What is chlorophyll?
Do you remember learning about chlorophyll when you were at school? Have a think back to biology lessons when plants were involved…remember what it is? Here’s a little refresher for you just in case; it’s the pigment within plants which absorbs the sunlight during photosynthesis. This absorption is then converted into energy. Chlorophyll generally exists within green plants and so we naturally consume it when we eat our ‘greens’, spinach, herbs, rocket, etc are all packed with the healthy little molecules.
The concept behind people drinking chlorophyll infused water and other beverages is that, just as it maintains the health of a plant, it can help to keep our body in check – when we eat it, it isn’t necessarily entering our system but within a liquid we can absorb it better. Chlorophyll is full of certain enzymes which, when ingested by us human folk, can provide a helping hand to our liver by detoxifying us as well as reducing any damage the liver may be suffering. In a nutshell it helps our liver to function more effectively.
Chlorophyll is a great antioxidant, and the word on the street is that it may also help to fight cancer, boost our immune system, and help with weight loss amongst other potential health benefits.
So how do these infusions work?
The reason we can’t absorb chlorophyll easily in its natural form (by eating plants) is because it is fat-soluble which means it takes much longer for our body to process. When you take a drink containing liquid chlorophyll it actually contains chlorophyllin (which is not quite as natural as you may have been led to believe) – a semi-synthetic supplement made with a mixture of salts which are derived from natural chlorophyll. It is water soluble and so we can absorb it faster and more efficiently, therefore delivering the potential benefits more rapidly.
What are the health benefits?
- Popular belief suggests that ingesting chlorophyll will help to promote a healthy gut, and gut health is high on the list of current wellness goals.
- Another more studied benefit is that chlorophyll can help to reduce sun damaged skin, reduce the severity of acne, and help heal wounds by neutralising bacteria.
- Chlorophyll also claims to be anti carcinogenic – which could assist in cancer prevention.
- Taking the chlorophyll supplement can aid in weight loss.
So do we try it?
Yet again, when it comes to dietary trends, the buzzword doesn’t quite have the same power in the scientific world as it does on the streets. There is little evidence to support the widespread claims that chlorophyll water cures all, it will not do us any harm (though there are potential side-effects such as abdominal cramping and green stools), however the good it does is hard to pinpoint or prove so I think it is best to not get too excited until further research has been carried out.
Most health nutritionists (those not promoting or selling chlorophyll water) will probably tell you that just drinking infused water once a day will not change your life, nor your health and that you need to follow a healthy regime and make some positive life changes towards encouraging good health rather than reaching for some expensive, supplement-charged water.
If it is gut health you are looking to improve then we would recommend following a varied plant-based diet route “Eating a variety of foods provides the gut a diversity of bacteria, along with other health benefits. Instead of reaching for the chlorophyll infused drink, pick different produce each week, aiming for something new to your taste buds and new to your gut,” says Melissa Majumdar, M.S., R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She also adds that “While vegetables containing chlorophyll have proven health benefits, taking chlorophyll separately has not been shown to affect our health, including our gut,” and “The Natural Medicines Database (which reviews the effectiveness of supplements and natural medicines, providing information on the validity of the supplements for certain conditions) at this time finds chlorophyll does not have enough evidence to demonstrate effectiveness for any condition; gut health is not mentioned at all.”
We would benefit far more by getting our fill of chlorophyll through our diet rather than through supplements. Even though they are fat soluble sources, eating a wide variety of greens (which come with a wide variety of additional healthful vitamins and minerals) such as spinach, swiss chard, parsley, broccoli, green cabbage, asparagus, and matcha green tea will provide you with a loads of health benefits not to mention vitamins and mineral necessary for a healthy gut.
There just isn’t enough evidence to suggest that chlorophyll in supplement form has any notable health benefit, so personally I wouldn’t rush out to buy any chlorophyll infused anything unless it comes in the form of a herb or vegetable!
Online diploma courses in Nutrition
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences we have eight courses in Nutrition. Why not get qualified and make a difference in your own life, and if your are a practicing holistic therapist, in your client’s lives. We are what we eat!
Our Nutrition Courses:
- Child & Adolescent Nutrition
- Ethical & Sustainable Eating
- Clinical Nutrition
- Advanced Nutrition
- Nutrition for Age 50 Plus
- Plant-Based Nutrition
- Sport & Exercise Nutrition
- Vegetarian & Vegan Nutrition
To see the full range of holistic health therapies we offer visit our A-Z course listing page where you will find more than 60 courses to choose from.