Spirulina The Super food 17 Best Ways to Health
Spirulina is a blue-green algae and known as one of the oldest life forms on earth. Spirulina is the biomass of cyanobacteria (cyanobacteria) that humans and animals can eat. Aztecs first used this as an endurance enhancer and as a superfood.
Why Spirulina is called as Super Food?
It is an all-in-one source of nutrition, including protein levels comparable to that of eggs. It also contains a high amount of vitamins and minerals superior to many foods as e.g. soybeans. Spirulina platensis has a long history as dietary supplement. Another aspect of versatility of plantesis is recognized as an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory substance.
United Nations World Food Conference in 1974 declared Spirulina as the best food for the future. The reason is that it is high in proteins, containing all essential amino acids, high in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and many other vitamins and minerals and antioxidants.
Also termed as Blue algae, this is a useful source of nutrition. It contains a powerful plant-based protein called Phycocyanin. Modern medicine uses Phycocyanin to facilitate the selective destruction of cancer cells by radiation with little or no damage to the surrounding cells or tissue.
Studies have shown that this may have antioxidant, pain relief, anti-inflammatory and brain protection properties. This antioxidant and other nutrients in Spirulina have multiple health benefits:
Anti-cancer properties Many of the antioxidants in Spirulina have anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Chronic inflammation can cause cancer and other diseases. Phycocyanin (a plant pigment that gives a blue-green color) has been found to reduce inflammation in the body and prevent tumor growth and kill cancer cells.
The cancer treatment potential of immune enhancing proteins is being studied. Heart health research has found that the protein in Superfood can reduce the body’s absorption of cholesterol, thereby reducing cholesterol levels. This helps keep the arteries open and reduces stress on the heart, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Benefits of Spirulina
The algae convert carbon dioxide into organic substances and produce oxygen during their growth in saline water, thereby allowing productions in marshlands.
In many Asin and african countries algae is collected from fresh water, dried and eaten, as a major source of protein.
Superfood has been used as a complementary dietary ingredient of feed for fish, shrimp and poultry, and increasingly as a protein and vitamin supplement to aquafeeds.
The US FDA has registered Spirulina as “GRAS” (Generally Recognized as Safe) that liberates its use as food. Scientific literature lists the effects of Spirulina on human health as:
- Anti-anemic (highly available iron)
- Cholesterol reduction
The green powder is an extremely flexible food item to work with. It can be used as an extra healthy ingredient for soups, broths, salads, pastas, and even yogurt. It can even be added directly onto meals, or mixed and blended into a wide array of drinks.Thus it provides suitability to be incorporated into the meals and thus we can get all the health benefits of spirulina.
How to consume and how much to consume ?
- Spirulina is available in powder, capsule or tablet form
- A standard daily dose of spirulina is 1-3 grams
- Doses upto 10 grams daily have been used effectively
- As a powder, you can add it to water, smoothies, on salads or in soups
- You can even add it your fruits and juices
Who should avoid eating Spirulina ?
- It is not for pregnant and lactating women
- When consumed in large quantity, it may cause headaches, allergic reactions and insomnia in some cases
- People suffering from any illness, allergies to sea food or seaweed should consuly a physician before consuming
- Avoid it if you have a thyroid condition or autoimmune disorder, kidney stones
- Quality is very critical when it comes to spirulina
- Because it is essentially an algae, it can be contaminated by toxins in the sea just like any other seafood
Powerful anti oxidant High nutrient, low calorie food, helps you lose weight Boosts metabolism Supports mental health Lowers bad triglyceride levels Helps reduce blood pressure
How Long Has It Been Around?
Biologically speaking, it is one of the oldest inhabitants of the planet.
Appearing 3.6 billion years ago, it provided an evolutionary bridge between bacteria and green plants. This water plant has renewed itself for billions of years and has nourished many cultures throughout history, in Africa, in the Middle East and in the Americas.
Many countries are looking for alternative methods for spirulina supply, due to covid restrictions in import, and fluctuations in demand due to stockpiling.
Also our planet faces a growing food crisis. According to the United Nations, more than 800 million people are regularly undernourished. By 2050, an additional 2 to 3 billion new guests will join the planetary dinner table.
There is a continous shortage of healthy food supply in many countries, and the world’s population is increasing fast, adding to the food woes.
In 2003, the WHO created IIMSAM, an intergovernmental institution promoting the use of Spirulina micro-algae against malnutrition. Since then, the UN and NGOs such as the Red Cross have been developing food relief missions based on this food.
Spirulina compensates for possible deficiencies, vegetarians, environmentalists, and sportspeople who opt for a less meaty diet and turn to other protein sources.
How does it taste?
Spirulina taste like the sea, or like a mouthful of lake water. It is green and earthy with a slightly sulfuric edge. While it can certainly become an acquired, pleasant taste, most people initially wrinkle their noses. So in its raw form ,the idea of adding Spirulina to your daily meal plan is less than a thrilling prospect. The taste is undetectable, when used in smoothies.
