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Originally published March 26 2014

Study touts spirulina as functional food for diabetes management

by PF Louis

(NaturalNews) Many have raved about superfood spirulina's overall health benefits, and there have been studies supporting their claims. One study in Korea focused on type II diabetes patients to determine if spirulina would alleviate diabetes symptoms enough to be considered a valuable functional food, a food that goes beyond supplying normal nutritional needs, or a superfood.

The researchers recruited 37 diabetics who were making regular clinic visits for their condition. They were randomly assigned as study subjects consuming spirulina or as part of a control group without spirulina. The spirulina group was given 8 grams per day, a pretty hefty amount considering how light the powder is.

Both groups were required to maintain their usual diets without adding any other functional foods or supplements for the 12-week duration of the study. Spirulina supplementation had no affect on BMI (body mass index) but a significant decrease in serum triglyceride levels and blood pressure, which is common among diabetes 2 sufferers.

Spirulina also significantly reduced plasma malondialdehyde levels, which are biomarkers for oxidative stress. Spirulina subjects also experienced a rise in plasma adiponectin levels, which are associated with increased insulin sensitivity and decreased heart attack risk.

So the increased adiponectin levels indicate a potential reversal of diabetes 2 and lower risk of heart attacks.

The researchers also noted that spirulina was more effective among those studied who were suffering from dyslipidemia, a condition of poor lipid (fat) digestion that leads to higher lipid (triglyceride and cholesterol) counts common among diabetes 2 patients.

They concluded: "This study provides the evidence for beneficial effects of spirulina supplementation on blood lipid profiles, inflammatory variables, and antioxidant capacity in Korean patients with type 2 diabetes. The results suggest that spirulina is a promising agent as a functional food for diabetes management."

It doesn't get much better than that. But there is another side to the spirulina and blue-green algae story.

Spirulina and blue-green algae buyer beware caveat

Yes, there are many benefits from spirulina. But the blog offers some compelling evidence from Dr. Michael Greger of that shows the potentially dark side of blue-green algae especially, and spirulina. But thus far, he knows of no downsides with chlorella.

Dr. Greger does acknowledge the benefits of spirulina and blue-green algae but also points out the potential health risks of liver damage and neurodegenerative disease.

He cites studies that have discovered hepatoxins that can damage the liver in spirulina and neurotoxins from blue-green algae. Some say there is little or no difference between the two, but there are several different algae strains.

The neurotoxin that can be created from blue-green algae is BMAA (beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine). Dr. Greger claims BMAA can be found in two places, in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases and on the shelves of health food stores that display blue-green algae products.

Dr. Greger adds that testing each batch for purity would eliminate those issues, though he feels most producers of blue-green algae or spirulina won't, because it's too costly.

So if you're interested in either, you should follow the buyer beware caveat. One good source of blue-green algae would probably be E3Live, which claims to have stringent quality control with their Klamath Lake AFA blue-green algae.

You are invited to check out the sources below or above to reach your own decision, or switch to green algae chlorella.

Sources for this article include:

The Korean Study:

The blog that introduced the dark side of blue-green algae and spirulina from Dr. Greger:

An informative Rich Noll interview of Dr. Greger:

A collection of Dr. Greger's short videos on blue-green algae, spirulina, and chlorella:

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