[01:55] Christian Gratitude Journal
[07:05] Catharine Arnston
[10:59] What Is Chlorophyll
[18:03] Algae And Inflammation
[22:32] Superoxide Dismutase
[27:08] Chlorophyll And ATP Production
[32:36] The Link Between Algae And Cancer
[39:44] Quick Commercial Break/Kimera Koffee
[40:52] Blue Apron
[43:29] Algae’s Antioxidant Content
[47:05] Detoxification Effect Of Chlorella
[52:31] Algae And The Immune Systems
[57:42] Catharine’s Appearance On Shark Tank
[1:00:28] Algae And Essential Fatty Acids
[1:07:53] Algae And The mTOR
[1:20:16] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, ladies and gentlemen. It’s Ben Greenfield. I have been in New York City for the past several days immersed in some of the craziest cuisine on the face of the planet. Green tea from deep in the mountains of Japan, Kung Fu tea from China that I drink with Qigong Master Robert Peng, I toured David Bouley restaurants, I was speaking at David Bouley’s restaurants back there in New York City and we ate everything from sea urchin over a coconut, yogurt-y, foam-type of thing, to nine different mushrooms, and served with 10 exotic fruits over a mango sorbet, and A512 Kobe beef that’s like $1100 for a freaking flank-sized steak of it, just crazy foods. But one thing that nobody was talking about back there was this crazy superfood we’re going to talk about today, one of the most well-researched super foods on the face of the planet. I think you’re going to dig this one, I actually learned a lot about this particular food, nutrient, plant, whatever you want to call it while we were talking about it with today’s podcast guest and former Shark Tank guest, Catharine Arnston. Fittingly enough, I’ve just finished myself with a big cup of another superfood tea called moringa with my children. I’m teaching them how to do tea now in the mornings. So tapping into all of these crazy, nourishing foods that nature has to offer, something that I think is a wonderful experience, and I just love this concept of discovering new things, and bringing them to you guys to try, and incorporate into your lives to make them better. So enjoy today’s episode.
And then just a few quick announcements. I have a gratitude journal that I designed and I just launched a Kickstarter campaign for it. And so you can go check that out and, I would be eternally grateful if you could support that Kickstarter campaign. Just go to the URL christiangratitude.com, and you can find it. It’s based on inspirational readings in the morning, listing something that you’re grateful for, and then this is kind of the Christian part of it, who you can help, or pray for, or serve that day. You don’t have to be Christian to use the journal, but it is over at christiangratitude.com. So check that out.
Also this podcast is brought to you by this supplement that you can take prior to a meal, then it increases the usable amount of protein in your body. So if you get bloated, or gassy, or maybe even get the runs, or whatever other nasty thing after you have a protein shake, it’s pretty likely that you may need to increase your enzymatic ability to be able to break that down so that protein can enter into your bloodstream. And what this company has figured out how to do is to combine some of the most potent protein digesting probiotics in the world. Oh, wow. Sorry I had to stop there for a second, two hummingbirds just hovered right in the window of my office. Just hovering there, staring at me. That was odd. Okay, back to today’s announcement. Anyways, it’s a one-two punch. So you have the probiotics plus these digestive enzymes. So all the protein you eat becomes extremely bioavailable. The company that makes this stuff is called biOptimizers. So the protein digesting probiotic is P3-0M, very unique probiotic. And then the digestive enzyme’s called Masszymes, Masszymes. And you can get 10% off of a bottle a Masszymes and a bottle of P3-0M probiotics you can before a meal, like a steak, or a protein smoothie, or anything like that. You go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/biopt, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/BIOPT.
And as we all know after you’ve had that meal, you need to take care of your teeth. Here’s something for you to chew on. A ton of recent studies suggest that having good oral health impacts your overall health. You have all these bacteria your mouth that affect the rest of your body, and yet most of us don’t actually brush our teeth properly. This company though has designed a toothbrush so that it teaches you how to brush properly. It vibrates and it’s pretty cool. It’s got this ultra-slim design, looks like Apple designed a toothbrush. You put it on, it times your toothbrushing so that you know when to switch to different areas of your mouth. They won GQ’s grooming award, they made it on to Oprah’s New Year’s O-List, it was named by Time Magazine as one of the best inventions of last year, and it’s a freaking toothbrush, but you never seen one like this before. They send you new brush heads on a three month plan, so you can replace your heads as you go through using this brush, and it’s called Quip, Q-U-I-P, Quip. So if you go to getquip.com/ben, that’s getQUIP.com/ben, you’ll get a refill pack of their cool little brush heads for absolutely free with one of their brand new Quip electric toothbrushes. So you go to getquip.com/ben. You will likely need a toothbrush after you use the superfood that I’m about to talk about on today’s show. Or perhaps just a swish of water in the mouth as I do. Either way, enjoy today’s episode.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“The one source that has the highest concentration of exogenous, SOD as that’s referred to, is spirulina algae.” “Just taking anything with a lot of chlorophyll will certainly cleanse you, but it will not detox, it will not pull out heavy metals like chlorella will. In fact, chlorella’s been known for the last 50 years as probably the only way to pull out mercury.” The only other place that has more GLA than spirulina algae is, drum roll please, mother’s milk.”
Ben: Hey, folks. What’s up? It’s Ben Greenfield, and I am podcasting to you today straight from tiny little seaside Oregon where I’ve ducked into a small bookstore, about the only really quiet place I could find to record here. Aside from the library. I was recently kicked out of the library because they had a bunch of tutors come in with delinquent children, to work with delinquent children in the quiet rooms, so I was relocated to the bookstore here in Seaside. But I would not miss today’s podcast for the world, because I have on my show today not only a previous guest on one of my favorite TV shows of all time, Shark Tank, but also someone who puts my own consumption of algae, of all things, to shame. This is the woman who has taught me how to eat copious amounts of spirulina and copious amounts of chlorella every single day, which I now do, and it is the most nutrient dense plant in the world. I believe that we can make the claim that it is the most nutrient dense plant in the world. And not only that, but my guest today has made the relatively bold claim, in my opinion, that I’m going to put her on the spot to back up today, that a lack of chlorophyll, which you find in, of course, intense concentrations in things like chlorella and spirulina, in one’s diet tends to be one of the leading causes of a host of different diseases and also a leading cause of accelerated aging worldwide.
And today we’re going to delve into. Not only what exactly chlorophyll is. but we’re also going to talk about the role of algae in quelling inflammation, the role of algae and chlorophyll in aging, the link between chlorophyll and cancer, the link between chlorophyll and free radical and antioxidant production, how algae affects your immune system and your T-cells, why you should care about your cell membranes, and what algae actually does for cell membranes. We’re going to talk a little bit about IGF and mTOR, which is basically aging or components related to aging, we’re going to talk about body pH and acidity, whether you actually can change it, we’ll talk about detoxification, and basically take the deepest dive I think we’ve ever taken into the science behind algae.
My guest, if you haven’t guessed yet, if you’ve been a podcast listener for a while, you’ve probably heard her before, she is literally crazy about algae, and again you’ve probably seen her on Shark Tank as well, her name is Catharine Arnston. And she is the CEO of a sports nutrition company that specializes in algae, she is herself one of the most well-versed people when it comes to algae that I’ve ever met in my life, and she’s passionate about this stuff. I run into Catharine all the time at different health conferences that I attend, and she’s always just like standing there either eating algae or giving people algae to eat. So Catharine, welcome back to the show.
Catharine: Thank you, Ben. That was quite an introduction. I hope we didn’t scare anybody off with all that science ’cause I know it’s taken me seven years to figure this all out.
Ben: We got a lot of smart cookies on the show who dig the science. I generally like to take a deep dive into the science and put the propeller hats on. So let’s do it.
