Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Concepts that at first appear bizarre may later seem obvious.
One such idea is that we evolved in an environment rich in vitamins and omega 3s, but that they are not nearly as available from our modern environment.
Another is that our bodies evolved to use electrons from vitamin C and elsewhere, and that a lack of usable electrons may effect our health.
Inflammation and Electron Donors
It is now widely accepted by mainstream medicine that inflammation is a prime cause of a wide variety of diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, strokes, alzheimers and autoimmune disorders.
Inflammation is largely caused by too many "free radicals" in the body. A free radical is not a protesters who has gotten out of jail, but simply any atom or molecule that has a single unpaired electron in its outer shell.
With a single electron, free radicals are voracious "scavengers", stealing electrons from healthy tissues, and thereby damaging them.
"Antioxidants" are literally "anti-oxidation". "Oxidation", in turn, is defined as:
The loss of electrons by a molecule, atom or ion.
Free radicals "oxidise" - i.e. steal electrons from - important constituents of our bodies such as "lipids" ... i.e. good fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins, etc. which we need to stay healthy.
One of the primary ways antioxidants protect against free radicals is by donating an electron to the free radical, so it no longer acts as a hungry scavenger stealing electrons from our tissues.
As Richard Bowen - professor of Biomedical Sciences at the Colorado State University notes:
In other words, many antioxidants donate an electron, thus neutralizing the free radical. They temporarily become radicals, but then are taken care of without causing any harm to us.
Life on Earth evolved in the presence of oxygen, and necessarily adapted by evolution of a large battery of antioxidant systems. Some of these antioxidant molecules are present in all lifeforms examined, from bacteria to mammals, indicating their appearance early in the history of life.
Many antioxidants work by transiently becoming radicals themselves.
One important antioxidant is Vitamin C. As the Journal of the American College of Nutrition notes:
Vitamin C is an electron donor, and this property accounts for all its known functions. As an electron donor, vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant in humans.(Most mammals make their own vitamin C. But humans - like monkeys, guinea pigs and bats - can't. We have to get it from food or supplements.)
Well-known antioxidants like flavanoids are powerful electron donors as well.
Interestingly, melatonin is also a powerful electron donor. See this and this. Our bodies produce melatonin when it is dark. Some doctors - like Geraldine Mitton - claim that lack of sleep (and not enough exposure to dark) interferes with melatonin production. If true, this might be one reason that sleep is important to health.
So reducing free radicals - and thus reducing disease-causing inflammation - is largely a matter of getting enough electron-donors into our bodies to neutralize the free radicals. (However, it is an overstatement to say - as many alternative health promoters do - that all antioxidants are electron donors. In fact, some antioxidants work through enzymatic action by preventing the formation of free radicals in the first place, by disrupting harmful biochemical processes, or by blocking free radicals from getting at healthy tissues or by physically carrying them away like a bouncer escorting an unruly guest.)
Antioxidants don't just come from fruits and vegetables. Several amino acids - the basic building blocks of life - are powerful antioxidants. These include glutathione, cysteine, tryptophan, and methionine).
We Use Electrons to Produce Energy
So again, a ready supply of electrons is important for health.
Our Modern Environment
In other words, while omega 3s have just now been discovered by modern science, we evolved to get a lot of omega 3s ... and if we just eat a modern, fast food diet without getting enough omega 3s, it can cause all sorts of health problems.
So something just discovered by science can be a central fuel which our bodies evolved to use.
The same is true with antioxidants and electrons. We evolved eating foods which were high in vitamins and minerals, including foods high in electron donors.
But as the Journal Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology notes:
With soil depletion, overfarming and transportation of foods over hundreds of miles with loss of nutrients en route, together with the increased use of convenience and fast foods, women can be over-fed, but under-nourished in our modern society.
The Nutrition Journal points out:
In 1927 a study at King's College, University of London, of the chemical composition of foods was initiated ... to assist with diabetic dietary guidance. The study evolved and was then broadened to determine all the important organic and mineral constituents of foods, it was financed by the Medical Research Council and eventually published in 1940. Over the next 51 years subsequent editions reflected changing national dietary habits and food laws as well as advances in analytical procedures. The most recent (5th Edition) published in 1991 has comprehensively analysed 14 different categories of foods and beverages. In order to provide some insight into any variation in the quality of the foods available to us as a nation between 1940 and 1991 it was possible to compare and contrast the mineral content of 27 varieties of vegetable, 17 varieties of fruit, 10 cuts of meat and some milk and cheese products. The results demonstrate that there has been a significant loss of minerals and trace elements in these foods over that period of time.
Scripps Howard News Service noted in 2006:
The nutritional content of America's vegetables and fruits has declined during the past 50 years -- in some cases dramatically.
Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas, said that of 13 major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the Agriculture Department from 1950 to 1999, six showed noticeable declines -- protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C. The declines ranged from 6 percent for protein, 15 percent for iron, 20 percent for vitamin C, and 38 percent for riboflavin.
"It's an amazing thing," said Davis, adding that the decline in nutrient content has not been widely noticed.
Many other studies have reported ongoing soil depletion around the world.
