Algae has been used by tens of millions of people in Asia for over 50 years, and even Olympic athletes and NASA astronauts have relied on algae for decades as a way to pack a lot of nutrients into a very small volume of food, probably since algae contains 1,000 times more nutrition than anything else in the world (or if you'd like to think about it this way, one gram of algae – about the equivalent in a tiny tablet – contains the nutritional equivalent of 1,000 grams of fruits and vegetables).
Yet, for some strange reason, although it meets all FDA requirements and has been sold in the USA for four decades, algae remains virtually unknown to mainstream America.
Seriously – ask yourself – when was the last time you thought of extremely nutrient dense foods like steak, nut butter, blueberries, kale and then pictured algae along in there with those other oft-mentioned foods?
Fact is, you're missing out on a big nutritional hack if you're not eating some form of algae. So today, you're going to learn exactly how to find and use algae in your diet, and no, it does not involve sticking your head into fish tank and gulping down slimy green plants.
There are two basic forms of algae that you can easily get your hands on at health food stores, on the internet, or in supplements: chlorella and spirulina.
Chlorella is a single-celled freshwater micro-algae that contains the highest known quality of chlorophyll found in a nature. Chlorophyll has a chemical structure very similar to hemoglobin, and because of these properties, it can carry oxygen around in the blood and increase your red blood cell count. There is even research that shows that a combination of chlorophyll in your bloodstream and exposure to sunlight can allow you to produce ATP without actually eating any calories.
Compared to other commercial sources of chlorophyll like wheat grass, barley, and alfalfa (all popular ingredients in “greens” supplements), chlorella has five times more chlorophyll than wheat grass, twelve times more than barley and nearly ten times more than alfalfa. Because of it's extreme photosynthetic efficiency from the high levels of chlorophyll, chlorella is a very attractive potential food and energy source (it is also high in protein and other essential nutrients, and when dried, is about 45% protein, 20% fat, 20% carbohydrate, 5% fiber, and 10% minerals and vitamins).
Interestingly, chlorella also seems to be programmed for ultimate survival and replication, with a very unique ability to nearly quadruple in quantity every 20 hours, which is something that no other plant or substance on earth can do. This unique ability exists because chlorella is 3% RNA and 0.3% DNA by weight (which means that it contains some of the highest RNA/DNA nucleic acid components of any other food on the planet).
What this means for you is that in your own body, these nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) are responsible for cellular renewal, growth and repair – and these same nucleic acids significantly decline with age – which means that not having enough nucleic acid on board leads to aging, a weakened immune system and an inability to recovery quickly.
Chlorella, by virtue of its superior RNA and DNA content, could assist in slowing this aging process and preventing the onset of many chronic, degenerative illnesses associated with getting older (and these same hyperspeed repair mechanisms help you to recovery from workouts with lightning speed).
But that's not the whole story on chlorella.
The indigestible cellulose of chlorella's cell wall can attract and bind with heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium and help to remove them from your body. These natural detoxification properties mean that chlorella is a good way to reverse the damage from environmental pollutants and toxins found in many foods. In addition to leaching metals, chlorella can assist with the removal of hydrocarbon pesticides, herbicides and insecticides, and can also have protective effect on the liver, your body's valuable toxin filter.
Now let's look at chlorella's close cousin: spirulina.
Spirulina is also a microalgae, but it's actually higher than chlorella in protein content, at about 60% protein, with all the essential amino acids. Although spirulina's slightly reduced amounts of methionine, cysteine and lysine make it (or chlorella) not quite as complete a protein source as meat, eggs or milk, algae is still highly superior to any other plant protein, like legumes or grains.
Spirulina is also about 7% lipid, and high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), along with other essential fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). For a vegan or vegetarian who doesn't eat fish, or has a hard time getting enough fats or proteins, this is really good news – an ocean chock full of what you need to keep your brain and nervous system from deteriorating.
