Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Paleo Gut Flora Repair

I was shocked to learn that there were some paleo (meat and veggie) eaters who were getting cured with resistant starch.  I didn’t know that some were sick and, as I said in a previous post, I would not have guessed that starch was good for anything, but spikes in blood sugar.  I was rudely awakened by the shouts of Richard Nikoley on Free the Animal, though I suspect the sanity behind the argument came from Tim and Dr. BG (though she has now modified her position)  He presented a kind of Second Coming of Paleo with resistant starch to feed the gut flora as soluble fiber.  How could I question food for flora?  (How could I question Nikoley without my karate gi?)

Paleo is not Paleo
It took me a while to realize that paleo is not the same for everyone.  I thought my Anti-Inflammatory Diet (meat/fish/eggs/dairy and veggies, without vegetable oils or sugars or grains) was paleo.  The way that I used this AID, it was high in saturated fat, low in polyunsaturated fat, high in protein, low in high glycemic carbs and ample in prebiotic, soluble fiber.  Some would say it is low carb.  Judging from comments on Free the Animal, I think I would be cast out by some of the more carnivorous (LC and VLC) in the paleo community for including prebiotic fiber.  Some people don’t want to feed their flora, microbiota.  It is a kind of “Let them eat meat,” mentality.

Gut Flora/Microbiota are Friends
I think of my gut flora as fellow travelers on my life journey and what’s good for them is good for me.  I don’t intentionally abuse them, but I also forget that they might not enjoy bourbon or the phytoalexins in herbs and spices.  I don’t begrudge them the soluble fiber that they need, and I think that they are a little happier with each apple (pectin) I feed them.  I simply forget that most people haven’t taught micro, DNA sequencing and the biochemistry of plant cell wall polysaccharides.  My wife starts to roll her eyes at any sentence containing “flora”, “antioxidant”, “inflam-“, “omega-“, “carb”, “paleo”, or even “microbiobiota.”  And the list gets longer.  I think that I'm out of touch, until I read Nikoley.

Paleo Diet without Prebiotic Fiber is Hard on Gut Flora
People get sick on paleo, because they don't feed their flora.  Gut flora are needed to supply vitamins, short chain fatty acids and immune system stimulants.  If you don’t feed your flora you get vitamin deficiencies, gut inflammation and autoimmune diseases (Treg deficiency).  It is very important to remember that feeding your flora means matching the soluble fiber with the existing flora.  Most people make the mistake of assuming that if they change their diet, then their flora will also change.  Their flora will adapt with each of their hundred different species of gut bacteria increasing or decreasing in numbers, but no new genes will be present to digest new soluble fiber.  Eating a meat diet will eventually eliminate gut bacteria needed to digest some plant materials and produce intolerances.  The missing bacteria will not be regained upon return to eating plants again.

Changing Diet Does Not Repair Gut Flora
Many people lose species of gut flora as they change from diet to diet, eat processed foods lacking soluble fiber or use antibiotics.  The loss may be permanent, but need not be.  Food intolerance and most “allergies” merely reflect missing species of bacteria, and introducing new bacteria fix the problem.  Lactose intolerance, for example, can be cured by eating live yogurt.  Similarly, many immunological problems, such as autoimmune diseases, result from species of gut bacteria that are needed for the development of the immune system, which takes place in the lining of the gut in response to gut bacteria.  New bacteria need to be introduced to fix the deficiency and diet alone is not enough.  Just to be clear;  meat-exclusive paleo can lead to autoimmune diseases, because of deficiencies in gut flora diversity/species and adding back soluble fiber can only cure the diseases, if the bacteria needed to digest the fiber polysaccharides are still present or are reintroduced.  Also note that there is soluble fiber polysaccharide sufficient in a carnivorous diet to support properly adapted gut flora.

Dairy Probiotics Do Not Repair Gut Flora Destroyed by Antibiotics
Don’t expect dairy probiotics to cure diseases caused by deficient gut flora.  Bacteria that grow on dairy cannot survive in the gut.  I know that physicians, including Dr. Oz, recommend that patients treated with antibiotics eat yogurt to repair their gut flora.  It ain’t  gonna happen.  That treatment is just for the doctor’s benefit (and provide some temporary functionality), to make her feel like she is addressing the problem responsibly.  I suggest that the antibiotic-damaged gut flora will screw up the immune system and bring the patient back to the doctor’s office even sicker.  Antibiotics are very good for business.

