The Science of Algae for Mitochondria, Aging and Brain Health with Catharine Arnston

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Katie: Hello and welcome to the Wellness Mama Podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and this episode is all about the science of algae and specifically related to mitochondrial health, aging and longevity and brain health and so much more. And this was a really fun episode for me to record. I’m here with Catharine Arnston, who is an expert in algae nutrition and considered a thought leader in this area as well as one of the foremost experts in algae research. She’s also an entrepreneur and a speaker. She holds an MBA and is a Board Certified Health Coach, but her journey into the world of algae began in 2008 when her younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and advised to switch to a more alkaline diet. And Catharine started researching foods that were helpful in alkalinizing the body and discovered algae and has dedicated her life’s work to that now.

She spent the last 13 years researching algae, writing papers, giving presentations, lecturing at conferences and speaking to explain the benefits of algae. And she’s a walking testament to this herself. I’ll let you hear all the nuggets directly from her in this interview, but what really stood out to me was that her biological age is less than half of her chronological age of 66 and she attributes this largely to her algae consumption. But she really goes deep on how algae can improve brain health, mitochondrial function, reduce aging and relates to many other things in the body and that it is a food, not a supplement. So it’s something the whole family can use and see benefit from. Without further ado, let’s join Catharine. Catharine, welcome back!

Catharine: Yes, well, thank you for having me. I know it’s been a few years, so I’m thrilled to come back. I’ve got lots of new material to share with you.

Katie: Yes, updates and we’ll also recap some of the background and basics so that people who maybe haven’t heard the first interview will have that as well. I’ll make, of course, make sure our other episode is linked in the show notes for you guys listening. That’s always at wellnessmama.com. But I think to start off broad, since it has been a few years and just establish some background, let’s talk about sort of the basis for our whole conversation today, which is algae. And if you could define it for us and also talk about the different types of algae and their similarities and differences.

Catharine: You bet. So first of all, it’s important for people to know that algae is a food, not a supplement. And it was in fact the first life on earth for almost four billion years ago. So something’s pretty special about being the first life. You can only be the first once. And there are algae everywhere.

There are two main types of algae. One is called macroalgae and the other one is microalgae. We’re going to be talking about microalgae, but let me help define what macroalgae is first. It’s that big stringy stuff that washes up on shore, also known as seaweed or dulse kelp, and it has lots of fiber and iodine. Which are both very good for you, but virtually no nutrition.

The opposite, and it’s only in the sea. The other type of algae, microalgae, which is what we’re speaking about today, is everywhere. Yes, it is in the ocean, but it’s also in the rivers, the lakes, the streams, the soil, your aquarium. And it has virtually either has no fiber or virtually no fiber. Spirulina technically is a bacteria, has no fiber. And it is the most nutrient dense food in the world. We have a quote from NASA that says, one gram of algae has the same nutrition as a thousand grams of vegetables.

So it’s completely opposite to the macroalgae. It has no iodine because it’s grown in freshwater and there’s only a few strains of macroalgae, but there’s tens of thousands of strains of microalgae. Two of the most best known are blue-green algae and green algae. But again, there’s thousands of those strains.

The two that we’re going to talk about today are Spirulina, which is a blue-green algae, and Chlorella, which is a green algae. And we grow ours in freshwater. These are harvested as crop. Again, the macroalgae is in the ocean, microalgae is so tiny. In fact, you can get about a thousand microalgae on the head of a pin. That’s how tiny they are. They feed everything. They feed the sea. The whales, they feed the soil. Spirulina and Chlorella are grown as crops in freshwater. You never want algae from a wild source because you can’t keep the mycotoxins out. It must be from a controlled environment. We’re well known for our high quality because we grow ours in triple filtered spring mountain water.

So Spirulina and Chlorella, Spirulina is a blue-green algae. Chlorella is a green algae. We’ll talk about the differences next. But if you read about a blue-green algae closing your beach, we’re not talking about Spirulina. That’s just another blue-green algae. And poor algae gets the bum rap because algae only shows up to kill bacteria. It shows up when there’s toxins or bacteria. The toxins and bacteria were already there. You just couldn’t see them. But you can see the algae, it’s basically the cleanup crew.

And it works the same way in your body. It kills bacteria topically and in your body, everywhere, your gut, your cells. So it’s pretty powerful. But anyways, that’s the main difference. Macroalgae, big stringy stuff, no nutrition. Microalgae, very tiny, very nutrient dense, virtually no fiber. And then the two that are harvested as food crops are Spirulina and Chlorella. And then what happens when we grow them, is we grow it in freshwater. Air dry it into a powder without high heat. This is very important when we get to the mitochondria piece because high heat kills enzymes. Including a very important one called superoxide dismutase, it’s quite a mouthful, but it protects your mitochondria from damage. And then we just press them into these little tablets.

And we call the tablets bits because they’re nothing more than bits of nutrition or bits of food. There is only one ingredient. And one calorie per tablet. Each tablet is so nutrient dense. This is really terrific for moms because moms, I know you have a hard time getting your kids to eat vegetables, probably your husband’s too. And one tablet has the same nutrition as an entire plate of vegetables. And I came up with that calculation based on that quote we have from NASA that says one gram of algae has the same nutrition as a thousand grams of vegetables.

So you could have two or three. We generally recommend for adults, maybe five or 10 tablets a day, more is better. I have way more than that. And for your children, one or half a tablet for their age. So if they’re 10, maybe give them five a day. If they’re 15, you could give them five, seven a day. There’s no upper limit because it’s food.

I remind people, it’s sort of like, you know, when you’re hungry, you don’t just have one nut. You have a handful. So the same thing with algae. You would have a handful whenever you need for the morning, to get out for your day. And they’re absolutely effortless. Most people do swallow the Spirulina. They come in their little tiny bits. It’s about the size of a baby aspirin. The Spirulina is the one that’s very nourishing. We’ll get to that in a minute, but the difference between the two algae. Very satisfies your hunger, gives you energy and focus. Great for your morning. Great for a midday slump. Great for your kids when they’re going to soccer practice. Instead of one of those nutrition bars or protein bars that’s probably loaded with soy and sugar, give them a handful of these or four or five. And honestly, they will have the best sport of their day. Their focus will be improved. It’s pretty amazing.

