I was recently investigating chlorella as a possible food source. The science behind it looked promising, initially. Lots of pubmed studies claiming an array of health benefits. NASA was studying this as a food source for astronauts, Russians used this to help protect against the effects or radiation after Chernobyl, etc., etc.
Then I came upon this post on Robb Wolf's website : http://robbwolf.com/2012/01/19/trojan-horses-of-chlorella-superfood/
The key study cited in the article is this
 Qin L, Wu X, Block ML, Liu Y, Breese GR, Hong JS, Knapp DJ, Crews FT, Systemic LPS causes chronic neuroinflammation and progressive neurodegeneration, Glia. 2007 Apr 1;55(5):453-62.
The article states that:
Chlorella, in effect, puts our innate immunity on high alert via LPS, an endotoxin it happens to share with some lethal bacteria. Too much LPS leads to sepsis, which we would be well advised to avoid, but even low doses of Chlorella may be ill advised if they are chronic. While activated immune system may be beneficial in situations such as during an infectious disease outbreak, one must ask what happens to us when we make chlorella a regular part of diet, indeed, a food. Chronic exposure to LPS leads to chronic systemic inflammation, which is not a desirable state of affairs, as the readers of this blog know. Specifically, systemic LPS-activated macrophages in the brain have been implicated in progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons and are responsible for Parkinson???s disease .
The article goes on to state that organisms lower on the food chain are able to consume chlorella with out such deleterious effects because through the course of evolution they, "have evolved a mechanism, a unique protein, to bind and neutralize LPS. We have not. In the case of Chlorella we see another manifestation of a well-known evolutionary story, that of grains and birds that eat them, and people who eat the birds. People, unlike birds, do not do well when eating grains directly. It is the same with Chlorella, shrimp that eat it, and people who eat the shrimp."
This makes sense because chlorella's cell wall has to be mechanically broken down in order for the algae to be digested by humans so this was certainly not a food for our ancestral humans.
The take home message seems to be: chlorella should not be a food source but may have value as an occassional immune booster.
What do you think?
EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention in regard to the studies showing health benefits for chlorella is that they are all relatively short-term studies. By this I mean I can't find any that exceed a few years. If the above study is correct, the negative effects of chronic chlorella consumption could take much longer than this to manifest themselves. Parkinsons, the above mentioned neurodegenerative disease, average age of onset is about 60 years of age.
asked byMr_T (120)
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on April 02, 2015
at 12:00 AM
I found on Wikipedia (Chlorella # Health Concerns) that the LPS in Chlorella is of a type that doesn't cause inflammation and that it contains a peptide, known as Chlorella-11, that inhibits the inflammation. Seems to be safe to use or isn't it?
on March 18, 2013
at 04:34 PM
"This makes sense because chlorella's cell wall has to be mechanically broken down in order for the algae to be digested by humans so this was certainly not a food for our ancestral humans"
Nuff said in regards to it being Paleo really
Spirulina would be more acceptable in my opinion, i heard a report where members of a tribe were eating spirulina straight out the lakes, i've seen bear gryls do it aswell! I've heard that pretty much the only difference is that spirulina has more protein, and doesn't need its cell wall cracked.
Ive heard reports about people taking chlorella in moderate amoutns daily & ending up stinking out their offices with putrid BO, kinda put me off
on March 18, 2013
at 10:03 AM
Thank you for this. I took heaping tablespoon of chlorella, daily for years until a few months ago, along with many other "superfoods". Since paleo, I have found that when these supplements ran out, I would just fail to reorder them...maybe I intuitively felt like I was getting enough nutrition from my new primal diet. The habit of chlorella is definitely leftover from my vegetarian days. (It has some nutrient that is hard to get from non-meat sources...though I can't remember which one.) I only took Source Naturals brand, which I have believed is a trust-worthy company.
I also remember the Cell-Tech algae-peddlears from the mid-nineties, and how only their (much more expensive) algae was somehow the best (it was from Klamath Lake, OR). They said that Native Americans ate this traditionally, but if memory serves, it turned out to be somewhat toxic. Also Cell-Tech was a multilevel-marketing company.
Now I am worried that I was poisoning myself all those years.