Health in a Crock
So, here comes the part that was missing from Nikolay’s Paleo plus RS.  He left out the missing gut flora.  RS is a panacea for those with some gut bacteria that can digest RS, but for those with profoundly crippled gut flora, e.g. some of those with autoimmune symptoms, RS is just inert fiber, not flora food.  
New bacteria must be eaten, and I think that the cure, short of the real deal fecal transplant, is still available in the original, paleo form of naturally fermented, live foods.  The answer (and please forgive the fervor, because I think health can be this simple) is Fermented Vegetables, by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey.  Their book, right, is coming out in September, and I think that the most important part of this cure is that it looks and tastes fantastic.  This is not canned, dead sauerkraut.  These are culinary delights from simple recipes in which the natural bacteria do all the work.  Since they are long time friends of mine, I have coerced Kirsten into giving me some advance access to some of her recipes.  She has also tentatively agreed to share on my blog some of her personal fermentations on happy bellies.  So check back for future posts.

Pay close attention, because some of these recipes may cure what ails you.  They have the potential to repair your gut and are the healthful fix for a sickening faux “paleo” diet.  Note that homemade, live fermented veggies contain 1) fermenting bacteria responsible for acidifying the brined veggies for storage, 2) additional bacteria of the species missing from your gut flora and are just along for the ride, and 3) veggies that have their soluble fiber intact and ready to feed your gut flora.  Cooking, pasteurizing or otherwise harming the live, working bacteria in fermented vegetables destroys their benefit in contributing to your gut flora.  It only takes a few of the bacteria that do survive passage through your acid stomach to fix your gut flora.

Major Points of a Healthy Paleo Diet
  • Meat/fish/eggs and veggies, without dairy, grains, vegetable oils and processed foods.
  • Nikoley and others pointed out that a healthy paleo diet has soluble fiber, e.g. RS, to feed gut flora.
  • Resistant starch is a unique category of soluble fiber with health benefits.  (Other types of soluble fiber may also be needed.)
  • Diet alone is not enough for health, add gut flora.
  • Diet and gut flora need to match.
  • The natural paleo source of gut flora bacteria is homemade fermented vegetables.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Resistant Starch, Panacea, but Why?

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I am definitely not a bandwagon kind of guy (except maybe in the case of fecal transplants.)  So embracing evil, high-glycemic starch as a medicinal godsend was tough.  As a biochemist raised on structural analysis of carbohydrates, the idea of starch as a mixture of linear amylose and branched amylopectin, was straightforward.  Amylase in saliva and pancreatic solutions digests the linear alpha,1-4,glucan stretches and pullulanase (bacterial) degrades the alpha,1-6, glucan branch points.  But this suggests that starch should be digested before it gets to the colon and most of the gut flora.  This ignores the spirals of amylose that resist amylase digestion, i.e. resistant starch (RS), and that lead to the puzzling role of RS as a special food for gut flora and a health panacea.

Why is resistant starch, RS, difficult to digest and terrific for gut flora?  
There are several conceptual difficulties to understanding why RS is Real Special:

  • Polysaccharides are not all simple linear chains of sugars, e.g. they branch (amylopectin) or form helices (RS, amylose).
  • Sugars and polysaccharides have hydrophobic patches.  They are amphipathic like soap.
  • Amylose (RS) forms a spiral with a hydrophobic surface of each sugar facing inward to make a hydrophobic core and hydrophobic patches on the outer surface that structures water to hold the spirals together.  The same principle holds together the double helices of DNA around a central hydrophobic core of stacked base pairs.
  • Polysaccharides (soluble fiber) are made of many different sugars, e.g. glucans, mannans, xylans, galacturonans, etc.
  • Starch is enzymatically hydrolyzed to glucose, which most gut flora can ferment.  Other sugars from other polysaccharides (e.g. pectin, polygalacturonan) must first be converted to glucose for fermentation.
  • Soluble fiber polysaccharides made from multiple sugars, e.g. arabinogalactans or xyloglucans, require multiple bacterial enzymes for digestion by gut flora.
  • Several hundred bacterial enzymes of the gut flora are required to digest the complex soluble fibers of food plants in a typical diet.  Resistant starch requires two.
  • Food intolerances (also mistakenly called food allergies) result from missing bacteria and their enzymes to fully digest soluble fibers.
  • Novel soluble fibers or sugars are used as laxatives, and they lose their loosening impact as your gut flora adapts to digest the new fiber.  Normal, softened stools are half bacteria.
  • Amylose spirals are used as a storage form of glucose in seeds, potatoes, roots, etc., because enzymes can’t attack their glycosidic bonds to hydrolyze the starch into amylodextrins and glucose.
  • Bacteria digest amylose by attaching the spirals to their cell walls and using wall-bound enzymes to tear the amylose apart.  It's like the different requirements of a wood chipper (pancreatic amylase) versus a man with a chain saw (bacterial amylase).
  • The spirals of RS melt during cooking and become susceptible to gut amylase.  Melted amylose can sometimes slowly reform enzyme-resistant spirals, RS, when chilled.  Al dente or chilled pasta has more RS and raises blood sugar less than soft pasta.

