New research emerges each year teaching that the immune, endocrine and holistic regulatory systems of the body are highly dependent on dietary nutrition and the gut microbiome. While staple foods made from seeds may taste great and be very economical to produce and transport, they have a particularly bad way of inflicting damage onto our biological systems. Consuming the toxins in seeds can eventually lead many people to various metabolic and immune disorders over time 1-4. If that isn’t bad enough, eating seed derived foods also erodes the bodies ability to counteract the physical damage caused by them. Ultimately eating grains, nuts, beans and oils from today’s market leads to chronic inflammatory processes running wild in various parts of the body. As we age, the problems can begin to compound in a vicious spiral, leading to many types of health decline. Often onset of associated symptoms is very rapid, mysterious, and not diagnosed effectively.
We define foods made from seeds as all grains, nuts, beans (legumes), and their oils. Unfortunately, medical science is far behind the curve on many new rapidly growing areas of nutritional biochemistry surrounding these foods. Instead, the health industry appears more preoccupied with developing and prescribing synthetic drugs to treat the inflicted symptoms rather than helping us to stay healthy in the first place. Simultaneously, the food industry pushes to affect regulatory laws that better allow our nutritional supply to be further adulterated, thereby exacerbating the problems. My last endocrinologist, whom I quit seeing some 10 years ago, literally tried to sell me “synthetic fish oil”. When asked why that was better than natural fish oil, no concrete answer came. This along with several other emerging factors caused me to begin to question the basis of internal medicine as a whole.
At Genesis BioHealth, we assign foods made from seeds into their own food group. We may as well call it the “really bad food group” for simplicity! We assign seeds to their own category because these foods are all bad for us to varying degrees. Unfortunately, they have become entrenched as staples in the standard diet of most people we observe in most countries we travel too. Foods from seeds dominate agricultural output in the modern world because they are very profitable for food, pharmaceutical, and medical industries. This was not true several hundred years ago, a mere blip in geological or evolutionary time. As a result of their economies of large scale production and distribution, seed based foods and their derivatives dominate the diets of many people today. Just because such foods are cheap, convenient and taste good, does not mean they are good for us, regardless of what their advertisements and political lobbies tell us.
As describe above, many families of aggressive chemicals intrinsic to seeds damage the body. Even worse, however, these same chemicals concurrently block the body’s innate ability to respond and repair itself from the damage. Such inflammatory potential is more widely recognized for refined sugar and other process chemicals added to food. In this article, we will highlight a lesser known family of emerging bad actors called “ATI’s.” ATI stands for amylase-trypsin inhibitors. These problematical compounds are intrinsic to most commonly eaten seeds and their derived foods like flour and oil which dominate commercial processed foods. Along with phytates, lectins and added glyphosate (the weed killer Roundup), seed based foods pack a powerful anti-health punch caused by many adverse and toxic chemicals as well as their general lack of nutrient density relative to other foods from the animal, vegetable or fruit groups.
While Gluten gets all the attention recently, most people are not advised of a few potentially more important things. Namely, that Gluten is only one problematical chemical found in the seed families biochemistry. Luckily, glutens themselves are found onlyin a few distinct grains, like wheat, rye, and barley. However, other less well-characterized families of aggressive health robbing proteins are contained by all members of the seed food group.
Seeds have unique properties allowing them to lie dormant for hundreds of years and resist the environment until the time is right for sprouting. Primarily the seeds ability to do these things demands some very specialized types of biochemistry that also interfere with human physiology. For a seed to lie dormant, it must first be able to halt its growth genetically so it can remain in a state of suspended animation until the time is right to sprout. Then, while the seed lies dormant, it must resist insects, bacteria, fungus, animals, heat, cold and time. These functions are accomplished chemically in a variety of interesting ways. In general, the complex biochemistries allowing the seed to hibernate make heavy use of a few families of aggressive and disruptive proteins. None of these proteins are good for gut, immune, endocrine or nervous function.
Recently evidence for the inflammatory attack beyond the gut from ATI’s in wheat has been clinically demonstrated. Furthermore, ATI’s are now known to be a strong component of what has previously been called “Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity”. In light of the state of the art, however, we believe a better name might be in order. This is because it is obvious that much more than gluten is involved. Inflammation and systemic immune dysfunction are known and demonstrated to go well beyond the GI tract. Amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATI’s) are a type of natural insecticide. Specifically, these compounds inhibit the action of mealworms and other insects. Unfortunately, ATI’s can also eventually degrade the human immune system, causing chronic inflammatory conditions to persist in many people. Chronic inflammatory attack by an over-activated and confused immune system contributes to the drain of critical nutrient resources and chemical energetics of the body. This constant waste of essential resources then subsequently leads to ongoing physical degeneration and associated health problems. Recently, studies have revealed that ATI’s can substantially contribute to chronic inflammation of the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen, and brain. Additionally, ATI’s are now more broadly implicated in other autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), asthma, lupus, metabolic disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
Don’t let the early studies give the impression that wheat is the only seed containing the problem compounds. Many seeds contain ATI’s. They also contain phytates, lectins and other physical and chemical properties that rob health over time. All the mentioned families of aggressive enzymes are categorized as “environmental resistance proteins.” These sorts of biologically active compounds are not good for health! Collectively, they disrupt and degrade human immune and restorative systems in many people, leading to sensitization and ensuing health problems. While some people are more resistant to these aggressive compounds than others, they are not good for anyone.
While we know it is hard to believe or accept, from a health perspective it is just better to leave the seed group alone altogether. For some people (like me) even a single cookie per week can maintain the chronic inflammatory cascade and systemically weaken the immune system. A single serving of certain seed based foods can interfere with internal processes for up to 5 days. This long life in the body means that long-term avoidance is often needed to see results on health metrics. While it was initially somewhat of a “leap of faith” because we had eaten such foods for most of our life, only after their complete elimination were we able to begin positively detecting the damage inflicted when re-introduced. Only after we had ceased eating these foods long enough for the inflammation in our GI tract to subside, along with all the other previously unrecognized symptoms of auto-immune distress (including blood sugar and blood pressure), could we recognize the issues they inflicted upon eating them again. Avoiding these foods altogether makes it easier to eat less toxic and more nutrient-dense foods instead, thereby giving the systems of the body enough nutritional resources to function properly without adverse chemical interference. Such actions help to maintain health over time. For more explanation of our dietary principles, see our “Six Tenets of Behavior Health” and “What We are Eating this Week” articles.
Junker Y, Zeissig S, Kim S-J et al.; Wheat amylase trypsin inhibitors drive intestinal inflammation via activation of toll-like receptor 4; J Exp Med 2012; 209(13):2395-408
Fasano A, Sapone A, Zevallos V et al.; Nonceliac gluten and wheat sensitivity; Gastroenterology 2015; 148(6):1195-204.
Schuppan D, Pickert G, Ashfaq-Khan M et al.; Non-celiac wheat sensitivity; Differential diagnosis, triggers and implications; Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol 2015; 29(3):469-76.
Savelkoul FH, van der Poel AF, Tamminga S; The presence and inactivation of trypsin inhibitors, tannins, lectins and amylase inhibitors in legume seeds during germination. A review.; Plant Foods Hum Nutr.; 1992 Jan;42(1):71-85.
In articles about magnesium, attempts to describe how important it is for health often reflect a few familiar paths. For instance, many articles will have text making statements along the lines of “over 300 different physiologies depend on magnesium”, to give a flavor of importance. We have used exactly such jargon in our writing more than once. While these statements are certainly true, they somehow seem to fall short in descriptive power. Explaining the benefit of supplemental magnesium is challenging. Magnesium enables so many essential processes in our physiology; it can’t be well described in any single forum. We feel this is particularly the case when considering the profound change it has had on our health and that of so many we know. For these and other reasons, we intend to dig a little deeper into one of the most fundamental mechanisms causing magnesium to have such a broad impact on health. To do this, we will look at how magnesium enables and underpins cellular energy usage and cellular metabolite transport. These are two of the most fundamental and widespread of magnesium’s many roles, and each is important to the entire envelope of our body’s function.
On top of many lists touting health benefits provided by magnesium, we often find descriptions claiming that magnesium helps deliver cellular energy. The energy gain phenomenon is so real and so powerful, to better describe it, we will now use a simple yet detailed chemical and mechanical model as a further means of framing the importance of magnesium status. By using this simple model we can look more closely at what “energy” really means to our body and how magnesium actuates it. We hope this article might help some to understand better a few of the most important roles magnesium plays at the foundation of our cellular biochemistry.
Please check out our premium collection of magnesium and other metabolic support complexes at Genesis BioHealth. Our products deliver therapeutic dosages of both magnesium and vitamin K2-MK4 in a convenient and flexible way as needs change over time. We use no fillers of any sort, and our products help the body replenish and maintain a few critical things needed to maximize potential. Our individual products make up a unique multi-part system of essential supplements that work together to support cellular function at the heart of metabolic and immune regulation. While these critical nutrients and minerals are known to operate together in multiple ways to achieve their impact, at the same time they have become difficult to get in a modern process food diet. For such reasons, lack of these vital nutrients affects the health of a vast number of unknowing people.
The chemical processes keeping us alive are very complex. In this article, rather than dive into technical jargon and details, we will instead try and draw broader analogies from easy to comprehend examples. Then to support the developed concepts with a video for visualization. First, though, we should realize that our body has to accomplish many billions of mechanical tasks each millisecond to continue its existence. With all these ongoing tasks to be potentially performed all the time, practical logistical concerns for raw material needs have a profound impact on our body’s ability to do things like breath, walk, think, talk, move, sleep, heal, defend, grow, digest, etc. In each of these biological processes, complex interactions must occur between multiple systems of our body. Each of these bodily systems is subsequently composed of multiple types of individual cells each having their own needs, magnesium being high on the list of shared resources, and simultaneously one of the hardest to get from diet alone.
