Originally published June 2 2008
Spirulina: A Budget Friendly Super Food and Answer to Food Scarcity
by Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) Spirulina just may be nature's most perfect food. These tiny blue green spiral coils harvest the energy of the sun and turn it into a treasure chest of bio-available nutrients. Designed by nature 3.6 billion years ago, these blue green algae were the generators of the oxygen found in our atmosphere which allowed all higher life forms to evolve. The single cells contained everything needed by life to evolve into the rich diversity we find on earth today.
Spirulina is a great wholefood, budget friendly alternative to isolated vitamins and minerals. It contains the most remarkable concentration of nutrients known in any food, plant, grain, or herb. It is 60% highly digestible vegetable protein, and contains the highest concentration of beta carotene, vitamin B-12, iron and trace minerals, and the rare essential fatty acid GLA so missing in people who weren't breast fed. It also contains popular glyconutrients in the form of polysaccharides. It has a balanced spectrum of amino acids, cleansing chlorophyll, and the blue pigment, phycocyanin.
Spirulina has a long history of safe usage. The Aztecs consumed spirulina in Mexico over five centuries ago. Indigenous people consume spirulina today. For the past 20 years, millions of people around the world have used spirulina as a food supplement to their diets. The United Nations and the World Health Organization recommend spirulina as safe and nutritious for children. Spirulina can be cultivated in a pure culture, away from contaminants.
Spirulina offers incredible potential for a world in the midst of a food crisis. It offers more nutrition per acre than any other food, and delivers 20 times more protein per acre than soybeans, and 200 times more protein per acre than beef. If we make the decision to incorporate spirulina into our diets, we may view ourselves as part of the food crisis solution.
Health benefits of spirulina
Spirulina works in many ways to balance and strengthen our health. Its rich array of nutrients provides a strong foundation so we are less vulnerable to invading bacteria and viruses. It supplies essential minerals that may be missing from conventional foods grown in depleted soils. Spirulina grows in water containing ionic trace minerals that are absorbed and chelated by the organism, creating a colloidal form easily absorbed by our bodies.
The prime directive of our bodies is to support our immune system. When our immune system is stressed it draws down metabolic energy. People with immune system imbalances may feel chronic fatigue and low energy. Spirulina can help balance and stabilize the immune system, freeing up metabolic energy for vitality, healing and assimilation of nutrients. Its polysaccharides enhance cellular communication processes and the ability to read and repair DNA. People taking spirulina usually feel greatly energized.
Spirulina also stimulates the immune system by enhancing the production of antibodies and cytokines. Under the influence of spirulina, macrophages, T and B cells, are activated. Spirulina sulfolipids have been proven effective against HIV, herpes virus, cytomegalovirus, and influenza virus. Spirulina contributes to the growth and preservation of the resident intestinal microflora, especially lactic acid bacilli and bifidobacteria, and to a decreased level of Candida albicans.
Spirulina and the immune system
Several recent studies have demonstrated the immune enhancing and cancer preventative properties of spirulina. The February, 2008 Food and Chemical Toxicity journal reports a study investigating the antimutagenic effects of Spirulina on rat genes. Loss of genetic integrity was greatly reduced in the spirulina fed groups, and semen quality was improved.
Phytotherapy Research, 2007, reports a study in which spirulina was shown to decrease the number of massed cells induced by lead in the ovaries of rats.
International Immunopharmacology, reports researchers finding that a polysaccharide fraction called Immulina, from spirulina, enhanced immune response in mice through enhanced production of IgA, interleukin-6, and interferon-gamma.
The 2005 Current Pharmacological Biotechnology journal reports a study finding that spirulina increases immunity through increased phagocytic activity of macrophages, stimulates production of antibodies and cytokines, increases accumulation of NK cells into tissue, and activates and mobilizes T and B cells. Carcinogenesis was inhibited due to the antioxidant properties that protect and reduce toxicity of the liver, kidney and testes.
Biochemical Biophysical Research Community Journal, 2003, reports a finding that phycocyanin, one of the major biliproteins of spirulina with antioxidant and scavenging properties, inhibits inflammation and cancer through Cox-2 inhibition, resulting in apoptosis in cancer cells.
