In August, I wrote an article titled “”. I must admit, I waited for some comments; the amazing properties and benefits of an unappetizing sea plant must be of interest in a community as well read as Diamond Bar.
The most interesting of the comments received came from overseas. London, England, to be exact. What interest would someone in London have in a story from Diamond Bar Patch, you ask? Read on.
On behalf of IIMSAM, I am grateful to you for writing an article on the benefits of Spirulina. I am confident that not only it shall help spread the knowledge about the microalgae; but would also play a key role to eradicate malnutrition, achieve food security and bridge the health divide for the peoples of the world.
With best wishes,
Mr. Uprety resides in London, but our Patch article caught his attention. His official title is H.E. Ambassador Manish Uprety F.R.A.S, Chief of Technology Facilitation and Institutional Development, IIMSAM. Apparently, this agency is working hard with countries all over the world to inform their governments of the health benefits of this amazing plant, and news stories of any kind are greatly appreciated.
What is IIMSAM? It is the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition. On their website, they explain their position this way:
“Known for centuries, Spirulina is an edible micro-alga. Under favorable conditions, it grows rapidly and produces an excellent source of protein and vitamins. It is a traditional food in some countries, and has gained popularity as a new health food in others. Spirulina can help combat malnutrition, consistent with the UN Millennium Development Goal Number 1 - to Reduce Extreme Poverty and Hunger.”
IIMSAM has done and continues to do great work with the poverty stricken, as well as those suffering in disaster areas all over the world. A partnership with the United Nations has furthered their success in championing the cause of saving lives from hunger with Spirulina.
The IIMSAM website grabs your attention in more ways than one. You see famished children being fed, and international relief workers bringing life by giving nutrition to impoverished, hopeless people. Photos of Goodwill Ambassadors such as President Barack Obama’s grandmother, Mama Sarah Obama, and uncle, Said Obama. They are both working in Kenya to save the lives of thousands of Somalis that have been displaced due to famine. Designer Carolina Herrera is also featured as a Goodwill Ambassador, traveling all over the world to bring awareness to the plight of starving people and the benefits of Spirulina.
It came as a surprise to say the least, that our hometown paper would come to the attention of a UN-related intergovernmental agency. Nutrition is a serious business in parts of the world with little or no food. But does that mean that we here in the Land of Plenty have little need for micronutrient food?
According to one local expert, yes, we do need it. Gene Lee, owner and operator of A 2 Z Vitamins in Diamond Bar, has an opinion about healthy eating. Since opening his store nine years ago, he has seen interest in health increase.
“Spirulina is known more with the Asian community," he said. "Asians are [more] concerned with prevention than traditional medicine, so they buy Spirulina.”
Lee believes that Spirulina should be a part of everyone’s healthy diet,
"Micronutrients are fundamental to health," he said. "Creating an atmosphere in the body where disease cannot take hold should be the goal of all informed people. My father was a doctor, and my mother a nurse, so I grew up taking care of my health. Prevention is the key. Our Kyo-Greens is the supplement I recommend, and Spirulina is an ingredient.”
Are you still unconvinced? Maybe an interview with Uprety will explain things further.
Q: What does the public not understand about Spirulina?
A: Though being a traditional food in many ancient civilizations such as the Mayans, Aztecs in the Americas and the kingdom of Chad in Africa among others, its utilization in the modern world is a fairly new one that started only in the 1950s and '60s where it was studied as a specialised scientific subject called phycology - the study of algae. In modern times it is very difficult to convince people that 1 to 3 gms of Spirulina per day can provide adequate nutrition to the human body. It seems like a miracle to most, which in fact it is, the miracle of nature.
Q: Why add it to your diet? [Should it be taken] daily?
A: 1 to 3 gms of Spirulina can provide adequate nutrition required by the human body in terms of essential proteins and amino acids, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
Q: What results can you expect to see or feel if any?
A: It has special relevance for people who suffer from many pathologies such as anaemia in women and childern, cardiovascular, diabetes, nutritional imbalance, etc. It is easily digestable and also helps build intestinal flora that helps absorption of nutrients in the human body. The results are manifest in a short span of time.
Q: In what form is Spirulina most potent? Pills? Powder added to liquid?
A: The nutritional content of Spirulina remains intact in either forms. It is usually provided by the manufactures on the labels.
Q: What should one look for when buying Spirulina? Organic? Made in USA?
A: Spirulina contains about 60% protein (51 % - 71%). The protein content varies according to geographical location from which Spirulina is sourced. Organic Spirulina gives a conscientious consumer a choice. One of the biggest Spirulina production facilities in the world is based in Irvine, while the Spirulina produced in Hawaii is famous for being organic.
Q: How long has it been used to counter starvation?
A: Spirulina was declared by the United Nations World Food Conference of 1974 in Rome as the best food for the future. It was recognized as a tool to counter malnutrition in the 1980s and the 1990s when many projects were launched in Africa and Asia.
Q: Where is it being used currently?
A: It is being used across continents viz. Asia, Africa and South America. IIMSAMs initiatives in Africa and South America utilize Spirulina to counter malnutrition and associated pathologies.
Q: Why do Americans need Spirulina especially?
A: Modern fast-paced lifestyle has impacted our traditional food habits and patterns, and the nutritional intake has diminished significantly whether in school children, young professionals and senior citizens. Therefore, the more developed and fast paced a nation is, the more relevance Spirulina has to deliver holistic nutrition to its citizens.
Q: Do Asians culturally understand its use better...because?
A: Spirulina is gaining popularity in the Far East as people are more careful about their health and lifestyle. Though the evidence is anecdotal on the number of users, some of the biggest Spirulina farms have come to existence in China, Malaysia, Thailand in the recent past.
Q: Where can we get it? Is a regular vitamin shop adequate?
A: In the U.S., it is avaiable in health shops and stores; and also used as an additive in places like Jamba Juice.
Q: Of all the vitamins, minerals, and other food additives and health foods, what stands out most with Spirulina that cannot be duplicated elsewhere?
A: Spirulina is the richest source of easily digestible proteins and amino acids, beta-carotine, iron, etc. And it's natural and provides holistic nutrition.
Q: Does IIMSAM have any connections in California?
A: IIMSAM had approached Earthrise Farms a few years back, in 2008, to develop a partnership to address the issue of malnutrition - the biggest challenge to secure the United Nations Millennium Development Goals - globally.
I personally have been taking Spirulina for years in the form of a full spectrum greens supplement. Has my health improved? Dramatically. I never expected to stumble across a wealth of information from people such as Uprety from IIMSAM and Lee from A 2 Z Vitamins. We are making a difference by talking about a magnificent, nutritious food, and getting the attention of people around the world by doing so. Uprety would like Diamond Bar to know this:
“My suggestion is that a country like the U.S., which is a world leader, can play a significant role to address the various challenges that mar humankind both through its official agencies such as USAID but various NGOs that are based in the country. Making Spirulina a tool of foreign policy shall not only save innumerable lives of the vulnerable, such as women and children across the world, but shall also establish lasting capacities and capabilities in the developing world. Gandhi said, 'There are people in the world so hungry that God can appear to them only in the form of bread.'"
It seems that now the form it comes in is a green powder called Spirulina, and it is available on Diamond Bar Blvd.