Additionally, as Science Daily reported in 2002, research shows that organic oranges have more vitamin C than conventional oranges.And many people eat highly processed foods in which most antioxidants have been destroyed.
So - just as with the low levels of omega 3s - there might be less antioxidants like vitamin C in the modern diet than the levels we evolved to run on.
Other Sources of Electrons?
As Wikipedia notes:
It had been long known that continuous electric currents flowed through the solid and liquid portions of the Earth,
Specifically, the Earth has a net electric charge.
The Canadian Forest Service writes:
The Earth is electrically charged and acts as a spherical capacitor. The Earth has a net negative charge of about a million coulombs, while an equal and positive charge resides in the atmosphere.
Why does the Earth have a net negative charge?
For several reasons, but mainly because of the large number of lightning strikes which occur every day. Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist Forecaster for the National Weather Service notes:
When you include observations of weather over the whole earth, you get some pretty amazing numbers. Here are a couple-(David R. Cook of the Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Section of Argonne National Laboratory clarifies that 20 of the lighting strikes per second - equaling 1,728,000 flashes to the ground per day - actually hit the ground).Number of thunderstorms occurring at any given time: 2000
Number of lightning strikes over the earth per second: 100
What does a negative electric charge have to do with our health?
Well, electrons carry a negative electrical charge. In other words, since the Earth has a net negative charge, it means that it has an abundance of electrons.
(Indeed, the first telegraphs were apparently built by harnessing the negative electrical charge of the Earth.)
It is well-known that humans and animals have many electric currents inside of us, and that we interact with electric fields and electric currents outside of our bodies. For example, the pumping of our hearts is driven by an electrical system, and EKGs measure the electrical activity in our heart:
The [EKG]works mostly by detecting and amplifying the tiny electrical changes on the skin that are caused when the heart muscle "depolarizes" during each heart beat.Electrocution can kill by disrupting the heart's electrical system.
Our brains are also largely electrical systems, and EEGs measure electrical activity in our brain:
Electroencephalography (EEG) is the recording of electrical activity along the scalp produced by the firing of neurons within the brain. In clinical contexts, EEG refers to the recording of the brain's spontaneous electrical activity over a short period of time ....Both EKGs and EEGs use sensors on the outside of our bodies (on the skin) to measure electrical activity occurring inside our bodies.
Some animals can directly sense electric currents and electric fields of their prey, or produce electricity to stun or kill their prey. As About.com notes:
Electric fields are used in numerous ways by animals. Electric eels and some rays have modified muscle cells that produce an electric charge strong enough to shock and sometimes kill their prey. Other fish use weaker electric fields to navigate murky waters or to monitor their surroundings. For instance, bony fish and some frogs have a lateral line, a row of sensory pores in the skin, that enables them to detect electrical current in water.The California Academy of Sciences points out:
Sharks are almost as precise as the best physics laboratories in the country when it comes to sensing tiny electric effects. They can use this "sixth sense" to find food and even mates, since all living animals create their own electric fields. When a fish swims, or even moves its gills, it creates a change in the surrounding electric field that sharks can detect ....There are many other examples of our interaction with electromagnetism.
Some modern scientific studies claim that physically touching the Earth - by walking barefoot, laying on grass, etc. - reduces inflammation, stabilizes basic physiological processes, and reduces some disease. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.
Cardiologist Steven Sinatra, Gaetan Chevalier (a doctor of engineering physics and visiting researcher at the Developmental and Cell Biology Department, University of California at Irving), James Oschman (a PhD in biological sciences and member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Foundation for Alternative Medicine in Washington, D.C.), Hugh Semple (a veterinarian with a PhD in pharmacokinetics, and study director at a branch of Canada’s Alberta Research Council that conducts research, toxicology and safety assessment testing for pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical companies) and others have a novel theory for this alleged effect.
Specifically, they believe that humans evolved to utilize the negative electrical charge from the Earth just like we evolved to utilize omega 3s from natural game and fish, and vitamin C from citrus fruit.
For example, they theorize that our inflammatory response is out of whack because humans evolved in an electron-rich environment - with a lot of skin contact with the soil and grass - but that our constant use of rubber-heeled shoes and insulating materials in our houses and office buildings means that we are cut off from the Earth's electrical reservoir.
They theorize that our body's reactions to free radicals evolved in an electron-rich environment (we walked barefoot or in leather shoes which conduct electricity, and mainly slept on the ground) and that now we have lost an important mechanism for reining in free radicals: a large reservoir of electrons from the Earth. They admit that this is only a theory, that it has not yet been verified, and that they might be wrong.
Indeed, as far as I know, no Western scientist has yet attempted to directly measure whether electrons from the Earth's negative electrical charge actually move into our bodies or - if they do - if they are in a usable "form" for our bodies. (I mention "Western scientists" because Chinese medicine practitioners are all taught as an "obvious" fact that energy from the Earth enters the human body through the K1 acupuncture point and other locations, and effects our health).
But it is such an interesting theory that it is worth the effort to verify or disprove it with further scientific research. Whether or not their particular theory pans out, it is beyond doubt that "energy medicine" - medicine which focuses on the electrical components of our bodies and their interactions with energy currents and fields and electron-donor foods - is a rapidly growing field of medicine, which will produce many effective health treatments in the future.