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What You Need to Know About Mitochondrial Disease

New to the world of mitochondrial disease (“mito” for short)? Continue reading for key facts and figures about what this disease is, its symptoms, and how it works.  

  • It is estimated that one in every 5,000 individuals have mitochondrial disease — a chronic, and typically genetic disorder that occurs when the mitochondria cannot produce enough energy (ATP) to keep the cell alive and healthy (NCBI).   
  • Mitochondrial disease is classified as both rare and progressive. 
  • It is also considered a metabolic disorder – meaning that the body cannot effectively turn food into energy and get rid of waste. 
  • Iarguably isn’t a single disease but more like a collection of conditions that can negatively impact a person’s perception, motor skills, organ function, and energy over time. 
  • Symptoms of mitochondrial diseases depend on which cells of the body are affected. They can range from mild to severe, involve one or more organs, and can occur at any age. Even patients within the same family who have the same mitochondrial disease can have differences in symptoms, severity, and age of onset (Cleveland Clinic) 
  • Symptoms may include:  
    • Muscle weakness or muscle pain 
    • Movement disorders 
    • Neurological problems
    • Vision and/or hearing problems 
    • Learning disabilities 
    • Unexplained vomiting, cramping, reflux 
    • Increased risk of infection 
    • Thyroid problems 
    • Respiratory (breathing) problems 
    • Dementia
  • With the number and type of symptoms and organ systems involved, mitochondrial diseases are often mistaken for other, more common, diseases (Cleveland Clinic). 
  • Here is a list of symptoms that are associated with specific organs that are affected by mito. 
  • Mitochondrial Disease should be suspected when three or more organ systems are involved (UMDF). 
  • Having mito can be like having a cell phone that is very close to running out of battery. Some apps may run for just a short amount of time before the phone turns off completely. 
  • Mitochondrial disorders are typically caused by mutations (acquired or inherited) in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mitochondrial dysfunction may also be acquired as a result of drug use, infections, or other environmental causes (NIH). 
  • The first pathogenic mutation in mitochondrial DNA was identified in 1988. There have since been 275 other disease-causing mutations identified (National Academy of Sciences). 
  • Mito is very difficult to diagnose because it’s often invisible. It can take over 7 years to reach a proper diagnosis (Mito Action). 
  • Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouse of the cell”, and they are responsible for producing about 90% of cellular energy. 
  • When a cell requires more energy, the mitochondria inside of that cell can reproduce by growing larger, and then dividing themselves. When cells require less energy, mitochondria can become dormant and inactive. Mitochondria can also die due to lack of use. 
  • There are secondary illnesses that have been linked to mitochondrial diseases, including: 
    • Diabetes 
    • Autism 
    • Parkinson’s disease 
    • Alzheimer’s disease 
    • Heart, liver, or kidney diseases 
  • Your mitochondria become weaker and decline in number as you age. Ultimately, all the things we associate with aging – fatigue, excess fat, and a decrease in muscle mass and cognitive ability – are all symptoms of weakening mitochondria (Bulletproof). 
  • There are currently no known cures for mitochondrial disease. 
  • Supportive therapy is one treatment option that can be used to help delay the progression of mitochondrial dysfunction. This therapy may include nutritional management, exercise and/or vitamin or amino acid supplements. 
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What are Mitochondria, and Why Do They Matter?

Every living thing is comprised of cells, which are the building blocks of life. Inside of these cells are a series of organelles – sub-compartment-like entities that perform various but specific functions. Different cells throughout your body notably have different shapes and sizes, and thus, different purposes.  Similar cells (ones that do the same job) form body tissues, such as muscle, skin, or bone tissue. Groups of different types of cells make up the organs in your body, such as your heart, liver, or lungs. Collectively, all organs work together as a system to keep you alive and healthy (Science NetLinks). 

 

What are mitochondria? 