Catharine: This not smoke and mirrors. This is just pure science. So alright, I’ll let you take the lead ’cause you know where you’re going. (laughs)
Ben: Well I already talked about chlorophyll, but what exactly is chlorophyll? I mean I mentioned it, but just to make sure that we set things up here properly and sort of understanding the role of algae, what is chlorophyll?
Catharine: Sure. So chlorophyll is what makes plants green. That’s the simplest way to describe it. And that’s why your mother’s always told you to eat your greens, and the main nutrient is the chlorophyll. Now there’s other phytonutrients obviously in plants and certainly in algae too, but chlorophyll is the primary one. And it’s so fascinating because, we’ll get to this later, but it has a thousand times more chlorophyll than arugula or any of the other greens, and 50 times more than wheatgrass. So it’s certainly highly concentrated in chlorophyll. Now your listeners may not know, most people don’t, that the chemical composition of chlorophyll is virtually identical to your hemoglobin, to your blood. Virtually identical. There is only one atom that is different, and in plants that atom is magnesium, and in the hemoglobin, it’s iron, and iron is what carries oxygen in your blood. So people sort of joke that if it wasn’t for that one iron atom, our blood would be green.
And the power of chlorophyll, as your listeners are going to learn today, is quite extraordinary. It’s oxygenating, it is a fat-based molecule, an antioxidant so that it is one of the few antioxidants that can penetrate the cellular wall to keep it healthy and your DNA healthy. So it has very strong nutrients, nutrient profile. The other amazing thing about chlorophyll is that it actually, only a portion of it actually gets digested. And this is very important because chlorophyll is the one few thing that will carry through your entire digestive track, through your liver, down through your colon, and all the way out. And the importance of that is because it will protect, because it has all these antioxidant capabilities and oxygenating capabilities, it will protect your colon and in fact your entire system. So chlorophyll is very powerful, and probably the most powerful antioxidant, as you mentioned, and most powerful nutrient in the world for our health.
Ben: What you mentioned about the structure of chlorophyll being nearly identical to that of hemoglobin in our blood is very interesting. There is a website called GreenMedInfo and they have pretty well-versed researcher named Dr. Sayer Ji, and he discusses one research study in which high amounts of chlorophyll were exposed sunlight, like infrared light. It actually resulted in the production of ATP. And this is very interesting because when you have chlorophyll in your bloodstream, in a similar way to the ability of a plant to photosynthesize, you can, with the consumption of chlorophyll-rich compounds, combine with sunlight, another guy I’ve had on the show before, Dr. Jack Kruse, he talks quite a bit about the human body being a battery, and the human body needing light to actually activate it, and need good water to actually activate it, he’s also very, very into high, high amounts of algae, and DHA, and seafood as key components of one’s diet because it’s almost like this holy trilogy, this holy ancestral or evolutionary trilogy, however you want to look at it, of chlorophyll, dark green and compounds rich in green chlorophyll-type of compounds, good water, and good light. Like if you have those three things in your diet, chlorophyll, good water, and good light, you really do notice an intense difference in not only your health, but also your energy.
I think that a lot of people who have gotten on the good light bandwagon who are getting adequate sunlight, there are a lot of people have gotten on the good water bandwagon who are drinking structured water, or glass bottled water, or actually paying attention to the health of their water, but what I have found in many cases is those people aren’t getting, for example I consume the equivalent about 20 to 25 portions of plants per day, that’s not necessarily all from just like raw kale, it includes things like algae and rich chlorophyll sources of course. But if you’re already getting good light, and you’re on like the infrared and sunlight bandwagon, already getting good water, you need to make sure that you have chlorophyll. And what you just outlined in terms of the structure of chlorophyll being nearly identical to that of hemoglobin in our blood I think is one of the reasons that that’s the case. So it’s…
Catharine: And I just wanted to mention, if your listeners wanted to check into the Journal of Cell Science in 2014 published a very earth shattering study all about this ATP capability of chlorophyll. And not only does your body, when it’s mixed with sunlight, not only do your mitochondria create this ATP, which of course is the source of energy for everything, it’s cleaner energy because there is a reduced number of reactive oxygen species, the ROS, which leads to oxidation. So there’s less of that, and they found that the ATP generated by the chlorophyll and light extended longevity by 18%. So you’re not only getting more energy when you are taking in chlorophyll, it’s cleaner energy and will contribute to your longevity and health. And we’ll get into more of the health piece and the cancer prevention, I’m sure, in a few minutes.
Ben: Yeah. The title of that article on GreenMedInfo is called “Plant Blood Enables Your Cells To Capture Sunlight Energy”, and it really is pretty amazing. And the other article in The Journal of Cell Science was called “Light Harvesting Chlorophyll Pigments Enable Mammalian Mitochondria To Capture Photonic Energy And Produce ATP”, and that’s exactly what it sounds like. You get chlorophyll in your bloodstream and it actually is able to harvest light, the pigments in chlorophyll can harvest light. And in mammals, in mammalian mitochondria, not in plants but in mammals, it actually allows you capture photonic energy and produce ATP. And for those of you who, again, are wearing the propeller hats, I’m going to link to all of these studies in the show notes. Just going to bengreenfieldfitness.com/algae2, because this is the second podcast we’ve done on algae. So that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/algae2 and you can go check out any of these studies that we’re talking about.
You mentioned reactive oxygen species, and related to aging, I do want to ask you about that momentarily. But before we even get to that, what I would like to start with, when it comes to one of the first conditions that I wanted to ask you about Catharine, I’d like to start with inflammation. Obviously a lot of people know that acute inflammation is our body’s response to injury, and infection, and can be a good thing, but chronic systemic inflammation is of course this unhealthy response, and can lead to long term cellular destruction, and dismantling of health, and a host of different chronic diseases. But I’m curious, from a research-based standpoint, what is the evidence of the ability of algae to be able to, or to not be able to, as the case may be, to quell cellular inflammation? Where does algae come in when it comes particularly to inflammation?
Catharine: Well, it’s a number of factors. First of all, I think Otto Warburg back in the, I think it was 1918 or something, he discovered that cancer can only exist in an acidic environment. And so the acidity is something that happens in your body anyways, your digestion, your activities all produce acidic waste. And when your pH becomes too acidic from eating foods that are additionally acidic, that slows down, that clogs up your lymphatic system which allows bacteria to gather, and then that clogs up your lymph nodes, which then slows all the lymph down, and then the environment becomes more acidic, and then that allows other diseases to take place.
And so the importance of the antioxidants, particularly something like chlorophyll which are very alkalining, helps prevent that from occurring. So, as you know, oxidation is when an oxygen molecule is by itself, and it causes damage to a cell, and then that causes another damage, you have this cascading effect. And because the algae is so alkaline and so oxygenating, it stops that process. So it slows down that inflammation. Also the pigment chlorophyll, again, is a fat-based antioxidant. And so it helps reduce the inflammation because it keeps the cellular wall healthy with healthy fats, so that’s one of the main issues. And there’s been multiple studies, there’s almost too many to reference here about the reduced inflammation from the oxidizing effects of things like chlorophyll and algae.
Ben: Well I looked into it because this a buzzword. It’s thrown around a lot, like the anti-inflammatory potential algae, and I’ve written about how I’ll use chlorella and spirulina to assist with reduction of things like hs-CRP and pro-inflammatory cytokines, but it actually really is interesting. Because, for example I know that there’s one study, it was in a Biochemical Journal, and again I’ll link to this in the show notes, but it actually shows a reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and the mechanism, the pathway of mechanism. It’s not only assistance with the synthesis of glutathione, one of the body’s master antioxidants, but it actually inhibits the NF-[kappa]B pathway, and that’s something that you’ll see in certain types of cells like macrophages and splenocytes.
