Spirulina - Super Food

All about Spirulina. Spirulina as a human and animal food, spirulina as a medicine. Spirulina production and clutivation methods.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Benefits Of Spirulina In Developing World

Each day around forty thousand children die because of severe malnutrition and related diseases across the world. Malnutrition disempowers and affects the lives of around 852 million people globally in a drastic way. According to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO: 1996), more than starvation the real challenge today is malnutrition-the deficiency of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids) that no longer allows the body to ensure growth and maintain its vital functions.

Malnutrition severely diminishes the human capital of a country and its multifarious impacts hinder the universal achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Developing countries are especially vulnerable to this easily avoidable catastrophe.

Spirulina offers remarkable health benefits to an undernourished person. It is rich in beta carotene that can overcome eye problems caused by Vitamin A deficiency. The protein and B-vitamin complex makes a major nutritional improvement in an infant's diet. It is the only food source, except for mother's milk, containing substantial amounts of an essential fatty acid GLA that helps regulate the entire hormone system.

One tablespoon a day can eliminate iron anemia, the most common mineral deficiency. Spirulina is the most digestible protein food, especially important for malnourished people whose intestines can no longer absorb nutrients effectively. Clinical studies have shown it helps rebuild healthy intestinal flora. These health benefits have made it an excellent food for rapid recovery of children from malnutrition related diseases in Mexico , Togo , Romania , China , Rwanda , Zaire , India , Ukraine , and Belarus .

Spirulina is being produced in more than 22 countries and used in over 77 countries.

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that Spirulina represents an interesting food for multiple reasons, and it is able to be administered to children without any risk. Other proposed uses of Spirulina are for cancer prevention, fibromyalgia, hay fever, herpes infection, high cholesterol, hives, HIV infection, liver protection, weight loss.


Advantages of Spirulina

  • Spirulina does not need fertile land for cultivation and therefore conserves fertile land and soil. It has over 60 % protein that is higher than any other food besides benefits of rapid growth and higher yield.
  • Spirulina requires less energy input per kilo than soy, corn, or bovine protein. As cheap energy sources are depleted, costs of energy dependent foods will rise up with energy prices .
  • Spirulina uses less water per kilo of protein than other foods as the water is recycled back to the ponds after harvesting .
  • Spirulina is a big oxygen producer that is even more efficient than trees and forests to absorb Carbon dioxide and release Oxygen.
  • Spirulina production uses non-fertile land and brackish water and is a potent remedy to deforestation to cultivate food. As people eat lower on the food chain, the pressures to destroy wilderness can be halted and help re-green our planet.
  • Spirulina has no externalized hidden costs in terms of depletion of fresh water, fertile top soil and forests, pollution from pesticides, herbicides, and toxins. No long term medical costs from unhealthy foods with chemical additives.

“For WHO, Spirulina represents an interesting food for multiple reasons, rich in iron and protein, and is able to be administered to children without any risk. We at WHO consider it a very suitable food”

- United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva , Switzerland June 8 th , 1993

AARP Magazine Endorses Spirulina

The American Association of Retired People (AARP) Magazine is the world’s largest circulation magazine. The current issue features an article on Spirulina that begins by quoting the experiments of researcher Paula Bickford, PhD from the University of South Florida Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair. Dr. Bickford reported that Spirulina “demonstrated improved neuron function in the brain, a suppression of inflammatory substances in the brain and a decrease in oxidative damage.”

“Five foods that can add years to your life:”

The AARP Magazine suggests that people add these five foods to their daily diet to add years to their life: The #1 food on the list is Spirulina, followed by berries (cranberries, blueberries and blackberries), leafy greens, nuts (almonds and walnuts) and flaxseed. for spirulina, the magazine suggests 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of Spirulina powder per day or the equivalent 3 – 7 grams in capsule or tablet form.

Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica contains high levels of key nutrients such as carotenoids and enzymes and the lowest levels of heavy metals and contaminants.

For a copy of the AARP Magazine article or more information about Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica please e-mail us at bcapelli@cyanotech.com or call 808.334.9415.