“The powerhouse of the cell”that’s how most people think of and remember the mitochondrion (plural: mitochondria) from their high school biology class. They are organelles that function like microscopic, yet super complex factories, producing energy and disposing of waste that is detrimental to the body. Mitochondria are critical for cell survival, and ATP (energy) that your mitrochondria help produce is vital for metabolic processes and keeping you healthy. 

 

The Structure of Mitochondria 

Mitochondria are designed to maximize their productivity. They contain two membranes – the outer membrane functions like a skin, and the inner membrane makes it possible for more reactions to occur. This means that your cells can get more work done.

Illustration by Alyssa Garwood

Outer membrane: This is a phospholipid bilayer that includes protein-based structures called porins, which enable molecules (ions, ATP, ADP, etc.) to cross.  

 

Inner membrane: This membrane is highly complex and it is where most ATP is created. It includes all the complexes of the electron transport system, the ATP synthetase complex, and transport proteins. The inner membrane does not have porins like the outer membrane, so it is impermeable to most molecules. 

 

Cristae: These are the folds of the inner membrane, which increase the surface area and the space available for chemical reactions to occur. This is also where the electron transport chain and enzymes are located.  The number of cristae in the mitochondria correlates with the given cell’s demand for ATP. For example, heart muscle cells contain up to three times more cristae than other cells due to the greater need for ATP (Biology Dictionary).  

 

Matrix: This is the space within the inner membrane where the citric acid cycle, or Krebs cycle, takes place. This is an important part of cellular respiration and ATP production.  Mitochondrial DNA is also housed here. 

 

How the Mighty Mitochondria Work 

Mitochondria are found in the cells of animals, humans, plants and fungi. While they are primarily known for converting energy from food to energy for biological processes, mitochondria are deeply involved in several other activities that enable cells to function efficiently to help you keep your body healthy. Here are the five key roles that mitochondria play in cellular health, and what can happen when these functions are disturbed: 

  1.  Production of ATPMitochondria produce 90% of the energy our body needs to function by converting chemical energy from nutrients to ATP. During cellular respiration, another chemical called NADH is produced, which is then used by enzymes to generate ATP in the form of chemical bonds.The production of ATP is essential to help the body function properly. Without energy, your cells and your body suffer. Dysfunction from lack of ATP can contribute to a variety of health concerns, including but not limited to: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, diabetes, cancer, and several types of mitochondrial disease.
  2.  Calcium Homeostasis This is the flow of calcium in and out of a cell’s mitochondria. This process is an important part of metabolic regulation and killing off unhealthy cells.  When mitochondrial calcium homeostasis is compromised, different pathological conditions can occur, depending on the cell type involved (NCBI).
  3. Cell MigrationThis refers to the orchestrated movement of cells to specific locations in response to chemical signals.  Regulation of cell migration can help terminate unhealthy cells and speed up wound-healing; conversely, if this process is not well-managed, there may be serious health consequences, including but not limited to: tumor formation and cancer formation, vascular disease, tumor formation and metastasis.
  4. Apoptosis – This is essentially programmed cell death which involves maintaining the health of the body by eliminating old cells, unnecessary cells, and unhealthy cells. Without appropriate apoptosis (either too little or too much), there is a greater risk of experiencing health conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases, ischemic damage, autoimmune disorders and many types of cancer (NCBI).
  5. Innate Immunity This refers to nonspecific defense mechanisms – such as skin, chemicals in the blood, and cells within your immune system that attack foreign cells — that basically come to the rescue immediately or within hours of an antigen’s appearance in the body. In addition to regulating antiviral signaling, mitochondria also contribute to innate immune activation following cellular damage and stress (NCBI).  
Illustration by Alyssa Garwood

To recap, ATP is energy currency for your cells, and your mitochondria are the primary sources for producing more of it to help keep you alive and healthy. These organelles are also responsible for surveilling and eliminating the growth of unhealthy cells. If any deficiency in your mitochondria are present, then you are more likely to experience health issues 

 

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What You Need to Know About Algae, Bacteria, and Your Health

By now, you may have heard of the powerhouses that are spirulina and chlorella. These trendy superfoods are often called “blue-green algae” and used interchangeably in context; however, there are notable key differences between the two that you should know about. For starters, only one of these are actually a type of algae, meanwhile the other is actually a form of bacteria. Can you guess which is which?! Keep reading to find out!

