Friday, March 15, 2013

Under the Sea

I admit it-- I feed my dogs chorella.  They think it is the best treat ever (no joke-- they practically bowl me over when I break out the bottle)!

I mix it into my cats' food, too.

You know what?  They have benefited greatly from it.  Their fur is softer and they have more energy, and my 19 year old kitty with kidney disease is active, relatively healthy, and sunning himself out in the open instead of hiding in a remote corner, like he does when he's not feeling so hot.

Chachi restricts my computer use till he gets his chorella.


And you know what else?  I feed it to myself.  Not just chorella-- spirulina, too.  I have sea vegetables at least once a week in my meals (usually as a salad, but sometimes in recipes, too), I've been known to snack on nori now and then, and two of my favorite supplements (DHA/EPA and Astaxanthin) are sourced from algae.  I have noticed that since I have added a sea vegetable and grass powder drink to my mornings, my energy has soared despite not sleeping nearly enough lately (normally, lack of sleep makes me a zombie, and the 4:15AM wakeup calls to feed all the furkids plus train the new doggie is, quite frankly, starting to kick my butt!).

So what is so great about algae, really?  I'm glad you asked.  First of all, you know all those healthy fish oils?  Fish do not actually produce omega 3 fatty acids on their own-- they come from the algae the fish eat.  As you likely know, the fish population, particularly among the fish at the top of the food chain such as swordfish, sea bass, shark, and such, have a bit of a mercury contamination problemPharmaceutical drug residues, pesticides, and other nasty junk have been found in fish, as well.  Furthermore, many fish oil supplements contain rancid fish oil, which can have a not-so-nice effect on human health.  So why not skip the middleman and get your Omega 3's/DHA/EPA from algae, instead?  (Here's the company I use; Pure Encapsulations also makes a good algae-sourced DHA/EPA supplement.  I also found a non-fish DHA supplement from Spectrum, but it is DHA only.)

Astaxanthin, too, is not produced directly by fish-- it also comes from the algae they eat.  (For more about why I love astaxanthin, check these posts, and it will make an appearance in my next Food As Medicine post, too, so stay tuned...)  As fish-derived astaxanthin supplements may suffer the same issues as fish oil supplements, I would once again turn to the algae-sourced variety.  Here is the brand I tend to use, and here are some other options:  (1) (2) (3) (4)

Algae has been shown to have strong cancer-fighting properties.  Various types of algae have shown to be effective against colon cancer, oral cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, breast cancer, and more.

Some algaes have been found to help fight diabetes.

Chorella


Algaes have cardioprotective benefits such as lowering inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Some algaes can even help with fat loss, and have even shown promise in helping to reverse lipemia (insufficient fat clearance) in runners.

Algaes have shown to help protect the kidneys, too (in many cases due to their effectiveness in reducing blood pressure and oxidative stress).  (2) (3)

Seaweed is an excellent source of protein (including all essential amino acids)-- red seaweed in particular, which can have almost a 50% protein content.  There is little information on how well-absorbed these proteins are.  The limited information I found showed that there is protein absorption inhibition inherent in the dulseThere is good promise, however, that these proteins can be very useful to human nutrition, and research has been done to see how digestibility can be optimized. 

Seaweed is often a good source of iodine.  While this can be a good thing if you are iodine-deficient, keep in mind that too much iodine can lead to iodine toxicity and thyroid problems such as thyroid cancer.  Make sure you don't overdo it with the iodine.  Chorella, which is the type of algae I consume most often, does not contain significant amounts of iodine.

Needless to say, I will proudly continue to nom chorella and feed it to my furkids and to my people.  I will indulge in sea veggies once or twice a week, and I will continue to get my DHA/EPA and astaxanthin from algae sources.  I highly recommend you do the same.

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting....I am allergic to fish and seafood therefore I've always felt like I was lacking in the Omega3's in my diet. What is your opinion on skipping the "fish" part and just consuming the Chorella as you do?
    How often to you use and what amount?

    Thanks!

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    1. I take the Deva DHA/EPA supplement for Omega 3's... chorella is also a source, and there's also walnuts, flax, chia, and such. The quantity needed depends on the brand you are using.

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