To think or act requires logistics
Each of our movements, thoughts, or nerve impulses has a cost in terms of time, energy and a continued flow of chemical resources. Virtually every function in our body has these same physical limitations. A giant commonality of life is that for each cellular process accomplished, numerous resources must move back and forth across cellular membranes. The figure below shows a cartoon-like graphic of a cell membrane. All the colored blobs floating in the membrane are biological “machines”, each participating in specific life-critical functions. The makings for these molecular machines are coded for and controlled by our DNA and manufactured inside our cellular spaces. Either switches, triggers, ports or gates, when you get right down to it. All of these molecular machines need magnesium to be built, transported, operated and maintained. The eyes, ears, mouths and limbs of the cell, yet coming in the vast diversity of all nature’s most amazing wonders.
Many, or even most, of the material selectively allowed to “move” through the “walls” and “compartments” of a cell require a net input of mechanical and/or chemical energy. The majority of these specialized “channels” into the cells inner compartments have a gate-keeping function so that only certain things are allowed to pass selectively. The body accomplishes these complex microscopic mechanical tasks using an amazing ability to create seemingly unlimited arrays of very specific biochemical machines made from protein. We will take a closer look at the workings of one such gate-keeping channel below. Technically the channels going through the cell membranes are a class of compounds called “transmembrane proteins.” These large chemical structures are manufactured inside the cell from many types of smaller building blocks; many also being imported through such channels. Upon completion, the transmembrane proteins are transported to, and installed in, the “membranes” to which they belong by yet other dedicated cellular transport machinery. Once installed, the transmembrane proteins typically have different functions on the outside vs. the inside of the membrane. The blueprints, the manufacturing processes, the auxiliary support structures, and the regulatory codebook for these hordes of living machines are all stored in our DNA, deep inside the arcane processes of each cell.
Cells are like factories
While it may not be common to consider, each time we create a thought or action, a series of cells in our body starts manufacturing specific chemicals. After the chemicals are produced inside the involved cells, they are either used internally or often exported to interact with other cells in the body that need them. We give names to these manufactured chemical machines like hormones, neurotransmitters, metabolites, enzymes, factors, co-factors, cytokines, cell walls, ribosomes, integral membranes, and many other names. In the end, one of the most important things to realize is that our body has to manufacture all these different macro-chemical structures inside our cells using a long series of complex cellular machinery and processes. Because of the similar nature of all manufacturing processes, we can think of these miniature cellular factories as being very like a large integrated industrial complex we might see in any technological city. Every coordinated action in our body means biological factories go into action, somewhere deep inside our cells, to achieve current objectives. At least we hope they do! If they have enough magnesium, that is!
To manufacture anything, anywhere, be it in our cellular factories or a large industrial city factory, raw materials, their movement, their transformation, and energy are always required. For cells in our body, this means we have to move many varied resources from outside the cell, to the inside and vice-versa, all while excluding unwanted toxins or anti-nutrients. Once pumped inside a call, metabolites might get further tagged, routed and transported to other specific regions of the cell to fulfill their destinies. The orchestra of chemistry and its organizational complexity is nearly magical, especially since it has arisen amidst the surrounding chaos reigning at the microscopic thermophysical level.
After all the required building materials arrive at their final destinations, they go through a set of complex processes very much like an assembly line. The cellular manufacturing process starts with reading the DNA to get the required design template and ends with a newly folded protein or alternative piece of cellular machinery ready for shipping out to its final destination. The finished products of these intracellular factories must then be exported from the cell so they can be used and/or imported in turn by other cells. The process of exporting finished chemical products from inside a cell is called “secretion.” Whenever we think or act, lots of cells have to secrete things and also to digest things like neurotransmitters, hormones, or other chemical species, which then interact with other interconnected processes in various ways. The figure above shows a typical example of one cell secreting a hormone to be read by another cell’s receptors. In this way, factories in different regions can coordinate their actions to achieve larger, multi-system tasks such as turning over bone cells and scavenging calcium from soft tissues. Effective nutrient driven logistics and their regulatory biochemistry must function smoothly to keep the factories of our blood and immune chemistry functioning properly to better stem the tide of aging. The cellular receptors shown here are another type of transmembrane structure embedded in cell walls and involved in cellular communications.
Factories need lots of energy
All the manufacturing and secretion of finished products described above requires lots of “energy.” Commonly we are taught to think of energy from food as “calories.” Well, this isn’t very true in the end. On its own, a “calorie” is only a little measure of potential or existing heat. Heat by itself can’t do anything except flow to regions of less heat. To get work out of a process, we must couple the heat flow to mechanical machinery. It is just the same with molecules at the cellular level as it is for a machine in an assembly line of a factory. One of the most common forms of chemical energy our body uses to derive practical work is called “ATP,” or Adenosine Triphosphate. This little molecule, called a nucleotide, gets manufactured and destroyed over and over again in our bodies. Its job is to both carry and supply energy where it is needed. It is used as a vehicle to spread fuel around wherever it needs to go. When ATP gets where it is needed, it ultimately gets metaphorically burned for work, or at least a part of it does. Just like a gasoline distribution system, starting in a refinery and ending in our cars engines, our body makes lots of ATP in specific locations and allows it to spread through our body to get used. Most ATP is used quickly, however, so it usually doesn’t spread too far.
Here is where magnesium finally comes in. For ATP to deliver energy and achieve work, it must join to magnesium. Meaning these two chemical species must bind together to form a single unit, called a complex. This complex has a very special shape and electrostatic charge pattern allowing it to fit tightly into special activation pockets wherever it is to be used like a key into the keyhole of a lock. An ATP molecule, by itself without magnesium, can’t be used to create any work because it won’t have the correct shape or charge distribution. If a person is low in magnesium, their body will spend excess resources and energy making ATP which will then just float around uselessly until it meets a lonely magnesium ion. On the other hand, if we have more free magnesium in our cells, we can use ATP more quickly because the ions are more plentiful and the ATP can easily find a magnesium when it is needed. Having more energy and using it more efficiently means we can accomplish more tasks in the same time frame. Being able to spend more energy units in the same time frame allows our body to multi-task more effectively. Providing our body with a better ability to chemically multitask can have many significant and practical impacts on life and health. As an example, enough magnesium might better allow us to take care of our family, fuel our immune systems, flush stress hormones, deal with adversity, and function more effectively without tiredness, all at the same time.
Who cut the energy budget?
Imagine if we were to try and run a large industrial complex without enough fuel? Would we get out as much product over the same time frame? As much productivity? Of special importance to many readers on the downhill side of gray, what about our factories maintenance budget? The answer is no. We simply can’t make as much product in our factory or keep it maintained properly without as much energy and resources. It is precisely the same in our body. We don’t want to get into a state where magnesium status (or any other micronutrient status) is limiting the rate of our metabolism and its ideal chemical production and distribution output. Such a state of magnesium shortage will always lead to rationing, and will necessarily result in the down-regulation of important cellular activities affecting long-term health.
In the section below, we will use an animated video to show biochemically one way magnesium and ATP contribute to cellular workflow and provide energy for ongoing mechanical processes. We hope you enjoy it and learn something new! As an example, we will consider a broad reaching aspect of the cellular lifecycle called “primary active transport.” Primary active transport is a set of different cellular pumping mechanisms for different materials. It is these type mechanical processes where various metabolites are pumped into, or out of, cellular compartments against their natural tendencies of random diffusion. Whether pumping water uphill or filling a vacuole with magnesium ions, both pumping activities require energy and mechanics to move material against the fundamental forces of nature. From the secretion of bile to the absorption of a fat droplet to its delivery to the liver to its absorption into a set of liver cells, or for any and all of the involved cellular processes of the body, active transport is essential. We can’t think of a more fundamental level of function for defining the key mechanisms of life and health, other than the genomic activities themselves.
Start the pumps! We’re taking on water!
With the description above in-hand, we ask the reader to think of primary active transport as our “cellular pumps.” Cells have to pump all sorts of stuff all the time. Any thought or action requires all kinds of cells to pump many things in and out across many cellular compartments. As such, our “pumps” are very-very important for all aspects of health and life. We should try to do everything possible to keep our pumps running at full speed all the time. Magnesium is a huge help here. Higher levels of magnesium allow our body to pump more efficiently by enabling faster ATP turnover. Faster ATP turnover means that we can produce more thoughts and actions in less time. Ask any boat captain about the impact of pumps on life and death at sea? Simply put, if a ship can pump out water as fast or faster than it is taking it in, it will continue to float on, even with a hole. If the old pumps slow down beyond a critical amount, it’s never good, and the boat will begin to take on water!
On active transport
The type of active transport we illustrate below is called “Ligand-Gated” transport. We will focus on a particular subset of this transport class that specifically uses a piece of toolkit called an “ATP Binding Cassette” (ABC transport). ABC transport is a fascinating and important type of cellular transport, but there are many others types. All forms of active transport require magnesium and ATP either directly or indirectly to provide motive force, the true nature of cellular energy. We have chosen to illustrate ligand-gated ABC transport because it is also important for understanding why vitamin K2-MK4 is important for many forms of cellular communications. Later we might decide to cover how MK4 can “activate” many ligands in the body, in effect turning them on, or off. That is a story for another article, however. Back on the magnesium front, we can think of active transport machinery as important pumps responsible for getting nutrients across membranes so we can achieve necessary and desired tasks and actions. If we can’t move material across membranes fast enough, we don’t complete critical tasks and procedures at the desired rate. Thus our cellular punch list might start to fall behind, leading to worse health outcomes.
Below is a generalized list of cellular processes depending on ABC type cellular transport. It is only a small list, but we can use it to represent the much larger number of processes mediated by this kind of mechanism alone
Drug uptake and Toxin removal – identification, import, and export of many non-specific sorts of compounds.
Animated video showing how magnesium and ATP fuel active transport
We hope you enjoy the animation and it helps you understand how cellular magnesium concentrations directly control the rates of many important biochemical processes. Please get your magnesium at our store here.
