I was curious about just how “super”, super greens really are.
So, I wanted to ask, does the science support what brands are saying about their super green supplements?
There is a lot of evidence that taking a good quality Super Greens supplement can be beneficial to health.
So much so that the long list of super green benefits may lead you to think this is somewhat an elixir powder and the answer to your health needs!
There certainly seems to be science to support some of the claims made, but as I found some were a little tenuous. I wanted to unravel the exaggerated claims from the solid provable ones to discover the real benefits of taking the powdered super greens supplements you see online or in your local store.
This article looks at the common 13 supergreens benefits and how far the science supports the claims. Supergreens fact or fiction!
13 Common Benefits of Super Greens
1. Detoxing your body
We often hear the words “detox” and “cleanse” used to describe giving your body a healthy overhaul. But what does “detox” actually mean?
The body does this naturally to neutralize, transform or get rid of unwanted materials or toxins and is normally the job of your liver – not supplements in capsules or powders.
Most scientists and medics dismiss the practice of detoxing, saying that there is no such thing.
So will a Super Greens supplement that claims to detox your body do anything?
Very unlikely considering the science fails to support detoxing claims in general.
I take the meaning of “detox” to be more about changing diet habits for a period of time. This is used to avoid processed foods, no alcohol and to eat clean unprocessed food. Whilst there are lots of so called detox products and diets on the market, I have only tried one and used this detox diet plan to eat cleanly for 28 days.
2. Alkalanize the body
Like most people I didn’t know that processed foods can change your body’s PH making your blood more acidic.
An acidic body has been shown to encourage diseases, such as cancer, but also other long-term conditions, such as low energy, brain fog, acne, joint pain, tiredness etc.
An acidic environment within the body can play a role in a number of diseases and could lead to the leaching of calcium from bones, promoting kidney stones and osteoporosis,” says Brendan Brazier, the author of Thrive Foods.
In contrast a more alkaline environment is beneficial to health and can counteract some of the conditions outlined above.
This really interests me as my immune system has been poor and I’ve often experienced colds and flu like symptoms.
Could it simply be my diet is too acidic?
If a balanced pH supports the body’s natural ability to achieve optimum health then I am definitely keen to give this a try.
You can see a list of common foods listed according to an index called PRAL, which means Potential Renal Acid Load”. A great article on Yuri Elkaim’s blog.
3. Anti-inflammatory properties
As I’ve said before, a diet rich in anti-oxidants can help reduce the number of damaging free radicals in your body.
I was not entirely sure what was meant by frequent references to inflammation and found this article on Medical News today to be very interesting.
It’s now recognized both clinically and scientifically that chronic inflammation in the body leads to cell, tissue and organ degeneration, and is thus implemented in all diseases,”says Michael B. Wald, MD, PhD, ND, director of nutritional services at Integrated Medicine & Nutrition in Mount Kisco, N.Y.
Whilst searching, I found a very interesting link between inflammation and the role it plays with Chronic Fatigue – Which I have suffered from since my teens and I may still have the effects of after severe overtraining many years ago (see my about page for more information)
The article by Healthline suggests trying an anti-inflammatory diet to combat the effects of inflammatory foods like sugar, fried foods and processed meat.
4. Super Greens to be Super Slim?
Do super greens help you lose and maintain a healthy weight?
Some of the popular ingredients found in Super Greens have been shown to curb food cravings and so reduce appetite. This means you’re less likely to reach for the sugary snacks between meals or in the evening.
This is a real plus as I struggle with the evening snacking big time!
For example, Cocoa powder has shown to help curb feelings of fullness (Satiety), fight inflammation and has an thermogenic effect and so will increase metabolism.
Many greens contain lots of B Vitamins, which help the body metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Lastly taking Super Greens will help you manage and lose weight, Super Greens are extremely high in fibre.
Consuming a good amount of fibre helps to accelerates food transportation though the body – basically you have regular and healthy stools as well as helping you feel full.
A fibre-rich diet also helps to protect against diabetes – see below.
5. Improved digestive health
Having efficient digestion reduces the chances of feeling bloated with trapped gas as well as the build-up of toxins.
