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Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Food As Medicine

"Parasitized sheep self-medicate with tannin containing foods to reduce helminthoses, even when those foods are of low nutritional quality (Lisonbee et al. 2009). Sheep with high parasite burdens have increased preference for tannin-containing foods compared to non-parasitized sheep until their parasite infection is terminated by chemotherapy (Villalba et al. 2010). As parasite loads increase, sheep eat more tannin-containing foods which are effective at reducing parasite burdens (Juhnke et al. 2012). Parasitized goats in Spain increased the percentage of tannin-containing heather (Erica spp., Calluna vulgaris [L.] Hull) in their diet relative to anthelmintic-treated goats (Osoro et al. 2007), and in Uganda, parasitized goats tended to selectively browse Albizia anthelmintica (A. Rich.) (a bitter plant) that leads to declines in fecal egg counts (Gradé et al. 2007). Sheep with adult populations of Haemonchus contortus (Rudolphi) Cobb ate more of the Mexican tannin-rich plant Lysiloma latisiliquum (L.) Benth. than noninfected animals (Martinez Ortiz de Montellano et al. 2010)...

In mountain gorillas, 30 % of their daily herbaceous diet contains PSCs with antibacterial properties. Of the 172 plant species consumed by Mahale chimpanzees, 22 % are used to treat gastrointestinal-related illnesses in humans. In addition, 89 % of the species used to treat symptoms of malaria among the Hausa of Nigeria are also used in a dietary context (Huffman 1997).

Some of the more important mechanisms cause animals to eat small amounts of a variety of foods, thus exposing their bodies to vast arrays of secondary compounds (Provenza et al. 2003, Provenza 1996). The long-term benefit is that this behavior provides multiple health benefits as well as chemoprophylaxis against food-borne pathogens (Nilius and Appendino 201 1). As culture or food availability in a certain environment may prime individuals to consume bitter and/or spicy foods, the long- term (and unintended) consequence will be protection against pathogens or against chronic diseases.

Recent research suggests that eating spicy foods may not only be related to protecting against food-borne pathogens but to reducing inflammation, an ingestive behavior which has been selected through evolution since ligands that signal pungency are potent anti-inflammatory agents (Nilius and Appendino 2011). Consumption of spicy foods, due to their many benefits, may have meant a higher level of evolutionary fitness among ancient peoples, and thus a greater selection for liking spicy foods (Nilius and Appendino 2011). Olive oil, a large component of the Mediterranean diet associated with many cardioprotective and neurological benefits. contains oleocanthal, a major anti-inflammatory phenolic which causes oral pungency and acts on the same receptors as do spicy foods (Nilius and Appenclino 2011)...

When varied diets are consumed, there is potential for multiple interactions among all the different chemicals present in foods. The idea that one compound can influence another and increase its potential health benefit, once consumed, is termed “food synergy” (Jacobs and Tapsell 2007). This idea exists in the context of foods as well as medicine. “Chemical synergy” (Spelman et al. 2006) describes the phenomena in medicinal plants. When compounds in medicinal plants are looked at as individual components, they are generally less effective than when used as whole plants.

As explored by Jacobs and Tapsell (2007), “food, not nutrients, is the fundamental unit in nutrition.” When focus is taken at the single compound level, rather than the whole food, we oversimplify a series of complex interactions between compounds themselves as well as the breakdown, digestion, and adsorption of these chemicals (Jacobs and Tapsell 2007).

Resources are complementary or synergistic when the average benefit of the combination exceeds the benefit of each component in isolation. Resources are antagonistic when the average benefit of the combination inhibits the benefit of each component in isolation (Tilman 1982). Synergistic pharmaceuticals have proven to be more effective in treatment of hypertension as well as various cancers. Using multiple types of medications at low dosages has increased success and effectiveness compared to a single medication at a high dosage (Spelman et al. 2006). Many of these “Medicinal Cocktails” are found occurring naturally together in the whole plant (Spelman et al. 2006). Not only are these medical cocktails often more effective, they also have significantly fewer side effects and are safer (Spelman et al. 2006). The use of whole plant herbal medications instead of synthetically produced single compounds has multiple advantages and has great potential to be increasingly utilized in modern medicine.

Chemical interactions can also occur when individuals consume an array of different foods with contrasting chemical properties leading to enhanced protection or availability of the chemical compound ingested. Synergy can be observed in the benefits of resveratrol, a phenolic compound found in grapes and berries. Calcium increases the bioavailability of resveratrol (Liang et al. 2008). In addition, resveratrol has low water solubility and must be carried by a protein to remain bioavailable (Liang et al. 2008). Bioavailability of resveratrol is likely increased with consumption of dairy products, allowing resveratrol to use “-Lactoglobulin (a major protein in dairy products) to increase its solubility in water. These synergies could perhaps explain the pairing of red wine (source of resveratrol) with cheeses (source of calcium and beta-Lactoglobulin) in French cuisine."

--- Veterinary Medicine: The Value of Plant Secondary Compounds and Diversity in Balancing Consumer and Ecological Health / Juan J. Villalba, Frederick D. Provenza, Natalie Gibson, Silvia López-Ortíz in Sustainable Food Production Includes Human and Environmental Health / ed. W. Bruce Campbell, Silvia López-Ortíz
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