So there’s so much nutrition in these bags. We sell them in large bags of a thousand tablets. One bag equals the equivalent nutrition as 551 pounds of vegetables. Now if you bought that 551 pounds of vegetables at the grocery store, that would have cost you about $1,500. So it’s very efficient nutrition. The bags, the Spirulina, we call ours energy bits. It’s the one that gives you nourishment and energy for your day, for your sport. Loaded with a high protein, the highest protein in the world in fact, three times the amount of protein as steak. It’s loaded with fatty acids as, which we know are very important for your brain, and we’re going to get to some brain health issues later on. Because we did a really great little small clinical trial that showed how it improved the, reduced all the brain inflammation just after 30 days of taking the Spirulina.

So I guess we’re segueing into the difference between the two different algae. Spirulina is very nourishing and energizing. Zero carbs for both of them. So if anyone’s doing intermittent fasting, this is terrific. It does not decrease your ketones or increase your glucose. If you’re diabetic, if you have blood sugar issues, this is your answer.

Now the interesting thing on Spirulina as I alluded to earlier is it is a bacteria. The reason why that’s important is has no cellulose wall. Zero. There is zero fiber in this. So it gets absorbed instantly into your bloodstream. This is why athletes love it. We fuel NHL teams because it gives them focus and energy. A spike of energy because it’s just steady, it’s cellular energy. And we’re going to meet at the mitochondria, you’ll understand that because cellular energy. Is different from having a stimulant. A stimulant is like caffeine or chemicals or sugar. This has none of that. And the energy you get is steady. You might not even notice it at first because it’s so, it’s quiet energy. The best way you feel, the way to describe how you feel is you just feel fresh. You feel alert. That’s pretty much it. And that’s pretty nice. And never drop. It’s just very steady. I tell people, no drama with algae. It just hangs there in the background and gives you energy.

So it satisfies your hunger. Gives you 40 vitamins and minerals. High concentration of protein, 99% bioavailable, which is quite different from protein when you eat animal protein, which is all bound up. All the aminos are all bound up and take days sometimes to get broken down into aminos to get absorbed. Collagen peptide. Are clusters of aminos. But algae. In individual amino so it gets absorbed absolutely rapidly and gets to where it needs to go and so does all the nutrition. So it’s really, truly the best protein for you and your children.

So that’s Spirulina, very energizing, nourishing. We recommend in the morning, in the afternoon, before a workout, anytime you’re tired or hungry. And you can even take it before bed because it won’t keep you up. It’s not that kind of stimulant. It’s cellular energy. I tell people cellular energy is like money. You know, when you have more money you can do more things and you have more choices. When you have more cellular energy, which we’ll talk about that in a minute, it’s made by mitochondria, you have more choices and you can do more things. So if you choose to go to bed, after you’ve had some Spirulina, you’ll just have a great sleep because that’s how your cellular energy is being directed. But most people do take Spirulina, by the way, we have two brands of Spirulina because I started the company as a result of my younger sister having breast cancer. And I found that women didn’t like the blue packaging of the ENERGYbits. So because it also builds your skin and hair, people always comment on my skin. And I’m 66, so about almost 67 in a month. By the time this airs, I’ll be 67. But I don’t have any wrinkles, I don’t have any blemishes, and I eat this every single day. Both Spirulina are ENERGYbits are both Spirulina brands. We just found that women liked the packaging better and it does build your. In fact, it has more collagen than collagen powder. So that’s Spirulina.

The other algae is Chlorella, a little tough to say, and it’s a green algae. Compared to Spirulina, which is a blue-green algae. And the reason why it’s called a green algae, because it only has one pigment in it, chlorophyll. Spirulina has two pigments, a blue one called phycocyanin, also a long word, and chlorophyll. But so, Chlorella, which we call ours Recovery bits, because what it does is it’s a wellness algae. Your Wellness Mama, this is a wellness algae. And the way it does that is because it has the highest chlorophyll in the world. Chlorophyll builds your blood. And it’s very healing to, to yourselves.

Just to show you what chlorophyll does, just to get to a tip, the chemical composition of chlorophyll is virtually identical to your hemoglobin. So in fact, for centuries, they’ve always given the injured people when they had surgery liquid chlorophyll because it would help them heal just as fast. So chlorophyll builds your blood and it’s virtually identical to the chemical composition.

Chlorophyll is also a fat-based pigment, which means, and the reason that’s important, because your cells have a cell wall around them that is made of lipids. Which is a fancy way of saying fats. And that’s why you need to take Vitamin E. And D, well, chlorophyll, because of the fat-based pigment, also heals your cell wall, just like omega-3s would or those other fat-based vitamins.

So it’s building your cell wall, building your blood. Chlorella does have fiber in it, so it builds your gut. It supports your immune system with those, so the bacteria can make what’s called short chain fatty acids. And the other thing is… About that hard cell wall is, it attaches to toxins. It pulls out all toxins, lead, mercury, radiation, aluminum, alcohol, glyphosate, pesticides and lord knows we’re surrounded by toxins. In fact, the average adult apparently now in America has 700 toxins in their body. So it’s very much a detoxing and cleansing algae.

It also has the highest glutathione in the world. Glutathione is an antioxidant that also pulls out toxins, particularly in your liver. So this is another way that it helps with your detox.

Now, Chlorella has the highest tryptophan in the world, which is a precursor to melatonin, and melatonin helps you sleep. And when you sleep, that’s when your body goes through a detox and repair cycle. And moms, sleep is the magic potion while some a little bit of sun, algae and sleep are absolutely critical for your health for your detox and repair because that while you’re getting your beauty rest, your body is busy repairing all those cells that got damaged, cleaning out toxins from your brain, from your other parts of your body.

So, but you can’t get the repair if you don’t get sleep. So Chlorella does help you with your sleep. And because it’s their detox and repair algae, a wellness algae, again, like Wellness Mama, this will make sure your sleep is very efficient. You don’t have to do a thing. You just get into some sleep mode and Chlorella will do the rest. It also stimulates what’s called peristalsis, which is known as the bowel movement. So it gets rid of the junk in your trunk.

In fact, on that note, because I’ve been trying to find analogies to help people understand the differences between the two algae, it occurred to me because I speak at a lot of hotel conferences at hotels, Spirulina, because it’s so nourishing and most people take it in the morning. It’s sort of like room service at a hotel. Gives you everything you need for the day. And Chlorella, because it’s so cleansing. And gets rid of all the garbage that you don’t want. It’s sort of like housekeeping. And most people take it later in the day or before bed. So think of Spirulina as room service and Chlorella as housekeeping. And that will help you understand the differences between the two because this is a nourishing algae, this is a wellness algae. They do completely different things.

The other way to think about it, we’ll get to that in a minute, is because this protects your mitochondria in particular, and your brain has the most mitochondria per cell in your body. This is a mitochondria algae and health algae, and Chlorella is a immune health algae. Because 80% of your immune system is in your gut. So this is the Spirulina helps with your brain, which we’ll get to in a minute. And Chlorella is your gut. So Spirulina works from the top down, Chlorella works from the bottom up.

Katie: That’s so fascinating. And I can kind of extrapolate even based on what you just said, some of the many reasons that these things are particularly helpful in the world we live in now, especially when you talk about the number of toxins that we’re all exposed to or that exist within our bodies now. But I’m curious both what would have traditional sources of this have been in the past? Like would people have been able to interact with these algae in the past in ways that we aren’t today? And then what are some of those reasons that we especially need these today in the our world, modern world that we’re living in.

Catharine: Yeah, great question. Well. I think algae is the only thing that’s going to save us. And I’m not the only one that thinks that. The United Nations since 1974 has endorsed Spirulina algae as the answer to world hunger. Because it has the highest protein in the world, the highest nutrition, and is the most eco-friendly sustainable crop in the world, NASA has been feeding it to the astronauts for 15 years. There’s Countries all around the world. Are exploring all the different amazing things that algae can do.

And the reason we need it now more than any time in our past is this. Our food supply is so damaged. And it’s because our soils are so damaged. We have over-cropped, monocropped, so the soils don’t have enough minerals in them for the plants to pull up. So even if you are eating vegetables, and most people aren’t, but even if you were, you’re just, you’re getting fiber and calories, but you’re not getting nutrition.

The other thing is, so many of our vegetables are now grown so far away. So they’re harvested before they’re ripe. So all the enzymes in nutrition. Nutrients can’t get into the leaves or the fruit. So it’s in the warehouse for a long time. So again, you’re not getting the nutrition that your grandparents had. They say now that it’s about a tenth of the kind of nutrition we had 50 years ago.

So, and then it’s really hard to enjoy the benefits of proper nutrition when things are so over-processed. Things that come in bags and tins and though all the nutrients beat out of them because they use high heat and there’s just very little nutrition. So we’ve got plenty of food and not enough nutrition. So that’s number one is we’re just nutrient deprived. Scientists are calling this the great nutrition collapse and for these reasons.

And because algae is so sustainable and grows so quickly, you can get 10 crops of algae because it grows in freshwater a year where if you have a crop of corn or wheat or something, you get one a year and there’s no nutrition in those anyways and they’re inflammatory and cause all kinds of issues with because there’s gluten and all that sort of stuff. So that’s number one.

Number two, if you’re eating meat, most of the animals, unfortunately, are fed things like soy or corn, which are inflammatory. And so when you eat that meat, then you’re getting those inflammatory effects as well. Grass-fed animals are really the only way to go, whether it’s for eggs, regenerative agriculture is the future. We’re kind of stuck because we’ve got ourselves into a situation where there’s lots of food, but no nutrition.

And because algae is so concentrated and so well studied, I didn’t mention this, but there’s a hundred thousand studies documenting the benefits, the health benefits, whether it’s brain health, heart health, nutritional health, energy, gut health, skin health, it’s unlimited.

In fact, I’ve come up with a saying that the benefits of algae are too simple to believe and too powerful not to. But it truly is the answer and there’s more and more articles coming out every day about this. So it makes me very happy to be sharing the benefits.

Now algae isn’t new, as you mentioned, like have these been used previously? Absolutely. The Egyptians used it 2000 years ago. The Aztecs in Mexico, here’s a fun, interesting story, I was gonna say funny, but it’s not funny at all. It was a main source of food for the Mexicans way back before the Spanish conquered them. And when the Spanish came, they saw these big, they thought they were swamps and they drained them, but they were algae ponds. And up until then, the Aztecs had been very strong and healthy. When they lost their source of Spirulina, they got sick and they got conquered by the Spanish. So there’s quite a history of them using it.

And just like, you know, and in Asia, it’s been used every single day for almost 60 years. It is a multi-billion dollar agricultural crop there. It’s almost as big as the beef industry is. But so 95% or 99% of algae is grown in Asia and 99% of it is consumed. You just don’t know about it yet because it’s not grown here and no one has told you about it. I’m probably the first person to dig down into the science of algae because I need, I started this because my sister had breast cancer and her oncology recommended that she change her diet to an alkaline diet. So I helped her figure out what that was, which was basically a plant-based diet because of the chlorophyll and the nutrients. And ultimately I found algae, which is the most alkaline food in the world, used safely for 60 years in Asia, and nobody here knew about it, even though it has all these amazing health benefits.

So that’s when I decided 13 years ago to devote myself to helping the world understand algae, but it’s not new to you. And you didn’t know about kiwi or chia or matcha or cbd or collagen powder, even though they’ve been around in other indigenous countries for thousands of years. So it just took someone like me, who was passionate about the results and helping people be healthy, to claim what it is. Because it’s way more than something to add to your smoothie. It does give you energy. It does give you nutrition. And moms, it’s the best way to get protein and green nutrients into your children, but it’s also very protective of you and your health. And help the ailments that we’re seeing these days, the cancer, heart disease are escalating even after billions of dollars of research.

And yet algae, I’ll explain to you, have some of the nutrients that can help protect you from that or help you regain your health. And it does it from food. Mother nature, she, you know, I can’t take claim for, for the benefits of algae. That’s mother nature. All I can do is tell you about it and help you understand it without having to dig through the thousands of scientific papers and pubmed. But I do want you to understand why it works because it’s, it’s truly the answer to everything and it’s effortless. If you can drink water, you can get the nourishment that you need in seconds. You know, I chew mine, but most of them don’t like the taste of Spirulina, although Chlorella tastes pretty good with pistachio nuts. But you can just swallow them. Kids love them. They like to chew them because it turns their tongues green. And they think that’s pretty funny. But if you can just swallow a handful, each tablet, remember, is the same nutrition as the entire plate of vegetables.

So it saves you trips to the grocery store. It will reduce your grocery bills because now you’re eating, buying fewer vegetables, you’re throwing out fewer vegetables. It travels well, it never expires vegetables. My cucumbers go slimy after about three days or my arugula goes yellow, the algae tablets have an expiry date of three years and even after that they never go bad. So it’s very efficient in time savings, it saves you money at the grocery store and it gives you and your body and your family the nutrients you need effortlessly.

But I do want to make one caveat, algae isn’t like broccoli. You know, not a lot you can do with broccoli. Algae is a very complicated crop to grow, and so it makes our algae tablets better and safer than any other brands or the way we produce them. Because I mentioned we grow ours in freshwater. Well, it’s triple filtered spring mountain water. And this is important. And I’m not aware of anybody else that does it this carefully. You can get mycotoxins in the water. That’s why you never want algae from the ocean or from a lake. Because there will be mycotoxins. And we test for those, by the way. So there’s absolutely zero toxins in our algae, which stuff that grows in China, most of it comes from China. I can almost assure you there will be toxins.

Number two, as I mentioned at the very beginning, we do not use high heat to dry our algae. Everybody else does, because all the other lower priced algae tablets need to sell more to stay in business. So they have to dry it quickly and they use high heat to do that, to get out to market. But the high heat kills all of the enzymes and the pigments. And we’re going to talk about two that are really important for your brain health, not only brain health, but also have been proven to kill cancer cells, which is pretty important. And ours are alive and well.

So you need less of our algae because it’s so concentrated, because it hasn’t lost any nutrition. And so it also will do more for you. So the fact that it’s grown in triple filter spring, not water, no high heat. So it’s all the nutrients are preserved. And things like Chlorella, as I mentioned, it has a hard cell wall that attaches the toxins. Well, in order for that, all the nutrients in Chlorella to be absorbed, you have to, what’s called, crack the cell wall. The FDA has regulated that all Chlorella sold in America must be cracked cell wall Chlorella, but everybody else uses the original technique, which is to tumble it with glass beads. And the glass heats up and lead from the glass has been proven to leak into the Chlorella. So when I started the company, I had learned about that and then discovered there was a new, more expensive technique, which is what we use. And it’s, we pass our Chlorella through a sound chamber and it’s vibrations that crack the cell, so no heat, no lead.

And then we’re also the only company that I’m aware of that does third-party lab tests, FDA approved lab tests, here in the United States because we sell our algae through doctors’ offices, functional medicine, chiropractors. And they need to know for sure that the nutrients are exactly what we say they are and that there are no toxins. So we do that for them and for you to ensure safety and purity. And then we’re very dedicated towards educating people and providing science. I don’t know anybody else that I’ve been on almost 250 podcasts the last couple of years because I really want people to understand why this works so well, why this is the answer for you and for your children, not only for nutrition, but for your health, to protect your health, to regain your health, and then it’s effortless if it comes from, and safe, if it comes from a clean source like ours. So. And we’ll get to that when we get to the mitochondria piece.

Katie: And I’m excited to dive into that part. I love what you said about the simple things often being the most overlooked because I’ve talked about this as well with things like even as simple as getting sunlight first thing in the morning can have a tremendous effect on your sleep. And people often overlook it because it seems so simple or breathwork throughout the day to regulate your nervous system. Sometimes the things that can have the biggest impact are not the most complicated. So I love that you brought that up.

And I’m excited now to go deep on the cellular energy and mitochondria side because you mentioned that these algae are particularly supportive in that area. And it seems like there is a connection here with mitochondria decline as we age and with chronic disease. And we see this in a lot of areas. So can you walk us through the science of how algae is so supportive of the mitochondria?

Catharine: Yeah, well, you know, it’s such a shame because nobody really knows how their body works. We know how our car works. We know how our cell phone works. And we know that if we don’t plug our cell phone in, we won’t get it won’t work. We have to get the electricity. And if we don’t put gas in our car, it won’t work. Well, your body is the same way. It needs certain things to function and work optimally.

And the way that does that is through the mitochondria. They generate, they’re the equivalent of the electricity for your cell phone or the gas for your car. And there are these little tiny, they’re called organelles. They’re inside your cell wall. H-Cell rather. And just to give you an indication of how powerful these are on there are two million mitochondria per cell in your brain. Two million per cell. I mean, that’s just a crazy number. The next highest is women’s eggs, by the way. And there’s almost, I think, 700,000 mitochondria per cell. Your retina is also very high and then your heart has about 7,000. After that, it’s about a thousand per cell.

But the highest concentration of mitochondria are where the highest energy needs are. It takes a lot of energy. Your body uses 20% of your energy for brain power. It takes a lot of energy to make a baby. By the way, the mitochondria have their own DNA. We know about our regular DNA and that half of the DNA come from the sperm and half them come from the eggs. Well, you’ll love this little factoid. All of the mitochondria DNA come from women. Not a drop comes from the men. And as you’re going to find out, the mitochondria DNA are the thing that controls everything in your body. All of your energy. All of your health is determined by your mitochondrial DNA.

So let’s look at these little guys, this mitochondria DNA. They’re, as I mentioned, inside the cell wall. And what they do is they generate this thing called ATP. Now ATP is what fuels all of your body. So the problem is the DNA are… Are located exactly where the ATP is produced. So in your regular DNA are located far, far away. So what happens is when your body is making all this cellular energy. In the mitochondria because the DNA are located exactly where the ATP is produced, and a byproduct of ATP production are free radicals. So your DNA for your mitochondria are getting burned all the time. It’s sort of similar to if you sat by a fireplace or a bonfire and you got too close, sparks would fly and you might get burned. Well, your mitochondria DNA are getting burned all the time because of all these free radicals.

And so you’ve got, and what happens when your DNA of your mitochondria get damaged, they send wrong signals to the rest of the cells. They send wrong signals to your other DNA and they die. And when you have fewer mitochondria, that means you have less ATP being produced, which means your cellular energy can’t do as much. So maybe you end up getting a chronic disease and then you get fatigued because your energy is being directed towards trying to fight the damage to the cell wall.

So your ATP production controls everything. You’re walking, talking, sleeping, breathing, all of your health. And so when your mitochondria get damaged from all these free radicals, they can’t function. They function incorrectly or they just die. So the key to everything is protecting your mitochondria because when they are protected and healthy, you will be healthy too. It’s that simple. But you think to yourself, well, how do I do that? Well, there’s two ways. So this is the good news.

There are two ways to do that. You can reduce the amount of free radicals. And you can remove the free radicals. So let’s talk about how to do that. The first one, which is to reduce the free radicals. And how do you do that? Is by reducing the amount of processed carbs that you’re eating. Because carbs generate the most free radicals in the production process. You could go on a low carb diet or a keto diet. But even better is intermittent fasting or algae. Intermittent fasting and or algae create virtually zero free radicals. Ta-da! Automatically you are making the first step to protecting your mitochondria because when there’s few or free radicals, then there’s a little less damage, okay?

Number two is you can remove the free radicals. But here’s the problem. Most people, there’s no reason why you would know this. I just know this because I do all the science stuff. Your mitochondria are an unusual cell. They have two cell membranes. Remember I mentioned earlier all your cell membranes have a lipid membrane around them, which allow nutrients in and toxins out. Well, your mitochondria has that too. And I’ll explain why there’s a second one in the middle inside.

The mitochondria have a second inner membrane, and that inner membrane is impenetrable by almost anything. It does not allow drugs in there. Most antioxidants can’t get in there. Vitamin E can’t get in there. Vitamin C can’t get in there. So you could eat a room full of blueberries and not a drop of the antioxidants will get into the mitochondria because we know that antioxidants stop free radical damage, right? Well, the good news is there are three antioxidants that can get into that inner membrane to stop free radical damage and remove them. They are chlorophyll, glutathione, and superoxide dismutase.

And the good news is, well, there’s two things about good news. The good news is your body makes two of them, superoxide dismutase and glutathione. But the bad news is it stops making them after the age of 30. So from the moment you’re born, your body is protecting you by creating, and melatonin is also one, creates all these great antioxidants until you hit 30. And then after 30, it drops and drops. And by the time you’re 50 or 40, you have virtually no production of superoxide dismutase, glutathione, or melatonin. And these are the antioxidants that remove the free radicals.

So this is why, I’m convinced, this is why chronic disease, fatigue, weight gain, cancer, heart disease, why these all start hitting us after the age of 30, certainly 40 and 50. It’s because we don’t have, our bodies no longer give us the protection that we had up until that age. But the good news is, algae has the highest concentration of all of them in the world. It has the highest glutathione in the world, the highest superoxide dismutase in the world. And and also the super, there’s an another nutrient called phycocyanin, but also the highest chlorophyll.

So what do these antioxidants do? They turn the free radicals that are being produced through that ATP production into harmless water. Ta-da! Problem solved! no damage from free radicals because you’ve got these antioxidants that can get into that inner membrane to stop free radical damage. Now these antioxidants do other amazing things. The one called superoxide dismutase also protects your telomeres, it stops inflammation, and we’re going to talk a little bit about phycocyanin which is the blue pigment in Spirulina. And it’s been proven to kill cancer cells.

Now I’m going to spell phycocyanin for you. You can actually google and find out that this is accurate. Phycocyanin is spelled P-H-Y-C-O-C-Y-A-N-I-N. And it kills cancer cells and something called senescent cells. These are cells that have subdivided so many times that they can’t subdivide anymore and they don’t die, they just hang around. I tell people it’s sort of like someone who’s had a long career and they finally got retired, but they insist on coming to the office still and hang out and knock over garbage cans and just are annoying. So your senescent cells are cells that are dead. Basically not doing anything. In fact, they’re inflammatory. And again, as you get older, you have more of these. And so this is also why we get chronic diseases as we get older, because we have so many of these senescent cells.

So this blue pigment in Spirulina called of phycocyanin has been proven to kill these zombie cells, as they’re referred to, but also cancer cells. So these are two very powerful antioxidants that protect your mitochondria and they protect you from other illnesses and chronic diseases.

And I’d like to go into a little bit of why particularly this is helpful for brain health, whether you are on the spectrum or you have children on the spectrum, whether you have adhd. Whether you’re fighting depression, we know that mental health right now is at all time low, whether you just want more focus at work, whether you have post-traumatic stress disorder, doesn’t matter what it is, because I’m gonna tell you later on about a fabulous book I read that changed my life. It’s called, Brain Energy by Dr. Chris Palmer. It came out last year. He’s a Physician, psychiatrist at the Harvard medical school. And his whole book is about how all brain issues. Doesn’t matter whether it’s depression or post-traumatic stress disorder are due to damaged mitochondria in the brain.

So the key to brain health and mental health is first protecting and restoring your mitochondria health. And there is nothing in the world that does that better than Spirulina. And I’m going to show you a couple of reasons why, because we did a little clinical trial to find out whether ours spiralina definitely to this. Now I’m going to show you a picture. Some brain scans, eeg brain scans.

Years ago, sports, contact sports, the coaches were concerned when an athlete had a concussion. When they should allow them to come back into play. So they would do an EEG, a brain scan of their brain to find out if it was healthy again. Now, if the athlete had a concussion, the brain scan would show all blue because that would show inflammation and no brain activity. But if it showed red and yellow in the scan, that indicated that the brain was active again, inflammation was gone, and the athlete could come back into play. I wanted to show you that because we did something similar.

We did a small clinical trial with a nonprofit in Florida called the Gray Team. Their purpose is to stop suicide of military veterans, which sadly and horrifyingly is between 35 and 50%. I mean, it’s heartbreaking. So they’re trying anything that will help get their veterans feeling better in terms of mental health. So we had a small group of veterans who had been discharged for anywhere from 15 to 20 years. They’d had mental health issues all that time. And all we did was give them 30 Spirulina tablets a day. So a little pouch of our ENERGYbits, Spirulina tablets.

