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Algae Why Don't Americans Know About This Superfood Podcast Transcript

, by Nicole Guzman, 63 min reading time

Algae! Why don’t Americans know about THIS superfood?

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Algae! Why don’t Americans know about THIS superfood?  | Ep165

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S1: 00:05

Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Well, by now you probably heard me talk a lot about superfoods, foods that are loaded with essential nutrients like omega threes, polyphenols, and antioxidants. You might also know that some of my absolute favorites include foods like avocados, mushrooms, and macadamia nuts. Well, today I'm joined by Catharine Arnston, a wellness thought leader and experienced entrepreneur who says there's a newer superfood on the radar and it's one of the most exciting yet. In fact, she says it could be bigger than collagen. Oh, my gosh. And NASA has even referred to it as the answer to world hunger. Today, we're talking all about algae. Catharine and I are going to explain how certain types of algae can be used to support your energy levels, immune response, skin health, and so much more. We'll also explain how algae works to fill nutritional gaps, and ultimately how it can help protect you from serious illness. Before we dive into all things algae, I want to make it very clear that although algae is loaded with nutrients, it is not to be considered a replacement for any medications or other recommendations made by your doctor. And no, it can't replace vegetables and other nutritious foods altogether either. And no, it is not a recognized treatment for the treatment of viral illnesses like COVID-19. Instead, think of algae as a way to enhance your nutritional intake and support your health, but not to replace other healthy practices. And if you do decide to make room for algae in your diet, make sure to run it by your healthcare practitioner. Okay, let's get started. Catharine, it's great to have you on the show.

S2: 02:02

Well, thank you, Dr. Gundry. I've been a big fan of yours for years and read your books. So pleasure to be here with you today.

S1: 02:09

Well, great. So okay, let's just dive right in. What the heck is algae? I think most people think of it is, it's pond scum. Is that what we're going to talk about today?

S2: 02:22

Well, I guess it can be perceived as pond scum, but I hope at the end of this discussion, people will realize that it's a superfood that everyone should be taking because it will help improve your energy, your focus, your skin, your digestion, not to mention the world itself. But just to give you some context, algae is its own food category. It's not a fruit, and it's not a vegetable, which is why it has no lectins or any anti-nutrients like-- I'm blanking on it.

S1: 02:57


S2: 02:58

Oxalates, right?

S1: 02:58

Yeah, oxalate.

S2: 02:59

So algae was the first life on earth almost four billion years ago, and they have fossils to prove it. And after about a billion years of it growing, it released enough oxygen on earth that other life forms could grow, and then eventually, life as we know it came to be. So algae was the first one here, and it's still here. So I say there's got to be something special about something that's lasted multiple ice ages, dinosaurs, and everything. So algae is a type of plant. It's not technically a plant because it started in the ocean. It's considered a sea vegetable and it's everywhere. It's in the oceans, the rivers, the lakes, your swimming pool. Yes, it's in your swimming pool. Your aquarium. And those are all wild algaes. And they're fine for the fish and find for the animals, but they are toxic to humans. So don't stick your head in your swimming pool or grab a spoonful from your aquarium because those will not be good for you because algae also absorbs whatever's in the water. And so as we know, there are lots of toxins in the oceans. And you certainly don't want to be taking algae. It's supposed to be benefiting you. So the two algae we're going to be talking about today are spirulina and chlorella, which are the two algae that are harvested as food crops. So again, I want people to understand that algae is a food. And I don't know if you can see this, but this-- I'm showing you a picture of an algae farm. Algae is not a supplement. Supplements are made from extracts in factories with high heat that can kill the enzymes and the nutritional value. And algae is grown in fresh water. We grow ours in triple filtered spring mountain water. And then, we air dry it without heat, so we preserve the enzymes. And then, we don't add any binders to it. So it's a nutrient-dense food. And we have a quote from NASA that says, "One gram of algae has the same nutrition as a thousand grams of fruits and vegetables." That's one to a thousand. That's unbelievable. So that's one of the reasons why they feed it to the astronauts. It's the first plant they want to grow in Mars, in space because of this nutrient density. And as you're going to find out, we sell our algae and tiny tablets that are about the size of a baby aspirin. And each one of those tiny tablets has the same nutrition as an entire heaping plate of vegetables, but vegetables that you didn't have to buy, cook, clean, or eat, or have worry about lectins or oxalates. So--

S1: 05:30

Let me stop you there for a second. So what you're saying is that most of our-- so you're not out there in a boat with a net [laughter] picking up algae that's floating free in the sea. Most of us kind of have this concept that that's where our, say, chlorella is coming from, but you're actually-- you're farming this.

