We know you have heard about it before. This miraculous natural pill that helps you lose weight while keeping you satisfied, but do you really know what spirulina is?
There are many myths about spirulina, but very few people know that it is not just a common dietary supplement. Spirulina is actually a cyanobacteria, a kind of blue-green algae that lives in warm, fresh water. Its characteristic blue-green color comes from the chlorophyll and phycocyanine it contains, which is necessary to produce its own food and energy. For those like me who have problems understanding scientific words, this basically means that spirulina is some sort of super sea weed that produces its own food and energy.
It has been an important part of everyday diets for many civilizations throughout centuries, but today it is mainly found in Asia and the Pacific. It has always been popular in Latin American countries like Ecuador and Mexico, where its use was described by the Spanish missionaries after the conquest in the XVI century. According to these descriptions, the Aztecs let spirulina dry out, until it was reduced into a green powder. They used that every day sprinkled in their food. Its flavor was described by the missionaries as strong, similar to fish or cheese.
Today, the United Nations (UN), through the Intergovernmental Institute for the Use of Microalgae against Malnutrition, recommends using microalgae (such as spirulina) for the treatment of acute malnutrition. Athletes from countries like Cuba and China consume spirulina to improve their sports performance, and speed recovery after an injury.
Spirulina’s use gained widespread attention after NASA talked about its success using it as a supplement for astronauts in space missions, but many researchers have talked about its benefits for years. Some of these benefits are:
- It has a high protein level (Approx. 60% of its dry weight).
- It contains vitamins like A, B, D and essential fatty acids.
- Due to its content of selenium, chlorophyll, tocopherol and retinoid, it has a good antioxidant capacity.
- In patients with diabetes, it has an antihypertensive effect. This helps to prevent fatty liver disease.
- It strengthens the immune system in hypertensive patients and oral cancer patients.
- Due to its nutritional content, it reduces the damage caused by stress in general.
Because spirulina is actually a food and not a medicine or artificial supplement its secondary effects are few. However, some people have experienced some of the following:
- Thirst and constipation. After taking a large volume of spirulina it is convenient to take at least a full glass of water or more to help your body absorb it.
- A little fever, due to the body’s need to burn the extra protein of spirulina
- Slight dizziness. If this occurs, take less product. If the symptom does not improve stop taking spirulina and consult a qualified doctor.
- Stomach ache.
- Mild itching or skin rash.
How can Spirulina help me lose weight?
In all honesty, Spirulina is not a miracle weight loss pill like most manufacturers will make you believe. As we explained before, it is a super food that is rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is great as a supplement, but it won’t make you lose 30 pounds in one week if that is what you are expecting. Spirulina is related to weight loss because of a very simple fact: the high levels of vitamins, minerals and protein you will satiate your appetite sooner when you eat. Spirulina will help you control what you eat, rather that controlling your weight.
How can I take spirulina?
Spirulina today can be found as a tablet like many natural supplements on the market, or as a powder. The suggested dose is between 2 to 3 grams a day. It is recommended to consume spirulina along with foods rich in vitamin C to facilitate its absorption.
If you go for tablets, each one contains approx. 500mg of spirulina and most brands can list other ingredients too. The issue with tablets is that you need to have a least 4 to 6 tablets a day, (usually what the directions of use suggest) and in order to make spirulina a tablet, it has to meet certain standards and go through some processes. You have be careful and look for a brand that is certified 100% spirulina. We suggest Triquetra Health, because it is certified 100% organic spirulina. You can read more about it here.
If pills are not for you, we recommend to take spirulina in its more natural form as a powder like the Aztecs used to eat it centuries ago. It is much less processed, and one teaspoon is enough to cover your daily dose. You can add it on fruit, juices, smoothies or even sprinkled on food. It’s much more convenient and you can be creative. We also suggest Triquetra Health because it is certified organic, meets quality standards and its certified by the FDA. You can read more about this product here.
Do not forget that “miracle” foods do not exist, and spirulina is not a “magic” ingredient. However, it can be an ally to take care of your health and control your weight if consumed on a regular basis. Due to its protein content, it is also a good complement in vegetarian and vegan diets. Remember that a balanced diet combined with physical activity will always be the key to stay healthy.
I hope this helps and we look forward to seeing you later.
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Nick and Laura
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