Extracts of Spirulina have been reported to have multiple therapeutic effects, including
- cholesterol reduction,
- anti-cancer, and anti-viral effects.
- immunomodulation, antioxidant,
- Inhibits influenza virus replication and reduces virus-induced mortality
- weight loss, increased energy.
- play a role in treating mood disorders.
Spirulina vs existing food produce
One major advantage is that spirulina requires considerably less fresh waster for its production as compared to other protien sources like vegetables and meat. Additionally, marine microalgae can be cultivated without freshwater and arable land further maximizing the resources required for additional terrestrial food crops production .
process of making powder:
THe dried powder can last for months if preserved properly in a cool and dry place. The fresh algae is cleaned and dried in moderate temperature, so that the nutrient content is not lost.
Then this dried plants like substances can be powdered easily using a grinding machine.
It is low cost and easy to produce, has long shelf life and easy to transport. Importantly, quality standards are prescribed and labs are there to test.
Spirulina Cultivation in India
Spirulina cultivation is a low investment and high-income farming, produce can be sold as high as Rs.1200/kg. One example of a successful business initiative revolving around Spirulina production can be seen in Madurai, India. Here 15 women run a production facility of 40 Spirulina tanks. They work to produce 150kg of Spirulina per month.
Technology Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship Information Service (TIME IS) has a detailed project profile on Spirulina which include production cost, production training etc
TIME IS is an extraordinary project in collaboration with Indian Government, National Science and Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science & Technology, and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) exploring solutions.
Downsides Or limitations So far!
Microalgae is under-exploited crop due to its capital-intensive nature. Initial farm set up may require good capital. Moreover the maintenance of production area is a continuous process and should be carried throughout the year.
The culture has to be protected from any foreign contamination of unwanted viruses and fungi. They can turn the whole process into a waste and incur huge losses to the producer.
Cooking destroys the vitamins and nutrients in Spirulina – so cannot be combined with all foods
Does not combat iodine or folic acid deficiency
There is limited research in the field to prove that nutrients in algae are bio-accessible,(they can be released from the food in our intestines), or bio-available (meaning our bodies will absorb them).
Being algae, there are equal chances to be contaminated by toxins in the sea just like any other seafood or farming, if not adequately controlled.
There is no such scientific evidence to back up that this algae can prevent , treat, or cure many conditions.
Spirulina is also being promoted to prevent, treat, or cure a number of conditions, including high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, depression, viral hepatitis, and malnutrition. Moreover, it’s said to boost the immune system and improve kidney and liver function. The problem is, there’s little or no scientific evidence to back up such claims.
It is often claimed that spirulina contains vitamin B12, but this is false. It has pseudovitamin B12, which may not be substituted for vitamin B12
Health benefits associated with blue algae is one of the major factors driving the demand.
The richness of Spirulina, combined with its minimal resource requirements, makes it a economical and sustainable nutrition solution for humans and animals.
With its high protein and minerals content, spirulina supplements have become a star on social media, where pills, capsules and powder are being sold and photos of spirulina-based smoothies shared… A hashtag #spirulina has even trending rapidly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Spirulina the same as blue green algae?
Spirulina platensis is a type of cyanobacteria — often referred to as blue–green algae. There are lot of healthy effects of consuming the blue green algae, provided it is not contaminated.
Are there any side effects of taking Spirulina?
Consult your doctor before starting supplements. Some health problems have been reported in people taking spirulina. These effects include autoimmune skin damage, liver toxicity, and anaphylactic shock. Most people who suffered serious side effects after consuming these, were also on another medication for a serious health condition; which may have reacted with the drugs and diseases. But no scientific evidence is provided yet.
If you are taking medication – especially for autoimmune disease, blood pressure, or cholesterol – talk to your doctor before supplementing with spirulina.
The side effects could have also been due to supplement contamination, but not yet established.
Can Spirulina the answer to man’s quest to combat food production crisis, immunity related issues and other health issues,promote healthy diet ?
Considered as an alternative to animal-and-plant-based protein, could this algae transform our health and the planet?
Should we all be eating it? and several other questions are in mind..!
Is Algae cultivation an evolutionary step in Agriculture?
The agriculture is getting expensive and prone to adverse climatic conditions. The algae due to its easy sustainable nature can grow in the farm houses, which are not affected by harsh climatic conditions.
Moreover the fresh water requirement for algae to grow is much less than that required for other vegs and meat to grow.
Could this be new vegan delight ?
There has been a debate on this often, as certain forms of algae are considered as living organisms. Contradictory to this, is the claim that being consumed in the powder form, it cannot be termed as Non_vegan food types.
My personal stand is that vegans can easily consume this as a plant based supplement.