With the limited success in finding a cure to COVID-19, can Spirulina be a beacon of hope?
Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, the entire world has been racing to find a way to prevent COVID-19. With the lag in understanding the virus, Singapore will only start its human clinical trials in August for the vaccine. On searching for “drugs that could cure COVID-19”, the first page of your search is a whole list of drugs touted by different countries and companies. With all the bleakness about the lack of a vaccine, there might be hope still for the prevention of COVID-19.
Spirulina is a microalga that has been lauded as a superfood in the past few years. Often sold as a dried green powder, many add it into smoothies to give a health boost to the diet. In fact, more practitioners and nutritionists have been recommending it recently. This is because, among the benefits of this unassuming algae, spirulina can prevent COVID-19.
According to a few research papers available, spirulina has shown to have anti-viral properties. Specifically, its regular consumption has demonstrated a marked decrease in viral load in COVID-19 as well as HIV. This is a particularly exciting discovery as this could prove to be an essential part of the prevention of COVID-19 through diets and has potentially much less side effects than the drugs. Spirulina is well-tolerated by many and has the capability to improve our immune system. Also, the fact that it is a vegan product also makes it accessible to a wider group of people. Moreover, it has way more benefits than anti-viral properties.
So, what’s so special about Spirulina?
- Antioxidant properties: With beta-carotene (a form of Vitamin A) and Vitamin E, Spirulina fights off free radicals that damage our cells
- Antidiabetic and lowers cholesterol levels: Reduces complications to health issues like cardiovascular diseases
- Anti-inflammatory and improves immunity
- Antibacterial: reduces the likelihood of getting infections
- Reduces the likelihood of cancer
- High protein content: If 20% of pasta flour used was changed to spirulina powder, the protein content of the pasta almost doubles in amount.
- High iron content: 10g of spirulina has the same amount of iron as 128g of spinach
On top of the direct impact of consuming spirulina on our health, it has shown to also be very kind to the environment and nature. What this means is that as we replace unhealthy foods with spirulina, we protect the environment and improve environmental health which ultimately improves our own health as well.
- Climate- and drought-resistant: Spirulina needs minimal water which means it has the potential to alleviate malnutrition in arid regions where crops grow poorly. It only needs 2% of the water needed for beef protein.
- Land conservation: Easily grown in various locations and scaled easily. We can grow Spirulina in tanks in buildings without the need to clear forests for land.
- No need for pesticides: The amount of pollution reduces which improves the quality of the water and soils
- Side-products: After extracting the powder, we can convert the remainder of the biomass to biofuels for energy usage
- The carbon dioxide that is emitted into the air can be pumped into the solution where spirulina grows to reduce the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and thereby mitigating climate change
How can we use Spirulina?
We now know that spirulina holds the potential to combat COVID-19, as well as improves the health of consumers in the long-term. Some think that spirulina looks strange and algae sound weird to consume. However, there are many products that we eat that already contain algae! Take kelp and chlorella, they are algae, and any dessert made of agar-agar needs red algae.
If it feels weird to eat green powder, you can mix it into smoothies, like matcha. That’s an easy way to incorporate spirulina into our diet. In fact, if you’re already consuming matcha, spirulina is basically the nutrient-dense version.
We can also switch out regular pasta for Spirulina pasta sold by Spring Spirulina. Same taste, just the colour changes. You can maybe add up some fresh or frozen spirulina to any sauce accompanying your salad or rice. As studies about spirulina become more widespread, we strongly recommend incorporating this superfood into their diets. You deserve it and, long term wise, that’s clearly a game-changer.