S2: 06:00

Farming it, absolutely. It's being farmed. It's called hydroponic farming, which lots of vegetables, tomatoes, and [inaudible]-- they have oxalates. It's not a good thing to probably reference. But lots of vegetables are grown in fresh water. So that's why in fact, algae is a multi-billion-- that's with a B-- multi-billion dollar agricultural crop in Asia where they've been growing it for over 50 years. And just to show you how big it is in Asia, it's almost as big as the beef industry as here in America. They take it every day in Japan. They don't take vitamins. They take chlorella algae every day to build their immune system, help them with their energy, their digestion, their-- it's amazing. And you're going to learn about both of these algae today because-- and I point out that the Japanese have some of the best longevity, the lowest cancer rates and great skin and hair. And I attribute some of it to the algae. [laughter]

S1: 06:55

I know it's been used in Asia for literally centuries. As such a routine part of their culture and their food supply, why is it not known about here in the West particularly?

S2: 07:13

Yeah. Well, that's a great question. And I wondered myself. And I've been studying algae now for 11 years. And when I started reading the science because it's the most studied food in the world-- and all the references I give you today about the benefits are all available in the NIH library. And I thought, "My gosh. With all this great research, why don't people in North America know about it?" So here's why. This is what I think why. Number one, algae has been grown in Asia as I mentioned for 50 or 60 years. So it's quite common for them to be driving on the highway and see a big truck go by with a bunch of algae about to be dried. So it's part of their lifestyle. They put algae in everything-- their dried goods, their teas. They drink it as powders as in tablet form as we do. So it's as normal to them as, unfortunately, probably eating donuts is here. So number one, it's quite a common agricultural thing to see, to eat and use in Asia but not here because algae isn't grown in America for a variety of reasons, mostly because they don't know about it. But that's about to change because The White House in 2019, as part of the farm bill, passed the algae agricultural act to encourage farmers to grow algae here because they have realized it's the most nutrient dense eco friendly sustainable crop in the world and needs to be grown here. But because we didn't grow up with it-- when you live in the Midwest, you might see trucks going by with wheat on the way to the mill or you might see-- I live in Boston and we see trucks with Dunkin Donuts driving by. So it's just not part of your vernacular. That's number one. Number two is it has been sold in America for the last 50 years but because it's all grown in Asia and that's where all the customers are, they've continued to use their Asian packaging that looks like this.

S1: 09:08

Ah, yes.

S2: 09:09

Okay? But what does that tell you? Nothing. And so it looks weird. It sits on the bottom of a shelf gathering dust. So I design everything for our company. And we're going to find out that chlorella helps you build your health and your wellness so it helps you recover from health so I called ours recovery bits and I designed packaging that was a lot easier to understand. And here's another picture of one of our packaging. The spirulina gives you energy so I thought, well, let's call it energy bits because it makes it more obvious. It also builds your skin and hair, so I created one called beauty bits. So the packaging has been very Asian and not very consumer friendly. So we made sure that we made a difference and we certainly improved that.

S1: 10:00

So you mentioned just a minute ago about all of the published studies on the health benefits of algae. And because algae really isn't high on people's lists of, oh, I need algae for my health, give our listeners kind of a rundown of, okay, what the heck are the health benefits--

S2: 10:30


S1: 10:30

-- besides-- okay?

S2: 10:32

Sure. So as I mentioned, there's two algaes. The first one we're going to talk about is spirulina. It's considered a blue green algae because it has two pigments in it. A blue one called phycocyanin and a green one, which is called chlorophyll, which most people know about. So what is algae spirulina known for? It's known for satisfying your hunger and giving you energy mentally and physically. How does it do that? Spirulina has the highest concentration of protein in the world. Ours is 64% protein. That's just to compare with animal protein that's about three times the amount of protein found in animal protein. And that's why the United Nations actually endorses it as the answer to world hunger because of this high protein. Importantly, all that protein is already in amino acid form so your body doesn't have to work to get access to it. And it's loaded with B vitamins which convert the aminos into energy. It's loaded with iron that carries oxygen which gives you energy. It's loaded with essential fatty acids like omega-3 that helps with your brain thought. It's known as a vasodilator that opens up your blood vessels so your nutrients and your oxygen can flow better to your muscles and your brain. And so that's why athletes-- we work with NHL teams, olympic teams, runners, triathletes who use it to give them energy. And it doesn't upset their stomach because of course there's no caffeine chemicals or sugar or lectins or oxalates. So spirulina is a very energizing algae, both physically and mentally. But I know we're going to talk a little bit about intermittent fasting. The other great thing about spirulina is because it's so rich in protein and essential fatty acids, it satisfies your hunger. And there are no carbs. So it's great for intermittent fasting or if you're on a keto diet because it does not decrease your ketones or increase your glucose. And this has been studied and documented. So a lot of people use it for intermittent fasting. You might have 4 or 5 or 5 or ten tablets in the morning. It doesn't break your fast at all, but you're not hungry, you're not tired. And it gives you all the nutritional value that you need anyways so that you can eliminate a lot of those fake supplements you might be taking. By the way, it's only one calorie per tablet. So if you take 5 or 10 tablets for 10 calories, you can have your hunger satisfied for hours and get all the other nutrients. There's 40 other vitamins and minerals in it. I don't know, anything that can do that. So it's a great meal replacement for assisting you with weight loss, intermittent fasting, and as I mentioned, it gives you the energy. So most people take the spirulina, which we call energy bits in the morning and the afternoon, when you're tired, you get a slump, or before a workout.