Resistant Starch, a Unique Soluble Fiber  
Humans only produce enzymes (amylases) to degrade one of the hundreds of plant polysaccharides, linear starch.  RS is not degraded by human amylases and, as with other soluble fibers, it is degraded by bacterial enzymes in the colon and is fermented to short chain fatty acids.  The difference is that the glucose released from hydrolysis of RS is used directly by common gut bacteria, whereas the other sugars released from other soluble fibers require enzymes produced by particular species of bacteria to be converted first to glucose.  RS is a unique form of starch and a unique soluble fiber.

Short Chain Fatty Acids and Immune Cells Required for Health
Gut flora eat soluble fiber and produce short chain fatty acids, e.g. acetic, butyric, propionic acids, that feed the cells of the intestines and lower inflammation.  The development of both the aggressive and the suppressive (Tregs) halves of the immune system requires healthy gut bacteria.  The bacteria that digest RS, for example, are Clostridia (see EM right, note bacterium dissolving its way into the grain of RS), the type of gut flora that also stimulates Tregs and prevents autoimmunity.  Thus, the beneficial impact of dietary RS results from feeding gut flora.  Most people already support gut flora that can utilize RS, so most people benefit from RS in their diet.  Some people have severely damaged gut flora, dysbiosis and constipation, and they may need to eat live, fermented foods (not just dairy probiotics) to recruit enough new bacteria to benefit from RS.  Other healthy people may already have healthy gut flora that can exploit all of the soluble fiber in a compatible healthy diet, and need no further enhancement of their health by RS.  Health always requires gut flora complementary to diet and each change in diet requires accommodation by corresponding changes in gut flora.  Some changes in diet may require new species of gut bacteria.

Does Altered RS in Modern Bread Explain Gluten Intolerance?

The RS remaining in today’s superfine flour that is rapidly cooked into bread and other foods, may be very different from previous generations.  Traditional hydration and exposure to fermenting microorganisms may have produced breads with higher levels of RS that contributed to healthier gut flora.  Healthier gut flora would in turn produce less intestinal inflammation and a reduced response to gluten.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Diabetic Hypertension, Browning of the Arteries

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I decorated a flan with a drizzle of honey, and my torch produced a toasted spiral.  That was just fructose plus proteins, with a little heat, to produce advanced glycation end products (AGE) that are brown.  If you prefer, you can do the same reaction with egg whites and sugar in meringues, or by grilling brined pork chops basted with honey and anchovy paste.  Fructose is 10X better than other sugars at producing glycation, AGE and browning.

AGE and Arteries
Why do we care about the Maillard reaction and advanced glycation end products (AGEs)?  Of course, understanding the biochemistry of cooking is inherently satisfying and it helps to explain why Dr. House used vinegar to stop meatballs from browning too fast in his cooking class, but it also explains what’s cooking in atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease.  It turns out that AGEs are highly inflammatory and inflammation of arteries leads to plaque formation.  [LDL is less important, because it only aggravates the primary event, inflammation, and that is why fish oil is more helpful for cardiovascular disease than statins.]  So increasing blood sugar is a problem, because it increases the rate of the Maillard reaction in binding blood sugar to the amino acids of proteins, such as hemoglobin to produce HgA1C, and causing vessel inflammation.  AGE in small capillaries also kills the capillaries and causes a rise in blood pressure by making harder for the heart to force blood from arteries to veins.  AGE causes hypertension and that is why salt consumption is not as important.   High blood sugar also increases the level of another powerful glycation agent, methylglyoxal, the active antibacterial agent in Manuka honey.  Honey is effective as a wound dressing, because it AGEs microbes to death!

