Spirulina or more precisely blue-green algae is a mixture of single cell organisms which bridge the gap between plants and animals. Its cells photosynthesize, just like plants, whilst there are no cell walls, just like animals! Historically the first mention comes from one of Cortes’ conquistador soldiers who describes it as a valuable food source for the Aztec people in pre-16th century Central America. The algae grew in profusion on Lake Texcoco. This is where the Aztecs built there famed capital, Tenochtitlan on an island in the lake. They were eventually overcome, and Montezuma’s city fell to the Spanish in 1521, who destroyed the original capital and set about building Mexico City on the same site. The vast city and flood prevention measures reduced the lake to a shadow of its former self and so the spirulina beds of Lake Texococo disappeared.
Sprilulina, thankfully, did not disappear. It’s amazing food, comprising 60% protein. It contains the 8 essential amino acids which are so vital for human cell growth. They are essential because they have to be sourced from food as the body is unable to make them itself. However, blue-green algae are low in methionine and its non-essential companion cysteine. These provide valuable sulphur compounds essential for proper digestion. A problem for vegetarians is the lack of vitamin B-12 and its pivotal synergist, folic acid in the diet. On the face of it, spirulina provides a powerful protein source, enhanced by the plentiful supply of B vitamins, including the vital B-12 which donates oxygen to hemoglobin and thrusts away pernicious anemia . But there is a problem, for some unexplained reason the B-12 is unassimiable to the human body, therefore, useless. This detracts from it shining forth as an ideal protein source!
It was first commercially produced in Thailand in 1988 when the now famous Booson Farm opened up in Nonthaburi. Thanks to this innovative approach the country has now grown to become one of the world’s leading spirulina producers. Booson Farm has moved to more spacious surroundings in Chaing Mai. As an interesting aside the Thai name for blue-green algae is “Sarai Klew Thong.”
Overseas studies in vitro have revealed it to be effective against the HIV infection. It has also been shown to protect cancer patients against the ravages of chemo and radiotherapy. It is a powerful antioxidant and has been demonstrated as being a successful means of reducing blood fats. A study conducted by a well-respected Bangkok University took 41 diabetic patients. The first group of 21 participants was fed 6gms of spirulina per day for 8 weeks. The second group was given a placebo. The researchers found that participants in the control group with blood sugar readings in excess of 140 mg/dl successfully reduced the blood sugar levels by 31 mg/dl over the 8 weeks. This took their blood sugar readings out of the range categorized as diabetic. The study also found that uric acid levels decreased. This was contrary to expectations as spirulina had previously been slated for increasing uric acid. This is fantastic news not only for those who have imbalanced blood sugar levels which is reasonably common in vegetarians because some eat a lot of starchy carbohydrates but for gout sufferers, too.
Another study conducted under the auspices of the Nanjing School of Medicine in China showed that a staunch spirulina intake also inhibited the growth of Leukemia cells. Overall, then spirulina is a nutritious food source being high in protein, containing all the essential amino acids and providing the B vitamins in profusion. It stabilizes high blood sugar as well as being a potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Clearly it provides a nutritious food supplement for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Add it to smoothies and daily juices on a regular basis because it is likely to give you a wholesome boost to wellness. All this is easy, and it’s remarkably cheap, too. If you would like assistance in sourcing blue-green algae, simply use the website link to make contact. More next week, so bye for now!