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Spirulina uses , benefits, nutritional composition and side effects

What is organic spirulina?

Spirulina is a freshwater micro-algae, spiral in shape, hence its name spirulina, used as a food supplement because it is very rich in nutrients essential to humans, with the advantage of being very easily assimilated by the body and very low in calories.

This algae has been growing naturally in certain Chadian and Mexican freshwater lakes for more than 3 billion years, whose subsoils or volcanic terrain enrich the waters with mineral salts. Today, we find “spirulina farms” almost everywhere where the climate allows it: Chile, China, Cuba, India, West Africa, Greece, but also in France which produces very good quality spirulina, with 150 local producers.

In fact, it is even advisable to turn to a French spirulina , because beyond the ecological aspect of consuming local, it is reputed to be of much better quality than the spirulina from India or China which are invading the market, where the price difference.

The main traded species is Spirulina platensis, on sale here. It belongs to the family of cyanobacteria or blue-green microalgae, a family that includes nearly 1,500 species, including 36 species of edible spirulina.

Spirulina is, in its natural state, blue-green in color. Once mature, it is harvested, then dried naturally in the sun, and finally crushed into flakes or reduced to powder, which will be consumed directly or used to make capsules or tablets. Requiring very little treatment after harvest, it is completely natural .

NB: organic spirulina did not exist for a long time, finally no French approval could certify a spirulina from organic farming called AB. Spirulina was always grown in a fair and organic spirit, but European regulations stipulated that freshwater algae cultures could not be organic. Now, there is certified organic spirulina, like the one sold on this page.

What is the nutritional composition of spirulina?

Spirulina is classified in the family of “super foods”, that is to say foods with a remarkable and above-average nutritional composition , among which we find  baobab powder or maca powder . It is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “the best food for humanity in the 21st century and also the most complete because of its rather exceptional composition”.

Spirulina consists of 55-70% protein, including all essential amino acids, 19% carbohydrates, 6% lipids and a high concentration of minerals, fiber, beta-carotene, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium , B vitamins, omega 3, 6 and 9.

The first advantage of spirulina is its vegetable protein content. Indeed, it contains between 55% and 70% of excellent quality proteins (proportion of amino acids and optimal digestibility). Spirulina, unlike many plants, contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it an ideal dietary supplement for vegans and vegetarians.

It is also an algae rich in various carotenoids: beta-carotene above all, but also cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, etc. Indeed, it contains about 22 mg/5 g of carotenoids, including about 20,000 IU of beta-carotene, which is huge.

Spirulina is rich in iron , between 3 and 8 mg per 5 g of powder. It contains essential fatty acids, including a good amount of gamma-linolenic acid, from the omega-6 family, perfect as a complement to omega-3, found for example in  chia seeds or linen .

It is rich in phycocyanin, a pigment that gives it this bluish color. It is a so-called “complex” protein that has many medicinal and curative properties. Indeed, it is an excellent antioxidant, stimulant of the immune system, protector of the liver and DNA .

For comparison, 10g of spirulina powder has:

– 3 times more iron than a bowl of spinach and as much as a bowl of broccoli
– 18 times more beta-carotene than a carrot,
– as much protein as 35 g of beef or an egg
– as much vitamin B12 as a 500g steak,
– 3 times more calcium than a glass of milk,
– 3 times more vitamin E than a spoonful of wheat germ.

It should be noted that spirulina does not require cooking or specific treatment related to its production, so the nutrients of this food supplement are not altered. It should also be noted that spirulina comes from fresh water, it does not contain iodine like seaweed, including for example Korean Kombu seaweed , this brown seaweed loaded with iodine, a wonderful flavor enhancer, making it possible to make all the tastier foods, and an excellent dietary supplement.

What are the health benefits of spirulina?

Nutrition aspect

Spirulina provides the body with all the nutrients it needs , making it possible to fill certain deficiencies linked to a poor diet. This nutrient intake is also beneficial in case of convalescence, fatigue, or even for the elderly. It can be combined with powdered barley grass for an even more complete intake. It is an ideal source of energy for anyone wishing to improve their general health.

Action on digestion and intestinal flora

Spirulina is an excellent healing agent , especially for the intestinal mucosa, thanks to its high chlorophyll content.

Like brown psyllium , it is an excellent purifier and digestive stimulant . It promotes the elimination of undesirables from the intestines (E-colie, candida, etc.) while stimulating the good bacteria (lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, etc.), thus making it possible to clean up the intestinal flora, and to avoid many worries. health caused by poor intestinal flora.

It improves the absorption and assimilation of food , vitamins, and all essential nutrients.

