So what the @#$! is chlorella?!?! It is a superfood! I first found out about chlorella through ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier’s nutrition and fitness book ‘Thrive’ (check out the review here!). After reading about it, I had to get some. I just started taking it consistently and already feel pretty great. We’ll see if it will last!
Since I got the info about chlorella right from Brendan’s book, I’m going to post a BIG quote right from the source. He gives such a nice explanation without getting too technical. All my college professors would shake their fingers at me for doing so, and I really hope I don’t get sued, but here it goes:
“One of the finest superfoods in nature is chlorella, a single-celled freshwater microscopic green algae…Capable of reproducing itself four times every 24 hours, chlorella is the fastest growing plant on earth. It also contains more chlorophyll and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) than any other known plant. It’s no surprise that chlorella is the number one food supplement in land-scarce Japan, where it is used regularly by 10 million people.
Chlorella is being investigated in the West as a ‘land saver.’ Its amazing rate of growth has made it a subject of study for scientists who aim to improve yields of food-producing land. Chlorella is 65% protein, making it by far the most environmentally efficient method of protein production.” TAKE THAT! TELL THIS TO ANYONE WHO QUESTIONS HOW YOU CAN GET ENOUGH PROTEIN BY JUST EATING PLANTS! Moving on… “Contrast this to whey protein, for which grazing land is needed for the cattle and farm land is needed to grow grain to feed the cows; the cows must then be milked, the whey extracted from the milk, the protein extracted from the whey, and so on—all a draw on resources. Plus, since chlorella has the highest level of chlorophyll of any organism, the protein remains alkaline, thus speeding recovery from daily wear and tear and after exercise.
Chlorella is a complete food; it can also be considered a vitamin and mineral supplement. Nutritionally, chlorella is a true superfood, containing a high amount of protein, essential fatty acids and a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. As well, chlorella contains the elusive (at least, in the plant kingdom) vitamin B12, which is extremely difficult for vegetarians to find in forms other than manufactured tablets. Chlorella provides it, naturally.
Chlorella possesses 19 amino acids. Among them are all 10 of the essential ones (those that must be obtained through diet; the body cannot manufacture them). Therefore, chlorella is a complete protein. These amino acids, in conjunction with naturally occurring enzymes, are the most easily absorbed and utilized form of protein. The ease with which these amino acids can be utilized means this is an easy task for the body. Many other complete proteins are much more energy intensive to digest.
So complete is this wonder-food that, when consuming nothing other than chlorella, human life can be sustained for an extended period. This was discovered by NASA when the space agency was looking at ways to sustain astronauts for space travel.
Chlorella’s detoxification properties, another key component of the plant, has recently garnered attention in the West. As we know all too well, our air and water quality is declining, and there really is no practical way to avoid our exposure to it. I choose chlorella as a daily body detoxifier. It helps reduce stress on the system from environmental pollutants…Chlorella helps reduce cellular damage caused by free radicals produced by vehicle emissions.
Daily consumption of chlorella is a perfect example of a preventative measure to build better health via a stronger body. Directly enhancing the immune system at a cellular level, chlorella treats the cause of any possible breach—as opposed to fighting the onset of sickness (as is all too often done with pharmaceutical drugs).
Nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) and chlorella growth factor (CGF), a compound exclusively found in chlorella, are further attributes that set chlorella apart. CGF is responsible for chlorella’s unprecedented ability to quadruple every day. By consuming chlorella, we can benefit from its growth factor. It speeds cell regeneration, slows signs of aging, enhances healing, and expedites muscle recovery. CGF is even capable of stimulating tissue repair when the body’s healing sources are overworked because of incessant stress. CGF is capable of swinging the body’s immune function north of the proverbial fine line during times of unrelenting stress, thus helping you avoid getting sick.
A CGF of 3% growth is considered high; however, most packaging labels don’t state the CGF. When selecting chlorella, look for high levels of protein and chlorophyll; some brands do state this on the label. For protein, 65 to 70% is considered high; for chlorophyll, 6 to 7%.
Since chlorella is a whole food, I suggest a daily dose of at least 1.5 grams (about 1/2 tsp.); 2.5 grams (1 tsp.) daily is significantly better. You can’t take too much chlorella: Because it is not stored in the body, toxicity if not a risk. However, its full cleansing effect will likely be felt with 2.5 grams (1 tsp.) a day. I consume up to 7.5 grams (1 Tbsp.) a day during heavy training, with a notable improvement in my performance. Some people take up to 15 grams (2 Tbsp.) a day to add more protein to their diet. However, since chlorella contains iron, those on a low-iron det should not exceed 10 grams (4 tsp.) a day.” (Brazier, ‘Thrive’, 150-152)
So there you have it! Isn’t that incredible? Hopefully that will convince all of you to go out and try some. You can get chlorella in liquid, powder, or pill form. I prefer taking the pills because it’s fast and easy to swallow. The powdered chlorella can be great for smoothies but it has a VERY powerful taste which is also why I opt for the pills.
Try some chlorella to detox your system! Someone asked me “what does detox really mean anyway? What are toxins?” This is a great question and something I need to do a bit more reserarch on. What I know for now is that toxins usually refer to free-radicals, or anything the body would naturally try to get rid of in yucky stuff like sweat, urine, and feces. What are free-radicals exactly? They are uncharged molecules which are very reactive because they have an un-paired electron in their valence shell. (Remember your high-school chemistry?!?!) In all atoms, the outer-most shell (the valence shell) can hold 2 electrons. These atoms want to be stable by having all their shells filled. So when there is 1 electron missing in the outer-most shell, this means that the atom wants to steal an electron to become stable again. These are what free-radicals are! Think of them as criminals corrupting all the healthy little minds of the molecules in our bodies. They want to become more stable so they steal an electron from the healthy ones. This is bad!
Here is a concise explanation: “Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, ‘stealing’ its electron. When the ‘attacked’ molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell. Some free radicals arise normally during metabolism. Sometimes the body’s immune system’s cells purposefully create them to neutralize viruses and bacteria. However, environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also spawn free radicals. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, ending the electron-‘stealing’ reaction. The antioxidant nutrients themselves don’t become free radicals by donating an electron because they are stable in either form. They act as scavengers, helping to prevent cell and tissue damage that could lead to cellular damage and disease.” So toxins are present in our everyday lives through pollution, the chemicals in food we eat, and so on. (This is why people are into eating organic fruits and veggies so that there would be little to no chemicals present to form free-radicals). Antioxidants are called such because when a substance is oxidized, this means that it is giving up it’s electrons (because oxygen is an electron stealer). So antioxidants give the electrons back to the free-radicals, neutralizing their ill-effects!
So yes, toxins are a real thing, although there may not be enough solid research out there yet studying all of their effects. But putting the whole detox discussion away, eating super-foods like chlorella is a solid way to ensure you are getting vitamins and other goodness like cholorphyll (more like boreophyll!….anyone?).