What is Algae?

Seaweed, giant kelp, and pond moss are all examples of algae — protists with plant-like characteristics, that are capable of performing photosynthesis (the process of using sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water). Unlike terrestrial plants, algae lack vascular tissue and do not possess roots, stems, leaves, or flowers.

Algae notably play an important role in maintaining the oxygen supply on our planet. As primary producers, algae are also the foundation of the food chain in various aquatic environments (including saltwater, freshwater, wet soil, and on moist rocks) that in turn help feed the entire ecosystem.

The History Behind Algae as a Superfood

Algae is one of the most nutrient dense, high protein, plant-based, sustainable, safe, and organic foods in the world. It’s been shown to:

  • quickly and safely satisfy hunger
  • supplement many daily nutritional needs
  • improve energy, focus and even athletic performance
  • provide natural detoxification and chelation
  • improve cardiovascular, neurological, immune, and mental health
  • boost longevity and wellness

For all of these reasons, humans have been consuming algae as both food and medicine throughout history.

What is chlorella?

Chlorella is a “true” plant, and is easily the most cultivated algae today since it is widely used as a supplement or a food source. It’s also commonly found in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. There are actually over 30 different species within the Chlorella family, but two types — Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella pyrenoidosa — are most commonly used in research (1).

In terms of it’s biology, chlorella has a hard cell wall that humans cannot digest. That’s why it must be consumed as a supplement (in capsule, tablet, powder and extract form) in order to reap its health benefits.

Key Benefits of Chlorella

  • It is a complete protein, meaning that it has all the essential amino acids the body needs in order to produce feel-good neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin), and help your muscles grow. To put this into perspective, chlorella algae powder has a higher protein content by weight than almost any other food( 60% protein by mass compared to meat, eggs, and beans, are typically between 20%-40% protein). (2)
  • Chlorella has the highest amount of chlorophyll found in any known plant. Chlorophyll, of course, is what makes plants appear green; but more importantly, it acts as an antioxidant that helps detoxify the liver and digestive tract.
  • It can be a good source of iron, as well as vitamin C, which also helps you absorb iron.
  • It contains Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF), which is a potent phytonutrient comprised of amino acids, beta glucans, nucleic acids, peptides, and polysaccharides. Together, these micronutrients work together to help regenerate cells at a faster rate (3).
  • It has been shown to help combat oxidative stress damage, which can make signs of aging more apparent.
(Source: Gizmodo)

What is Cyanobacteria?

Cyanobacteria are a type of bacteria that are aquatic and photosynthetic, meaning that they live in water and produce their own food. Their name derives from phycocyanin, the pigment which they use to capture light for photosynthesis. This pigment is typically bluish-green in color (with wavelengths from 450 nm to 660 nm), but reddish-brown variations also exist.

Another fun fact: cyanobacteria are more than 3.5 billion years old and are responsible for creating atmospheric oxygen at the very beginning of life on Earth! The oxygen atmosphere that we depend on was generated by cyanobacteria during the Archaean and Proterozoic Eras. Prior to these time periods,  the atmosphere had a very different chemistry that would be unsuitable for life as we know it today.

Source: Research Gate

What is Spirulina?

Spirulina is a member of the cyanobacteria family and has a spiral-like appearance (hence the name that derives from the Latin word “helix”, meaning spiral). It is extremely digestible and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Spirulina is also rich in vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and perhaps most importantly for those who are malnourished — protein. In fact, Spirulina consists of 70% protein content, yielding 20 times more protein per unit area than soybeans, 40 times more than corn, and over 200 times more than beef (4).

