‍12 Remarkable Health Benefits of Spirulina: A Comprehensive Guide

Spirulina, a blue-green algae, has gained the spotlight in recent years as a popular superfood with numerous health benefits. From heart health and gut health to weight loss and muscle strength, the potential advantages of spirulina are vast. However, it's essential to remember that spirulina alone is not a magic pill, but rather, a valuable component of a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the top 10 evidence-based health benefits of spirulina, drawing from various sources and expert opinions. Let's explore the wonders of this incredible superfood.

How Much Spirulina Should I Take?

The first thing we should note is whilst it makes it into a lot of supplements (especially greens powders) spirulina needs to typically be in quite large amounts to be beneficial. Usually between 2 and 11 grams depending on which benefits that you’re looking for. Unfortunately many brands include a fraction of this and then claim all every single one of spirulina’s benefit whether or not the amount in the product contains enough to do anything at all.

What Are The Most Well Known Spirulina Benefits

1. Heart Health

Consuming Spirulina For Cholesterol Management

Spirulina supplementation has been shown to have a favorable impact on cardiac measures such as total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides. A 2018 study published in the Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy journal found that consuming 1 to 19 grams of spirulina per day for two to 48 weeks significantly improved these markers. [1]

Furthermore, spirulina's cardiovascular benefits are attributed to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Blue-green algae, like spirulina, have been found effective in improving blood lipid profiles, preventing inflammation and oxidative stress, and protecting against cardiovascular disease. [2]

Reduced Blood Pressure

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects nearly half of U.S. adults and heightens the risk of heart disease and stroke. Spirulina has been recognized as a promising non-pharmacological approach to treating hypertension, helping to lower blood pressure levels. [3] This reduction is thought to be driven by an increased production of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that helps blood vessels relax and dilate. [4] As a result early studies suggest spirulina supplements look like an interesting supplemental treatment for blood pressure issues. 

2. Gut Health

Spirulina has shown promise in promoting gut health. A 2017 study on older mice revealed that spirulina helped preserve gut function during aging and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal microbial community or simply put, making sure you have enough healthy gut bacteria. [5] Spirulina's prebiotic properties also provide nourishment for good bacteria in the gut. [6]  Furthermore, spirulina contains essential fatty acids, such as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which have anti-inflammatory properties. These fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation in the body, which is associated with many chronic diseases, including heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. However, more research is needed to fully spirulina supplements impact on gut health. 

3. Weight Loss

Spirulina can contribute to significant reductions in body fat percentage and waist circumference. A 2016 study found that overweight individuals who regularly consumed spirulina for three months experienced improvements in their body mass index (BMI) [7] By boosting metabolism and providing a sense of increased energy, spirulina may also aid in burning more calories each day, contributing to weight loss, although the evidence to support spirulina for weight loss is mixed. [8] 

4. Muscle Strength and Endurance

The exercise and fitness benefits of spirulina include enhanced muscle strength, endurance, and performance. A study found that men who took a 6-gram spirulina supplement daily for four weeks had longer periods of exercise without fatigue compared to those who did not. [9] In addition, spirulina supplementation has been shown to improve oxygen uptake during arm cycling exercises, suggesting that it could act as an ergogenic aid to enhance athletic performance. [10]

5. Anemia Support

Anemia, characterized by a reduction in hemoglobin or red blood cells in the blood, is fairly common in older adults and leads to prolonged feelings of weakness and fatigue. Spirulina supplementation has been shown to increase the hemoglobin content of red blood cells and improve immune function in older individuals with a history of anemia. [11] Some animal studies have also found that spirulina could improve hemoglobin levels and alleviate symptoms of anemia. [12]

6. Anti-Cancer Properties

Spirulina's potential anti-cancer properties have been attributed to its active compound, phycocyanin, which contains strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [13] Research in animals indicates that spirulina can reduce cancer occurrence and tumor size. [14] Particularly, spirulina's effects on oral cancer have been well-studied, showing promising results in the management of oral submucous fibrosis, a type of precancerous lesion in the mouth. [15]

7. Blood Sugar Control

Spirulina has demonstrated benefits in the prevention and management of diabetes. A 2018 review study found that supplementing with spirulina significantly lowered fasting blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. [16] Spirulina contains around 4 grams of protein per tablespoon, contributing to improved blood sugar control and diabetes management. [17] However, it's crucial not to rely solely on spirulina for diabetes control and to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your routine.

8. Allergy Protection

Spirulina supplementation has been linked to protection against allergic reactions, as it can help stop the release of histamines, which cause allergy symptoms. A study found that people with allergic rhinitis who consumed 2 grams of spirulina per day experienced significant improvements in symptoms like nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion, and itching [18].

9. Metabolism Support

Spirulina may boost a person's metabolism, providing a sense of increased energy and helping burn more calories each day, which can contribute to weight loss. [8] This makes spirulina a valuable addition to a balanced diet and exercise regimen.

10. Mental Health Support

Spirulina may also play a role in supporting mental health and treating mood disorders. The superfood contains tryptophan, an amino acid that increases serotonin levels in the brain, potentially helping prevent and control mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, eating and anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia. [19]

11. Spirulina Immune System Support

One of the most significant spirulina benefits is its ability to enhance the immune system. Studies have shown that spirulina increases production of white blood cells, and can boost the activity of natural killer cells, as well as increase the production of antibodies. [20] This helps to strengthen the body's defenses against infections, viruses, and bacteria.

12. Spirulina's antioxidant properties and its role in reducing oxidative stress

Among spirulina platensis many health benefits, the blue green algae is known for its potent antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells and contribute to various diseases. Spirulina contains a variety of antioxidants, including beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and phycocyanin. Beta-carotene and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that are found in many fruits and vegetables, while phycocyanin is a unique antioxidant that is specific to spirulina. Studies have shown that spirulina's antioxidant properties can help reduce oxidative stress in the body. [21] Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. This can lead to cell damage, inflammation, and a variety of diseases. One study found that spirulina supplementation reduced oxidative stress in smokers. [22] Another study showed that spirulina supplementation improved antioxidant status in elderly individuals.

Spirulina Benefits Conclusion

Spirulina is an incredibly nutritious and versatile superfood with a myriad of potential health benefits. From heart health and gut health to weight loss and muscle strength, spirulina can be a valuable addition to a balanced and healthy lifestyle. However, it's essential to remember that spirulina is not a magic pill, but rather one component of a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. It's also worth noting that many health benefits of spirulina supplements can only be obtained through relatively large doses of the blue green algae and to check that any supplements or greens powders containing spirulina are not under dosed.

 Consult with a healthcare professional before adding spirulina to your routine, and enjoy the numerous benefits this remarkable superfood has to offer.


References

1 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29387129/

2 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165475/

3 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8468496/

4 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31772708/

5 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5429330/

6 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136577/

7 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27069489/

8 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7061888/

9 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21979699/

10 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7674321/

11 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4012879/.

12 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30664135/.

13 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7938138/.

14 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34606108/.

15 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6585230/.

16 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8212345/

17 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12639401/

18 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3916373

19 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748737/

20 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136577/

21 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27259333/

22 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6170079/



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