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Spirulina: Superfood Or Total Scam?

Updated on June 2, 2017
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In her lifestyle articles, Michelle will break down the tips, trends, and methods that contribute to health and beauty.

What Is Spirulina?

What is it about Spirulina that has tongues wagging lately? Is it just a trend, or is it something we should all be taking daily in order to attain better health?

"The miracle of the sea" - or Spirulina - is a blue-green microalgae that grows on the bottom of oceans, as well as salty, subtropical lakes.

But the one thing about Spirulina that really brings interest up to the surface for us humans is the suggestion that it can boost energy, help to prevent illnesses such as cancer, and the potential to be a sustainable food source in the future to aid world hunger.

There is no disputing the high nutritional content of Spirulina. Dried Spirulina contains 50%-70% protein, and spirulina itself is considered a complete protein.

Spirulina
Spirulina | Source

The scientific community has mostly only been able to evaluate the effects of Spirulina in animals and in test tubes, so the full impact Spirulina has on the human body is still very subjective.

In other words, it really depends on individual experience regarding the health benefits of Spirulina. There is not enough scientific evidence to back up the complete health benefits for humans - yet.

But there is more...

Spirulina contains nutrients called phytonutrients, which have been proven to reduce the amount of sensitivity in humans to toxins, thus reducing allergic reactions. In 1994, 5 grams of Spirulina were given to 270 children in Chernobyl, Russia, who had been exposed to radiation and were sickened.

The children took the dose of Spirulina for 45 days and their allergic reactions to the radiation they had been exposed to decreased by 50%.

So, there is some proof that Spirulina actually has very substantial benefits to destroying toxins in the body.

Despite any naysayers, millions of people consume Spirulina as a daily supplement in pill or powder form and swear by the effect it has on their overall energy level and health.

Notably, the natives who were harvesting the Spirulina in the waters of Lake Chad appeared to have have very long lifespans, coinciding with exceptional health.

The Legend Of Spirulina

Historically, there is evidence that the Aztecs used Spirulina as a food source in 16th century Mexico. In 1940, evidence was found by a French scientist that Spirulina was being harvested at Lake Chad, in Africa.

Notably, the natives who were harvesting the Spirulina in the waters of Lake Chad appeared to have had very long life spans, coinciding with exceptional health.

It wasn't until the 1970s that any real interest shone a light down on Spirulina. As soon as more people became aware of the potential health benefits it could provide, interest in this blue-green algae increased.

A French company became the first to start harvesting and commercializing Spirulina in the 1970s worldwide, for human consumption - which brings us to today.

Spirulina in it's natural habitat
Spirulina in it's natural habitat | Source
Spirulina can be taken by pill or powder form, blended up into a shake if so desired.
Spirulina can be taken by pill or powder form, blended up into a shake if so desired. | Source

The market for vitamins, supplements, and protein powders is a thriving industry in today's world. Spirulina is one of the most sought after of the bunch simply because of the buzz surrounding what it can potentially do for the human body.

Spirulina provides all the essential amino acids humans need, as well as a terrific amount of iron, which is vital for those who don't eat meat and need an iron source, such as vegans or vegetarians. Spirulina also contains beta carotene ten times more concentrated than found in carrots. Beta-carotene is what fortifies vision.

Vitamins, A, K, and B complex also make up the nutrients in Spirulina, as well as calcium, manganese, potassium, copper, zinc, and chromium. Spirulina is acknowledged as being the most nutritionally complete of all the food supplements, which is the main reason it's become so popular in the health and supplement world.

Many companies work hard to make Spirulina that's in powder form taste better, and most people actually prefer to take it daily in the form of a capsule due to the peculiar aftertaste. Spirulina is sold at most health food chains, some grocery stores, and of course, the online sales of health supplements such as Spirulina are booming.

Spirulina contains something called Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is a compound found in breast milk, which helps in sustaining healthier babies and making food easier to digest.

An example of Spirulina supplements in powder or pill form by Pure Hawaiian
An example of Spirulina supplements in powder or pill form by Pure Hawaiian | Source

Spirulina As Medicine?

There are some more notable facts about Spirulina that make it even more attractive to those seeking better health. Spirulina contains something called Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is a compound found in breast milk, which helps in sustaining healthier babies and making food easier to digest.

This ability to digest food more easily matters to the future of world hunger by treating malnutrition. This is why organizations have recognized Spirulina as a complete food source and interest in the dynamic algae has grown over the years.

Another notable piece of information is the research being done to discover if Spirulina can help fight cancer. There are studies that suggest Spirulina is effective in healing wounds and minimizing tumors. More research is being done to find out if Spirulina has any other powers that can be used to combat cancer.

So, while Spirulina may not be able to directly treat cancer - one thing is for sure - Spirulina is potentially an excellent supplement for cancer patients to take.

Chlorophyll supplement
Chlorophyll supplement | Source

One of the phytonutrients that help to reduce toxins in the body is Chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is important because it has been proven to cleanse the human body of toxins.

Besides that, many people take Chlorophyll for its ability to curb hunger, therefore helping to maintain or lose weight.

Although Chlorophyll is found in Spirulina, many people prefer to take it in its pure form as a daily supplement to cleanse their bodies of impurities.

As some may remember from science class, Chlorophyll is an essential player involved in the photosynthesis of plants.

The detoxifying properties of Chlorophyll help to cleanse the colon, and there is a hint of evidence that this could help in preventing colon cancer in men.

The one thing about Spirulina that cannot be denied is the amount of time in history that it has been found to be consumed by humans, and hailed for its potent protein power.

While testing the full effects of Spirulina on humans has not reached its full potential, there is a significant amount of evidence based on current research and individual experience to validate the health benefits of Spirulina.

By looking at the amount of sales and level of popularity Spirulina has, you can see the signs that people are sincerely reaping the benefits of taking this supplement on a regular basis.

The one thing about Spirulina that cannot be denied is the amount of time in history that it has been found to be consumed by humans, and hailed for its potent protein power.

Not only does Spirulina come directly from the sea, which makes it a completely natural source of nutrition, but it also contains an astonishing amount of ingredients that are essential for human wellness and overall health. There is no scam in those facts and Spirulina certainly, earns the name, "superfood".


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    • Farawaytree profile image
      Author

      Michelle Zunter 18 months ago from California

      Thank you!! Yes, the salty foods get me also ;)

    • Kathryn L Hill profile image

      Kathryn L Hill 18 months ago from LA

      I have been taking Spirulina off and on since the 80's. I also take Maca.

      These two in powder form I add to fruit smoothies, rice milk, almond milk, etc. They really give me energy and stop my cravings for bad foods like tortilla chips, which I am pretty much addicted to, otherwise. :-D

      Your title really pulled me in and I was happy to see you approve of spirulina!

      Thanks!

    • Farawaytree profile image
      Author

      Michelle Zunter 18 months ago from California

      Fantastic. Yes, I have noticed improvements too taking it, including some weight loss and increased energy. I'm glad she found something to ease her pain.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Farawaytree, my wife suffers from sleep apnea and fibromyalgia. She has been taking micro-greens (containing spirulina, chlorophyll, etc) for two months and all her pain and tiredness disappeared and she was full of energy for the first time in years.

      Her supply ran out three weeks ago and her symptoms have returned. To me this is proof of its benefits. Great hub.

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