Substantial reductions in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), total cholesterol (TC), and triglyceride (TGL) levels were reported in the combined intervention group; improvements which were markedly better than groups administered spirulina or exercise alone, suggesting the combination may result in amplified beneficial clinical outcomes.
The researchers summarised: “The findings from this 12-week study demonstrate that Spirulina supplementation in conjunction with high-intensity interval training reduced adipokine levels, improved body weight and BMI, and enhanced lipid profiles.
“This investigation underscores the potential of Spirulina supplementation and high-intensity interval training as a synergistic strategy to ameliorate obesity-related complications and enhance overall cardiometabolic well-being in obese males,” they add.
Obesity and health
The obesity epidemic of the modern world represents a significant public health crisis. Due to its significant effect on a multitude of physiological systems, there is a significant risk of developing an array of noncommunicable disorders, such as type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and stroke.
The pathogenesis of obesity involves the modification of the circulating adipokines and cytokines, with notable increases in inflammatory types such as C-reactive protein (CRP), tumour Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF alpha), and Interleukin-6 (IL-6). Oxidative stress is known to play a key role in the obesity-related inflammation, specifically from reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Thus, there has been a significant interest in the mitigation of ROS levels in those with obesity, with studies investigating the potential of dietary antioxidants as a dietary therapeutic to reverse the pro-oxidative state of cells. The antient cyanobacterium spirulina is known for its significant antioxidant attributes, with previous evidence highlighting its potential to reduce blood lipid levels, body fat, BMI, and appetite.
Exercise is also known to alleviate stress and inflammation, with spirulina previously reported to enhance exercise performance and fat oxidation. Yet, the interplay between spirulina supplementation and exercise remains inconclusive.
Thus, the present study sought to explore the effects of combining HIIT exercise with spirulina supplementation on markers of cardiometabolic health, anthropometric measures, and adipokines and cytokines, compared to isolated HIIT and spirulina interventions.
The researchers recruited 44 obese male participants after selection using specific inclusion criteria, which were then randomly assigned to four equally sized groups: the control group (CG), the supplement group (SG), the training group (TG), and the training and supplement group (TSG).
The training groups were enrolled onto a 12-week exercise programme which included three HIIT sessions per week. The supplemented groups were given a 6g daily spirulina supplement over the same period. Metabolic parameters, anthropometric measurements, cardiorespiratory indices, and circulating adipokines were measured 48 hours prior and following the intervention.
Significant disparities between the body weights of the intervention groups were noted, when compared to the control group. In addition, adipokine levels significantly reduced in all groups compared to the control.
The combined training and supplementation group resulted in the most substantial reductions in LDL, TC, and TGL levels.
The researchers concluded: “We showed that while HIIT and Spirulina alone resulted in similar changes in markers of inflammation, the combination of HIIT and Spirulina led to more significant improvements in cardiometabolic health outcomes.
“This suggests that while HIIT and Spirulina alone can foster improved inflammation in obesity, the combination of both leads to additional beneficial clinical outcomes that appear to be mediated by mechanisms beyond the modulation of obesity-related inflammation.”
Yet, the report emphasises the need for further research to investigate and measure the mechanisms behind the enhancement of adipokine levels by the bioactive components of spirulina, whilst incorporating a more representative sample.
“Spirulina Supplementation with High-Intensity Interval Training Decreases Adipokines Levels and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Men with Obesity”
by Rashmi Supriya, Maryam Delfan, Ayoub Saeidi, Seyedeh Somayeh Samaie, Maisa Hamed Al Kiyumi, Kurt A. Escobar, Ismail Laher, Katie M. Heinrich, Katja Weiss, Beat Knechtle, and Hassane Zouhal