Single-celled sell 


Got pond scum? According to the companies that market it, pond scum is a lot healthier than milk. In fact, pond scum, also known as chlorella, a type of blue-green algae, is "the perfect food," a "superfood," Mother Nature’s most powerful cleansing agent, and a treatment for obesity, cancer, aging, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, ulcers, heart disease, low energy, poor mental health, PMS, asthma attacks, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and lead poisoning. And, it does all this while strengthening the immune system. Chlorella, like many nutritional supplements, is available over the Internet, where all these claims can be found, along with testimonials from satisfied customers. Joe Wooding of Salem, Ore., says, "I must take Sun Chlorella® before breakfast or my energy is so high I can’t sleep." He was born in 1904.

You order this stuff in capsule form, $71.38 for a 60-day supply. That’s the members-only price, but you can become a member-for-life if you join within 30 days.

"Thirty days from what?" you may ask. Good question. And there are plenty of good questions to ask about chlorella, whose promoters make statements that are true, but irrelevant to human health

Example 1: The company says chlorella is high in nucleic acids – it contains a lot of DNA. But human DNA is not affected by eating other organisms’ DNA, and nucleic acids have no particular value and may even harm you. According to Dr. David Klurfeld, chair of the department of nutrition and food science at Wayne State, "People with diets characterized by lots of nucleic acids – the most common sources are sardines and anchovies – are at risk for gout."

Example 2: Chlorella is high in chlorophyll.

Dr. Klurfeld’s response: "People’s bodies don’t use chlorophyll as an antioxidant. Plants do."

Example 3. Chlorella is superior to other algae because it’s one-celled, roughly the same size as a human blood corpuscle.

Klurfeld: "So what?"

Example 4: Chlorella is 60 percent protein.

Klurfeld: To get any appreciable amount of protein from these little pills, you’d have to eat bottles of it a day. (Sun Chlorella® brags that "for every 100 grams, chlorella has more than twice as much protein as beef." But the recommended daily dose is 3 grams. Another company suggests eight-tenths of a gram.)

Example 5: Chlorella helps you stop food cravings if you take it at intervals during the day, by keeping blood sugar levels constant.

Klurfeld: "Nonsense. It contains very little carbohydrates. Let’s say it’s 1 gram. A slice of bread has about 20 grams of carbohydrates. What would eating 1/20 of a slice of bread do for you?"

Example 6: According to the company, chlorella may help you eliminate cellulite, which "is not a fat in the classic sense, but more of a storage dump" for toxins. Weight gain is caused not only by overeating but also by toxic buildup, allergic reactions and unhealthy microorganisms.

Klurfeld: "I’ve seen ads for weight-loss products that are 100 years old, and this sounds like one of those ads. Cellulite is simply fat beneath the skin, a lumpy, bumpy form of fat."

Finally, the company says chlorella "has been in existence for more than two and a half billion years ... Since a chlorella cell never dies, but instead divides into four new cells, the same plant has been in existence for all of this time."

Well, who’d have realized? According to this logic, chlorella users are eating the original primordial ooze! And algae have discovered the secret of eternal life.


Try free samples of Odwalla juices at Whole Foods Market (1404 Walton Blvd., Rochester Hills, 248-652-2100) on Saturday, July 15 from 3-7 p.m.. ... This Thursday, eat lunch at Southfield’s City Center Plaza. From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., you can enjoy a free concert there. It’s part of the weekly Eat to the Beat series, which continues throughout the summer.

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