I’m letting out a huge sigh. I bet some of you are on reading week or March break- or what I remember as vacation week back when I was studying at Dalhousie. They (CCNM) had given us an entire week (reading week) of just that before we embarked on our winter term midterms. Yet, that week was actually spent studying instead of sipping on a cold drink on a hot beach. You remember the drill – I disappear for a while on here and then welcome myself back after a stressful couple weeks!
This term I did an experiment on myself. I had decided to NOT take my adaptogen *cue gasp* Yep. I wanted to see if it actually helped me last term or if I need to find a better formula. I found I had a more difficult time with my energy levels (I literally wanted to sleep all day, every day…) and with my memory. My old formula had some wonderful extra herbs to help with memory and focus by helping circulation to my brain. If that was just a placebo effect (evidence would argue it’s not) then it is one heck of an effect and it’s worth the money any way! We had seven exams last week (five day period…yep…you got that right!) that include: manipulation practical exam (chiropractic), homeopathy, pharmacology, microbiology, clinical nutrition, acupuncture practical exam, and clinical medicine. I was crazy for doing this without an adaptogen (let alone a vitamin B complex) but it’s all in the name of science…errrrr, an n=1 study anyway :).
Did my adaptogen make a difference? Good lord yes. This was the WORST exam period I have ever experienced. I was pulling my hair out during exams, putting my head down, and hitting myself in the head with my pencil begging for information to come back to me. After nutrition, you recall that being Thursday’s second exam, I came upstairs to my residence room and realized I met my breaking point. I cried. And cried some more. And then fed myself a very unhealthy McDonald’s burger AND McFlurry. I am so not proud of this moment but I wanted to let you guys know that it happens. I am not going to do this again without my adaptogens or B-complex. They really helped me calm my nerves, study with a focused mind and keep my head clear while writing exam after exam. At the end of it all I gave myself a pat on the back, hugged my better half, and went for a celebratory dinner with friends. It’s over for now.
Onto the real post
So I had some requests to write about products that are “green”. I have absolutely zero personal experience with any “SuperFood” product like “greens+” or any other product out there that contains multiple green foods packed into one container. I can say this: I have tasted them, some are remarkable and some are remarkably awful tasting. I’m not here to endorse any company, and my stance on supplements is that, while convenient, they are just that: a supplement and should not be used as primary nutrition. However, some things…like protein, or “green” products (I bet some of you are still wondering what I mean by this..don’t worry, it’s coming!)…are not the type of supplements I would discourage for longer use. They are more of a nutraceutical in my eyes and this is completely my opinion. Again, I don’t have experience with these products but I’m going to happily divulge some “secrets” on why they’re so hot!
First off, what do I mean by “Green Product”?
There are a number of powders or liquids out there that contain a variety of phyto (plant) nutrients. I’m talking about nutritional powders and supplements that contain things like spirulina and chlorophyll. A company I have been researching, greens+, has what I believe to be a good product though I can’t endorse it as I’ve never tried it. The products that contain similar foods are boasted for helping increase energy, giving your body a high oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) (this is a way of measuring antioxidant capability), promoting bone formation, improving cardiovascular health, improving mood and cognitive function, among many other things. Why do I like it though? It’s not the words on the website, it’s the ingredients.
I’m not going to pick apart every ingredient in the greens+ product but I will pick out my favourites and tell you why they’re good for your health and why you should consider getting these products into your body (whether through trying this supplement or eating the whole foods…we all know I prefer whole foods!)
Lecithin (the part that has a phosphate is phosphatidyl choline) is used in the brain to help nerve message transmission. Bonus: in your GI tract it helps your body absorb vitamin D and other fat-soluble nutrients! Vitamin D can help with blood glucose regulation and bone formation. Double bonus.
