1 What is Spirulina?
Take a look the photograph. It is a microscopic image of spirulina. The name gspirulinah comes from the Latin word gspirah which means spiral and, of course, refers to the shape of the algae.
Spirulina is a kind of blue algae which belongs to the blue-green algae group. Each individual alga is 300-500 microns in length, a size that can just barely be detected by the naked eye. Hidden in this algae, however, is the immeasurable strength of lifefs vital forces. As a balanced health food, spirulina plays a critical role in preventing and improving the symptoms of illness. Letfs take a look at the secrets of spirulina.
Born on earth over 3.5 billion years ago, spirulina is the oldest plant on earth. For endless long years and months, it grew wild in tropical regions in salt lakes of Africa and Central and South America. Its luxuriant growth at that time made those lakes look as if they were awash in blue-green paint.
Since ancient times, spirulina was used by people living in those areas as a form of food. Although they did not have the knowledge of modern nutritional science, based on their experience, they knew that spirulina was a very nutritious food.
It was in 1963 that spirulina became known internationally. A French botanist doing research in Chad on a highly nutritious dry bread green in color known as gdaeih discovered that the dry bread was made from spirulina.
It was in this way that research on spirulina began. Because of the research of world-famous scholar Dr. Clayman and others at the French Petroleum Institute, the first to start cultivating spirulina, the amazing nutritional value, rate of digestion, and rate of growth became known one in progressive stages. Following upon this research, spirulina became the subject at various international conferences such as the International Congress of Bacteriology and Applied Microbiology in 1967 and the 1974 United Nations World Food Conference It also became recognized officially as a nutritious food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is currently being developed at NASA as a food for astronauts.
Spirulina once used by indigenous people in ancient times has in this way been researched and developed and has made its appearance in our world today. Now that genuine cultivation and mass production are possible, there is growing recognition of spirulinafs effectiveness as an gideal nutritious foodh.2 Spirulina - with five major nutrients
When people think of foods that have high nutritional value, eggs and beef probably spring to mind for many people. However, spirulina has rich nutrients that in no way are inferior to such foods (See Table1).
In fact, spirulina is rich in proteins, sugars, fatty acids, and vitamins, as well as in minerals like calcium, phosphate, magnesium, iron and carotene, which tend to be insufficient in our daily diets. In other words, the five main nutrients our bodies need are all contained in spirulina. And because digestive absorption is excellent, the nutrients are absorbed by the body with ease.
Protein is a vital element in the composition of every part of our body. Spirulina contains three times the amount of proteins in beef and twice the amount in soy beans (See Table2).
The proteins in spirulina are also of excellent quality. The quality of proteins is determined by how well balanced the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce are. You can get an idea of how excellent the quality of proteins in spirulina is by looking at Table 3. The quality of its proteins fulfill the ideal standards of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).
Spirulina also contains abundant amounts of natural pigments such as chlorophyll and light blue phycocyanin.
Among these, chlorophyll is a well-known pigment that is often called ggreen bloodh because it becomes the raw material of the blood in our bodies. This is why chlorophyll is very effective in the treatment of anemia.
Chlorophyll also plays a role in purifying our bodies of toxins. For example, it detoxifies acetylaldehydes, the cause of hangovers, and histamines related to allergies, so it has positive effects in helping people recover from fatigue, in preventing hangovers and in fighting allergies.
In addition, various other benefits of chlorophyll have also been recognized. It is known to aid in eliminating bad breath and body odor, in alleviating constipation and frostbite and in lowering cholesterol.
Spirulina also contains generous amounts of vitamin B12. There is a tendency to overlook vitamin B12 in our diets, but it is vital in the functioning of red corpuscles and nucleic acids. In addition to the treatment of virulent anemia and nervous disorders, vitamin B12 is effective in improving liver and digestive system disorders as well as skin disorders and internal, harmful excretions.
It is also important to understand that a vitamin B12 deficiency does not progress suddenly. Instead, it occurs slowly over a long period of time. Because of this, when vitamin B12 becomes depleted, it symptoms appear suddenly and can cause alarm. Disorders arising from deficiencies of vitamin B12 include virulent anemia, diabetic nervous disorders, trigeminal neuralgia, liver disorders and impaired memory.
It is important for us to supplement our diet with vitamin B12 on a daily basis.
Beta carotene is gaining attention as an effective nutrient in the prevention of cancer. The amount of carotene required for a person in the prevention of cancer is 5-15 milligrams a day. In terms of vegetable consumption, this is the equivalent of 200g of green and yellow vegetables and 100g of light colored vegetables. For people who find this level of intake on a daily basis difficult, spirulina is recommended as a nutritional supplement. Spirulina has 50 times the amount of carotene as chlorella, 10 times that of carrots and 60 times that of spinach.
