The theory of a “detox” for weight loss, cleansing, and improved health has become a popular trend. This idea is based on evidence that indicates that diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with prevention of chronic disease (e.g., cancer). Certain phytonutrients (i.e., plant chemicals with bioactive properties) can bind carcinogens and thus inhibit cancer-causing effects. One of the plant-based compounds of interest is chlorophyll, thought to be potentially responsible for the observed benefits of fruits and vegetables. Chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic compound of water-soluble sodium copper salt, derived from chlorophyll; it is administered topically to treat wounds and taken orally as an internal deodorant (Feruzzi & Blakeslee 2007; Higdon, 2009).
Exploration of the detoxifying effect of chlorophyll in humans is limited, and most research has focused on commercial-grade sodium copper chlorphyllin. Animal studies have demonstrated that chlorophyll inhibited absorption of toxic compounds (Morita et al., 2001) and significantly reduced DNA damage in specimens with cancer (Breinholt et al., 1995; Simonich et al., 2007). Although researchers are optimistic about the use of chlorphyll for cancer prevention, at this time, there lacks strong evidence to support the use of chlorophyll as a detoxifying agent for humans. Detoxification diets have become increasingly popular, but the evidence-base is not strong for the effectiveness or necessity of detox diets. Our internal organs (i.e., kidney, liver, and colon) and our immune system function to excrete toxins, so extreme diet plans are not needed to flush toxic chemicals from the body. Detox diets typically result in weight loss due to their limited calorie content, which is sometimes so low that nutrient deficiencies and other negative side effects occur, such as low blood sugar, fatigue, dizziness and nausea.
A consistent eating plan containing whole foods without artificial ingredients can provide a nutrient-rich diet that promotes a healthy weight, functional colon, a reduced risk of chronic disease (Zelman, 2012). Rather than a quick fix detoxification diet, try to adopt a sustainable healthy diet that provides adequate calories per day, and is rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, beans, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats.
Breinholt V, Hendricks J, Pereira C, Arbogast D, Bailey G. Dietary chlorophyllin is a potent inhibitor of aflatoxin B1 hepatocarcinogenesis in rainbow trout. Cancer Res. 1995;55(1):57-62.
Higdon,Jane. Chlorophyll and Chlorophyllin. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. Updated June 2009. http://lpi.oregonstat.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/chlorophylls/#disease_prevention.
Ferruzzi, MG, Blakeslee, J. Digestion, absorption, and cancer preventative activity of dietary chlorophyll derivatives, Nutrition Research, Volume 27, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 1-12, ISSN 0271-5317,
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