Barley, Red Beet Root, Alfalfa, and Wheat Grass
These all high levels of chlorophyll (which is good for iron deficiency anemia – ask your doctor if you could benefit from it). Chlorophyll is the “green blood of plants” and it also helps you build blood, too! It speeds up the process of making red blood cells and increases the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. It can stimulate the production of blood so talk to your doctor to see if this is something you are able to take. (1)
Furthermore, Barley is really rich in enzymes, especially one called superoxide dismutase – this is an enzyme that can help with oxidative stress (it’s an antioxidant). Don’t even get me started on red beet root! Otherwise known as Beta vulgaris, this is really powerful and can help reduce blood pressure and platelet coagulation. (2)
There might have been a lot of hype about spirulina and for good reason! Spirulina platensis is the most nutrient-rich of all the blue-green algae out there. “So what” you’re thinking, I bet. Well, I’ll tell you why you should care, this little added bonus is a potent source of beta-carotene (comparing it to carrots it’s ten times as potent!). Beneficial for your eyesight, it is antiinflammatory, anticancer, antihyperglycemia, antihypertension among so many other health benefits! Spirulina has been found to reduce risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and prevent cardiovascular disease. It has been shown to reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides due to their modulation of intestinal cholesterol absorption and acting on liver gene expression. Can it get even better? It reduces the pro-inflammatory cytokines from being released (these are things that can cause damage inside your body and increase your risk for things like athersclerosis, and cancer). (3)
These are probiotics – there are a variety of them depending on what product you look at, I’m not going to list them all here but they help to restore healthy flora. This means that you’ll have the good guys there to prevent the bad bacteria from colonizing and taking over causing you pain and poops. CAUTION: some people react quite strongly to probiotics. You might experience a period of bloating and farting – truth. But it’s important to keep our elimination pathways healthy and passing feces is one of those routes!
Bee Pollen & Royal Jelly
These are fantastic – they have immune boosting effects, but also help decrease immune reactions like allergies! They are filled with antioxidant powers and flavonoids (the good stuff in things like fruits!), and some studies have shown a decrease in LDL cholesterol and blood pressure! (4)
Silybum marianum L.
No, I’m not making fun of your rear end! Silybum marianum is actually Milk Thistle! This is a great supplement for your liver it is hepatoprotective (protects the liver) and helps make sure things are eliminated properly. Keep your routes of elimination clear and functional! Hurray!
Say whaaaa? This my dear friends is Siberian ginseng root. A well-known herb that helps with fatigue (it’s kinda my coffee when I don’t drink coffee, hehehe), and stress. In my neck of the woods we call it an “adaptogen” and I am in dire need of this! Some people find herbs like this take a few weeks to really start to feel the stress benefit but if I do a ginseng “shot” I get a real rush, so be careful!
I think that is about as much as I wanted to pick out of the product and say that I really like the idea of mixing all these in an easy place but I’ve always been concerned about the amounts they put in here and how much is being absorbed. I’ll speak more to this later but as far as ingredients go, what’s in there gets a thumbs up from Jessica Bolzicco, as for the amounts/therapeutic dosages being met – a task for another day!
Do you have any experience with a “super-food” supplement or greens+, specifically? Scroll down to the comments and let’s hear it!
References (may include additional resources not listed such as lecture material and conference material):
(1) Patek. CHLOROPHYLL AND REGENERATION OF THE BLOOD EFFECT OF ADMINISTRATION OF CHLOROPHYLL DERIVATIVES TO PATIENTS WITH CHRONIC HYPOCHROMIC ANEMIA. Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1936;57(1):73-84. doi:10.1001/archinte.1936.00170050081006.
(2) Hobbs, Ditte, Kaffa, Nedi, George, Trevor, Methven, Lisa and Lovegrove, Julie (2012) Blood pressure-lowering effects of beetroot juice and novel beetroot-enriched bread products in normotensive male subjects. British Journal of Nutrition. pp. 1-9. ISSN 0007-1145
(3) Chai Siah Ku, Yue Yang, Youngki Park, and Jiyoung Lee. Journal of Medicinal Food. February 2013, 16(2): 103-111. doi:10.1089/jmf.2012.2468.
(4) Leticia M. Estevinho, Sandra Rodrigues, Ana P. Pereira, Xesús Feás. International Journal of Food Science & Technology. Portuguese bee pollen: palynological study, nutritional and microbiological evaluation. Article first published online: 6 DEC 2011. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2621.2011.02859.x