Action on the immune and endocrine system

The richness of spirulina, especially in vitamins and beta-carotenes, allows a good functioning of the immune and endocrine system . You should know that their quantity and arrangement stimulate our body and its natural defenses.

Its action on the endocrine system makes it easier to attract and evacuate toxins from the body, for an effective cellular detoxification action : pollutants, heavy metals, harmful radiation, etc.

In addition, spirulina acts as a sanitizer and stimulant of the intestinal flora, and the intestine is a key part of the immune system: it is indeed the first organ of human immune defense.

Antioxidant action

Rich in phycocyanin, spirulina acts as a powerful antioxidant , helping to fight against oxidative stress and therefore against the premature aging of cells.

Thus, it acts preventively on all diseases related to aging, such as cancers, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular diseases, etc., and it helps to preserve the health of the skin and delays the formation of wrinkles.

Action on weight loss

The richness in nutrients of spirulina, particularly in proteins, allows the body to feel satiety more quickly. This appetite suppressant helps prevent snacking and reduces the amount of food.

Recommended by dieticians, it also helps people who are on a slimming diet so as not to fall into deficiency , even if it will never replace a healthy and balanced diet.

For weight loss, it also acts as a detoxifier, action used during a diet.

Action on cholesterol and triglycerides

Spirulina has a regulating action on cholesterol and triglyceride levels . Trials are currently underway to assess the reduction in blood lipids caused by the consumption of spirulina, promising trials.

A study confirms that the consumption of 5 g of spirulina daily for 15 days not only increases the levels of HDL cholesterol, the “good cholesterol”, but decreases the levels of LDL cholesterol, the “bad cholesterol”, as well as triglycerides.

Action on blood sugar

Spirulina has an effect on blood sugar levels . In one study, a 2-month treatment with spirulina reduced fasting blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Another showed an increase in the effectiveness of insulin in diabetic patients with HIV. Other studies point in this direction.

Action on allergic rhinitis

Spirulina would be effective against allergic rhinitis (nasal allergy) . Trials were conducted in Turkey on patients with allergic rhinitis, and it was found that 2g of spirulina powder daily for 16 weeks was significantly more effective than placebo in reducing symptoms.

These results have been attributed to the anti-inflammatory properties of spirulina, as well as to its action on the immune system of the mucous membranes of the nasal passages.

Other Benefits

Regular consumption of spirulina contributes to the well-being and maintenance of the general balance of the body : reduction of stress, anxiety, sleep promotion, balance of the nervous system, improvement of concentration, etc.

Many athletes consume spirulina for its favorable action on the muscles and energy processes, thanks to its stimulating and toning virtues of the organism .

Thus, it would increase endurance and reduce muscle fatigue, as well as cramps. It participates in improving the oxygenation of the muscles and all the cells of the body , and reduces the feeling of fatigue.

Like beetroot powder , minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium, found in spirulina, are frequent supplements in the world of high-level sport, in order to promote recovery after intensive sports sessions.

How to use spirulina powder?

How to use it?

To take full advantage of its nutritional composition, spirulina must be consumed cold , because the nutritional value of a food decreases with heat.

It has a strong flavor, so it is rather advisable to marry it with a drink or a tasty food.

Sprinkle spirulina on food, in fruit juice, vegetable juice, soups, soups, in a smoothie, yogurt, flax or chia seed pudding, etc., but not in a hot drink !

For what dosage?

In reality, there isn’t really a precise dosage for spirulina, since it is a food and not a drug, but there are recommendations.

The classic dosage is to consume between 2 and 5 g of spirulina powder per day (about 1 teaspoon), starting with a dose of 1 g per day during the first week, then gradually increasing the doses by 0, 5g every 5 days .

Spirulina is only effective if taken as a daily cure for several weeks , between 4 and 6 weeks, followed by a break as long as the cure. It is not recommended to do more than 3 cures per year.

The general recommendation is not to exceed 6 g , although some people take short courses of 10 g per day. The first effects of spirulina are felt from 800 mg.

Children can also consume spirulina without danger, provided they take half the recommended dose for adults.

Beneficial associations?

Spirulina is often combined with other medicinal plants to increase its effectiveness and target a specific benefit, for example:

– detoxification of the body: chlorella powder , burdock, rhodiola, white or red ginseng , turmeric, etc.

– blood purification: milk thistle.

– purification of the liver: artichoke leaves.

– stimulation of the immune system: acerola powder .

– stimulating and energizing action:  Ashwagandha or Maca powder.

Contraindications and adverse effects

People suffering from phenylketonuria or gout should not consume spirulina, as should pregnant women. Rich in vitamin K, it is not recommended to consume spirulina in case of treatment related to blood coagulation.

