Spirulina makes HIV-positive people healthier
African women who are infected with the HIV virus seem to become more healthy if they take 5 g Spirulina every day, nutritionists from Giessen in Germany announced in Nutrients. Despite this, Spirulina has no effect on the presence of HIV in the body.
Spirulina is a first-generation superfood. The inhabitants of Africa have been scooping these green-blue cyanobacteria out of crater lakes for centuries, drying it and feeding the pellets to their animals. Sometimes they eat it themselves too – and not without reason. During the Second World War researchers discovered that spirulina contains extraordinarily high amounts of reasonable quality protein, as well as a range of minerals and vitamins.
The researchers wondered whether spirulina might be of benefit to Africans who are infected with the HIV virus [see right]. Low nutritional status speeds up the course of HIV infection, so including this superfood in the diet could have the opposite effect - and thus slow down the development of the virus.
The researchers gave 28 HIV-positive women in Cameroon 5 g spirulina every day for 12 weeks. The researchers administered the powder in capsules. A control group of 30 infected women took a placebo.
The women were not given any antiretroviral therapy.
Spirulina had no effect on the virus count in the women's body. One of the effects of HIV is that it destroys T-CD4+ immune cells, destroying the body's resistance to infections. Spirulina supplementation did not inhibit the decimation of this cell type.
Spirulina did however boost the total level of antioxidants in the blood [TAOS]. This may explain why the women who took spirulina had fewer problems with "concomitant events: opportunistic infections, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, respiratory disease or gastrointestinal symptoms." This effect was not statistically significant however.
"The use of Spirulina for antiretroviral activity should be looked at carefully, since we did not generate data supporting such an effect in the present study", the researchers write. "However, Spirulina can be recommended as a food supplement capable of reinforcing the body's antioxidative status."
Nutrients. 2014 Jul 23;6(7):2973-86.
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