S1: 13:06

So let me stop you there. You mentioned blue-green algae. And on the Internet, you look up blue-green algae and you see these sites that say, "Oh my gosh, blue-green algae is lethal and don't come near it, and it'll kill you. What say you?"

S2: 13:27

Well, that's why at the very beginning, I pointed out that algae grows everywhere. And if it comes from the ocean or the lakes or the streams or your swimming pool, it's toxic. So yes, the blue-green algae in your ocean is going to be toxic because it's in the wild in the environment. It is not toxic when it's harvested like we do in fresh triple-filtered spring mountain water. And we're probably the only company that I know in the United States that does third-party lab tests at an FDA-approved lab because we sell our LG tablets both on our website, energybits.com, but mostly through doctors, functional medicine, longevity centres and they need to see that there are no toxins in our algae. So we do third-party lab tests. We even do a third set to prove there is no mito toxins in there. So we are totally buttoned up, not every company is, but we certainly are, but that's why if you go on the internet and you see stuff about toxic blue algae, I can promise you it's relating to algae that's grown in the ocean or somewhere wild.

S1: 14:34

Gotcha. So that's not your blue-green algea.

S2: 14:37

That's not us. That's not us. No way.

S1: 14:38

All right. Next question. Everybody you worries about essential amino acids in the entire range of amino acids. Where does spirulina fall into this?

S2: 14:54

It's a complete protein. It has 18 of the 20 aminos, so it has all the all the aminos that your body can not make, which is why it's considered a complete protein. And I'll tell you something really interesting. I saw a chart from medical book that dated back to the '40s or '50s and it had a chart that showed all the amino acids in mother's breast milk. And I thought, "Gosh, that looks awfully familiar." And sure enough, it's virtually identical to not only the same aminos but the same proportions of those aminos found in spirulina and actually chlorella. So as you've pointed out, it's not just the aminos, it's what percentages are there. And so we all know that mother's breast milk is the perfect food. Well, guess what? Spirulina is going to be your number two because it's virtually identical to mother's breast milk. And you can't very well get mother's breast milk after the age of two at least not to my knowledge. [laughter]

S1: 15:51

All right, now so everybody--

S2: 15:54

Do you want me to talk about chlorella?

S1: 15:56

That's where we're going to go next. Tell me, okay, okay, they're both algaes. What the heck is the difference between chlorella and spirulina?

S2: 16:06

Yes. Well, spirulina, as I mentioned, is a blue-green algae, and it has two pigments in it. The other important difference between the two of them is that spirulina is technically a bacteria. It does not have a cellulose wall, which is the other reason why it gets into your bloodstream so quickly. And it has the highest concentration of protein. In contrast, chlorella has the hardest cell wall in the plant kingdom. In fact, it's so hard that it has to be cracked in production or your body wouldn't absorb the nutrients. But here's the cool thing about that hard cell wall: it attaches to toxins of any kind. It is a chelator. It will pull out lead, mercury, radiation, aluminum, which is important if you're getting vaccines. It also identifies alcohol of any kind, wine, beer, spirits, as a toxin and pulls them out so you'll be sober in an hour and a half and you'll never have a hangover. Athletes love it because it detects lactic acid as a toxin. So it pulls it out so your muscles aren't sore the next day, which is one of the attributes that the Olympic teams really loved about it. So number one, chlorella is a detoxing algae. Spirulina is a nourishing and cleansing, but not a detoxing algae, like chlorella. So that's the first difference. Spirulina has no cell wall, chlorella has the hardest cell wall. Number two, spirulina has the highest protein in the world. Chlorella has the highest chlorophyll in the world. That's why it's called chlorella. Now, what's so important about chlorella? Well, I could talk about that or chlorophyll all day, but I'll give you a couple of key points. First one is that the chemical composition of chlorophyll is virtually identical to your blood. Why is that important? Because when you take chlorophyll, you are literally building your blood. And proof of this is that up until, even including, World War II when they ran out of blood for transfusions, they would give the injured liquid chlorophyll and they would heal just as fast as if they had a blood transfusion. And we'll send you some images. And you can go online to see this. The only difference is chlorophyll has magnesium in the middle and your blood, your hemoglobin, has the iron atom, which is what carries oxygen.

S1: 18:06

Has iron, yeah.

S2: 18:08

So number one, chlorophyll builds your blood. Number two, chlorophyll builds your cells, the health of your cell walls. We all know now that the health of your body is determined at the cellular level and the mitochondria within those cells. And one of the ways to keep those mitochondria healthy is to ensure that they are getting the nutrients they need and that you're getting rid of the toxins that they don't. And the way you do that is you keep your cell walls healthy with healthy fats. Well, chlorophyll is a fat-based pigment compared to the blue pigment in spirulina, which is a water-based pigment. It's called phycocyanin. So that chlorophyll, because it's a fat-based pigment, will heal those cell walls. And the best analogy I give to people is, when you have dirty windows, you can't see out and sunlight can't get in. And that's not very nice. So think of chlorophyll as window washers for your cell walls. It facilitates the movement of nutrients into your cells and facilitates the removal of the toxins, which help preserve your mitochondria. Now I'll tell you something really cool that I've been doing some research on. Well, other people have done the research. I've just been reading it. And they've found that when you match red light therapy, or sunlight, with chlorophyll, your mitochondria actually generate ATP and it's quite an extraordinary finding. And I think it's going to be pretty cool in the future. But that's just an extra little bonus of chlorophyll. The other thing about chlorella is, as I mentioned, that hard cell wall. Well, that hard cell wall has fiber. So that fiber helps to heal your-- or feed, the gut, your gut biome. So they can release the short-chain fatty acids that you need for gut health, which I know is your specialty. But it gets to do that for you without oxalates or lectins. So chlorophyll, chlorella, because it has the chlorophyll it pulls out toxins. It also has vitamin K2 which pulls out excess calcium from blood vessels or skin and moves it into your bones. It's known as a wellness algae. It's a healing algae. It helps you recover from your day, recover from drinking, recover from sports. So that's why we call our chlorella algae recovery beds because we thought that was a whole lot easier to remember and to say. So it's very much a wellness healing algae and detoxing algae. And because your body goes through a detox and repair cycle when you sleep we generally encourage people to take the chlorella algae before you go to bed. That way it will facilitate a better detox, a better repair cycle. And by the way, it also stimulates peristalsis also known as bowel movements. And we know that elimination is a very important part of your health. So the two of them work very beautifully together. Spirulina in the morning and the afternoon to give you energy, satisfy your hunger. And the chlorella at night to facilitate a wellness, building your immune system - which I think we're going to talk about in a minute as well - and getting rid of toxins that certainly aren't doing you any good.

S1: 21:11

Yeah, let me stop you there. I think several things you brought up are very important for people to understand. We have no ability to digest the cell wall of a plant. Not even a termite has the ability to digest wood. The cellulose is undigestible and we actually have to have a microbiome that's capable of doing that for us just like a termite does. So you're right, chlorella has to be cracked. The cell wall has to be broken. And maybe you're going to tell us but it's possible to buy chlorella that hasn't been cracked and you're throwing your money away. Just like I've talked about if you eat whole flaxseeds I got news for you. You're throwing your money away because we have no ability to break through the outside wall of a flaxseed. We don't have the enzymes to do that. So that's a very good point. It definitely does that. The second thing, I use chlorella for binding heavy metals in my patients and knock on wood when I put them on chlorella to lower mercury, to lower lead, for instance. We've never had to resort to intravenous chelation to do that. We've been able to do it with chlorella and activated charcoal without intravenous chelation. So I can attest to the fact that chlorella absolutely works for binding heavy metals.