And in this case, blue green algae was actually able to reduce the production of cytokines by inhibiting that pathway. And in the case of chronic inflammation, that’s particularly notable, when we consider, of course as you mentioned earlier, Catharine, the link between chronic inflammation and cancer for example, and the link between chronic inflammation and a net acidic state and the assistance of that Warburg theory of carcinogenic growth. It’s very interesting. And again, I never like to be that person that throws around buzzwords like, “Oh, it’s an anti-inflammatory,” without actually pointing out the pathway. And it turns out there’s some very fascinating pathways when it comes to not only prevention of cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease particularly by reduction of this NF-[kappa]B pathway, but also very significant regulation of endogenous glutathione production without needing to actually take a glutathione supplement, but instead getting all your glutathione precursors, like cystine, and glycine, and glutamine from algae.
Catharine: They have all the precursors, yeah.
Ben: Yeah. So it’s really intriguing.
Catharine: And maybe we’ll get to talk to about the mitochondria, ’cause I want to talk about the superoxide dismutase as well, which is found in the…
Ben: Yeah, superoxide dismutase. That’s certainly another one I want to talk about. And perhaps that’s the next thing that we should address because, of course in addition to cellular inflammation, one of the other areas that we tend to see over and over again, I was actually just recently reading the research of a really intelligent lady named Dr. Sarah Myhill on the central cause of chronic fatigue being mitochondrial failure, mitochondrial dysfunction. And there is a link between chlorophyll, algae, spirulina, and mitochondrial function. Can you delve into what that would be and how that works?
Catharine: Sure. So as you get older, your mitochondria starts to die and become less efficient, and that results in a reduced level of ATP, increased cellular damage, reduced cellular respiration, and all that also increases your oxidation, damages cellular signaling, and also leads to DNA damage and ultimately cancer. And one of the problems is that most antioxidants cannot penetrate the mitochondrial membrane to protect the mitochondria and slow aging. But one of the few enzymes that can get in there is called SOD, it’s superoxide dismutase, which neutralizes the superoxide and turns it back into oxygen. So superoxide dismutase basically slows aging, protects the mitochondria, is a tumor suppressor, a neuroprotector in your brain, so it prevents Alzheimer’s and dementia. Now a plant-based diet will have some superoxide dismutase in it, but the one source that has the highest concentration of exogenous SOD, as it’s refer to is spirulina algae. It has actually 24,000 units of this per serving of our spirulina. And SOD not only is the only antioxidant that can penetrate the mitochondria to protect it, it is an antioxidant that is 35,000 times, sorry, 3500 times more powerful than vitamin C.
Ben: Yeah. Watch your words. 35,000 is a lot more than 3500. But it’s still…
Catharine: It’s still a remarkable antioxidant. And if your body is not performing as you age, everything is less efficient, and the mitochondria in particular become less efficient. So you are I’m sure suffering from a lack of superoxide dismutase, and that’s where the spirulina is so fantastic because it has the highest concentration of exogenouse SOD. So you really need to get that in there to get the mitochondria healing and functioning properly.
Ben: So in the case of spirulina, we’re not talking necessarily about a precursor to glutathione, like cysteine, or glycine, or glutamine. You’re saying that it actually contains the superoxide dismutase itself without needing to actually consume the precursors for that?
Ben: Interesting. And of course, as you mentioned when you talk about the mitochondrial membrane itself and the protection of the mitochondria, superoxide dismutase is one of the few antioxidants that can actually do that. And so when it comes to mitochondrial health, would you say then that if one were going to come at this purely from a mitochondrial standpoint, like if you wanted to put all your eggs in that basket, that spirulina would be a superior choice to something like chlorella when it comes to superoxide dismutase particularly?
Catharine: Yes. Because in these studies I found, chlorella does not contain it exogenously. It’s only in the spirulina. The chlorella has extraordinary other properties that you certainly wouldn’t want to exclude it from your diet.
Ben: Right. Because from what I understand, the chlorella is higher still in the chlorophyll correct?
Catharine: Correct. In fact, chlorella has twice the amount of chlorophyll as spirulina, but then spirulina is the only one, the only algae that has the superoxide dismutase.
Ben: So if you use both, you’re going to get a one-two combo of, and this is what I do, every month I get like a bag of, so your Energy Bits are spirulina, if I’m not mistaken, and then the recovery bits are the chlorella, and I do one bag of each. And what I do is I put the spirulina in the morning smoothie, and then I do the chlorella in the evening before bed ’cause that has, I think what we’ll talk about later on, a little bit of like a detoxification effect. Yeah, so I’m getting both the superoxide dismutase and then also the chlorophyll from the chlorella.
Catharine: Yes. Perfect.
Ben: Okay. Cool. Got it. Now when it comes to chlorophyll, of course we talked about ATP production, but in terms of its role related to what I mentioned, what we were really going to talk about, which is disease and aging, can you talk a little bit about why a reduction of ATP production would even be an issue and then what’s going on when it comes to barring these light harvesting capabilities of plant blood, of chlorophyll, particularly when it comes to creating via almost like mammalian-based photosynthesis, this mitochondrial ATP production?
Catharine: Well when the ATP production is reduced, the cell simply can’t function properly, and this causes all body processes including the immune system, to be suppressed, and can lead to toxins gathering, disease spreading, aging, and other metabolic disease. Chlorophyll has been found, as we mentioned earlier, to generate ATP with fewer ROS, the reactive oxygen species. So this not only provides cells with a cleaner energy than glucose, it improves health outcomes and extends longevity, and that’s what we all want. We don’t want to just live longer, we want to live longer and healthier.
Ben: Right. You don’t want to live for a long time and be basically like cold and hungry the whole time.
Catharine: Right. So that’s why the chlorophyll is so important to get into your system, because it has all these remarkable ATP capabilities and of course it also helps with, it keeps the mitochondria healthy. And one of the reasons that I wanted to raise this is because a lot of your listeners are probably in the paleo and keto community, and both of those are diets that are certainly healthier than the standard American diet and are focused on Whole Foods, but what worries me is that they do not emphasize greens. And so, I was having a conversation earlier with somebody today about how taking algae sort of plays well with every diet or lifestyle, whatever you have. Because basically if you are taking algae every day, it’s like the equivalent of wearing your seat belt. You don’t have to stop anything that you’re already doing if you’re following a keto diet, or a paleo diet, or a low carb diet. But by adding the algae, you’re getting all of these benefits from the chlorophyll, the increased ATP production, and neither of our algae decrease your ketones or increase your glucose. It’s a net-net. It has zero carbs. So you can happily, in fact Dr. Pompa who we worked with quite a bit, he strongly recommends our algae, particularly the Energy Bits for people who are doing intermittent fasting because it staves off your hunger, does not interfere with your fasting, and does not increase your glucose or decrease your ketones.
Ben: Yeah. You could treat it as a non-insulinogenic source of ATP. And again, I’m not saying that I give any credence to the concept of being like a breathetarian or what we might call in this case like a sunitarian, but you know this is one of the, when I first saw this study, which we brought up a couple times now, I really thought it was woo-woo, that plant blood enables the cells to capture sunlight energy, but it really is interesting that especially if you like in a ketotic state or you’re trying to limit your calorie intake while also being able to produce ATP, if you’re one of those people who is, like let’s say you’re competing in jiu-jitsu, or CrossFit, or something like that and you are doing ketosis and you’re avoiding carbohydrates for health reasons or for body composition reasons, this would be a way to get ATP in a very healthy amount. Now of course you can purchase ATP, that is available to purchase as a supplement, and I’ve talked about that before on the show, but in this case when you’re consuming chlorophyll, you’re inducing your body’s own ATP production. It’s kind of like the difference between like being in ketosis via calorie restriction or high fat intake versus being in ketosis by taking exogenous ketones, that’s kind of the difference between the two, or the way that I like to think about it.
Catharine: And I tell people why cheat yourself? I mean you can still get your ATP and you’re getting all these other health benefits, which we haven’t addressed yet either, but the high protein, and all the B’s. And there’s only one calorie per tab because it’s plant protein. And it comes from nature, it’s unadulterated. This is a plant that we grow and we dry, that’s it.
