Live Long and Master Aging podcast



Algae for lunch to live longer?

Catharine Arnston | Founder, EnergyBits

Could the regular consumption of algae help us age better and live healthier lives? Catharine Arnston, founder and CEO of EnergyBits, is on a mission to introduce algae to everyday diets for health and longevity. Touted for its potent healing and nourishing properties, algae, particularly spirulina and chlorella, have garnered support from organizations like the United Nations and NASA for their dense nutritional profiles and potential in combating world hunger.

In this interview Arnston focusses on the apparent benefits for mitochondrial health — a key factor in energy production and aging. Highlighting the ease of incorporating algae into daily routines through tablets, she believes it to be a simple yet effective tool to extend healthspan – the number of years that we enjoy the best of health.

Photos: Courtesy, EnergyBits

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Discounts & Affiliation disclosure: This podcast is supported by sponsorship and affiliate arrangements with a select number of companies. The income helps to cover production costs and ensures that our interviews, sharing information about human longevity, remain free for all to listen.

Topics covered in this interview include (time stamps go to YouTube)

  • 00:00 – Catharine Arnston explains her personal commitment to spreading awareness about algae’s health benefits
  • 01:05 – Arnston’s background as the CEO of Energy Bits and her focus on plant-based tablets made from algae.
  • 02:47 – Explanation of what algae is, differentiating between macroalgae (seaweed) and microalgae (nutrient-dense food source). Spirulina (blue-green algae) and Chlorella (green algae) are two types of microalgae that contain a vast range of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial for health and longevity.
  • 05:20 – The growth and harvesting process of algae, specifically the conditions and methodology in Taiwan.
  • 08:00 – The commercial cultivation of algae and its scale in Asia compared to its relative obscurity in the American market. Algae as a food source compared to supplements, highlighting its nutrient density, and how it can be incorporated into diets.
  • 10:02 – Scientific research and documentation – its accessibility or lack thereof for the public
  • 11:30 – The science behind algae, existing research, and the claims about its health benefits.
  • 16:25 – Consumer incentives to include algae in their diet, addressing issues of modern food nutrition deficiencies and the impact on health.
  • 19:38 – Addressing the effects of consuming algae, satiety levels and if it can replace meals.
  • 24:03 – The process by which algae might impact physical performance, referencing studies on VO2 max and athletic ability.
  • 27:29 – The importance of mitochondria for health and longevity, and how algae may contribute to mitochondrial function and energy.
  • 24:04 – Arnston’s experience with algae consumption and its impact on her health, suggesting her biological age is much younger than her chronological age and showcasing potential personal benefits for longevity.
  • 35:16 – The feasibility of algae in reducing inflammation, referencing a small-scale study conducted with veterans.
  • 40:26 – The practical accessibility and affordability of consuming algae tablets.
  • 44:05 – Discussing future goals, including working on a PhD and aspirations to grow algae in America.

Connect with Catharine Arnston: Bio | EnergyBits | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter |


Eating algae to age better – listen to our 2022 interview with Catharine Arnston


Here are some peer-reviewed articles focusing on the nutritional qualities of spirulina and chlorella.

TRANSCRIPT – This interview with Catharine Arnston was recorded on April 9, 2024 and transcribed using Sonix AI. Please check against audio recording for absolute accuracy.

Catharine Arnston: [00:00:01] I promised the universe I was going to bring algae to America. I’ll probably get to 100 at least, but my goal is to get algae into every home, help it feed the world, which, you know, the United Nations knows it can do.

Peter Bowes: [00:00:22] Catharine Arnsten is something of an evangelist when it comes to the potent nutritional qualities of algae or algae, as I’m more used to saying in British English, I’ll stick to algae for this interview. Catharine is the founder and CEO of Energy Bits plant based tablets, little bits of food made entirely of this microscopic form of life that is algae grown specifically for us to eat. Could it also be a powerful tool in our pursuit of longevity? Hello again! Welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast, I’m Peter Bowes. This is where we explore the science and stories behind human longevity. Catharine, it’s good to talk to you again. 

Catharine Arnston: [00:01:10] Good to see you, Peter. Yeah, it’s been a while.

Peter Bowes: [00:01:12] It’s would you believe a couple of years since we did our last interview? And if anyone wants to listen to that interview, it was audio-only in those days. There’s a link to it in the show notes for this episode, but we’re now video and thanks to YouTube. So I wanted to talk to you again, Catharine, really just to get an update on what you’re doing. I know there’s some new science. There’s there are new publications talking about algae in terms of it being a powerful, as I say, a powerful food that we can use in our diet. And this is all about longevity, this podcast. And I always say that the three pillars of longevity are sleep, exercise and diet. It is what we eat. So this falls exactly into that. But maybe before we dive into it in a deep way, let’s just go back to some of the basics. Maybe you could explain to us again what algae is and why it is this, as I’ve already described, this powerful source of food.

