You Are What You Eat

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Biochemists have new evidence that you are what you eat, from the perspective of both physical and mental health. The re- search by University of Colorado, Boulder, scientists, report- ed in the journal Science, shows food molecules entering the human body act as hormone-like messengers that regulate pivo- tal body functions at the cell level. Such functions include the division of cells implicated in cancer, heart disease and inflammation processes. In addition, some mental imbalances can be aggravated by the consumption of particular foods that contribute to mood and learning disorders, said professors Barbara Demmig-Adams and William Adams. For example, atten- tion-deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia and dys- lexia can be influenced by food, Demming-Adams said. Improve- ments are seen in diets rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, contain- ed in such foods as salmon. It is likely that fatty acid imbalance is aggravated by the consumption of foods high in Omega-6 fatty acids, such as those found in deep-fried foods, scientists said. In an ironic twist, patients diagnosed with severe mental disorders are often institutionalized in cen- ters where they are fed fatty foods and a generally nutrition- ally poor diet, Adams said. Most of the hormone-like food molecules are synthesized by plants and cannot be manufac- tured by the human body, Demmig-Adams said. Age-related dis- eases such as heart failure, diabetes and many types of cancer have increased significantly in the Western world due to a dramatic decrease in the consumption of plant-based food such as vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, the scientists said. "Food molecules enter our bodies and modulate our genes," Demmig-Adams said. "One's diet can be more powerful than drugs."