Human beings constantly strive to be more than what we think we are. We look outside of ourselves for the next thing to make us smarter or younger, stronger or live longer. This yearning has given birth to the multi-billion dollar industry of nutritional supplements. We are subject to a continuous stream of advertising and information on the next great discovery. If you drink this berry juice from the Amazon you will live longer! Take this new antioxidant discovered in these roots from some exotic part of China!
What are we really discovering? That the fruits and roots and herbs and leaves that come from our Earth are good for us? These are not new discoveries. The discovery is that these foods are what we should be eating! From red wine to tobacco, amazing health-giving qualities can be found in any real food that we consume. The ancient civilizations like China and India have known this for hundreds if not thousands of years. Their diets have evolved to the point that their day to day meals are their medicine.
Let’s take the seemingly miniscule example of folic acid. Its name is derived from its source, foliage. One study after another has shown the incredible health-giving benefits of folic acid. To name a few: reducing the incidence of birth defects, reducing the incidence of lung cancer in smokers and several other types of cancer, reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease, and increasing fertility in both men and women. I can’t tell you how many women I have seen for infertility who became pregnant within a month of two of taking large doses of folic acid along with B6 and B12. Folic acid has perhaps a couple hundred biochemical functions in the body. One of the more interesting is its ability to turn genes off by giving up (donating) part of its chemical makeup known as a methyl group. (many other vitamins and substances do this as well).
In the emerging field of epigenetics one of the most mind-blowing experiments done to date was with Agouti mice. Scientists use a genetic strain of mice known as “Yellow Mice” which have a high risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity and reduced lifespan to study these very diseases. They discovered that when they fed pregnant “Yellow Mice” folic acid, not only did the offspring look completely different (leaner, brown-gray fur, etc) but even feeding the offspring the same disease-inducing diet as the “Yellow mice”, the offspring had lower incidences of cancer, obesity, diabetes and lived longer! This “new” strain of mouse was called the Agouti mouse even though it was genetically identical to its predecessor. Discoveries like these in epigenetics are forcing scientists to reconsider major theories like “nature vs. nurture” and certain mechanisms in the theory of Evolution.
On the flip side a few studies have come out recently showing that folic acid supplementation increases the incidence of some types of cancers especially in the prostate. We have to consider that everything in nature functions as part of the whole. When we eat green, leafy vegetables we receive not only folic acid but also an array of B vitamins and trace minerals which so often function with folic acid in the body. We also receive hundreds of plant chemicals that alter how our genes control our immune systems, detoxification pathways, etc. This is what we evolved with. The more we delve into the awesome intricacies of Mother Nature, we reach two realizations. (1)How little we know. (2) We already know everything because we evolved with it and are a part of it.
So what it the conclusion I am asking you to come to today? Is it that you should take more folic acid? Perhaps it’s not that taking large doses of folic acid is good for us. It’s that NOT consuming it in the amounts and forms that we evolved with is making robbing us and our progeny of our health and vitality. Imagine living before farming. What do you think you would eat in the springtime? Look around at what is emerging from Earth. What are you made of?by