Catharine Arnston: [00:02:04] And it’s not just a powerful source of food, it’s a powerful source of healing. I know the FDA probably doesn’t like me to say the word healing, but it has nutritional qualities and nutrients in it that aren’t really available from any other source. And that science have has indicated through, you know, 50,000 or more studies are critical to reduce inflammation and protect your mitochondria, which are what generate all your cellular energy. So to answer your question, algae was, first of all, the first life on Earth almost 4 billion years ago. And it’s still here. Two main types of algae there are Macro is macroalgae and microalgae. We’re going to be talking about microalgae today. But let me tell you what macroalgae is. It’s that big stringy stuff that washes up on shore, also known as seaweed. It’s called seaweed because it’s only in the sea. And it’s good for you because it has lots of fiber, but it has virtually zero nutrition. Microalgae, which we’re talking about today, is the complete opposite. First of all, it’s everywhere. Not just in the sea. It’s in the lakes, the rivers, streams, the soil, your swimming pool, your aquarium and the sea. And the algae we’re talking about doesn’t come from any of those places because it comes from aquaculture. We’re talking about algae that’s grown as an agricultural crop. But microalgae is everywhere, and it’s completely different from the macroalgae because it has virtually zero fiber. In fact, spirulina has has zero fiber, but it is the most nutrient dense food in the universe. And that’s not just my opinion. It’s been endorsed by the United Nations since 1974. So that’s 50 years as the answer to world hunger, because it has the highest protein in the world, it’s 64% protein. At least ours is. Nasa has endorsed it as the also as the answer to world hunger and just everything, because it has a thousand times more nutrition than any other food in the world. This is because microalgae is called microalgae because it’s microscopic in size. You could get something like a million of these cells on the head of a pin. So when we consolidate it into these small tablets. So we’re going to talk about today that we affectionately call bits because they are bits of nutrition. You can start to understand the concentration of nutrition. So to algae is a food. It’s virtually everywhere. But the algae that we sell is grown as an agricultural crop in Asia. It is a multi-billion dollar agricultural crop there. It’s almost as big as the beef industry is. And you don’t know about it? Probably because it’s just not grown here, although I have plans to. So it’s never been part of your lifestyle, your diet. No one’s ever explained it to you. Which is why I am here to do that. But in Asia, everybody takes it. They use it like we take chia seed or or quinoa or something. It’s just it’s in everything. And. And by the way, and they take it every day and it’s a multi-billion dollar crop. It’s also been studied by scientists for over 100 years, and we have access to almost 100,000 scientific papers documenting some of the amazing attributes of algae for protecting your longevity.

Peter Bowes: [00:05:19] And just to emphasize, you describe the tablets that you sell the algae in that form. We are talking about a food as opposed to a supplement?

Catharine Arnston: [00:05:29] Correct. Thank you for mentioning that. So the thing with supplements is they are made from extracts that don’t exist like that in nature, and then they’re compiled in a factory using high heat to blend them. So this is all vitamins, dry greens, powders. And so heat, detracts from the nutritional value of whatever’s going in there. And also extracts don’t exist like that in nature. So your body, when you take supplements, you end up absorbing about 10% of it. That’s why the numbers on those bottles are so high, because your body can’t absorb most of it. Algae, at least our algae is grown in fresh water. As I mentioned, it’s an agricultural crop. Here’s a picture of an algae farm and here’s a picture of a Chlorella farm. We’re unique because our water is triple filtered, so zero toxins. We’re also unique because we don’t use any, any heat to dry our algae. So it’s a raw food. So we grow it, we dry it into a powder, and then we press them into these little tablets that are called bits. So because there’s no high heat used to dry it and there is no processing, this is a not only a spirulina is not only a raw food, it’s a live food. So, nothing added and nothing subtracted. And yet it has 64% protein, highest protein in the world, highest chlorophyl in the world, 40 vitamins and minerals, more collagen than collagen powder. When you take algae tablets, you are taking food. You are taking nourishment, that is unfiltered and, and no toxins, at least with ours. And that’s why we sell our algae tablets through doctors and functional medicine clinics and longevity clinics. And the concentration is off the charts. There’s so much nutrition in one little tablet, it equals the same amount as an entire plate of vegetables. That’s almost a pound of vegetables. So if you or your kids or your family don’t like vegetables, you find you’re throwing them out all the time, or they give you gas, or you don’t have access to them, or you don’t have time to cook them, you can’t travel with them. Algae tablets are for you. Pets love them. There’s no contraindications. It doesn’t matter whether you have a newborn, a child, a teenager, a grandparent. These are the easiest food to absorb. You can swallow them, you can chew them, you can add them to smoothies. I live on them. I mean, I eat real food once a day. I do intermittent fasting, which is another great way to preserve your your health. But algae gives you all of the nutrition that you need. That’s why I call especially spirulina. There’s two algae we’re going to talk about. Spirulina is a blue green algae and chlorella is a green algae. And you’re going to learn today that they do completely different things in your body. Spirulina I call it your nutritional insurance because it gives you absolutely everything that you need. And you can, you could live on it forever if you wanted, but it means it takes the pressure off worrying about supplements or certain kinds of food. And then Chlorella I call is your health insurance because it builds your immune system, pulls out toxins and builds your gut. So they do completely different things, but they work together harmoniously to give you the best effect for longevity, health, and restore what what you may have lost. Whether it’s for your skin, for your digestion, your sleep, they’re they’re pretty amazing. And they’re a gift to us from Mother Nature.