Many super green powders contain digestive enzymes, the argument for including them is that they can help with food breakdown making them easier to be absorbed. The further argument is, what’s the point in taking the time to eat well if you’re not absorbing those healthy nutrients?
The effectiveness of digestive enzymes in supplements has been called into question and it may not be as simple as it’s made out.
Some of them are clearly beneficial, in certain situations, but enzyme supplements are also often used in situations where there is little evidence that they do any good,” says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
It seems that some gut problems can be addressed by digestive enzymes supplements and those maybe found in Super Greens.
For other common gut problems, like heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome, there is little evidence that digestive enzymes are helpful.
6. Reduce and manage diabetes (Type 2)
Now we’re not talking about Type I diabetes here as this happens when your immune system destroys beta cells in your pancreas, thus inhibiting insulin release.
Some Greens supplement claim you can reduce or manage Type II diabetes, which occurs when your body becomes insensitive to insulin (often called insulin resistance).
Diabetes is dangerous for health as it means your blood glucose level can reach dangerously high levels if not kept in check by insulin released from your pancreas.
Foods with a low glycemic index (GI) can help to slowly raise blood sugar levels whilst helping you to feel fuller.
Low GI foods include common Super Greens ingredients, such as; Spinach, Ginger, Chia Seeds and Cinnanon.
Check out article by MedicalNewstoday for a list of 10 diabetes superfoods.
Other ingredients in Super Greens can also assist in managing blood glucose imbalances, such as Magnesium, ALA omega-3 fatty acid, and polyphenols.
7. Cancer preventing (Anti-Carcinogenic)
This is one of the strongest claims made by some Greens supplements.
Super Greens are packed full of anti-oxidents, the scientific evidence on how anti-oxidents work with regards to Free Radicals and their role in damaging healthy cells and cancerous mutations isn’t under question.
But the question of cancer prevention is not conclusive as a single free radical can damage a cell and therefore it’s more a question of stats. If you reduce the number of free radicals you limit your chances, but don’t eradicate them completely.
A daily shot of greens can provide an arsenal of phytonutrient antioxidants to help neutralize these free radicals, thus preventing cell disruption,”says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association.
Foods that are popular in “anti-cancer diets” include spinach, kale, parsley, arugula etc… essentially the leafy greens.
It’s important to know that the research currently on the benefits of taking antioxidants in food or supplements can protect against disease.
8. Improved immune function
Super Greens are branded as excellent immune system boosters that can keep you healthy every day warding off infections.
Antioxidants are quoted as being the mechanism for providing this improved immune system response.
However, whilst a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals are essential for health they won’t necessarily make you less likely to get ill.
An excellent article in the Guardian, by Professor Charles Bangham (NICE) is quoted as saying:
If a supplement actually stimulated the innate immune response then it would leave you with a constant feeling of being unwell, with a fever, a snotty nose, depression and lethargy without any obvious benefit. So in that respect, the whole idea is a bit of a con.”Charles Bangham
So, whilst anyone eating a poor, nutrient lacking diet and took an “immune” boosting over the counter supplement, their immune function is likely to improve.
In contrast anyone eating a normal diet won’t necessary experience much if any change.
9. Increased energy levels
Super Greens contain ingredients rich in phytonutrients and enzymes that can promote increased energy and stamina.
Ensuring you have the recommend daily intake of fat-soluble Vitamin B’s too ensure you can metabolise energy when needed.
Lack of energy is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency.
One of the easiest solutions is to eat iron rich foods, some of which can be found in Super Greens, such as spinach and kale.
10. Super Charging your brain
The area of Nootropics is fascinating and I have tried a few supplements in the past.
Personally, I didn’t experience much change and didn’t notice any massive brain gain!
Friends helpfully said there was little hope for me anyway 😉
I was interested to discover that a number of Super Greens, claim mental improvements by taking their supplement.
Some of the ingredients are reported to help to trigger clearer and faster thinking with an overall better focus.
For example, Magnesium a mineral deficient in many western diets, can help turn glucose into energy and also regulates brain receptors needed for memory and learning.
Having improved energy levels also goes hand in hand with better mental health.
