Spirulina is a natural product whose benefits are known all over the world. It is used for health, beauty and well-being. Let’s understand in more detail, what is it and how to take this supplement correctly?
What is spirulina and why is it useful?
Spirulina is a single-celled blue-green algae from the genus Cyanobacteria (genus Arthrospira). Its name can be explained by its unusual shape: when viewed under a microscope, it looks like a green spiral.
Spirulina is known as a superfood. It is a valuable cocktail of proteins, vitamins and minerals. One gram of spirulina has the same concentration of nutrients as a kilo of vegetables. It contains 100 times more vitamin B than beef, 100 times more iron than apple and 25 times more vitamin A than carrot.
The rich composition provides the following health benefits of spirulina:
- It is an antioxidant, helps fight free radicals, remove salts of heavy metals and radionuclides from the body. Because of this, the algae is known as an oncoprotector.
- Spirulina is also a cytoprotector. It ensures the normal functioning of cells and promotes their self-renewal.
- The product increases immunity and strengthens resistance to bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.
- Iron in its composition provides prevention of anemia, atherosclerosis and blood clots.
- Algae has a positive effect on the digestive system, fights erosions, heartburn, irritation of organs.
- Spirulina is known for its rejuvenating properties. It preserves the youthfulness of the skin, gives beauty to the hair and prevents early graying, supports the strength of the nails.
- The supplement increases the effectiveness of weight loss diets. Being low in calories, it suppresses appetite.
- The product contains a lot of protein. It gives the body energy, promotes physical activity and accelerates the recovery processes of the body.
History of occurrence and origin of spirulina
Spirulina exists on the planet for hundreds of millions of years. The Aztecs were the first to use it (the first references to the fact that people grew spirulina plantations were found in the Spanish colonizers). In Africa it has been used as a food for many centuries. But the really wide popularity of the product received only a few decades ago, when research was conducted on its properties and composition.
Unlike other organisms, spirulina has not evolved or changed in millions of years. This is due to its unique properties and ability to exist in different environments without changing.
Although spirulina looks like an algae, it is actually a living organism. It is found in both oceans and lakes. Under natural conditions, it is usually found in lakes Qinghai and Chad.
Taste and release forms
Spirulina has a taste characteristic of algae. It is not too pleasant, so it is often combined with other products.
There are two main forms of spirulina:
- Tablets. The advantage of this format is the absence of an unpleasant taste. But during their production, some of the valuable properties of spirulina are lost.
- Powder. It can be added to smoothies or food. If you are happy with the taste of spirulina, you can simply dilute the powder with water and take it as a separate product. In this form, spirulina is often used for cosmetic purposes.
Spirulina and its applications
Spirulina is used for health, body maintenance, for weight loss. The optimal dosage is 5 grams, or a teaspoon, per day. To mask the specific taste of the algae, you can combine it with fruits, berries, vegetables.
The supplement can be used when losing weight. It will help reduce the amount eaten, saturate the body with protein, vitamins and minerals. It is important to combine the product with a proper diet and physical activity.
Spirulina is often recommended to pregnant women. Folic acid in its composition contributes to the proper formation of the fetus. Expectant mothers are recommended to take 2-4 grams of supplement per day. During pregnancy and lactation, it is important to consult a specialist beforehand.
Harmful effects of spirulina
Negative properties of the product are possible when abusing it and ignoring contraindications. So, when exceeding the daily dosage, it is possible to have rashes and itching of the skin, yellowing of the palms. This is a consequence of ingestion of large amounts of beta-carotene.
Side effects of taking spirulina can be abdominal pain, stool disorders, light dizziness, as well as increased thirst. These are associated with active body renewal and usually go away quickly.
Also, there is evidence that unscrupulous producers grow spirulina in poor quality water, so it absorbs harmful substances (heavy metals and various impurities, fertilizers). Therefore, it is recommended to pay attention to the manufacturer and the origin of raw materials.
Spirulina should be taken with caution by those who suffer from kidney and liver diseases, as well as arterial hypertension. Restrictions are connected with the property of the algae to eliminate sand and small stones, which can lead to undesirable consequences.
Because of its increased activity, spirulina is not recommended for those undergoing chemotherapy. It removes toxins from the body and reduces the concentration of medications in the blood. But for the prevention of cancer, as well as in its complex treatment, the supplement can be very useful. Often doctors recommend it both before and after surgery.
What doctors say about spirulina
Doctors confirm the many beneficial properties of spirulina. It is often recommended by nutritionists. Cosmetologists recommend adding it to masks, and veterinarians recommend adding it to pet food. This is due to the fact that the additive improves the absorption of vitamins and other valuable components.
Nevertheless, experts do not advise to consider the remedy a cure for all diseases and ignore the contraindications. Do not exceed the daily rate, otherwise the side effects will not be avoided.
Spirulina and chlorella
These two algae are known for their benefits and rich composition. Spirulina contains more protein, while chlorella is more rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and polyunsaturated acids. To get the most benefits, you can combine the two supplements. You can take them separately or mix the powders together.
Peculiarities of taking and the best recipes
Most experts recommend taking spirulina in the morning. Tablets are usually taken three times a day 30-40 minutes before a meal. When taken before meals, the supplement helps to reduce appetite and speed up metabolism. Spirulina can be added to various drinks, porridges, salads, first and second courses. But it is important not to subject it to heat treatment, otherwise all the useful properties are lost.
Some useful recipes with spirulina.
Green Banana Smoothie
A simple and at the same time very useful recipe, the basis of which will be a banana. You can add more water or natural yogurt while whipping to adjust the thickness of the drink.
- 1 very ripe banana;
- 1 tablespoon of spirulina;
- 1 tablespoon of topinambour syrup;
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a blender and whisk. Your vitamin smoothie is ready.
A delicious and beautiful smoothie. Unlike other recipes with spirulina, it is not green, but a rich cherry color.
- 30 g strawberries;
- 20 g of blueberries;
- 20 g of blackberries;
- 200 ml of orange juice;
- 5 g spirulina.
Place the berries in a blender, pour the orange juice over them and add the spirulina powder. Blend until smooth, then pour into a glass. You can garnish with mint.
Avocado and Cucumber Snack
An uncomplicated, refreshing appetizer that can be used on a daily diet menu or made for a holiday table.
- 1-2 cucumbers;
- 1 avocado;
- half a tomato;
- half a teaspoon of spirulina;
- pinch of salt;
- cherry tomatoes for decoration.
Cut the cucumber into slices and remove the cores. Avocado cut in half, take out the pulp and mash it with a fork. Put the avocado, cucumber core, spirulina, diced tomato and salt in a bowl. You can drizzle with lime juice. Thoroughly mix until smooth. A tablespoon of such stuffing should be placed in each piece of cucumber and garnished with half a cherry tomato.
Spirulina is a really useful supplement with a unique composition. If you take it in the recommended doses, taking into account the precautions, the effect will only be positive.