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The Best Cleaning Products for a Happy, Healthy Home

The snow is melting, the birds are chirping, and with the new season approaching it is time to bring some fresh energy into your home But before you start your marathon of dusting, scrubbing, wiping and organizing, be sure to inventory of all your cleaning products. The truth is that some are less safe than others – particularly those that use toxic materials or that could exposure you to hazardous pollutants. Keep reading to see some of our favorite [truly] natural home care products and get ready to tackle your annual spring cleaning – the safe and healthy way. 

The Best Soaps

Dr. Bronner’s
Who doesn’t love a humble beginning?  Dr. Bronner’s soap was founded in 1948 by Emanuel Bronner, a third-generation master soap maker of German-Jewish decent. Its history goes back even further to the very first soap factory in Germany, as well as the first liquid castile soap ever made.  What stands out about Dr. Bonner’s soap is that it’s labeled as “Pure-Castile” rather than ”Liquid Soap”. This means that the product is vegetable oil-basedecological and simple – not a complex blend of detergents with higher ecological impact and slower biodegradability.
 

Why we love it: Dr. Bronner’s is a certified B corporation — a business that meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.  Dr. Bronner’s has also become the largest personal care company certified under the USDA’s National Organic ProgramAfter over 50 years in operation, the company continues to honor its founder’s vision by making socially and environmentally responsible products of the highest quality, and by dedicating its profits to help improve society. 

Mrs. Meyer’s
Mrs. Meyer’s offers a series of hand and dish soaps that were created in honor of Mrs. Thelma A. Meyer, an Iowa homemaker and mother of nine.  Unlike other household products that use toxic fragrances to make them smell better, these soaps are made from plant-derived products and essential oils to capture the scent and beauty of a Midwestern backyard garden. Learn more about their ingredients here.
 

Why we love it: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day soaps have garnered a great reputation for their ability to cut through dirt and grime without using harsh, toxic chemicals. Thanks to the plant-based ingredients that they use, you still get the benefit of fresh scents that are more reminiscent of Grandma’s house than disinfectants. 

The Best Laundry Detergents

Tru Earth
Tired of lugging around heavy bottles of detergent?  Tru Earth Eco-Strips are a simpler, cleaner, and more convenient solution for cleaning laundryThese strips are notably hypoallergenic, eco-friendly, and free of parabens, phosphates, dyes, as well as chlorine bleach. 

Why we love it: Tru Earth Laundry Strips are likely to be one of – if not the most – eco-friendly alternative to commercial laundry detergentBecause their packaging only consists of compostable cardboard, they reduce transportation pollution by up to 94%. They can also help prevent over 700 million plastic jugs from getting dumped in landfills. 

MyGreenFills  
Unlike store-bought laundry products, MyGreenFills does not use artificial fragrances, chemical surfactants, petroleum-based carriers, optical brighteners, or dyes.  They do, however, offer 100% hypoallergenic unscented options for those that have a sensitivity to certain essential oils. As part of their mission, MyGreenFills has made the conscious decision to use eco-friendly packaging to help pass on more savings to customers. An added benefit is that their products have prevented over 2,000,000 laundry jugs from winding up in the ocean. 

Why we love it: Convenience and efficiency This non-toxic laundry system allows you to save time, money and space in your laundry closet. Plus, they offer a membership program in which you can choose the ideal bundle size, scent, and shipment frequency to meet your every laundry need!

The Best Multipurpose Cleaners

Branch Basics 
If you’re looking to simplify your cleaning efforts, Branch Basics offers a multipurpose concentrate that makes cleaning simple, affordable and sustainable.  So, rather than having to stock up on several different types of cleaning products (with harsh chemicals included), simply dilute the concentrate with water and use it throughout your cleaning marathon. 

Here’s a quick list of some of the things that you can use the Branch Basics concentrate on: 

  • Laundry 
  • hand and body wash 
  • Kitchen 
  • Dishes 
  • Bathrooms 
  • Floors 
  • Produce 
  • and more! 

Why we love it: The Branch Basics concentrate is plant and mineral based, biodegradable, and free of harmful preservatives, making it not only a safe product to use but also a sustainable one.  The other upside to using just one concentrate is that this can be extremely cost-effective for your wallet over time. 

