March 29, 2020 at 10:00AM
So you’re thinking about adding a new powder to your nutrition routine, one that can help fight inflammation and enhance immune function*: a greens powder, maybe?
But shopping for a new supplement, especially one like a greens powder, can be overwhelming because there are so many kinds, with lots of variation in the formulas and ingredients. When he appeared on our podcast last month, functional medicine pioneer and scientific adviser at Thorne, Robert Rountree, M.D., gave his advice for finding the best greens powder for supporting your body.
It’s not just about kale and spinach: Look for sea veggies too.
While “greens” may bring to mind images of leafy greens like kale, there’s another type of veggie you should be thinking about for your greens powder. Sea veggies like chlorella and nori have their own set of benefits that can enhance any diet, even one that’s already packing in the land vegetables.
“They’re very high in nutrients,” said Rountree. “They have a particular type of polysaccharide in them that actually binds to heavy metals and toxins.” We are inundated with these toxic chemical compounds called organochlorines, Rountree explained. Our bodies are doing their best to get rid of them and the sea veggies help bind to these chemicals, which in turn helps our body eliminate them. Nori, for example, has been shown to bind to dioxin, an organochlorine.
Buy organic—even for supplements.
While you may already be sure to shop organic in the produce section, it’s important not to neglect that practice when it comes to picking a greens powder. “It’s really a shame, but the way we grow crops these days is a disaster,” said Rountree.
“The ones that seem to be the biggest deal these days are the organophosphates, which are just a kind of pesticide,” explained Rountree. “It has been shown that if you put kids on an organic vegetable diet and you measure organophosphates in their urine, within three days, the levels dropped by something like 90%.”
The benefits of sea veggies can also help fight the hormonal disrupters nonorganic practices can introduce: “We know that there are certain foods that can help balance out the toxic hormone endocrine disrupters that we’re being exposed to,” said Rountree, “and sea vegetables are one example of that.”
Is there anything else you should be looking for on the label?
After you’ve checked for sea veggies in the blend and the organic label on the bottle, what else should we be searching for in our greens powders? Rountree had a few gut-healthy suggestions.
“I want to see some digestive enzymes to help me break down my food,” Rountree said of shopping for an effective option. “I want to see some probiotics.”
Once you get your hands on a top-of-the-line greens powder, it’s easy to find a variety of ways to incorporate it into your daily habits. Rountree’s personal practice? “I make a smoothie,” he said. “This is something I’ve recommended to my patients for years.”