YOU MAY HAVE HEARD IT HERE FIRST
A brief summary of some of the subjects covered during the first day of a two-day seminar by NOHA Honorary Member Beatrice Trum Hunter at the Randolph House in Peoria, Illinois, May 14 and 15, 1999. The lectures were for the Human Ecology Study Group, which was founded in the 1960s by the patients of the late Theron G. Randolph, MD, who was a founding member of NOHA’s Professional Advisory Board.
Chaos is Healthy
Usually, when we think of chaos or of a chaotic situation, we think of something that is awfully awry and disturbing. However, in 1970 Benoit Mandelbrot of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology presented the "Theory of Chaos," in which an initial condition can produce more and more complex results, often very beautiful. We can examine smaller and smaller parts of the developing patterns—always exceedingly complex—and, according to the theory, this increasing complexity proceeds to infinity. An essential aspect of the theory shows that tiny differences in initial conditions can give widely divergent results.
The Theory of Chaos has been applied in many fields, including economics, stock market fluctuations, mapping of flooding, and human health. In fact, it has been applied so widely that scientists now say that there have been three scientific breakthroughs in the twentieth century:
1) Einstein’s Theory of Relativity,
2) Quantum Theory in Physics, and the
3) Theory of Chaos.
In the field of human health chaos theory has been applied in many fields, including cardiology, neurology, psychiatry, immunology, and epidemiology. Actually, chaos provides a healthy flexibility to the heart, brain, liver, and other systems of the body, whereas loss of this innate variability and a more orderly state with just periodic fluctuations signals an impaired and unhealthy system.
For example, a normal brain is much more chaotic than a brain that is undergoing seizures. The firing of brain cells becomes very regular and very periodic during any episodes of seizures. This regularity can actually lead to seizures—a very strange notion indeed—topsy turvy to what we have come to accept. However, in actuality, the normal brain is in a state of readiness to take in new stimuli and to sort things out and it can function much better if it is in a state of chaos. The background neural activity needs to switch rapidly from one pattern to another. Without the background chaotic state the brain is unable to perform this wonderful and rapid switching function.
We think of our heart beat as regular. Actually, a healthy heart is not regular, hourly, by the minute, or even by the second. There are variations. We need to have variability and a pacemaker with none, which simply gives periodic stimuli, can be a problem.
Leukemia patients have a very much lower than normal level of the white blood cells, which fight infection. The level of these cells fluctuates cyclically, which represents a loss of chaos. In contrast, healthy people have chaotic fluctuations in their white blood cell levels.
Laboratory experiments on pituitary cells show that healthy cells respond to the chemical orders from their natural regulators, but tumor cells do not. The tumor cells are locked into a fixed rhythm.
In regard to muscle activity, an illustration from soldiers marching is illuminating: When a platoon of soldiers approaches a bridge they "break step" and no longer march as though on parade because a march in unison could resonate with the bridge and cause it to collapse. Similarly, if muscle cells synchronize they can produce tremors and uncontrolled tics.
The aging process, too, may involve a loss of variability; the young body is more chaotic than the older one. Some scientists claim that chaos is the key to health, a formula for feedback among all the many systems that function in the body. They suggest that disease is the breakdown of chaos.
Fats and Oils that Are Healthy
We are in a period when we are told by many so-called experts that "Fats are bad" and we must reduce them in our diet. Actually, certain fats are absolutely essential for our health. Hunter asked us, "What food is the best source of fats and oils?" Nobody got the answer, which is, "Nuts!" Nuts in the diet come from Paleolithic, stone age times. When they are mentioned now, most people say, "Oh, I mustn’t eat nuts, they are full of fat!" Of course, they are and it’s good fat, predominantly monounsaturated. Nuts are a very basic food: dense with protein, fat, trace elements, and vitamins. Hunter pointed out to us that nuts are very useful in reducing obesity. They are consumed happily since they are so delicious. Consequently, people can stay on a diet eating nuts every day whereas they usually hate the awful-tasting, low-fat diets. Nuts are dense with nutrients, are slowly digested, and result in hours of satisfaction; in contrast to the pastas and other grain products that are tremendously emphasized in the current diet recommendations from the governmental "Food Pyramid." Grains are quickly digested and often converted in the body to saturated, storage fat. Then the unsatisfied person wants to eat more food and continues to gain weight.
Nuts are high in the amino acid L-arginine, which is a precursor of nitric oxide, "a really sexy subject" that will be dealt with later. Nuts do not contain all the essential amino acids so other elements of the Paleolithic diet, which do contain complete proteins, need to be included.
Nuts should be kept in the freezer and carefully wrapped to exclude air and to prevent rancidity. Hunter has found a few shelled Brazil nuts in each lot to be rancid. She says she always takes only one at a time in case she must spit it out. She has read that people are advised to get Brazil nuts in the shell for freshness. Of course, they are hard to crack. We laughed sadly at that situation. Some people are allergic to particular tree nuts so, of course, they need to avoid that kind of nut.