Without magnesium, cellular logistics will grind to a halt. If the body is only 10% low, then 10% of potential interactions don’t happen. Nutrient shortages force the body to ration, or timeshare, its most precious resources. Forced rationing of vital energy resources slow the metabolism and all dependent processes, like our health! Slowing our health is never good, Get your Mag Today!
While it may be a surprise, over 60% of Americans have one. Some studies show that the number of people affected by this disorder may be as high as 85%. Possibly more importantly, this estimate is based on the standard Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), which is 400 mg of elemental magnesium for an adult male and 320 mg/day for an adult woman. Modern research, widespread practice by magnesium users, and studies of primitive cultural diets, indicate that the human body can continue to improve its function at dosages up to at least twice this amount. Common typewriter leg syndrome, a seemingly automatic initiation of nervous leg tapping, is an easily spotted indicator of deficiency in many people, but might require a large dose for a long time to affect. Such behavior can be widely observed in any public location and is often thought to be “normal” by those affected. While most don’t know it, this typical behavior is usually caused by a relatively large magnesium deficiency. If neurons of the leg muscles are not able to fire normally, then other unobserved symptoms will also be present.
To further confuse the situation, blood testing is not an accurate indicator of cellular magnesium status. Because of that, the following simple guide is often a better way to determine if one might benefit from a magnesium supplement. If the answer for you is yes, then we hope you will consider Genesis BioHealth for your magnesium needs. Our specialty is a potent and pure blend of magnesium complexes formulated to improve metabolic function over and above standard magnesium formulations. The formula provides extra value in each capsule. In addition to magnesium, our blend contains three beneficial amino acids and metabolites known to help metabolic energy output and nervous system stability, as well as Vitamin C. Because we value purity, we use no fillers or other excipients of any sort, except for the capsule.
Some common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency are as follows:
Restless leg syndrome
Poor heart health
High blood pressure
Hyperactivity (nervous rhythmic movement of hands, legs, and feet)
Here are some questions to think about that might show behavior patterns known to accelerate a person’s potential for magnesium deficiency.
Do you drink soda?
Dark colored sodas contain phosphate which binds to magnesium and renders it useless to the body. Even eating a magnesium rich diet will be fruitless if a person drinks much dark soda.
Have a sweet tooth?
Refined sugar causes the body to flush magnesium through the kidneys.
Do you consume products containing caffeine daily?
Caffeine accelerates the rate at which kidneys release magnesium.
How much alcohol do you drink?
Alcohol has a similar effect on magnesium levels as do diuretics. Alcohol, therefore, also increases the rate at which kidneys release magnesium.
Are you on medication?
Some medications adversely impact magnesium absorption.
Are you currently taking a calcium supplement?
When a person is deficient in magnesium, calcium can interfere with magnesium absorption resulting in loose stools. Calcium is also much easier to get in a normal diet due to its prevalence relative to that of magnesium. Finally, the body needs much more calcium than it does magnesium. Factoring in these relative impacts, many believe it is best to take supplements with less than a 1:1 calcium to magnesium ratio. In ratios where magnesium is greater than calcium, magnesium is able to stabilize the solubility of calcium, making it more soluble in serum and plasma. If one is already magnesium deficient and/or has a compromised calcium physiology due to multiple fat soluble nutrient gaps, taking calcium supplements with more than a 1:1 calcium to magnesium ratio can cause arterial, or soft tissue, calcification. Many people past 40 have excess calcium that has settled in soft tissue and is contributing to inflammatory loading for just this reason. Magnesium alone can help reduce this, however, in combination with vitamins K2-MK4, other fat-soluble nutrients and basic minerals, the rate at which calcium in soft tissues is shuttled to the skeleton, can be increased even further, helping the bodies natural chelation processes put calcium into its proper places.
One such product is “Magnesium+” from Genesis BioHealth. Magnesium+ has an ideal ratio of calcium to magnesium, coming in at just under 1:1. Modern research also shows that taking magnesium along with vitamins K2-MK4, A and D can further synergize the absorption and impact of the magnesium itself. Genesis BioHealth also offers such a product in our “Regenesis+ DA” formula. This synergistic blend of critical nutrients is known to help stabilize calcium metabolism as a whole, and can even strongly contribute to the reversal of many other metabolic conditions, such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Osteoporosis. For those that don’t want to supplement calcium, we also offer non-calcium versions of our products such as “Magnesium” and “Regenesis“.
What is your age?
Adults 55 or older are at much higher risk for magnesium deficiency. Reduced levels of gastric acid due to aging also hinder the absorption of minerals.
What to do about a suspected magnesium deficiency?
Now that we have outlined some of the symptoms and causes of magnesium deficiency, it’s time to talk about the fact that it’s quite difficult to test whether or not a person is magnesium deficient. Normal levels are found in both blood serum, and blood plasma tests for individuals later found to be deficient at the cellular level. Due to this situation, some researchers are calling magnesium deficiency “the silent epidemic.”
Less than ideal amounts of cellular magnesium impede its effective coordination and distribution within the body’s various tissue compartments. Over time, chronic rationing of magnesium and other critical micro-nutrients within the body drives faster than normal aging and potentially contributes to the onset of many age-related, non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, thyroid, allergies, and psoriasis. The elimination of this complex magnesium rationing process in a deficient person can be a major driver for the return of overall health and vitality in many cases. These and many other auto-immune driven disorders can be improved if all the necessary co-factors are present and accounted for. Our bodies have a survival ability that allows them to enter a sort of “selective micro-starvation” mode. In this state, the body can begin to cannibalize itself to supply critical resources for more important processes, from single nutrients, all the way to full starvation, our bodies can adapt the physiology to maximize survival odds. There are many examples of such in the body.
Cellular lifecycle management includes the rationing process which is important in times of shortage. The logistical control systems of animal physiology allow multiple processes to be managed simultaneously even in times of shortage. This flexibility allows many concurrent life critical biochemical pathways to proceed continuously. Resources are procured and shared to support ongoing organ function, soft tissue repair, immune function, and all the regulatory physiologies that control them on a second-to-second basis. In fact, over 300 different physiological pathways depend critically on magnesium being present in each included cell. If there isn’t enough nutrient for all processes to run at full speed, some are forced to slow down dramatically, or even can be turned off genetically. All so that other processes may proceed at more effective rates. The best way to ensure that all systems in the body have the best chance to multi-task at full speed is to keep nutrient levels high, especially magnesium, as it lies at the foundation of chemical energy production and cellular communications.
If a person chooses to use magnesium supplements to improve symptoms they believe might be related to magnesium status, then they should be prepared to be patient and diligent. This is necessary to give time for the cells to replenish their stores so that the magnesium can begin to work. Our body’s magnesium tanks are quite large, metaphorically, compared to the rate at which we can take it in. Furthermore, persons who begin with a magnesium absorption challenge may first have to deal with loose stools for several months before the GI tract can adapt, and begin to absorb the nutrient without distress. Patience and diligence here will reward the practitioner, as this situation actually indicates a large deficiency of magnesium. Because of this, while it can be as little as several weeks for some people to detect the benefits, for others it can take several months of challenging GI adaptation to reach more than 1x the standard RDA and really begin to get ahead at filling the metaphorical tank.
Often for those that are very deficient, then it will take a fair time to significantly impact cellular magnesium status and thus begin to reduce deficiency related symptoms. Failure to take enough quality magnesium at levels over the daily requirement for a sufficiently long term is a common cause of people not benefiting from supplementation. Often, the first symptoms people notice when beginning magnesium supplements are a mild increase in “energy” throughout their day, cessation of muscle hypertension, hyperactivity, or potentially even lucid dreaming. Our customers report all of these benefits and much more! Finally, we suggest to never buy a magnesium supplement containing “magnesium oxide”. This form of inorganic magnesium is less than 4% bio-available in a person with a healthy gut.
Given the above, we will now move to practical measures one can take to increase cellular magnesium levels in the body, and maintain them over time. If you answered “no” to all of the questions above, then just eating a diet high in magnesium might be adequate for you. If you answered “yes,” however, to one or more of the questions above, then utilizing the strategies below, may help to improve your health.
Strategies for closing a magnesium gap:
Supplement with a quality form of organic magnesium – Make sure the label clearly indicates how many milligrams of “elemental” magnesium is in the serving. Many vendors list the magnesium content as milligrams of whole magnesium complex instead of only the elemental magnesium it contains. These are not the same values. This practice often confuses buyers and leads to dramatic under-dosing at a higher cost. Organic forms of magnesium complex need to be consumed in relatively large quantities to get the full benefit. Just because a new user starts to feel a benefit from an inferior capsule, does not mean that this is all the benefit they might get. Enough magnesium needs to be consumed and stored in cells to fuel the rate of all physiologies, not just a few. As the body begins to utilize magnesium more effectively and upregulates dormant or stagnant processes, dosage requirements can actually increase over time.
When using an organic form of magnesium, it should require the user to intake an entire gram or more of supplement to gain just 100 mg of elemental magnesium, a 1/10th yield or so. The same applies to other organic forms of magnesium. In each case, the yield ratio will depend on the amino acid or another organic metabolite used to complex the magnesium. Other common types of amino acids used to deliver magnesium are taurine, lysine, threonine, etc. Citric Acid is another commonly used metabolite used to provide magnesium. Each has specific attributes. A less commonly used magnesium complex is “magnesium ascorbate.” “Ascorbate” comes from “ascorbic acid,” which is vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, and essential regulatory co-factor. Taking magnesium ascorbate is an ideal way to consume both vitamin C and magnesium at the same time. This is a bonus for vitamin C impact as well because magnesium is critical in the physiology of vitamin C. Taking both nutrients as a single complex prevents the need for the body to use existing stores of potentially depleted magnesium when using C biochemically. Because of these factors, Genesis BioHealth’s unique formula also packs several added benefits beyond that of a single-component formulation.
