As the colder weather approaches it becomes increasingly important to incorporate foods into your diet that boost the immune system.
Common foods for improving immune health include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, but there’s one important food you might not know about.
The lesser-known spirulina is a great health food for giving your immune system the extra kick it needs this season.
Here are some important things to know about spirulina, including where it’s sourced from and what else it can do to improve your health.
Spirulina for Immune System Support
Spirulina is a highly nutritious blue green algae, that grows in many different types of water. It has been called the single most nutritious food on the planet by many sources, largely due to its nutrient-dense composition.
One tablespoon of spirulina contains:
- Less than 2 grams of digestible carbohydrates
- 4 grams of protein
- Many important vitamins and minerals including copper, iron, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, magnesium, manganese and potassium
- Only 20 calories
Aside from being an excellent source of plant protein to help repair muscles and tissues, spirulina has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Phycocyanin is the active compound in spirulina that provides the plant with most of its antioxidant benefits and rich green blue colour.
Phycocyanin boosts the immune system by fighting damage to cells that may otherwise cause disease in the body.
According to a 2009 study, phycocyanin's anti-inflammatory activity helps inhibit dangerous inflammatory actions in the body. Another study published in 2014 found that phycocyanin has free radical-scavenging properties that help protect against disease and naturally flush the body of toxins.
Phycocyanin also contains protective properties that boost the immune system by fighting off damage to the liver and brain.
Research published in Current Protein and Peptide Science found that phycocyanin contains powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and hepatoprotective effects that "soothe inflamed tissues and prevent cellular damage."
The study found that phycocyanin also helped clean out blood to support liver function.
Spirulina for Gut Health
Spirulina has been shown to help control blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce blood pressure, improve allergic and anemic symptoms and enhance endurance.
As an overall health aid, spirulina helps boost the immune system by providing natural toxin-flushing substances that may decrease the risk for disease and keep you going strong year round. It also keeps your gut in check.
According to a 2012 study, spirulina showed promising results for the treatment of candidiasis, a fungal infection that lives in the intestines, where the majority of the immune system also resides.
Candidiasis poses a great threat to your overall health because it has the ability, if left unchecked, to expand and grow to disrupt proper functioning of the immune system.
If you’re experiencing fatigue, brain fog, persistent illness, sugar cravings, anxiety or trouble sleeping, you might be experiencing a yeast overgrowth.
For other great tips on how to keep your gut healthy, see our article about the digestive system’s connection to the immune system.
Incorporating Spirulina Into Your Diet
For those who enjoy the ease and comfort of getting their spirulina intake from a tablet, we can recommend the Foodtopia brand. One bag provides you with 180 tablets of 500 mg each.
They contain no fillers, coatings, additives, binders or preservatives that other brands might carry. One serving will get you all nine essential amino acids and more than 15 different vitamins and minerals.
If, however, you prefer powders to capsules, try Maximum Vibrance. Each serving of the nutritious greens powder contains 1,000mg of organic spirulina. Composed of fruit, vegetables, cereal grasses and assorted botanicals, Vibrant Health's comprehensive formulation also delivers a high percentage of nutrients and antioxidants from real food sources.
There's even 2g of chlorella protein powder per serving. Chlorella, of course, is a single-celled green algae not dissimilar from spirulina. Maximum Vibrance is thus a great way of obtaining a healthy daily intake of dietary algae, not to mention other beneficial nutrients.