S2: 22:54

Yes. And actually, the United Nations used it at Chornobyl to remove radiation after the disaster there. After the Fukushima disaster, eight years ago, the entire chlorellas world supply was bought up within 24 hours because everyone in Asia also knows it's the only thing that pulls out radiation. So if anyone's doing any chemotherapy it's very beneficial to pull the excess chemo out so you're not as sick. We work with biological dentists who use it to pull out mercury as you pointed out for their when they're pulling out fillings. So they take it as well as their patients. It's pretty powerful stuff. But I'll circle back on the cracked chlorella topic a little bit because it is a very important one. First of all, the FDA has regulated that only cracked chlorella can be sold in North America. So anything that you purchase in North America of chlorella will be cracked. You can buy uncracked chlorella in other countries for the sake but I question why anyone would for the same reason that you just pointed out. But here's the important thing you need to know about cracking chlorella. The original company that developed the technique who I'm very grateful for, their name is sun chlorella. They're in Japan. And they developed a technique of cracking the chlorella, and they tumbled it with glass beads. And so_ _, but the problem there is that the glass heats up and led from the glass leaks into the chlorella. Now they denied that that happened and then, of course, the state of California tested it and found out there were high levels of lead. Now, it's not just that sun chlorella uses this technique. Virtually, everybody who sells chlorella, everybody, like we're talking 99%, uses their technique. Now, when I was starting the company, I heard about this possibility there would be lead in the chlorella. And I told my team, well, how much lead would be too much? I would say any lead. So I pursued further research and found a new technique, which is the one that we use, which is we pass our chlorella through a sound chamber. And it's the vibrations that crack our chlorella. So there is no heat, no chance of lead, and it preserves all of the nutrients because, of course, there's no heat involved as well. Someone told me, recently they said, oh, your chlorella has good vibrations. And that was pretty funny.

S1: 25:10

So it sounds like how we break up kidney stones with lithotripsy. We literally will ask them with sound waves. And it sounds like you're blasting your chlorella.

S2: 25:21

Yes, yes. So, and while we're talking about vibrations, algae is known to be a very what's called high vibrational food. And if you ever do any muscle testing, we always pass the test not only because it is so nutrient dense, but because we have no toxins or anything that's harmful in the algae for you. So it's a very, very nutrient dense food. As I said, each one of those little tiny tablets has the same nutrition as an entire plate of vegetables. So I ate them all day long.

S1: 25:54

All right. So, all right. So you've got spirulina and you've got chlorella and they're clearly different. Who needs who needs water? Does everybody need both? Or are there complementary or no? You're a chlorella sort of person or no, you look like a spirulina person to me.

S2: 26:18

Well, personally, I think everybody in the world should be taking both of them every single day. And here's why. A lot, I'm sure you will appreciate this or agree. That most of our illnesses in certainly in North America are because of two things. One lifestyle choices, which are predominantly we're not getting the nutrients that our bodies need to perform optimally. And number two, we have too many toxins in us. Those are two of the biggest reasons. Now the reason why we're not getting the nutrients is because people are eating processed food or even if you are eating vegetables, the soils just don't have any nutrients left in them. They have been so mono cropped or they're coming from so far away. They're harvested before they're completely ripe, so they don't have the same nutrient value. Bottom line, you're getting calories and fiber, but you're not getting nutrition. Of course your body is not going to perform properly. So what are you going to do? At the same time, the ozone layer has been deteriorating. And they've done studies to show that there's more sugar now in our plants and less protein and nutrients. So we're in a bind. Even if you are trying your best to eat healthy, you're just not getting the nutrition that your grandparents did. I think algae, especially spirulina, is our last shot at getting the nutrients we need in a pure fashion from real food, really organically grown food. And here's the beautiful thing. It's effortless. When I taught nutrition for a year trying to get people to eat more plants and I found out everybody was aware that they should probably eat more vegetables, although I agree with you, there's a lot of concern about certain ones with the lectins. However, that wasn't any-- so I wasn't giving them anything new. What I learned was there were too many obstacles. Everyone's busy. They didn't maybe live near a grocery store, or they were too heavy to carry home, or they would take too much room in the fridge or too long to clean, to cook, to eat, their husbands wouldn't eat them. Every single excuse in the world. There are no excuses with spirulina or chlorella tablets. You open your mouth-- if you can breathe, you can get your nutrients that you need. It's in seconds. Even if you just take two or three a day, you will get the nutrition that your body has been missing for decades because it's just not available from our soils anymore. So that's number one. Number two, it's so critical to get rid of toxins. You can't live in a bubble. And we're surrounded by [tox?] fumes from the carpeting, from our exhaust, from our clothing. It doesn't matter what you do. You're going to be getting toxins into your body and a lot of them from fish, from mercury. So chlorella is not only a way to get rid of those toxins, at the same time it's building your immune system. And the strength of your immune system is critical, particularly during this period with COVID. But your immune system can't work properly if it doesn't have the nutrients it needs to defend you. And chlorella algae has virtually all of the nutrients, that science has shown, your immune system needs to function optimally. So that's why I think everybody should be taking it. They're safe for kids, pets. You can give them to everybody, from your newborns to your grandparents, and it's effortless, like I said. So your grocery bills will go down. Other than the products they buy from you, Dr. Gundry, they don't need any other supplements. Because they're both keto, vegan, paleo, they work with every single dietary choice in the world. So they play well in the sandbox.