Cyanotech Corporation, a world leader in microalgae technology, produces BioAstin® Natural Astaxanthin and Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica®—all natural, functional nutrients that enhance human health and nutrition, providing significant antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune response benefits. NatuRose® Natural Astaxanthin is a natural pigment source that also promotes animal health and nutrition, primarily in aquaculture. Phycobiliproteins are fluorescent pigments used in medical diagnostic testing and research. Cyanotech produces these products from microalgae grown at its 90-acre facility in Hawaii using patented and proprietary technology and distributes them to nutritional supplement, nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, and animal feed makers and marketers in more than 40 countries worldwide.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Spirulina In Diet Reduce Brain Damage From Stroke

Your mother was right. Eat your fruits and veggies -- they're good for you!


And if that's not reason enough, a new study suggests antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables may limit brain damage from stroke and other neurological disorders. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital and the National Institute of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse, is posted online in the May 2005 issue of the journal Experimental Neurology.


USF/VA neuroscientist Paula Bickford, PhD, and colleagues found that rats fed diets preventatively enriched with blueberries, spinach or an algae known as spirulina experienced less brain cell loss and improved recovery of movement following a stroke. Yun Wang, PhD, of NIDA, is lead author of the study.


"This study is how USF is advancing the field of brain health at the national level," said Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, dean of the USF College of Medicine and vice president for Health Sciences.

The study builds upon previous USF/VA research showing that diets enriched with blueberries, spinach or spirulina reversed normal age-related declines in memory and learning in old rats

"I was amazed at the extent of neuroprotection these antioxidant-rich diets provided," said Dr. Bickford, a researcher at the USF Center for Aging and Brain Repair and James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital. "The size of the stroke was 50 to 75 percent less in rats treated with diets supplemented with blueberries, spinach or spirulina before the stroke."


Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances in these fruits and vegetables may somehow reduce the nerve cell injury and death triggered by a stroke, the researchers suggest. "The clinical implication is that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may make a difference in the severity of a stroke," Dr. Bickford said. "It could be a readily available, inexpensive and relatively safe way to benefit stroke patients.


The researchers studied four groups of rats, all fed equal amounts of food for one month. One group was fed rat chow supplemented with blueberries, a second group chow with spinach, and the third chow with spirulina. The control (untreated) group ate chow only.


After four weeks, an ischemic stroke with reperfusion was induced in the rats. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot cuts off the oxygen supply to the brain like the kink in a hose cuts off water flow. Then, later, the clot is released and blood flow returns, which is known as reperfusion.

The size of the stroke in the rats fed blueberry or spinach supplements was half that seen in the brains of untreated rats. Rats fed spirulina-enriched diets had stroke lesions 75 percent smaller than their untreated counterparts. In addition, rats pretreated with the blueberry, spinach or spirulina diets showed greater increases in poststroke movement than the control group.

All the supplemented diets were rich in antioxidants, which scientists say may counteract the burst of free radicals involved in the cascade of brain cell death triggered by an ischemic stroke. An excess of free radicals can damage cellular lipids, proteins and DNA.


The supplemented diets also contained anti-inflammatory substances that may help reduce inflammation-induced injury following a stroke, Dr. Bickford said. When a stroke occurs, immune cells in the brain mount an inflammatory response – rushing to the site of injury to clear away the dead and dying cells. As a result, nearby healthy nerve cells may suffer collateral damage much the same way firefighters breaking into an apartment to put out a fire in one room may inadvertently cause damage to other rooms.


Teasing out just which beneficial chemicals contained in the blueberries and leafy greens might be reproduced therapeutically in pill form is difficult, Dr. Bickford said. "Whole foods contain multiple nutrients, so there are many different ways these diets could be protecting the brain. From a scientific perspective, it's a package deal."


Dr. Bickford's team is investigating whether rats treated with antioxidant-rich diets following strokes will experience improved recovery. The researchers also plan to study whether combinations of the diets might provide even greater protection against stroke damage than one diet alone.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Veterans Administration.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Spirulina Superfood

Blue-green algae are a diverse group of microscopic plants rarely used for human food. The exception is Spirulina, which has become widely available as a food ingredient within the last twenty years. It is a nutraceutical food with rather unique phytonutrients and characteristics. Spirulina can be used in a variety of healthy food applications. Wild Spirulina platensis, (or Arthrospira as it is sometimes called), grows in sunny warm-water volcanic soda lakes throughout the world. This alga thrives in waters containing high amounts of sodium carbonate with pH values above ten. Where wild Spirulina is found there are often flocks of flamingos and other animals feeding on it. Spirulina has a distinctive spiral structure with filaments of cells being about 10 microns in diameter and up to 1,000 microns in length.