And spirulina is a rich source of vitamins, including vitamin B (but not B12, so you'll still need another source of that), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and minerals like like potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and zinc.
Compared to any other plant, spirulina also has the highest concentration of antioxidants in the world, the highest concentration of beta carotene in the world, is a great source of fuel for the good bacteria in your gut, and has the second highest concentration of omega 3 fatty acids (second only to mother's milk). On top of that, it has over 40 vitamins and minerals despite having only one calorie per serving.
A small amount of spirulina not only increases physical energy and mental focus, but the nutrient density can replace the need for taking large amounts of other supplements, and both spirulina and chlorella algae sources are safe for children. Spirulina's high concentration of antioxidants and essential fatty acids contribute toheart and brain health, normalize blood pressure, correct anemia, normalize healthy cholesterol levels, and even reduce cancer risk. Most importantly, spirulina can do this without caffeine, sugar, chemicals or a prescription.
Spirulina contains over forty vitamins and minerals and has over 60% protein, the highest concentration of protein by weight in the world and over three times that of steak. Spirulina is also hailed as the answer to world hunger by The United Nations, and endorsed by NASA, who says that spirulina has approximately one thousand times more nutrition than other fruit or vegetable.
The protein in spirulina contains eighteen of the twenty amino acids, including all eight essential amino acids your body can't produce, making it a complete protein. The aminos are unstructured, which means they are quickly and easily absorbed. Spirulina also boasts more beta carotene than carrots, more iron than spinach; more antioxidants than blueberries, more chlorophyll than liquid chlorophyll and has a nutritional profile that is almost identical to breastmilk, nature‚'s other perfect food.
So even though chlorella is high in protein, spirulina is even higher in protein, and also an excellent dietary source for muscle recovery and repair, amino acids and fatty acids (especially if you're vegetarian or vegan and don't eat meats or have a hard time getting enough fats – which is why we think it's crazy that algae isn't discussed more in articles on vegan/vegetarian, senior and athlete nutrition.
Now wait a minute.
Even if you're drooling over the benefits of algae, you can't just go rushing to your local bargain supplements outlet or bulk foods website to grab just any old algae source.
When it comes to algae, if you're serious about what you put into your body, the source matters.
So here are 8 very important considerations for you if you don't want to waste money on a bunch of completely ineffective algae – you should read and follow these 8 tips if you don't want to do more harm than good to your body in the process of introducing algae into your diet.
1. Get certified, organic non-genetically modified (non GMO) algae. Purity is important with this stuff, and you don't want to be eating genetic mutants that have been dosed repeatedly in herbicides and pesticides. There is a wide variance in the quality of spirulina and chlorella algae. Not all algae is grown using the same level of quality control.
2. Don't get algae from spirulina and chlorella companies that put “fillers” in their algae. This means you would need 10-20 times the algae necessary to actually get a positive effect – and that amount with completely flip your stomach. Just get 100% pure spirulina and chlorella. Similarly, do not get chlorella or spirulina in any kind of gel cap, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan, since most of those gel caps are made from fish oil. In most cases, you have no idea what other fillers are in those gelatin capsules.
3. Just like beef, there are different grades of spirulina and chlorella. The lower quality grades have fewer nutrients, lower concentration of protein and less potency, and once again, you would need 10-20 times the normal amount of an inferior grade of algae to get any good effect.
4. The country of origin where spirulina and chlorella are grown is very important. For example, many suppliers of spirulina in China have been found to falsify their paper work and claims about being organic (in fact, there are a lot of products that come out of China that are falsely certified). Yet a company that just wants to make sales will usually go with the cheapest suppliers – and often that means they are buying the algae from China. This is very dangerous because you really don't know what you are getting, and you could be harming your health more than helping your health if you buy cheaper spirulina or chlorella that was grown in China – and may in fact contain not only a high concentration of contaminants, but also a lower grade of algae.
5. Similarly, due to the ongoing radiation problems from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, be careful with any spirulina or chlorella that was grown in Japan. Spirulina and chlorella are grown hydroponically (in water), so any radiation could potentially be in the Japanese water in small amounts.