The Trouble with AGE-ing is Inflammation
Cells detect the presence of AGEs with a surface Receptor for AGE (RAGE).  Binding of AGE to RAGE turns on the inflammation transcription factor, NFkB, with the release of inflammatory cytokines and the symptoms of inflammation.  One of my students did some computational protein modeling of the RAGE, because I was interested to see if RAGE would also bind Metformin.  Sure enough, our hunch was confirmed, indicating that Metformin might also reduce some forms of inflammation and be a treatment for diabetic high blood pressure.

Fructose vs. Inulin; AGE vs. Soluble Fiber
Fructose and the storage polymer of fructose, inulin, are similar to glucose and the storage polymer of glucose, starch.  The polysaccharides, inulin and starch can be converted to the sugars, fructose or glucose by industrial heating or enzymes.  Thus, agave inulin is converted into nectar, and corn starch is converted into syrup.  The polysaccharides are not sweet, but the sugars are.  The polysaccharides don't form AGEs with amino acids (unless they are broken up by high heat into sugars first) and fructose is 10X more chemically aggressive in forming AGEs than glucose.  Agave nectar (fructose) is a better browner than honey or high fructose corn syrup (corn syrup treated with a commercial enzyme to convert some of the glucose into sweeter fructose.)  Both inulin and some forms of starch (resistant starch), reach the colon and are digested by gut flora, i.e. they are soluble (fermentable) fiber.  The gut flora convert the resistant starch into short chain fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory.  Typical starch, e.g. corn starch or wheat flour, is digested by gut enzymes and goes directly into the blood as glucose, it is high glycemic and never reaches the gut flora.

AGE in Food
Should we fear browned foods as inflammatory.  I don't think that AGE in foods is any more of a hazard than all of the toxic phytochemicals that are touted as plant antioxidants.  I think that the gut and liver provide protection.  I brown the sugar on my flans and sear my steaks, even as I relish eating my veggies.  The body can detox these natural products in the gut better than it can handle the AGE made by high blood sugars.

Take Home Messages:
  • Sugars in baked goods or blood, react with amino acids or proteins to make inflammatory AGEs.
  • Blood sugar tests only measure glucose and ignore fructose, which is even more unhealthy.  So, foods laced with fructose can be low glycemic, but very unhealthy.
  • The major AGE in blood is HgA1C.
  • Diabetics have more stable, lower blood sugar on low carb diets, e.g. my Anti-Inflammatory Diet.  The liver produces needed blood sugar from protein.
  • Diabetic use of fructose or agave nectar or honey encourages AGE, inflammation and diseases of diabetes.
  • Starch (not RS) is the only polysaccharide digested by gut enzymes and is high glycemic.
  • AGE is inflammatory leading to artery plaque and hypertension.
  • AGE as browned foods are probably tolerated by the body.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Phytochemicals, Natural Antibiotics and Antioxidants

Plants are mean and sneaky.  They are natural organic chemists and make the nastiest toxins on earth.  Never trust a plant.  Eat them at your peril… or because they taste good.

Plants are Fast and Lethal
I was shocked when people started to laud the virtues of phytochemicals.  I thought that they must have alkaloid poisoning.  My PhD training involved separating and measuring the antifungal chemicals produced by soybean cotyledons exposed to the wall polysaccharides of a pathogenic fungus.  The plants would go crazy and produce a witch’s brew of toxins to provide protection from the fungus.  I eventually wrote a chapter on these toxic natural antibiotics, phytoalexins, for the Encyclopedia of Science and Engineering.  All plants produce these chemicals and as one might expect, seeds/nuts are provided with special protection to avoid being digested.