Ben: Yeah. And the interesting thing is, it’s one thing to say, “Well ATP could increase lifespan,” and actually showing the bodies that are living a longer time with increased ATP production, and granted the studies that are mostly done on longevity are on worms and fruit flies, but I know for example one study I saw in worms particularly, I think this was in the biochemical journal, that were administered chlorophyll. They actually had a significantly extended lifespan. And they linked to that to a mechanism associated with improved mitochondrial function and the absence of an increased amount of reactive oxygen species. ‘Cause you can like speed up the mitochondria and increase mitochondrial production, but in many cases that will increase reactive oxygen species if you do it via the pathway of, for example chlorophyll intake, you actually get an increase in cellular longevity without the increase in the ROSs, the reactive oxygen species.
So, yeah. It’s quite an intriguing and fascinating way that one could extend animal life, again through increasing ATP availability without the production of reactive oxygen species, which is kind of like the Holy Grail. So I think it’s super interesting. And again, if you guys go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/algae2, I guarantee I’m not talking out my [censored], this is going to be probably one of the more well-researched podcast show notes that I have. I’ve already got like handfuls of handfuls of studies that I’m jotting down on my notepad that I want to make sure I add in after I record this with Catharine. But Catharine let’s let’s go ahead and turn now, of course you have to be careful not to induce any lawsuits by saying that we can cure cancer, but what is the link between algae and cancer?
Catharine: Well as we refer referenced earlier, Otto Warburg was the one who, and he received a Nobel Prize by the way for discovering this, that cancer can only exist in an acidic environment. He won a Nobel Prize for that. So that is unquestionable. And unfortunately the research on cancer went into a different direction for the last 50 years studying DNA damage, which does indeed trigger cancer, but what they’re finding, and this is all kind of coming full circle, that cancer is truly a metabolic disease, and through a series of stimulations then causes the DNA damage, which then causes the cancer. So you’re backing it up to a good ol’ Otto who got his Nobel Prize, and he’s the one that discovered this pH acidity. And cancer cells, we all have cancer cells, but whether they are expressed or not is part of a science called epigenetics.
Epigenetics has been around for a while, your listeners have probably heard about the term, but basically the science shows that gene expression and disease is directly affected by what you eat. It doesn’t change the DNA, it just causes to express either in a positive or negative way. So by adding something, if you have an environment at the cellular level that’s acidic and has lots of free radicals, your cells are damaged and get into a cascading effect ’cause your immune system therefore is probably suppressed, it can’t stop the damage, can’t stop the rapid growth which is occurring. And then if you introduce something alkaline, which is like spirulina and chlorophyll, they bring the pH level of the cells back to healthier fashion, the rapid growth of the cancer cells is slowed down, the mitochondria are healthier so they can communicate better and identify when you need cellular apoptosis, which of course is one of the problems when you have cancer is because the cells haven’t realized that they are damaged because they’re not communicating properly, and they don’t self-destruct. That’s what’s cellular apoptosis is. So all of this process unwinds when you start introducing a healthier environment of lots of antioxidants, lots of the alkalining environments. So I’m not saying that the chlorophyll or the spirulina will on their own stop cancer, but studies have shown that when you introduce them, in studies, the cancer and the tumor stop, and then if you remove them, the cancer growth occurs again.
Ben: Yeah. I mean taking advantage of the alkalinity effect is certainly something that’s intriguing. But what I think is also interesting is this idea of anti-angiogenesis and the actual growth of small blood vessels into carcinogenic areas and into tumors. It appears that, you talked about chlorophyll, but this other, this pigment, it’s in spirulina, you probably know how to pronounce this pigment better than I do. Is it phycocyanin?
Catharine: So I’ll back up a little bit. Spirulina is what’s called a blue-green algae, and chlorophyll is a, sorry, chlorella is a green algae. Now the pigment that makes the blue-green algae blue is called phycocyanin. And it has been found to have what’s called anti-angiogenesis properties. This means that it stops the growth of blood vessels to tumors and to cancers. Frankly, I didn’t even know this until a couple years ago. We were contacted by something called The Anti-Angiogenesis Association, it’s a 20 year old non-profit actually based here in Cambridge, Massachusetts funded by Bill Gates, and Bill Clinton, and all the big Bills of the world. So it’s a very reputable organization, and they contacted us because they said, “Did you know that your spirulina stopped cancer?” And we said, “Oh! No, we didn’t!” And they invited us to be part of their global conference that they were holding. This was two years ago.
So it’s quite remarkable and one of the reasons why, so back up. The phycocyanin does not exist in anything else. It’s only in blue-green algae, the spirulina. And it’s interesting that it has this property of stopping the blood vessel growth to tumors because the phycocyanin is a water-based pigment. This is different from chlorophyll, which is a fat-based pigment. So it’s fascinating to me that they have these two pigments that function quite differently and have extraordinary healing capabilities for the body. So that is one of the attributes of the spirulina that your listeners want to pay attention to because that phycocyanin is not in the chlorella, which we call Recovery Bits, or in anything else. And it’s been scientifically proven and I have, like I’ve just given you lots of these research documents. And I have more on the phycocyanin if anybody wants to…
Ben: Yeah. I like it though because it’s kind of like a one-two punch. You get the reduction in acidity, but then you also get the anti-angiogenesis property with the reduction in the growth of blood vessels to feed the cancer. And then of course there’s also the chlorophyll component of a chlorella, and I believe the idea behind that is many carcinogenic compounds, such as many of the hexane-based compound you’d find burned to meat, or barbecue, one of my favorite foods, that can actually bind with carcinogens in the GI tract and eliminate them from the body. I mentioned how I have like a handful of this chlorella before I go to bed at night, and often times I’ll put it in like a little bit of coconut milk with some dark chocolate stevia, kind of like make myself a little night time little thing with ice cream, and it’s because of these detoxification properties. So it’s really interesting. It’s almost like three different mechanisms via which it can either reduce one’s risk of cancer or actually stop the growth of cancer itself. So it’s fascinating, really fascinating. I didn’t know those folks had reached out to you, by the way. That’s interesting. Congratulations.
Catharine: Yeah. Thank you. And also, because chlorophyll part does not get fully digested and continues all the way through the digestive tract as you mentioned, if you are about to have a big beef dinner, you can protect yourself by just having a serving of the Recovery Bits, the chlorella, or the spirulina before your dinner. Because that will basically coat the intestinal track and then things won’t get, the carcinogens won’t attach. That’s why colon cancer is on the rise because there’s, what happens is stuff gets stuck down there and the toxins get reabsorbed.
Ben: Right. Yeah. Of course along with a good amount of so my favorites, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, and cayenne, little bit of paprika. I can make a good meat rub, if anybody’s listening in, leave a note in the comments for this show if you’d like my recipe.
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Ben: Next I want to move on to free radical and antioxidant production, and we’ve obviously touched on this a little bit already. I’ve talked about antioxidants before on the show, but in many cases that’s just like another buzzword, antioxidants and free radicals. But you’ve used the word water soluble and fat soluble a little bit, and antioxidants can be either water soluble or fat soluble, with the water soluble antioxidants working in blood plasma and in cellular fluids to neutralize free radicals and then the fat soluble antioxidants work to protect cell membranes and protect DNA in the cell nucleus from free radical damage. So those would help to like prevent excessive mutation or help to prevent premature aging. And when it comes to water soluble antioxidants and also fat soluble antioxidants, what is the role of algae? Would it be more water soluble, would it be more fat soluble? Like what we’re looking at when it comes to the actual antioxidant content of something like algae?
