I have often wondered about why we are here? And by here, I mean why humans have been given Earth as their place in this vast universe to live, breathe, survive and thrive! There is much debate about this and has been going on since the beginning of time. I’m certain we will find the answers one day, until then it’s everyone's theories and opinions that will continue to make headlines. Why do I bring this up? Well what I do believe is that humans were not put on Earth by accident. If you look at what is available on this planet, the resources, earth, fire, air, water, plants, sea life, etc, it is no surprise this planet was made for us.
Whilst researching into ancient civilisations, how they survived and thrived, there is one food that has been there since literally the beginning of time! Yes, i’m referring to Chlorella. Chlorella is a natural plant including more than 20 species, and each species is different in its production method. Well-known common species of Chlorella include C. vulgaris, C. ellipsoidea, C. saccharophila, C. pyrenoidosa, and C. regularis. These species are used for food .
Chlorella has existed since the birth of the Earth and has been reproducing itself for three billion years. However, since the plant is as tiny as 3 to 8 μm in size, it was not until the microscope was invented after the 19th century that Chlorella was first discovered. It was discovered by the Dutch microbiologist, Dr. Beijerinck, in 1890, and named Chlorella. During World War I, Chlorella was cultivated in large amounts in Germany to use as a protein source. In the 1920s, Japan succeeded in cultivating a pure culture of Chlorella, and after World War II, the United States, Germany, and Japan conducted cooperative studies. The medicinal effects of Chlorella were already confirmed after World War II, and the presence of a growth promoting factor that accelerates animal growth through the ingestion of Chlorella was revealed. NASA studied Chlorella as space food because it supplies nutrients even in small amounts .
So what makes Chlorella so good for us humans? This superfood is rich with phytonutrients, including amino acids, chlorophyll, beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, magnesium and the B-complex vitamins. Studies have shown that Chlorella benefits the entire body by supporting healthy hormonal function, promoting cardiovascular health, helping to negate the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and aiding in the detoxification of our bodies .
Chlorella’s rich green colour comes from a high concentration of chlorophyll. We are all told to eat more leafy green vegetables for good health, but sometimes it can be difficult to get the 5-7 servings of vegetables a day recommended by nutritionists and doctors of functional medicine. While juicing is another option, it’s simply too time-consuming for most people. And frankly, most green leafy vegetables pale in comparison to the health benefits that Chlorella can provide.
By consuming organic, low-temperature-extracted chlorella supplements, you can receive all of the chlorella benefits in a simple powder or tablet form .
As you’re about to see, Chlorella is one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods in the world.
A 1-ounce (3 tbsp) serving of Chlorella contains:
In addition, Chlorella contains a good amount of vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and phosphorus.
When you look at its nutrient density score, it’s easy to see why chlorella is ranked one of the top 10 health foods in the world. In fact, it is way more nutrient dense per gram than other greens, including kale, spinach and broccoli !
Now that we know the main nutrient profile of Chlorella, let us see what it is beneficial for in detail:
So what makes Chlorella so so good? Chlorella is labeled as a superfood, because it can provide essential nutrients that you may not get from your diet alone, these include :
That is a very impressive and i’d wager you would struggle to find many foods that have that many nutrients in it! It’s no surprise that it has been used for many civilizations since the beginning of time.
Taking Chlorella is simple. It comes in powder form and in small tablets. When buying tablets, ensure they are not freeze dried. Ensure the Chlorella is ‘spray dried’. Spray drying cracks the cell wall allowing access to the nutrients. Without this process most the the nutrients would be inaccessible to us. Freeze drying destroys the beneficial enzymes.
Regarding dosing of Chlorella, 3 grams per day is a good maintenance dosage of Chlorella for a person to take. With this amount, you will not notice significant changes, however, your body will get many of the nutrients it must have to function properly such amino acids (protein), vital minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and enzymes .
However, a person taking 5-7 grams per day is quite common and at this level you will notice significant changes in digestion, energy and overall health. One teaspoon of powder is equal to 5,000 mg. If you are taking tablets or capsules you would have to divide the mg of that pill into 5,000 mg to find out your dose. For example if you had 500 mg tablets you would divide 5,000 by 500 and determine you would need ten tablets for 5,000 mg of chlorella .
Chlorella can be taken at any time of the day. It can be taken all at once but preferably it should be taken in small doses throughout the day. Morning is also a good time to take chlorella, but never just before or after drinking coffee or soft drinks since caffeine is extremely detrimental to the digestive process. Chlorella causes the bacteria in our stomachs, the Lactobacilli, to multiply at 4 times the rate of normal. This is why it is best to take with meals as chlorella helps provide very good digestion and more importantly, better assimilation of nutrients .