Force of Nature
Have you ever heard of electrolyzed waterThis simple yet powerful substance is comprised of two key ingredients: 

  • Hypochlorous acid – a disinfectant that’s as effective as bleach (and apparently, it’s the same substance your white blood cells produce to fight infection — who knew!) 
  • Sodium hydroxide – a detergent & grease-cutter without suds 

Technically, Force of Nature is a patent-pending appliance, and it creates electrolyzed water from water, salt and vinegar. The result is an all-natural, all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner and disinfectant that works just as well as commercial cleaners but is safer to use. 

Why we love it: Well, for one, it’s like a fun experiment that everyone in the family can enjoy – even kids! Force of Nature is also EPA registered and often used in hospitals, ICUs, schools, daycares and more. So, there is resounding proof that this product is safe for use. 

The Best Air Freshener

Grow Fragrance
When it comes to traditional air fresheners, health experts are primarily concerned with their wide-spread use of phthalates. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has heeded warning that phthalates can negatively impact testosterone levels in men and reproductive abnormalities in women. They can also cause allergic symptoms and asthma — even in trace amounts. After observing the limited choices of healthy air fresheners on the market, Grow Fragrance created their own — one that is 100% plant based, toxin-free, and that smells amazing. 

Why we love it: Grow Fragrance is a certified B corporation, and the company has committed to donating 1% of all sales to 1% for the Planet to help protect land, forests, rivers, oceans, and to encourage sustainable production methods. 

The Best Protectant Against Mold

Homebiotic
Did you know that the average American household has more than 2,000 different species of fungus and 7,000 species of bacteria? The good news: not all bacteria is bad for you; the bad news: some bacteria can lead to the growth of mold and mildew in your home.  

The key is to create a healthy balance of bacteria in your home – that’s where Homebiotic spray comes in! Homebiotic is a probiotic for your home that restores healthy bacteria and helps prevent the growth of mold and mildew. It also helps eliminate the cause of musty odors, aka that gross “basement smell” (did you remember to move the towels to the dryer?!). 

Why we love it: Homebiotic is clear as water and has no detectable smell or added scents. The company has also recently launched a Home Biome Test Kit, which involves a thorough (and super analytical) process that reveals the “biome” of your home and learn how to optimize it for your family’s health.

Save 15% off your order when you use coupon code “daveasprey”.

Disclosure: We may on occasion include affiliate links on our website. Please note that if you make a purchase using any of these affiliate linksthe Dave Asprey Box may earn a commission. With that said, we have intentionally chosen to promote specific companies and their products because we wholeheartedly believe in their quality and mission. 

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Laundry Detergent & Toxicity: What You Need to Know

Guest Post by: Tru Earth 

We spend a lot of time washing and drying our clothes – as much as 6,000+ minutes and 406 loads per yearAnd if you’ve visited grocery store recently, you’ve probably noticed an entire aisle filled from top to bottom with laundry detergentwhich has become a staple for cleaning and freshening clothes in nearly every household (in America). But be weary of the toxicity found in many leading brands of laundry detergent. They often contain chemicals that have been linked to various health issues, ranging from skin and throat irritation to carcinogenicity, anthat can negatively impact the environment. 

ChemicalsWhich Ones You Need to Know About

First: fragrances. Products with added scents and fragrances give pleasure to billions of people around the world every single day – from a fresh-smelling shampoo to a scented candle and freshly-laundered sheetsThey are also great for making products seem more effective and healthier to consume. Here’s what manufacturers don’t want you to know: smelling good can come at a cost for your health. 

Key Facts: 

  1. Fragrances have been classified as allergens, hormone disruptors, and neurotoxins. They commonly contain phthalates, which are chemicals that help scents last longer but have been linked to cancerreproductive harm, and respiratory toxicity.
  2. Fragrance chemicals, like other toxic chemicals, can pass from the skin and into the bloodstream.
  3. So called “natural fragrances” can be just as toxic as synthetic fragrances.
  4. Fragrances do not make products healthier or more effective; this is a perception encouraged by companies that sell cleaning products, deodorants, shampooscandles, and/or laundry detergents.
  5. According to The Guardian, “About 4,000 chemicals are currently used to scent products, but you won’t find any of them listed on a label. Fragrance formulations are considered a ‘trade secret’ and therefore protected from disclosure – even to regulators or manufacturers. Instead, one word, fragrance, appears on ingredients lists for countless cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products. A single scent may contain anywhere from 50 to 300 distinct chemicals.” What’s more, the ingredients found in personal care and cleaning products can change as manufacturers reformulate for effectiveness or cost savings. 