6. Be careful with your source, because extraction techniques vary when it comes to algae. One technique that can be used to “crack” the exterior shell of chlorella (so that the nutrients can be absorbed by your body) is via passing the chlorella through a sound chamber and using sound wave vibrations for extraction. This is a relatively new technique and preserves all the nutrition in the chlorella. This is in contrast to all the Japanese and most other growers of chlorella in Asia, who use a 50 year old technique in which they tumble the chlorella with glass beads to crack it. This method is dangerous – primarily because the chlorella can be contaminated by the lead in the glass and also because the process produces high amounts of heat, which damages the nutritional quality of the chlorella.
7. Do not use spirulina or chlorella that has been exposed to heat drying. This is very important because heat damages the active enzymes in the algae, and prevents it from being a truly “raw” food. A process called air drying involves shooting the algae into the air and allowing it to fall into piles of powder, which are then packed into the small “pellets” or “bits”, and this process is considered low heat and much safer.
8. Pay attention to the algae preservation methods. For example, algae can easily and safely be stored in vacuum packed, non-transparent bags or containers, which have a stable shelf life of over two years. These type of containers can also be specially coated to protect the algae from UV rays. This is important because algae has the highest concentration of chlorophyll on the planet (which is what makes it green) but chlorophyll is very light sensitive. As soon as light starts to hit the algae, the nutrients in the chlorophyll start to lose their potency. So if your spirulina or chlorella is coming in a transparent container or bag, that is not a good thing.
What qualifies all this criteria, and much more? Keep reading, because you're about to find out…
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ENERGYbits® algae tabs are your answer for raw energy and health. All naturally too. With just one calorie per tab, ENERGYbits® will stop your cravings, slay your hunger and give you a steady stream of mental and physical energy all day or night. They may even make you want to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, but I think that's best left to the guys in the red capes and blue tights.
Remarkably, ENERGYbits® have just one ingredient, spirulina algae which is a super hero in the world of super foods. Spirulina's nutritional pedigree is so impressive that The World Bank, NASA and Olympic athletes have all declared spirulina to be the most nutritious food in the entire world. Why? Well for starters, it effortlessly and naturally boosts your energy like an energy drink, energy bar or coffee but without the downside of chemicals, caffeine, calories, gluten or sugar. Gram per gram, there is no denser source of nutrition than spirulina algae.
Research done by NASA showed that that 1 kg of spirulina had the nutritional equivalent of 1000 kg of fruits and vegetables. That's a lot of groceries! But if an endorsement by NASA isn't enough to convince you of the health benefits you'll get from ENERGYbits® spirulina, consider that many International Health Organizations including the United Nations have hailed spirulina as one of the “Greatest Superfoods on Earth.”
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In fact, many people in Japan take chlorella, not Vitamin C before they leave their house each morning. And for good reason, chlorella contains a vast number of vitamins and nutrients, including Vitamin C, ZInc and all the B vitamins. But in a nutritional “show down”, American Idol style, chlorella algae, would beat Vitamin C hands down due to its 60% protein and forty nutrients. You take a shower to clean the outside of your body every day. Right? Taking RECOVERYbits® every day is like giving your body a shower on the inside. This is because chlorella has a unique ability to pull toxins out of your cells and eliminate them. Taking chlorella daily can help remove the toxins that are in your food, water and air while also removing free radicals or lactic acid you generate from intense physical activity. Chlorella algae binds to all toxins (including alcohol in your bloodstream) and eliminates them from the body through natural means (elimination, urine, sweat, etc).
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It's pretty amazing what a tiny handful of little green tablets can do (and remember, both ENERGYbits® and RECOVERYbits® tablets are just one calorie per serving).
Don't worry if you haven't heard about spirulina or chlorella algae yet. You will. Virtually unknown in America, they have been used for over fifty years by millions around the world to improve their energy.
Now it's your turn.