Elderly folks suffering from anemia or age-related immune system deterioration could see dramatic improvements with regular supplementation of spirulina, a blue-green freshwater algae with an extensive track record of health promotion and disease mitigation. Researchers from the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of California, Davis, (UCD) learned this after testing the effects of spirulina on a group of seniors with either or both of the two conditions and seeing positive results.
Participating in the study was a cohort of 40 volunteers, each of whom was 50 years of age or older with no previous history of major chronic illness. Each participant did, however, report having suffered from some form of anemia or immunological dysfunction, also known as immunosenescence, meaning he or she was in need of regular treatment. In this case, researchers wanted to test whether or not a nutrition-based approach centered on spirulina would bring relief to the volunteers.
For 12 weeks, study participants were told to take spirulina regularly, as well as submit comprehensive dietary questionnaires outlining all other foods they ate during this time. Throughout the course of these three months, administrators tested the participants’ complete cell counts and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) enzyme activity, both of which are indicators of immune function. These levels were analyzed at baseline, week 6 and week 12 of supplementation.
Upon analysis, the research team found that, throughout the 12-week study period, patients’ mean corpuscular hemoglobin, or average hemoglobin mass per red blood cell, increased significantly in both sexes. Both mean corpuscular volume and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration increased in male participants as well, but older women were found to derive health benefits from spirulina more quickly compared to men.
“[T]he majority of subjects manifested increased IDO activity and white blood cell count at 6 and 12 weeks of spirulina supplementation,” explains the study abstract, as published in the journal Cellular & Molecular Immunology. “Spirulina may ameliorate anemia and immunosenescence in older subjects. We encourage large human studies to determine whether this safe supplement could prove beneficial in randomized clinical trials.”
Spirulina also effective against allergies, high cholesterol and cancer
There are many other health benefits associated with spirulina as well, including improved allergy symptoms, better metabolism of cholesterol and decreased risk of cancer. Many earlier studies, including one published in the journal Cardiovascular Therapeutics back in 2010, reveal that spirulina can help prevent and treat a host of diseases, including cardiovascular and inflammatory conditions.
“Spirulina has been experimentally proven, in vivo and in vitro that it is effective to treat certain allergies, anemia, cancer, hepatotoxicity [toxicity of the liver], viral and cardiovascular diseases, hyperglycemia [high blood sugar], hyperlipidemia [high cholesterol and triglycerides], immunodeficiency, and inflammatory processes, among others,” writes Kelly J. Moorhead in her book Spirulina: Nature’s Superfood.
Source for Story: