The “Whole” Story This Christmas

appleGot an unexpected surprise Christmas morning. No tiny sugar plum faeries dancing in my head, it was the Radio City Rockettes in full swing. A nasty respiratory bug with a killer headache as its accomplice knocked me flat.  In bed most of the first 24 hours, my head throbbing unmercifully, I was certain my healthy diet would shorten the misery and speed recovery. I kept envisioning Jeff Novick handing each one of my revved up immune cells a sword, and Dr. McDougall smiling blessings on them as they marched off to battle. I may have been a bit delirious.

I’m recovered now and starving. My stomach growled for the first time in days. My rations have been McDougall soups and Ezekiel bread, all the while, a pre-ordered Radical Eats Christmas dinner (think butternut squash lasagna, mushroom strudel with chard, jalapeno cornbread dressing, sweet potato crisp, etc) remained untouched in the fridge. We’ll be celebrating a belated Christmas dinner later.

One positive note to this unanticipated down time though, I had a chance to return to Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s book, Whole. I started it months ago but got too busy to finish. I’m giving myself permission to finish the entire book as I “recoup,” but one section I read yesterday seemed to speak to the heart of what this “whole” business is about, and I wanted to share.

Campbell points out that researchers, studying vitamin C  in apples, found that 100 grams (about a half cup) of fresh apple had an antioxidant, vitamin C-like activity equivalent to 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C (about three times the amount of a typical vitamin C supplement, Campbell notes). So, of course, they expected to find an equivalent amount of vitamin C in the 100 grams of apple, yet when the researchers chemically analyzed the 100 grams, they found only 5.7 milligrams of vitamin C.

“The vitamin C-like activity from 100 grams of whole apple was an astounding 263 times as potent as the same amount of the isolated chemical! Said another way, the specific chemical we refer to as vitamin C accounts for much less than 1 percent of the vitamin C-like activity in the apple—a minuscule amount. The other 99-plus percent of this activity is due to other vitamin C-like chemicals in the apple, the possible ability of vitamin C to be much more effective in context of the whole apple than it is when consumed in an isolated form, or both.”

Wow! Proof positive that the sum of the whole is greater than its parts–and also a good illustration of why isolated supplements can’t do the job of whole foods.

As I rest with Kindle in hand reading Dr. Campbell’s book, I’m reminded of what a wondrous, complex creation our bodies are, and I’m really grateful. I’m reading, but my body is far from being at rest. Those super charged (and I’m sure blessed) immune cells are fighting to drive the foreign invaders out, while the rest of my body strategically diverts energy and operations as necessary to get us back to status quo. I have only two obligations: stay out of its way so it can do its work unhindered, and supply it with the highest quality raw materials it needs to do its job (conveniently found in a whole plant foods). I can do that.

Regrettably, I missed sending out Christmas Day greeting to all, but I hope each of you are enjoying a delightful holiday season, busily wrapping up the old year, and getting ready for the new.

 

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