The bottom line: it doesn’t matter if a bottle has “free” or “clear” written in big letters to draw you in; “free of dyes and perfumes” on the label doesn’t mean “free of carcinogens.” Consumers are often left in the dark about what’s really inside of the products they are using and putting on their skin every single day.

Though many hidden chemicals are labeled as “fragrance” or “perfume”/”parfum”, there are at least a handful of ingredients that have received public safety warnings: 

  • 1,4-dioxane is a contaminant that may be found in trace amounts of cosmetics or household cleaners. It forms as a byproduct during the manufacturing process of certain ingredients (detergents, foaming agents, emulsifiers and solvents) and has been identified as a “potential human carcinogen”. The FDA has been monitoring the includion of 1,4-dioxane in personal care and household products. The levels have notably dropped over the past several decades; still, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that, “People are exposed to [trace amounts of] 1,4-dioxane every day because of its widespread use in medicines, shampoo, cosmetics, detergents, and household items.” 
     
  • Alcohol Ethoxylate (AE) and Alcohol Ethoxy Sulfate (AES) are often used in hand dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents, shampoos and other specialty industrial applications. They essentially help mix water and grease to lift and remove stains from your clothing. However, research shows that these chemicals are toxic to aquatic organisms and rats, and may cause skin or eye irritations in humans.
     
  • Ethanol is a natural byproduct of plant fermentation often used as a preservative in personal care products or as a solvent in detergents. (But you probably know it best as the principle ingredient in alcoholic beverages like beer, wine or brandy.) While this chemical has many purposes and potential benefits, it can be hazardous if not used correctly. For example, direct contact can irritate the skin and eyes, cause headaches, nausea, or difficulty concentrating. Studies also indicate that ethanol may make your skin more absorbent. In other words, if you’re using a detergent that – no pun intended – a laundry list of hidden chemicals, including ethanol, those chemicals are more likely to enter your body through your skin.
     
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to hormonal and reproductive effects, as well as cancer. Commonly used in household products, cleansers, cosmetics, and insecticides, the abundance of these chemicals has led to a global environmental and human contamination. In fact, they have been detected in human breast milk, blood, and urine. They are also highly toxic to aquatic life and are associated with reproductive and developmental effects in rodents. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a Significant New Use Rule, also known as a SNUR, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for (15) NPs/NPEs in the effort to protect human health and the environment.
     
  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is a polymer that allows water to penetrate clothes more deeply and prevents dirt from re-depositing on clothes. The major concern with this solvent is that it may produce byproducts that are contaminated with ethylene oxide and/or 1,4-dioxane, which are “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” according to the EPASome studies show that PEG can also irritate the skin or have species-specific effects.
     
  • Sodium Percarbonate, also known as washing soda or soda ash, is a moderately strong oxidizer and a major component of laundry and dishwashing detergents. It’s typically used as a bleaching agent – so it gets your whites white. But what else is it doing to you? Note that sodium percarbonate is classified as a poisonous agent.  If swallowed, a person may experience symptoms including (but not limited to):  
      • Breathing problems due to throat swelling 
      • Diarrhea 
      • Drooling 
      • Eye irritation, redness, and pain 
      • Hoarseness 
      • Low blood pressure (may develop rapidly) 
      • Severe pain in the mouth, throat, chest, or abdominal area 
      • Shock 
      • Difficulty swallowing 
      • Vomiting 

           Even if it’s not ingested (Pod challenge, anyone?), skin or eye contact with sodium percarbonate can still cause: skin or eye irritation, drainage, pain, or vision loss.

Look, it’s fair to say that some chemicals truly work wonders when it comes to washing and drying clothes. But these ingredients can have serious consequences on the environment  which directly impacts the health of more than 7 billion people and over 11 million species of animals, plants, insects and bacteria: 

  • Amine Oxides are commonly used in detergents and household cleaners (with bleach)and like most cationic chemicals, they are highly aquatically toxic. There have been concerns regarding the formation of nitrosamines during the manufacture of amine oxide because nitrosamines are toxic compounds as well as potent animal and human carcinogens. The U.S. EPA has classified some of these compounds as priority pollutants in industrial wastewaters, potable waters, and hazardous wastes (Science Direct).
  • Alcohol Ethoxylates (AE) are high production volume (HPV) chemicals used widely as ‘down-the-drain’ chemicals in detergent and personal care products. Basically, when your washing machine empties into the drain system, it goes through municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) and then into receiving surface waters like lakes and streamsThe good news is that 95-99% of AE is biodegraded by WWTP; the bad news is that there are still residuals that make it through the water treatment facilities and pose a level of toxicity to plants, animals and aquatic life
     
  • Ammonium Sulfate is often used in cleaning products because of its ability to disrupt hydrogen bonding in water and separate different contaminants. Note that this additive is so toxic (category 3 oral, skin, and respiratory toxin) that its manufacturers recommend not using it indoors! Additionally, the requirements for use of ammonium sulfate include never allowing the chemical or its empty containers to reach drains or waterways.
     
