterate it, the nutrients present in spirulina are what makes this blue algae count in the list of super foods. In addition to the B vitamins mentioned above, its importance lies in the high protein content, so much so that it is often compared to eggs. Plus, it provides all the essential amino acids the body needs.

But in addition to being an important vegetable protein source, able to compensate for the deficiencies of restrictive diets in this sense, such as others property does spirulina boast?

It has an antioxidant action

Spirulina is a precious source of antioxidants and its main active component is phycocyanin, which gives it its emerald color. Phycocyanin helps fight free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body. The seaweed also contains beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.

Supports the cardiovascular system

Studies have shown that regular spirulina consumption can lower bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels. But it would also be effective in reducing blood pressure.

Reduces the symptoms of allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is inflammation of the sinuses, triggered by dust or environmental allergens, such as pollen. Spirulina, according to some medical research, would be able to reduce symptoms, such as nasal congestion and sneezing.

Improve blood sugar control

From tests done on animals, spirulina powder has been shown to be effective for glycemic control, with substantial reductions in glycosylated hemoglobin. The effects on men are still to be evaluated, but some studies would confirm the hypoglycemic action also on human patients.

Counteracts iron deficiency

The high iron content of spirulina makes it an excellent supplement in case of deficiencies of this element. Science discusses the effective bioavailability of vegetable iron, but natural medicine suggests the consumption of this alga also for the treatment of anemia, especially in the elderly.

Helps in detox regimes

The chlorophyll contained in spirulina helps detoxify the body from toxins and heavy metals, especially in combination with chlorella and zinc. It is no coincidence that it is often used in natural chelating therapies.

Improve gut health

Spirulina is a great ally for the health of our intestine, as it has been shown to be useful in improving the action of good bacteria. Which also means better nutrient absorption, faster digestion and also a stronger immune system.

Does spirulina really make you lose weight?

The effects that spirulina has on deserve a separate parenthesis fitness, so much so that many use it for fast weight loss. But the effects of its consumption must not suggest a miraculous remedy to get rid of the extra pounds.

There are many medical studies that confirm a reduction in BMI, or body mass index, in obese and heavily overweight subjects. In these cases, the slimming action would be attributed to an increase in metabolism and to a decreased sense of appetite, instead increasing long-term satiety.

The restraint of appetite is due to the phenylalanine content in this alga, which stimulates the production of cholecystochina, a hormone that sends the satiety signal to the brain. This is why, unlike other cases, to lose weight with spirulina it is important to take it two to three times a day after meals.

On the market we can find it in tablets, but the version in powder allows us to mix it with water or other unsweetened drink and take it in adequate quantities. As mentioned, after discovering why spirulina makes you lose weight, we must also remember that alone it can do nothing for effective weight loss.

Diet and regular exercise are the most effective combination to get rid of excess pounds and refine the figure in health. There spirulina however, it can lend a hand in this process.

Spirulina: the possible contraindications

What is spirulina for?
Source: Pixabay

Spirulina, whether in the common variety (Spirulina platensis) or alternatives, such as Spirulina maxima and Spirulina fusiformis, is generally considered to be very safe. But that doesn’t mean it can’t have side effects, especially in incorrect dosages. In addition, people who suffer from certain diseases should avoid its consumption.

In detail, spirulina can be contaminated with toxins, especially as regards the wild one, which can grow in uncontrolled water basins. Inside them you can find toxins and heavy metals, which the blue alga can absorb and, consequently, release in our body in case of intake.

There have been cases of poisoning from spirulina supplements that contained a substance called microcistina, which in high doses can damage the liver. For these reasons it is always essential to buy certified organic spirulina, from serious and safe retailers.

But spirulina could also worsen some health conditions, such as in those with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. On the one hand, this alga has been shown to be effective in improving the immune system, but by strengthening NK cells, or natural killer cells, in people who have autoimmune diseases symptoms can be exacerbated.

Spirulina also performs anticoagulant action, which means it should be avoided by anyone taking blood thinners or suffering from bleeding. Last but not least, some people may also be allergic to spirulina. The signs can be nausea, insomnia and headache, up to more severe reactions.

How much spirulina to take per day and how to take it

Generally the amount of spirulina that is considered safe goes 3 to 5 grams per day, intended in the form of free powder. Studies show that up to 10 grams per day should avoid the risk of overdose. But if we have purchased tablets, just follow the dosage indicated on the package to avoid the risk of making a mistake.

If we have chosen to take spirulina to make up for one iron deficiency, the powder is mixed with a citrus juice. In this way, given the vitamin C content of oranges and lemons, we can improve the absorption of this mineral: instead, we avoid consuming it next to tea or coffee, which can inhibit the assimilation of this element.

Dust can also be addition to smoothies and centrifuged fruit and vegetables, or even mixed with soups and doughs of bread and pasta. It should be remembered, however, that the vitamins inside are thermolabile, so with cooking they tend to lose their effectiveness.

Consumption before or after meals, in general, it does not improve or worsen the effects of spirulina supplements. But, as mentioned, if we are taking seaweed to lose weight, it is preferable to consume it after breakfast, lunch or dinner to improve the anti-hunger effect.

The flavor of spirulina it is not very pleasant, it must be said, which is why consumption in drinks that mitigate the earthy and savory taste is a good solution. Of course, the problem does not arise if capsules and tablets are used, which limit both bad tastes and dust deposits on the walls and bottom of the glass.

Spirulina is in fact very fine and tends to stick if not mixed well, a detail to be memorized if we do not want blue-green spots on crystals and dishes.


Source: GreenStyle by www.greenstyle.it.

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