Hunter dealt with the Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids, their food sources, the lack of Omega 3s in the American diet, and the exceedingly beneficial health effects of getting our Omega 3s, plus the deleterious effects of the trans fatty acids produced by hydrogenation and the "hardening" of oils. In many articles in NOHA NEWS, we have dealt with all these subjects. Please click to the listing of articles in our new NOHA web page, www.nutrition4health.org.
Hunter told us about conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is found in beef, lamb, whole-fat milk, butter, cheese, goat cheese, and whole-fat yogurt. Farming practices fundamentally affect CLA, which is produced abundantly by bacteria in the animal’s lumen, when it is fed grass, but not when just on commercial feed. There is a lesser amount of CLA in poultry, pork, and fish. CLA inhibits the growth of tumors in mammary glands and stomach cancer and skin cancer in animals.
Leptin is a newly discovered protein that is secreted by fat cells in response to fat storage. Actually, it functions as a new hormone. With fatty weight gain, leptin acts upon the hypothalamus in the brain to decrease appetite and increase the body’s metabolism. Breast milk contains leptin so that it probably affects weight control in young children. Formulas do not contain leptin. Leptin is related to the immune system. Our helper t-cells contain leptin receptors.
In fat people, malfunctioning seems to take place. It has been found that in obese people, their fat cells actually secrete more leptin, causing serum levels of leptin to be an average of four times higher in obese individuals compared with their non-obese counterparts. This indicates that a major cause for obesity is a relative insensitivity of the brain to leptin. Obesity also often involves insulin resistance and diabetes—when the hormone insulin does not adequately perform its function of clearing blood sugar. The large abdomen—so-called apple shape—is related to leptin and, of course, to cardiovascular risk. Hunter states, "I wonder if this [malfunctioning of hormones] is related to hormone disrupters?"
Over the years there have been many disturbing observations in wildlife and in humans but only recently has the unifying cause been recognized—hormone disrupters. A few of the observations are:
None of these effects fits acute or chronic toxicity as such. Theo Colborn, PhD, Senior Scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, read thousands and thousands of studies and finally realized that it is the whole hormone system, which is being affected. She spoke with and gathered scientists from many fields, who had been working alone, and they published a powerful consensus statement (See NOHA NEWS , Spring, 1993). In addition to co-editing a book that compiles illuminating scientific research, she was the lead author of Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival?—A Scientific Detective Story. Like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Our Stolen Future provoked horrible denials. However, more and more confirming information keeps coming out. Our government set up a committee requesting advice on testing for "endocrine disrupters"—a tiny step.
The field of toxicology is not prepared for dealing with this problem. Toxicologists do not test for changes in behavior and learning ability, nor for hormone disruption. They are not set up for testing combinations of things—only for one thing at a time. Most important of all, some of these substances have profound effects at amazingly low levels. Sometimes the effect at an extremely low level is much worse than at a higher level—the homeopathic principle.
Rachel Carson’s findings rattled the whole pesticide industry and perhaps some others in the entire chemistry industry who saw problems with their products down the line. However, the dangers of endocrine disrupters really rattle many more groups, in addition to pesticide producers, because endocrine disrupters are being found in many more consumer goods, including products of the huge plastics industry. Dental sealants may seem like a small human impingement but the sealants affect both adults and children intimately. There is no end to this!
Nitric oxide (NO) is a very reactive, noxious gas, which is an environmental pollutant. Interestingly, in 1970 it was discovered simultaneously by a number of researchers that NO is produced in our bodies from the amino acid L-arginine. It is a biological messenger, which, being tiny, can diffuse through cell membranes. NO has essential functions in every organ and every system in our bodies. It modulates blood pressure and dilates blood vessels. Thus, it is important for sexual stimulation. Penile erection involves release of NO and certain enzyme stimulation that causes smooth muscle relaxation. The wildly popular drug for males, Viagra®, acts by inhibiting another enzyme, which can degrade the smooth muscle relaxing enzyme. Thus, Viagra® enhances the action of NO on penile erection.
Acting in the immune system, NO attacks a wide variety of disease-causing microbes making them go into suspended animation so that they cannot replicate. NO destroys the tuberculosis bacterium and guards against the ravages of malaria.
In stroke victims NO can have deleterious effects by causing additional cells to die. On the other hand, Hunter gives many examples where the judicious use of NO can save lives.
As the author of many books on food issues and as the food editor of Consumer Research Magazine, Beatrice Trum Hunter is a world-renowned authority. When she speaks of all the ways in which our food, water, and air can be and is contaminated, she laughs and says we can’t just stop eating food, drinking water, and breathing air! She advises us to choose as best we can where we are and then to relax and enjoy ourselves!
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXIV, No. 4, Fall 1999, pages 1-3.