Unlike most plants, Spirulina is able to withstand extreme temperature variations and still thrive.  Spirulina is also an incredibly sustainable food source that, according to the World Health Organization, has the potential to end world hunger and malnutrition.  Even NASA and The European Space Agency have begun researching the benefits of incorporating it into astronauts’ diets both in spaceships and on Mars (5).

The Key Differences Between Algae and Cyanobacteria

Algae are eukaryotic (typically multi-cellular, but can also be single-celled) organisms that contain a nucleus, mitochondria, and chloroplasts within each cell. They also have a sensor that is similar to the one in the human eye, which helps them detect and identify light sources that they can use to produce energy.

Cyanobacteria are prokaryotic (unicellular) organisms and are the only form of oxygenic photosynthetic bacteria known to date. Unlike algae, cyanobacteria lack a nucleus, mitochondria and chloroplasts; instead they have chlorophylls dispersed throughout their cytoplasm and perform photosynthesis by using water as an electron donor to generate oxygen.

Cyanobacteria are often called “blue-green algae” because they live in water and make their own food, but this name is actually a little misleading because it does not reflect any real relationship between the cyanobacteria and other organisms called algae. Cyanobacteria are not directly related to eukaryotes, but they do share extremely similar  characteristics to chloroplasts that are found in eukaryotic algae. (6)

The Key Similarities Between Spirulina and Chlorella

Many health professionals consider both forms of cyanobacteria to be wonderfully healthy and effective superfood supplements. When combined, they provide vital amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. More specifically, they:

  • Are great sources of protein.
  • Are extremely nutrient dense, and therefore have antioxidant effects.
  • Can help regulate and improve your mood, cognitive function, as well as the functionality of your nervous system, reproductive system, and immune system.
  • Can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and prevent heart disease.
  • Can help with anti-aging by maintaining the appearance of smoother, hydrated skin.

The Key Differences Between Spirulina and Chlorella

Though these two superfoods do look, smell and even taste similar, here’s a quick recap of their differences:

  • Structure: Chlorella is a true single-cell algae with a nucleus. Spirulina is a multi-celled form of bacteria with no nucleus, and it is much bigger than chlorella in size.
  • Color: Chlorella is a green due to chlorophyll; however, there are red and brown variations of algae that exist. Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria, and is bluish-green in color.
  • Where they grow: Spirulina grows naturally in warm, mineral-rich alkaline lakes, rivers, ponds. and saltwater. Chlorella are only found in freshwater.
  • Digestibility: Spirulina can be consumed easily because they do not have cellulose in their cell wall, but chlorella needs to be broken down into pill or powder form before the body can consume it and reap health benefits.
  • Nutrient Density: Both are high in protein, but spirulina still has a higher protein content (about 60 to 70% of its dry weight.) Both superfoods are also packed with minerals, antioxidants and iron. Chlorella is actually one of the few plant sources of vitamin B-12, as confirmed by a 2002 study. According to the FDA, Spirulina contains significant amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
  • Detoxification: Chlorella is recognized as one of the most effective detoxifiers of chemicals and heavy metals. It has unique properties in its cell walls that make it bind to heavy metals and other contaminants in the gastrointestinal tract, which prevents them from being absorbed into the body’s tissues. Spirulina conversely does not have a tough cell wall, but has been shown to still aid in eliminating heavy metals and toxins from the body.
Source: Bio2go

Products We Think You’ll Love

ENERGYbits makes plant-based nutrition tablets to support your health and well-being naturally and sustainably. They offer a few different variations of their tablets for different purposes:

  • ENERGYbits (100% Spirulina) make for an easy, healthy, high-protein snack before physical activity. They are also ideal for people who do not have access to healthy food while at work.
  • RECOVERYbits (100% Chlorella) contain 40 different micronutrients and chlorophyll to help you detox and slow down aging. These tablets are like recovery gold for athletes and people that need to boost their immune system.
  • VITALITYbits (50% Spirulina/50% Chlorella) give you the best of both superfoods and are your answer for raw energy and optimized health! With over 40 micronutrients and plenty of protein, VITALITYbits will stop your cravings, improve your focus and give you a steady stream of physical energy throughout the day.

