LMU 153 – From the Depths of the Sea: Chlamydomonas Algae and Gastrointestinal Health
Source: Journal of Functional Foods (February 2020)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (Feb 22, 2020)
For decades, the world of nutrition has been captivated by the potential health benefits of marine algae. From the renowned spirulina and chlorella to various seaweed species, these oceanic wonders have tantalized our taste buds with promises of added nutritional value. Moreover, scientific studies have suggested that certain compounds derived from these algae could be powerful allies in the fight against cancer, aging, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and inflammation. However, a lesser-known marine algae named Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has recently emerged as a promising candidate in the realm of gastrointestinal health, specifically in patients dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and related digestive woes.
Chlamydomonas Reinhardtii: The Unsung Hero
In 2020, a remarkable study published in the Journal of Functional Foods unveiled the potential of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, an algae species that has been overshadowed by its more famous counterparts. This study, conducted over a span of 30 days, involved 51 participants who consumed either 1 or 3 grams per day of C. reinhardtii orally. The results were nothing short of intriguing. Individuals who often grapple with gastrointestinal discomfort reported significantly reduced bowel discomfort and diarrhea, less gas and bloating, improved regularity of bowel movements, and better stool consistency when regularly incorporating these algae into their diet.
What’s more, an analysis of their stool samples provided reassuring insights: the algae supplement appeared to have no detrimental effects on the delicate balance of gut microflora. This revelation is particularly significant, as the gut microbiome plays a pivotal role in digestive health and overall well-being.
Mice, Algae, and Bowel Inflammation: A Tale of Resilience
To further bolster the case for Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, the same researchers embarked on a 14-day mouse study. In this experiment, mice were induced to develop acute colitis, a painful condition characterized by bowel inflammation. However, there was a twist—some of the mice received C. reinhardtii algae supplementation, while others did not. The results were enlightening. The mice that had the privilege of enjoying the algae supplement experienced significantly less weight loss than their non-supplemented counterparts.
Upon closer examination, the researchers uncovered a pivotal clue: the algae had seemingly spared these mice from extensive bowel wall damage. As a result, the intestines were better equipped to absorb essential nutrients, thereby mitigating the weight loss typically associated with bowel inflammation. This discovery hinted at the potential of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to bolster the resilience of the intestinal tract, enabling it to extract more sustenance from the food we consume.
Unveiling the Secrets of Chlamydomonas: A Bioactive Marvel?
As we delve deeper into the enigma of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, questions abound. What is the driving force behind its remarkable effects on gastrointestinal health? Could it be the presence of a bioactive molecule nestled within its green depths? Or perhaps a subtle shift in the gene expression of gut bacteria triggered by this marine marvel? While the answers remain elusive, one fact is clear: more studies are needed to unravel the full spectrum of health benefits that may lie within these unassuming algae.
Conclusion: Algae for Ailing Guts
The journey into the world of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii brings hope to those grappling with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and persistent gastrointestinal issues. In a world where these conditions afflict 10-15% of the population, and conventional medical solutions may fall short, these unassuming marine algae could offer solace. By incorporating just 1-3 grams of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii into your diet, you may embark on a path to improved digestive well-being. While further research is essential to unlock the full potential of this oceanic gem, the initial findings suggest that these algae could not only enhance your nutritional intake but also provide relief from bothersome gastrointestinal symptoms.
Francis J. Fields, Franck Lejzerowicz, Dave Schroeder, Soo M. Ngoi, Miller Tran, Daniel McDonald, Lingjing Jiang, John T. Chang, Rob Knight, Stephen Mayfield. Effects of the microalgae Chlamydomonas on gastrointestinal health. Journal of Functional Foods, 2020. [Read the full study here](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464619306620?via%3Dihub#b0235).
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.