Seaweed might well be good for your gut and metabolic health. In the simplest terms, that’s what the findings from a local clinical study have shown initially. Biobelly was run at Shoalhaven campus of University of Wollongong by researchers Dr Pia Winberg, Associate Professor Barbara Meyer and PhD candidate Lauren Roach.
Sixty-four participants who were all either overweight or obese were provided either placebo or active capsules in a double blind, placebo-controlled study of six weeks. The research team measured blood, urine and gut flora samples.
The context of the study was that is possible to improve or reserve conditions like high blood cholesterol, risk of heart disease, inflammation and high insulin with a change to diet and lifestyle, “and in this instance simply by supplementation with a seaweed extract that can fill the gap in special types of dietary fibre that most people lack in their diet,” Dr Winberg said.
The study was finished in December with a completion rate of over 98 per cent. The participants on active capsules had all anecdotally reported they were feeling better because they were more regular. In addition the preliminary findings on effects on cholesterol, inflammation and blood glucose were promising.
Gut flora was analysed using the genetic technology and computing power with collaborators in California. There were some clear shifts in the gut flora, with positive effects including species that could help to reduce conditions like leaky gut syndrome, so the research team will continue analysis along these lines.
The research team is now writing up the research findings and hopes to have them published in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal which means that the work is independently scrutinised by globally recognised scientists in the field.
“Then the outcomes can be clearly defined and something as local as a unique Australian seaweed could provide molecules that contribute to reducing the health budget, plagued to a large extent by unnecessary chronic illnesses from deficiencies in the diet that lead to an overweight population,” Dr Winberg said.