Ingredient Spotlight: Spirulina
The term “superfoods” has been in the lexicon for well over a decade.
While there is no formalized definition of “superfood” (and for that matter there is no such thing as a “superfood”, it’s mostly a catchy marketing term), the collective thinking is that a food is generally considered super if it contains a high amount of bioactive compounds, such as antioxidants or polyphenols, that confer some sort of benefit to humans.
Examples of popular “superfoods” over the years include the likes of goji berry, eggs, blueberries, and kale.
Today we focus on one food that stands at the top of the superfood hierarchy -- spirulina.
What is spirulina and why is it considered a “superfood”?
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that gained notoriety after it was used by NASA astronauts as a dietary supplement during space missions. It has been included in the human diet for centuries, with some reports describing its use dating back to the Aztec civilization.
Spirulina is high in protein (up to 70%), and it also contains a host of important vitamins and minerals, including B12, vitamin A, and iron.
The potent algae is also rich in phenolic acids, tocopherols and γ-linolenic acid (GLA) -- an antiinflammatory omega-6 fatty acid.
For those concerned about plant foods and GI distress, spirulina does not contain cellulose cell walls and thus can be easily digested.
Benefits of Spirulina
Supports Energy Production
Spirulina supplementation has been found to increase healthy lactobacillus in the intestine, boosting production of Vitamin B6, which helps release energy.
High in Antioxidants
Oxidative stress and reactive oxygen species can damage cells and lead to chronic inflammation, as well as a number of diseases.
Spirulina is rich in antioxidants, the primary one being phycocyanin, which gives spirulina its vibrant blue-green color.
Research indicates some impressive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of phycocyanin, as it can fight free radicals and inhibit production of inflammatory signaling molecules.
Supports Immune Function
Spirulina can modulate immune functions and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the release of histamine by mast cells.
Molecular Structure of Histamine
Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that spirulina may be evidence that it can be effective for the symptoms of allergic rhinitis (i.e. hay fever).
Supports Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Spirulina has been found to lower total cholesterol, LDL (“bad)” cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
In fact, one study found that subjects consuming 1 gram of spirulina per day lowered LDL cholesterol by 10.1% and triglycerides by 16.3%!
Spirulina supplementation has also been found to decrease lipid peroxidation.
Boost Stamina & Fatigue Resistance
Oxidative stress is a known contributor to muscle fatigue.
Due to its high antioxidant capacity, spirulina can help combat exercise-induced oxidative stress and therefore boost endurance.
Two small studies find that spirulina supplementation can boost exercise performance, increase fat oxidation, and raise concentrations of glutathione (the body’s “master” antioxidant).[6,7]
The Best Spirulina Supplement
PhytoActivMax delivers 1,000mg of organic spirulina per serving along with greens, reds, and a host of potent plants to support total body health, wellness, and performance.
PhytoActivMax isn’t just another “superfood” greens formula. It is the most advanced, scientifically-formulated total body health supplement on the market, supporting:
- Natural Energy
- Liver health
- Cardiovascular health
- Gut Health
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- Karkos PD, Leong SC, Karkos CD, Sivaji N, Assimakopoulos DA. Spirulina in clinical practice: evidence-based human applications. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:531053. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nen058. Epub 2010 Oct 19. PMID: 18955364; PMCID: PMC3136577.
- Kapoor R, Huang YS. Gamma linolenic acid: an antiinflammatory omega-6 fatty acid. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2006 Dec;7(6):531-4. doi: 10.2174/138920106779116874. PMID: 17168669.
- Shih CM, Cheng SN, Wong CS, Kuo YL, Chou TC. Antiinflammatory and antihyperalgesic activity of C-phycocyanin. Anesth Analg. 2009 Apr;108(4):1303-10. doi: 10.1213/ane.0b013e318193e919. PMID: 19299804.
- Sayin I, Cingi C, Oghan F, Baykal B, Ulusoy S. Complementary therapies in allergic rhinitis. ISRN Allergy. 2013 Nov 13;2013:938751. doi: 10.1155/2013/938751. PMID: 24324897; PMCID: PMC3845706.
- Mazokopakis EE, Starakis IK, Papadomanolaki MG, Mavroeidi NG, Ganotakis ES. The hypolipidaemic effects of Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) supplementation in a Cretan population: a prospective study. J Sci Food Agric. 2014 Feb;94(3):432-7. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6261. Epub 2013 Jul 10. PMID: 23754631.
- Lu HK, Hsieh CC, Hsu JJ, Yang YK, Chou HN. Preventive effects of Spirulina platensis on skeletal muscle damage under exercise-induced oxidative stress. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Sep;98(2):220-6. doi: 10.1007/s00421-006-0263-0. Epub 2006 Aug 30. PMID: 16944194.
- Kalafati M, Jamurtas AZ, Nikolaidis MG, Paschalis V, Theodorou AA, Sakellariou GK, Koutedakis Y, Kouretas D. Ergogenic and antioxidant effects of spirulina supplementation in humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jan;42(1):142-51. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181ac7a45. PMID: 20010119.
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