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It is only a few short years since the nutritional status as a primary cause of disease was recognized. Today, while most people are willing to admit that the foundation of health is nutrition, few people have studied the subject of nutrition sufficiently to recognize the fact that most of our ill health today is the direct result of malnutrition. We must now realize that the biological mechanisms which occur when the body takes over the utilization of food are so complex that it may be many years before a thorough understanding of nutrition will exist. The importance of the need for basic natural foods, however, becomes more evident with each nutritional discovery.
Body Process Factors
Of late, we have been hearing more about the precursors found in foods which the biochemist refers to as “mother substances.” A precursor is that which “precedes” or “is a forerunner.” These precursors serve to illustrate the interdependence between the everyday foods we eat and our many body functions. The various vitamin complexes, mineral complexes and protein complexes all may serve as the precursors from which the body utilizes factors which regulate the body processes through the enzyme and hormone systems.
Adrenal Gland Precursors
Many scientific investigations have shown that the adrenal glands need specific precursors for their hormone production. The importance of these precursors can be well understood since the adrenals are so vitally concerned with the distribution and mobilization of the various body reserves–circulation energy for active tissues, oxygenation, to mention only a few. Vitamin C complex and G complex are both needed by the adrenals in their function.
Precursors in Mushrooms
Uncooked mushrooms are exceptionally high in vitamin C complex and other vitamins, and their mineral content is also high, notably in assimilable iron and various essential trace minerals. In addition and of much more importance, is the fact that mushrooms supply the enzyme tyrosinase which has an unmatched ability to promote the activity of the ascorbic acid factors. This tyrosinase is an oxidative enzyme which catalyzes tyrosine, an amino acid, which is known to be one of the precursors of one of the adrenal hormones, epinephrine (commonly known as adrenalin). Vitamin B-6 and choline and glutathione have also been the cause of considerable speculation concerning their possible role as adrenal precursors. Vitamin B-6 and choline are both fractions of the G complex. This is the protein-linked group of the B vitamin family which has the opposite effect of vitamin B-1 and its synergists in that it relaxes muscular tissue, probably by its activation of the adrenal functions, (the pantothenic acid phase).
Precursors in Flavoring
Licorice root is particularly interesting in this respect. Some years ago when the search was on for natural sources for extracting adrenal hormones, it was found that a particularly potent source was a well-known proprietary remedy recommended as a “tonic” for anemias and menstrual problems. Upon investigation, it was found that the active factor was in the licorice which had been added for flavoring purposes. Sarsaparilla is another flavoring substance which has been investigated for its possible precursor value.
This matter of food precursors has become so important that the scientists meeting at the Gibson Island Vitamin Conference a few years ago, announced that they had coined a new word to express the idea of a constant vitamin effect. The word used was Vita-Isomers, corresponding with the chemical term “isomer”. These same scientists offered a list of 10 vitamins that were known to be vitaminers.
New Nutritional Horizons
Biological problems today must be concerned not only with protein, carbohydrate, vitamin and mineral intakes of adequate level, but also with a host of other factors. The biological lines are far more finely drawn than they were a decade ago, but the axiom still holds true that the body cannot make something out of nothing. And, the best chance we have of supplying our bodies with what they need to work with is to eat the basic natural foods as originally intended. Food tampering produces counterfeit foods with which our bodies may not even have a “speaking acquaintance.” The cooking of food reduces its nutritional value in animal feeding tests at least one-third, judging from weight gains produced. The trouble with most of us is that we are not informed as to what a food really should do. We are little better as food buyers than the South African Hottentot who is satisfied with a dime store watch for a bracelet.