Peter Bowes: [00:08:41] The process that you’ve just described, the manufacturing process, if that’s the right word geographically, where does that happen?

Catharine Arnston: [00:08:50] Well, we grow everything in Taiwan, as in those ponds where they’re called ponds. And everything happens there. And then we do the packaging here in the United States. So in the chlorella takes about three months to grow. It’s quite a complicated process. Spirulina is actually easier to grow, but, everything is done in Taiwan and then imported in large on large cargo ships here to the United States. And then we do all the packaging here. But, I am exploring, looking into growing it in, probably in Florida, actually very similar climate.Drew the longitudinal line an hit the middle of Florida. So it’s going to take, uh, very large amount of money, tens of millions of dollars. This the company that grows our algae forests, they’re 60 years old. They’ve been doing it. both. We have two companies. They’ve been doing it for that long. It’s it’s the best in the world. And I. I sampled algae for 2 or 3 years before settling on these companies to grow it for us. So, that’s one of the other things that. Differentiates us from other companies. We don’t sell anything else. All we do is algae. I’ve become an algae expert. I am determined that people here in North America can enjoy the same health and longevity benefits that the Asians have been enjoying for the last 60 years. And the reason we don’t know about this is, as I said, it’s not grown here and no one’s explained it to you. So I take a lot of pride in making it the science of algae easy for you to understand, because when you understand something, it’s you’re not afraid of it. And when you learn what a what I’m going to tell you about algae, you you’ll know you’re hearing the truth. It will resonate with you. And when you take algae, because it makes you feel so good and so clean, your body resonates with it as well. It’s it’s pretty interesting.

Peter Bowes: [00:10:45] You mentioned scientific papers. To what extent has algae been studied in terms of peer reviewed science? Essentially the research that would back up your claims about the product. 

Catharine Arnston: [00:11:01] Yeah. Well, algae was first discovered in the late 1800s by a Danish scientist, and that’s when they first discovered it had such high protein. And then the research moved over, actually into Germany. And so during the 20s and 30s, they were doing extensive research. There’s a scientist by the name of Otto Warburg, who won a Nobel Prize, I think, in 1931, for discovering that cancer cannot exist in an alkaline environment. And the way he was able to discover that is he was using Chlorella algae, which is one of the algae we sell. So the Germans have been doing very extensive research on Chlorella ever since the 30s. And then the research moved over over to Japan after the World War two. And there’s an interesting sidebar story I can tell you one time when he got a little bit more time. Um, so the research is, as I said, extensive. There’s about 60,000 studies on spirulina, about 40,000 on Chlorella. They address everything from the nutrients that help prevent heart disease, like superoxide dismutase or the or how they protects your brain because it protects your telomeres, it reduces inflammation. The high chlorophyl is very cleansing. The research has been done for decades in every country around the world. Algae still a little under the current because certainly here in America, for those reasons I’ve explained earlier, not grown here and there’s nobody there’s no incentive to educate you because there’s no food company, not national food company selling it. You can’t patent it because it’s a vegetable. It’s like you can’t patent broccoli. So the biotechs aren’t interested in helping you understand what it is. The pharmaceuticals companies want to keep you taking their drugs, so they don’t want you to learn things like this. Blue phycocyanin, the blue pigment and spirulina, which we can talk about in a minute, has been proven to kill cancer cells. That’s pretty important. That’s pretty interesting. And that’s also been proven in science. So it’s so extensive. It’s almost there’s almost too much science. And I think that’s also the problem.

Peter Bowes: [00:13:08] So what is the incentive then. That’s the phrase that you use having studied it and understood what algae is. What is the incentive for an ordinary person to incorporate it into their diet? And you say that you yourself have an ordinary diet, at least ordinary meals as well as consuming algae. So why would someone want to incorporate algae into their daily regime, and how would they do that?

