Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Powerful Greens

Spirulina blog post

About 2 years ago I was given a big bag of dark green powder from a client of mine. She’d been into Holland & Barratt and spent a fortune on dozens of healthy goodies for herself but decided to treat me too. Her gift was a bag of something called spirulina, which is to be the subject of this blog post.
Now, many readers will have heard of, and perhaps even tried, spirulina in the past. You may have come across the claims of its health benefits which I’m going to flesh out a bit today.
Spirulina is a form of blue-green algae. Yes, I know it sounds gross but please read on. The people in the know claim that this was the first form of plant life on earth and it has an UNBELIEVEABLE nutritional profile.
Firstly, spirulina is made up of roughly 60% protein, which is gram for gram around 3 times more protein than steak! This protein is what can be called a ‘complete protein’ as it possesses all essential amino acids, which are basically the building blocks of protein and cannot be made in the body, therefore have to be sourced from the foods that we eat. The amino acid proportions are very close to what you’d find in human breast milk, which is undeniably packed full of nutrition. What I think’s particularly great about this is that vegetarians and vegans, who often struggle to include enough protein in their diets, have a fantastic option here in plant form.
Spirulina is known for its array of nutrients – many of which I’m not going to go into in this post. However, something I do want to focus in on is its ability to provide the body with a fast-acting source of energy. Spirulina is absorbed ridiculously quickly into the blood stream. Its absorption is so fast that it’s a great option for pre-workout nutrition. Spirulina’s high concentration of vitamin B3 (niacin) also makes it a good to take before exercise because of its effect on the circulatory system. The niacin produces nitric oxide which relaxes the blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and allowing for a generous oxygenated blood flow to the working muscles. Incidentally, this is the same effect you may have come across beetroot having.
There have also been some promising studies that have looked at spirulina’s antioxidant profile. One of the most powerful antioxidants is called beta carotene. It so happens that spirulina is the richest known natural source of this particular carotenoid, which is one of the many reasons why consumption of this algae might genuinely be life changing for a big portion of the population.
If I were to put on my sceptical hat, it would be easy to question the bioavailability (how much of what’s in them actually get used in the body) of these products. But surely something with such nutrient density needs to be tried.
I’ve personally only occasionally used the bag of spirulina that my client bought be all those months ago. Maybe I should check the use by date! But what I do pretty much every day is use a greens powder which includes spirulina along with loads of other forms of plant and algae. I do feel that it energises me and I hope that it’s working its magic under the skin too.



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