Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Spirulina Elixir

The first time I made myself a spirulina elixir I could not quite finish drinking it. I had been vegetarian for years, gradually introducing unusual whole foods to my everyday diet (seaweeds), but this time I was struggling. Spirulina is exceptionally high in nutrients, unlike any other plant or animal, so it made sense to incorporate it into my diet. The unusual smell and taste - something reminded me of glue from childhood as well as mouldy bread  - was, however, a little too unusual for me. I am not entirely sure why or indeed how I kept drinking the daily elixirs, until two weeks later something quite perverse happened. The smell and taste of spirulina became tolerable, even pleasant, and I started to look forward to spooning the powder into a glass and mixing it with water. The fashionable fad of healthy eating does not usually include spirulina, so all that we can extract from magazines and TV programmes is the usual drink-more-water-get-more-sleep-do-more-exercise doctrine; yet the reason for neglecting such an important food product is probably because of its divergent taste and smell. If you wish to improve your health, whatever your age or sex, have courage and try spirulina. There is every chance that, after a rather imperfect equilibrium of two weeks, you two, too, may become friends.

What is spirulina?
Spirulina is an aquatic plant, spiral-shaped and deep green. It was among the first life forms on this planet. The green colour, throughout the history of mankind, has been associated with love, tranquillity, repose, healing, renewal and strengthening weaknesses. It is interesting to note that the heart chakra correlates with the green hue. 

What does spirulina do?
Spirulina detoxifies the liver and kidneys, enriches the blood, cleanses the arteries, enhances intestinal flora, fortifies immunity and keeps the skin wrinkle free. Recently, a L'OrĂ©al face cream advert was banned, again, by the Advertising Standard Authority in England, because it was heavily photoshopped and promised wildly unrealistic results. Similar bans are considered on Lancome's, Maybelline's and other products. It is astonishing how many people still believe that perfect-looking six-pack abs, narrow waist, wrinkle-free skin and toned buttocks can be bought in a pot of cream. A youthful body and supple skin comes from the food we put in our mouths. Spirulina has a high beta-caronene content, which keeps the skin smooth from the inside; no cream matches such powerful properties. However, if you do use creams and lotions, I recommend the natural varieties. I use organic jojoba oil on my face and organic sesame or olive oil as a hand and body lotion. 

Spirulina is exceptionally rich in: 
* beta-carotene - prevents several types of cancer from developing (lungs, stomach, bladder, colon, uterus, ovaries, skin) 
* chlorophyll - builds the blood, reduces high blood pressure, controls the growth of unwanted microorganisms and relieves nervousness 
* nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) - renews cells and reverses ageing 
* blue pigment phycocyanin (protein) - increases mental capacity  
* protein digestibility of spirulina is thought to be 85% vs 20% of beef 

How to take spirulina?
Spirulina is available in powder, tablets and capsules. The recommended daily dosage is 10-15 grammes (a heaped tablespoon of powder or equal amount of tablets) six times a week. Chlorella is another aquatic plant that has similar properties to spirulina. Both are sold in supermarkets and health-food stores.

* All statistical and nutritional information is from the invaluable 700-page tome "Healing with Whole Foods" by Paul Pitchford.

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