From algae to superfood
Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria believed to be one of the oldest life forms on Earth. That means more than 3.5 billion years old (that’s with a b! 😲). In fact, science has determined that spirulina was actually at the root of the development of all terrestrial plants, as well as being responsible for producing much of the oxygen on the planet that allowed the earliest organisms to develop since it grows best in environments that have moderate temperatures and very high levels of sunlight. It is a form of dark blue-green microalgae that is found in oceans, freshwater lakes, rivers and ponds in subtropical climates. Commonly harvested in Central America, Mexico, the African continent and even Japan, for centuries civilizations all over the world have cultivated and cherished spirulina for its amazing, health-improving benefits. It was first used by the Aztecs, which they harvested from Lake Texcoco in Mexico, as an endurance booster. The native people in Chad, Africa have also used the algae as a primary staple in their daily diet, as spirulina grows naturally and profusely in the pure saltwater lakes of the region.
Spirulina is considered a superfood — an all-in-one source of nutrients including protein levels comparable to eggs. The term superfood, often used as a mere marketing term for foods that have health benefits, takes a different meaning when we talk about spirulina. Superfoods are not in their own food group; they’re mainly just foods that are considered highly nutritious because they contain a variety of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants (which experts say ward off cancer). In addition to healthy fats and fiber, which are proven to prevent heart disease, thought to prevent diabetes and digestive problems, it has more protein than meat, fish, poultry and soybeans. On top of that it has the most beta-carotene of any food, and it has a full spectrum of ten mixed carotenoids. Furthermore, it contains all eight essential amino acids, and no fewer than ten non-essential amino acids. Additionally, it is also rich in iron, vitamins A, B-6, B-12 C, E, K, potassium, enzymes, minerals, calcium and beneficial fatty acids like DHA and GLA. These fatty acids make up important organs like our brain and the retinas in our eyes. Equally important, it has magnesium, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folate and phosphorus. Not only that, it’s a recognized, FDA-approved, food-safe green and blue dye because of its high concentration of the pigment phycocyanin.
Consuming spirulina is considered an excellent dietary supplement that may help maintain a balanced diet, especially for vegan or vegetarian lifestyles. Further research suggests that spirulina has antioxidant, inflammation-fighting properties, and even has the ability to help regulate your immune system. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial carried out in 2016, people who were overweight showed improved body mass index (BMI) after regularly consuming spirulina for three months. Another review study found that spirulina supplementation significantly lowered people’s fasting blood glucose levels. High fasting blood sugar is a common imbalance in people with diabetes Type 1 and 2, suggesting that spirulina supplementation may help regulate diabetes. Taking spirulina may even help in lowering cholesterol levels according to a 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis. The review found that taking spirulina supplements could have a positive effect on blood lipids, and help reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increase “good” cholesterol (HDL). Subsequently cholesterol levels are also linked to high blood pressure and heart disease; a 2013 review supports this claim. Adding just six grams of spirulina a day may even help boost a person’s metabolism (a higher metabolic rate makes you feel like you have more energy). It can also increase the number of calories you burn each day, which may help in losing weight. There is also evidence that spirulina can also relieve nasal inflammation and reduce histamine in the body due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Topical Benefits For Skin & Hair
Spirulina’s high content of vitamins, tyrosine, selenium, tocopherol phosphorus and other nutrients makes it a vital additive for your skin’s health and known for its anti-aging effects. First it protects the skin from free radicals which make your skin look tired and flaccid. Instead spirulina boosts production of collagen to treat the skin that has lost elasticity, increasing the skin’s firmness making it look toned, youthful and vibrant. Spirulina also has detoxifying effects that remove dark shadows and dryness that cause dark circles and dry eye symptoms giving your eyes new energy and strength. It also facilitates faster cell turnover, this means that it helps in shedding dead skin cells and replacing them with younger cells. This helps skin heal faster and prevents fungal infection caused by candida overgrowth, a main cause of acne breakouts; its anti-inflammatory properties can also help reduce swelling caused by acne. The linoleic acid present in spirulina reduces and prevents the production of certain proteins that cause hyperpigmentation. When used topically, spirulina not only helps your skin feel and look healthy and younger, it also promotes speedy hair growth while it combats hair-thinning and baldness. The high levels of protein, amino acids, essential fatty acids and beta-carotene are all great facilitators for hair renewal. Spirulina acts as an antioxidant compound that makes your hair completely dandruff-free, glossy and stronger. It even treats fingernail ridges, warts and other nail problems when used regularly.
This is why it’s one of the main ingredients in our wonderfully aromatic Herb Garden Soap Bar.
FTR Tip: Dealing with periodic acne breakouts or dull skin? try a spirulina face mask by mixing some powder spirulina and water until it becomes a paste and apply it on your skin, keep it on for 20 minutes and wash off. Or add the powder to smoothies, your favorite hummus, spice up your green juice, sprinkle it over salads or mix it with your favorite ingredients to make a delicious homemade spirulina dressing!