Chlorella provides a wide array of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, as well as being the highest-known source of chlorophyll. While these are all beneficial, the greatest value of chlorella lies in a fascinating ingredient called Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF). CGF is a nucleotide-peptide complex derived from a hot water extract of chlorella. It is made mostly of nucleic acid derivatives. Researchers have discovered that CGF is produced during the intense photosynthesis that enables chlorella to grow so fast. Each cell multiplies into four new cells about every 20 hours, and CGF promotes this rapid rate of reproduction. Experiments with microorganisms, animals and children have shown that CGF promotes faster than normal growth without adverse side effects, and in adults, it appears to enhance RNA/DNA functions responsible for production of proteins, enzymes and energy at the cellular level, stimulating tissue repair and protecting cells against some toxic substances .
Because of the fiber content in Chlorella's cell wall and other nutritional factors, when some people begin to take chlorella for the first time they may go through cleansing reactions, sometimes referred to as a "healing crisis". This cleansing reaction comes in the form of intestinal activity such as gas, cramping, constipation or diarrhea. This same type of cleansing reaction frequently occurs when people switch from a low-fiber, "junk-food" diet to a high fiber, natural food diet. For this reason, some individuals may wish to start out with less than the suggested amount and gradually increase up to the recommended dose in 1-2 weeks. Very sensitive individuals may want to start with as little as 1/16 of a teaspoon per day (300 mg).
If you have not been eating many fresh raw vegetables in your diet, it is probably a good idea to start out with one 1/16 of a teaspoon with each meal and increase by 1/16 of a teaspoon every 2-3 days .
As long as you are not showing an allergic reaction (such as hives) or throwing up, you can safely continue the chlorella. In a couple of weeks to months, the reaction should decrease. And as it decreases, you can increase the dose .
My personal experience of taking Chlorella is the following:
I hope this has been an informative blog on the benefits of Chlorella. As with most superfoods and supplements, please take advice from a Nutritionist or Functional Medicine Doctor on what the correct dose for you should be and if you should take the supplement in question to begin with. A number of things such as lifestyle, diet, water intake, medical conditions and current medication intake play a role in safe supplementation and the length of supplementation.
If you feel you could benefit from taking Chlorella or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
With the clocks going back an hour in the Western part of the world, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer. The weather is getting cooler and winter is just round the corner. With all of this the general mood for most of us changes. Feeling down, having a lack of drive, a lack of energy and a general low mood are common symptoms for most. It's a rather dramatic shift from the summer where the mood is one of general happiness, fun and energy is abundant. These are classic signs that you maybe suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes known as "winter depression" because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter. The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They're typically most severe during December, January and February. SAD often improves and disappears in the spring and summer, although it may return each autumn and winter in a repetitive pattern .
Symptoms of SAD can include :
For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.
The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include :
It's clear that the change in light patterns plays an important role in SAD. With less daylight and for those who work in offices, hospitals, labs and generally where the light is artificial all day and no light when work is finished, the effects of SAD can be more present. Let us discuss the science behind this to understand why it can affect us.
Vitamin D is essential for humans for survival. It is made when sunlight hits the skin. I won’t go into the science behind this, just take my word for it (and read my Vitamin D blog). With a lack of sunlight, vitamin D synthesis is limited. Numerous studies have suggested the condition may be triggered by lack of sunlight. SAD is more common among people who live at high latitudes or areas with lots of cloud .
One hypothesis behind SAD is that reduced sunlight exposure interferes with the body's biological clock that regulates mood, sleep and hormones. Another theory is that lack of sunlight causes an imbalance of neurotransmitters - such as dopamine and serotonin - which regulate mood .
A research team led by Alan Stewart of the College of Education at the University of Georgia - published their findings in the journal Medical Hypotheses:
"We hypothesize that rather than functioning primarily as a proximal or direct sub-mechanism in the etiology of SAD, vitamin D likely functions in a more foundational and regulative role in potentiating the sub-mechanisms associated with the depressive and seasonality factors," say the researchers.
Firstly, the researchers note that vitamin D levels in the body fluctuate with the changing seasons in response to available sunlight. "For example," says Stewart, "studies show there is a lag of about 8 weeks between the peak in intensity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and the onset of SAD, and this correlates with the time it takes for UV radiation to be processed by the body into vitamin D."
Co-author Michael Kimlin, of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, says that vitamin D also plays a part in the synthesis of both dopamine and serotonin, noting that past research has associated low levels of these neurotransmitters with depression.
"Therefore," he adds, "it is logical that there may be a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and depressive symptoms. Studies have also found depressed patients commonly had lower levels of vitamin D."
The researchers also believe there is a link between skin pigmentation and vitamin D levels, which may affect an individual's risk for SAD. They explain that studies have shown that people with darker skin pigmentation are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, and if such individuals relocate to high-latitude regions, they may have a higher chance of developing SAD .