Otherwise, spirulina has shown total harmlessness by complete toxicological studies, only an overdose can cause certain undesirable, but non-dangerous, effects, because of its detoxifying properties.

It is therefore possible for some people to see symptoms such as gastrointestinal disorders (constipation, mild diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc.) or headaches, often at the start of treatment, and often in people starting to take too big doses all at once. To avoid this, follow our advice to start with 1 g per day, then gradually increase as explained above.

There are, to date, no known interactions with herbs, supplements, or medications.

A little history of spirulina

The history of spirulina begins 3 billion years ago. It is one of the earliest forms of life on Earth. Even if we often speak of algae, it is in fact a cyanobacterium, that is to say a bacterium carrying out photosynthesis.

It is important to specify that we owe life to these cyanobacteria. Indeed, thanks to photosynthesis, the cyanobacteria of the time used light energy to transform carbon dioxide into organic matter and oxygen, which allowed the enrichment of the atmosphere in oxygen, then the formation of ozone which protects the Earth from ionizing radiation from the sun. We therefore owe them our beautiful blue and oxygenated sky.

Its origin comes from two distant places on the planet: the great Lake Texcoco, located near Mexico City (Mexico) and Lake Chad in Africa.

When the European colonists arrived in Central America, they discovered that the Aztecs drew from the great lake Texcoco a blue “mud” which they consumed, called “tecuitlatl”: spirulina. It is said that the Incas could eat it exclusively after bad harvests.

The Spanish conquistador Cortès reports in his memoirs that the Indians had the curious habit of walking very tight nets on the surface of the lakes to collect a kind of green mud, which they then dried in the sun to then consume it in the form of cakes. .

Ditto in Africa, in the region of Kanem, in the northeast of Chad, where the tribes of the Sahara, in particular the Kanembous, whose women always harvest, on the surface of certain ponds frequented by pink flamingos, a kind of green porridge which grows there spontaneously: spirulina.

This mud is left to dry in the sand in the form of pancakes, the “dihé”, then eaten, in particular with the ball of millet.

Spirulina grows naturally in many other places in the world, such as Lonar Lake in India, which is full of it, but it is now very easy to cultivate.

The culture ponds reproduce the conditions of natural lakes, with movement, light and heat, all in very controlled water to best recreate the conditions of a natural environment with the right nutrients.

Once the seaweed is mature, it is harvested, dried and then processed to give the final product: powder, flakes, capsules, tablets, etc.

It is a very ecological production, because the blue algae preserves the soils in which it grows, using less water and energy per kg of protein than any other food on Earth.

For comparison, spirulina requires 30 times less surface area than soybeans, and 300 times less than for a beef steak, 3 times less water than the production of soybeans , 50 times less than beef , 5 times less energy than soy, and 2 times less than beef.

In addition, spirulina consumes a lot of CO2 and produces a lot of oxygen, thanks to photosynthesis. Still by way of comparison, trees fix between 1 and 4 tonnes of carbon emissions per hectare and per year, while spirulina fixes around 23 tonnes, while simultaneously producing 17 tonnes of oxygen.

Its production therefore does not cause any problems of pollution, erosion or water contamination, quite the contrary.

It was in the mid-1960s that spirulina was rediscovered by the West. The botanist Jean Léonard, during a Belgian expedition, comes across the bluish green patties during an expedition to a market. After analysis, he rediscovers the wonderful composition of seaweed.

Almost simultaneously, a Mexican company, “Sosa Texcoco”, which exploited the underground alkaline waters of Lake Texcoco in Mexico City, was disrupted in the extraction of sodium carbonate by a tiny algae that was clogging their entire system: spirulina. After having identified the culprit, the director at the time, Mr. Durand Chastel, realized its properties and the commercial potential of the seaweed, the company Sosa Texcoco therefore stopped its activity to harvest this seaweed. This is the first commercial use of spirulina.

Since then, the establishment of spirulina farms has conquered the planet, and spirulina plays an essential role in the fight against malnutrition in certain regions of the world. Its richness in nutrients coupled with the fact that it can be produced locally in production “farms”, make seaweed a major asset in this fight.

Pilot projects, directed by IIMSAM (the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Spirulina microalgae against malnutrition), are underway in many countries.

Finally, a small focus on France, because, cocorico, the artisanal culture was developed by Dr. Ripley Fox in his laboratory in La Roquette, in the Hérault. The father of the artisanal culture of seaweed published a thesis in 1986 on this work, followed by a book “Spirulina: techniques, practices and promises”, fundamental works which enabled the establishment of artisanal cultures throughout the world.

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