So what we did is a brain scan before the test and then 30 days after the test. I’m gonna show you the results, a picture. So the first picture shows blue. This is the brain scan similar to when an athlete had a concussion. No activity. This shows high inflammation, no brain activity. This is the frontal lobe of the brain. We also did, I think it’s called the occipital region. We also did it for what’s called the parietal section, which is the brain back part. But this is the executive brain functioning, the occipital. After 30 days, and probably we would have had these results after a week, most of the brain activity was restored. The blue had receded, and now you saw yellow and red again. Same with the back part of the brain. They did nothing else, it’s added the 30 tablets to their daily routine. We had them take them in the morning. And we also used something called a wavy which or BIOS, which measured their heart rate variability and their sleep scores and all that. And this particular individual, their heart rate variability increased 50% from 55 to 80. Which is extraordinary. We usually get a small bump in heart rate variability.

Because a higher score shows that your body and your heart will respond quicker to stress and that’s what you want so that you can recover either mentally, emotionally, physically from any stress that you engage with.

So this particular test proved that our particular brand of algae, Spirulina ENERGYbits, did the trick to help these veterans. One had and multiple sclerosis and his tremors went away. But there’s also tens of thousands of studies. In fact, there’s 25,000 studies on that particular enzyme called superoxide mutase. I know it’s a mouthful, also known as SOD. 25,000 studies proving that it stops heart disease, helps brain disorders. So it’s well documented. But the problem is you can’t get superoxide mutase from food. It doesn’t exist anywhere. It’s in 0.00001% in cabbage or broccoli, but then. The small amount that’s in there gets damaged during digestion. But because Spirulina, which has the highest amount of superoxide mutase in the world, is a bacteria. So it gets absorbed into your bloodstream almost instantly and all that superoxide mutase gets directed to the mitochondria instantly. So it’s very medicinal in terms of either protecting your mitochondria or restoring it.

And it’s just food. This is the great thing. It’s not a drug. It’s not a supplement. It’s food. And I tell people, take it for improving your skin, but you’re gonna have more energy or maybe you take it for more energy, but your heart health is gonna improve. It does improve health, it reduces the likelihood of heart disease, it reduces your cholesterol, it reduces your blood pressure. The stuff that this does is off the charts, and again with Spirulina, it’s really the shining star. If you could only choose one, I would certainly go for Spirulina. It has that blue pigment called, again, phycocyanin. And I’m showing you a picture of a test from one of the many tests that you can find on google, just google phycocyanin and cancer treatments.

In this particular treatment, they colored the cancer cells purple. And put phycocyanin into the petri dish. And you can see after 24 hours between the start and the end that the cancer cells are virtually gone. 24 hours. That’s pretty amazing. And what’s even more amazing is the amount of phycocyanin that was used in this particular test, one of our ENERGYbits or beauty bits tablets has 4,000 times more phycocyanin than was used in that experiment. Phycocyanin is mother nature’s natural way to protect us from any kind of illness or disease, but particularly cancer because the phycocyanin kills the cancer cells. And it kills the, what I mentioned earlier, the senescent cells. Which are the zombie cells that just hang around, they’re inflammatory and they cause damage.

But I just want to clarify for, because I want, don’t want you to shut down by the FDA. I’m not saying that algae stops cancer. I’m saying there is a nutrient in the algae called phycocyanin that scientists have shown will kill cancer cells. And I can tell you the technical way of why it works, but it’s already used in the chemotherapy treatments. Because what it does is it kicks out what’s called Cytochrome C molecule so it’s directed towards the cancer cells and senoscent cells. And they measure the success of chemotherapy treatments by how many. Cytochrome C cells are in your bloodstream because they know then that it’s working.

In healthy cells on the other hand. The blue pigment, it speeds up the Cytochrome C, is what’s called a Carrier Molecule. It speeds up the ability of a healthy cell to make that ATP energy. So talk about selective listening. This is selective work of your mother nature and your body to protect you. So for healthy cells that blue phycocyanin speeds up and generates energy.

This is one of the many reasons why you get energy from Spirulina because it’s like say this carrier molecules sort of like a bus at an airport, you know, you can’t get to your flight if you’re at a big airport and there’s different terminals, you got to get on that bus to get to your gate. And this little molecule that’s called Cytochrome C is sort of like a little shuttle bus. That takes the production of the electrons from the previous station to the next one. And if you have a healthy cell, it speeds it up. So it generates energy for you.

But if you have an unhealthy cell, like a cancer cell or what’s called a Senescent cell, it automatically identifies that it’s sick and it kicks it out, it ejects it. And that is what kills those cells. So it’s pretty amazing.

There’s also another one of those little shuttle buses earlier in that process called ATP, which is a CoQ10 molecule, which happens to be a water-based molecule like, and sorry, it’s a fat-based molecule. Coq, Cytochrome C is the fat-based molecule. So that shuttle bus, the CoQ10 molecule, it’s in the earlier process of the ATP production. And when you give it chlorophyll and light, it generates ATP.

So here’s, and of course, algae has the highest chlorophyll in the world. So here’s two simple ways that you can generate more ATP production without having to do anything. No drugs, no, I mean, you should be exercising because also exercise stimulates your mitochondria and to generate more, to generate more mitochondria and to make the ones that you have work better. So, and so does red light. So red light is free, comes from the sunlight. Exercise is free. You just have to get yourself out there. And algae is not free, but it’s organic and natural. And original, you can’t get any closer to the source than algae. So there are ways in sleep is free and sleep also restores your mitochondria. You start to see a pattern here, right? The things that are really good for you really don’t cost you anything. They’re really the simplest. Or even if they cost you something, like if you took 10 tablets a day. And you bought a bag of algae tablets, it would cost you a dollar a day, a dollar a day to protect your health. I’d say that was worth it. Same with your children, it’s worth it. So it’s the simple thing. I know we’re all looking for that shiny object and the fancy gadget and whatever, but ironically, the things that really work, are the things we’ve always had, and we’ve just overlooked them.

Katie: Yeah, I completely echo what you say, especially about sunlight, exercise and sleep being really big keys that don’t have to cost anything. I think I talk a lot about the foundational things of health and how if we get those dialed in, anything else we do is going to be more effective. Any supplement we take is going to make a bigger difference if we’ve already got that foundation in place. So I love that you brought those up.