Some of the beta carotene in our bodies is converted to vitamin A, which is said to be often insufficient in the diet of Japanese. Vitamin A is also a very important nutrient which, when lacking, makes the body more prone to cancer. Vitamin A also acts to protect the eyes and the respiratory system.
Spirulina contains rich amount of linoleic acid and linolenic acid which are attracting attention particularly for their role in controlling cholesterol in the bloodstream. By dissolving and flushing excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and preventing high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, they inhibit carcinogens and the spread of cancer promoted by excess cholesterol.
Linoleic and linolenic acids are substances that cannot be produced by the body, so if they are not supplemented through our dietary habits, a deficiency will occur.
Ensure that your diet includes these nutrients by supplementing it with spirulina.3 How spirulina differs from chlorella in digestion and nutritional value
There are probably many people who are not sure of the differences between chlorella and spirulina. It is true that the ingredients and color of the tablets of the two are similar. However, chlorella, which belongs to the green algae species, and spirulina, which belongs to the blue-green algae species, differ in a number of ways. One way of looking at spirulina is to see it as a new product that has overcome weaknesses of chlorella.
To begin with, one of chlorellafs weaknesses is its size. With a diameter of between 0.3 and 0.5 microns, it is only 1/1000 the size of spirulina. Consequently, harvesting something this small requires centrifugal separation, an extremely labor intensive process. Spirulina, on the other hand, can be harvested through a simple filtration process. This makes spirulina far more suitable than chlorella for mass production.
Because chlorella is a simple cell plant, its cell walls are hard and very difficult to digest. To promote the digestion of chlorella, it is necessary to turn it into powder through the use of machines and process it in ways that are not natural. This also raises concerns that some of its natural ingredients will be lost during processing.
On the other hand, because spirulina is multi-celled, the cell membranes are soft and very easy to digest and therefore require no processing. Because of this, bowel movements do not turn green.
If you take a look at Table 4, you can see at a glance the difference in the rate of digestion between spirulina and chlorella. When chlorella is not processed, the rate of digestion after one hour is 12.0%. When the cell membranes have been broken, the digestion rate after an hour is about 58.7%. Without undergoing any processing, spirulina is 80% digested in the same period. After two hours, the rate rises to 95.1%.
Table 4 Rate of artificial digestion of Spirulina
Table 5 shows a comparison of the nutrients in spirulina and chlorella. The table reveals that the nutritional value in spirulina is higher than chlorella in almost all areas. This is particularly so with proteins, provitamin A, and vitamin B12, where the content in spirulina is very high. In dietary fiber as well, chlorella contains only 2-3% while spirulina has about four times that amount at 8-10%.4 Producing spirulina safely and in large amounts
With medicines that have powerful effects, serious side effects are a concern. In this respect, because spirulina is a natural food that has been a food ingredient since ancient times, it is naturally accepted by the body and there are no harmful effects whatsoever.
There is no need to worry about cultivation or manufacturing methods either. Produced in hygienic conditions that are ensured through strict toxicological testing by various research institutes, spirulina is safe and can be taken with confidence.
1) Cultivation5 For leading a healthy life
Cultivation is undertaken in conditions similar to the saltwater lakes in tropical regions, spirulinafs place of origin. An alkali-type cultivation liquid to which nutrients have been added is flushed into the shallow, large cultivation ponds which are stirred by their gentle flow. In this manner, the spirulina undergoes photosynthesis at an efficient rate and propagates.
Spirulina propagated through the above process is in an algae state. Through filtration it is separated from the cultivation liquid.
(3) Washing and dewatering
The spirulina, concentrated during the above process, is placed on a vacuum dewatering filtration cloth, washed with clean water and dewatered repeatedly.
The spirulina is then dried instantly with a spray dryer and made into a powder.
In addition to the excellent nutrients found in spirulina, another attractive feature is its alkali properties. In our diet today where we are surrounded by meat, instant foods, and sweets, we tend to lack enough alkali foods, such as vegetables and seaweed (See Table 6).
Table 6 An Analysis of Spirulina and Chlorella
However, human body fluids are mildly alkali. When our diet consists of only acid foods and acid in the body begins to accumulate, the body tries to revert to an alkali state by expelling alkali-containing minerals from the cells, bones and teeth.
Minerals are vital in the formation of bones and teeth, in the production of blood, and in nerve functions. Mineral insufficiencies lead to anemia and broken bones. Nowadays we hear of school-age children who get dizzy and faint when morning assemblies at school are a little longer than usual, and who suffer broken bones just from falling down. At the root of these problems is an insufficiency of minerals caused by acidity.