Catharine: Well it’s a one-stop shop quite honestly because you have both of them. One of the biggest water soluble antioxidants, particularly in the spirulina, is beta carotene. And that’s feel in lockdown in terms of understanding its ability as an antioxidants. So in fact spirulina has I think something like a thousand or more antioxidants on the ORAC scale, than even cherries, cherry juice, or blueberries. And I can send you some charts that show how high the antioxidant levels are in the beta carotene for the spirulina. And most people know about antioxidants coming from fruit, the ORAC scale. But it’s so important that you also understand, I didn’t frankly even understand this until recently, about the fat soluble antioxidants, and chlorophyll is one of the few out there, and they do quite different things. As we mentioned, the fat soluble antioxidants protect the cellular membrane and the DNA. All those other antioxidants are in your plasma, are in your lymph system, so you need both of them. So you get both of them from the algae, you get both the fat soluble antioxidants and the water soluble. And I have this great quote from Dylan by the name of Dr. Richard Cutler from the National Institute of Health in Washington DC, and his quote says, “The amount of oxidants that you maintain in your body is directly proportional to how long you will live.” I thought that was pretty great.
Ben: And I think one thing we haven’t talked about on the show before is of course this difference between water soluble and fat soluble, and making sure you get both. So it’s the phycocyanin in the spirulina, that’s the water soluble if I’m not mistaken.
Catharine: Phycocyanin and the beta carotene, those are the two…
Ben: And the beta carotene.
Catharine: Yes. Those are the two highest concentrations, yes.
Ben: And then chlorophyll is a fat soluble antioxidant?
Catharine: Correct. They’re all in the spirulina, but there’s more chlorophyll in the chlorella. But that’s why it’s really, it’s like having children. How do you pick your favorite child? How do you pick your favorite algae? Because they both have different attributes, that’s why it’s so important people understand they do completely different things in your body and have extraordinary capabilities for anti-aging and wellness, both mentally and physically. So you don’t want to deprive yourself of either one, but they do have different profiles.
Ben: Yeah. Send me over those charts too with the comparison because obviously there are 8 billion multilevel marketing companies out there with their random superfoods from the deep jungles of South Africa, or the unknown parts of South America that claim to have like the highest antioxidant potential known to man, but I’d be curious what you have your terms of charts. I know it’s high in spirulina and chlorella, but send it over and I’ll either put it in the show notes, or I’ll post it to our Facebook page, or get it out there. Now algae and detoxification is another thing that I’ve already brought up. We talk about chlorella and its ability to be able to bind carcinogens, but tell me a little bit about the mechanism of action here when it comes to detoxification. Because once again, as I think you’re aware of, there are you know dozens and dozens of different compounds that folks will brag are offering some kind of detoxification effect but offering very little research behind that. Can you to me about detoxification, and particularly science based detoxification?
Catharine: And the good news is there have been a hundred thousand studies on the efficacy of algae, both the spirulina and chlorella. So they both stand on extraordinarily solid scientific ground, I don’t have access to all of them. But in terms of the, two things are going on. First of all, the chlorophyll in its own right is cleansing, and we already mentioned about how it’s very similar to the hemoglobin composition chemically. So just taking anything with a lot of chlorophyll will certainly cleanse you, but it will not detox, it will not pull out heavy metals like chlorella will. In fact, chlorella has been known for the last 50 years is probably the only way to pull out mercury. They used it to pull out, or radiation. They used at Chernobyl. The problem is, in fact we were contacted by someone who’s associated with the Global Mercury Poisoning Association, they want to work with us because they’ve known for years that chlorophyll, chlorella pulls out heavy metals like mercury.
The trouble is almost all other chlorella have very high levels of lead in them, and this is because chlorella has the hardest cellular wall in the plant kingdom and needs to be cracked, physically cracked at production or your body wouldn’t be able to absorb it. Now most companies use the older, cheaper technique, which is to tumble it with glass beads, and the glass heats up, and lead from the glass leaks into the chlorella. And most chlorella companies have been denying it, but then the state of California tested one brand in particular that actually patented this technique and they found that there was excessive lead, and told them you can basically stop selling here or put a warning on your label, which is what they did. So there is a warning on this company’s chlorella that says, “The state of California has determined there’s X amount of lead in here, and which is known to cause brain damage, blah, blah, blah.”
So I learned about this eight years ago when I started the company and I said, “Well if we do anything, every single thing we do has got to be the best. I’m only going to do something that helps people.” So I found a company that has a different technique which cracked the chlorella by putting it through a sound chamber, and the vibrations are what cracked the chlorella, similar to how an opera singer’s voice would crack glass. So our chlorella has no lead in that, and that is why the Mercury Poisoning Association person I spoke with wanted to work with us. So there are lots of studies out there about how chlorella has been shown to pull out toxins, including mercury. I found a few, I think I sent to you earlier, about how it pulls out different metal, different toxins, and I’m hoping that you can put those on your…
Ben: Yeah. I’ll put ’em in the show notes.
Catharine: One is from the Journal of Medicine, and how it not only decreases dioxin but also increases immunoglobulin A in the concentration of the breast milk, which is an important, you actually mentioned, a lot of people call me and contact us, “Is it okay if I take this? I’m pregnant.” Absolutely. Especially spirulina. It is so healthy for a variety of reasons, and one of the studies that I’ve referenced that you can put on your website is about the study about how it actually also increases immunoglobulin A in breast milk, so it’s really terrific. And also the GLA factor in the spirulina helps with the baby’s brain development.
Ben: Which one increases the IGA concentrations in breast milk?
Catharine: It’s the Klinghardt Academy having [0:50:29] ______ antioxidant toxicity study. That one was actually for chlorella [0:50:32] ______. That was in the Journal of Medicine in 2010.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. I see it. Supplementation decreases dioxin and increases immunoglobulin concentrations in breast milk. Interesting. Very interesting. Okay. Now of course, oh, go ahead.
Catharine: Most of your listeners, they know of Paul Pitchford. He wrote sort of the granddaddy of healing with nutrition books back in 2002, a book called “Healing with Whole Foods”, and he has some really great information and I’ve sent you the link for that as well, Naturodoc. It’s got some great stuff.
Ben: Cool. Yeah. I’ll put that in the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/algae2. And I would also dare anyone who has not yet consumed chlorella in the form of these Recovery Bits to just eat like 30 before bed and then tell me you don’t have an extremely satisfying dump the next morning. It seems to really like pull things out and move stuff through in a good way.
Catharine: On that note, I’ve had people call me in a panic, “My poop’s green! Am I okay?” And I tell them it’s a badge of honor. Where I live, we have lots of Canadian geese walking along the river and their poop and my poop are a little identical.
Ben: I know. I’m glad I’m not the only person looking at my poop.
Catharine: It’s really green!
Ben: That’s right. Just don’t post it at Instagram. I hear those accounts exist and I try to steer clear of them. Immune system. Immune system is another area that of course, if compromised, can lead to a host of different chronic diseases and also of course like an athlete’s missed training days, et cetera. And this idea behind the immune system is that we want to stimulate the production of T-cells and also have a balanced amount of these anti-inflammatory cytokines, which can be active against viruses and cancer without so many cytokines that we’re producing inflammation. What is the link between algae and particularly the immune system, or these cytokines, or T-cells?
Catharine: Right. Well T-cells are a type of white blood cell that circulate around our bodies and they’re scanning for cellular abnormalities and infections. And they’re absolutely essential for human immunity. And if you have a lower number of T-cells, I’ll put it this way, when people were sick with HIV and AIDS, they always had lower T-cells. There’s different types of T-cells. You can have killer T-cells and helper T-cells. The killer T-cells have what you consider I guess x-ray vision, they’re able to see inside our body’s cells by scanning the surface, and this allows the T-cells to hunt down and destroy cells that are infected with germs or become cancerous. And the algae has been shown to stimulate the production of T-cells, and this has been documented in some science research, and that’s pretty powerful stuff. So it’s not only finding, seeking and destroying those cancer causing objects in your blood system and in your cells, but then of course also if you’ve already reached the state of toxicity, then it can start to nullify and neutralize that with all these attributes we’ve already mentioned about the alkaline, and bringing the pH back, and the antioxidants, and reducing the mTOR pathways, and all that sort of stuff. So, yes, the algae has been shown to simulate the growth of these T-cells, which you need. You need healthy T-cells.
