Sunday, March 5, 2017

Feeling Great with Greens

There’s a group of shoppers I bet you know well. They enter your store with a determined look, make a beeline for your supplements section and head to the register with a few bottles of green food supplements in their arms. This happens every month or so, with clockwork regularity. In short, they’re green foods die-hards.

What’s the draw? Well, many fans will tell you they “feel great” when they have their greens. They may report having more energy or feeling their immune systems are better equipped to battle foreign invaders. Retailers, you know full-well that while “feeling great” may sell supplements to some customers, other clients want the facts supporting exactly why these effects occur. You know, assurance that the results are more than just psychological.

This article will offer you some information behind why green food lovers won’t give up these supplements, and how to clue in your hesitant clientele about why they may want to join the crowd.

Energize Yourself
Be they in powdered, liquid or tableted form, green and healthy supplements are often comprised of various plant and/or algae compounds that can instill numerous health benefits. Green food supplements are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, and can be made from spirulina, chlorella, kelp, alfalfa, spinach, broccoli, cereal grasses (like barley, wheat and kamut) and more. Nutrients from these components—easily recognized by the body—are said to be readily incorporated into one’s system. States Bob Capelli, vice president of sales and marketing at Cyanotech, Kailua-Kona, HI, “Green foods nutrition comes in the most natural form, and the body assimilates the nutrients easily leading to increased energy. And, the beautiful thing is this is a natural energy boost that is sustained for several hours—not a quick ‘pick me up’ that leads to an energy crash shortly afterward.”

To fully understand how this natural “pick me up” occurs, let’s talk biology. For the body to function most efficiently, it must be healthy at the cellular level. Nerve signals must fire appropriately, hormones and enzymes need to secrete at the proper time and special cells (like those in the immune system) must do their respective jobs properly. Like many things in nature, our body’s internal functions take place in a delicate balance that can be thrown off by illness, stress, poor nutrition and the like.

Having just the right alkalinity balance is a great example. If one’s pH drops low on the scale and into the acidic range, cellular electrical biochemistry may be affected. For instance, red blood cells each have a negative charge to help prevent them from clumping together. When the charge is stripped (which can sometimes be caused by a too-acidic pH), the red bloods clump together. This makes it harder for them to travel through the vascular system and deliver oxygen. Eventually, one who is experiencing this effect might feel tired and sluggish (1).

Unfortunately, too many people are in the acidic range thanks to a poor diet loaded with processed foods, too much meat and dairy, coffee and alcohol, and even stress, says Brandon Bert, cofounder of Amazing Grass, San Francisco, CA. He describes another unfortunate side effect of being too acidic: “Our bodies store fat to protect our organs from over acidification.” Clearly, most healthy individuals don’t want to store extra fat, especially around the organs.

Rather, most people should shoot for a pH of around seven, which is considered neutral on a pH range of one through 14. The body naturally strives for this equilibrium. But, when it is constantly fighting to keep out of the acidic or alkaline ranges, our energy levels may be negatively affected. This is another good reason for green foods to enter the picture.

“Greens have an alkalizing affect on our body, which is helpful in keeping the body from becoming acidic. By consuming acid-forming foods, our bodies are continuously fighting and using more energy to neutralize the excessive acid to retain a healthy pH balance. When [nutrients from] alkaline foods get into the bloodstream, the nutrients help your cells to be recreated and regenerated thus helping to boost your energy levels,” states David Romeo, managing director of Nutraceuticals International LLC, Elmwood Park, NJ.

Nearly all healthy individuals can fairly easily maintain the proper pH with a good diet and appropriate supplements like green foods. States Christopher Daniels, director of product development at Greens Plus, Vero Beach, FL, “[They] buffer the body’s pH, increasing cellular alkalinity and promoting rapid nutrient absorption. The abundant supply of micronutrients found in [green foods] are quickly utilized to correct deficiencies and by mitochondria to produce cellular energy.”

Daniels’ last point warrants some extra explanation. Mitochondria are the microstructures that break down food molecules and transfer the energy to cells (stored as ATP or adenosine triphosphate). Green food molecules may be especially helpful to these microorganisms for such energy building. In a sense, greens can help give cells the food they need to make energy efficiently and when our bodies need it most. States Mark Timon, M.S., founder of and formulator at Vibrant Health, Canaan, CT, “The result is a steady output of energy matched to the demands of the moment.”

But again, a poor diet—such as not eating enough greens at mealtimes—could contribute to a feeling of sluggishness. Chris D. Meletis, N.D., naturopathic physician and director of science and research at Trace Minerals Research, Roy, UT, cites a 2007 report stating that 89% of Americans don’t consume the recommended minimum intake of five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day (2).

Bert explains why greens in supplement form can be a great bang for one’s nutrient buck, especially for those whose diets are greens deficient: some dehydrated green powders expand up to seven times their size. “It’s a very concentrated, convenient and affordable way to get the essential green leafy vegetable nutrition our bodies need to function at peak levels,” he states.

Plus, the nutrients may be easier for the body to extract in this form. Says Timon, “Many green foods, though not all, are remarkably nutrient dense relative to the amount of calories (in the form of macronutrients fat, protein and carbohydrate) provided by the food. Removing the water from the plant and powdering it simply concentrates that nutrient density even more, while opening cell walls and expanding surface area to make nutrients easily available.”

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