Saturday, November 17, 2007
Spirulina & its Benefits
What is Spirulina Algae ?
Spirulina is a microscopic blue-green algae that exists as a single celled organism turning sunlight into life energy.
It is one of the first life forms designed by nature more than 3.6 billion years ago. Spirulina contains billions of years of evolutionary wisdom in its DNA and is an offspring of earth’s first photosynthetic life forms.
Under the microscope, Spirulina is a blue-green color and has the appearance of a spiral of long thin threads.
Spirulina is exceedingly adaptable and occurs in a wide variety of environments including fresh water, tropical springs, saltwater and saltpans.
Spirulina is full of nutrients and very easily digested. Commercially, Spirulina is available as a powder, tablet and capsule or added to foods and health tonics.
There are many forms of valuable algae and in the last 40 years Spirulina has been singled out for its nutritional properties. Long before it became a favorite of the health food industry, Spirulina was eaten regularly by North Africans and Mexicans centuries ago. Now many people around the globe realize that Spirulina is a powerful food with huge potential as a whole food source, medicine and biochemical resource.
A great deal of research has concentrated on the cultivation and harvesting of what is affectionately referred to as ‘the green’. It has been described as ‘probiotic’ and a ‘superfood’.
The cultivation of Spirulina has also brought interest because, as with most micro algae, Spirulina is extremely adaptable, often thriving in extreme conditions. With its rich nutritional goodness and ability to grow in adverse conditions, Spirulina has a huge potential to be a food source that will help feed and nourish the worlds population.
As a plant, Spirulina is incredibly rich containing a balance of nutrients that make it virtually a ‘whole food’ capable of sustaining life without the need for other foods.
Spirulina provides vitamins, many minerals, essential amino acids, carbohydrates and enzymes. Spirulina is at least 60% vegetable protein, which is predigested by the algae, making it a highly digestible food. It is higher in protein than any other food. Its outstanding nutritional profile also includes the essential fatty acids, GLA fatty acid, lipids, the nucleic acids (RNA and DNA), B complex, vitamin C and E and phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, chlorophyll (blood purifier), and phycocyanin (a blue pigment), which is a protein that is known to inhibit cancer.
A breakdown in nutritional terms of a few of the most commonly available supplements reveals an impressive comparison.
How is it grown ?
Spirulina thrives in natural alkaline lakes. Spirulina farming is part of the new era of ecological agriculture. The key component in the production of Spirulina is sunlight and attention is given to measurement of temperature and oxygen levels.
Because pesticides and herbicides would kill many microscopic life forms in a pond, algae scientists have learned how to balance pond ecology without the use of these harmful substances.
This form of aquaculture represents one of the solutions needed to produce food while restoring the planet.
Protein & Amino Acids
As a protien supplement spirulina has a distinct advantage over other forms of supplement. Because of the important role proteins play in our overall health and well being, they are often referred to as the building blocks of life.
Proteins are complex molecules consisting of chains of amino acids and are best known for their role in the formation and repair of structures such as muscle and bone. However, proteins and their aminos’ have numerous other vital functions, such as insulin management, immune system regeneration, mineral transport and anti-hypertensive properties.
Proteins are made up of 22 identified amino acids. Nine of these are essential yet the body cannot produce them, so they must be provided by the diet. Non-essential amino acids are needed also, but the body can produce these itself. Essential amino acids, plus sufficient nitrogen in foods, are needed to synthesize the non-essential amino acids.
The quality of the protein depends on the amounts of amino acids contained in a protein. The more closely the protein matches the body’s requirements the higher the quality. Spirulina is known as a ‘complete protein’ due to the fact that it contains all the essential amino acids. This means we can get our necessary intake of protein without subjecting our digestive system to the hard work of processing animal products.
Digestable Protein Unlike other forms of protein, the protein in Spirulina is 85-95% digestible, one of the highest available. In fact, Spirulina is second only to a dried egg supplment with regards to usable protein, and higher than any of the common foods in the form in which they are usually purchased. Being composed of soft mucopolysaccharides, Spirulina has no cellulose in its cell walls making it easy for the body to digest and assimilate.
Its amino acids are delivered to the body for almost instant absorption.
Protein digestibility is important for many people and especially important for people suffering from intestinal malabsorption or digestive disorders. Typically, many older people have difficulty digesting complex proteins and are on restricted diets. They find Spirulina’s protein an ideal way of ensuring they receive the nourishment needed. Spirulina is an effective supplment for sufferers of malnutrition diseases where the ability of intestinal absorption has been damaged. Given to malnourished children, it is more effective than milk powders because milk's lactic acid can be difficult to absorb.
On top of all this, Spirulina complements vegetable proteins found in beans and pulses and increases their amino acid quality.
Market price (exclude delivery charges) :
RM 150 / SGD 70 / USD 49 (per 1,000 tablets)
Posted by The Green Sanctuary at Saturday, November 17, 2007