S1: 30:03

So let me ask you, I've written about algae oil in a couple of my books, what do you think about algae oil?

S2: 30:14

Sure. As a cooking--?

S1: 30:16

Yeah, as a cooking oil.

S2: 30:17

Yeah, absolutely. Anything to do with algae-- I just watched a Netflix movie, maybe you've seen it, it's called Seaspiracy, and I encourage everybody to watch it. It's about the damage that the commercial fishing is doing to our ocean environment. And a lot of people-- it's not cooking oil, but a lot of people are using fish oil, and the demand for fish oil is killing the oceans. And a lot of scientists point out as I do as well-- because a lot of people are using the fish oil for the omega-3, and we remind people, "Well, where do you think the fish get the omega-3 from?" They get it from algae. They just consolidate in their bodies. So whether you're cooking with algae oil or you're taking algae for the omega-3 benefits and the ocean sustainable benefits, anytime you can get algae into your body, either spirulina or chlorella, you are helping yourself and you are helping the environment.

S1: 31:16

Yeah, I'm glad you said that because, as you know, I make a plant-based, long-chain omega product, which comes from algae. And so yeah, so you don't have to-- you don't have to kill a few fish to get a long-chain omega-3 fats now. And we're not just the only company that's doing that, so.

S2: 31:39

Well, it's exciting for me to hear how much you already know about algae because it's been under the radar for so long, but I can assure you and your community that it's about to explode on the scene. And I remind people, 20 years ago, we didn't know about stevia. 10 years ago, we didn't know about chia or matcha or kiva or CBD, or. But these were all food groups that had been used, mushrooms, in other countries for centuries. And the most recent discovery has been collagen. And there's a company called Vital Proteins that's really been responsible for educating people about collagen and the importance of it. But I point out, algae has everything that collagen has, plus it has chlorophyll and 40 other vitamins and minerals. Plus, it's sustainable. I don't know if people know this, but collagen is made of ground-up bones. So fish bones, animal bones. So if you have a sustainability desire, algae would not only answer that for you, but it would give you everything you're getting from collagen, and plus you don't have to mix it.

S1: 32:46

That's true. So you mentioned cultures have been using algae for a long time. Now, seaweed is also another edible type of algae. Where does that fit in the spectrum?

S2: 33:03

Yes. Yes. Well, algae is a food category breaks into two subcategories. One is called macroalgae, and the one we've been talking about is microalgae. Seaweed is a macroalgae. Spirulina and chlorella are microalgae and they're called microalgae because they are microscopic in size. You can't see these. Almost 100 would fit on the head of a pin. But macroalgae, also known as seaweed, dulse, kelp, also has nutritional value. It provides a lot of fiber and it provides a lot of iodine because it's grown in the ocean. It actually doesn't have a lot of nutritional value. It's about a hundredth of what you get from algae. But it does give you fiber and it does give you iodine. The microalgae, because it's not grown in the ocean, at least the harvested, does not contain iodine. I wish it did, although it's probably good news for people that are concerned about iodine. So they are quite-- it's tasty. I just actually bought some kelp noodles I'm going to experiment with. So it can be a great addition to your meal planning. But it's just be aware it's not a nutritionally dense food. It's just a fibrous food.

S1: 34:20

Yeah. And we actually recommend kelp noodles in all my books, and they're a great easy way to get a lot of fiber without the downsides of lectin into your diet. And I'll add something of interest. Early on, long before we were finally getting iodized sea salt, I was giving my patients spirulina tablets to improve their thyroid function. And the spirulina was very useful - and we documented that across patients - in boosting their thyroid function. We've subsequently, because of-- well, Trader Joe's used to sell spirulina. It was cheap and it was organic, and we were really happy and then they stopped doing it. And so we went to having patients use iodized sea salt now. But we had years where we boosted thyroid function with spirulina. So I wouldn't write it off as not a source of iodine.

S2: 35:28

Well, there could very well be other reasons why it's performing well for thyroid--

S1: 35:35

Thyroid function, yeah.

