The ocean holds many secrets, and one of them can be found right on the shelves of your local health food store. This superfood known as spirulina is a sea vegetable, like chlorella and kelp, and you’ve probably seen it listed in various natural supplements, or perhaps as an ingredient in a green smoothie.
A form of algae, spirulina has a brilliant blue-green hue that results from a pigment known as phycocyanin, the compound primarily responsible for its multitude of health benefits. It contains an exceptionally high antioxidant count that’s beneficial to the body in numerous ways, including fighting off free radical damage that can lead to premature aging and a host of illnesses and disease.
Spirulina’s incredibly powerful nutritional profile means that it’s one of the best things you can consume for better health. It’s no passing fad – in fact, to date, there are some 1,200 peer-reviewed, scientific articles that have shown it just might be the key to turning back the clock and reducing the risk of all sorts of health disorders. Here’s how –
Arsenic and Other Heavy Metal Detoxification
A December 2014 study out of George Washington University found that heavy metals like cadmium may prematurely age cells, and potentially trigger a number of diseases as we age. The researchers noted that high exposure to cadmium was associated with shorter telomeres, something that is known to help stabilize genes. They act as “caps,” and if they’re shortened too much, the cells are weakened which leads to disease, suggesting that exposure to heavy metals can play a role in chronic illnesses like kidney and heart disease.
Chronic arsenic toxicity is a worldwide problem, as the World Health Organization has reported, and the U.S. is one of the nations that are most severely affected. But the issue is more serious in places like Bangladesh, India, and Taiwan where residents consume a high level of arsenic in their drinking water. Research in Bangladesh found that as many as 3% of the population exhibited signs of arsenic poisoning, but after giving affected patients a spirulina extract that was combined with zinc, they experienced a 47% decrease of arsenic in their bodies.
This research points to the fact that spirulina may be ideal for heavy metal detoxification, which can help prevent premature aging and lower the risk of disease. As Spirulina is also jam-packed with chlorophyll, it’s well-known to help remove toxins from the blood while boosting the immune system at the same time.
Supporting Weight Loss
As we age, it seems to get harder and harder to maintain an ideal weight, but nutrient-dense, protein-rich spirulina can help with this too as it helps to decrease fat stores in a number of different ways.
Spirulina is high in fiber, which is essential for staying fuller longer as well as curbing hunger pangs that can lead to junk food binges. Its high protein content means that consuming it will help maintain lean tissue while also contributing to fat burning. That doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want and lounge around on the couch all day, however. You’ll still need to consume a healthy, balanced diet and get regular exercise, but taking a spoonful or so of spirulina each day it will make losing weight or maintaining an ideal weight that much easier.
Is there anyone who can’t use an energy boost? These days so many of us are lacking energy with all of the day-to-day demands placed on us. But when you consider the chemical composition of spirulina, it’s no surprise that this superfood can come to the rescue. Popular TV doc, Dr. Oz, recommends combining spirulina with lime juice to enhance energy. This combination is said to unlock sugar from the body’s cells to boost metabolic energy. He advises stirring in a teaspoon of spirulina powder to 12 ounces of fresh, organic lime juice and then freezing that mixture in ice cube trays for a healthy kick of energy.
Younger Looking Skin
As spirulina contains a high level of vitamin A, vitamin B-12, vitamin E, calcium, iron, and phosphorus, all of which are vital for your skin’s health, consuming it regularly can work wonders for aging skin. It fights those free radicals that can make your skin look tired and even flabby as well as helping to eliminate toxins, which can result in more toned and youthful skin.
Research has found that spirulina is incredibly beneficial for vision as well. In fact, it’s been proven to be effective for treating eye diseases like macular degeneration, diabetic retinal damage, geriatric cataracts and nephritic retinal damage, thanks to a powerful antioxidant called zeaxanthin. A number of studies have revealed that a diet rich in this antioxidant can help prevent the loss of vision, and a report published in The British Journal of Nutrition notes that spirulina is a rich source of zeaxanthin with high bioavailability, which means that it’s highly absorbable in the blood.
Improving Brain Health and Protecting Against Degenerative Diseases
Spirulina has also been shown to help protect cognitive functioning as we age. Taking it regularly can reduce the risk of developing diseases that can severely impact the quality of life as well as shorten it, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Taking a spoonful of spirulina a day is believed to help protect the brain from degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Researchers from Madrid, Spain compared it to foods known to be especially high in antioxidants such as spinach and blueberries in a 2008 study, which are well-known to provide neuroprotective effects due to their ability to lower inflammation and fight off free radical damage. These powerful antioxidants not only protect the brain from degeneration, but they help keep the mind sharp and focused. Some experts believe that a daily dose of spirulina may also help improve productivity and reduce ADHD symptoms too.
Lower blood cholesterol means a reduced risk of heart disease, which is a major cause of death in adults who are middle-aged or older. Spirulina lowers cholesterol levels naturally while boosting the absorption of essential minerals to improve one’s total cholesterol ratio. Research published in The Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology in 2010 found that rabbits fed a high cholesterol diet for four weeks followed by the same diet, but with spirulina added, for the next eight weeks, experienced a reduction in cholesterol by 26% in the those who consumed a diet of 1% spirulina, and 41% in the group that consumed 5% spirulina.
Anyone up for some algae?