So why are serotonin and dopamine so important for us?
Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters (chemicals used by brain cells to communicate with each other). Serotonin exhibits a wide range of functions in both the brain and the body, especially of the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract .
The first known function of serotonin was controlling blood vessel constriction. But it is much better known as the “happy molecule” for the important role it plays in positive mood. Most brain cells are affected directly or indirectly by serotonin where it regulates mood, social behaviour, libido, sleep, memory, and learning. The advent of prescription antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft turned serotonin into a household word .
These drugs are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which are believed to work by increasing serotonin levels. While serotonin is almost always associated with brain function, mood, and mental well-being, surprisingly 95% of our serotonin is manufactured in the intestines, not the brain .
In fact, this “second brain” in our gut contains 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. Researchers are still unclear as to why there is so much serotonin activity in the intestines. It seems that serotonin facilitates communication between the gut and the brain, but serotonin used by the brain must be produced there since serotonin created in the gut is unable to pass through the brain’s protective filter. Because so much serotonin resides outside of the brain, some experts consider serotonin a hormone as well as a neurotransmitter .
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by the brain that plays a number of roles in humans and other animals. Some of its notable functions are in :
Dopamine is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out the pleasurable activity or occupation. This means food, sex, and several drugs of abuse are also stimulants of dopamine release in the brain, particularly in areas such as the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex .
Deficient levels of dopamine activity in the brain can cause depression. this dopamine deficient depression (DDD) is characterised by a low energy, demotivated state, as opposed to the intensely painful character of serotonin deficient depression (SDD). A severely dopamine deficient depressed person may wish they were dead, but wouldn’t have the motivation or energy to do anything about it. The tortured, antsy serotonin deficient depressed person is a much higher risk of suicide. Suddenly increasing energy and motivation in a person with DDD by boosting dopamine can temporarily increase suicide risk. This is also a known and common side effect with antidepressant drugs .
Dopamine gives the brain energy, motivation, a switched on feeling and excitement about new ideas. A surge in dopamine can give a high and pleasurable feeling. The increased energy and talkativeness a coffee can cause is mainly due to the effect of increased dopamine levels. If you’ve ever felt sluggish first thing in the morning or afternoon for example and found a coffee gave you mental energy, sharpness and renewed enthusiasm that was a dopamine boost. (1-2 coffees a day gives you multiple health benefits by the way).
Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter involved in the feeling of pleasure, feeling high and euphoric. Dopamine is involved in the pursuit of pleasure. It is often said that anything you do that feels really good has just given your dopamine levels a boost.
To little dopamine can also cause: depression coupled with significant fatigue, real apathy, maybe slowed thinking, drowsiness, the inability to feel enthusiastic about anything, no motivation and excessive sleep. It can also be involved in ADD/ADHD .
Both dopamine and serotonin elevate one's psychological mood producing an antidepressant effect. Serotonin primarily influences feelings of happiness, optimism, contentedness, seeing the cup half-full so to speak. Dopamine on the other hand influences feelings of, excitement, pleasure, euphoria, which can be addictive, dopamine gives one the feeling of reward that creates motivation and drive .
In a single word serotonin gives us happiness, dopamine gives us pleasure.
It is very clear to see that a lack of vitamin D can do so much to our bodies physically, mentally and emotionally. A lack of vitamin D will affect our serotonin and dopamine levels. Due to this it is clear that we feel more low during the winter months.
Now that we know what can causes seasonal affective disorder, what can be done to tackle this disorder? Below is a few quick and easy wins that can be done :
Investing in a vitamin D lamp could also be wise. Whilst these is no scientific proof, or rather studies to prove this works, there’s no evidence to say that it doesn’t work! So it could be worth purchasing one and keeping it on when working in low light conditions. Note when you have this lamp on, try and keep your head and arms (at a minimum) naked to absorb the light.
During the winter months, take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D content in foods is limited, therefore taking a vitamin D supplement during the winter months is vital for your health and wellbeing. In addition to vitamin D helping your hormones, it is vital for your immune system, which is helpful during the winter months where colds and flus are abundant.
You have read above about serotonin and how it is the ‘second brain’. There is so much serotonin activity in our intestines, it is vital we feed our body the right foods that will help our intestines keep a healthy level of serotonin creation for the brain. Here are some foods that will help with that :
Lastly, if by changing your lifestyle and diet you still feel that you are suffering from SAD, it could be that you need professional help from a psychiatrist or other therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle. CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. You're shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel. Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis .
The important thing is to seek help and do something if you feel you have symptoms of SAD or a generally feeling low and underwhelmed all year round, regardless of the seasons.