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This podcast is brought to you by Wellnesse. And this is a company that I got to help co-found and formulate the products for and one that I care deeply about. Oral health has been a fun research topic for me for well over a decade. When I discovered I had some cavities and started learning about the process of remineralization and how our teeth have the ability to stay stronger and healthier, dependent on a lot of factors, including our nutrition, our oral microbiome, and the environment of our mouth. And this is why we use something called hydroxyapatite, which is a naturally occurring mineral that is used in the enamel of our teeth. And there’s some fascinating studies that show that this is really effective at helping keep teeth strong and healthy. And this is also why I chose not to use fluoride in my products. Hydroxyapatite has many of the same upsides without the potential downsides that come with fluoride and is certainly much safer for children as well.
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And that was such a wonderful cohesive explanation. And I think really helps tie in the benefits of this, especially to your point in a modern era where we are faced with more inputs, more potentially negative inputs than we have been in the past. And so I view this as kind of an amazing baseline food and also a great sort of insurance policy against the things we can’t avoid. And of course, as humans, we have to adapt to that. We can’t avoid the modern life, but we can do things that help our body still be able to stay in a positive state even during that.

And I have a few sort of rapid fire questions for clarification for people listening. So you mentioned earlier that Spirulina does not break a fast or get you out of ketosis. So if someone is doing a fasting protocol for a specific health reason, or even doing intermittent fasting, they can take Spirulina during their fasting window?

Catharine: Absolutely. You can also take Chlorella, but Chlorella won’t give you energy or satisfy your hunger. Part of the problem with intermittent fasting or any kind of fasting or even kind of any weight loss. Is that you get tired and you get hungry. And it’s hard to get through that period of time and spiralina takes away the hunger, takes away the fatigue, keeps your focus high, and does not interfere with your fast. So you can take it, and it’s more of an effortless fast. You can take Chlorella too. It will not give you energy and will not satisfy your hunger.

Katie: It would probably would help with the extra autophagy that’s happening and the sleep that can sometimes suffer during a fast. What about having, I’ve taken these different bits quite a bit. Is there any benefit difference in chewing them versus swallowing them? I know they actually taste great with macadamia nuts, which was a trick you gave me, but if someone doesn’t love the taste, can they just swallow them and still get the same benefits?

Catharine: Absolutely. Almost, in fact, 95% of people do swallow them. I chew, usually my tongue is green because I always eat them all day long. The only difference is that they will get into your bloodstream a little faster because they get in sublingually. And also because, as I mentioned at the very beginning, both algae kill bacteria. So if you chew them, you’re killing the bacteria in your mouth. And don’t forget that a lot of bacteria are in your mouth. Your health issues start in your mouth because if you’ve got bacteria in your mouth, you’re swallowing it. And it gets getting into your bloodstream. So there is that benefit as well. It kills bacteria in your mouth and you get access faster to the nutrients. But I will say most people do swallow them. So it’s whatever works for you. You can also put them into a smoothie or if you do like the flavor, mix them up with a trail mix or the Chlorella are great as a garnish on your salad.

Katie: Or my kids found out they like to chew them if they dip them in honey. So maybe for other parents listening, that’s a…

Catharine: Oh, there you go.

Katie: Especially pre-workout. That was a tip they liked. From a storage perspective, I know they already come in great bags to store them, but I’m going through sort of like a glass jar phase. Would it be advisable to not store them in glass for the light?

Catharine: Don’t put them in glass jars because light will pull the chlorophyll out. We have these really adorable canisters that come with a bag inside. And you open the bag and then you put the… Put the tablets in the canister. And then you just shake the tablets out through the canister. And then when you run out… then when you run out, you just buy another bag and put the bag inside the canister. A large bag will fit into the canister. You don’t have to refrigerate them. And I love the canisters because they’re very attractive and they remind you to take your bits for the day. They also come in small travel pouches. They’re 30 tablets in a pouch, so great for traveling. Going to, throwing them into your kids’ lunches or taking them on a trip. But, and we have an expiry date and a batch date number on each, on everything. And they always last about three years. But algae is the most unusual food. It never goes bad. And also as a crop when it’s growing. If the growing conditions deteriorate, like there’s no sun or water, corn, wheat, tomatoes, doesn’t matter what it is, they will die. Not algae. It will just go dormant. It will wait until the growing conditions return and it will start growing again.

And an example was a National Geographic team went up to a 30-year-old Antarctic and they found some, they took some ice back to the lab and they put it in a petri dish because they saw some algae was in there and I think it was about a billion and a half year old piece of ice and lo and behold the algae started growing again. So it never goes bad ever ever ever. It just might not taste as good but most people swallow it so but the light will pull out the chlorophyll. Just a little interesting little note. There’s a theory, I don’t know whether it’s correct or not, with this one of the stories from the Bible about jesus feeding the masses. Um, they think it might have been algae because when algae grows on the rocks. The light will pull all the green chlorophyll out of it, but you still have all the protein and the polysaccharides and all the nutrients. So they think maybe he might have scraped the rocks from this little white stuff. And fed people that way. So I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but I thought it was kind of fun.

Katie: That’s fascinating and good to know about the light. I’m glad I asked. And I’ll give another tip that I do as I’ve started putting things in my way in places where I need to remember them. And so I keep things like ENERGYbits on either my nightstand or my coffee bar. So I see them first thing in the morning and I feel like they do really well, especially if they hit my stomach or my stomach’s empty and I get that sort of energy boost. So I love to do like minerals and algae in the mornings. And I’ve noticed a great difference from that. So just a tip for anybody who wants to work this in as a habit.

Catharine: That’s a great idea. And the canisters, by the way, come with a little tin inside them that you can fill up. And maybe you could put those by your bedside to, maybe the Chlorella by your bedside to remember to take them at night. But I’m the same way. I have my canisters on my countertop. I’m making my tea and there they are. So, and they are terrific on empty stomach. If you’re working out in a fasted state or just getting up, most, I can’t take supplements in the morning because I’m, because that upsets my stomach. And same with fish oil, I can’t take fish oil. And that’s because those are processed and they use high heat and they don’t exist in nature that way. So when you put them in your body, your body doesn’t know how, a lot of people, they just can’t digest them and it makes them feel sick.