Spirulina's increased antioxidant protection reduces cancer risks
The free radical molecules generated by pollution, poor diet choices, stress and injury damage the cells of our bodies. Antioxidant nutrients fight these free radicals and stimulate our immune system to guard against cancer and other diseases. They also modulate the aging process. Spirulina contains a wealth of antioxidant vitamins C and E, and beta carotene, as well as the antioxidant minerals selenium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron and chromium. Research has shown spirulina to protect vitamin C from potency loss.
The Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety Journal, April, 2008 reports a study finding that spirulina plays a role in reducing the toxic effect of cadmium, through its antioxidant properties that seem to mediate a protective effect.
The April, 2008 Phytotherapy Research finds that spirulina preparations were useful for reducing oxidative stress and the generation of free radicals in the course of inflammatory processes.
Food Chemical Toxicology, December, 2007, reports a study finding that spirulina provides protection against mercuric chloride induced oxidative stress.
Spirulina enhances the cardiovascular system
Scientists around the world have been confirming spirulina's cholesterol lowering benefits and its ability to lower blood pressure. Studies with men in Japan and India showed that several grams of spirulina daily can reduce serum LDL and raise HDL. Human studies in Germany and India found a weight reduction effect along with cholesterol reduction.
A 2007 study from Lipids Health Digest reports a study involving 36 human subjects ingesting 4.5 grams of spirulina daily for 6 weeks. With no other modifications in their diets or lifestyles during the duration of the experiment, a hypolipidemic effect was shown. Triacylglycerols and LDL cholesterol concentrations were directly lowered. Total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol were indirectly lowered. Reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure was also reported.
Spirulina improves digestive and gastrointestinal health
Adding spirulina to your diet results in almost immediate change in regularity and elimination. Research has confirmed that spirulina promotes bowel and digestion function. It suppresses bacteria like e-coli, and stimulates beneficial flora which is a foundation of good health. Healthy flora increase absorption of nutrients from the foods we eat, and protect against infection.
Studies with malnourished children in Mexico, India, Rwanda and Zaire have shown spirulina to be beneficial when intestines are unable to absorb nutrients effectively. Spirulina has been shown to benefit AIDS patients in whom malabsorption associated with opportunistic infections is problematic.
Cleansing and detoxifying with spirulina
Researchers in Japan have found spirulina to significantly reduce kidney toxicity caused by heavy metals including mercury, and pharmaceutical drugs. Other researchers found that rats consuming spirulina eliminated the dangerous chemical dioxin.
In l994, a Russian patent was awarded for spirulina as a medical food to reduce allergic reactions from radiation sickness.
A 2008 study from European Archives of Otorhinolaryngology found that spirulina consumption significantly improved the symptoms and physical findings of patients with allergic rhinitis compared to a placebo, including nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching. Researchers also concluded that spirulina is clinically effective on allergic rhinitis when compared to placebo.
Spirulina comes in tablets or powdered form. It's a very cost efficient way to add a huge nutrient boost to your day, running about $25 to $30 for a pound of powder ordered online. It is reported to be highly effective at doses from 5 to 10 grams per day, although health guru Mike Adams says you are not taking enough until what comes out your other end is green.
Spirulina has a very mild taste that blends well with almost everything. In a smoothie, it adds richness and thickness.
Super Smoothie Recipes:
In your blender, blend 1 tablespoon or more of spirulina with 2 cups of fresh fruit. For extra nuttiness add almonds or sunflower seeds. For more flavors, add vanilla or lime.
Power Lunch Smoothie
In your blender, blend 1 tablespoon or more of spirulina with 1 cup of coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and ½ cup of raspberries. Add raw cacao until you reach the level of taste that pleases.
Juice enough mixed veggies to create 12 to 16 ounces of juice. In a shaker add 1 tablespoon or more of spirulina. Shake well. Or you can use your blender.
Don't forget to wash off your mouth before you go out!
Balch, Phyllis A. and James F., Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Avery, 2002.
Spirulina Health Library (www.spirulina.com)
"Spirulina" by Ray Sahelian M.D. (www.raysahelian.com)
About the authorBarbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
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