The amount of time we live is called lifespan. The length of time that a person is healthy and functional—not just alive—is called healthspan. As Neurohackers, both lifespan and healthspan are topics of great interest to us. Scientific understanding in these areas are advancing rapidly as are studies linking algae to optimal health and longevity.
Catharine Arnston, Founder, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of ENERGYbits®, a company known for producing high quality algae nutrition, is here to answer our questions about the algae-longevity link. She also expands on the power of algae when paired with popular biohacking techniques to boost ATP production and mitochondrial function.
The Scientific Link Between Algae and Longevity
Can you share some of the science linking algae to longevity?
In order to tackle this topic we need to start by defining longevity. For me, the term longevity implies living a long life with ease, not disease. A life lived with ease is lived effortlessly and optimally, not diseased.
Since all disease starts at the cellular level, the key to longevity is to keep cells healthy. Algae has been proven in tens of thousands of studies to do just that. Here are just four of the science-backed ways algae supports both cellular health and longevity.
- Algae features anti-inflammatory properties. Algae contains high amounts of essential fatty acids and antioxidants, known for reducing inflammation and helping to ward off both aging and disease.
- Algae supports mitochondrial function. Algae reduces cellular oxidation and restores mitochondria health. It has the highest concentration of SOD (superoxide dismutases) which is one of the few antioxidants that can penetrate and protect the mitochondria cell wall.
- Algae offers a high concentration of antioxidants. Insufficient antioxidants result in free radicals. Left unchecked, free radicals can lead to cellular damage and inflammation, known saboteurs of longevity. Antioxidants delay or inhibit cellular damage through their free radical scavenging properties.
- Algae supports immune function. Both spirulina and chlorella have been shown to stimulate activity of immune cells. A strong immune system is vital to a robust healthspan and lifespan.
Combining Algae and Red Light Therapy to Boost ATP Production
How does algae help generate ATP when combined with red light therapy?
Algae has the highest concentration of chlorophyll in the world. Chlorophyll is the pigment that makes plants green. Interestingly, under UV light, chlorophyll is not green – it’s red. The reason why chlorophyll appears green when viewed by our eyes is because it absorbs the violet-to-blue and red portions of the light spectrum and thus reflects green light. But when chlorophyll is removed from the chloroplast and viewed under only blue or ultraviolet light, something drastically different happens: It glows red- just like our blood. One study indicated that when chlorophyll is evident in the bloodstream and skin is exposed to red light (from a device or from the sun) more ATP can be produced by mitochondria, which may have been because CoQ10 was recycled more efficiently.
The most abundant energy source on this planet is sunlight. Until recently it was believed that only plants were able to use light directly as energy. But recent studies have shown humans can generate energy in the form of ATP when our mitochondria have access to red light + chlorophyll at the same time.
A critical player in this process may be an antioxidant called COQ10 (aka ubiquinone). Most of the ATP created in mitochondria is produced in a process called oxidative phosphorylation or OXPHOS. CoQ10 is essential for the first 2 steps in OXPHOS. When animals have been fed diets rich in chlorophyll and their tissues were exposed to red light, these 2 CoQ10-dependent steps became more efficient, and mitochondria generated more ATP. So in a simplified sense, it very well may be that dietary chlorophyll + red light = more ATP.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Algae
Is all algae created equal?
No. To ensure you’re purchasing a high quality algae and getting the benefits associated with this superfood ask yourself the following questions:
Which strain of algae am I purchasing? ENERGYbits® use the highest quality strains of spirulina and chlorella algae: spirulina platensis and chlorella pyrenoidosa. Many other algae companies use low quality algae - spirulina maxima and chlorella vulgaris, for example.
Are there added binders or fillers? Most companies providing spirulina and chlorella formulations add unnecessary “fillers” to their algae. The result is that you need 10-20 times as much algae to match the potency found in higher quality spirulina and chlorella.
What is the source of the algae? The country of origin where spirulina and chlorella are grown is very important. Most of the lower priced algae are grown in China where standards are lower and have even been found to falsify their claims about being organic. You may also want to be careful about algae grown in Japan due to the ongoing radiation problems from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Taiwan is the country world renowned for having the highest quality algae and strictest guidelines and certifications.
Get to Know Catharine Arnston - CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of ENERGYbits®
What books are you reading right now?
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, The Longevity Diet by Valter Longo PhD, and Red Light Therapy by Ari Whitten.
If you can dream it, you can do it - Walt Disney
What is one biohack you cannot live without?
Spirulina algae tablets in the morning for intermittent fasting, energy and focus and chlorella algae tablets all day and before bed for detox, immune health, beauty, longevity and sleep.
Do you consider yourself a good sleeper? When did you realize you were one? What helped you become a good sleeper?
I am now, but that only started happening in the last year as I learned to meditate before bed to relax and quiet the anxieties associated with a startup. I now sleep like a baby. I keep my room cool, wear a sleep mask, and sleep on a grounding mat and use a grounding pillow case.
Walk us through your sleep routine from dinner until you hit the pillow. What devices, supplements/teas, tech, textiles, etc. do you use?
I try to eat no later than 8 pm and stop working by 9:30 PM so I can have an hour to wind down with music and meditation. I drink a hot herbal tea called Lemon Balm, take 50-75 chlorella tablets with sea salt, listen to calming music, turn down the lights, light a few candles and spend time feeling grateful for my life and what’s to come.
Connect With Catharine Arnston
Catharine Arnston is the Founder, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of ENERGYbits®, a company known for producing tiny “bits of nutrition” made purely of algae.
If you’d like to learn more about the longevity benefits associated with algae, check out the ENERGYbits® blog or connect with the brand on Instagram. You can also save 20% off any ENERGYbits® order by using Neurohacker at checkout.
Opinions of guests of this article are their own and Neurohacker does not endorse or accept responsibility for statements made by guests. Neurohacker doesn’t make any representations or warranties about guests’ qualifications or credibility. If you think you have a medical problem, consult a licensed physician.