S2: 35:36

We work with a lot of keto and NASA scientists who use it and take it with them on different missions. And they do blood work the whole time. And they find that the spirulina in particular reduces inflammation to levels never seen before. It still has a high amount of chlorophyll. It has lots of other phytonutrients that are remarkable. And I'll just circle back just to give you one more little tip on how much nutrition is in this algae and things that we're still discovering. As I mentioned, spirulina has two pigments in it. The blue one's called phycocyanin. Well, there's some science on our website, and there's lots of science that you can go online to learn about. The doctors, the medical community, has found out that that phycocyanin, well, related to COVID, it does a very important thing. It actually acts as a shield that prevents the virus from entering your cells. The virus enters your cells through a receptor cell called ACE-2 receptor cell. And for whatever reason, this spirulina sits on top of the receptor cell and prevents that from happening. Now, that's pretty powerful stuff if you ask me. And by the way, almost all of your receptor cells are in your nose, throat, lungs, gut, and that's exactly where the virus attacks. And as proof of the value of this, the University of Pittsburgh, pharmacology department, just developed a COVID nose spray that prevents the virus from getting into your body. And of course, guess what it's made of? Algae, of course. Now, so I just point that out because there could be many reasons why the spirulina was helping with your thyroid patients. Another interesting benefit of spirulina, and again, that blue pigment, is that, again, we were contacted by doctors because they said, "Do you know that your spirulina prevents the growth of blood vessels to tumors and cancers?" It's called antiangiogenesis. The angiogenesis process is when your body is building new blood vessels, and tumors basically hijack those blood vessels to feed themselves. Well, the blue pigment, again, for whatever reason, stops that process. And I think part of it is because that blue pigment is a water-based pigment. Remember, I said chlorophyll is a fat based pigment. I'm going to show you a chart. This is the beautiful blue. Oops, upside down.

S1: 37:59

Upside down, but there we go.

S2: 38:00

This is the beautiful blue that comes out of the blue-green algae, spirulina. And this is how the chlorophyll-- see how that clumps because fat and water doesn't mix, but the blue pigment, which are blood and plasma, is related. So anyways, I don't know if you know this, but I was on Shark Tank a little while ago. And Mark Cuban made fun of me, and he said, "We don't think you're really in love with being an entrepreneur. You're just in love with algae." And my response to him was, "Well, if you knew as much about algae as I did, you would be in love with it too." [laughter]

S1: 38:36

Well, so all right. So let's talk about ENERGYbits. What inspired you to start this company?

S2: 38:43

Well, yeah, good question. I was minding my own business. I'm an MBA. I was doing international business, had nothing to do with nutrition or the body. And then my younger sister in Canada developed breast cancer. She's fine now, by the way. She's just passed 10-years cancer free. But as she was preparing for her chemotherapy, her oncologist recommended she change her diet to an alkaline diet. Now, they didn't tell her what it was, or why it was good for her, so the first call she made was to me because I'm her big sister. I love her, and I'm a good researcher. I can find out anything. So I said, "I have no idea what this stuff is, but we will find out." And it turned out primarily to be a plant-based diet because of the chlorophyll and the phytonutrients that have been documented by science to help build your immune system and our alkaline. So I did some research. She changed her diet. She went through chemo, and she completely healed. And in the process of helping her, I started learning about plant-based nutrition, which of course, this was 12 years ago, and nobody was talking about it like they do now. And after I read so many books, I thought, "Man, somebody's got to tell the rest of the world about this." So I gave up my 25-year corporate career. I enrolled in a nutrition school, learned something about nutrition. I went to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and then I taught nutrition, trying to get people to eat more plants. And that's when I had my epiphany that people knew they should eat more plants, but it was just too much work. So I went back to look at everything I had recommended to my sister to try to find an easier way for people to get the nutrition that they needed without all the work. And when I hit algae, that's when the miracle happened. And I started reading about all the research and NASA and the United Nations. And then decided 10 years ago, I was going to devote the rest of my life to helping people understand algae. So I'm the chief scientific officer. I've written about 300 papers. I educate people, I speak on conferences, podcasts. I will do anything to help people understand this gorgeous plant provided to us by mother nature that's not pond scum. It's just a-- [laughter] I tell people, "Well, algae's just misunderstood. Aren't we all?" [laughter]

S1: 40:52

There we go. Well, good for you. Well, Catharine, it's been a real pleasure to have you on the podcast and to learn more about you. So where do listeners go to learn more about you and ENERGYbits?