One other thing that can help a person get their full lot of bioavailable magnesium with less GI impact is to make sure to use a fully reacted form. I won’t go into long explanations of magnesium’s natural side-effect of loosening the stool when it isn’t absorbing well. This side-effect is common in new users and must often be worked through over a period of months. However, part of the side effect is caused by the fact that organic forms of magnesium are mildly alkaline. These products are mildly alkaline because they result from the reaction of a strong base and a weak acid. To explain this concept, we will use glycine as an example, which is an organic acid. If a chemist reacts magnesium hydroxide, which is a strong inorganic base (pickling lime), with glycine (an amino acid) to the greatest degree possible, they will obtain “Magnesium Bisglycinate.” This complex is the fully reacted salt of a strong base and weak acid and thus will be alkaline. Here “Bis” means possessing “two” glycines. The more alkaline a material, the more potentially distressing it is to the GI tract, and the more difficult it will be to absorb and consume more stomach acid to do so.
Chemically, magnesium must bind two negatively charged species to be stable. In this case, if enough glycine is present, each magnesium can bind two glycines. In such a fully reacted magnesium complex, the weight of the elemental magnesium is approximately 1/10 of the total weight of the entire complex, while the two glycines make up the other portion of the weight of powder in the capsule. Moreover, in a fully reacted supplement, the alkalinity has been minimized because the more alkaline hydroxide is completely reacted away. The starting material, magnesium hydroxide is strong enough to induce chemical burns onto the esophagus; whereas, the fully reacted bisglycinate is right where the body expects it. Foods primarily contain magnesium in such organic forms. Both plants and animals store the mineral in their cellular structures bound to various organic compounds, including all of the types discussed. These forms then make absorption easy and natural for the GI tract if it is healthy.
At Genesis BioHealth, we use only the “bisglycinate” form of magnesium. This complex has one magnesium and two glycines. We like this as opposed to the more common “glycinate” form. This is because the magnesium glycinate naming convention does not specify how many glycines are complexed to each magnesium. Bisglycinate, on the other hand, is a formal name and indicates a fully reacted complex. This naming convention ensures that each magnesium has two molecules of glycine as it should be. This is important because ambiguous naming, from an FDA regulatory standpoint, can result in obtaining an underreacted or impure mixture of magnesium. If a batch is either under reacted, or labeled ambiguously, then it is likely to contain residual starting material or worse. A slightly underreacted batch is less expensive to manufacture and consumes less glycine. It will also, not coincidentally, yield more magnesium per gram which is another economic benefit for the seller. The unreacted portion that is potentially left over is called magnesium hydroxide. This material actually has a higher magnesium density than the desirable end-product, and will mathematically deliver more magnesium per gram. Unfortunately, hydroxide ion will also inflict damage on the lining of the GI tract and consume excess stomach acid to dissolve. In extreme cases, powders sold under these chemically ambiguous naming conventions can also represent a mixture blended with magnesium oxide, these are sometimes called “buffered” varieties, but this is not required by law. In reality, magnesium oxide increases magnesium density even more than hydroxide at even lower cost. It is also effectively unabsorbable and will pass through leaving little behind but gastric irritation. Unfortunately, underreacted batches will always contain at least some left over hydroxide and give some irritation to the GI tract. While this may not seem that bad, it is really just another cellular damage / inflammatory load that the body must repair amidst conflicting priorities. In the end, such materials reduce potential health impact and capsule value. Analytically, such mixtures are often indistinguishable from the product they are named after in the lab. Performing additional rigorous testing is the only way to distinguish a real quality powder from a shoddy blended one. Because such rigorous testing is seldom performed, these type products abound in the marketplace. To ensure a quality product which does not adversely impact the lining of the GI tract, a slightly over-reacted mixture is desired, which will have no hydroxide, no oxide, and a slight excess of amino acid. We only sell such fully reacted pure materials at Genesis BioHealth, so this is never an issue with our product line.
Eat fewer grains, nuts, seeds and oils – Foods derived from the seeds of plants, which includes these foods, have several problems regarding their impact on the body’s magnesium status. Firstly, these foods are relatively low in magnesium compared to other foods, so there are simply better foods to eat from a magnesium perspective. Secondly, these foods all actively bind magnesium and prevent us from absorbing it. Some foods can potentially strip it from our body faster than it is put in. Even worse, than simply affecting magnesium absorption is a more insidious problem. There are aggressive biological metabolites present in all seeds which can actively interfere with the use of magnesium in our body. These compounds are present in all seeds because of their need to prevent insects and animals from eating them, as well as to allow them to be dormant for long periods.
are low in magnesium
bind magnesium or
interfere with magnesium physiology
are called “anti-nutrients”. These foods may taste great, but they don’t have much of what our body needs. To top it off, other bad chemicals in seeds further make our body use magnesium less efficiently.
Because the hunger response is largely driven by our body’s need for micronutrients like magnesium, nutrient poor foods are not able to adequately quench the appetite. So aside from too many calories, these foods can also make us hungrier. This situation contributes heavily to weight gain while at the same time depriving us of vital nutrients. Part of the reason seed based foods have these properties is due to their particular biochemistry. Seeds are meant to pass through our body or to lie dormant for up to hundreds of years. This is to ensure their survival and ability to germinate when water, sun, and soil are available. The types of edible seeds we discuss are real survival foods, but not nutritious for support of the holistic regulatory / repair / immune system, and thus long-term health. If we have a choice, we should minimize these foods or remove them from our menu.
Eat less refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and alcohol – These foods all increase the rate of magnesium depletion, induce a heavy cellular repair load on the body, and have many other adverse effects regarding magnesium. In short the less you eat of these foods, the easier it is to keep magnesium levels in the target range.
Drinking less coffee, soda and carbonated beverages – These sorts of drinks contain both phosphoric acid and caffeine. Each of these chemicals put negative pressure on magnesium status. The phosphoric acid can block absorption, while the caffeine has been shown to increase the rate of magnesium removed during urination. Furthermore, these drinks often have diuretic properties which also cause accelerated usage of magnesium, which is water soluble.
Up levels of magnesium-rich foods – As stated in the previous category, these are NOT foods made from any plant seeds. It doesn’t matter if the label shows the food contains the mineral or not. Just because food contains magnesium, does not mean your body can assimilate it during digestion. Instead of looking to the problematic foods mentioned above, instead, focus on quality foods that are from the meat/dairy/vegetable or fruit categories. Avocados are an excellent example. They are the poster child of magnesium rich foods. Unfortunately, the avocado today only has about 60% of the magnesium it did 100 years ago. So it is deficient too! It is not economical to replace stripped magnesium from commercial farmland, so as the decades have rolled by, the soil in which commercial cash crop foods are grown has become barren of magnesium and other critical minerals. Failure to replace magnesium in commercial farmland is one factor driving the widespread deficiency today!
In short, magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the human body. Over 300 biochemical pathways depend on magnesium. In truth, this common categorization doesn’t really adequately highlight the power of magnesium and its potential for impact on many people. Without enough magnesium, multitudes of biochemical reactions do not happen at top speed, thus slowing things down and compromising such important physiologies as our immune and cellular repair systems. Having a slow immune / cellular repair system is never good for our health or energy levels. In fact, since I have adopted our protocol, using about 600 mg of magnesium/day along with the other “Six Tenets of Behavioral Health“, I have barely even had the mildest of a sore throat. Because the modern food supply does not provide adequate magnesium or K2-MK4, and further decreases the efficiency with which our body utilizes them, supplementation is a great solution for many people. We hope you choose Genesis BioHealth supplements as part of your alternative health solution.
I want to offer this article towards a conceptual model for understanding the importance of getting adequate nutrient density from real foods. I come across many people who believe that relying on various commercial nutritional supplements is a valid option towards the control of health. While this may be true for a few specific examples, for most of the essential vitamins and nutrients, it is mostly false. One thing I seek to show, is that details make all the difference, and that relying on real food is the best option for health. Not all micro-nutrients can be treated by the same rules. Only a few types of essential micro-nutrients exist as a single unique small molecule with a characteristic structure. These types of nutrients are not members of a structurally diverse chemical family such as we will discuss in this article. These simple types of nutrients are generally OK to supplement, and there will be little difference to your health whether they come from real food or a capsule. Vitamins C and K2-MK4 are examples that fit this category, and are fine to supplement using their proper dosage profiles. Many other synthetic nutrients delivered in capsules, however, just can’t offer the same health benefits as their natural versions from real food. Some synthetic nutrients, in fact, are even likely to be detrimental to health in the long run. There are many reasons for this, but in this article we want to focus on vitamins B9 and D and use them as key examples.
Specifically, we want to show that for many natural essential micro-nutrients found in foods, their synthetic versions just don’t work well. Two of the largest reasons for this are that firstly, the synthetics are often not even the same chemical compound at all, or secondly, because the synthetic version is a single member of a larger and more diverse chemical family. The single specific member derived synthetically is often a similar version that is easy to make industrially. In the real vitamin family, rather than existing as single organic compound, the vitamin exists as a large family of individual members, where each member often has a different specific role and unique impact on health. In many cases, all the particular actions and mechanisms of such families of nutrients are not well understood scientifically. The entire spectrum of natural nutrients are often hard to isolate from natural sources, or are difficult to replicate in the laboratory. Hard and difficult meaning “economically viable” in reality. For this reason, these types of supplements are poor substitutes for true nutrition, and long term usage can slowly erode health, causing a form of selective micro-starvation, often resulting in non-communicable age-related onset, or immune system related diseases.