ENERGYbits tablets are organic, keto and vegan! Unlike energy drinks, protein bars, and other sports nutrition products, these tablets use entirely natural products as opposed to sugar and artificial ingredients.

Use coupon code “Biohacked” at checkout to save 20% off of your order!

Final Note: Cautions to be Weary of

Though generally considered safe, chlorella and spirulina each have their own potential risks and side effects to consider.

Possible side effects of consuming chlorella include:

  • Allergic reactions,
  • Skin sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity)
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Oral blisters
  • Liver damage
  • Diarrhea
  • An increase in Vitamin K will likely increase clotting, which may not be ideal if you have a clotting disorder
  • Nausea
  • Green discoloration of the stools
  • Stomach cramps
  • Iodine levels are moderate and have negative impacts if you have a thyroid condition

According to the EPA, “Continuous sublethal or low-level exposures to cyanotoxins can potentially lead to the development of gastrointestinal, neurological, and liver disorders.”

Possible side effects of consuming chlorella include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Green discoloration of the stools

Disclaimer: We like to help people live healthier, and in doing so, we may provide information about specific health products in order to help the public make educated health decisions for themselves. Please note that we may earn a commission if you click on the links in this article. With that being said, we only promote the products we truly believe in! We appreciate your support of Biohacked and the biohacking community.

References

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Healthy Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

Get Mom something that will make her feel appreciated, and healthy too!

Moms sacrifice a lot — sleep, time, money, and clean carpets. What’s the best way to say thanks? Give her a gift that lets her know that her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed and that you care about her well-being.

Here are some of our top picks for Mother’s Day gifts that we think your mom will love:

Midnight Shift Overnight Facial Oil
By Moonlit Skincare

This facial oil uses powerful ingredients — including ginseng and jojoba — to moisturize, plump, soften, and smoothen uneven skin tones. It also has a calming lavender scent that helps induce calming and rejuvenating beauty sleep!

 

How it works:

  • Ginseng: tones and brightens
  • Papaya: maximizes cell turnover
  • Green Tea: neutralizes free radicals
  • Jojoba: antibacterial, moisturizing, softens skin
  • Lavender: calms the nervous system

Why Mom will love it: The lavender helps induce a calming effect before bedtime. And who doesn’t want to wake up with smoother, moisturized skin in the morning?!


Sleep Crown Over-The-Head Pillow, Pillow Mist

By Sleep Crown

This is the world’s first over-the-head relaxation pillow, designed to block light and disruptive ambient noise while sleeping. This pillow is handmade with premium Bamboo Jersey and Vegan Down. It gently hugs the face with just the right amount of pressure, making you feel super cozy in bed.

The Pillow Mist that pairs with the Over-The-Head Pillow is comprised of Lavender, Sandalwood, Roman Chamomile and Lime. Ther aromatherapy blend will cue your systems to prepare for sleep.

How it Works:

  • Bamboo jersey knit is a super-soft, natural, sustainable fabric with wicking and cooling capabilities
  • Hypo-allergenic and Vegan
  • Aromatherapy promotes a sense of calm

Why Mom will love it: The Over-The-Head Sleep Crown Pillow is made out of premium ingredients that are sourced in the United States. Better rest at night means a better, more refreshed mood during the day.


Blue Light-Blocking and Sleep-Hacking Glasses

By TrueDark

Overexposure to artificial blue light can seriously disrupt your mom’s circadian rhythm. By blocking the proper amount of “junk” light at different times of day, your mom will be able to prevent eye strain, improve sleep, and maintain peak energy levels.

How they work:

TrueDark Daywalkers come in two flavors: clear or yellow lenses. The clear lenses block 40% of blue light, and the yellow lenses block 75% of blue light. These glasses are intended to be worn while using digital devices and, or while exposed to artificial light (think: fluorescents and LEDs) for extended periods of time during the day. If your mom works in an office setting and sits in front of the computer for 8-10 hours a day, help her protect her eyes, mind and body!