Algae because it’s unprocessed. It’s a raw food. Ours is. Not everybody’s because we don’t use high heat. So it’s a raw food. Actually Spirulina is live because we don’t do anything to it. So it doesn’t affect your stomach. It’s the athletes, everybody loves them on an empty stomach. They’re really great. And there’s no repeat. I can’t eat fish oil because I burp it up for hours afterwards. So it’s absolutely once it’s down, it stays down. No taste.

Katie: Well, and I know that this is what you credit with your biological age being literally less than half of your actual age, which is incredible and one of the reasons I’ve been inspired to continue taking this as well. I’m curious and people listening might be as well, is there an upper limit or like a recommended don’t eat more than this of algae in a given day or is it recommended to maybe start slowly if you haven’t been consuming algae or is it fine to just consume?

Catharine: You could just jump in, but it is very nutrient dense. So if you have had a bad diet, that’s why I start people on Spirulina because it’s very nourishing and cleansing, but not detoxing. And Chlorella is a detox algae. So some people might have detox symptoms, breakouts or headaches or nausea for a couple of days because it’s not the algae, it’s pulling the toxins out of your cells and they’re circulating.

But for Spirulina, I mean, you could start with five a day if you wanted to work your way up. You’ll get more benefits if you can get to the 10 a day, but even if you just took three or four a day, any amount is going to improve your health. Children again, half of their age pets love them. Cats and dogs go crazy for this stuff and they’re pretty smart. And there is no upper limit.

I will say your poop will be a little green if you eat as much as I do. Don’t be alarmed. It’s the chlorophyll, because only 10% gets absorbed in your stomach and the rest of it travels through your liver and down through your colon, where it’s absorbing toxins and cleaning things out. You know, you want that colon to be clean. So if you could do 30 a day, that’s great. By the way, if anyone does have a health condition, heart disease, cancer, any kind of health condition, you should be taking 30 a day of each algae until you get a clean diagnosis. And then if you want to, you can get back to 10 a day or five a day or whatever your preference is.

I don’t tell people how much I eat anymore because it’s kind of weird to people out, our NHL players take 75 Spirulina before a game because they need lots of energy and focus on the ice. And then they take 75 Chlorella after a game to pull all that lactic acid out. So you could get into the, you know, over a hundred if you want, but most people won’t and don’t need to. So if you can aim for 10 a day or it’s a meal replacement, if you have 20, you won’t be hungry for three or four hours and one calorie a tablet. A dollar a serving is, it can’t be that.

Katie: Awesome. And a couple last questions. You already might have alluded to your answer on this one, but I’m curious if there is a book or number of books that have had a profound impact on you personally and if so, what they are and why.

Catharine: Yeah, well, Chris Palmer, who I do know, his book was revolutionary and he’s been on tour ever since November when it came out. Again, his book is called Brain Energy, and it talks about how all these mental health issues are truly a mitochondria, they initiate with the mitochondria health. I’m so glad that mental health is coming out of the closet, so to speak. Because if your mental health is not on, you know, working, nothing works and there’s no shame. You shouldn’t be experiencing that kind of agony. It’s just no different than having a broken bone and there’s structural reasons for it. If you have damaged mitochondria, we need to get those guys back into shape for you so that then your neuro, your different pathways and your brain will work properly. So that book was really, really helpful for me. I’m constantly reading nutrition books and also spiritual books. I have hundreds of books. I just love books. I’m a bit of a PubMed aficionado right now too. So, but I, this brain energy was written for the consumer. So it has science in it, but it’s not. That’s what’s so great about the way Chris wrote it. So it’s not intimidating, but I think it will really help people understand what’s going on in their brain. So that would be the one I’d recommend.

Katie: That will be a new read for me as well. I always ask that question somewhat selfishly, so I get book recommendations. And lastly, any parting advice for the listeners today that could be related to algae or unrelated life advice that you find helpful?

Catharine: Well, I think we’ve already sort of mentioned it. Getting back to the basics, the simple things, they aren’t glamorous, they’re not sexy, but they’ve stood the test of time and things like sleep and sun and movement and love and nutrition. I can’t look after the love port, but I, I think you call these love bits, quite honestly. Um, the this is the simplest, concentrated, safe way to nourish your body, your family’s bodies.

And I call them health insurance as well. Because it gives you everything that you need to, for optimal health. We’re not talking just surviving. We’re talking about thriving. So, and the irony is, and I didn’t get to it, but the science proves that algae evolved to become mitochondria. It’s called endosymbiotic theory. So, everything started with algae and on earth for life and everything in your body starts with mitochondria and they came from the same place. So it makes complete sense to me that they are perfectly suited for one another. So try to strip away the noise out there. And just stick with the basics and show yourself some self love. I have a great quote I’d love to share with people like “Self care is giving the world the best of you. Not what’s left of you.” And, you know, moms, we know how hard you work. You need some me time. And it’s not selfish looking after yourself. It’s you deserve it. You’ve earned it and just by for two of being on this planet, it’s your right. To be healthy and happy. So find your joy, stick with the basics. Algae is one of them. Yeah, and I’m proud to be mother nature’s voice for all of everybody.

Katie: Well, this has been such a fun interview. I always love chatting with you and I always learn a lot even though I’ll do something I’ve known about for a long time. Thank you so much for your time today and for everything that you’ve shared.

Catharine: Yeah. Oh, and we have a 20% discount code for your listeners. If you go to our website energybits.com. E-N-E-R-G-Y-B-I-T-S and type in WellnessMama in the discount code box. All one word, you’ll get 20% off anything on the website, anytime, doesn’t ever expire. So, and come and visit us anyways. We have lots of great science and blogs and stuff, so, energybits.com.

Katie: You do have a lot of great education as well. Like you, I spend a lot of time in Pubmed and I appreciate that you do as well. I’ll make sure those links are all also in the show notes for you guys listening on the go. You can find that all at wellnessmama.com.

But thank you so much for your time and thanks to all of you as always for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the Wellness Mama podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

#Science #Algae #Mitochondria #Aging #Brain #Health #Catharine #Arnston

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