Catharine Arnston: [00:13:39] Yes, that’s a great question. So here’s why you probably algae is probably the last chance for us to be healthy. The reason why our cancer and heart disease and chronic illnesses are escalating are twofold. Our bodies are no longer being nourished by our food. Our soils are so over cropped that they do not any longer have any minerals for the plants to pull up. So even if you are eating a lot of vegetables, they come from far away and the soils are so depleted. So your food is depleted as well. They contain calories and fiber, but not nutrition. And as I mentioned earlier, supplements aren’t the answer either because your body only absorbs a few a little bit of it and we can’t. You also don’t have the time to constantly be eating all day long preparing healthy foods. So number one, we aren’t getting the nourishment because our soils are so damaged and also because processed foods are everywhere. They’re tempting to us. They’re sold in all the stores, in all the airports, and of course, they’re so over processed and that they don’t have any nutrition either. So number one, your body isn’t getting the nutrients. And the thing is, we know that our cell phone needs to be plugged in every night to be recharged, so it will properly function the next day. Well our bodies are the same way. And if you don’t properly recharge your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly, it won’t. It’s that simple. And I’m going to explain to you what drives the your body to perform optimally. And it’s basically something called mitochondria that are in all of your cells and algae. I will explain to you why particular spirulina helps those mitochondria work. So number one we’re nutritionally deprived. Number two, we have too many toxins in our body. I read some paper, a paper that said the average adult has now 700 toxins in their bodies. And our immune system simply weren’t built to sustain that level of toxic load. And when you have toxins in your body, whether it’s glyphosate, pesticide, lead, mercury, alcohol, they interfere, they lodge into the cell walls, they interfere with all of your cellular communications. Think of when you have toxins in your cell walls. It’s like someone’s taken your parking spot. So even if you are eating properly nourished foods and incorporating spirulina, for example, if you still have too many toxins in your body, that nourishment can’t get in because the toxins have taken the parking spot for what’s called the cell receptor to allow the nutrients in. So we have to get those toxins out. And this is not something you’re going to do on a daily on an, you know, once a year or even quarterly. This has to be done daily. And so chlorella, as you’re going to find out, pulls out toxins, all of them, all the heavy metals, lead, mercury, radiation, pesticides, glyphosate, mold spores. BMA it’s it’s crazy what it will pull out. And so you’ve got to get rid of those toxins and the reason so number one, you’re going to get nourished from the spirulina. So that will restore whatever has been missing in your diet. And Chlorella will pull out the toxins. And the best thing about them is I mentioned they come in these little tiny tablets, which are effortless to take. If you can swallow water, you can get the nourishment you need in seconds. We’re talking seconds, not hours in the groc, in the kitchen, not hours dragging home all those groceries. And speaking of which, we sell our algae in large bags and there’s a thousand tablets in a bag. One bag has the same nutrition as 551 pounds of vegetables. That’s about 30 grocery carts of food. And we have a discount code we’re going to give your listeners. So when you they’re normally a bag is $130, but with the code comes down to 100 and 104. If you took ten tablets a day, that’s what we recommend ten spirulina in the morning, ten chlorella at night. That works out to a dollar a day. And because there’s so much nourishment in spirulina, it can eliminate you can eliminate your multivitamin, your fish oil, your CoQ10, your biotin, probably your magnesium. Potassium. There’s five oh, your collagen powder, probably your, uh, so that’s there’s five other vitamins you can eliminate. So you’re eliminating clutter, you’re eliminating complexity. You’re eliminating money. You’re eliminating time all just from taking spirulina algae. And then when you take chlorella because it has so much chlorophyl 500 times more than arugula, your arugula goes yellow after a couple of days because it doesn’t have much chlorophyl to start off with. You don’t have to take by vegetables either, and both of them have very high protein. So they can replace protein. They can replace your pre-workout fuel. So why should anyone take it? Because it will give you the nourishment and the nutritional insurance from the spirulina so that you can start feeling better, having more energy, mental focus, physical energy, and so your mitochondria can function better. And then the Chlorella will pull out toxins so that your body can repair better. And and they do it effortlessly and in seconds. Saves you time, saves you money. And it might save your life.

Peter Bowes: [00:18:40] But are you satisfied? Is this a meal substitute? Does it satiate you? Do you take these tiny little tablets and then still feel hungry? Which at first, looking at this you would think, well, clearly you’re going to still feel hungry because there’s such a tiny volume.

Catharine Arnston: [00:18:59] Well, again, a great question. Well, you’re not going to feel like you just ate a big bowl of spaghetti. so it’s not that kind of full feeling, but what you will feel is you won’t feel hungry. So a lot of people actually do take the pouch. We have the little individual pouches of 30 tablets. 30 tablets could be a meal. You will not feel hungry for about 4 or 5 hours. You won’t feel stuffed, but you won’t feel hungry. And more importantly, what will happen is the kind of energy we call them energy bits. Because spirulina is known for giving you energy, it’s not a stimulant kind of energy. A stimulant is like putting paper on a fire. You get a big burst and then you have a crash. The spirulina kind of energy is like putting a log on the fire. It’s very steady and it’s at the cellular level. So if you were to take, let’s say, the 30 tablets if you wanted, and I weigh more than that every day, you may not notice a big burst or in fact, you won’t notice a big burst of energy if you’re just sitting around.

Catharine Arnston: [00:19:59] But you will notice that I feel pretty alert. I feel pretty fresh. The feeling you will get is like you’ve just had a great night’s sleep or a walk in the fresh air. You’ll just feel ready. That’s how you will feel now. If you took it before a workout, you will either be able to run further, faster, lift more, lift longer because you will because it’s cellular energy. And so the energy that is generated from the spirulina is directed to where your body needs it the most. At that moment. Some people take it before bed, and I actually wrote a paper about how you could take spirulina before bed, and it won’t keep you awake because it’s not a stimulant. Stimulants speed up molecules. This improves the production of what’s called ATP. That’s cellular energy. And so the way that it does that is by improving the process by which that occurs and also protecting the mitochondria, which is what generates that cellular energy for you. 

Peter Bowes: [00:20:58] Just going back to what you were saying about taking these before you go to the gym. So you, you say you would be able to lift heavier, you’d be able to run faster. Are those claims supported by peer reviewed clinical studies? Have experiments been done with athletes?