TrueDark Sleep-Hacking Glasses have red lenses and comparatively block 98-100% of blue, green and violet light, depending on which style you get. They are designed to help induce deep sleep quickly at night — even if you are staring at screens on digital devices in bed 🙂

Why Mom will love it: By taking more control over the light in her environment, your mom will be able to better align her natural body clock to the rise and fall of the sun, and subsequently live healthier. Better sleep at night will help her feel better and have a more productive day tomorrow!


Instant Radiant Package

By Alitura

Not enough time to schedule a spa day? Bring the spa to Mom! Alitura offers a full line of natural skincare products that help nourish and rejuvenate skin.

 

The Instant Radiant Package includes a Derma Roller,  Gold Serum, and a Clay Mask.

How It Works:

  • The Alitura Derma Roller helps:
    • boost collagen production
    • reduce the visibility of scarring & premature skin aging
    • combat stretch marks & cellulite
    • reduce the appearance of large pores
    • minimize the appearance of bags & dark circles under eyes
  • The Alitura Gold serum includes:
    • Vitanol to combat fine lines and wrinkles
    • Copper Tripeptide-1 to improve skin elasticity and density
    • Astaxanthin (an antioxidant) to reduce inflammation and wrinkles
    • Marine Collagen to reduce fine lines
    • Co Q10 to improve the health of your skin at a cellular level
  • The Alitura Clay Mask includes:
    • Freshwater Pearl Powder to reduce redness and irritation
    • 6-hour Grass-fed Colostrum to help regenerate skin cells
    • American Ginseng to eliminate blood impurities
    • 10% L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) to brighten the appearance of skin
    • Rhassoul Clay to detoxify the skin
    • Calcium Bentonite Clay (Green Desert Clay) to extract acne-producing toxins and metals
    • Kaolin Clay to help purify, nourish and heal the skin
    • Organic Kelp Powder to promote a radiant complexion

Why Mom will love it: This ‘all-in-one’ spa-day treatment can be used in the comfort of her own home and for a fraction of the cost of going to a real spa!  Visit them at alituranaturals.com and use code BIOHACKED20 at checkout!


TrueLight Energy Square

By TrueDark

There is scientific evidence that shows Yellow, Red, and Near-Infrared light spectrums have a biological impact on our bodies.  The red and near-infrared spectrums have a much deeper penetration level than other light spectrums, which allows them to reach the hypodermis and have benefits that are so far-reaching.

The TrueLight Energy Square uses a patent-pending combination of light, including deep red, red, near-infrared and yellow light to help the skin and body heal better and faster.

How it works:

  • Red 660nm and 630nm wavelengths can:
    • enhance blood circulation
    • have anti-inflammatory effects
    • quick muscle recovery
    • increased collagen production
    • Improve the appearance of skin
    • reduces scars, wrinkles, & fine lines
    • Speed up wound healing
    • decreases pain
  • NIR 850nm wavelength can:
    • penetrate all the way through skin and bone
    • helps prompt tissue and deep wound healing
  • Yellow 580nm wavelength can:
    • be a drug-free alternative for skin redness and flushing
    • reduce skin irritation and rosacea
    • heal UV damage
    • help flush waste from the skin
    • boost lymphatic flow
    • reduce the appearance of tiny blood vessels on the nose/face
  • Steady or Pulsating modes can be used:
    • Steady for help reducing pain
    • Pulsating to assist with cellular healing

Why Mom will love it: The TrueLight product line is designed with cost, size, and transportability in mind. Compared to most light therapy products on the market, TrueLight is extremely affordable, and the Energy Square, in particular, is a great solution for targeted healing (e.g. the face, shoulder, knee, etc.)

From our family to yours, Happy Mother’s Day!

