Diet and Nutrition

Spirulina

Written by
Dr. Lochana
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sumiya Sulthana

Published on May 12, 2020 and last reviewed on May 22, 2020   -  5 min read

Abstract

Abstract

Spirulina is a popular food supplement that has been used for several decades. Read the article and know more about the benefits.

Spirulina

What Is Spirulina?

Spirulina is a blue-green alga. It is consumed by both animals and humans. There are two different species of spirulina. It is used as fodder in aquaculture and poultry.

What Are the Characteristics of Spirulina?

  • It lives at a pH of about 8.5 and at a temperature of 30- degrees celsius.

  • They are autotrophic organisms. They make their own food, and they do not need any other source.

  • The cells of the algae do not have tough and fibrous walls.

In Which Form Is Spirulina Supplied As?

Spirulina is supplied as powder and tablet form. It is available in pharmacies, hospitals, and other health centers. Spirulina can be added to the diet in different forms.

  1. Add it to milk or water, and it changes to a green color drink.

  2. Consume them by sprinkling it on soups and salads.

  3. Mix a small spoon along with the fruits and vegetables.

  4. Add it to health drinks.

What Are the Benefits of Spirulina?

  • Spirulina is an ideal dye for sweets, chocolate, candies, and ice-creams.

  • It has anti-viral, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties.

  • It has immuno-modulating properties and the ability to modify the gene according to different immune reactions.

  • It can fight obesity and diabetes.

  • It has hypocholesterolemic and hypoglycemic abilities.

  • It contains major bioactive components.

  • It is an excellent choice when formulating diets.

  • Due to its rich nutritional value, it can fight malnutrition.

  • It absorbs sunlight and produces nutrients in the cell which converts the carbon dioxide gas into oxygen.

  • It is useful for removing the toxins from the blood.

  • It purifies the liver.

  • It is used for brewing beer.

  • It is used in shampoos and conditioners as it can increase hair growth.

What Is the Nutritional Value of Spirulina?

Dried parts of spirulina have a rich content of carbohydrates, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals, proteins, carotenoids, vitamin A, B6, B12, and fat. It has higher levels of iron.

One single spoon of dried spirulina has the following contents:

  • 4 g of protein.

  • 1.6 g of carbohydrate.

  • 0.5 g of fat.

  • 8 mg of phosphorus and calcium.

  • 2 mg of iron.

  • 14 mg of magnesium.

  • 73 mg of sodium.

  • 1 mg of vitamin C.

  • 95 mg of potassium.

How Does It Help in Losing Weight?

People are known to lose weight if they reduce the food intake along with few exercises. Spirulina is a low-calorie food item that contains a lot of nutrition in it. A study was conducted in 2016, which showed that spirulina has better quality effects in weight loss. Also, people who were obese were told to consume spirulina continuously for three months. All the people involved in this study had a drastic improvement in their body mass index.

Spirulina reduces the appetite and elevates your energy level, as it is rich in protein and fiber and it gives satiety with a regular size meal. So you feel full after eating a limited amount of food and do not overeat.

What Does It Do to Your Gut?

Spirulina has a structure that can be easily digested. Since it has delicate walls, the consumed spirulina is easily digested. Spirulina has a good impact on the intestine. It improves the functioning of the immune system. Prebiotics are the parts of undigested food. It facilitates the growth of some bacteria thereby improving gut health. When it is eaten along with fiber-rich foods, it has many more beneficial effects. During the aging process, more useful bacteria can be preserved in the gut.

What Are the Effects on Diabetes?

Spirulina helps in the management of diabetes. High fasting blood sugar is a common aspect seen in people with type 1 and types 2 diabetes. In 2017, a study was conducted in mice. The results of this study showed significant results. When spirulina was injected into the mice, the levels of blood sugar were reduced. There were also higher levels of insulin and enhanced liver enzyme functions.

Does It Boost Your Metabolism?

Spirulina does an excellent job of enhancing a person’s body metabolism. Having a high metabolic function can increase your stamina and makes you feel energetic and fresh all the time. Both the anabolism and catabolism rate is increased, so there will be a huge possibility of weight loss.

What Does Spirulina Have to Do With Allergies?

If a person has allergies to dust, pollen grains, and pets, allergic reactions might be severe. This is called allergic rhinitis. It is known to relieve nasal congestion. It can also reduce itching, sneezing, and runny nose.

Does It Have an Influence on Cholesterol Levels and Blood Pressure?

Spirulina can reduce the total cholesterol level. It is known to have a positive impact on lipid levels. Higher levels of cholesterol are known to be associated with heart disease. It is known to reduce the low-density lipids and increase the level of high-density lipids.

Prevents Heart Disease:

It is true that the rate of heart disease is increasing all throughout the world. High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are both associated with heart disease. As spirulina has the capacity to reduce both of these risk factors, it is having the ability to prevent heart disease.

Anti-Cancer Properties:

Spirulina has anti-cancer properties. It can reduce the size of the tumor. It can make precancerous and cancerous lesions disappear.

Anti-Toxic Properties:

Spirulina had anti-toxicity. It could counteract with the pollutants in the body. Drinking water may not be clean all the time and there are chances of pollution. It is used in the treatment of pollutant poisoning.

Mental Health Support:

Spirulina is a good source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid component that helps in the production of serotonin. Serotonin plays a vital role in providing a lot of euphorias. It is known to provide pleasure. When a person is in depression and anxiety, they may have low levels of serotonin. By consuming spirulina supplements, healthy levels of serotonin can be maintained in the body.

What Are the Contraindications?

  • It is not advised for pregnant women and children as the influence of spirulina on them is not known.

  • Patients with autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis should not take spirulina.

  • People who are allergic to seafood and seaweed should not consume spirulina.

  • If you are having kidney disorders, then this is not for you.

What Are the Disadvantages of Spirulina?

Though there are a lot of advantages, there are a few negative aspects too. It can cause headaches, muscle pain along with weakness, sweating, and insomnia.

Make sure you control your meal portions, because unless you are in control of your eating habits, weight loss would be almost impossible, no matter how costly your gadgets and supplements are. However, if you are serious and ready to change things, spirulina can help and actually contribute to weight loss.

Call a doctor online to know more about the spirulina and the ideal way of consumption.

Last reviewed at:
22 May 2020  -  5 min read

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