Spirulina is the only blue-green algae commercially cultivated for food use. Modern Spirulina farms have specially designed raceway type ponds using paddlewheel circulation for cultivation. The tiny spiral shaped algae are harvested by multi-stage filtration, rinsed and spray-dried. Spray drying evaporates the water and with minimal heating, preserving nutritive value. It is supplied as very fine dark-blue-green powder, usually packed in sealed oxygen barrier type shipping containers. Since time immemorial humans have eaten Spirulina The Spaniards observed the Aztecs utilizing it for food. Indigenous people around Lake Chad in Africa still eat 'dihe' as they call it. In the West it was first mass-produced in Mexico City where it was growing in a soda works. It was first sold commercially as food in the early 1980s, and since then it has become popular as a health food for "energy" and a dieting aid. Spirulina is today consumed as food in more than seventy-five countries worldwide.

Product Development
Considerable potential exists for Spirulina to be used in energy or granola bars, snacks, sports pastas, and specialty juices and liquid meal replacements. It is especially good for athletes, the aging and others with special health concerns and those needing extra immune system support. Health benefits are found in animal and human studies at feeding levels starting at an equivalent of about one-gram per day, assuming a one-hundred-sixty pound person. Pure Spirulina is a dark blue-green frne powder with a mild seaweed taste. It easily mixes with other dry powder ingredients. While not completely soluble, it suspends nicely in most liquids with gentle agitation. When used in light colored foods at levels of less than five percent it turns the food a pale green, at one percent or less it has little if any effect on color. When used at the lower levels it does not affect the taste of most foods. Commercially available blue pigment, (phycocyanin or DIC Lina-blue) extracted from is useful as a food coloring. While water soluble, it is not heat stable. In Japan it is used for coloring frozen foods and chewing gum.

Potential Benefits
Investigation is underway in regard to the anti-viral and anti-HW properties found with invitro studies of Spirulina extracts. Many in vitro and in vivo studies demonstrate even small amounts or Spirulina stimulate immune system functions, especially those mediated by macrophages. It accelerates immune system competence in young animals. Data also suggests there is synergy between Spirulina and Vitamin C. Spirulina may serve to extend Vitamin C in vivo. Other studies show Spirulina may have potential as a therapy for some kinds of cancers. In China it is used in hospitals to lower blood lipids, reduce fatigue and increase levels of IgG, IgA and IgM. It may have anti-radiation therapy potentiaL Recent work done in Macedonia reports hematological benefits for athletes in intensive training. Other studies show Spirulina may help with liver and kidney detoxification. Animals experimentally fed Spirulina were afforded significant protection from the effects of high doses of dioxin, gentamicin, cisplatin and organic mercury. Since Spirulina has a prokaryotic type of cell structure the cell wall components affect the immune system of man and animals. The thin cell wall is made of polysaccharides and muramyl peptides. Spirulina polysaccharides have both anti-oxidant and immune system stimulating properties. These polysaccharides are linked within the cell wall to muramyl peptides. Muramyl peptides are thought to be essential to humans and animals for good health. They help maintain the immune system in a state of optimal readiness and provide benefits for the central nervous system by stimulating metabolism while enhancing slow-wave sleep and may affect organ development. Chinese scientists have documented the afore mentioned phycocyanin as stimulating hematopoiesis, emulating the hormone erythropoetin. This is a potentially valuable therapy for persons suffering from certain forms of anemia or bone marrow damage.