Ben: That’s really interesting. I interviewed a guy recently, and actually I interviewed him so recently that I haven’t even released the podcast, I don’t know if it will have come out by the time that I release this show, but we talked about NK cells, we talked about resveratrol, we talked about leucine in the form of like either branched chain or whole amino acids, or like some kind of a protein powder, we talked about curcumin and also some of the glycans from mushrooms in terms of their ability to enhance NK cell activation. This dude was a PhD, or he had a PhD in human nutrition. He didn’t once bring up spirulina or chlorella, but then I look over all these studies that you’ve sent over to me in terms of enhancement of anti-tumor natural killer cell activation by orally administered spirulina extract and also and in The Journal Medicinal Food, the effect of spirulina on the secretion of cytokines and the immunomodulation of green algae, chlorella in tumour-bearing mice and the immunostimulatory effect of short-term chlorella supplementation on the enhancement of NK cell activity, I’m actually pretty surprised he didn’t bring this up because the host of research on it is pretty staggering.
Catharine: And I’m not surprised. And this is why I get up in the morning every day and have for the last eight years, and will probably for the rest of my life because there’s virtually no general awareness of algae or its nutritional and wellness attributes. And the problem is because it’s all grown in Asia where it’s a multi-billion dollar industry, and literally what the real problem is, there’s almost too much research on it. So it’s an extraordinary task to wage your way through, and as I have cherry picked, the different bits of information I think that will resonate with an educated consumer. So the fact remains that nature has provided us everything that we need to be healthy. And so this previous guest of yours has found another source from nature, mushrooms or whatever, that also have wonderful attributes.
So I’m just saying algae is one of the extraordinary, probably I think the most extraordinary nutrient profile foods that are out there. And it’s no surprise to me that it was the first plant life on Earth 3 billion years ago. Before algae, we just had water and gas on earth, and then god bless, spirulina started. And they have fossils to prove the existence of spirulina being the first plant life. So there’s something magical about algae. It was here before anybody, but there are lots of wonderful things provided to us by nature, we just have to take the time, slow down, pay some attention to it, and start to understand what these things do for us and what our body needs. Our bodies are wonderful, complicated machinery, but we’ve got to give it what it needs or it rusts and falls down. (laughs)
Ben: Well unfortunately I think when you were on, for example, Shark Tank, and I wasn’t behind the scenes so I don’t really know what happened, what they produced versus what they didn’t produce, but they didn’t present any of this science at all, and we’re not even done with the science. There’s a lot more I want to get into here, but did they give you a chance to even talk about any of this research? Because when I watched the show, I was like, “How come she’s not talking about all the research studies that I know she’s talked to me about?” Because on the Shark Tank episode, and to be fair, I’ll link to it in the show notes for people, and I know you’re probably not going to be a huge fan of that Catharine because they didn’t make you look that good in the episode. So did they give you a chance to bring up any of the references?
Catharine: No. And you have to understand, it’s a television show. So I was quite honored to be picked because 40,000 companies applied to be on the show and they only picked about 100. So getting national visibility, and getting selected, and then getting aired, and then quite honestly they liked me so much they actually aired my episode twice. The first airing was at November and then second airing was in March. But they’re looking for products that are going to go mainstream, that they can take on QVC, and make a fast buck, and then get out. And I’m just not their kind of person, and what I’m building is not, I’m interested in educating people. I’m taking the time to go through the science and they’re not looking for science, they just want a fast, entertaining, get in, get out. And so, I was just still quite delighted to be on the show. But yeah, I have mixed feelings about people seeing it.
Ben: It was entertaining, at least. I’m sure in anyway it help get some of the word out. But there’s still some more things I want to squeeze into today’s show that we haven’t had a chance to talk about. And one in particular are cell membranes. I mean obviously a lot of people will take, fish oil of course is quite popular for DHA and for omega 3 fatty acid intake, and one of the reasons for that is because damaged cellular walls are one of the results of insufficient intake of essential fatty acids like omega 3s. And the reason for that is because omega 3 fatty acids, when comprising the composition of your cell walls, those allow nutrients to flow in and toxins to flow, out it’s why an omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratio that’s unfavorable can be deleterious. It’s why you should not take in vegetable oils because, in this case, you are what you eat. It’s also why you shouldn’t consume rancid, or heated, or highly pressurized fish oil since I believe over 80% of fish oil has been shown to be rancid and toxic to the body, and in this case would increase, I know there’s research on this, the risk of things like atherosclerosis and thrombosis, hardening of the arteries and increased blood clotting when it comes to, and basically the way I put it is taking a bad fish oil is worse than taking no fish oil at all.
Now when it comes to essential fatty acids, especially for people who are eating a plant-based diet but who still want to get essential fatty acids, I’ve heard that algae can be a source, but I also know that when you look at things like flax seeds for example, the actual conversion to DHA is notoriously poor. When it comes to algae, what is the deal with algae and DHA and also with algae and cell membrane and neuronal health, especially when it comes to these essential fatty acids?
Catharine: Well I’ll start with sort of the big picture and then dig down. So if you don’t have healthy cellular walls, it’s sort of like having windows that are coated with dirt, no sunlight can get in or oxygen, it just causes, or think of a fish bowl that you haven’t cleaned, the water gets murky and basically and eventually the fish dies. So you have got to maintain that cellular wall and keep it healthy, and one of the ways you do that is with essential fatty acids as well as the plant-based chlorophyll, which is a fat-based antioxidant. The trouble with the omega, as you mentioned, the fish oil is that, and I’ve sent you some studies, they’ve found out that almost everything is rancid and it’s almost impossible to prevent that just by the nature of the way that the fish oil is created. The other major problem that nobody seems to want to talk about is that it’s causing massive excessive fishing in the oceans and causing ecosystem damage. I just watched a PBS show, I’d invite anybody to watch about the environmental damage being caused by these fish farms and all the, sorry, but all the pooping of the fish in the environment where they’re grown is causing the acidity of the water to increase and it’s causing huge damage to the ecosystem. So that alone is a serious reason why you should consider an algae as your source of omega 3.
By the way, guess where the fish get their omega 3 from? Yes, you got it. Algae. That is where it comes from. Why even bother, we’re talking about getting to the source, getting rid of the intermediary processes. You can’t get any more to the source than algae. That’s where the fish get it from. So a.) avoid the rancid issue with, that’s why you burp from it, one of the reasons. Just get it from the algae. Now I’ll be honest, there’s not, well there’s two things: there’s not a massive amount of omega 3, but there’s sufficient amount. And the most important thing and why it’s different from the flax seed oil is that you absorb it instantly. The algae, particularly the spirulina, we’ll both of them are 99.9% bioavailable. The spirulina, ’cause it has no cellular wall, gets into your bloodstream within minutes. Seconds if you chew it. So you’re getting all of that omega 3 instantly. With any other food item, whether it’s from borage oil or some other source, your body still has to go through a digestive process and you never absorb all of it. But you are absorbing everything when you get the algae because the proteins are already in amino acids, and all the other nutrients are attached to the amino acids, and boom, you’ve got it all. So it’s very, I call it efficient nutrition for that reason. You get everything that you need, and you get it all absorbed, and you get it instantly.