The above situation is why we stress the importance of learning to derive key nutritional density from real foods of the right types. For some readers, this might be the punch line of the executive synopsis. I’ll try to state concisely. “Don’t rely on synthetic vitamins too much, and try to get a lot of nutrient density from real non-process and organic foods”. If you like things short and sweet then there it is! You don’t need to read any further. Of course most have heard that before. Many just don’t believe it though. Or many might fail to give it enough importance? Some just don’t care to choose to be as healthy as they can, perhaps? For those that want an understanding of the chemical reasoning we use, however, and to understand the importance of staying the course and working to improve their understanding of nutrition, then please read on. While this article isn’t particularly short, I will attempt to describe the reasoning behind the importance of my statements above from a holistic biochemical perspective. My goal is to do so in lay terms and with a few fun analogies to make it easier to comprehend how it impacts health. To do this, we will focus on some new research findings for both vitamin families B9 and D as examples. These two are by no means isolated cases though. In fact the opposite. They outline a general theme in biochemistry. Hence many of the most important essential micro-nutrients follow similar rules to a larger or smaller degree.
Vitamins and minerals are very important.
It has become very clear to many in recent years that the humble compounds we call “vitamins”, “minerals” and “essential nutrients” are some of the most valuable resources on earth. If you don’t believe me, go to a desert island with a bag of groceries and a bag of cash. See which bag you give higher priority! Unfortunately, most people do not really understand this. Why? Perhaps, because vitamins and minerals have so long been taken for granted by society? Perhaps they have been driven into the background noise of a senseless commercial media buzz? Maybe because mostly their properties and practical usage guidelines are poorly understood and the quality of most commercial varieties are dubious at best? Perhaps because we are just too busy at work to feed our family top quality food and eat right? I used to think like that until I realized that a family or individual eating well is the main point of working anyway. That is right, I am suggesting that the most precious and health giving substances on earth are micro-nutrients, and that they have been forgotten and fallen under the radar in modern society. Driven into obscurity by mass market advertisements of active smiling silver haired adults, cartoon character chew-able gummies for kids, and hordes of prescription drug advertisements with lists of terrible sounding side effects that we should ignore when we take them because they are “normal”.
When I look around though, people don’t generally look that “healthy” to me. National and global statistics don’t support robust health as we age either. Most people just don’t seem to hold up well past age 40 in most cases. Oh, we may live longer now, but the ailments we begin to hear friends, family, associates and selves starting to talk about at lunch begin to pile up. Well getting old isn’t fun…not for sissies is it? However, this doesn’t explain why the children are also strangely getting all sorts of problems at a young age now. Or why certain bellwether animals and insects are struggling. Or why the world seems to operate by strange and arcane sets of rules that don’t always make much sense anymore. Why is that? Modern science seems stumped? Well, it should not be stumped. Research and evidence abounds. The answer is simple. Without a naturally derived diet containing the full spectrum of vitamin, mineral and essential nutrients focused upwards by the “food chain”, our physiology just does not work properly. Additionally, our physiology is constantly bombarded by large hordes of industrial dietary toxins, biocides, and antibiotics with each meal and passing year. These bad chemicals are not helpful by far. All health starts in the gut. Even the ancients knew. The mythical gut/pituitary/thyroid axis perhaps, or even “leaky gut syndrome”? All good names for facets of the same.
What’s in a name?
Maybe a better term for all these degenerative ailments past 40 might be “mal-adapted regulatory network disease”, or selective micro-starvation with concurrent induced toxicity and immune dysfunction? Here is an example of the subtle importance of terminology. An associate of mine was discussing his cardiologist’s assertion that exercise and statin drugs are “good” for his atherosclerotic condition. I didn’t touch the statin issue with him, but I did challenge my associate on the exercise front. I asked him to explain “how” the exercise would in fact remove the plaque in his soft tissues, when it appeared to be made of calcium? It was not clear to me how running or other highly oxidative forms of aerobic exercise would help to remove the calcium? He then explained that the cardiologist had told him that the exercise would trigger the heart to adapt and grow additional blood vessels so as to “bypass” the restriction. Now, I won’t argue with that mechanism. It is certainly known to exist. A great survival adaptation and testament to the amazing redundancy and plasticity coded into our physiques. “Good” on the other hand, is a subjective reference that depends on perspective and alternatives. One of terminology. In the situation of the blockage bypass adaptation however, I might counter argue that this is a “forced adaptation” to a life threatening blockage and might not be “good”. I would instead suggest that forcing the heart to undergo a large enough residual pressure stimulus for long enough to trigger adaptation might be pushing the red line a little from a mechanical and logistical perspective. In other words, by forcing blood continually against that restriction, it might not be so good for the other blood vessels in the area, if their mechanical integrity is compromised in various ways we might envision. I might also argue that forcing the body to build a whole bypass network of vasculature around the restriction is primarily a waste of time and resources (which are already likely in short demand anyway. If they weren’t, the person likely wouldn’t have the plaque in the first place…get it?). I might also argue that exercise does nothing to address the fact that the blockage shouldn’t be there in the first place, nor how it got there, nor what is to be done to stop further blockage, or how one might hope to reverse the process? Wouldn’t it be better to spend the same time and resources actually stopping the issues that cause the plaque to form in the first place? Possibly reversing the plaque forming mechanisms in the first place? This would take time and resources too. If we waste precious commodities growing secondary adaptive emergency vasculature then where will the time and resources needed to reverse the plaque formation tendencies come from? Won’t this require more resources? If a person doesn’t address the reason the plaque forms in the first place and then trigger mechanisms resulting in the removal of the existing plaque, then what happens when plaque starts to form in the “new” secondary vasculature around the blockage? Will we then grow new vasculature again around the now plugged emergency vasculature? Somehow I don’t like that logic? I was never able to get good answers to these questions from my associate, nor from my own cardiologist, when I used to employ him.
We can feel great!
The proof is all in the biochemical literature, animal model studies, the history of nutrition, and the study of traditional cultural diets and health metrics for certain ancient indigenous peoples in different ecosystems. It is very clear to any who look in the right places and connect the right dots. People should live good quality lives free from degenerative disease, tooth decay, auto-immune disorders, psoriasis, allergies, autism, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other things. It all stems from “lack of energy” in a way, and a lack of resources. Not a lack of exercise. The improper distribution and regulation of chemical energy and mechanisms within our tissues and cells is what leads to disease. Not lack of exercise. Babies grow in wombs just fine and no exercise is involved. No exercise is needed to keep the endocrine system balanced, the arteries clear and pliable, nor to keep calcium from precipitating in soft tissues. In fact, if not done very well, hard exercise past 40 can be detrimental for many people, if they are not well nutrified and don’t rest properly. It can accelerate the progression of regulatory disease. Now I am not against exercise. In fact, I love it. If done properly, I even agree it can be beneficial and improve health dramatically. I am just suggesting that is just not the panacea most people think it is, and that older people should take a hard look at nutrition before doing too much for too long. Nothing is free in nature. If a person repeatedly breaks their body down with exercise for long periods, they should make sure to build it back up with quality building blocks on a consistent basis and give it time to rest. If not, a person can erode the core regenerative systems of their body and create a house of cards waiting to crumble. I learned this lesson the hard way. The good news is that within 2 years I have come an amazing way back. I couldn’t do this before, even in my 30’s! Here is a little video! It is amazing. I have challenged so many of my friends and associates to this test. Practically none of my marathon running friends over 45 can do this, regardless of their BMI. Its mostly about diet.
Where are the studies?
It has been shown historically that at least 12 distinct and dramatically different, simple, and health promoting ancestral diets provided their cultures with optimal nutrition, robust health, and all the quality of life free that is possible to flow from it. This is not true of all ancient traditional cultures. However, for the few special ones discussed here, they enjoyed high quality of life largely free from age related non-communicable disease far into the twilight of life. In fact, it is clear to many that the specific ancestral diets studied by Dr. Price outline the “entitlement of the human genome”. What our bodies have the “possibility” to be or what we are “entitled” to be. In this context, entitled, is a type of definition for the “best”. The best possible way of living for the complete and high fidelity expression of the human genome, with all the parts of the biosphere operating together as they are supposed to. Unfortunately, we can never really reach the “best”. We can, however, get arbitrarily close, as we have will, discipline, capability, and energy to do so.
The last few traditional healthy diets outlined in 1939 by Weston A. Prices work, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”, no longer exist in today’s world. This is due to modernization, commercialization and centralization of the food supply. Even in those days, however, few such cultures remained in pristine ancestral condition. The continued progression and adulteration of our ancestral food supply has been going on for many hundreds of years now. Dr. Price was able to study the key attributes of dietary health at precisely the exact point in history to reveal the comparative observations of his work. The extraordinary diligence and purity of his work, in combination with modern biochemistry and biological sciences, allows the core health-unlocking elements of these diets to be broadly, if not deeply, understood in terms of practical dietary ramifications. More is quietly discovered each year. These health-unlocking elements can largely be replicated in today’s society by education, practice, and a few a key supplements and techniques. At least for those that are willing and able to complete the journey. This is what we seek to teach at Genesis BioHealth. We would simply like magnesium and MK4 business in return and along the way! All the better to help us spread the word with. If you like our articles and are learning something, please help us by using our excellent supplement products to achieve your health goals. Please see our “Six Tenets of Behavioral Health Article“, and our “Magnesium and Regenesis” products.
