Is Spirulina the miracle food for COVID?

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. In doing a web search on “drugs that could cure COVID-19”, the first page of your search will probably be a whole list of drugs touted by different countries and companies. Despite all the bleakness about the lack of a vaccine, there still might be hope for the prevention of COVID-19.

Spirulina is a microalga that has been lauded as a superfood in the past few years. More commonly sold as a dried green powder, many people add it to smoothies to give a health boost to their diet. In fact, more practitioners and nutritionists have been recommending it recently. According to a few available research papers, spirulina has shown to have anti-viral properties. Specifically, regular consumption has demonstrated a marked decrease in viral load for COVID-19 and HIV patients. This is a particularly exciting discovery as it could prove to be an essential part of the prevention of COVID-19 and has potentially significantly lesser 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.

Facts 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

In addition to direct health benefits of consuming spirulina, it is environmentally friendly:

  • 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

Spirulina's colour and algae content may sound weird to consume, however, there are many food products that contain alga such as kelp and chlorella, and any dessert made with agar-agar (red algae). If it feels weird to eat green powder, you can mix it into smoothies, like matcha. 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, Bizsu and soon by FairPrice. Exactly the 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.

 

Authors:

Brice Degeyter is a French entrepreneur and helps companies develop business opportunities while protecting the environment. He is the founder of Bizsu, a company supplying sustainable, innovative and cost-saving products and services to corporations.   

 

Keith Wo is a locally-based environmentalist, currently studying in Yale-NUS and is the Chief Sustainability and Design Officer of MBF. He is passionate about sustainability issues and educates the public about them.  

 

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