It’s Not Nice to Fool With Mother Nature
In the dark days of World War II, America was running short of foods. With the farmers drafted into the service and much food being shipped to the troops overseas, the government decided to support food rationing. Hydrogenated vegetable “oleo margarine” was offered as the acceptable substitute for butter. Take corn or safflower oil and expose it to a catalyst to “saturate” the carbon bonds with hydrogens. You end up with a fat that has similar taste and appearance to saturated fats in nature.
Trans Fats Increase the Risk For Heart Disease
Although on paper this substitution looked good, we have since found numerous reasons to ban or seriously discourage these unnatural fats. Trans fats can increase the risk for heart disease and many other health problems. “It is not nice to fool with mother nature.” was a popular witty ad slogan.
There have been many experiments in trying to improve on nature. Most have been dramatic failures. Over 200 studies have shown that a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables lowers the risk for most cancers and heart disease.
In nature, the native cis beta carotene is mixed with hundreds of other carotenoids and bioflavonoids in plant food. From this data, researchers decided to use all trans synthetic beta carotenoid which was then coated with coal tar derived food coloring for a scientific study in heavy smokers. Turns out the mono nutrient study using an unnatural vitamin increased the risk of lung cancer in heavy smokers. No surprise there.
Vitamin E Can Lower The Risk for Heart Disease
Vitamin E was called the “vitamin in search of a disease” in the 1960s after a study deprived students (“volunteers”) of vitamin E for a year and found no blatant deficiency symptoms. Turns out it takes longer for the symptoms of premature hemolysis (bursting of red blood cells) to surface in vitamin E deficiency. One study found that nurses taking 200 mg per day of vitamin E supplements lowered their risk for heart disease by 40%.
Then came the chemical “tinkerers”. Let’s take nature’s design for vitamin E, which is a rich mixture of tocopherols (alpha, beta, delta, gamma) plus tocotrienols (alpha, beta, delta, gamma) and instead create a synthetic vitamin E (synthetic d, l alpha tocopheryl acetate). No wonder the scientific studies using vitamin E have had mixed results.
Here is a brief true story regarding one of my patients: R.T. was only 5 years old when he started developing attention deficit disorder. His teachers recommended prescription drugs. I suggested omega 3 oils to nourish his brain instead. While fish oil is best, flax oil is an acceptable omega 3 oil source. R.T.’s parents made a whole fruit smoothie with flax oil daily for R.T. Within 2 weeks, the parents called me at their astonishment in R.T.’s improved behavior. He was a bright kid who did not need medication. He needed essential fats for his brain to work properly.