Spirulina & Chlorella: Improving overall health, endurance & performance

Over the last few year I kept hearing about these powerful powders, know as spirulina and chlorella. I knew that they were considered superfoods, but I had no idea why. I started to investigate why these vibrant coloured powders were so great, and what I found was a little crazy! Spirulina and Chlorella are dried blue/green single celled micro-algae that act like little miracle workers in our bodies. 


They provide a number of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A (beta-carotene), B vitamins, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium etc. Chlorella and Spirulina also have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. They are primarily known to help with detoxication of toxins and heavy metals, but they also help support our immune system, nervous system, metabolism, fertility, cell rejuvenation as well as improve cardiovascular, eye, brain, skin, liver and digestive health. 


My favourite part about these powders is that they provide healthy fats and PROTEIN! Complete protein to be exact. Complete proteins provides all 9 essential amino acids, in other words they provide all 9 essential building blocks of protein that we must get from our food because our bodies don't produce them. Commonly known complete protein foods include meat, poultry, dairy etc. It is often forgotten that plants have the ability to provide protein let alone complete protein. Spirulina and Chlorella are not only a good source of complete plant-based protein, like soy and quinoa, but they are a good source of protein, period. Spirulina and chlorella have the highest composition of protein even when compared to animal based protein- they have more protein per ounce than a serving of steak! This table helps compare the protein composition of some high protein foods (note: chlorella has roughly the same composition as spirulina). This table comes from a book called "Superfood and Functional Food - The Development of Superfoods and Their Roles as Medicine"  in chapter one, A Prominent Superfood: Spirulina platensis (I have a strong feeling I am going to be referring to this book a lot).

There are a number of research studies that help support the fact that spirulina and chlorella incredible superfoods. While doing my research, I came across this study by Lu and colleagues that I thought would grab your interest. This study illustrates that spirulina may have a significant impact on our endurance and sport performance! Do I have your attention now?  This clinical research study looked at two groups of college student. One group took spirulina and the other group took a placebo 3-times a day for three weeks. After three weeks the students were asked to perform an all-out treadmill exercise. This study showed that the time until exhaustion was higher in the group who added Spirulina to there regular diet. The findings of this research study lead them to conclude that "... the ingestion of S. platensis [Spirilina] showed preventive effect of the skeletal muscle damage and that probably led to postponement of the time of exhaustion during the all-out exercise." The full article can be found here: 

Lu, H. K., Hsieh, C. C., Hsu, J. J., Yang, Y. K., & Chou, H. N. (2006). Preventive effects of Spirulina platensis on skeletal muscle damage under exercise-induced oxidative stress. European journal of applied physiology98(2), 220.

It is almost too good to be true that just a small amount of these powders can have such an impact on our health, wellbeing and endurance. It seems like a no-brainer to add this stuff to our diets, but the earthy flavour tends to turn people away. The flavour can be disguised if mix with the right foods, but the good news is that is can be taken as a supplement in a capsule form as well. 

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I personally use 'Prairie Naturals Aqua Greens Spirulina & Chlorella Powder' that I buy from Kardish Foods or online at Well.ca  I add a couple teaspoons of this power to my morning smoothies and I am good to go!