People often ask me and my family why we look so healthy, hardly ever get sick, have loads of energy and look younger than our age! I tell them I honestly believe it’s because we’ve been including Spirulina in our diet for over 20 years and I’ve been giving it to our kids since they were toddlers, who are now all vibrant young adults that still love drinking their Spirulina smoothies at every opportunity!
What is Spirulina and why is everyone talking about it?
The name Spirulina comes from a Latin word meaning tiny spiral. Spirulina is a microscopic, spiral-shaped, nutrient rich, non-toxic microalgae. (1)
Spirulina is not new and in fact it has been around for over three billion years as highly nutritious single celled fresh water microalgae. It has a rich, vibrant history and occupies an intriguing biological and ecological niche in the plant kingdom. Spirulina has constituted a significant part of the diet of many traditional and ancient civilisations, such as the Aztecs, Mayas, Toltecs and the Kanembu of Lake Chad. The world is slowly coming back to the traditional nutrient rich foods that are fast becoming known as ‘Superfoods’. (2)
The word ‘Superfood’ is thrown around a lot these days, but Spirulina is such a nutrient-dense food that it has genuinely earned the title. In fact, Spirulina has been described as ‘the most nutritious, concentrated whole food known to humankind.’
Spirulina is unusual because it is a ‘nuclear plant’ meaning it is on the developmental cusp between plants and animals. It is considered somewhat above plants because it does not have the hard cellulose membranes characteristic of plant cells, nor does it have a well-defined nucleus. Yet its metabolic system is based on photosynthesis, a process of direct food energy production utilizing sunlight and chlorophyll, which is typical of plant life forms.
Spirulina is between 60 - 70% complete, a highly digestible protein in a natural plant-based form. Spirulina contains every essential amino acid, more beta-carotene than any other food discovered and it is the best whole-food source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which is an essential fatty acid needed for a healthy nervous system, along with B vitamins, Vitamin K, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, and plant pigments such as chlorophyll and phycocyanin, which is a rare health-building pigment that gives spirulina it’s unique blue tint and zeaxanthin, which scientists are only now discovering the unique health benefits of. Spirulina is so rich in nutrition that it is believed by some that you could live on Spirulina alone for quite some time. (3)
Where is the best Spirulina grown?
Due to the increasing consumption and popularity of Spirulina, it is now being grown and cultivated all over the world. It is important to know where the Spirulina you are taking is grown, as the quality, purity and potency is a direct reflection of the growing techniques, location, and protection of the nutrients when harvesting and packaging.
Hawaiian Spirulina has been cultivated and grown for around 20 years in a unique bio-secure zone on the pristine coast of Kona the big island of Hawaii. It develops naturally into a super-strain of Spirulina due to the ideal climate and location, the pure Hawaiian aquifer water it is grown in, the mineral-rich deep ocean water the growing ponds are fed with as well as the advanced growing techniques and continuous year-round cultivation.
After more than 20 years in this ideal environment, the pure Hawaiian Pacifica strain of Arthrospira platensis has naturally developed higher levels of carotenoids, antioxidants, phytonutrients, minerals, trace minerals, vitamin B-12, enzymes and phycobili proteins making it measurably the World’s most nutrient-rich Spirulina.
Why is it important how Spirulina is processed and packaged?
It is very important that the sensitive nutrients and antioxidants in spirulina are protected during the harvesting, and drying. Ocean Chill Drying is the best method used to minimise oxidative damage to sensitive carotenoids, enzymes and vitamins that occurs in standard dryers, preserving much higher levels of phytonutrients and enzymes and antioxidants.
It is best to look for Spirulina packaged in pure glass with metal caps or 100% metal tins, as these are the only containers that protect the valuable nutrients from oxygen and oxidisation while on the shelf and in the bottle. This type of packaging ensures higher beta-carotene levels and other sensitive nutrients are protected for the end consumer.
Glass and metal packaging is also 100% recyclable, therefore caring for the environment as well as protecting the Spirulina and the consumer form any contaminants that can be found in plastic containers.
How do you add Spirulina to your diet?
Spirulina is one of the most nutritious whole foods available. It is packed with protein, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Different to synthetic man-made multi-vitamins, many people choose to take Spirulina. The abundant nutrients in these unique blue - green algae are more easily assimilated than the formulated combination of man-made vitamins and minerals compressed into vitamin tablets. Plus the nutritional profile of Spirulina is perfectly balanced by nature.
Spirulina is available in pure powder, tablet and capsule form and is easily added to the daily diet in many different ways.
Spirulina powder is a wonderful addition to a daily green juice or smoothie and it can be stirred into yoghurt, mixed into breakfast porridge or blended into dips such as hummus, sprinkled over salad and added to home-made energy truffles. For more great health giving recipes for you and your family download your free copy of e-book . . . Superfood Snacks and Smoothies >>>
The tablets and capsules are easy to take and convenient when on the run or while travelling, to help make sure you get essential nutrients. It is recommended that you take around three grams, that is one level teaspoon of powder or six tablets or capsules - best results will be seen when you reach the optimum intake of 2-3 serves each day.
I encourage you to try adding spirulina to your daily diet and see how good you feel!
Written by Donna McLaurin - The Green Nutritionist
Donna is a Certified Health and Wellness coach (Institute of Integrative Nutrition), Certified Nutritionist (Nature Care College), Life lover, Wife and Mother of three amazing ‘Kidults’
1. Tefera, Genene DVM, PhD Microbial Genetic Resources Department, Institute of Biodiversity Conservation Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January, 2009.
2. Moorhead, Kelly and Capelli, Bob - Spirulina Nature’s Superfood 2011.
3. Wolfe, David. - Superfoods, The food and medicine of the future. Atlantic books 2009.
4. M. E. Gershwin, Amha Belay - Spirulina in Human Nutrition and Health 2007.
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