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Green Foods Defined & Why We Eat Them

Green Foods Defined & Why We Eat Them

December 22, 2009

Mark Timon 
M.S. Clinical Nutrition
Founder & Formulator Vibrant Health

 

What ARE green foods?

I think it might be helpful to establish a definition of “green foods” at the outset. Thirty plus years ago “green food” included only chlorophyll supplements. Later, wheat grass, barley grass, and their powders and juices expanded our understanding of green foods. Continuing up to today, a greater variety of nutritional raw materials derived from plants has become available as our industry has evolved. There are more new ones each year.

As a consequence, the definition of green foods can include, but is not necessarily limited to, all cereal grass (e.g. wheat, barley, oat, kamut, etc.) whole leaf powders, juice, and juice powders, green algae (e.g. chlorella), blue-green algae (e.g. spirulina), alfalfa, fresh water plants such as Hydrilla verticillata, and any other vegetable that is green. Okra, green beans, green peas, spinach, broccoli, kudzu, parsley, and zucchini are part of this list, as well as sprouts grown from their seeds.

Research into the supplemental use of cereal grass powders began in the 1930s. At that time, they were shown to accelerate the growth of weanling farm animals, resulting in animals that were larger, stronger, with more robust immune systems. To discuss specific benefits of green foods based on the research would fill several books. And as ongoing research parses out the active constituents of plants, new potential health benefits are identified. Chlorella, for example, has been identified as useful in several anti-cancer therapies. Hydrilla’s rich component of calcium makes it a useful supplement for maintaining bone health. Calcium spirulan found in Spirulina is a noted immune booster, while the chlorophyll in all green foods helps maintain the health of the gastrointestinal tract. Cereal grasses rank at the top of all foods in regard to nutrient density (parsley follows close behind), while their mysterious proteins that fuel tissue repair and maximal growth in the young remain unidentified. The foregoing is only a tiny sample of benefits offered by green foods.

 

Why should individuals incorporate green foods and supplements into their diet?

Our internal biochemistries are nearly identical to that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Research indicates that they consumed, on average, 3.2 pounds of plant based foods daily from 170 different seasonal plants – and NO grains. On each side of random periods of starvation, they enjoyed wild meats, fruits, seeds, plant flowers, leaves and stems. The animals they hunted and ate (2 pounds per day average) grazed on plants growing from virgin soil. The edible plants our ancestors gathered in the wild, and consumed, usually presented far greater nutrient density than foods we eat today. By nutrient density, I refer to the ratio of trace nutrients (i.e. vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, etc.) to macro-nutrients, that is, protein, fat and carbohydrate. That means, relative to the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate in the foods they ate, our ancestors commonly received far greater amounts of trace nutrients. Human biochemistry adapted to that ancient food supply with its greater nutrient density, and it is largely that same biochemistry that attempts to run us today.

Our modern food supply has, over the last 60 years, finally achieved the goal of delivering enough macro-nutrients, especially protein, to allow humans to achieve their full, genetically coded stature. We are now, finally, on average, as tall as Cro-Magnon man and woman. But, the foods of today certainly supply more fat and carbohydrate than our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to contend with. In the face of that unfortunate abundance of fat and carbohydrate, something else we very much need is lacking. Indeed, statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture verify a precipitous drop in nutrient density within our common food supply in just the last forty years. The loss of trace nutrients is so great as to remove any argument that dietary supplementation may be optional.

Green food supplements, if properly formulated, can provide astonishing nutrient density. They can, in effect, return our dietary intake to something more closely approximating the richness of our ancestral, Paleolithic diet. The import of this is significant, for few aspects of human biochemistry can function properly if trace nutrients are undersupplied, thereby making it harder to deal with the gluttonous portions of fat and carbohydrate present in modern diets.

The “health food” industry exists primarily to guide consumers toward greater health and better eating habits. It has been an educational process begun just after the turn of the 20th century when formerly random threads of “hygienic eating” and “natural culture” coalesced into a nascent industry.

Today, increasing numbers of knowledgeable consumers are discovering green foods. Super green foods, with their more complex formulas and broad nutritional impact, are seen as a way to realign our bodies with their Paleolithic heritage. Growth in green food supplementation has been gradual, beginning over 30 years ago with wheat grass and barley grass powder. With the introduction of the first version of Green Vibrance in 1992, awareness of the value of green foods has greatly accelerated.

The appeal lies in the simple fact that green foods are incredibly nutritious, with an actual power to heal. If each cell receives what it needs to function fully and efficiently, then the human body can, in many cases, re-establish normal biochemistry. Depending on the individual, the results might be a noticeable improvement in endurance, or faster recovery from exercise, to the eradication of a disease. Although green foods are usually not promoted as therapeutic supplements, the good ones will end up being so simply because they give the body what it needs to correct its own dysfunctions. The body heals itself, after all. Consumers are discovering these real benefits, and passing on the good news.

 

Green food products from Vibrant Health

Vibrant Health pioneered super green foods within the natural products retail market in 1992 with the introduction of “Green Vibrance.” The product has been revised many times to take advantage of new developments in raw materials that can enhance the core functions of the formula. At this writing, version 9.0 can be found in stores. Each modification to the formula brings added value to the consumer, the person whose health and well being Vibrant Health takes very seriously. Apparently consumers appreciate the respect shown them, for “Green Vibrance” is the number one green food in the country. That respect is evidenced in Vibrant Health’s full disclosure labeling. No ingredient is hidden behind the shroud of a “proprietary blend.”

In addition to “Green Vibrance,” which is a complex, coordinated formula of more than 60 ingredients with 25 billion probiotics per serving, Vibrant Health also makes “Field of Greens.” “Field of Greens” is a purely green food with 14 cereal grasses and vegetables, all organically grown, all kosher and all raw. This is the ultimate green food for the person seeking only greens.

For children, Vibrant Health has “GV Junior,” a 64 ingredient formula which combines a special probiotics blend for youngsters with the broad nutrition of many vegetables, fruits, sea plants, phyto-minerals, and protein. The proteins are specially selected to support growth, maturation, and immunity. It is mild tasting, and mixes well into juice. One thing “GV Junior” is not, is a heavily sweetened, drink powder. “GV Junior” is true, dense nutrition. It is wise to let the parents decide how much carbohydrate they want to pass on to their child in the form of the beverage carrier they select.

Vibrant Health’s simplest green food is “Green Calcium,” in both powder and tablet form. It is the fresh water, rooted plant, Hydrilla verticillata. The plant is fascinating because of its ability to accumulate calcium. One tablespoon of the powder, 4.75 grams, provides over 700 mg of bioavailable calcium – and a lot of B vitamins and other nutrients as well.

I apologize for the commercial tone here at the end of this piece, but I wouldn’t be writing for the Vibrant Health blog if I didn’t believe their products were first rate.

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