In the beginning was the Word, and the Word choreographed an assembly of amino acids into an exquisite array of specific proteins. Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” In so doing God demonstrated a penchant for genomic writing, preceded by an amazing series of prebiotic events, in a highly orchestrated presentation of evolutionary overcontrol.
Molecular biology speaks volumes that are beyond anything conceivably produced by either magic matter or magic man. It reflects the wisdom manifest in all of creation. It is a foretaste of life’s logos. Logos spermatikos (the generative principle of the Universe), logos prophorikos (the uttered word), and logos endiathetos (the word remaining within) are all represented in the genomic “Book of Life”.
Nucleic structures reveal the combinatorial nature of protein synthesis. There are two types of polymers found in all living cells. Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) is found primarily in the nucleus of the cell. Ribonucleic Acid (RNA), while synthesized in the nucleus, is found external to the nuclear membrane of the cell (in the cytoplasm). DNA contains the genetic codes to make RNA. The RNA, in turn, then contains the codes for the primary sequence of amino acids to form polymer chains called polypeptides.
These polypeptides are folded to make globular or fibrous biochemical compounds that facilitate a biological function. Such biochemical compounds are called proteins. Proteins participate in virtually every process occurring within cells. Because each protein fulfills a specific function, there must be a good fit. This is achieved, primarily, through the proper sequencing of amino acids, to support the precise rubrics of polypeptide formation.
The determining factor for this “good fit” often hinges upon our choices of what to ingest from within the range of animal, vegetable, and mineral sources. The right combination will not only inhibit disease but will also promote mental and physical health. Animals (including humans) cannot synthesize all the amino acids they need for good sequencing and must obtain essential amino acids from food. Through the process of digestion, we break down ingested protein into free amino acids that are then used in metabolism. Animal protein must be fit for purpose, synthesized in a species specific way. When we obtain too much of it directly from other animal sources, thus bypassing the soil/plant medium, it may not contain all the chemical components required by our complex human machinery. Some of our biological macromolecules can only be obtained through vegetable or mineral sources.
Of course these vegetable sources require their own resources. Healthy, nutrient rich plants can only stem from healthy, nutrient rich soil. Such soil will contain a high microbial biomass. Foods gathered in the wild, if the land has not been influenced by humans will naturally be in balance. Biodynamic farming and integrated pest management can also produce rich, healthy foods. In this scenario the ideal ratio of pests to beneficials occurs naturally. This is in contrast to the whack-a-mole approach characteristic of chemical applications and artificial genetic modifications that are often unintelligent, unconditioned and uncontrolled. The never ending game of targeting specific proteins is, in the long run, an exercise in futility.
Active soils, that are in balance, provide superior protection when compared to the sterile soils that may result from the breakdown of genetically modified plants or repeated applications of pesticides and herbicides. Without the protection provided by nature’s balance, devastating infestations are usually just one mutation away from returning with a vengeance.
Living plants vary in both color and chemistry. The process of photosynthesis is unique to over three hundred thousand members of Kingdom Plantae. The crytoxanthins that give oranges their appealing color, the lycopene of red tomatoes, and the beta-carotene of yellow squash are collectively known as carotenoids, a subset of the group of chemicals known as antioxidants.
Because we do not perform photosynthesis, we cannot produce antioxidants. Certain plants with their appealing colors are designed to attract us so that we may partake of their healthful benefits. Many of us can easily obtain these valuable antioxidants from the beautiful array of fruits and vegetables now available in the marketplace. From them we gain the ability to defend against free radicals and the damage they may cause by destabilizing certain protein complexes and other essentials of biochemistry.
Free radicals are chemically reactive atoms, molecules, or ions with unpaired electrons. Some free radicals are necessary for life. They play an important role in a number of biological processes, including normal polymerization reactions necessary for protein synthesis. Also, the intracellular killing of harmful bacteria often involves free radicals.
One negative reaction involves polymer chains that are attacked by free radicals when the body is deprived of certain chemical compositions that help insure the health of our bodies. Free radicals can also participate in certain other unwanted reactions resulting in cell damage or cell death. These factors may contribute to the onset of cancer, strokes, coronaries, diabetes, autoimmune problems and other diseases. Even the symptoms of aging such as atherosclerosis can now be attributed to the free-radical induced oxidation of many chemicals essential to life.
