By Vera Tweed
nature’s supergreen Trying to eat more greens? Check out chlorella, a bright green algae that’s a concentrated source of nutritional goodness.
ant to take advantage of the health beneﬁts of green foods that we hear so much about? Chlorella just might be the answer. The name comes from two Latin words: “chlor,” meaning green, and “ella,” meaning tiny. Its exact composition varies depending upon the supplement brand, but it’s generally made up of about 60 percent protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, ﬁber, and chlorophyll.
What is Chlorella? A form of algae that grows in fresh water, chlorella has a rich emerald color that comes from its high levels of chlorophyll, a natural detoxiﬁer. Although dense in nutrients, chlorella’s cell walls are tough, making it diﬃcult for our digestive systems to handle. To solve the problem, supplement manufacturers break down the cell walls to make chlorella’s nutrients more bioavailable. (Look for products described as “broken cell wall,” or “pulverized.”) Chlorella is used to enhance overall health, as well as to improve immunity and digestion; relieve PMS symptoms, bad breath, and constipation; lower blood pressure and cholesterol; improve skin health; and relieve asthma symptoms.
Less Lifestyle Disease Diabetes and heart disease are considered “lifestyle diseases,” because they’re largely driven by unhealthy habits. In Japan, researchers tested the eﬀects of
chlorella on 17 people who were at high risk for such diseases. Published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the study found that chlorella supplements signiﬁcantly decreased risk by reducing body fat, lowering cholesterol, and lowering levels of blood sugar. Researchers observed that chlorella improved the way genes are activated, leading to healthier metabolism.
Immune Enhancement To investigate chlorella’s ability to enhance immunity, researchers in Virginia tested it on 21 patients undergoing treatment for brain tumors. The therapy is known to suppress immune function and, as a result, increase respiratory infections. The study, published in Phytotherapy Research, lasted two years and found that taking chlorella supplements kept immune function at near-normal levels and reduced respiratory and ﬂu-like infections. Researchers in Korea compared the eﬀects of chlorella and a placebo on immunity of 51 healthy people, during an 8-week period of supplementation. They found that taking 5 grams of chlorella per day enhanced natural killer cells and other markers of improved immune function.
Energy Improvement People who take chlorella often report increased energy. In studies, day-to-day energy levels in healthy people are diﬃcult to measure, but researchers have tested the eﬀects of chlorella on ﬁbromyalgia,
where symptoms include extreme fatigue, as well as pain. At Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, researchers gave chlorella to 18 people with ﬁbromyalgia for two months. Tests showed an average pain reduction of 22 percent—seven people in the study experienced overall improvement in multiple symptoms, six experienced no change, and ﬁve felt that their symptoms worsened. Researchers concluded: “The results of this pilot study suggest that dietary chlorella supplementation may help relieve the symptoms of ﬁbromyalgia in some patients.” Those in the study received daily supplements of 10 grams of Sun Chlorella tablets and 100 mL of a more concentrated liquid chlorella supplement, Wakasa Gold.
Reduced Blood Pressure Another study at Virginia Commonwealth University tested the same supplement regimen in a group of 24 people with moderately elevated blood pressure. Before taking the supplements, those in the study stopped taking blood pressure medications for four weeks. After two months of chlorella supplementation, 25 percent of participants reduced their blood pressure to healthy levels without medication. Among the others, blood pressure did not increase beyond their non-medicated levels. All of the participants felt that their overall health improved while taking chlorella.
11/29/16 9:35 AM