Hello everybody! Hope you’re all well? Today, I thought we might cast an eye over ‘spirulina.’ Many of you may have heard of this so-called ‘super-food’ and the benefits it offers. This post should give a few pointers as to its main advantages, especially how it can benefit fat and weight loss!
Unlike many other health-aids available online, the subject of this blog is 100% natural. It isn’t synthesised beyond recognition, and it isn’t massively expensive.
So what actually is spirulina? A type of blue-green algae, it grows in both tropical and subtropical waters (and freshwater lakes).
The name ‘spirulina’ – latin for ‘spiral’ due to its appearance as well as its original taxonomy- is now recognised for purely historical reasons (the plant has since been recategorised to anthrospira).
Its various benefits have been used for years, with 8th century Chad and 16th century Aztecs both known to take advantage of this natural resource. The production of modern formats began in the ’60s: easy to use supplements now come in tablet, powder or capsule formats.
People take spirulina for different reasons. A natural antihistamine, scientific studies have shown that patients with nasal allergies reported reduced symptoms having ingested a daily dose. The increased levels of cytokines (immune system molecules which alert the body into fighting unknown pathogens) triggered by spirulina help to counter everything from hay fever to dust allergies.
In many circumstances, the immune-boosting properties can extend to limiting the effects of diseases like Crohns and Multiple Sclerosis. As a complementary medicine, spirulina has also been recommended in the treatment of cancer and HIV/AIDs.
But can spirulina help with fat and weight loss? And can it be taken to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle?
For starters it’s extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars.
It’s also absolutely PACKED full of protein – up to 75% of its dry weight. To put this into context, traditional sources like meats (about 27% protein) and soy (about 35%) pale in comparison! As has been pointed out on this site before, increased protein intake helps to bust belly fat.
The advantage over meat doesn’t end there. Many meats have a high calorie content, which can be a disaster when trying to lose weight! Spirulina, on the other hand, supplies only 3.9 calories for every gram of protein ingested. Beef, for instance, supplies more than ten times this figure.
Spirulina isn’t just stuffed full of protein – a glance over its vitamins reads like an abacus! A, C, D and K are all contained in the algae. It also contains vitamin B-complex (all of the B ‘family’) most commonly associated with helping weight-loss. B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), niacin, B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, B12 (cobalamine), biotin and pantothenic acid all help the body create new blood cells, boost energy levels and, importantly, the body’s metabolism.
The increase in metabolism is complemented by spirulina’s ability to enhance exercise performance. In another study, results showed lowered levels of post-exercise fatigue compared to those who didn’t use the plant.
Its high nutrient content and low GI index are equally impressive.
Many of you may be aware of the GI (glycemic index). Significantly – foods with a low glycemic index are slower to break down into sugars. This helps the user to avoid short-term hunger spikes (and cut down on processed snacks). Coupled with having a low GI content, spirulina is especially rich in GLA (Gama Linolenic Acid), which also helps to regulate blood sugar levels and limit cravings.
For added piece of mind, Spirulina has been shown to regulate blood pressure. Importantly, it also helps the body produce High Density Lipoproteins – so called ‘good cholesterol’. HDPs help to rid the body of unwanted Low Density Lipoproteins: in other words, it unclogs your tissues and arteries of unwanted cholesterol!
So far so good, then – it genuinely appears to live up to its ‘super-food’ label.
There are no known major side effects to taking spirulina. Bare in mind though that it is not recommended for those with extreme seafood allergies. Also, due to the increase in metabolism it creates, in rare instances it can trigger a mild fever.
As with all supplements, it needs to be taken as part of a holistic process. Read up as much as you can and use the knowledge to help you achieve your goals. Why not remind yourself of the ten simple slimming strategies to inspire you?
Luke Metcalfe is content writer and UX assistant at Chemist Direct.