In fact, the bodies of approximately 90% of people who tend to get sick are said to be acidic. Acidity is the cause of many illnesses.
When spirulina is taken on a regular basis, the body becomes more alkali. The metabolism of the body in general becomes more active. The bodyfs cells also become vitalized and the bodyfs ability to cure itself is enhanced. In addition, not only is the health of the body maintained because of the cellsf revitalization, but an overall improvement in general appearance can be expected. This is because the complexion and hair little by little undergo renewal and improvement. This is why we can say that spirulina is a super food that gives us both good health and beauty.
Spirulina is particularly effective for people who:6 Medical benefits of spirulina
* tire easily and do not feel 100% well
* have little motivation
* are recovering from an illness
* are on a diet
* catch colds easily
* have a tendency to be anemic
* are fussy about food
* eat at irregular times
* do not eat adequate green or yellow vegetables
* who smoke, or drink a lot of alcohol or coffee
Stomach ulcers and gastritis are illnesses where the gastric juices increase due to stress and injure the stomach lining. To prevent this from occurring, it is necessary (1) to eat alkali foods that digest well to suppress the amount of gastric juices, (2) to neutralize the acidic gastric juices by eating alkali foods and (3) to have a balanced intake of nutrients including proteins, minerals and vitamins.
Spirulina is an alkali food that fulfills all of the above conditions. It not only contains large amounts of good quality nutrients but their rate of digestion and absorption by the body is extremely high, so adequate supplementation of these nutrients is possible. In addition, the chlorophyll in spirulina protects the stomach and intestine linings that have suffered injury.
The very positive effects of spirulina on stomach ulcers, chronic gastritis and duodenal ulcers have already been confirmed.
Anemia is a condition resulting from insufficient iron. To prevent anemia, we are told that it is very important to supplement our diet with foods containing ample amounts of iron, such as liver, soy beans and spinach. However, if iron is not taken with protein and vitamin C, its digestion and rate of absorption are low. Therefore, by simply eating foods rich in iron, we do not receive their full benefits. Spirulina, on the other hand, not only contains more iron than liver, it also contains large amounts of proteins and blood-building chlorophyll. The digestion and absorption rate of iron is also excellent, so spirulina is very effective in combating anemia.
Diabetes is a disorder caused by an insufficiency in the hormone insulin. However, the main cause of insulin insufficiency is overeating. Therefore, prevention and improvement of this condition need to begin with a review of eating habits.
What is important then is to avoid the intake of excessive calories, have a diet well-balanced in nutrients, and prevent the body from becoming acidic.
The reason why spirulina is said to be effective in preventing diabetes is because, while it is low in calories, it contains large amounts of vitamin B1 which improves the metabolism of sugars, vitamin B2 which assists in the burning of calories that prevents obesity, vitamin B6 which creates insulin, and potassium which assists in the excretion of insulin and proteins lacking in people with diabetes. In addition, because spirulina is an alkali type supplement, it assists in returning acidic blood to an alkali state. Because of these factors, spirulina is an ideal food product for preventing and improving diabetes.
The liver performs a very vital role in our bodies by breaking down, detoxifying and storing nutrients carried there by the blood. The most important nutrients for the liver are proteins and vitamins. Proteins make up the greater part of the liver and vitamins assist in its functions. An insufficiency of proteins and vitamins results in impairing or bringing to a stop the functions of the liver.
Spirulina is a food with an abundance of proteins of superior quality and vitamins. The main treatment for liver illnesses is based on dietary treatment focusing on balanced nutrition. There have been reports that claim improvement in liver ailments is accelerated when the treatment is combined with spirulina. We believe that this is due to the proteins and vitamins contained in spirulina which have a therapeutic function. Furthermore, spirulinafs supplementation of potassium, which tends to be lacking in people with liver illnesses, creates a synergistic effect. In these ways, spirulina also contributes significantly to the health of the liver.
Spirulina is attracting attention as a safe diet food. A method of dieting with spirulina is to take it 30 minutes to one hour prior to meal time. In that period before eating, the spirulina absorbs water and expands, suppressing the appetite and helping to prevent overeating.
In addition, spirulina is a food which contains generous amounts of various kinds of nutrients, so there is no concern that the bodyfs balance of nutrients will be upset by dieting.
There are many people who commenced taking spirulina regularly and within several weeks reported to have begun to experience a definite loss of weight. It is important to follow a healthy diet that combines well-balanced meals and spirulina.