The second very important thing I wanted to point out is an essential fatty acid called gamma linoleic acid. It’s referred to as GLA. This is technically an omega 6, but all the studies show it behaves exactly like an omega 3, it reduces inflammation. Now you’ll start to understand the importance of GLA for all this helping with keeping your cells healthy and your brain healthy because the only other place that has more GLA than spirulina algae is, drum roll please, mother’s milk. Mother’s milk. And why does mother’s milk have so much GLA? Well because the baby’s brain doubles or triples in size within the first two years. It is an essential part of the growth pathway for a baby. And in fact, I may have mentioned this in my earlier podcast, in Japan if babies are born, they cannot digest mother’s milk, the only thing that has kept them alive is that they give them spirulina in water. And I’ve known this for years. I kept thinking, “Why is that happening?” And then I found out that the nutrient profile of the spirulina is virtually identical to mother’s milk and one of the essential pieces is this GLA. So if you’re looking for a healthy way to protect not only your cellular health but also your brain, because if anybody’s been studying concussions and Alzheimer’s the importance of the myelin sheaths and protecting your brain, which of course is mostly fat, is essential that you get proper essential fatty acids. And so the GLA and the omega 3 from the algae cross the blood-brain barrier and get into the brain to ensure that your brain is healthy and also all the cell walls on throughout your body are healthy.
Ben: Then that’s spirulina that would have that high, high source of GLA, basically second only to mother’s milk?
Catharine: Correct. And again I’ve got all sorts of studies that have, the University of Maryland Medical Center, about the importance of GLA, and a variety of other places, the overview of GLA. There’s no question that GLA is an essential fatty acid. And it doesn’t get a lot of press. Everyone talks about omega 3, and we all know that you need to make sure that your omega 6s and your omega 3s are in a proper ratio, and please, please, please, whatever you do, just stop eating vegetable oils. Canola oil, they are the most damaging thing to your body. The way I describe it to people is if you don’t stop taking those omega 6s and, let’s say you’re adding algae or some other omega 3, if you’re still eating those omega 6s, it’s like, let’s say you paid for a parking spot, you live in New York or here in Boston, those are parking spots are very expensive. It’s like someone else has taken your spot. So if you take omega 6s, they’re in your spot, they’re your parking spot. So even if you come along with your healthy omega 3, it can’t get into the cell because someone else’s garbage omega 6s are…
Ben: We’ve covered this exhaustedly in my interview with Dr. Cate Shanahan who wrote the book “Deep Nutrition”. So I highly recommend you guys, if you’re listening in, listen to that show ’cause we addressed that in detail, we’ve kicked that horse to death. We’ve also talked about mTOR.
Catharine: Yeah. Let’s talk about mTOR…
Ben: Stimulation of insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1, and the stimulation of the mTOR pathway can lead to an increased risk of things like cancer, and stroke, and heart disease, and metabolic syndrome, and essentially accelerated aging. Like the high, high amounts of leucine for example you’re going to find in dairy protein and animal protein. And you know Dr. Mercola and I talked about this when I had him on the show, the excessive intake of iron from, for example, red meat and the stimulation of the mTOR pathway from something like that. All of these things can lead to accelerated aging. But then of course you have the conundrum of ensuring that you actually get a.) some form of iron, even if it’s like a plant-based, like non heme-based iron, and some form of amino acid, like a complete form of amino acid without spiking insulin, something that would have like a non-insulinogenic effect, and without excessively stimulating mTOR. Now what is the evidence that algae actually contains sufficient amino acids to do that? And also, are there any studies that do indeed show that there is a non-insulinogenic effect or a non-aging effect of something like algae consumption compared to animal protein consumption or dairy protein consumption?
Catharine: We’ll back up and talk a little bit about protein first. Protein is important for building your cells and your bones, every part of your body, and athletes in particular want to have enough protein to build their muscles, and leucine is one of the primary amino acids that stimulate the growth of muscles. In fact it stimulates the growth of any cells. But the problem is, and you need that stimulation of your cells when you’re younger. But we’re all living longer. And so what’s happening is that people are continuing to eat animal protein, which is stimulating the mTOR pathway, which is stimulating the growth of cells, but by the time you’re in your 40’s, and 50’s, and up, you have more cancer cells in your body because your body has sustained more damage from oxidation, because you’ve been exposed to more chemical, so your toxicity level is just a lot higher. And so there’s just more cancer cells, and eventually they express themselves and turn into something that’s quite serious. So as you get older, you may want to consider reducing the amount of animal protein because that’s been what’s found to stimulate these mTOR pathways, and stimulate therefore the growth of cancer cells.
The stimulation of cells when you’re younger isn’t important ’cause you’re growing and you need them, but not when you’re older. If anyone’s ever heard of I’m sure, you have, The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, and he did the longest, I think 10 year study on the cause of cancer, and they would evaluate, they would give people protein, or whether it’s dairy or animal, and they would get cancer, and then they would stop giving it to them, and the cancer would go away. So there’s some pretty solid evidence of these mTOR pathways and all that sort of stuff. So to answer your question, the best I can tell you is that there’s an excessive number of studies on the fact that eating plant-based diets with iron in them, you whether it’s spinach or whatever, do not stimulate the mTOR pathway. And I would love to have someone to do a study for me or with me on this. It’s quite possible there are some out there, I haven’t found them yet, but I will tell you that the studies have shown that plant-based iron, which of course algae is a plant-based iron and has a lot of it, do not stimulate the mTOR pathway or in fact the IGF-1 pathway as the heme iron does from animals.
So the other important thing to know, especially for men is that if you’re eating a lot of animal protein with all this iron, or, God forbid, taking iron supplements, you can store, you can get to an excessive amount of iron in your body, and that can lead to some serious health issues. But algae is an adaptogen, which means that it understands what your body needs. And if you don’t need the nutrient, you simply don’t absorb it. So even though there is, so the two good things, the takeaways here are that there is a lot of iron that you need, especially women, iron for energy, and you need iron for other, lots of medical purposes, but you don’t want excess iron. So algae is a lot of iron. It is plant soluble, so it will not simulate the mTOR pathway, and you will never reach a state of excess because you simply won’t absorb it.
And there’s some fantastic studies that I referenced that your listeners can check out on and some really cool short videos about how to restrict the devastating effect of excess iron and if you reduce your animal intake. And I know a lot of people are paleo, so all I’m just saying is consider algae your seatbelt. If you want to be focusing on an animal-based diet, fine. But give yourself some safety valve here. Add the algae, because at least it will give you that protection. It will pull out any excess toxins, it will mediate the mTOR pathway, it will certainly protect your colon from any carcinogenic attributes of whatever you’re eating. So you don’t have to change anything necessarily. Although you might want to consider later in life eating less of the animal protein, but just give yourself the seatbelt security with the algae.
Ben: Yeah. And a couple of things that you mentioned that I want to clarify. One is with T. Colin Campbell and The China Study, there were some definite flaws in that. I don’t want to give people the impression that I am in full agreement with that particular research. I do agree that some moderation of protein intake, in terms of both moderation of meat intake and amino acid intake in general can be a good thing. But in that case, I did a whole podcast on this, I believe with Denise Minger. We talked about how they induced tumors in mice or rat models and then gave them high, high amounts of casein and lo and behold, cancer continued to grow. There were a bunch of flaws with that one. But then the other thing you mentioned is that algae is an adaptogen. I should point out a lot of people just say that, they’ll say, “This is an adoptogen, that is an adaptogen,” but I do know that there is in particular one really interesting research on the nutraceutical modulation of what’s called cerebral erythropoietin expression and oxidative stress, and this was a Japanese study where they did indeed find some really cool effects, particularly from blue green algae when it comes to its benefits as an adaptogen.
So the list continues to grow, and there’s a host of additional studies that you sent over to me, Catharine, that I’m going to link to in the show notes, if people go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/algae2, that go into you know even more information on the link between acidity and alkalinity, net pH of the body, and the ability of cancer cells to thrive in a high acid, a low oxygen biological terrain, and how adjusting pH via nutrition can actually have an effect on that. You also have some really interesting things that you sent over to me in terms of the phytonutrient status of chlorophyll, and more on oxygenation and detoxification of particularly the blood. And the list goes on and on.