    –  Your Biohacked Team

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Why the Diet of the Animals You Eat Matters

You are what your food eats.
We all know the saying, “You are what you eat.” But if you eat animal products, you are what the animals eat too. When it comes to meat, for example, there can be some pretty significant differences in the quality of the meat depending on how the animal was fed throughout its entire livelihood.

According to Michael Pollan, “The diet of the animals we eat has a bearing on the nutritional quality, and healthfulness, of the food itself, whether it is meat or milk or eggs…some of our food animals, such as cows and sheep, are ruminants that evolved to eat grass; if they eat too many seeds they become sick, which is why grain-fed cattle have to be given antibiotics. Even animals that do well on grain, such as chickens and pigs, are much healthier when they have access to green plants, and so, it turns out, are their meat and eggs. For most of our food animals, a diet of grass means much healthier fats (more omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA; fewer omega-6s and saturated fat) in their meat, milk, and eggs, as well as appreciably higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants.”

Grass-fed beef is often considered healthier for you than conventional grain-fed beef for multiple reasons.

  1. Grass-fed cows get more nutritious food than grain-fed cows. This is because they have the freedom to roam and graze on a wide variety of (often wild) grasses, sedges, rushes, shrubs and herbs, each with its own nutrient profile. Comparatively, grain-fed cattle are fattened up with feeds that are typically made of soy or corn, which fatten cows more quickly than grass does on its own.  The grain that’s used is usually genetically modified. It’s also often grown with fertilizers and pesticides to keep bugs away. Note: A cow’s body is designed to metabolize corn, so these animals can be very susceptible to contracting bacteria, parasites and illnesses. To offset this, the cattle are pumped with antibiotics – sometimes daily — which is then consumed by humans that purchase the cow meat in grocery stores (1, 2, 3).
  2. 100% grass-fed beef contains more calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, beta-carotene and iron than grain-fed beef. It also has higher levels of B vitamins – specifically thiamine (B1) and riboflavin (B2), as well as the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
  3. Grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-fed beef and has less fat per serving. This means that you’ll consume fewer calories per serving of grass-fed beef than when you eat grain-fed beef.
  4. The composition of fatty acids in grass-fed and grain-fed meat is also different:
    • Monounsaturated fat: there’s a lot less of it in grass-fed beef than in grain-fed beef.
    • Omega-3s and 6s: Grass-fed has higher levels of omega-3s than conventional beef (as much as five times higher!), and contains an ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
    • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): Grass-fed beef is one of the best sources of Conjugated Lineolic Acid, or CLA. CLA exerts potent antioxidant activity and studies have documented CLA’s ability to help prevent diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
  5. Grain-fed cows are typically raised in confined animal feeding operation lots, also known as feedlots. This practice could be viewed as animal cruelty since the animals aren’t free to roam and live as nature intended.


When possible, look for a label that says “100% grass-fed” and “organic”.
This is really important because there’s no official definition or USDA marketing standard for “grass-fed” meat.  In other words, there’s no way for a consumer to really know just by looking at a label whether or not the cow has only been fed their mother’s milk, grass and other greens throughout their entire lives, or if they’ve only spent a relatively short time eating grass — unless the packaging says “100%” or “grass finished” on it (4).

The USDA standards for “organic” meat are also a little blurry. They specify that meat may not be labeled as organic if it has been treated with hormones or antibiotics; “organic” meat must come from animals that had access to the outdoors, as well as natural, vegetarian feed. However, the feed given to the animal may include a variety of grains, which notably aren’t part of a cow’s natural diet (4). Remember, since cows don’t naturally metabolize grains like corn, they are more likely to develop illnesses and, or require antibiotics — which can subsequently have negative health consequences for the person that consumes this meat.

It may be a bit more difficult to find beef that’s both grass-fed and organic — and more expensive — but making the extra effort can have notable positive health benefits for you and your family long-term.


100% grass-fed, organic products we think you’ll love.