If you feel you require support with a change of mood and lifestyle in the winter or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
Over the years there has been much debate on sleep and how important it is for us all. Why is it that some people can have 4 hours sleep and function normally, whereas I myself need a good 8 hours to function at my best. The answer is simple, we are all unique and our bodies need different amounts of everything. What works for one person, won’t work for everyone else. So next time someone is bragging that they can get by on 4 hours sleep, don’t feel like they are superior to you. You may have other things your body is superior at, such as better skin, more focus, more muscles or a faster metabolism to name a few things.
Why is sleep so important for us? Well, let us discuss what sleep is, what it does for us and why we need it.
Sleep (or at least a physiological period of quiescence) is a highly conserved behavior that occurs in animals ranging from fruit flies to humans. This prevalence notwithstanding, why we sleep is not well understood. Since animals are particularly vulnerable while sleeping, there must be advantages that outweigh this considerable disadvantage. Shakespeare characterized sleep as “nature's soft nurse,” noting the restorative nature of sleep. From a perspective of energy conservation, one function of sleep is to replenish brain glycogen levels, which fall during the waking hours. In keeping with this idea, humans and many other animals sleep at night. Since it is generally colder at night, more energy would have to be expended to keep warm, were we nocturnally active. Furthermore, body temperature has a 24-hour cycle, reaching a minimum at night and thus reducing heat loss. As might be expected, human metabolism measured by oxygen consumption decreases during sleep .
Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It's forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Studies show that a good night's sleep improves learning. Whether you're learning math, how to play the piano, how to perfect your golf swing, or how to drive a car, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don't get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested .
Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes. Sleep also supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults. Sleep also plays a role in puberty and fertility. Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances .
Before I go through the specific advantages of sleep, I want to outline how the sleep cycle works, as it's important to know this.
While you sleep, you go through cycles of sleep states. The first state in a sleep cycle is light sleep (NREM), followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as REM-sleep. NREM stands for Non Rapid Eye Movement and REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and is normally repeated several times each night. Let's go through these cycles in detail :
Stage 1 NREM: This stage occurs after you have decided to sleep and your eyes are closed. During this stage—which typically lasts between 1 and 10 minutes—you are lightly asleep, and you can quickly return to being fully awake.
Stage 2 NREM: When NREM Stage 2 sleep kicks in, things get serious!
Stage 3 NREM: This sleep stage refers to the combined stages of what was previously separated into Stage 3 & 4 sleep.
Stage 4 REM: This is the final stage of a standard sleep cycle. The first Rapid Eye Movement sleep stage lasts around 10 minutes and usually happens after having been asleep at least 90 minutes.
REM sleep is also known as “paradoxical sleep.” This is because the brain waves emitted during this stage seem contradictory to sleep: Although you are sleeping, your brain waves look at lot like what can be recorded when you are fully awake. Another aspect of this paradox is the fact that even though your brain shows heightened activity, most of your muscles are paralyzed.
Now that we have seen what sleep actually is and the processes your body goes through on an average sleep cycle, let us see the many benefits of a good night's sleep :
It is clear that sleep is very important for us all. I for one love sleeping! With the weather getting cooler and the nights getting longer, there is nothing better than getting into a comfortable bed and getting some shut eye. Especially for those of us who exercise during the week (which should be all of us :-)), sleep is important for muscle recovery and growth.
A lack of sleep is more damaging to one's health then is accepted or acknowledged. Sleep seems to be missed off most diagnostics and is something which is commonly accepted as ok if one does not get enough sleep. By having a good nights sleep, we can tackle the day with a burst fullness of energy and determination.
Here are the long term effects of not getting enough sleep :
Without enough sleep, your brain and body systems won’t function normally. It can also dramatically lower your quality of life. A review of 16 studies found that sleeping for less than 6 to 8 hours a night increases the risk of early death by about 12 percent. The obvious signs of sleep deprivation are:
Stimulants like caffeine aren’t enough to override your body’s profound need for sleep. Behind the scenes, chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with your body’s internal systems and cause more than just the initial signs and symptoms listed above.
Everyone’s experienced the fatigue, short temper and lack of focus that often follow a poor night’s sleep. An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won’t harm your health. After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes .
So what can be done to have what I call good ‘sleep hygiene’ for a good night's sleep? There are a few quick wins that can be easily done to help ensure you get a restful night’s sleep. Here is my quick win guide:
Frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. In addition, if you're taking too long to fall asleep, you should consider evaluating your sleep routine and revising your bedtime habits. Just a few simple changes can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and night spent tossing and turning .
As can be seen, by having a good sleep routine, with sensible diet choices and exercise will help you have a good night sleep. When we have a good nights sleep, we make sensible eating choices the next day, have more energy and generally feel better.
If you feel you require support with your sleep issues or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com