By: Drew Robertson
MP MP don’t arrest me!!! Whoops wrong MP!! The season is winding down, its starting to get cold out and we are now turning our focus to what we are going to do this winter in order to help take us to the next level next season. Well part of any good conditioning program is a complete nutritional approach and in this article I want to discuss a different supplement that some over you might have heard of but aren’t sure what it is or why we should take it; greens. Over the years I have talked with quite a few people at different conferences and given a multitude of lectures on nutrition and one of the most asked questions I get: what are greens? Should I take them? I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables do you think I need to take them? So in this article I will go over what green supplements are, why we should take them and provide some interesting stats on how many people actually get enough fruits and vegetables.
First off, what are greens and what do they typically contain? Greens supplements are basically veggies and fruits that have been compacted and distilled into powdered form. They typically contain a full assortment of grasses (barley and wheat), algae’s (spirulina and chlorella), alfalfa, herbs, vegetables, legumes, seaweeds and fruits.
- Barley grass contains fiber and oil that may help to lower cholesterol.
- Wheat grass is rich in chlorophyll.
- In Chinese medicine, alfalfa is used to treat digestive disorders.
- Spirulina is full of vitamins and minerals, but it isn’t a reliable source of vitamin B-12.
- The use of bipolar compounds (such as phosphatidylcholine or lecithin) in greens formulas can help increase bioavailability of both water-soluble and non-water-soluble nutrients.
Think of greens as concentrated awesome, or concentrated fruits and vegetables.
Should I take greens? Or I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables do I need to take greens? Well here are some interesting number on how many people consume five or more servings of vegetables each day:
- Less than 1% of men & 4% of women ages 18 to 24
- Less than 6% of men & 9% of women ages 25 to 34
- Less than 14% of men & 16% of women ages 35 to 49
- Less than 24% of men & 22% of women ages 50 to 64
When I see those stats my first reaction is shock at how poorly we are eating these days, but in terms of intake even though some people eat a good clean diet full of whole foods, they might not be eating this on a regular basis or not eating enough fruits and vegetables. On average, protein consumption among the public has remained higher than vegetable and fruit intake. This can create an acid load in the body and potentially create low grade acidosis. Introducing more vegetables and fruits (including a greens supplement) can help counteract this acid load and preserve bone and muscle. Now some of you might be wondering why is it so important to be eating fruits and vegetables, well ample fruit and vegetable consumption has been associated with a reduction of:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Colon cancer
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Prostate cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Eye disease
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Endometrial cancer
- Gastric cancer
- Lung cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Thyroid cancer
Now for the athletes or more active people out there (working out, or active 3-4 times a week), regular exercise can increase acid production in the body due to repeated muscle contractions. Typically active people and athletes also consume more protein as well, and like I mentioned above this can lead to low level acidosis. For these reasons athletes and those of us who are more active have to make sure that we are consuming more alkalizing foods, and/or taking a greens supplement.
In general and overall adding a greens supplement is a great idea as it can benefit energy, recovery, antioxidant status, and bone health. Greens are very alkaline and can help to balance dietary acids. I look at greens as an insurance policy making sure that we are getting or fair share of fruits and vegetables daily, now if you are consuming at least 10 servings of fruits and veggies per day on a consistent basis, then supplementing with greens may be unnecessary. If you have any digestive problems or are taking medications, have any medical problems always consult a your physician before adding anything to your diet.
For the greens supplements I recommend make sure to get a hold of me and I will point you in the right direction.
Our motto at Evolved:
“Do today what others won’t, so tomorrow you can do what others can’t!!”
A.Sc. Nutrition, CFT, SPN SSC
Sport Nutritionist / Xtreme Conditioning Coach
Lock K, et al. The global burden of disease attributable to low consumption of fruit and vegetables: implications for the global strategy on diet. Bull World Health Organ 2005;83:100-108.