May 15, 2020

Exploring the Benefits of Spirulina?

Over the last decade, the world has shifted in an exciting direction with a strong focus on health. Gone are the days of grabbing any old product from the shelf. Today, consumers are increasingly aware of nutrition facts and ingredient lists, and are reaching for products that feature top-notch, high-quality ingredients. Unfortunately, products with questionable fillers, preservatives and synthetics are still ubiquitous among the supplement aisle. Vitamin D from sheep’s wool? You bet. Capsules made from cow skin? We wish we were wrong. 

Personally, we prefer a vitamin that’s a bit more...real. 

If you just started on your health journey, it might take some time to realize that most of these “magic, quick-fix” products fall short when it comes to their supposed health claims. So what’s a health-conscious, vitamin-seeking consumer to do? Turns out, our bodies love the same thing that our taste-buds do: food. Our body metabolizes and absorbs nutrients that come from real food sources more efficiently and effectively than traditional vitamins, simply because we were designed to eat food. And while we all love a delicious slice of cake (or two), the key is eating a plant-forward, balanced diet rich in both variety and color.

That’s right, the color of your food counts, and if you’ve ever eaten a GEM, you might have noticed its distinctive dark-green hue. Meet spirulina, the star of our bites, and the superfood responsible for GEM’s unique green. Loaded with B-complex, protein, antioxidants and more, this superfood can be consumed daily, and its benefits are out of this world...or shall we say under the sea. Semantics aside, it's safe to say we’re big algae fans, so read on to know why we’re in a long-term love affair with spirulina.

What Is Spirulina?

Spirulina is a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria, but is most commonly referred to as blue-green algae. This superfood can grow in extreme conditions that are typically inhospitable to other water-dwelling organisms, and it can even grow in outer space. Algae is a carbon-neutral, eco-efficient crop, meaning it benefits both human health and planetary health. 

As if spirulina isn’t impressive enough, it also contains a number of essential nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin E, and B vitamins, and is loaded with antioxidants, minerals, chlorophyll, and phycocyanobilin. 

Health Benefits

Spirulina is often consumed in  powder form, and it boasts some impressive health benefits...

Boosts the immune system:

Step aside, Emergen-C, there’s a new contender in town! Spirulina contains a compound known as phycocyanin,an antioxidant that helps to fight off anything that could cause damage to your cells. If you feel a cold coming on, spirulina might be able to help boost your immune system. 

May lower blood pressure:

Spirulina increases the production of nitric acid, which is a gas molecule that helps to widen your blood vessels. By doing this, blood can flow more easily, and the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump 

May support healthy weight management:

Spirulina is not only 20 calories per tablespoon, but it is also loaded with nutrients to support healthy weight loss. It also contains l-phenylalanine, which is an essential amino acid linked to appetite suppression

Natural detox:

Spirulina is such a powerful detoxifier that some people even use it as a natural way to filter their water to avoid consuming any mercury, lead, or other harmful toxins. This superfood contains proteins and peptides that are particularly good at binding to toxins and excreting them out of the body. By doing this, the harmful toxins are not absorbed into your bloodstream.

Increases endurance:

Studies show that regular spirulina consumption can help boost endurance due to its ability to widen blood vessels and improve blood flow throughout the body. 

Prevents recurrent yeast infections:

Similarly to its ability to flush toxins, spirulina is capable of flushing candida cells from the body. ! But it doesn’t stop there—not only does this superfood help prevent yeast infections but it can also bring balance to your gut! Did you know that the majority of your immune system cells live within the gut? Spirulina works to regulate yeast, which brings balance to your gut microbiome, and can improve your immune system too. 

Helps fight allergies:

If cat hair, pollen, grass, or other environmental factors are putting your allergies into overdrive, then spirulina is for you. Two grams of spirulina a day will keep you from constantly sneezing

Brighter eyes:

Zeaxanthin is a special pigment to protect your eyes from damage. Spirulina contains 3,750 to 6,000 mcg of this powerful nutrient per serving which helps with age-related ailments such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Spirulina will help your eyes to become clear, bright, and healthy!

Reduces inflammation:

Spirulina is a major source of GLA or Gamma-Linolenic which is a powerful and strong natural anti-inflammatory agent. A study of the effects on this powerful nutrient concluded that spirulina has proven to reduce inflammation for those suffering from arthritis in as little as three!

Promotes healthy skin:

Who doesn’t want soft, luminous, glowing skin? Spirulina is blue-green in color due to a natural substance known as C-phycocyanin. This powerful antioxidant fights off free radicals in your body to prevent damage. Spirulina is also packed with vitamin E, selenium, carotenoids, and phenolic acids which all work to keep your skin bright and healthy.

May aid to control blood sugar:

Did you know that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States? Having high blood sugar can lead to diseases like diabetes. In 2008, a study consisting of 37 people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, found that those assigned to consume spirulina for 12 weeks experienced a significant reduction in blood fat levels. More research needs to be done, but spirulina is a promising alternative to  chemical prescription drugs commonly used today to control blood sugar levels.

It is a good source of plant-based protein:

Like we mentioned a little earlier, spirulina is a great source of protein, especially for those who are vegan.This superfood is between 55% and 70% protein. It can be a great addition to any diet, as is also packed with iron and B12

Might have anti-cancer properties:

Although studies are still fairly new, some evidence suggests that spirulina might have anti-cancer properties. Animal studies have indicated that this powerful microalgae could reduce tumor size and cancer occurrence for cancers like oral cancer. 

It is a powerhouse of nutrients:

Spirulina is packed full of healthy, body-nourishing nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B12, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Studies show that it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods, and has an infinite amount of benefits to better your overall health!

Quality Matters!

Interested in incorporated spirulina in your daily diet? As with any food product, the quality of spirulina consumed is incredibly important, and much of the spirulina on the shelves is full of harmful fillers and heavy metal contaminants. To get the most benefit from spirulina, nutritionists recommend doing your research and purchasing from honest and reputable companies.

This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and contains trusted sources.

Our goal at GEM is to give readers up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics. GEM content is written by experienced health and lifestyle contributors and articles undergo an extensive review process.

All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.