Catharine Arnston: [00:21:16] Your VO2 max increases? Your inflammation level decreases. Your blood flow increases because spirulina has a very high amount of iron, which is what carries oxygen in your blood. And you need oxygen to perform any kind of activity. It also stimulates the release of stem cells, stem cells, and also supports the mitochondria, your mitochondria, because, again, they generate energy including in your muscles. Your most mitochondria, by the way, are in your brain. There’s 2 million mitochondria per cell in your brain. Next highest is your heart. And after that are your muscles. So there’s a lot of research about performance capability. There’s also research about brain functionality. It has lots of essential fatty acids, not just omega three but other essential fatty acids. And your brain is, uh, has a very high percentage of fat. And so when you give your body and your brain the nourishment it needs from the oxygen and the essential fatty acids and the nutrients, like the superoxide dismutase that protect your mitochondria, everything works better. There’s a book that was just released last year by Doctor Chris Palmer called Brain Energy and the entire. And he’s a psychiatrist at the Harvard Medical School. And the his entire book is about how all brain disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anything is due to damaged mitochondria. And because spirulina has the nutrients that have been proven to support and protect the mitochondria, the first way thing to do is to get your focus, prevent Alzheimer’s is to get those mitochondria functioning again better. And spirulina has been proven to help do that. 

Peter Bowes: [00:23:00] Really wanted to dive in. And you’ve already started to I do that into mitochondria. Mitochondria are something that on this podcast we’ve talked about a lot because of the and you’ve reflected this, but the basic understanding that they are so crucially important to our overall health, especially in terms of energy, but muscle strength. And as we age, of course, muscle strength is so important with the potential for frailty as we get older. Frailty reduces our ability to to stand up and and to walk straight and to potentially fall over is one of those key issues that I think affects a lot of old people, and sometimes can be the beginning of quite a rapid decline in health. So muscular strength is so important for that reason. And at the heart of all of this, and I’d like just you to elaborate a little bit, are mitochondria and specifically our ability to repair and replace mitochondria mitophagy the process of which every one of us is dependent, and that is the constant replenishment of our mitochondria.

Catharine Arnston: [00:24:04] Yes, absolutely. What I want to emphasize is that aging is inevitable, declining is not. As I mentioned earlier on, when we start, before we start recording, I’m going to be turning 68 in a few months. So I’m inching towards 70 and I, am feeling the best of my life. I have my brain is working, my body is working, my skin looks great, my digestion is great. And I attribute a large amount of this to algae because, I just don’t look like anyone else my age, and I don’t. And I feel I’ve even had some tests done. I have my biological age, apparently is 30, and for a 68 year old to have a biological age of 30, I want to shout out to Bryan Johnson, who’s been spending $5 million so far, to. knock off a year or two of his biological age and I say, hey, Bryan, I knocked 30 off mine and I only took algae. And so you don’t have to go do stem cell and all the stuff that he’s doing. Just take algae and, you know, then you’ll see, you’ll see the results. But let’s get back to mitochondria.

Peter Bowes: [00:25:15] Just to jump in there, just to explain to anyone who maybe doesn’t follow the science behind determining what your biological age is, how do you determine 30? 

Catharine Arnston: [00:25:26] I had a test done by a company called Brain Tap, and they have a series of tests that they run. They, uh, your, HRV, which determines the ability of your heart to respond, to get back to a base level after being stressed. 

Peter Bowes: [00:25:42] That’s heart rate variability.

Catharine Arnston: [00:25:44] Yes. I would have to go pull the papers because I’m not an expert on what their tests were, but they’ve been doing these tests all over the country. Normally they test people before they do a test with them on their brain tap device, and usually after the device that shows that they’ve dropped a couple of years off someone’s brain, because they’ve also found that when your brain is functioning better, guess what? Apparently your body will absorb, it improves the ability of your body to absorb nutrition by 30%. And so once again, because spirulina in particular helps with your brain functioning, it’s also going to have the same impact. It will allow your body to absorb the nutrients. And then the chlorella does help with gut health. So I can’t go into those numbers because I don’t have them just in the top of my head or in front of me, but I can certainly get them for you if you want it. But HRV is one of the big ones for sure.

Peter Bowes: [00:26:37] Got it? Good. That’s good to understand that. So I interrupted you. You were talking about obviously being in your in your late 60s and feeling great. How long have you been consuming algae?

