I have always been fascinated with green foods and particularly with their explosion onto the market over the last few years, so let’s investigate these further to discover the specific integral ingredients that make green foods so popular.
Not so long ago, green nutrition was reserved for those who were serious about their health, often idiosyncratic in nature. The incredible power of the internet and other forms of media are now constantly reminding us of the benefits of eating green foods such as green leafy vegetables and algae, as well as including green supplements such as Chlorella and Spirulina as part of our nutritional regime. But what is so special about green foods and supplements? Aside from their fibre content, green foods are a source of vitamins, minerals together with live enzymes that aid digestion and crucially a rich source of chlorophyll. They alkalise the body helping to alleviate many digestive disorders especially because our diets lean towards making the body acidic which results in numerous concerns such as poor nutrient absorption, reflux and even cardiovascular disease. The most notable property of green foods is their ability to detoxify the body of numerous types of toxins including heavy metals from environmental pollution and this property is attributable solely to chlorophyll and not to their nutritional content.
So what exactly is chlorophyll?
In the early 1900’s, chlorophyll was considered important in the alleviation of many common health concerns including ulcers, pain relief, skin disorders and even as a breath freshener. Together with numerous other herbs, chlorophyll was soon replaced by drugs and chemical antiseptics. However the explosion of green super foods on the market has led to a renewed interest in chlorophyll and it is worth taking at look at what chlorophyll is and what it can do for you.
Chlorophyll is the green pigment that gives leaves, seaweed, algae and vegetables their green colour. Chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and changes it into energy by a process called photosynthesis. At a molecular level, chlorophyll is almost identical to haemoglobin, the oxygen carrier in our blood which is why some people refer it as the “blood” of plants. The only difference between haemoglobin and chlorophyll is that haemoglobin has iron at the centre of the molecule whereas chlorophyll has magnesium. Hence chlorophyll is a great oxygenator within our bodies.
Benefits of chlorophyll
There is a reason why we are told to ‘eat our greens’ because as a general rule, the greener the plant, the richer it is in the oxygen-carrier chlorophyll.
As mentioned above, chlorophyll oxygenates our bodies. Its assimilation through the ingestion of plants and vegetables enables oxygen to be taken up efficiently by the red blood cells. Without sufficient oxygen, our bodies become sluggish because all the processes rely on the cells being sufficiently oxygenated. With insufficient oxygen, energy production is greatly diminished and our metabolism drops.
In 1931, the Nobel Prize Winner for physiology and medicine, Dr Otto Warburg established that oxygen deprivation was a major cause of cell mutation. Increasing our intake of chlorophyll rich foods or taking chlorophyll by way of supplementation definitely increases oxygen uptake by the cells of our bodies.
Additionally chlorophyll also appears to prevent the absorption of dioxins. So what are dioxins? Dioxins are pollutants found in many of the foods we eat. They are poisonous petroleum-derived chemicals that are produced when herbicides are manufactured or plastics burned. In animal studies, dioxins have been found to cause birth defects, miscarriages, cell mutation and are known carcinogens. They are readily absorbed into the body and stored in the fat cells of our bodies. Studies have found that chlorophyll-rich foods increase the excretion of dioxins.
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. Some chlorophyll is absorbed into the bloodstream during digestion. As the blood passes through the liver, chlorophyll promotes the liver’s cleansing and detoxification process by its action on the Phase II detoxification enzymes produced by the liver. Phase II is a process in which the liver uses enzymes to convert a toxic substance into a less toxic substance that is easily eliminated by the body. Additionally, chlorophyll appears to stimulate the regeneration of damaged liver cells. Bearing in mind the importance of liver cleansing, chlorophyll appears to be much more potent than traditional herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion and artichoke.
Chlorophyll also appears to increase circulation to all the organs of our body by dilating blood vessels. Specifically for the heart, chlorophyll helps in the transmission of nerve impulses that control contraction. The heart rate is slowed but the contraction strength is increased, improving the efficiency of the heart.
Chlorophyll is also an excellent colon conditioner which explains its frequent use with inflammatory bowel disorders such as IBS, colitis and diverticulitis. It helps to soothe and heal damaged and inflamed tissues in our intestines. Additionally, chlorophyll displays powerful antimicrobial properties helping to reduce the numbers of pathogenic micro-organisms including yeasts living in the gut. Since many inflammatory bowel disorders are linked to pathogenic bacteria and yeasts that flourish in the gut causing inflammation and toxin release, chlorophyll supplementation is of great value in controlling some of these concerns.
Our body is designed to work at an optimum pH of 7.35 which on the pH scale is slightly alkaline. Unfortunately, our diets are leaning towards creating an acidic environment. So what is wrong with being slightly acidic? From time to time, our bodies will lean towards being slightly acidic and this is perfectly fine as long as this is infrequent because we cannot all restrict our food choices or eat healthily all the time. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us have a diet that is constantly leaning towards acidity and I am very briefly going to explain what this is.
When food is metabolised or burned for fuel, it leaves a residue which will be neutral, acidic or alkaline depending largely on the mixture of foods we eat. So a diet rich in vegetables, most fruits and low in animal proteins will result in either a neutral ph or slightly alkaline residue. If you eat and drink combinations that create an acidic environment, then pathogenic bacteria and fungi begin to thrive resulting in numerous concerns including a compromised immune system. Additionally, creating an acidic environment results in the body having to go to great lengths to maintain its ideal pH level resulting in stress on all the tissues and processes within the body. Our bodies use calcium to act as a buffer to neutralise excess acidity and hence the body may even pull out calcium from the bones in order to neutralise this constant acidity resulting in weakened bone structure.
Chlorophyll is an excellent internal deodoriser. Instead of masking odours like deodorants do, it works from the inside out by getting rid of the odour causing toxins. Chlorophyll helps to relieve bad breath, body odour and perspiration odour. Chlorophyll is excellent at reducing faecal and urinary odours in patients with colostomies and urinary incontinence.
These are just some of the most common benefits of taking chlorophyll and many more exist. There is one distinct advantage of taking chlorophyll over medications or other green supplements, and that is that the environment that chlorophyll is manufactured in is not polluted since it is manufactured inside the plant or vegetable.
Chlorophyll from food or through supplements?
Chlorophyll is not water soluble and is unstable when extracted from plants such as wheatgrass making it vital to drink green juices quickly. The problem is that our bodies mostly work in an aqueous (water) environment which means that only a tiny proportion of the chlorophyll that our bodies get from the ingestion of green vegetables will ever be utilised because it is stored within fats. Using vegetables to provide us with a source of chlorophyll also present other problems. The poor state of our digestive system challenges the absorption of chlorophyll from foods and boiling vegetables for even a few moments can result in its degradation into an ineffective state. This basically leads us to the fact that supplementation is necessary in order to obtain the full benefits of chlorophyll, but again here we do have a problem. How can we ensure that the chlorophyll is made stable in a water based formulation in order to ensure maximum benefits from using this? There are many liquid chlorophyll supplements on the market and the one that I feel ticks all the problems mentioned above is Ultra Concentrated Liquid Chlorophyll by World Organic which provides nearly two months dosage from this little bottle.
This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.