FDA labeling rules are a straitjacket!
Food and Medicine are NOT opposites
Nita Bishop, N.D.
I live up the street from a retirement center and many elderly people walk by my office daily. One day an arthritic, hunched over gentleman pushing a walker called out to me as I was getting into my car, “Are you the doctor?” I nodded yes. “Well”, he said “if I had known I was going to end up this way I sure would have taken better care of myself”. What if I told you that the20 tons of foods we eat over several decades of living reshape physiological function in the body? And if we modify these factors by eating antioxidants such as blueberries and chocolate we may eventually reshape disease outcomes.
The FDA dictates that every nutrition label and therefore every product must be labeled as either a FOOD or a SUPPLEMENT but NOT both. The FDA position is that it is impossible for any one product to both heal and feed you. It is time to change that paradigm. Every Naturopathic physician knows this is simply not true. We have been using carefully selected foods as effective medicines for over 100 years. There is no quackery here; it’s backed up by the 2002 Human Genome project. This provided scientific evidence that certain co-factors (which influence chemical reactions in your body) match up to certain “nutrient genes”. The food you eat doesn’t just nourish your body; it is loaded with information for your nutrient genes. The Human Genome project demonstrated that all of us have 99% similar genes, but there is that 1% of them, approximately 1300 genes linked to specific health traits and this makes up your biochemical individuality. Nutrients from the food you eat are really just signaling substances for modulating your genomic expression. They affect those chemical reactions or metabolic pathways that are occurring in your body every minute of every hour of every day. What you eat sends different messages to your genes and that alters their expression patterns and that in turn can alter disease. It’s a whole new way of looking at eating because we are now looking at food as potential bioactive molecules.
An example I recently discovered is the Amazon Sacha inchi nut. This organic “tree nut” is so high in Omega 3 oil content that 12 Sacha nuts are equivalent to the 400 mg RDA Omega 3 stated as sufficient by the FDA. That’s no empty claim; it was calculated by Food Quality Labs in Portland, Oregon which tested our Sacha inchi nuts in a fatty acid profile. But the FDA insists it must be labeled and sold as either a food or a supplement when it is obviously both.
Inflammation is implicated in a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Certain foods can have either a positive or negative influence on inflammation-related genes and that can impact chronic disease. An example of these bioactive compounds is flavonoids that are contained in blueberries and most recently discussed in chocolate. These plant nutrients or phytonutrients activate specific signaling factors which produce messages to cancer genes called NF-kappaB or AP1 located in the nucleus of your cells. Eating enough of these blueberry and chocolate flavonoids can positively modulate inflammatory genes. Chocolate was once thought to be nothing more than a decadent indulgence. The latest scientific research shows that it may be the top antioxidant, higher than even blueberries.
Twenty years ago when I was in the Amazon, our shaman/guide sliced open a cacao bean and a dazzling purple juice flowed forth. What I was seeing were those purple anthocyanins, similar to what is in blueberries and I realized chocolate by its very nature was an antioxidant. A few years later at a worldwide Flavonoid conference in Malta conducted by French agricultural scientists, I met the Hershey’s European division who were introducing a healthy antioxidant chocolate called Coco Via. This was not successful, but only because the world wasn’t ready yet.
The world is ready now: Nestle Health Sciences, a newly created division of the food giant for researching and developing medical and functional foods this week stated they believe there is an “opportunity between food and pharma.” and have opened a war chest of funding to study phytochemicals and plant extracts in foods
I strongly believe in chocolate as medicine. Unfortunately, most chocolate companies process chocolate at over 110°F, which doesn’t affect taste but severely diminishes the antioxidant potential. You won’t find a flavonol content category on any FDA label. Antioxidant values are extrapolated by running an expensive battery of lab tests (TROLOX, TEAC, FOLIN ASSAY, ORAC) and averaging the results. But flavonol content may be the single most important thing when choosing chocolate.
Now chocolate is opening her secrets. Research is demonstrating what Naturopathic physicians, practicing science- based nutrition, have always known; food IS medicine. Food has a superior effectiveness and relative freedom from side effects.
Food is not just A medicine – it is your BEST medicine.
Nita Bishop, N.D.