If you’ve put on some extra pounds but don’t relish a starvation diet or a diagnosis of diabetes, one of the tiniest organisms on Earth may be able to help you out. It’s known as chlorella, and scientists have shown it is a powerful tool for weight loss and many other aspects of good health.
Chlorella is a microscopic, single-celled, blue-green algae that lives in fresh water and is revered as a superfood and natural medicine. Chlorella is comprised primarily of a nucleus and a huge amount of bioavailable chlorophyll, a substance that counteracts toxins in food and the environment. Chlorella contains every one of the B vitamins, a healthy amounts of C and E, amino acids, peptides, polysaccharides, protein, and nucleic acids RNA and DNA.
Another surprise is that chlorella contains growth factors that are the plant equivalent of human growth hormone. Health benefits from chlorella growth factor (CGF) include:
- Free radical scavenging
- Improved friendly intestinal bacteria
- Better digestion
- Increased absorption of nutrients
- Nerve regeneration
- Defense against cancer and many other degenerative diseases
There is a high level of interest in chlorella in the East, and much of the research on it is completed there. Most chlorella available in the U.S. is produced in Japan where it is processed into tablets, loose powder, and liquid extracts.
So What About Weight Loss?
A research team in Kyoto Japan found that chlorella promotes weight loss by controlling gene expression to produce reductions in body fat percentages, fasting glucose levels, and total circulating cholesterol. Researchers tracked two groups of participants, one at high risk for lifestyle-related disease, and one made up of healthy individuals. Their findings were consistent across both groups. Genes positively affected by chlorella included those related to signaling, transport, fat metabolism, glucose uptake and insulin pathways.
Further, a research team in Korea has found that chlorella can actually make fat cells drop dead, while leaving other cells untouched. It can shrink fat cells too by decreasing the amount of fat held within them. Chlorella can even rev up enzyme action in fat cells to produce energy and increase metabolism.
Chlorella Treats Obesity-Related Complications
One animal study has highlighted chlorella for its use as a natural medicine against obesity-related complications that include irregularities in body weight, lipid profile, blood glucose, and insulin signaling. This study demonstrated that chlorella’s prevention of diet-induced insulin resistance is at least in part due to its improvement in insulin signaling pathways. Researchers also found that chlorella reduces triglycerides, cholesterol and free fatty acid levels.
Pancreatic beta cells are what store and release insulin, a hormone that plays many roles in the body. One of these roles is to control whether blood sugar, otherwise known as glucose, will be burned for energy or stored as fat.
In a recent study, scientists in Taiwan investigated whether chlorella has the ability to protect beta cells and keep them functioning optimally. After studying the protective effects of chlorella in cell lines, researchers concluded that chlorella is indeed protective while increasing insulin secretion.
How to Get Chlorella into Your Life
Chlorella is easily available and affordable, but some of it is not worth bringing home. Chlorella has a tough outer cell wall which must be broken in processing in order for chlorella to be digestible. Several brands where this has not been done are on the market, but they are virtually worthless. Be sure to read the label before you buy.
Chlorella works well when added to other vegetables or fruits in a juicer, but it’s hydrophobic nature makes it difficult for less intense blending. If you are not putting chlorella in a juicer, tablets are probably the better choice. Check out the other health benefits of chlorella here.