S2: 41:07

You got it. Well, we have a website, energybits, E-N-E-R-G-Y, B for boy, I, T for Tom, S for Sam dot com, where you can learn more about algae. There's lots of science there. And we have a 20% discount code for your community. When you go to the shopping cart, just type in the word drgundry, all one word - no dot in the middle, just drgundry - and you'll always get 20% off anything you purchase. Now, I don't want people to have sticker shock when they go to the website. Remember, our quality is so high and we're the only algae sold by doctors. And remember that quote I said about NASA, "One gram of algae has the same nutrition as 1,000 grams of vegetables." So a bag of our algae is normally 120. With your discount, it brings it to 96. But the 1,000 tablets in that bag has the same nutrition as 551 pounds of vegetables.

S1: 42:03

Wow. Wow.

S2: 42:03

Now that's $3 a pound. That would have been $1,500. So 551 pounds that you didn't have to carry home, clean, cook, or eat. That alone should get your interest, right? [laughter] And you only need a few tablets a day and then you'll save money on everything else, including your food. So just as a recap. We actually have two brands of spirulina. We have ENERGYbits and we have a second one called BEAUTYbits because it also builds your skin and hair. And we found out that women didn't like our blue packaging. So someone said, "Oh. You got to have boy spirulina and a girl spirulina." So spirulina is the ENERGYbits and the BEAUTYbits. Chlorella is called RECOVERYbits because it helps you recover your health. And then we actually have a fourth brand that we call VITALITYbits, which is 50% spirulina and 50% chlorella. And you can buy them in the large bags or they come in boxes of single servings. There's 30 tablets in a single serving. And as I said, you can just start with 5 or 10 tablets. Even 2 if you want to get started. Or if you don't want to make the big commitment - although we would encourage you to because it's amazing food - you can buy single servings on Amazon for $4 each. And then come back to energybits.com and use drgundry--

S1: 43:20

For the big one. All right.

S2: 43:21

--for the big stuff. Yeah. It's good stuff. [laughter]

S1: 43:26

All right. Well, keep growing algae and we'll keep getting the word out, okay?

S2: 43:30

All right. I appreciate it. Be well. It's good stuff. All right.

S1: 43:33

Catharine, thanks a lot.

S2: 43:35

Thanks, Dr. Gundry.

S1: 43:35

Okay. Bye-bye.

S2: 43:37


S1: 43:38

Okay. Now it's time for our audience question. This week's question comes from Yvette Amaro who wants to know if cactus is safe to eat. Boy, is cactus safe to eat? In fact, it's interesting. I actually took a picture of a cactus growing in our yard in Palm Springs. And I took it because a cactus obviously has a really good protective system against not being eaten by its predator, and it's all of those prickly spines. And I took a picture of it because you can see the prickly spines on the cactus, and it's telling you, "I don't want you to eat me." But you can't see the lectins that are sitting on a grain of wheat or on the outside of a bean. But they're there to try to convince you not to eat them. And it just so happens that if you get past the lectins or the spines, in this case, of a cactus, the inside is incredibly good for you. So a peeled cactus is one of the best sources of prebiotic fiber there is. And in fact, there's really good work that eating nopales, peeled cactus, is actually really good for reducing prediabetes for reducing insulin levels. And it's because of the prebiotic fiber that supercharges your postbiotic production that I talk about in the energy paradox. So yeah, cactus is incredibly good for you. You just got to get past its protective barrier. Just like you got to watch out for the protector barriers in grains and beans. You can get rid of them, but you got to know how to do it. Great question.

S1: 45:37

Time for the review of the week. This review is from Betty Red 67, who enjoyed my episode with Shane O'mara on walking. She says, "Plant paradox is changing my life. I have had gut issues for years. My complaints fell on deaf ears with my physicians. 28 days on plant paradox, and I have no more reflux, no stomach inflammation, my joints feel better, and I sleep better now. I have lost 5 pounds, but it looks like 10. I am thrilled. Now I will walk." Well, thanks so much for sharing this wonderful news, Betty. And your point is actually well-taken. Sadly, physicians don't know that this is a problem. The other thing that you bring up is very important that I've noticed in the 21 years of taking care of my patients. So many times, patients are either so overweight or hurt so much that even simple things like exercise, even walking, is simply too hard to do. And the idea that you should eat less and exercise more is impossible. So what's exciting is exactly what you wrote about. By changing what you eat, you get rid of all these issues, but the benefit is you lost some weight. And now you're ready to go out and do some walking. So that's great to hear. That's why we do this. And thanks for writing in. It encourages me to keep doing what I'm doing. These reviews make such a huge difference in how many people we can reach with our message about diet, nutrition, and health, which is why you can play a major role helping other people across the globe transform their health and energy all by raiding and reviewing us on iTunes. In fact, I can't wait to read your review soon. Because I'm Dr. Gundry, and I'm always looking out for you. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Because I'm Dr. Gundry, and I'm always looking out for you.


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