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Home > Research Department  > Supplement Articles > Greens
    Supplement Articles  
GREENS
Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor (N.D.)
Last Updated: September 17th, 2015

Get your fruit and veggie servings without spending half your life at the grocery store…

GREENS

A glass of greens can help lift the brain fog, fight fatigue and reduce signs of aging!
Greens powder consists of a wide variety of plant extracts and concentrates freeze dried into a powder that can easily be dissolved in liquid, such as water or juice. There are a number of different greens powders, each of which contains different plant sources and many other ingredients.
The plants and extracts used may include: fruits, vegetables, herbs, phospholipids, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and healthy oils.

In a nutshell, greens powders are like whole food "multivitamins" that can also contain a variety of other useful substances such as medicinal herbs, probiotics, and spirulina. These powders allow the user to increase their nutritional intake, particularly increasing antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Thus, greens powder can help to boost energy levels, increase metabolism, reduce cancer risk, and prevent the visible signs of aging.

The Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
It has long been established that eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables can improve health, reduce the risk of disease, and help to fight aging. These foods are extremely high in antioxidants and also help to alkalinize the body to improve our metabolism. Unfortunately, current research is showing that less than 1/3 of North Americans get even the minimum of 5 fruit and vegetable servings per day. This leaves the majority of people deficient in a number of vitamins and minerals, as well as extremely low in antioxidant levels. Reduced nutrition causes less efficient repair in the body and low antioxidant levels results in an increase in cellular damage. This cellular damage can ultimately results in inflammation, cancerous DNA changes, and the physical effects of aging. Taking in at least 5 fruit and vegetable servings a day can help to prevent and even reverse some of these conditions.

Why supplement with greens powder?
Fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive, and many people cannot afford to eat such large amounts on a daily basis. It is also difficult in today's busy lifestyle to get to the grocery store frequently enough to buy and maintain a stock of fresh fruits and vegetables in your home. If you simply can't manage to get your fruit and veggie servings with food, there are supplements that can help you to cover the gaps in your diet. One great example is greens powder. Beyond just supplementing specific vitamins and minerals (like a multivitamin can), these powders contain most of the other nutrition also held in fruits and vegetables. They also contain enzymes and phytonutrients that are proven to improve digestion and overall health. An additional bonus is that greens powder has the nutrients from a variety of different fruits and vegetables, giving you a broader spectrum of nutrients than even the most healthful eater could hope to attain from one meal. In fact, often one serving of greens powder is equivalent to more than the minimum 5 recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, with the particular number of servings depending on the product examined.

What about fibre?

Beyond simple nutrition, one of the greatest benefits that fruits and vegetables provide is their substantial content of both soluble and insoluble fibre. A concern with replacing our recommended fruit and veggie servings with a greens powder is that we will no longer eat as much fibre. Fortunately, most greens powders also contain at least one natural source of fibre, such as apple fibre or rice bran. This helps to offset the replacement of these foods, although it may still be a good idea to ensure you ingest adequate fibre in other parts of your diet using whole grains, nuts, seeds, and/or psyllium.

What's in Greens Powders?

This varies depending on the brand, but there are some general ingredients that most brands will select from. The following is by no means an exhaustive list:

Alfalfa
This is a nutrient-rich plant that contains isoflavones and is rich in chlorophyll. For more information on alfalfa, please click here.

Barley Grass
This grass is the sprout of the barley grain that contains high levels of several vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as chlorophyll. It is a complete protein source as it also contains all of the essential amino acids. For more information on barley grass, please click here.

Chlorella
Chlorella is an edible water-grown algae that is rich in vitamins and minerals and also contains extremely high levels of chlorophyll, which aids in detoxification and oxygenation of the tissues.

Fruit
Apple is the most commonly found fruit in greens mixtures, although others are prune, blueberry, cranberry, tomato, mango, grape, strawberry, pomegranate, and so on. Each fruit has specific nutritional constituents and most are extremely high in antioxidants. Some formulas will even add superfruits to boost their antioxidant content.

Herbs
An extremely wide variety of herbs can be found in different greens powder formulas. Describing each is beyond the scope of this article. Please see our individual herb articles for more information on each herb you are interested in learning more about.

Probiotics / Prebiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to colonize the gut and protect it from infection. They also aid in digestion by breaking up some of the foods that our own enzymes cannot. Prebiotics, such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), are food for probiotics to help them initially take hold in your gut.

Spirulina
Spirulinais an edible cyanobacterium that is rich in vitamins and minerals and also contains extremely high levels of chlorophyll, which aids in detoxification and oxygenation of the tissues. In addition to this, spirulina provides a source of complete protein containing all the essential amino acids.

Wheat Grass
Sprouted wheat grain is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. For more information on wheat grass, click here.

Vegetables
Beet, broccoli, carrot, cabbage, spinach, kelp, and kale are some examples of the vegetables commonly found in greens powders. These vegetables provide a rich source of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants that have a litany of health benefits.

How can I take greens powder?
There are a large number of greens powders available on the market with different ingredients that are targeted at different people according to their needs. Some formulas focus on fruits, and some on vegetables, and some contain extra herbs and nutrients while others do not. Dosage will vary depending on the particular ingredients in your greens powder. It is important to read the label of each product to ensure you select the one that suits your particular lifestyle.

Important Information
Fruits and vegetables also contain high amounts of fibre, which is essential for colon health. Ensure that your diet makes up for any lack in fibre if your greens powder does not supply enough. Some greens powders contain fillers, which may include soy. Read labels carefully for allergy information. A few greens powders contain herbs that may interact with certain medications or medical conditions. Check with your healthcare provider if you have any pre-existing conditions or are taking any medications before starting a greens powder containing herbs. Greens powders are very rich in nutrients that may be beneficial during pregnancy and lactation, but little information exists on their use. Be cautious using greens during pregnancy and lactation and avoid formulas that include herbs.
  

Greens – QUICK FACTS

FOOD SOURCES

· Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables

APPLICATIONS

· Fatigue, malnutrition, cancer, aging.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

· Following manufacturer's recommended dosing suggestions. (Clinical doses may be higher as recommended by your practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

· Water, fibre, fruits and vegetables, other antioxidants, probiotics.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

click for products

· It is important to ensure adequate fibre consumption when using greens powder as a substitute for dietary fruit and vegetable intake.

· Some greens powders may contain potentially allergenic fillers such as soy – read labels carefully.

· Check with your healthcare provider if you have any pre-existing conditions or are taking any medications before starting a greens powder containing herbs.

· Although very nutritious, be cautious using greens formulas during pregnancy and lactation and avoid formulas that contain herbs.

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.


All articles copyright National Nutrition 2001 - 2015.  For educational purposes only.  Please note that while National Nutrition supports your right to use natural health care products for any therapeutic purpose that you see fit, that the information on this website should not be considered as a claim or as a substitute for medical advice.

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