We are our cells
Although it may be hard for many to believe, we are not a single organism. While our thoughts might seem like they are “singular”, and feel like “ours”, this is just not completely true. In fact, our thoughts, and all the biological processes of our bodies, are a result of the cooperation and competition of trillions of individual organisms and the countless chemical reactions that sustain them. We are a “We”. As strange as it is, our entire physiology and all it encompasses, is the result of complex chemical interactions between individual single celled organisms, each struggling individually to survive in the environment they are born into, just like any other living creature in existence. All the organisms that either compose our bodies, or symbiotically reside within them, are thought to contribute to something called our “hologenome”.7 It is an interesting theory of evolutionary biology, and whether this theory is specifically true or not, we can be absolutely sure it is true that the microbes and cells of our body cooperate, communicate and compete in ways so complex as to boggle the mind. It is almost surreal to think that our bodies actually use hordes of individual blob like creatures that cooperate to sniff out, chase down, surround and eat invading pathogens like packs of hungry wolves. Wolves responding to managerial direction from a hierarchy of regulatory biochemistry, manufactured by the genomic machinery of our DNA and stemming from the interactions of neurons in the jelly of our brain, spinal cord, vagus nerve, and GI tract. Cooperative single celled organisms build us, grow us, and direct us all the way up from a microscopic bit of slime with a few strands of DNA twisted around each other. Using DNA, entropy and a fractal foam of quantum energy flowing from alternative dimensions where only Schrodinger’s cat roams, we grow uncontrollably into a magnificent species of collective creatures competing, cooperating and resisting the environment and all its challenges. Our lives represent a constant battle of resource allocation, competition, cooperation and balance between microscopic creatures with nearly infinite communication complexity. One reason we sell magnesium at Genesis BioHealth, is because nearly all these biological process, and many more, depend on it in hundreds of ways! Without magnesium, all the bodies processes slow down, get turned off, or become compromised, while our DNA gets loose and floppy and the energy supply slows down. Not good! Anyway, back to the point.
If cells don’t work well, and together, neither does the body
In the orderly, yet chaotic world of competing/cooperating cells described above, chemical communications and their linked rates become extremely important. Why do I keep harping away at “chemical communications” and their rates? Especially when the title of the article is about vitamins and their natural diversity? Can’t I come to the point? Well, not very well unfortunately. It is big weak point of mine. However, I will keep trying. Anyway, the structural diversity of the vitamins is the primary reason for the body’s diversity of enzymatic and hormonal systems. They go together like lock and key. Like the chicken or the egg. These incredibly networked regulatory systems of our bodies operate the orchestra of cellular and inter-cellular biochemistry that we call life.
Many cells are like many people. In order to get things done, they need to talk to each other about lots of things and all the time! Let’s consider a non-chemistry example many might be familiar with. In this example, please think of the ability of one cell in our body to “talk” to another as an old style telephone switchboard, as shown in Figure 2. One name for this type of device is called a “multiplexer”. A multiplexer is a complex multi-faceted switch. Today, most multiplexer switches are completely computerized. This is because they had to outpace human capability to deal with so many connections and responses in today’s digital world and mega-cities.
Multiplexer type switching is just the same as what happens when cells communicate too. However, the enormity of the switchboard is beyond comprehension. Nevertheless the functions are similar. In the body’s case though instead of wires, cells use secreted proteins and cellular receptors to send and receive information. In the case of certain structurally diverse vitamins, the available density of physiological switching states will then depend upon both the diversity of the vitamins, and their ability to activate different complex enzymatic response patterns.
The cellular communications of our body are much like the communications that occur in a large modern city via a digital multiplexer. In order to accomplish tasks, the diversity of the vitamins in our natural fuel sources interact with an equal diversity of cellular receptor proteins, and their modalities. in our bodies. The permutations and combinations of the interactions between communication factors and their cellular receptors then act as the switchboard of cellular communications. These switches then allow our genes to be switched on and off, activating mission critical enzymes so that hordes of activities and resources can be controlled and managed throughout all the tissues of our body. The triggers and resulting actions that have already been discovered are nearly unlimited it seems.
While the switchboard analogy is crude, it gets the point across. More importantly, we can use this analogy as a model to better understand why our body needs real foods with real vitamins and diverse essential nutrients. Our biochemistry needs these things instead of fake manufactured foods “fortified” with “synthetic chemicals” that somewhat behave like real vitamins if we test them in a certain simplified way.
Chemical physics dictates that if we diminish the capability and diversity of one side of the lock and key like switching for our enzymatic multiplexer, then we will directly degrade the ability of our genome to activate the full range of diverse chemical regulatory biochemistry that our continued robust health requires. Limiting our bodies ability to activate key systems because it lacks the nutrients to do so will then negatively affect the ability of our body to communicate within itself. Perhaps more importantly, it might prevent our body from adapting to more complex and higher energy states. In fact, if proper resources are not present, our body has no choice but to adapt to the situation by adopting less complex and less energetic states. This will have negative impact on health and is not what we would like.
What can the switchboard teach us about health?
We will continue setting the stage for the scientific evidence we will present later. Setting the stage so that the information we discuss can better fit into proper context. In that regard, let’s extend the phone operator/multiplexer analogy even further. What if we have a largish city and a lot of people needing to talk all at the same time through our phone switches? People do this so as to coordinate all the work of the city each day and night. Imagine that we need 100 such multiplexer switches and 100 persons on each shift to operate them. These 100 operators can effectively handle all the “bandwidth” of communications necessary to operate the city at 100% effectiveness. These 100 switches and operators are all that is needed throughout the day and night to make sure the city runs at high fidelity. Trucks can get re-routed, ambulances can be directed to emergencies, the mayor, firemen, workers, moms, dads, factories, fuel trucks, gas-stations, and food markets can all work effectively with efficient communications and resource driven logistics. All through the city, communication fidelity will be key to effective resource allocation, coherent product output, timely raw material delivery, and all the other necessary orchestrations of an effective and cooperative society. The efficiency of all these processes depends completely upon the 100 switchboard operators and their ability to link messages going from originators to recipients, instantly and effortlessly whenever and wherever the need arises.
What might happen if just one of the 100 total operators on the switchboard called in sick? Well, not much. I’m sure the system can bear offloading 1% of the total switching load to the other 99 operators. Our overall fidelity will not decrease much. The operators will just have to work a little faster and some callers might have to wait on hold a little while. A 1% bandwidth reduction will then have the potential to negatively impact all 100% of communications, thus reducing fidelity. What if 2 operators called in sick then? How about 5 or 10 even? For a while, our operators can work faster and we can ask callers to wait on hold. At least if the bandwidth reduction is not too drastic. Eventually though, something has to give. If we continue cutting switching capacity but the demand for communications remains, pretty soon our operators will start to fight, complain and eventually all quit or force a petition, protest, or something worse. We just simply can’t run an entire city at 100% fidelity with a large fraction of critical switching capability offline. What do you think would happen to the city if it was forced to run with 25-50% of its communication capacity permanently cut off? Well let me tell you…chaos would ensue for sure! It is not a good situation if we have to spread the impact of long term bandwidth reductions across the entire network. That tactic allows a small reduction in bandwidth, to negatively affect the entire city. If we think that we might get all our operators healthy and back working shortly, then it makes sense to try and fill in temporarily until we can resume full staff. This is cheaper than re-organizing and downsizing for the longer term. This is why we need administrators. A good Mayor will find a way to compartmentalize the negative impact, just like your body. He will know that he can limit the impact of bandwidth reductions and associated downsizing to less critical parts of the cities operations by making judicious cuts. However, there will be a cost to doing so as extra work and resources will need to be spent in the short term to achieve the cuts. If it becomes apparent that the reduction in operators will become permanent, then the investment in restructuring becomes the cheaper and better option. This means that if events continue to limit the cities switching capacity, then the city will begin shrinking and downsizing until more switching resources become available. Then, if resources ever do become available again, the city will have to undergo another costly re-organization to get back to its previous full capacity state.
As a specific example, let’s say the city was forced to suffer a loss of 20% of its total communication bandwidth for an extended period of time. You are the mayor. How would you manage the rationing of information capacity? What about the priority of the resources and logistics these communications controlled? Would you cut all communications across the board? How would a good Mayor possibly cut some less essential communications first? How about the food, water, fuel, power and sanitation needs? Would we cut them first? I certainly would not. I might cut video game communications first.
The analogy above is similar to a very important thing that happens when we don’t get enough, or the proper diversity of, essential nutrients into our body for extended periods of time. It forces the whole body to run on just a fraction of its total enzymatic switching capacity. This necessarily results in compromised resource allocations, jam-ups, re-organizations, and confusion of many sorts, both short and long term. Think of how a city would run over a 10 year period if 25% of its switching capacity was continually compromised? We know the Mayor can ration communications and their dependent resources in an organized way. How would the city run then? Would everything still work just as well? Do you think the budgets, energy distribution, resource allocations, schedules and timetables in the city would stay the same for long? Would we use as much energy? What about total productivity and output? I’ll leave it to the interested reader as a thought exercise? Suffice it to say that our bodies have to deal with exactly the same logistical and resource based physical limitations. Our selves just have to do so in a larger and more interconnected way. It is magnificent really, in my opinion.
Health depends on effective cellular communications
While there are many different types of chemical communications, they all have one similarity. This similarity is that cells or organelles somewhere (sometimes from microbes living in our guts) excrete chemicals that are detected by other processes, cellular organelles or cells (sometimes in our tissues). These communications can trigger and control staggering numbers of actions and processes throughout the body. The types of signals /actions / mechanisms and responses are far from completely understood and will not be in any near set of lifetimes. However, in the end, the concept is simple. Cells talk to one another to direct their cooperation and coordination. If this communication is compromised, then loss of fidelity ensues to a proportional degree. In other words, the more compromised these cellular communications are, the more disease we get over time. Figure 3 shows a simple qualitative hormonal signaling / cellular receptor model.
All the organs in our bodies, as well as their auxiliary and support processes, will not work properly without effective hormonal signaling. In hormonal signaling, one tissue type, or a subgroup of cells in a tissue, might need to send or request a range of things like help, repair, a particular resource, a signal, some energy, or even a rescue call from physical or pathogenic attack. The list is seemingly endless and new receptors and interactions between cells are being discovered weekly. Guess what the activators, or the on-and-off switches, for many of these specialized communications pathways are? Right, the natural diversity of vitamins.
The surface of every type of cell has hundreds, or even thousands, of different types of receptors. These are the mouths, eyes, ears and sense of touch for the cells. Each receptor sub-type is specially able to recognize a certain set of chemical signals that trigger specific actions inside or outside the cell. Why is this important? Well if cellular communication does not work effectively then neither do we. It is that simple. For instance what if our enzymatic fidelity runs at only 75% over the long haul? What would that do to our physiology? Well the body would have to adapt. It would have no choice. Just like the heart example I used above. Our physiology is wonderfully redundant and adaptive. It will shift the entire communication network, as best as possible, in order to neutralize any detected issues. This is one place where the chemical problems we call “disease” often start. When our communication network, and the resource allocation mechanisms it controls, are forced to undergo negative adaptations over a long period of time.
