Wakame, the fitness algae
If algae like Ecklonia cava and Chlorella can make you fitter and faster, why shouldn't the edible wakame have similar properties? Researchers at the Korea Food Research Institute studied the effect of wakame on mice, and made a discovery that will light up the eyes of countless bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts and endurance athletes.
In the oceans of the Northern Hemisphere you will find the algae Undaria pinnatifida, as scientists prefer to call wakame. The Japanese have been eating algae as a vegetable since time immemorial.
Wakame contains fucoxanthin, a carotenoid that stimulates fat oxidation in animal studies, and fucoidan, an immunomodulatory saccharide. In addition, wakame contains phenolic substances such as caffeic acid and hesperetin, a flavonoid that may stimulate the formation of muscle tissue.
The researchers gave a group of mice feed containing wakame extract for 8 weeks. The researchers made the extract themselves on the basis of alcohol. If the mice had been adults, they would have received 2-3 grams of extract daily.
A control group of mice received feed without additives.
At the end of the supplementation period, the researchers got the test animals to run on a treadmill until they literally could no longer.
The animals ran further and faster when given wakame extract. [UP] In addition, the muscles of the test animals in this group were larger.
It is striking that the muscles of which the weight was determined by the researchers - the gastrocnemius [Gastroc] and the extensor digitorum longus [EDL] - mainly consist of fast muscle fibers. As a result, this animal study may not only be of interest to endurance athletes, but also to bodybuilders.
As you can see above, the wakame extract stimulated growth of the mitochondria of the muscle cells. The mitochondria are the power plants of the cell. They convert nutrients into energy
In addition, wakame had increased the activity of the VEGF hormone in the mice's muscles. VEGF stimulates the construction of blood vessels. Thus, the extract had improved blood flow to the muscles.
The extract activated signaling molecules such as PGC-1-alpha and AMPK, the Koreans discovered. As they went on to find out which substances in the extract were responsible for these effects, they discovered that both fucoxanthin, caffeic acid and hesperetin were involved in the ergogenic effects of wakame.
"Our findings highlight the potential of Undaria pinnatifida for further development as a health supplement that enhances the health benefits of exercise", the Koreans write.
FASEB J. 2020;10.1096/fj.201902399RR.
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