Chlorophyll Rich Food and Sunlight - Get Extra Energy from the Sun
Mammals that consume chlorophyll rich food can generate energy from sunlight
The conclusion is short and impressive - Animals who were fed chlorophyll rich diet AND exposed to sun, had higher levels of chlorophyll metabolites and ATP in their cells and tissues. In worms, consuming chlorophyll metabolites AND sun exposure also led to an extension in life span.
Chlorophyll is a green pigment, molecules, that is synthesized in chloroplasts of plant cells and gives plants their green color. A brush up on biology One of the differences between plant cells and animal cells is that some plant cells have organelles called chloroplasts that perform photosynthesis. These photosynthetic cells are present in green leaves, phytoplankton, and cyanobacteria.
Molecules of chlorophyll are synthesized within chloroplasts;
Chlorophyll molecules reside within thylakoids of chloroplasts. They absorb sunlight energy, mostly read and blue light, and transfer it down the chain;
The combination of absorbed sun light and water is converted into oxygen and ATP and NADPH, energy. This is the light-dependent step of photosynthesis;
Then chloroplasts use the combination of ATP and NADPH and additionally taken in carbon dioxide (CO2) and convert them into sugars, fatty acids, and amino acids. This is the light-independent step pf the photosynthesis.
Chloroplasts contain molecules of chlorophyll. Chloroplasts take water and most importantly for this discussion, sunlight, and with the help of chlorophyll convert them into oxygen and ATP and NADPH, then they additionally take CO2 and convert the before mentioned into sugars, fatty acids, and amino acids. The process is called photosynthesis. It happens in plants, and we used to think that this process of converting sunlight into energy only happens in plants, but not in humans (and animals).
In plant cells -
Chlorophyll molecules that capture sunlight energy are synthesized in the chloroplasts (from eight molecules of 5-aminolevulinic acid), and our human/animal cells do not have chloroplasts,
The sunlight captured by chlorophylls is converted into ATP inside the chloroplasts, which we, again, don't have.
Turns out we too can make energy of sunlight. Under certain conditions...
It has been however recently discovered that animal cells adapted to doing something else. When chlorophyll is consumed, our bodies digest it, converting into chlorophyll metabolites. Chlorophyll metabolites accumulate within cells of the tissues And then animal mitochondria (the energy producing organelle in our cells) can use the chlorophyll metabolites to increase its ATP production.
My thoughts - There decrease in energy production os one of the theories of aging. The standard or well known energy production is ATP produced in mitochondria from the nutrients (???)
The Blue Zones observation - not listed as a longevity reason by the Blue Zones' "discoverer", I and many people who follow my posts, noticed that all Blue Zones are located near the equator, which may mean warmer weather and/or more sunlight exposure year round. Combined with a high proportion of plant food, including leafy greens.
Why this matters - As we age, our ATP levels decrease. Increasing body of evidence suggests that increasing or maintaining energy metabolism may promote survival of older animals (and humans). Increased ATP levels allow energy-intensive cellular repairs and protein homeostasis.
We know that the chlorophyll in plants need light that is primarily in two color ranges - the 400-450 nm (nanometer -one billionth of a meter)"blue" end of the visible spectrum, and a slightly lower intensity in the 640-680 nm "red" end. In summer sunlight on a clear day, when the incoming light is a combination of direct rays plus atmospheric reflections, the spectrum most closely matches the absorption spectrum of chlorophyll. With both natural and artificial light sources, the "balance" between those ranges varies greatly. Click on a light source below to see an approximation of the spectrum. https://www.firstrays.com/bb1-1286570267-680/start/color_temp.htm
Chen Xu, 2014 -
We sought to elucidate the consequences of light absorption by these potential dietary metabolites. We show that dietary metabolites of chlorophyll can enter the circulation, are present in tissues, and can be enriched in the mitochondria. When incubated with a light-capturing metabolite of chlorophyll, isolated mammalian mitochondria and animal-derived tissues, have higher concentrations of ATP when exposed to light, compared with animal tissues not mixed with the metabolite. We demonstrate that the same metabolite increases ATP concentrations, and extends the median life span of Caenorhabditis elegans, upon light exposure; supporting the hypothesis that photonic energy capture through dietary-derived metabolites may be an important means of energy regulation in animals. The presented data are consistent with the hypothesis that metabolites of dietary chlorophyll modulate mitochondrial ATP stores by catalyzing the reduction of coenzyme Q. These findings have implications for our understanding of aging, normal cell function and life on earth.
There are only two studies on this subject. There are no human studies, only
We don't have human data on this topic. The studies were done on worms, then on mice. Why we think these findings are applicable to humans? We are talking about fundamental differences between plant cells and animal cells. Our 46 chromosomes inside DNA nucleus are different from animal chromosomes and hence overall genetic instructions. But besides differences in the genome, an animal cell is an animal cell with the same organelles performing the same functions. Your and my cells have the same organelles performing the same function as do cells of a cat, a mouse, or an okapi.
References and Literature
Xu C, Zhang J, Mihai DM, Washington I. Light-harvesting chlorophyll pigments enable mammalian mitochondria to capture photonic energy and produce ATP. J Cell Sci. 2014;127(Pt 2):388–399. doi:10.1242/jcs.134262 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6518289/
Zhang D, Robinson K, Mihai DM, Washington I. Sequestration of ubiquitous dietary derived pigments enables mitochondrial light sensing. Sci Rep. 2016;6:34320. Published 2016 Oct 12. doi:10.1038/srep34320 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5059631/
Study Conclusion - Maintaining Energy Metabolism promotes the survival folder animals Chaudhari SN, Kipreos ET. The Energy Maintenance Theory of Aging: Maintaining Energy Metabolism to Allow Longevity. Bioessays. 2018;40(8):e1800005. doi:10.1002/bies.201800005