First – what exactly is chlorophyll?
Let us refresh your memory: chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants and algae. It absorbs energy from light in the process of photosynthesis, and it’s this energy that enables plants to grow and flourish. Any time you eat a green vegetable, you’re getting a dose of chlorophyll without knowing – particularly rich sources include spinach, parsley and watercress. For example, if you eat one cup of spinach, you’re getting around 24mg of chlorophyll, which is equivalent to around half a teaspoon of the liquid variety. However, unless you’re eating huge amounts of raw greens at every meal, it’s unlikely you’ll absorb the same quantity as you could via a supplement.
Why the recent buzz?
“At a molecular level, chlorophyll is almost identical to haemoglobin, the oxygen carrier in our blood, meaning chlorophyll can help oxygenate and bring energy into the body,” explains Shabir Daya, MRPharmS and co-founder of Victoria Health. “There’s a reason you’re told to eat your greens, because as a general rule, the greener the plant, the richer it is in oxygen-carrying chlorophyll,” he adds. “Without sufficient oxygen, our bodies can become sluggish, energy production is greatly diminished, and metabolism drops.” Shabir explains that most chlorophyll supplements contain a derivative called chlorophyllin, which is water-soluble and better absorbed by the body. Hence the proliferation of liquid chlorophyll supplements, which can easily be added to water.
Aside from boosting energy, what are the other benefits?
Because of chlorophyll’s blood health-improving powers, it’s believed it can also cleanse and detox the body at a cellular level. Here, Shabir shares some additional health benefits of the super green supplement:
IT HELPS ELIMINATE TOXINS: “Chlorophyll works during digestion to both detoxify the body of toxins ingested through foods as well as to detoxify the body of existing stored toxins. It also appears to stimulate the regeneration of damaged liver cells and appears to be much more potent than herbs such as milk thistle.”
IT COULD IMPROVE HEART HEALTH: “Chlorophyll appears to increase circulation to all organs of the body by dilating blood vessels. Specifically for the heart, it helps in the transmission of nerve impulses that control contraction. The heart rate is slowed but contraction strength is increased, improving the heart’s efficiency.”
IT CAN HELP WITH IBS: “Chlorophyll is an excellent colon conditioner, which can help with inflammatory bowel disorders such as IBS, colitis and diverticulitis. It can also reduce the bad bacteria in your gut.”
IT’LL MAKE YOUR BODY LESS ACIDIC: “The body is designed to work at an optimum pH of 7.35, which on the pH scale is slightly alkaline. Unfortunately, the modern diet often creates an acidic environment, which can make bacteria thrive. Chlorophyll is an alkaline substance and works to balance levels in the body for better health.”
IT CAN ELIMINATE ODOURS: “Instead of masking odours like a deodorant, chlorophyll works from the inside out to get rid of odour-causing toxins. It can help relieve bad breath, body and perspiration odour.”
Have there been any studies to prove it works?
Yes and no. Shabir says that in the early 1900s, chlorophyll was considered important in the alleviation of myriad health problems, including ulcers, pain relief, skin disorders and even as a breath freshener. But along with numerous other herbs, it was quickly replaced by drugs and chemical antiseptics. However, nutritionist Lily Soutter says there simply isn’t enough research to suggest chlorophyll water really does anything. “This green drink is far from a magic cure-all,” she tells SL. “Wild health claims have been made about these supplements, but there’s little evidence to support any of the benefits.” Lily also explains that liquid chlorophyll may be no better than simply taking the nutrient in capsule or powder form. “Historically, liquid chlorophyll has been used as a topical treatment for wounds, but there’s no clear research to suggest its more bioavailable in liquid form.”
If you want to give it a go, where should you start?
If you’re looking to reap the benefits of greens without piling your plate, Shabir recommends adding one dropper (around 1ml) to water or juice, and working your way up to around 5ml, or a teaspoon, daily. “Most people experience enhanced energy levels within a few days, with other benefits like clearer skin taking slightly longer,” he says.
So what’s the bottom line?
It’s always a good idea to eat a plant-rich diet that includes plenty of green plants that will not only provide chlorophyll, but also micronutrients and fibre, all of which are needed for optimal health. By all means supplement a healthy diet with liquid chlorophyll if you’re looking for a boost, but don’t rely on it as your sole source of greens. Even if you’re drinking your greens, don’t forget to eat them, too.
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DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.