Catharine Arnston: [00:26:48] Well, since I started the company, which was 14 years ago, and I couldn’t miss. I wouldn’t want to miss a day. I don’t think I have missed a day in 14 years. I travel with it. I have it in all my pockets, my handbags, my gym bags. I take it everywhere. And fortunately they come in little pouches, that you can carry with you. We also, as I’m showing you, these little tins, these tins come in with our, our canisters so you can pop them in your, in your, pockets and carry them with you. So we make it as easy and effortless as possible to carry your algae tablets with you wherever you’re going, so that you don’t have to just grab some carb that will give you an insulin spike. And when you have insulin spikes, that causes damage, more damage to your mitochondria. And so, let’s swing back to the mitochondria story, because it’s very important for people to understand what they are and why they you need to protect them. And when you protect them, they will protect you. So the first thing to help you understand what they are is I tell people, you know, your body is like a building. Think of a new building, and in the building you have offices, and in the offices you have lights that allow people in the offices to do their work. Well, if your body was the building, think of your cells as the equivalent of the offices, because in the cells, that’s where all the work is done. And the thing that allows the work to be done are the mitochondria. So think of the mitochondria as the lights in an office. Now, in an office, when the lights go out, maintenance people come and replace them. So there’s no interruption of work. The problem is in your body when your mitochondria die or get damaged as they do as you get older, particularly after the age of 30 or 40, if you’re not doing something like taking algae, your lights never get replaced. They just go out. And as you have fewer and fewer mitochondria, it’s a great analogy because you have less and less energy, less and less cellular energy, because that’s what they make. And when I talk about cellular energy, I’m not talking about the energy just to run to the grocery store. The cellular energy is what keeps you alive. Cellular energy is used for everything. It’s for your heartbeat, for your lungs to breathe, for your neurotransmitters to move, for your lymphatic system, for your digestion, for your skin turnover. Absolutely everything requires cellular energy. If it helps you think about cellular energy, like money, when you have more money, you can do more things and you have more choices. When you have more cellular energy, you can do more things and you have more choices. So the key to living long is to have more cellular energy. And the way to do that is to have more mitochondria and to protect the ones that you have. Now, the unfortunate thing about mitochondria is that they get damaged in the process of generating that ATP for you. Again, ATP is the cell terme for cellular energy. They get damaged. So when they get damaged they’re not going to generate as much cellular energy. And eventually they will die. And then this is what begins this downward spiral of having brain fog, bad digestion, not being able to sleep. So the key to getting you back to health or protecting what you have is to keep your mitochondria healthy and as numerous as possible. But there’s a problem. Your mitochondria have something called their own DNA. You know, you have 22,000 regular DNA. Well, your mitochondria have their own DNA and there’s only 37. And you think, oh, how important could 37 mitochondria DNA be? Well, those 37 control all the other DNA, the 22,000 and everything else in your body. Think of them as the airport control air controllers. There’s only a few of them, but they control everything that comes in and out of the out of the airport. Your mitochondrial DNA are the same thing. They control everything that goes on in and out of your cells. And when they get damaged, your cells, your body, and your health crashes. Just like at an airport. A plane crash might happen if your air controllers weren’t on their game. And how do they get damaged? Well, I’m going to give you a bit of a science lesson because I want you to understand this. In the cell, you have your mitochondria, you have your nucleus, and then you have these little peanut shaped things that are your mitochondria. Now remember, there’s 2 million of these little guys inside each cell in your brain. And there’s also, I think, 9000 ish in each cell in your heart. Now, inside the mitochondria, which are again inside the cell, this is where that stuff called ATP is produced. That’s the cellular energy. But what most people don’t realize is that a byproduct of ATP are free radicals, those bad boys, right. We all know that. Well, maybe you don’t know what free radicals are. So let me tell you, free radicals are a molecule that is unbalanced. And Mother Nature loves balance and harmony. So when you have an unbalanced molecule, it means that there’s an electron in the outer orbit, that there’s only one of them in it, and it needs to be paired. So just like a kid who didn’t get lunch that day, they go steal someone else’s lunch. That, free radical will steal a molecule from another molecule, which causes tissue damage. And now it’s unbalanced. So it goes and steals somebody else’s lunch. So something called antioxidants have extra electrons. It’s like someone came in with, all the lunches for everybody and donates these electrons to those free radicals so they calm themselves down, they leave you alone, and everybody’s happy. So the problem is, when you have ATP and you have all these free radicals that are causing all this tissue damage, it damages the mitochondria DNA because guess what? They’re located right inside where the free radicals are produced. Now, when they get damaged, this is when they start, not behaving properly, not generating ATP or dying. And there’s nothing. This is just the way the process is. When the ATP is produced, free radicals are produced. Now, Mother nature is very clever because when you are born, you have something called an antioxidant. The most powerful antioxidant for your mitochondria is is called, superoxide dismutase because the most damaging free radical is called superoxide. And it’s damaging because it has three unpaired electrons. So Mother Nature was so kind to us because when we were born, we started we generate this thing called superoxide dismutase, which protects you from the rain of free radicals. Think of it this way. You know, if you’re stuck in a rainstorm and you got one of those honking big golf umbrellas, right? You’re laughing, you’re covered. You’re protected from the rain. Doesn’t matter. You’re good. That’s what superoxide dismutase does. It protects you from the rain of free radicals that are caused through this production of cellular energy. But as you once you hit about age 30, that umbrella, your body stops generating less and less of the superoxide dismutase. It’s like now having one of those little mini tote umbrellas not going to protect you like the big honking golf umbrella. Okay, so by the 30 you’re not getting as much protection. So there’s more free radical damage getting to your mitochondria. By the time you’re 40, your body is making virtually zero superoxide dismutase. That big golf umbrella is now about the size of a cocktail umbrella in your drink, not protecting you at all. So now all the protection that you used to have is gone, and this speeds up the damage being done to your mitochondria DNA. This is my theory. About why aging occurs at such escalated levels. Why chronic disease. Happens at such escalating levels after the age of 40. It’s because our mitochondria aren’t protected any longer, and your mitochondria are what generates cellular energy. And cellular energy is what protects you from inflammation. It protects you from heart disease, Alzheimer’s. Everything comes down to looking after your mitochondria. Now, the problem is, as I mentioned, your body’s not making superoxide dismutase after the age of 40. And the other problem is you basically can’t get it from virtually any other food. With the exception, I found out recently that, wheatgrass has a little bit. But guess what? Spirulina and chlorella algae have the highest concentration of superoxide dismutase in the world. spirulina has twice the amount as Chlorella. And because spirulina is a bacteria, it means it has no cellulose wall, but it’s absorbed almost instantly, so it’s 99% bioavailable. That superoxide dismutase is absorbed and directed immediately to the mitochondria. When you take spirulina algae, at least ours. Because here’s the other thing. Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme. Yes, it’s an antioxidant, but it’s also an enzyme. And anyone who knows anything about nutrition knows that high heat kills enzymes. And almost all the other companies. The lower priced algae companies use high heat to dry their algae. And so that deactivates the superoxide dismutase. Yes, you’ll still get some chlorophyl and yes, you’ll still get some protein, but you will not get the golf umbrella. You only get the golf umbrella from algae or from taking, frozen or fresh spirulina because, again, they have not been exposed to high heat. So when you take spirulina, what it does is it’s protecting your mitochondria from that rain of free radicals. Now they can grow back, now they can turn the lights back on. Spirulina is like turning the lights back on in your mitochondria. It’s as simple as that.