Nutrition
Spirulina's cell wall contains no cellulose and is made of mucopolysaccharides. The cell wall is easily digested in the human gut. Most striking nutritionally is the high amino acid content, about sixty-two percent, and very high carotenoid pigment content, about 4 mg/gram. The carotenoids consist of about ten different kinds, mainly beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and myxoxanthophyll with small amounts of lutein and several others. Vitamin A activity is about 2,300 LU per gram. Spirulina derives its intense dark blue-green color from a mixture of pigments in addition to carotenoids. Green chlorophyll makes up about one percent while the briffiant hyacinth blue phycocyanins are at about a whopping fourteen percent. Phycocyanins are peptides, which may have health benefits. This alga contains only about seven percent fat and twenty percent of the fat is GLA, gamma-linolenic acid. GLA may have inflammation modulating properties and is itself a popular dietary supplement. Spirulina is usually a good source of iron, containing about one-mg per gram. This makes it an attractive supplement for women or athletes. It also may contain appreciable amounts of zinc, B- 12, riboflavin and thiamin.

Safety
The UN-FAO recognizes Spirulina as a potential weapon against malnutrition for the third world and has sponsored safety studies since the early 1980s. The results show Spirulina is safe and non-toxic. Testing reveals it has a no-adverse-effect level of at least l2gm[kg in mice. No acute or chronic problems, no reproductive toxicity and Spirulina is non-mutagenic.

Quality Assurance
As with mushrooms, care needs to be taken to ensure that the supplier has true Spirulina, not a potentially toxic species that looks similar. Algal toxins, heavy metals are a concern for wild-harvested lake algae. The best suppliers provide algal toxin test results and environmental contaminates like pesticides from agricultural run-off can be a for additional assurance. Visual microscopic examination together with GLA analysis can confirm authenticity. While visual identification of blue-green algae can be difficult, Spirulina is distinguished as the only filamentous blue-green algae with appreciable amounts of GLA fatty acid, (18: 3:6), about one percent by weight. GLA content should be at least 900mg/lOOgm to meet the accepted definition of Spirulina by the NNFA in the United States. Moisture should be less then seven percent. Bacterial or mold contamination are indicators of improper growing conditions, drying or storage. Color should be very dark blue-green. Carotenoid pigments should be at least 350mg/100gm. "Bright" green color indicates oxidized stale product with low carotenoid content.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Organic Spirulina Benefits

SPIRULINA is a single-celled microorganism that closely resembles a bacterium. Its spiral-shaped filaments are rich in plant pigments such as chlorophyll, phycocyanin and beta-carotene. Spirulina turns the lakes and ponds where it grows a dark-blue green.

Harvesting your own spirulina is not advisable as coastal and aquatic colonies of the algae may be contaminated with industrial waste or sewage. Cultivation of organic spirulina involves locations away from industrial pollution (for example, a remote hamlet), where there is no contamination. There should also be no other agricultural activity in the area (to avoid contamination with pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers).

Spirulina has been used medicinally in China for thousands of years. Organic spirulina has the highest protein content compared to other natural food. Apart from that, it is also an excellent source of iron, calcium, magnesium, and a range of vitamin Bs. Organic spirulina contains the highest amount of chlorophyll, carotenoids and phycocyanin and has virtually no cholesterol. These phyto-nutrients act as natural antioxidants to neutralise free radicals.

Those who can benefit from supplementation with organic spirulina include:

  • Children who don’t eat vegetables and fruits

    Many parents do face problems persuading their kids to eat enough greens and fruits. However, these food groups may not fare very well among the young ones, and nutrient deficiencies may occur.

  • Students who live away from home, and busy working people

    These people may lack certain nutrients as they often skip meals and opt for fast food that are high in calories but not necessarily high in important nutrients. Organic spirulina, which has a good nutrient profile, may help replenish and prevent malnutrition.

  • The elderly

    The elderly may not be able to obtain essential nutrients from the diet due to poor dentition and digestive health, diseases and medication that affect the digestion, absorption and utilisation of nutrients. Spirulina has no cellulose in its cell walls, and thus can be easily digested, absorbed and used by the body. It is also good for enhancing the immune system.

  • Weight-watchers

    Spirulina is an ideal supplement for those who are weight-sensitive. Spirulina is low in fat, low in calories and contains practically no cholesterol, making it suitable for weight-control. Many people use spirulina as part of their detox programme as the pigment chlorophyll helps in detoxification.

