An Indian study found that spirulina, a blue-green algae, may help people with type 2 diabetes manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the study involved 25 people who either received two grams of spirulina a day or a placebo for two months. The control and study groups shared similar medical and nutritional backgrounds. What the researchers found is that those with type 2 diabetes who took spirulina for two months had improved blood sugar and lipid profiles. The researchers concluded that “these findings suggest the beneficial effect of spirulina supplementation in controlling blood glucose levels and in improving the lipid profile of subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus.”
Other studies on spirulina also found that it can help diabetics:
A 2008 Korean study of 37 people with type 2 diabetes found that the blood-fat levels of study participants who took 12 weeks of spirulina supplements were significantly reduced.
A 2006 Croatian study on diabetic rats, found that those given spirulina tended to have normal levels of blood sugar, plasma insulin and serum C-peptide.
A 2005 Chinese study of the effects of spirulina and another combined herbal extract on induced diabetic rats found that the rats had reduced blood sugar levels, plus reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Considering the sheer amount of people in the U.S. with type 2 diabetes, this is good news. Almost 26 million people have diabetes, and 90 to 95 percent of them have type 2 diabetes, which is acquired (rather than congenital), according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). More people are developing diabetes from diet and lifestyle habits, and in a 2010 study, the CDC projected that by 2050 one in three American adults could have diabetes if current dietary trends persist. Half of Americans aged 65 and older have prediabetes, and almost 27 percent have diabetes.
Diabetes is costly, both in terms of loss of life, and economically. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. People with diabetes are more likely to suffer from complications like heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, kidney failure, blindness and amputations of feet and legs. The American Diabetes Association estimated the cost of diabetes in the U.S. for 2012 to be $245 billion, with $176 billion in direct medical costs, and $69 billion in reduced productivity. The average medical expenditures among people with diabetes were 2.3 times higher than for those without it.
Photo Credit: William Ismael