Animal protein, for example, can create an acidic environment which suppreses the ability of the body to convert the vitimin D stored in the liver to the “supercharged” form (1,25 D ) used by the kidneys. Production of this essential metabolite is often impaired due to the decreased ability of an important parathyroid hormone to create and regulate kidney enzyme activity. Several cancers, autoimmune diseases, and a variety of other maladies thrive in the environment devoid of supercharged D.
Another example of protein misfits involves Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1) as a predictor of cancer. We make more IGF-1 when we consume animal foods like meat and dairy. When men also have low blood levels of a protein that binds and inactivates IGF-1 they will have 9.5 times the risk of advanced-stage prostate cancer. Animal protein causes the body to produce more IGF-1 which causes cell growth and removal to occur in an uncoordinated way, thus stimulating cancer development.
Food from animal sources is also responsible for a high cholesterol condition that favors the production of the beta-amyloid which accumulates as a plaque in critical areas of the brain. This condition has been linked to Alzheimer’s. A high cholesterol condition is also responsible for the build-up of a greasy layer of plaque composed of proteins, fats, and immune system cells on the inner walls of coronary arteries thus causing various forms of heart disease.
A high concentration of calcium and oxalate in the kidneys is used in the production of kidney stones. This concentration also occurs subsequent to the ingestion of animal protein. Kidney stones can abrade the tissues down stream from the kidneys. These streams contain the toxins removed by the kidneys for expulsion from the body. Such toxins that may be encapsulated or otherwise retained within lesions are another risk factor to consider.
So what’s a body to do? Start with good, unbiased information! The most comprehensive and scientifically sound nutrition study to date is The China Study. The prelude to this research involved a dying head of state and a collection of rats.
The first case occurred in the early 1970’s when the Premier of China, Chou EnLai, was dying of cancer. He mobilized 650,000 workers to survey 2400 Chinese counties (880 million citizens) and tabulate death rates for twelve different kinds of cancer. The survey was unique in that 87% of the Chinese population is comprised of the same (Han) ethnic group. The survey revealed massive variations in disease rates. The counties with the highest rates of some cancers were more than one hundred times greater than those with the lowest rates.
The second case focused on a high incidence of liver cancer in the Philippines. Laboratory experiments revealed a one hundred percent fatality rate from liver cancer for rats that were feeding on a twenty percent protein diet. All of the rats that were fed a five percent protein diet were cancer free over the course of the same study.
The survey in China showed a clear correlation to the more affluent areas and the population’s adoption of diets “rich” in animal protein. The Philippines study seemed to suggest that protein, in excess of what the body requires, feeds cancer. As all good scientists do, those conducting the laboratory experiment began to consider other reasons for the extreme correlation. They took notice of the fact that the protein ingested by the rats was casein, a substance that represents about eighty-five percent of the protein found in cow’s milk.
The time was then ripe for The China Study. Sixty-five hundred Chinese people across sixty-five counties participated in research conducted by Cambridge and Oxford Universities together with researchers from China. The Book by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II, MD describes the prelude, the methodologies, and the correlations in detail.
We live in an era where out of control health care costs, combined with low system performance, have serious repercussions. These exert stresses on every sector of society worldwide. It is clear that we must restore that lost art of medicine that depended as much on the patient’s nature of life as it did on symptoms. Knowing the chemistry and energy of the foods we consume should be priority one for personal health, healthcare practitioners and world leaders who would address the large scale problems.
Macronutrients are consumed in large amounts because the body needs these carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to meet its energy requirements. To maintain certain checks and balances, and to keep the body’s systems running smoothly, we also need a full complement of micronutrients. These Minerals, Vitamins, and Phytochemicals could be thought of as the MVPs ― the Most Valuable Players ― in keeping the body running well. For it is, when well maintained, a miraculous self-healing machine.
The Father of Modern Medicine, Hippocrates (460-357 B.C.), knew what all responsible individuals should now know. For he said, “He who does not know food, how can he understand the diseases of man?” The authors of The China Study said it best: “Food Controls Health . . . Give your body the right food and it will do the right thing.”
© 2013 Robert H. Kalk