 

  1. Paleovalley – Inspired by holistic nutrition, Paleovalley offers 100% grass-fed, organic, and non-GMO beef sticks, as well as pasture-raised turkey sticks, with no hidden ingredients. Paleovalley 100% Grass Fed Beef Sticks are notably the only beef sticks in the USA made from 100% grass fed/grass finished beef and organic spices that are naturally fermented. Paleovalley also uses pasture-raised turkey for their turkey sticks, which means that the turkeys have full access to outdoor, pesticide-free pastures with plenty of grass and insects for them to eat. Their turkey is:
    – free of antibiotics, steroids, and hormones
    – gluten-free
    – soy-free
    – dairy-free
    – naturally fermented (this means they have gut-friendly probiotics!)

    (Save 10% on Paleovalley beef and turkey sticks with this link, and this one!)
  1. Thrive Market – This ecommerce website offers a membership for health-conscious consumers that includes:
  • discounted prices on over 6,000 organic and sustainable products
  • carbon-neutral shipping from our zero-waste fulfillment centers
  • access to 500+ Thrive Market products, deals, rewards, and free full-size product gifts that are exclusively available for members

Thrive Market is very adamant on their website that they share these values:

  • Certified Organic
  • BPA Free
  • Grass-Fed
  • Pasture Raised
  • Gluten Free
  • Paleo
  • Dye and Color Additive Free


We highly recommend that you check out Thrive Market’s Organic Beef Jerky — sourced from pasture-raised, grass-fed, organic beef.  Each batch is marinated in organic apple cider vinegar, honey, and savory spices, and then smoked low and slow until it’s deliciously tender. This Paleo snack is also free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, gluten, and soy!

Thrive Market also sells Turkey Jerky, made from free-range, organic turkey that’s marinated in organic apple cider vinegar, honey, and spices, and smoked to perfection. It’s free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, and gluten. This snack is also Paleo-friendly 🙂

  1. US Wellness Meats – Voted Best Online Food/Product Supplier by Paleo Magazine in 2012 & 2013, US Wellness Meats is regarded as a supreme resource for Paleo, Primal, and Real Food.  They provide and deliver more than 300 grass-fed, pastured, wild-caught, and free range products right to your doorstep. They specialize in hard-to-find favorites: sugar-free bacon/sausages/ham, bones, broths, gelatin, pemmican, organ meats, Whole30 Approved and AIP-friendly items, tallow/lard/suet, pet products, and more!

    If you’re based in the United States, and you’re looking for truly grass-fed/grass-finished meat or wild caught fish, take a look at US Wellness Meats. Tell them that we sent you 🙂

Disclaimer: We like to help people live healthier, and in doing so, we may provide information about specific health products in order to help the public make educated health decisions for themselves. Please note that we may earn a commission if you click on the links in this article. With that being said, we only promote the products we truly believe in! We appreciate your support of Biohacked and the biohacking community.

 

References

  1. https://patch.com/new-jersey/ramsey-nj/differences-between-grass-fed-beef-grain-fed-beef
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/grass-fed-vs-grain-fed-beef
  3. https://www.thealternativedaily.com/food-eats/
  4. https://www.health.com/nutrition/grass-fed-beef-tips
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Passionate about Health? Be a guest writer on our new blog!

We’re excited to announce the launch of our new blog: The Biohacking Handbook!

 

For those of you who have been with us since our adoption in 2016, you know that we are incredibly passionate about helping people achieve optimal health through education, self-discovery, proper nutrition, exercise, and self-preservation.  Our mission is to empower people to take more control over their health so that they can live their best life possible.

 

The Biohacking Handbook will focus on sharing health research and updates related to 7 key categories, including:

We would also like to bring more awareness to companies and products that are actively helping people achieve their health goals.  If you own a health and wellness company, and/or if you’ve previously been featured in the Biohacking Box (our quarterly subscription box), please get in touch with us to learn more about how to be a guest writer on The Biohacking Handbook! We would love to have you share insights on things like upcoming trends, research, and the product(s) you’re working on!