Let’s talk about algae. Yes. The smelly thing growing in your neighborhood pond or your office fish tank. Perhaps when you first think about living a healthier life, you may not think about algae. But as scientists continue to investigate chlorella and spirulina, they are learning that what may appear to be a gross looking nuisance could be grossly crucial to your health and wellness (and metabolic function!).
Chlorella is a single-celled freshwater alga (unlike spirulina which is a multi-celled). It is also believed to be one of the oldest species of algae. Chlorella superfood originates in Japan and Taiwan and is affectionately referred to as the “Jewel of the East.” It’s no wonder that chlorella has been widely used as the most popular supplement in Japan. It is also able to reproduce eight times in one day, making it a self-sustaining nutrient source.
Chlorella Superfood to Save the World
After World War II, there was an extreme population boom (hello, baby boomers!) that forced nations to look at their food sources, fearing they would run out of food to feed the booming census growth within a few decades. They evaluated that they could not possibly produce and distribute enough food to feed the people.
Chlorella was at the forefront of possible solutions due to its ability to reproduce at a rapid rate, be a self-sustaining food source, and deliver a whopping amount of protein (1 ounce can contain 16 grams of protein!). In fact, scientists discovered that if chlorella were farmed appropriately, once dried it would be comprised of 50% protein. This seemed to be the future of food until mid-century technological advancements increased the availability and quantity of other food sources, and chlorella remained a supplemental ingredient in Japanese cuisine.
Recently though, chlorella benefits have brought chlorella back into the limelight, particularly as interests in foods with exceptionally high nutritive value and a low-caloric impact are becoming more and more popular.
Chlorella Health Benefits
Chlorella superfood contains a robust variety of nutrients and, as a result, an impressive array of health benefits. One ounce (3 tablespoons) of chlorella can contain 297% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin A, 71% of the recommended dose of B2, 202% of the recommended daily dose of iron, and 133% of the recommended daily dose of zinc. These dosages of nutrients help to support a healthy immune system and can aid in the prevention of various illnesses.
Chlorella for Weight Loss
Chlorella has been shown to help regulate metabolism and even help reduce body fat. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food revealed a noticeable reduction in body fat, blood glucose levels, and cholesterol.
Chlorella is also believed to help balance hormonal fluctuations in the body. It’s been shown to improve circulation, promote higher levels of energy, and remove toxins that are released through exercise or weight loss.
We are always bombarded with toxins from pollution, processed food, and other sources. When we lose weight, many of these toxins are released into the fat, but unfortunately can be reabsorbed. Chlorella is an excellent aid to help flush toxins out of our systems as quickly as possible by surrounding the toxins and heavy metals within our body and removing them, making chlorella a natural detox aid.
Chlorella for Detox
Anytime you consider a detox or a cleanse, particularly for toxins or heavy metals, it’s essential to consult a physician. This is especially key when working with heavy metals that may have been absorbed into the body. The wrong protocol can make things worse. In other words, don’t start drinking tons of chlorella because you think you might have been exposed to mercury. This is not recommended (nor is it safe).
However, if you’ve been given the okay to start incorporating a chlorella detox into your regimen to remove heavy metals or toxins in your body, then you’ll quickly begin to experience some of the benefits.
Chlorella contains chlorophyll, which serves as excellent prevention against ultraviolet radiation treatments while simultaneously helping to expel radioactive particles from the body. This makes chlorella a beneficial supplement for cancer patients who may undergo radiation or chemotherapy.
Over the course of this two year study, researchers found that patients who were taking a regular supplement of chlorella while experiencing radiation or chemotherapy were less likely to suffer respiratory or flu-like symptoms. They concluded that, “…Extracts of Chlorella pyrenoidosa in the diet provide essential nutrients necessary to maintain good health, resist infection, and restore immune functions in immunocompromised patients.”
Chlorella to Help Prevent Cancer
Not only is chlorella an aid to provide relief to cancer patients under radiation or chemotherapy treatment, but there is also mounting evidence that it may be able to prevent specific forms of cancer. Because of chlorella’s ability to boost the immune system, naturally and efficiently remove the body of toxins and heavy metals, and provide apoptosis (or cell death) to undesirable cells, it’s believed that it can prevent some environmentally induced cancers.
It’s also high in antioxidants, which have been shown to be extremely effective at helping to prevent certain cancers.
Chlorella and Cholesterol
Chlorella has been found to lower cholesterol levels, as well as specific blood glucose levels in the body. For patients who experience symptoms of obesity induced hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and hyperlipidemia (which is an abnormally high concentration of fats in the body), chlorella has been shown to reduce lipid and glucose levels.
In some studies, chlorella’s ability to significantly lower lipid and glucose levels is believed to also create a preventative effect for patients who have diabetes. It’s indeed been shown to provide relief from diabetic complications, such as cataracts, by breaking down cell walls and disrupting lipid functions.
Some Caution for Chlorella
While chlorella is considered a safe supplement, it does contain moderate levels of iodine. If you have an iodine-sensitive thyroid condition or allergies to iodine, you should avoid chlorella altogether.
Because chlorella can increase immune functions, those with an autoimmune disorder should also consult with a physician before consuming chlorella as it may provide complications and an undesirable effect.
Chlorella is also high in vitamin K, which is a clotting agent that can be dangerous to people who may suffer from clotting disease.
How and Where to Get Chlorella
Chlorella superfood can only be consumed in a dried powder form, or as a tablet or pill. It can be sprinkled on yogurt, cereal, or added to a smoothie as part of a powder, such as Veggie Shake.
Whatever your delivery system, choosing to incorporate chlorella into your diet will provide lasting preventative health benefits and help maintain your body’s current functions at a high level.