There are a number of great nootropics supplements already on the market, but a Super Greens supplement that had nootropic benefits would be a real bonus and one that certainly appeals to me.
Most of the anti-aging claims centre around the benefits of antioxidant properties contained within many Super Green ingredients.
Many of the nutrients contain concentrated amounts of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants, which are known to have anti-aging properties.
High vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein present in dark greens in particular, researchers have said these influence the anti-aging effect.
However the study below focused mainly on cognitive function suggesting that “one serving of leafy greens per day may slow brain aging by 11 years”.
Another ingredient Chlorella which is a green algae and a powerful detoxifier which may slow down the aging process by reducing the free radical damage in the body that can cause premature aging.
12. Super Greens for Super Skin
There are some greens that have been linked to heathy looking and “youthful” skin.
One example is Spirulina it is suggested it removes heavy metals and toxins from your skin.
Another favourite Wheatgrass, has natural anti-aging properties which the claims suggest can rejuvenate the cells, thereby slowing down the aging process. It is also suggested that it will help to maintain skin elasticity, which is all part of looking youthful.
It seems that some superfood ingredients (like broccoli and Brussel sprouts) can improve blood circulation and coagulation, which can help with reducing skin inflammation and acne breakouts.
Thankfully it’s been sometime since I suffered from acne – however we have all been there and know how embarrassing and frustrating this can be.
Whilst researching the benefits of super greens and skin care I stumbled across what appears to be a new trend with the growth of Superfood skin-care products.
This isn’t really my thing, but if it is then you can check out this article on Allure.
The beauty of dark greens could well be, improved skin glow, for me this is less important than other health properties.
13. Increased Sex Drive
Yes, incredibly some Greens Supplement powders claim to increase your libido.
Sounds wonderful to me!
Now that I am in my mid-forties I wouldn’t say no to something that gives me a little boost now and then!
I think by now, we all know about “the little blue pill” giving your libido a nice nudge in the right direction.
But what is the evidence for your little green drink increasing your sex drive?
Well some evidence suggests that one known ingredient has been dubbed natures Viagra, namely Maca or Peruvian ginseng.
As well as helping to combat erectile dysfunction (not there yet!), Maca’s benefits include enhanced sex drive, better fertility, increased sperm count and testosterone levels.
This is great for guys, but there are reported benefits for woman too, in the relief from PMS symptoms and the menopause.
All this sounds great and just what the young 40 old me could do with, now and again mind you.
The Bottom Line: Science and Supergreens
Sometimes the claims from supergreen supplements can overstate the benefits of their products but there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest there are benefits to making supergreens part of your every day diet.
Not all supergreens are created equally though and the effectiveness of a supplement will depend on the ingredients and importantly there amounts. I have compiled a list of the recommended supergreens powders that are suggested to be the first place to look when deciding on the best and most effective supplement.
Supergreens are no replacement for fresh fruit and vegetables though, and so you still need to ensure you eat a health and balanced diet.
If you find your diet lacking in veggies or simply dislike the taste, then a supergreens powder can act as a nutritional insurance to top up your vitamins, minerals and antioxidant intake.
LifeHacker Guy Greens Recommendation
Please give me a few moments to shamelessly introduce my brand, SuperGreen TONIK.
I have researched a lot (and I mean a lot) of super greens out there but was disappointed with most of the ones I tried.
So, I went out and created my own with the help of a USA manufacturer because I wanted to ensure I got all my veggie goodness in the right amounts, and of course within a no-fuss single serving each day.
None of the other brands offered that.
Its the best out there (of course I would say that about my own), but let me tell you why...
- No hidden ingredient amounts - we have full disclosure labelling, so you know EXACTLY whats inside
- Sufficient ingredient amounts to make a difference - we include at least (if not more of) the minimum effective amounts supported by research
- Ingredients that also could boost mental clarity and shake off brain fog - to boost my at work and home
After many months I finally got a greens formula that fuels my body and mind for the day ahead.
But please dont JUST take my word for it, make up your own decision by checking out my review. (I TRY BE BE AS UNBIASED AS POSSIBLE )