Peter Bowes: [00:36:27] Let me ask you this. Are you aware of any studies involving older adults where algae have been introduced into their diet and followed over a period of time in a clinical setting? What sort of results have those if they exist? Yeah, those studies produce. 

Catharine Arnston: [00:36:46] Like I said, there’s 60,000 on spirulina and there’s lots of studies about that. We even did our own little clinical trial last year with a small group of veterans who had been discharged because of mental issues. And they were all in their, you know, 40s, 50s. We had one gentleman who was like 72. And, this group that we worked with for the clinical trial, they’re they’re a nonprofit called the Gray Team, and they exist to help stop suicide rates of military veterans, which is now at about 35 to 50%. This organization is based in Florida. It’s the great, great team org. They’re a great organization and they’re doing everything they can to turn this around. So they wanted they met me at a number of biohacking shows and conferences. So we did this small trial. Only five people. We did brain scans before we started. We gave them some devices to connect, when they were at home to measure their sleep and the HRV and these other metrics. And all we did was give them a pouch of the spirulina, which has 30 tablets in it a day. They were told not to change anything else. Don’t change their diet, don’t do extra exercise, nothing. And after 30 days, we measured their brain again with this, uh, EEG, I guess. And, it showed and I have the I have the some images I can show you. The inflammation completely disappeared in 30 days, and I think it would have disappeared within 15 if we had done the brain scan after 15 days. There’s endless amounts of research about this. This is what I’m trying to explain to people. The, the. But the trouble is, scientists don’t like to talk to consumers.

Peter Bowes: [00:38:34] That was a study of five people. 

Catharine Arnston: [00:38:36] Yes. So it was a very small study.

Peter Bowes: [00:38:37] Not huge, obviously.

Catharine Arnston: [00:38:38] No, I know, but we’re a very small company. And but my point was that there’s lots of evidence and there’s lots of science, except the science has not been shared because, as you know, scientists, God bless them. Because if they didn’t do the science, I wouldn’t be able to be here now talking to you about the results of the science. But they are they live like the medical industry does in silos, and they do talk to each other, but they don’t talk to the general public. they’re very,smart and they’re very they have a lot of jargon. And I call myself a citizen scientist because I didn’t start this. I only started this company because my sister had breast cancer, and her oncologist told her to change her diet to an alkaline diet. I helped her figure out what that was, which turned out to be a plant based diet, which led me to algae, which is the most alkaline, nutrient dense food in the world. Anyways, the point is. I didn’t come from a science background. I taught myself everything. Although I’m now at a going to get my PhD. Hopefully this year, but might be next year. We’ll we’ll figure it out. so I know what it feels like not to know the science, but the science is there if you learn how to look for it in PubMed and on Google. And so there’s plenty of science, but you don’t know what you don’t know. Nobody would know that they could go learn about the medical health benefits of algae because they don’t even know algae exists, let alone has medicinal properties, but I do.

Peter Bowes: [00:40:05] I suppose a cynic is going to say, well, if the science is there, and you started by saying that people still, especially in this country, the United States, don’t know about algae. If the science is there, why hasn’t it emerged? You’d think, if it was so remarkable that it would.

