When we look at the great diversity of life around us, it can be hard to imagine how something so beautiful and complex can depend so much on things that seem so simple and common to us as water, sunlight or the oxygen we breathe. . However, the truth is that without these elements, life as we know it on our planet would not be possible. One of the elements mentioned above, oxygen, would not exist to such an extent in nature without the emergence and evolution of a small pigment present in plants: chlorophyll.
This pigment is a vital component for the plant because it allows it to survive, and for us because it is largely thanks to it that photosynthesis takes place which has contributed to enriching our world with the oxygen we need to survive. . And not only that: several studies seem to indicate that chlorophyll, when added to our diet, can also have interesting properties that benefit our health. Throughout this article we will see a brief commentary on some of these aspects.
What is Chlorophyll
It is called chlorophyll to one of the most relevant types of molecule for the plant kingdom, being a capital pigment because it is only thanks to this element that plants can photosynthesize, Something fundamental for their survival. And not just for the plants themselves, but also for all the creatures that need oxygen to survive (including us), since this photosynthesis is what generates most of the oxygen we breathe.
Chlorophyll is found in the chloroplasts of different types of plants and algae, Be the main responsible for the greenish coloration that we capture in these beings. It is also possible to find it in certain bacteria.
Chlorophyll molecules are made up of a protein ring called porphyrin, which contains magnesium and is primarily responsible for capturing sunlight, and in turn a phytol (1 alcohol) chain that holds it in place. Membrane and has hydrophobic action. Its structure is reminiscent of and very similar to that of animal hemoglobin, Although, as we said, the main component of the nucleus is magnesium (instead of the animal’s iron).
In fact, although we generally think of chlorophyll as a homogeneous thing, the truth is that we can find different types of it, especially chlorophyll a, b, c (more common algae), dif (the latter two more typical of bacteria ). of which chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b are distinguished (which are those which give the green color to plants).
How does it work on plants?
The role of chlorophyll itself is to absorb sunlight and transmit it to the reaction center, in a complex photosystem in which elements like chlorophyll a (which is the only type of chlorophyll that transforms the light energy into chemical energy) which helped generate energy and organic matter, as well as oxygen.
The functioning of chlorophyll is as follows: the absorption by the molecule of a photon of light will bring the electrons that are part of it into a much more energetic and excited state, which can only remain in this state for a short time. before transferring excess energy to another molecule (A transmission that can end up generating which causes the energy to eventually reach the parts of the cell that photosynthesize), dissipating as heat or on its own emitting what we commonly call fluorescence.
Properties and uses in humans
Chlorophyll is a key substance for the survival of plants, as it allows them to take advantage of sunlight to photosynthesize and generate organic matter, nutrients and energy for the plant itself from the plant itself. carbon dioxide. But the truth is this pigment is not only beneficial for plantsBut several studies suggest (albeit with mixed results) that it has a number of interesting properties useful to humans. Among the properties most often cited, although the data is not entirely clear, the following stand out.
One of the best-known properties of chlorophyll is that it promotes good gastrointestinal health, promotes drainage and motility of the digestive tract, and helps protect the intestinal flora. More too it seems to facilitate the expulsion of heavy elements with toxic potential.
2. Antioxidant and healing
Another interesting property of this substance is its high content of antioxidants, which promotes the fight against free radicals and helps prevent cell damage and aging. In this sense, it is also used in anti-aging products. Furthermore its use in wound healing is common, Which seems to facilitate.
Various studies seem to indicate that in addition to being an antioxidant, chlorophyll helps reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines and to some extent reduce the effects of inflammation. In this regard, it can help treat intestinal inflammation or arthritis.
4. Contributes to good circulation
Another of the properties attributed to chlorophyll (although it is debated whether it is real or a myth), in part thanks to its antioxidant, purifying and anti-inflammatory potentialThis is to promote the proper functioning of the blood circulation.
Its magnesium content is said to help increase the production and improve the health of red blood cells, which in turn promotes oxygenation of the body. While there are doubts about the latter, if there is a bit more consensus that it helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides, which certainly promotes circulation and cardiovascular health and reduces blood pressure. probability of problems in this system. It also appears to help alkalize the blood.
5. Promotes coagulation
In addition to the above, this pigment is rich in vitamin K, a substance involved in the blood that can clot and helps control possible bleeding. This also includes that of menstruation, which helps to control.
6. Reduces bad odors
As can easily be seen in a large number of personal care products, chlorophyll is often used as a component. for making deodorants or even mouthwashes or oral sprays. Indeed, it is considered to have the property of reducing body odor, whether it is to fight against bad breath or the smell of sweat. It also appears to reduce the stench of urine and feces.
- Chermonosky, S .; Segelman, A. and Porets, R. (1999). Effect of dietary chlorophyll derivatives on mutagenesis and tumor cell growth. Teratogenic carcinogenic mutagen. 19: 313-322.
- Manrique, I. (2003). Photosynthetic pigments, little more than the capture of light. Ecosystems, year XII (1). [Online]. Available at: http // www.aeet.org / ecosystems / 031 / report4.htm
- Subramoniam, A., Asha, VV, Nair, SA, Sasidharan, SP, Sureshkumar, PK, Rajendran, KN, Karunagaran, D. and Ramalingam, K. (2012). Chlorophyll revised: anti-inflammatory activities of chlorophyll and inhibition of TNF-α gene expression by it. Inflammation, 35 (3): 959-966.