Nutritional research on spirulina has come a long way since its earliest modern use as a superfood for NASA astronauts. Interest in this blue-green alga (actually a cyanobacterium) began when NASA realized this ancient Aztec food to be an excellent supplement for astronauts on space missions.
Now we know why. It is a phenomenal source of protein, vitamin B1, and iron, among other nutrients. It is also rich in magnesium and essential fatty acids. Nutritionists have gone so far as to consider spirulina as the most nutrient dense food ever discovered.
Since that discovery in the 1960s, studies on spirulina have uncovered at least 10 main reasons why it is so valuable. This list, which is still growing, includes the following health benefits:
- Detoxifies heavy metals. Spirulina is especially powerful for reducing arsenic toxicity. Arsenic poisoning has become a worldwide health problem, even in the U.S. This toxic mineral comes mostly from drinking water where it occurs in naturally high levels.
- Eliminates yeast overgrowth. Leaky gut syndrome leads to candidiasis. Chronic candida blooms are the hallmark sign for most autoimmune diseases in modern times. Spirulina acts as a direct growth inhibitor of this fungus.
- Fights HIV/AIDS. Regular consumption of spirulina seems to be responsible for the relatively low rates of HIV/AIDS in Japan, Korea, and Chad. Scientists have discovered that this alga boosts certain white blood cells that fight HIV infection.
- Helps prevent cancer. Spirulina decreases overgrowth by human pancreatic cancer cells in culture. It is now under consideration as a natural cancer treatment.
- Reduces blood pressure. The blue-green alga reverses damage to the delicate lining of blood vessels that leads to hypertension.
6. Lowers blood lipid levels. The cholesterol-lowering effects of spirulina go hand in hand with its ability to also reduce triglyceride levels.
7. Decreases chance of stroke. Consumption of spirulina improves the function of the aorta to reverse damage caused by eating a poor diet.
8. Enhances energy levels. This property is likely the main reason that NASA selected it as a supplement for astronauts in the first place. This benefit has been known to ancient cultures worldwide for centuries.
9. Alleviates sinus problems. The anti-inflammatory properties of spirulina help reduce sinus itching, nasal leakage, sneezing, and nasal congestion.
10. Protects the brain. Research is starting to show how spirulina can prevent memory loss and other neurological dysfunctions that underlie dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Bonus from Fat Horses
The latest research shows how it works in fat horses – yes, horses can get overweight. How does that relate to humans? It turns out that equine metabolic syndrome mimics human metabolic syndrome.
A 2017 study on horses showed that spirulina improves several factors associated with oxidative stress from fat cells. As a result, it helps horses lose weight and boost their sensitivity to insulin. These are also two of the biggest issues for people suffering from metabolic syndrome.
Spirulina is looking better and better as a valuable asset for achieving and maintain better health in many ways.