Catharine Arnston: [00:40:23] Well, it has emerged. But in Asia, in Asia, everybody knows about it. It hasn’t emerged here because it’s not part of the daily diet. It’s not part of your lifestyle in in Taiwan or Japan you can’t ride your bicycle anywhere without going by an algae farm or driving to work. Here we go. Drive by wheat farms or or. Strawberry patches, but we certainly don’t see any algae. There is no reason for anybody to even be aware of algae, period. A lot of people don’t even know that spirulina is algae. Most people don’t even know about chlorella. But it’s it’s because it’s just not part of our lifestyle as it is in Asia. Now, there’s all kinds of really valuable foods and things from Asia or other countries that have been used by indigenous peoples for centuries. And until someone introduced them and explain them to Americans, they weren’t known here either. You probably didn’t know about chia or quinoa or matcha or or CBD or collagen powder until maybe ten years ago, when somebody decided to try to get them into the US diet and lifestyle. And I’m doing the same thing for algae. I try to tell people what we’re sort of doing is sort of what Lululemon did for yoga. You know, yoga had been around for centuries, but it hadn’t been in the mainstream in America until they started designing very fashionable, fun yoga wear. And suddenly more people felt it wasn’t so weird. I’m trying to help people understand algae is not weird. It is probably the most powerful, critical, nutrient dense food in the world. Not probably. It is. And the science proves it. It’s just that it has not been explained outside of Asia and the science is there. But that has not been explained either. So it’s it’s nothing woo woo. It’s nothing weird. It’s just something that you didn’t grow up with and just like other things that, you know, until somebody explained it to you, you wouldn’t know about them either.

Peter Bowes: [00:42:21] Catharine it’s always fascinating to talk to you. You mentioned a little earlier, if anyone listening to this, watching this wants to try for themselves. You’re offering a little discount code.

Catharine Arnston: [00:42:31] Yes. We have a discount code. LLAMA 

Peter Bowes: [00:42:36] Is LLAMA. Live Long and Master Aging.

Catharine Arnston: [00:42:38] Yes. So all you need to do is go to energy bits and type that ‘LLAMA’ into the discount code box. We have the large bags. We have individual pouches. We have gorgeous canisters that allow you to shake the tablets out into your hand. You have to put your hand in the bag. and if you’re not ready for buying anything, that’s cool. We write a full blog every month with lots of science references. And you can also go to Amazon and just buy a pouch or two if you want. They’re only $6 each. There’s 30 tablets in each one, and that way you can experiment and see if they do exactly what I tell them. Tell you they do. And then come back to the website and make your purchase. But I started this company as a labor of love to help my sister. And then I gave up my corporate career and went back to school and got a health coaching certificate. And then I’ve just spent 14 years learning about algae and learning the science and the cellular biology, and why trying to understand what’s preventing people from getting healthy, what’s preventing them from preserving what they have. And I am 100% convinced that algae is the answer. And there are organizations all around the world that also agree, except that they’re not mainstream. So this knowledge has not gotten out into the mainstream, and I’m doing as much as I can. I invite you to do some research. I mentioned a couple of things, like this blue pigment called phycocyanin proven to kill cancer cells. The chemical pharmaceutical companies are using it already. But who was ever going to tell you about that? So so I’m here to help move the needle, get us back to health. whether it’s somebody else’s algae or frozen spirulina, just, you know, educate yourself, learn about it, because, it’s going to be very big. It’s going it’s effortless to take. You can, like I say, you can swallow the tablets, chew them. Our NHL players take 75 spirulina before a game and 75 of the chlorella after. I have over 100 a day. But you don’t need to take that much. At least take ten. And, that will get you on the back, on the road. And if you have a health condition now 30, our tablets are what we recommend as a medicinal quantity, but they’re effortless, nutrient dense, safe, third party, lab tested, endorsed by doctors, endorsed by international agencies. You can’t get any better than the world, than the United Nations and NASA. So. And used for 60 years safely in, in Asia. So, give it a try.

Peter Bowes: [00:45:16] Well, I will put all of those details that you mentioned, the discount code into the show notes for this episode. There will also be a transcript of this conversation. And you’ve mentioned all of the scientific studies, peer reviewed studies. I’ll put some details in the show notes as to where people can go to look independently, to really check out what have you been saying and look at some of that extensive research. Catherine, really good to talk to you. One final question. What is next for you? You say you’re working on your PhD. Hopefully that’s going to happen in the next year or two. Do you have any other big goals that you’re working towards?

Catharine Arnston: [00:45:51] Well, I’m trying to grow algae in, in America. So looking at land as we speak. we’re talking, you know, substantial amounts of money. It’s these are not little farms in your backyard. This is a 20, $25 million kind of investment. But, it’s I think it’s absolutely essential that we grow it here in America. If I’m going to move the needle, get people feeling comfortable learning more about it. So, yeah, that’s, that’s my big next project.

Peter Bowes: [00:46:26] And actually I said that was the final question. Just one more. You’re approaching 70 fairly soon, a couple of years. What is your longevity goal? What are your aspirations in terms of growing older yourself?

Catharine Arnston: [00:46:38] Well, I promised the universe I was going to bring algae to America. And so, I’m going to just keep I’ll probably get to a hundred at least. But my goal is to get algae on into every home, help it feed the world, which, you know, the United Nations knows it can do. everything I do is with that in mind. It’s been not an easy task, I will say, but, I’m not someone who gives up easily either, so I’m. I’m full speed ahead.

Peter Bowes: [00:47:15] I can tell that. Catharine. All the best. With everything that you do, I’m going to follow your work with interest. Good to talk to you again.

Catharine Arnston: [00:47:21] Thank you so much, Peter.

Peter Bowes: [00:47:22] I Live Long and Master Aging podcast is a healthspan media production. We’ll be back with another episode very soon. In the meantime, thanks so much for listening.

The Live Long and Master Aging (LLAMA) podcast, a HealthSpan Media LLC production, shares ideas but does not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor.

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