Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Many Health Benefits of Spirulina

Some people may hear the word spirulina and think that it is some kind of Italian food, but what it really is an ultra-nutritious super food! This statement begs the question “Well, what exactly is spirulina?” It is a type of blue-green algae that grows in warm climates. While some may not think of algae as something to eat, the following facts may change a lot of minds.
Spirulina’s odd sounding name comes from its helix of spiral-like shape. Its distinct coloring comes from its natural plant pigments that can provide numerous health benefits. Among these pigments are the green chlorophyll which aids in ridding the body of various toxins, the blue phycocyanin which promotes healthy immune function and protein absorption. Spirulina also contains a heavy amount of beta carotene which is a potent antioxidant that is converted to retinol (vitamin A), which is essential for healthy vision, and eventually converted into retinoic acid, which aids in processes related to growth and cell differentiation.
Another incredible fact about spirulina is that it is known to accelerate the body’s elimination of dioxins more effectively than any other food. Dioxins are toxic chemical contaminants formed through the combustion of organic material. People come into most contact with them via contaminated food, the dioxins are stored if fat tissue and the compounds can take years to break down in the body on their own.
Spirulina is one of the few food sources of GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid), an essential Omega-6 fatty acid which is essential to human health yet is not made in the body and must be obtained from food. GLA is necessary for proper brain function, bone health, growth and development and metabolism regulation. Ingestion of this fatty acid may also help with various disorders such as dry eye conditions, bone loss and osteoporosis and prevention of nerve disease, especially in those with diabetes. In some studies, spirulina seemed to increase production of the anti-inflammatory chemicals called interferons and interleukins. Some researchers also believe that the algae may help block the release of histamine from mast cells during an allergic reaction and therefore prevent some responses in allergic individuals. Its antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties may also produce anti cancer effects. One such effect is that spirulina promotes the release of tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is a chemical in the body that attacks tumor cells.
Apart from all of these wonderful health benefits of spirulina it is also high in vitamin B-12 as well as easy-to absorb iron, it boosts energy and encourages weight loss, helps to purify the liver, helps fight viral infections, increases mental alertness and lowers blood cholesterol and excess triglycerides. With all of these benefits how could one not want to incorporate spirulina into their diet? The only question left is how. While processed spirulina tablets are available, the body can absorb all of the super nutrients much more efficiently in the form of a natural and organic super food.

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