  • Phosphates are a little more complicated. Your body needs these essential minerals to help your kidneys, bones, and muscles function properly. But like with any essential nutrient, it’s all about balance. People have become overexposed to what’s called “synthetic phosphates”, which can easily bond with other substances such as salt, calcium, oil and vitamins. These additives are not only found in our food, they are also in these synthetic forms: 
      • Orthophosphates: detergents 
      • Pyrophosphates: water treatment, metal cleaning 
      • Tripolyphosphates: meat processing, dish detergent 
      • Polyphosphates: kaolin (a type of clay) production 

Like our bodies, the environment doesn’t respond well to an oversaturation of (synthetic and natural) phosphates. Unfortunately, many sources of phosphates, including laundry detergent, often drain into lakes and accelerate eutrophication, the process in which aquatic environments become overloaded with nutrients, leading to the development excess algae that ultimately kills wildlife and emits carbon dioxide.

Plastic Waste and High Carbon Footprint are Big Concerns Too

Laundry detergent alone accounted for over $1 Billion in sales in 2018 in the U.S., but only 29.1% of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles and jars are recycled annuallyThat means a staggering number of laundry jugs are sitting in landfills, where they’ll stay forever because PET plastic bottles do not degrade. 

It’s also worth noting that non-concentrated liquid laundry detergent is 60-90% water. So, in addition to all the plastic jugs filling up landfills, a LOT of energy goes into the manufacturing, filling, transporting, storing and selling of heavy detergent bottles (that are primarily composed of water). 

Simply put: purchasing standard grocery-store laundry detergent can have many implications on human health and the environment. 

How You Can Help

To reduce the environmental impact of doing laundry, and proactively preserve your family’s health, follow these eco-friendly laundry tips: 

  1. Switch to natural detergents and stain removers. Natural products are typically plant-based, biodegradable surfactants that do NOT contain fragrances, dyes, optical brighteners, or chlorine bleachIt can be hard to spot the bad actors, just bdiligent about reading the fine print on packaging when shopping!
  2. Consider making your own laundry productsThe only real way to know what’s going into your laundry is to create your own formulas. The good news is that your pantry is probably stocked with a lot of ingredients that are naturally safe for the environment – such as vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. (You can also use essential oils to add that fresh scent you love!)
  3. Rethink dryer sheets and fabric softeners. For the most part, these are made with the same chemicals as popular detergents and can be harmful for both human health and the environment. Instead, opt for eco-friendly dryer sheets or dryer balls. Specifically, consider using wool dryer balls because they effectively separate clothes, allowing hot air to circulate more evenly and efficiently, which then reduces drying time by 10-25%.
  4. Keep it cool. Almost 90% of a wash machine’s energy consumption is used just to heat the water. The solution: Turn that dial to cold.
  5. Wash full loads. If you run your washing machine or dryer with only half a load of clothes or dishes, you’re not maximizing efficiency. (Same thing goes for when you clean dishes in your dishwasher!) According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical household can save 3,400 gallons of water a year by running full laundry loads instead of half loads. This is not only eco-friendly but will also help you save BIG on your utility bills.
  6. Use energy-efficient machines. If you’re in the market for a new washer and/or dryer, consider getting a more efficient model to help save water and energy.
  7. Hang clothes to dry. The bottom line is that keeping your clothes out of a dryer extends their life, reduces energy use, and cuts costs. Line drying – whether indoors or outdoors – is something that you can do year-round. 

No matter whether doing laundry feels like a chore, or it brings you a sense of happiness, it’s important that you understand what your body is being exposed to, and how your actions can directly impact the environment. Be sure to read the labels of everything you buy carefully and understand what the ingredients are so that you can make informed decisions for you and your family, as well as the planet. 

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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 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

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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.

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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