Here is a video that shows how a specialized type of cellular receptor is activated by insulin. When this insulin receptor is activated by binding insulin, it triggers an energy and magnesium intensive process inside the cell that draws a transport protein up through the cell wall. This particular type of glucose transport protein is called “Glut-4″. When “Glut-4″ is drawn up through the cell wall after being triggered, it creates a type of pore that allows the transport of glucose through the cell wall. There are many other types of insulin receptor / glucose transporter protein combinations; this is just a single class. It does serve, however, as another example to illustrate the incredible diversity of chemical communications in our physiology.
Why is nutrient diversity, enzyme switching, and chemical communication important to our discussion? Well most, if not all forms of age related disease, especially auto-immune or endocrine type diseases, can be linked heavily to dysfunction in these mechanisms. Failure of coordination between tissues, organs, cells, their organelles, or their genomic machinery. In this article, we will show evidence that our bodies are really made to require the full spectrum of nutrients in their natural forms to activate the full range of these communication functions. When we do this for long enough, our bodies will begin to work much better! It not so hard to learn to give the body what it needs to be more fully activated and healthy. In fact it works great!
The diversity of Mother Nature
While many don’t know the formal definition of a vitamin, it is a “chemical” that is necessary to sustain life, but which must be obtained outside of our own body. As it turns out, many of our essential nutrients are supposed to come from bacteria that live in our GI tract, but that is another part of the story. However, the metabolites that these bacteria express for their own existence are considered “vitamins” to us, because we can’t express them, or can only do so in very limited quantities. Vitamins are essential nutrients that we must eat, or otherwise get into our body somehow, to survive. As it turns out, some of the most important essential nutrients are produced in nature as large structurally diverse families that really must be obtained from real food and not a synthetically “fortified” artificial food, or a “supplement”. Vitamins B, D, E, K are examples of vitamins that occur as a diverse family. Some vitamin families even have sub-families. Several members of the B family are like this. Specifically for this article we will discuss B9 more below. As it turns out, many types of vitamins, like B9, are being discovered to be much more complex than previously thought. We are also finding out that the health impacts for many of these nutrients are very dependent on getting natural varieties!
The above is not true of all vitamins though. Some are not structurally diverse and the health impact they convey really doesn’t depend on whether they are natural or synthetic. Vitamins C and A are two such. In general, though, it is much better to rely on real food to obtain nutrition than on dietary supplements. This is precisely because of the diversity issue we describe, and also because we are quite sure there are yet undiscovered “vitamins” and “hormones” that come from diet. We are certain that some of these will be found to have major impacts on disease and aging. Where will they likely be found? In food and bacteria. Much like K2-MK4 was just less than 15 years ago, by some measure.
Cells require diverse nutrients to communicate properly
More and more research is accumulating which clearly shows that effective functional activation of our genetic and cellular “switchboards” via enzymatic communication is highly dependent upon the natural diversity present in real foods. In the discussion above, I have worked to set the stage to help some to understand why. From an evolutionary perspective, it is largely because our chemical communication systems have learned to make use of all the diversity of our food supply. It is very reasonable to expect it to be so. Why would it be otherwise? Many of the most important “vitamins” (many are actually hormones, such as D and K) are now being discovered to behave this way.
Now let’s get to some specific examples. Very recently a “first” discovery was made in a key vitamin affecting many areas of genetic health in humans. This discovery involves vitamin B9, otherwise called “folate” or “folic acid”. It was recently discovered that a single “bacterial” version of folate, which is only one of the many types of folate available in real foods, was the only version able to activate a key set of cellular machinery.1 This finding then implies that other members of the vitamin B9 family likely have unique roles in the body.1,2,3 The problem is that synthetic vitamin B9, is actually not a “folate” Instead, it is normally something called “folic acid”, which isn’t really even vitamin B9.
Before driving on, let’s set the stage with some background info. The two terms commonly used to describe vitamin B9 are folate and folic acid. These two terms have begun to be used interchangeably in the last decades. The problem is that they are not the same compounds at all. Keep in mind that vitamin B9, or “folate” is an “essential” nutrient that our body needs. This means that we will die without it. Folic acid is not vitamin B9 though, as mentioned above! It can be converted to B9 in the human body to some degree, but it is not B9 itself. Even if folic acid were a member of the B9 family of “folates” though, it would only represent a single portion of the range of family members. As we have discussed above, we need all the prospective family members activating all of their respective enzymatic pathways in order to have the best chance for robust health to emerge.
True starvation in the USA is hard to find. However, partial starvation is rampant. Vitamin B9 is a perfect example. People who eat too much food from cash crop foods fortified with “folic acid” instead of “folates” will likely be effectively B9 deficient. Foods like those made from seeds, such as: grains, beans, nuts and “vegetable” oils, are excellent examples of foods in this category. It matters not how much, or little fat, carbohydrates, protein or exercise are added to our lives. If you rely on foods fortified with synthetic B9, then your body will proportionally struggle to activate all of its B9 dependent pathways. Perhaps except the particular pathways able to be activated by the few types of folate created by the inefficient conversion of folic acid. As shown in references 1-3 & 6, it has recently been “proven” that folic acid cannot activate all folate receptors, and that they have different functions.
As another example, imagine that rather than being completely out of vitamin B9, what if our body were just 20 or 30% short? Just like the telephone/city example above? Bad problems will eventually ensue in the body, just like in the city example above. For all the same logistical reasons. Eventually the energy budgets, communication pathways and number of signals sent each day will have to be down-regulated and down-adapted. This will result in adaptations to lower fidelity operations. In the body, some of our very sensitive genetic machinery will be absolutely compromised if we rely on mainly synthetic folic acid as is added to “fortified foods”. Foods such as “GMO grains” and other “cash crop” foods are fortified with folic acid, rather than natural folates as found in quality meats, dairy, vegetables and fruits.
Specifically the immune system’s T cells and their ability to survive and function are dependent on Folates (Figure 1). The relative impact on health enabled by the diversity of folates, is only beginning to emerge. However, the results are quite clear to many. Natural diversity in vitamins is vitally important for health. It is a biochemical fact. Finally, the diversity of the B9 family, or the lack thereof, is not the only reason that the synthetic form is detrimental. Instead, there are three primary reasons that our cellular machinery is compromised by relying heavily on folic acid to the exclusion of adequate natural folate.
The loss of diversity for enzymatic switching pathways.
Interference with the chemical machinery that converts folic acid to folate in the human body by a common toxic herbicide called glyphosate used to grow the same food sources needing supplementation in the first place (GMO crops).
Build up of unconverted folic acid toxicity in the body.
The folate story supports and explains the mutual synergy and importance of “Behavior Health Tenets 2 & 3“. These tenets say that we should not eat foods from “seeds” and that we should maximize nutrient density. A final tidbit of info. The US FDA regulatory code requires that all GMO produced crops are “fortified” with “folic acid” since the late 1990’s. This was enacted to ensure that B9 deficiency does not occur in consumers of these artificially produced and modified foods. Too bad this doesn’t work as well for human health as it does for agricultural profitability. Evidence continues to emerge that folic acid works poorly in humans and is even detrimental to health if relied on as a staple.3 Gene modification of grains destroys the folate production machinery in the original crop due to the same genetic changes that make it resistant to glyphosate. Because of this known impact, folic acid is required by the FDA to be added to “fortify” the food. Problem is, as described, folic acid isn’t vitamin B9 and doesn’t do the same thing by a long shot. So, eating GMO crops and other seed based cash crop foods is not good for the structural diversity of folates and many other things!
“All the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men” can’t replicate the Mother’s tricks
Unfortunately, it is not only vitamin B9. Evidence is mounting for vitamin D also.4 Vitamin D has turned out to be far more complex than ever realized. It is a hormone and not even a vitamin. Most importantly, it is more important for proper body functioning than realized, especially the workings of the immune and regulatory systems. Many other essential nutrients rely on the same functional diversity as do vitamins B9 and D. It is a general theme in biochemistry.
Occurring as a complementing series of discoveries, some of the most bizarre and interesting research of the last decade is surrounding the impact of microbes that can colonize the GI system. They are now shown to have profound ability to actively up-regulate a host of newly discovered critical functions in both the endocrine and immune systems.5,6 Check out our recipe here for super-diverse natural probiotics that taste great and are cheap and fun to make. The diversity of the immune systems enzymatic regulatory network takes heavy advantage of the diversity of many natural vitamin families and other essential nutrients. A critical action to ensure a constant flow of nutrient diversity is accomplished by the proper cultivation and nurturing of diverse intestinal microbes by eating natural live and unpasteurized foods. If healthy colonies of diverse microbes are available in the GI-tract, they will manufacture the full spectrum of most of the types of essential micro-nutrients the human body needs. Not only that, a diverse microbiome of microbes will make just the right types our bodies need. Heavy antibiotic usage by modern medicine, and the preservatives in commercially produced foods now prevent this natural source of total nutrition from functioning effectively in most people. This results in severe limitations of total immune function, regulatory fidelity, and health building processes. The use of probiotics is the realm of “Behavioral Health Tenet 4“. The interaction of the immune and regulatory systems are much more powerful than people realize. Unfortunately, there is no way any set of synthetic vitamins can activate the incredible diversity and complexity only made possible by the hands of Mother Nature.
Probiotics are something gaining momentum in the world of health and nutrition today. Probiotics are simply bacteria of a type that can thrive in the acidic environment of the GI tract. These bacteria are commonly called “good bacteria”. Some of the most fascinating new breakthroughs in nutritional science and health today are coming from understandings gained in this area. The work is showing that we are really meant to have diverse and symbiotic cultures of these beneficial bacteria as a normal part of our digestive system, immune system, and for overall health in general.
Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction
As it turns out, these tiny but sophisticated organisms in our gut can actually communicate with us at the hormonal level. They have even been proven able to influence our thoughts and attitudes. Furthermore, they can act as tiny factories for us and help our physiology run smoothly. They also are able to interact with our bodies metabolic regulatory system and affect our hunger reflex. Practically, this means that the microbes can give us cravings, and help tell us what we need at a particular time. They can also help us to lose weight and reduce our hunger reflex by providing steady doses of required nutrients. It has been estimated that up to 60% of the hunger reflex is driven by micronutrient demand, not caloric needs. When the bacterial colonies manufacture vitamins for their own metabolic needs, we benefit by also gaining access to them.
The colonies of bugs in our stomachs are collectively called our “gut microbiome”. Recent studies have clearly shown that human beings spent most of our existence with large collections of diverse species of microbes living in our gut, helping us to survive (and vice-versa). As strange as it sounds, competition for resources between the various strains of bacterial species living in the gut has recently been shown to be a primary driver of healthy immune function. Unfortunately, the modern food supply is extremely detrimental towards such a theoretically “normal” gut biota and hence the immune function of large numbers of people are severely compromised, and they don’t even know it, they think it is normal. Hence one very large reason for the prevalence of age related non-communicable disease.
How do bacteria in our GI tract help?
How can bacteria living in our gut affect our health? Well primarily by helping to strengthen the immune system, and by helping us to efficiently digest and absorb nutrients from our diet, and by directly manufacturing significant quantities of vitamins and other vital nutrients. People generally have a misconception about what the immune system really is. The immune system has a wider and more important role towards health and aging than often realized. This is because in addition to fighting invading germs, the immune system is also responsible for repair and maintenance of all the cells in our body all the time.
Because of its diverse and very active role in our overall existence, the immune system needs healthy levels of many chemical resources to function at peak efficiency. Primarily it needs a lot of vitamins, minerals, specialized micronutrients, and cellular energy to work properly. Probiotics help to digest foods, releasing their nutrients. In return for sharing our diet, the probiotics then manufacture many various essential micronutrients and help us to absorb them. Many vitamins are produced by these symbiotes. Some examples are vitamin C, the entire vitamin B series, and nearly the entire vitamin K series.
The immune system keeps our cells healthy
While keeping us from getting the flu is an important function, the immune system is also responsible for multitudes of other ongoing cellular repair processes. For instance, plaques in clogged arteries are found bound up with immune system cells. Many specialized cells and enzymes are constantly working to try and remove this plaque and repair ongoing damage to the walls of our veins and arteries as every second ticks by. This is true for all the tissues of our body from skeleton to skin.
The body has all sorts of repair work to do via the immune system. As another example, in the category of DNA damage (which can lead to cancer), the body might repair up to 500,000 incidences of genetic damage in each cell of our body each day. That is a lot of repair work to keep our genetic information healthy. DNA damage is only one type of cellular repair activity our cells have to engage in on a daily basis.
The cells lining the insides of our gut are also placed under a heavy repair load with each meal. Keeping these cells healthy is a very high priority towards our survival and involves many complex mechanisms of molecular repair and maintenance. In fact, the lining of the gut occupies a higher status to our bodies repair-priority-ranking-system than does the lining of the veins and arteries, short of a rupture. Hence the high incidence of this number one killer of both men and women.
Starving in the midst of plenty
Whether a cell gets repaired in the gut, heart, a vein, the liver, a bone, or elsewhere, does not matter. The regulation and execution of these repair activities are largely the same throughout the body in terms of scope, purpose, and use of the immune system. The word “inflammation” is one that is gaining popularity in common media recently. This is because the markers for “inflammation”, which are generated by the body can be used as a measure for the activation of the innate immune system. Wherever these chemical processes occur, they require a lot of micro-nutrients and cellular energy. These critical ions and molecules play a major role in our bodies biochemistry and without them, we don’t work very well. As our bodies inventory of the various micro-nutrients drop below critical levels, the rate of all these repair processes starts to slow down. Conversely, if we have ample levels of micro-nutrients on hand, the faster these repair processes can go. Trust me when I say that fast and efficient cellular repair processes are a desirable thing for our body to have. At least if we value health and a slowed rate of aging!
If the body’s repair processes are too slow for too long, the body may go into a sort of low-level starvation mode. In this mode, the body rations its resources and down-regulates less critical processes to support more critical ones. This is when our health and genetic aging rates may really start to go the wrong way fast. We may never even realize the sudden decrease in our state of health (for me the late 40’s) is because we are quite literally beginning to starve in the midst of plenty. Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease and Osteoporosis are all symptoms of such long term enforced rationing efforts by the body.
Preservatives in modern foods kill probiotics!
Probiotics living in our GI system and the cells composing our body must share nutrients. The nutrients come from the food. The bacteria then help us to digest food, and to manage the flow of resources in a type of symbiotic relationship. Probiotic foods are naturally rich in all sorts of vitamins and other beneficial compounds. These are things that our body needs and so are really good for our health.
While this is great, unfortunately, due to the modern food supply, it is a battle to keep the gut filled with healthy bacteria and supporting our health. Why is this? Well because in nature, the food is not supposed to be filled with bacteria killing “preservatives” and other toxic chemicals. Preservatives may keep food on the store self longer, and make it cheaper for food companies to distribute products. Unfortunately, they also kill a vital part of our immune system, and so are very bad for our health and aging. If we are going to eat these types of microbe killing foods, we need to also eat a steady supply of probiotics to fuel our immune system and keep our gut healthy.
Home made probiotics are much better than supplement versions
There are now dozens of companies offering loads of complex probiotic products with all sorts of claims. These products can be very expensive, but unfortunately, due to compliance with federal health guidelines (ironically?) they will never contain the same diversity of bacteria as can be obtained by a simply home made and natural source of probiotics. Recall above, when I mentioned it has recently been discovered to be “competition” between bacteria in our stomachs that lead to the largest impact on our immune system? This means we need “diversity”, or simply as many species of bacteria in our gut as we can get. This is where natural probiotics excel.
One of my favorite recipes
For the rest of the article, I am going to show how to make one of my favorite probiotic recipes. It is my favorite because it is very spicy, tasty, and I like to eat it. This type is a sort of pickled pepper relish. Other types might be a brined German Sauerkraut, or Korean Kim Chi. There are hundreds of recipes. These are all examples of what we call “fermented vegetables”. We should try and eat many of them for variety. However, be aware that store bought varieties are normally pasteurized, which kills any beneficial microbes. This is why we make our own! Fermented basically means colonized and partially digested by acid producing bacteria. The bacteria naturally live on the surface of the vegetables and will thrive when given brine water to live in.
Specifically, our guts have learned to cooperate with the types of bacteria that live in acidic and briny environments. This is because our stomachs are themselves very acidic and briny. This is why we use brined fermented vegetables to make our probiotics. These conditions allow only the good types of bacteria to grow and proliferate. This means that making high potency and world class probiotics is cheap, easy, fun and tasty. I can generally make a 3 to 4 month supply in less than a 1/2 hour preparation and a trip to the grocery store for fresh veggies. So here we go…my favorite recipe for a pickled pepper relish!
Obtain vegetables. More peppers equals more heat. (Figure 1)
Weigh salt. High quality sea salts are best. Make sure the salt is non iodized. Iodine will kill the bacteria! Mixture equals variety. Anywhere from 4.5-5.2% salt by weight is best. A small dietary scale is necessary because different salts have different densities so tablespoons don’t work well. 9.5 grams of salt into 1 quart of water is approximately 1.0 % by weight. So to make a 4.8% brine solution (my favorite) , we would need 4.8 * 9.5 = 47.5 grams of salt in one quart of water. In this particular batch, I am using closer to 1.5 quarts of water and a proportionally larger amount of salt. (Figure 2)
Mix brine and let completely dissolve at room temp. (Figure 3)
Chop vegetables to the consistency and size you like.
Mix in spices. I use only a pinch of minced garlic (not much needed) and fairly liberal chili powder (Figure 4)
Pack jars. It is important that no vegetables float to the top and poke above the water line. This can cause the growth of fungus. As long as everything is below the brine level, only good bacteria can grow. To help this, I take one or more pieces of an onion and place over the top of the chopped vegetables. This acts as a sort of cap. I then place a smooth clean river stone on top of the onion section to hold the veggies down. Recently I have moved up to a nice German fermenting crock. I will use it next time. (Figures 5, 6, 7)
Fill with brine. Make sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of air gap above the liquid. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) will build during the ferment and raise the pressure. The CO2 build up will form anaerobic conditions, ideal for fermentation. This air gap will prevent the jar from exploding as long as you vent it each night. You can try to leave the lids a little loose to prevent pressure, but make sure to place them onto a platter because the jars may leak juice due to the bubbles. (Figure 8)
Place in a dark cabinet. Vent each night to release CO2. 5-9 days is my best time. Less time is not sour enough, and more time leaves the texture less crispy. Some like months of fermentation. More time equals better flavor blends, but less crispness. Each can find their own favorite fermenting time.
Vent each night. You can taste each night to experience the lactic acid and flavor blend develop. Really don’t forget to vent, or you can have a big mess!
When the fermentation is complete, place in refrigerator to quench the process.
Enjoy small servings several times per week. Fermented foods are powerful and in addition to beneficial nutrients, also contain stimulating vitamins like K2-MK7 and the B series, as well as mild toxins like histamines. Large servings can cause insomnia and anxiety. Just one small serving each day or less is enough! You can magnify the beneficial processes by eating the live vegetables with a starchy prebiotic food like an apple or potato to feed the microbes you inoculate into your gut. A batch like the one shown above will last us several months. I like them with eggs, by themselves, with olives, and with salads. I also make a milder variety of carrot based pepper relish for others in my family.