    Many health professionals also advocate the use of spirulina during juicing (sprinkled into fruit juices and broths), which gives better outcomes. Apart from that, the bioavailability of iron in organic spirulina is important to dieters who are on low calorie diets and prone to iron deficiency

    Choosing the right spirulina product is important as inferior grades may not provide the outcome that we desire. Besides looking at nutrient content, organic spirulina should be certified by regulatory bodies and the cultivation facilities should also be certified.


    References:

    1. Fox D. 1993. Health Benefits of Spirulina. In Spirulina, Algae of Life. Bulletin 12. Institute Oceanographique, Monaco.

    2. Jian Ren M. Spirulina in Jiang Xi, China. Academy of Agricultural Science. Soc. Appl. Agology, Lille France.

    3. Takeuchi. Clinical Experiences of Administration of Spirulina to patients with Hypochronic Aneamia. Tokyo Medical and Dental Univ. Japan

  • Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Spirulina Power Toast

    2 slices high fiber toast (whole wheat, multigrain etc.).
    1 clove garlic - peeled.
    1 Tablespoon flax oil.
    1 Teaspoon Spirulina.
    1 Tablespoon Soy Lecithin.
    2 Tablespoon non fat yogurt.
    sprouts. [mixed sprouts or just lentil sprouts are ideal].

    Blend spirulina. lecithin and yogurt until all powder is absorbed. Spirulina doesn't smell very nice in it's raw form but blended with yogurt it looses it's dreadful smell and smoothes out it's lumpiness.

    When toast is just "hot out of the toaster" rub one side with garlic clove, drizzle oil on and spread yogurt mixture on it. Garnish with sprouts and serve with a piece of fruit.

    As Breakfast, this is a good time to take fat soluble supplements of Vit E - 400 iu with selenium. Vit A and D[one pellet halibut liver oil]
    1 - 500ml. Cap Calcium Ascorbate.[the non-acid form of Vit C]

    The Vit C synergizes with the Vit E and increases the anti-oxidant properties of both.

    This is a good combination of high fiber, garlic, beta-carotene in the spirulina, flax oil and supplemental vitamins.

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Spirulina Article By News.com.au

    Who'd have thought that a tiny green aquatic plant could be hailed as the latest energy-giving superfood? Spirulina is often added to smoothies at juice bars and fans of the algae say that it helps beat stress and fatigue. It's cultivated around the world as a food source and was a staple of Aztec cuisine in the 14th century. In fact, spirulina is so packed full of goodness experts think its beta-carotene is 10 times more concentrated than that found in carrots. It's also easy to digest, so nutrients are absorbed quickly.

    "Spirulina is very nutritious and is rich in minerals and some vitamins, so it's good for topping up a diet with any minerals you might be deficient in," says Saxelby. "But there is the issue of how much is added to your drink at a fresh juice chain. The dose is often too small to have a clinical effect. If you want a real boost, speak to a herbalist and get a proper supplement for your body weight."

    Source: news.com.au

    Saturday, October 29, 2005

    Activation of Autoimmunity Following Use of Spirulina

    Lee AN, Werth VP.
    Section of Dermatology, University of Chicago, IL.
    Arch Dermatol. 2004 Jun;140(6):723-7.

    Evidence for the scientific basis of purported therapeutic effects and adverse effects of herbal supplements continues to grow. Many herbal supplements are touted for their immunostimulatory properties, and both in vitro and in vivo experiments have supported this claim. Although this explains their beneficial effects in preventing or curtailing disease, to our knowledge, no immunostimulatory herbal supplements have been reported to exacerbate disorders of immune system overactivity. We describe 3 patients whose autoimmune disease onset and/or flares correlated with ingestion of herbal supplements with proven immunostimulatory effects.

    Echinacea and the alga Spirulina platensis are implicated in 2 patients' flares of pemphigus vulgaris, and a supplement containing the algae Spirulina platensis and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae was ingested by a third patient days before both onset and a severe flare of dermatomyositis. The third patient showed heterozygosity for a tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) promoter polymorphism (-308A), leading to increased production of TNF-alpha, which may have predisposed her to developing dermatomyositis. CONCLUSIONS: Immunostimulatory herbal supplements such as spirulina may exacerbate preexisting autoimmune disease or precipitate autoimmune disease in persons genetically predisposed to such disorders. Increased production of TNF-alpha may play a role, although more research is needed to clarify the mechanisms of such phenomena.