Plants are Natural Chemical Killers
I developed a profound respect for the ability of plants to protect themselves.  Fungal spores germinate on the surface of leaves and their slender, threadlike hyphae attach and glue themselves to the waxy outer surface and then forcefully and enzymatically penetrate to the spongy cells below.  When the tip of the hypha touches the wall of the underlying cell, the plant nucleus lurches as its cytoskeleton reorients.  The surrounding plant cells respond in sympathy and all of these neighbors mobilize their biochemical processes to kill everything in their vicinity.  In a few hours, the plant chemicals kill the cells producing them along with the pathogen, and would continue to kill more and more of the leaf, but plant cell walls also contain enzymes that convert the phytoalexins to more wall material, lignin, and protect cells outside of the influence of the fungus.  As lignin in wood and plant litter is slowly degraded by microorganisms, it forms humus, the natural organic material in compost and soil, and also releases a potpourri of potent plant phenolics like BPA.  Compost is also a rich source of cell wall polysaccharides, a.k.a. soluble fiber, that feeds soil bacteria.

Phytochemicals are Natural Antibiotics
Most phytochemicals have evolved in plants as pathogen or herbivore defenses.  Since the nervous system is adapted to detect other organisms, it is not surprising that plants target the sensory system, brain and nerves of herbivores, and we detect the flavor and smell of plants/herbs/spices by their defensive molecules.  All of the flavor and taste components of herbs and spices are phytochemicals that kill bacteria, fungi and other pathogens.  Nicotine and caffeine are insecticides.  A detailed, worldwide study showed that spices are used in specific global areas, because of the local availability of the spices and their effectiveness against local food storage pathogens.  People develop a taste for the plant defensive chemicals that they must be exposed to for sustenance.  Cuisine represents a knife edge that separates attractive stimulation from death.  Natural or organic does not mean safe or healthy.  Plants are as dangerous to eat as pufferfish.

Phytoalexins are Useful, but Be Very Careful
Perfume Ingredients
If a grape notices a nearby fungal pathogen, it produces its phytoalexins, including resveritrol, which is a notable “antioxidant” that has been recognized as contributing to longevity.  People are encouraged to drink red wine for the health benefits of its phytoalexins.  Most of the pharmaceuticals derived from plants are phytoalexins in disguise.  Of course, the evolutionary origins of phytoalexins as natural broad spectrum antibiotics, makes it no surprise that phytoalexins are commonly toxic, carcinogenic and very dangerous to fetuses.  Morning sickness has been explained as nature’s way of telling a mother carrying a vulnerable fetus to not eat plants and potentially phytoalexins.  It is wise for women to avoid plants, perfumes and essential oils during their first trimester.  Essential oils are phytoalexin extracts from plants and many of these components are the essence of perfumes.  These same chemicals, e.g. limonene, serve dual purposes as fragrances and paint strippers, recreational drugs and insecticides.  We can smell these natural plant chemicals, because they are attacking our nervous system.  Multipurpose mixtures of essential oils, such as Vick’s Vaporub, contain menthol, camphor, eucalyptus oil and terpentine that kill bacteria and fungi (toe nail fungus) and also stimulate cold/hot sensing nerves in the skin, which triggers endorphin production and reduces underlying joint inflammation.

Fruits are Fake Seduction
Fructose is fruit sugar.  That is very appropriate.  Fructose derivatives are the most central intermediates of central metabolism, glycolysis; glucose is immediately converted to fructose after it enters a cell as the fundamental source of energy and carbon building blocks.  Fructose is not normally transported in plants or animals, because it is too chemically reactive and toxic.  It rapidly bonds and crosslinks proteins and is ten times worse than glucose in forming AGE (advanced glycation end products) such as hemoglobin A1C.  If you feed fructose to cattle, it makes their meat tough by cross linking protein fibers and it does the same thing to human skin.  Fructose in fruit is a fake, because it is cheap and sweet.  Animals eat fruit hoping to find starch, which is the only polysaccharide that animals can convert to glucose with their own (not bacterial gut flora) enzymes.  Starch quickly becomes sweet, because amylase in saliva digests the long chains of glucose molecules of starch into shorter dextrins that trigger sweet sensors in the tongue.  Fructose masquerades as starch by binding to sweet sensors a hundred times more strongly than dextrins.  The evolutionary advantage to using fructose to make plants sweet is that it takes much less energy and carbon, and it also poisons insects and microorganisms.  That is why honey is made of equal amounts of fructose and glucose, rather than sucrose, for example.  Fructose in high concentrations is toxic to microorganisms and honey can be used to dress wounds.  I can’t understand why fruits, especially juices, are recommended as part of a nutritional diet.  At best, fruit should be converted into juice.  The juice should be discarded and the pulp eaten as a source of soluble fiber, pectin, to feed gut flora. 

