Chlorella: Benefits, Side Effects, and Everything In Between
Whoever thought that algae would be so beneficial to the human body? Yes, you heard it right. Algae is very helpful in keeping us healthy! One example of a healthy algae is chlorella.
The chlorella is a close cousin to another superfood, spirulina. It is a single-cell freshwater algae. It has the ability to reproduce eight times a day. This makes it a sustainable nutrient source.
These healthy algae are grown in large freshwater ponds. It is carefully spray-dried in order to preserve its nutritional content. It then undergoes a special treatment to break down its cellular wall. This makes it safe for humans to digest.
Chlorella is taken in either tablet form or powder form.
Apparently, this superfood has existed for two billion years already. However, it wasn’t discovered until the nineteenth century. Its discovery is all thanks to Dutch microbiologist Dr. Beijnerink.
It was first used during World War I by the Germans as a protein source. After, in the 1920s, the Japanese cultivated a pure culture of Chlorella. After the Second World War, the United States, Japan, and Germany all conducted cooperative studies on the algae.
In the 1970s, this superfood experienced major popularity in Japan. However, it suddenly ended because of photosensitivity incidents due to chlorella use.
Later on, when the whole foods movement and organic eating started to boom in the United States, chlorella once again regained its popularity.
Did you know that chlorella is ranked as one of the top 10 healthy foods in the entire world? It has phytonutrients and essential fatty acids. Also, it boasts of protein, calcium, chlorophyll, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. These algae also contain vitamins A, C, E, K. It also has vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12. Don’t forget beta-carotene,alpha-carotene, biotin, and folic acid. It also has inositol, nucleic acids, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), and pantothenic acid. Whew! Now that’s a mouthful!
Now don’t let this pond scum fool you (yes, some people think chlorella is literally the icky stuff you see in murky fish ponds). They might not look like much, but trust me, they do wonders for your overall health.
Not convinced? Here are just some of the benefits these healthy algae can provide to the human body.
Boosts the Immune System
There are many studies that support this benefit. One of them was done by the Yonsei University in South Korea. They studied healthy individuals and the responses of their immune systems after taking this superfood. The results showed that the immune systems responded positively. There was also a boost in the production of “natural killer” (NK) cells.
Another study published in the Nutrition Journal showed that after 8 weeks of taking chlorella, NK cell activity improved.
This superfood also provides strength to the immune system. This results in it working harder to protect the body.
Helps in Anti-Aging
Chlorella possesses many anti-aging properties. Chlorophyll, for example, can get rid of toxins that cause premature aging. The antioxidants help keep the skin younger looking. The nucleic acids RNA and DNA rejuvenates the body’s own RNA and DNA content. This keeps the skin looking more youthful and healthy.
Another way that chlorella can help with aging is it improves the skin’s condition. It helps in the production of collagen, which is primarily responsible for skin elasticity. This keeps the skin looking firm and toned. Chlorella also lowers the occurrence of breakouts and redness associated with acne. In addition, it also gets rid of wrinkles, fine lines, crow’s feet, and age spots.
Improves Oral Health
Halitosis sufferers, rejoice! Taking greens, specifically chlorella, will boost your oral hygiene. It has properties that can reduce bad breath. One study shows that brushing with chlorella-laced toothpaste improves all-around dental health, specifically with the teeth and gums.
Helps with Eyesight
Chlorella has an abundant supply of carotenoids. These are beneficial for your eyes. These carotenoids are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lutein. They feed your peepers the needed nutrition to stay sharp and focused. Lutein specifically protects the eye from cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and UV radiation damage. Omega-3 fatty acids also play an important role in eye health.
Promotes Weight Loss
Losing weight is undoubtedly difficult to do. It gets even more difficult the older we get. Chlorella may make this problem easier. A recent published research stated that the intake of chlorella “resulted in noticeable reductions in body fat percentage” (Journal of Medicinal Food).
What these healthy algae does to help you lose weight is it regulates hormones, improves circulation, and speeds up metabolism. It also reduces weight and body fat.
Relieves Gastrointestinal Problems
Food in the digestive tract causes inflammation of the intestinal lining, absorption of toxic substances, and growth of harmful microbes. This makes way for many other problems. Chlorella improves the function of the gut for faster movement of food. This prevents stagnation and diverticulitis.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties also brings relief to people who suffer from ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease.
In Japan, this superfood is traditionally used to treat gastritis, hypertension, duodenal ulcers, and constipation.
Lowers Blood Sugar and Cholesterol
Studies show that taking in 8,000 mg of chlorella a day can lower blood glucose levels and cholesterol. What happens is it clears bad cholesterol from the digestive tract. It also prevents its reabsorption into the body.
Helps in Radiation and Chemotherapy Effects
Chlorella is used by those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation to reduce the body’s chemical load. It also supports the detoxification pathways without ridding the body of beneficial minerals.
Boosts Your Brain
Chlorella is a good source of vitamin B12. This is vital for maximum brain functioning. Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to memory loss, depression, and brain shrinkage. Taking in chlorella every day ensures that you never run out of B12.
The magnesium content in this superfood is beneficial as well. It increases memory and learning in both young children and older adults.
Detoxifies Heavy Metals
Many don’t know this, but this healthy algae is an effective detoxifying supplement. When taken in small amounts over time, it avoids heavy metal buildup in the body.
However, always keep in mind to always work with an experienced practitioner of heavy metal removal. Removing these metals too quickly or incorrect methods will make things worse.
Of course, as with everything else, there are some side effects to this superfood. Some of these negative effects include swelling of the face or tongue, headaches, acne, lethargy, fatigue, sensitivity to sunlight, upset stomachs, shaking, and vertigo.
However, these side effects are common in any detoxification program.
Chlorella contains a moderate amount of iodine. Those iodine allergies or those with iodine-sensitive thyroid conditions should first consult with their physician before trying out chlorella.
Those with autoimmune disease should be wary as well. Since it increases immune function, it might make your condition worsen.
Pregnant and nursing women should take extra precaution too. They need to speak to their obstetricians for proper evaluation. This determines if chlorella is safe to take.