What is this detoxing, healing, slimming and a cancer-preventing substance?
Chlorophyll is a type of plant pigment responsible for the absorption of light in something called photosynthesis in plants.
Chlorophyll is found in all green plants, the darker green the plant, the more chlorophyll it contains.
So plants like Kale, Silverbeet, Brocolli and Broccolini are up there in the top chlorophyll-containing vegetables. Vegetables such as beans, snow peas and cabbage, also contain chlorophyll, but not as much as their darker coloured counterparts.
While chlorophyll is totally natural, a similar semi-synthetic mixture called chlorophyllin is made in laboratories to be used in supplements, such as those marketed as “liquid chlorophyll.” These supplements have been in existence for more than 50 years and are commonly used to treat skin wounds, body odour, digestive problems and other health concerns with practically no side effects at all.
So why is it important for humans? Turns out, chlorophyll blocks carcinogenic effects within the body and protects DNA from damage caused by toxic moulds like aflatoxin, and other carcinogenic substances.
On a molecular level, the structure of chlorophyll is very similar to heme, which is a part of hemoglobin present in human blood. Heme which is what makes blood appear bright red once exposed to oxygen is bound to proteins forming hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to the lungs and other respiratory surfaces to be released into tissues throughout the body.
The primary reason chlorophyll is considered a superfood is because of its strong anti-cancer effects. Chlorophyll benefits the immune system because it’s able to form tight molecular bonds with certain chemicals that contribute to oxidative damage and diseases like cancer or liver disease. These are called procarcinogen substances, and some of the types that chlorophyll can help block include:
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in tobacco smoke,
- heterocyclic amine toxins found in meat cooked at high temperatures
- food-born toxins, including aflatoxin-B1, a type of dietary mould (also called a fungus) found in many grains and legumes, such as corn, peanuts and soybeans
- UV light that can cause skin damage in excess
- All forms of pollution found in city and suburban living
Chlorophyll aids in liver detoxification by protecting healthy cells and tissues by increasing phase II biotransformation enzymes. These enzymes promote optimal liver health and therefore the body’s natural elimination of potentially harmful toxins.
Aflatoxin-B1 (AFB1) grows in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains. It is regularly found in improperly stored staple commodities such as cassava, chilli peppers, corn, cottonseed, millet, peanuts, rice, sorghum, sunflower seeds, tree nuts and wheat as well as a variety of spices.
When contaminated food is processed, aflatoxins enter the general food supply where they have been found in both human and pet foods, as well as in feedstocks for agricultural animals. Animals fed contaminated food can pass aflatoxin transformation products into eggs, milk products, and meat. For example, contaminated poultry feed is suspected in the findings of high percentages of samples of aflatoxin-contaminated chicken meat and eggs.
It is associated with increased risk of liver cancer because it’s metabolised into a carcinogen that causes cellular mutations. In animal studies, supplementing with chlorophyllin at the same time as consuming high amounts of dietary AFB1 significantly reduced the amount of DNA damage that developed. This is especially important for people who consume high amounts of grains or legumes.
Chlorophyll slows down the rate at which harmful bacteria reproduce, making it beneficial for wound healing and preventing infections. Since about the 1940s, chlorophyllin has been added to certain ointments used to heal persistent open wounds in humans, such as vascular ulcers and pressure ulcers. It lowers inflammation caused by injuries or wounds, promotes healing, and even control odours caused by bacteria accumulation.
Regular consumption of large quantities of chlorophyll dramatically improves your skin. Skin gains a luminescence and glows as the body internally is clean and detoxified.
Another way that chlorophyll improves detoxification is by speeding up waste elimination, balancing fluid levels and therefore reducing constipation.
It also assists the gut to increase healthy levels of natural flora boosting the immune system. Preliminary research shows chlorophyll benefits the metabolism and increases the likelihood of success with weight-loss efforts.
A study released in September of 2013 determined that compounds containing chlorophyll might help suppress hunger. Twenty moderately overweight women were given test meals on three separate occasions one week apart — two meals with chlorophyll, one without. They reported reduced hunger following the meals containing the chlorophyll and blood tests showed stable blood sugar levels.
These results suggest chlorophyll should be considered as an effective way to manage hunger and promote weight loss.
Chlorophyll also assists with digestive health. Meals high in greens assist the body in assimilating animal protein as well as assisting the body to digest proteins. When our digestion functions efficiently, excess fats and unused food passes through effectively.
My husband and I personally find that the days we drink our green drinks, (known lovingly by my husband as “green sludge” ) we are fuller for longer, make better food choices and if we faithfully do this constantly, we loose weight dramatically – our only problems is we often do not take it for months due to lack of order in our mornings as the best time to take it is before breakfast, or instead of breakfast.
Chlorophyll creates an alkaline state in the body. When the body is alkaline, no bacteria can grow in it, meaning you stay in good health.
With the increased knowledge that gut health affects our immune systems and our mental health, chlorophyll is becoming as much a part of improving our gut health as probiotics.
Chlorophyll is good for your body from the inside out, literally. This includes body and fecal odours. Body odour can result from systemic deficiencies within the body. Stress and yeast conditions such as candida can produce a beer-like smell as the yeast can turn into sugar then into alcohol quickly in the body.
Lack of water to flush out toxins, will cause the body to smell, but add sugary foods, too much alcohol, and processed foods, and the body becomes toxic – so starts to smell. Regular drinkers of liquid chlorophyll or chlorophyllin never need to use deodorant!
Chlorophyll is found in green leafy vegetables, green algae such as chlorella, and spirulina. To up your chlorophyll intake, drink either 10 – 20 MLS per day of liquid chlorophyll in 1 – 2 litres of water, or make yourself a green smoothie containing lots of green organic vegetables, spirulina, or chlorella – the two algae will give it an extra boost of omegas and protein as well. Adding barley or wheatgrass is a great way to give it an extra green boost.
To give yourself a serious “green” fix every morning – mix your green veggies with any ‘Supergreens’ powder, available from health food stores pharmacies and supermarkets.
I like iherb for their chlorophyll liquids – they have a massive range to choose from and their prices are reasonable.
Or if you would like to do an intensive detox to assist your new healthy eating plan, or glowing skin program – taking 10 MLS of chlorophyll in purified water (not tap water) every morning will help you achieve this. After 2 days, you can up this to 20 MLS – 10 in the morning and then again 10 MLS at night. Ensure you drink at least 2 litres of water or more daily whilst doing this – or you will feel quite nauseous as it is a highly effective way to detoxify the body!