Phytochemicals Must be Detoxified to be Edible
Bacterial and fungal pathogens must avoid detection by plants to avoid death by phytoalexins.  Insects, similarly must avoid preformed phytochemicals that would kill or poison them with their first bite.  Pathogens and pests that are effective on one species of plant cannot eat others with different chemical defenses; plants and their pests/pathogens are mutually adapted.  Primates browse on new shoots of many different types of plants, to avoid building up lethal doses of particular phytochemicals.  The same is true of humans, who also have intestines and livers that chemically treat and neutralize plant toxins.  These same human defenses determine the rate at which other related chemicals, i.e. pharmaceuticals, most of which are derived from phytoalexins, are transformed and excreted.  Turmeric contains curcumin, which is the most potent inhibitor of inflammation yet identified.  Unfortunately, curcumin is “detoxified” in the intestine and large amounts must be eaten to suppress inflammation.  Fortunately, pepper contains another phytoalexin, piperine, which inhibits the detox system, so that most cuisines that use turmeric combine it with black pepper.

Trade Your Liver for Vegetables
The liver is the only organ that can be continually regenerated and that is because humans have evolved to eat plants, and phytoalexins take their toll on the liver.  As plants are digested and absorbed in the small intestines and transported to the liver, phytoalexins accompany the nutrients.  Most of the phytochemicals are chemically detoxified by liver enzymes, but the phytoalexins kill some liver cells with each meal and some of the phytoalexins circulate in the blood and reach other tissues.  The phytoalexins are evolutionarily adapted to bind to proteins to disrupt essential enzymes of microorganisms and herbivores, and like pharmaceuticals to which they are chemically and functionally related, they have numerous side effects.  The chemical reactivity is what is detected as the “antioxidant” property of phytoalexins.  Antioxidant is nutritionally meaningless and basically reflects the chemical toxicity of phytochemicals.  After all, you can’t easily sell chemicals that are inherently toxic.  Meat and humans are made of the same easily digestible stuff, i.e. protein, fat, plus indigestible polysaccharides in connective tissue, i.e. chondroitin sulfate and heparan sulfate.  Plants are essentially anti-human and are made of protein, vegetable oils (omega-6), digestible starch, undigestible cell wall polysaccharides, undigestible lignin and toxic phytoalexins.  Humans have adapted to eating plants with liver enzymes, liver regeneration, gut flora (to eat otherwise indigestible polysaccharides, soluble fiber to produce short chain fatty acids) and elaborate cultural habits.  We avoid most plants as too toxic and have domesticated some to produce reduced and tolerable levels of phytochemicals.  Of course this also means that the domesticated, defanged crop plants have a hard time defending themselves and we have to continually worry about blights and pestilences, and end up applying our own witch’s brew of fungicides, pesticides, and herbicides.

Polyphenols and Hormesis
I am going to add a few comments on the benefits of phytochemical "antioxidants", a.k.a. polyphenols, to clarify what I think is a misuse of the term "hormesis", which I thought meant the dilution of a toxin until it reached a magic lower concentration which was beneficial.  The trade offs of phytochemicals are nicely discussed by the Whole Health Source blogger, Dr. Stephan Guyenet.  I just don't think that the benefit of toxic chemicals stimulating the body's own antioxidant arsenal is an example of hormesis.  The point is that phytochemicals always act as toxins and stimulate toxin defenses.  Phytochemicals don't act as anti-oxidants in the body, even though they stimulate antioxidant defenses at all concentrations.  They provide a dubious benefit of unnecessarily heightening defenses with concomitant energy expenditure at low amounts and net damage at higher amounts.
Hakuna Matata and Sip the Tea
Tea Fanatic
I seem to have painted a compromising picture of plants as less than the perfect food.  They are tough and potentially toxic.  Plants clearly don’t like to be eaten and the best that can come of eaten plants is a full belly and a damaged liver.  But if you cook or ferment the plants first and bacteria start to digest and dull the chemical arsenal, plants can be safely and perhaps even enjoyably eaten.  We need not eat just safe meat.  We can also kick back and sip the tea.