Now I’ve had you on the show before, we’ve talked in great detail about how not all algae is created equal. You mentioned earlier about, for example cracking the cell wall and using like an organic cracked cell wall type of algae, ensuring that the source is not from some nasty cesspool-based source, or even in many cases many oceans, or lakes, or rivers, but instead from a clean source because algae is a detoxificant, and if you’re consuming algae that is non-organic or that has these toxins in it, it can be an issue. And that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on the show is because I know that you’re quite adamant about the sourcing of the Energy Bits for the spirulina and the Recovery Bits for the algae, and again I don’t want to kick that horse to death because I’ve interviewed you before. We talked for like an hour about souring the algae, and so I’m just going to link to that. If you’re listening in right now, we did a podcast on How To Eat Algae, kind of like (the ultimate guide to fueling with spirulina and chlorella). I also wrote a really comprehensive article on the difference between Catharine’s algae and many of the other either inferior forms of algae out there or the toxin-laden forms of algae out there. So it’s something…
Catharine: You’re right. We won’t go into the depth of it. But I will tell you that we are the only algae company that is endorsed by doctors, is endorsed by Olympic athletes, and it’s because of the purity. And I have FDA lab tests done here in the US that I share the 20-page results with my professionals, the doctors, nutritionists, clinicians so that they can see the purity, the cleanliness, and also the nutritional profile. We’re all about educating people and being transparent. All we sell is algae. Lots of other companies have lots of other products. They can’t possibly spend as much time or be as meticulous. I’m known for being meticulous anyways. It’s both a good side and bad side. But if I’m putting something in somebody’s body, it has to be healthy, it has to be the best, and I will stand by it.
So I’m very proud of what we’re doing here and I do caution people to be very careful about where they’re getting their algae from because, as you mentioned, it does absorb whatever’s in the water. You don’t want it growing wild and you don’t want it coming from the ocean ’cause you can’t control those environments. Ours are grown in fresh water tanks. So I’m very proud of our purity. So that’s one of the things that makes this different is that we are 100%, I like to think we’re the gold standard. Plus we’re doing our best to educate people and we try to make a little fun as well. You gotta have the science, but you also want to enjoy the process.
Ben: Yeah. And like I mentioned, I mean it’s just interest for me, spirulina, a handful of that smoothie in the morning. Chlorella, handful of that either by itself or with like some coconut milk, or dark chocolate, or something at night, I like to add a little bit of flavor to it. And Catharine has graciously extended a discount code to anybody listening in, 10% off of any of those algae products that I use. Again Energy Bits is the spirulina, and then Recovery Bits is the chlorella. I just get like basically a bag of each each month, super easy to work into the diet, and her website is energybits.com. It’s energybits.com, and then the discount code…
Catharine: The code is Ben.
Ben: Yeah. So the code is Ben. Super easy to remember. It’s just Ben. Not Ben10 or anything like, just Ben. And then also all the research, again for you propeller hat wearing freaks out there like me, bengreenfieldfitness.com/algae2, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/algae2. That’s where I’ll put all of the references, the resources, Catharine’s Shark Tank episode, and also all of the previous podcasts and articles I’ve done about algae and why I consider it to be a legit superfood, not just like a trendy superfood, but an actual legit superfood.
Catharine: Yeah. I told someone today that it’s more than a superfood, so I called it super-duper food. But I want encourage your listeners…
Ben: Or a super pooper…
Catharine: Yeah, you’re right. Please take my algae because I’m going to live so long ’cause I eat so much of the stuff and I need people to hang out with me when I’m 150.
Ben: Alright. I’ll be there. I might also need a few stem cell injections, but algae will certainly help. Okay. Well, cool. bengreenfieldfitness.com/algae2, head over there, check it out. I love to share with you guys the things that make my life better and I really believe in Catharine, what she’s doing, and the particular algae product that she makes. So check it out. And until next time, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Catharine Arnston signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
My guest on today’s podcast is Catharine Arnston, and she puts my own algae consumption to shame, eating 75 pieces of chlorella and 75 pieces of spirulina every day. She holds an MBA from Western’s Ivey School of Business, and a BA in geography and economic development from Queen’s University. She is a Board Certified Health Counselor from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and a REIKI Master. She is also an algae expert and the CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of ENERGYbits, a sports nutrition company that sells algae in tablet form to athletes and consumers (click here and use code BEN to save 10% on any of their algae products).
Catharine founded ENERGYbits eight years ago after she became aware of the health and athletic benefits of a plant based diet. When she subsequently learned that algae was the most nutrient dense plant in the world and that Asians had been growing it and benefiting from it for fifty years, she made it her life mission to bring algae into the mainstream so others could benefit from this superfood too.
You may also recognize Catharine from this SharkTank episode!
Anyways, Catharine makes the bold claim that a lack of chlorophyll (greens) in diet leads to the ten different leading causes of aging and disease worldwide.
What is chlorophyll? [10:50]
Chlorophyll is a fat-based pigment that makes plants green. It is the substance that is responsible for photosynthesis – the usage of light energy from the sun to convert water & carbon dioxide into nutrition (glucose) for the plants. What foods are high in chlorophyll? Green foods! The darker the green, the more chlorophyll. In fact, algae has the highest concentration of chlorophyll in the world, containing 100-1000 times more chlorophyll than any other plant or vegetable (50 times more than wheat grass).
Chlorophyll is a phytonutrient that oxygenates & detoxifies the blood. It is rich in enzymes and high in amino acids. It alkalizes the body, is anti-inflammatory, is an antioxidant, chelates heavy metals, been shown to repair damaged DNA and speed up the healing process of wounds. It even helps mitochondria ATP with a fuel source that is cleaner than glucose (with the addition of sunshine).
The structure of chlorophyll is nearly identical to that of hemoglobin in our blood. The center atom of chlorophyll is magnesium (green) while the center atom of hemoglobin is iron (red). Magnesium is what helps alkalize the body and deliver oxygen to cells & tissues. Chlorophyll helps promote the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells.
In my article How To Eat Algae (The Ultimate Guide To Fueling With Spirulina And Chlorella) and my podcast Is This The Most Dense Source Of Nutrition On The Face Of The Planet? I introduce chlorophyll, but in today’s show, Catharine and I take a deep dive into how chlorophyll intake can manage everything from excess acidity to inflammation to accelerated aging and beyond.
During our discussion, you’ll discover a host of new information (and a big credit to Catharine for gathering the research presented in the comprehensive shownotes below!):
-How algae can reduce cellular inflammation due to its high concentration of essential fatty acids, alkaline composition and high concentration of antioxidants, including the three primary precursors to the body’s most important antioxidants – glutathione (cysteine, glycine and glutamine)…[18:00]
Journal of Medicinal Food Feb 16 2013 – Health Benefits of Blue-Green Algae: Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – General Subjects Edible blue-green algae reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines by inhibiting NF-κB pathway in macrophages and splenocytes April 2013
-How algae affects damaged and decreased mitochondria, particularly via Superoxide Dismutase in spirulina…[21:55]
-Why you should care about ATP production in relation to disease and aging, and what effect does algae has on it…[26:40]
-The fascinating link between algae and cancer, and how spirulina and chlorella can reduce the growth of cancer cells…[32:25]
-How algae affects free radical and antioxidant production by increasing levels of both water soluble and fat soluble antioxidants…[42:35]
-The actual scientific link between algae and detoxification…[47:00]
-How algae affects the immune system by stimulating production of T-cells and anti-inflammatory cytokines…[51:55]
Chlorella Source: Nutrition Journal July 31, 2012 Beneficial immunostimulatory effect of short-term Chlorella supplementation: enhancement of Natural Killer cell activity and early inflammatory response
-Why you should care about your cell membranes, what algae does for them, and why algae is a perfect plant-based alternative to fish oil…[60:05]
Cell Membrane References:
-The anti-aging link between algae, IGF-1 and Mtor…[67:30]
Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition December 31, 2013 Influence of Protein Intake from Haem and Non-haem Animals and Plant Origin on Inflammatory Biomarkers among Apparently-healthy Adults in Greece
Resources from this episode:
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