Health and Diet
Plants defend themselves, physically and chemically.
The bottom line. Plants are immobile and seemingly vulnerable to predation, but they’re actually far from defenceless. The physical defences of plants, the thorns and spikes of cactus, rose and raspberry are well known. However, the hidden physical and chemical defences of plants pose the greatest threat to human health and the consumption of certain common plant foods could be the single biggest contributor to poor human health outcomes.
There are several aspects to the over-consumption of plants by humans that need to be discussed.
The bottom line (intestinal permeability). Intestinal permeability is a major contributor to inflammatory disease in humans. According to Neurobiologist Zsofia Clemens, head of Paleomedicina in Budapest, Hungary, intestinal permeability, and its contributory factors, is at the root of all autoimmune disease and metabolic cancers. As she says, ‘there’s not much left when you get rid of all those diseases.’ According to Paleomedicina’s research, about 90% of modern humans exhibit intestinal permeability.
Intestinal permeability is caused by plant sourced bio-pesticides called prolamins, lectins and saponins. They’re found in most plants but in highest levels in legumes, grains, pseudo-grains and nightshades. Also contributing to intestinal permeability are artificial sweeteners, alcohol, dairy proteins and chemicals found industrial seed (vegetable) oils.
The detail (intestinal permeability). First postulated over a century ago, mainstream western medicine didn’t accept the existence of gut permeability until the last two decades or so, and there is still significant ignorance about its effects in the medical community.
The gut comprises about 70% of the human immune system. It is the point of closest contact between the environment and pathogens and the human body. It has the difficult job of having to absorb nutrients from the food put through it while screening out pathogens and toxins from the same material. Gut permeability is the single most significant factor determining how well the gut can complete this task.
In a healthy gut, the epithelial cells in the intestinal wall have robust joints and produce a strong barrier between the intestinal tract and the bloodstream. Pathogens, toxins and biological ‘debris’ are kept in the gut and only required nutrients absorbed.
Unfortunately, several factors can cause damage to the bonds between the epithelial cells, resulting in gaps that allow toxins and non-nutrients to enter the bloodstream. The most well-known is gluten, a prolamin (bio-pesticide) protein found in wheat, rye and barley. However, there are many other prolamins found in other grains. Gluten stimulates the production of Zonulin, which splits the bonds between the epithelial cells, allowing non-nutrient debris to enter the bloodstream.
Other factors that increase intestinal permeability are casein (dairy) proteins, industrial seed oils (vegetable oils), artificial sweeteners and alcohol. However, by far the worst chemicals for causing intestinal permeability are lectins and saponins, bio-pesticides produced by most plants but found in extremely high concentrations in legumes, grains, pseudo-grains and nightshades. They are not as well-known as the prolamins because gluten, once in the bloodstream, also infamously causes the autoimmune responses that cause gluten intolerance (a disease caused by an antibody that damages neurological, liver tissue, etc) and celiac sprue (a disease caused by an antibody that damages intestinal tissue, etc).
The pharmaceutical industry is aware of the effect of lectins on gut permeability and the most aggressive lectin, found in rice, is added to some medications to increase their absorption into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, many toxins are also allowed through the same membranes, contributing to many of the ‘side effects’ of pharmaceutical products.
The bottom line (inflammatory toxins). Inflammation in the body is a natural response to tissue damage. Exercise breaks down muscle tissue, resulting in an inflammatory response that contributes to muscle synthesis and rebuilding muscles. However, many inflammatory responses are the result of chemical damage from the environment and, most commonly, from inflammatory chemicals absorbed from foods. Some of these chemicals are necessary in small quantities but become toxic at higher concentrations. Most are neither necessary or helpful and these are found at the root of most autoimmune disease.