“When I was 15, a man of thirty I would call ‘Uncle” because he was old to me and through a mark of traditional respect. When I became fifty, a man of ninety was very old to me. But on the 7th of December this year, I would be ninety and I don’t feel old.
Joan Collins said, ”Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine”.
Some of my friends say, ”I am only 18 and the rest 72 is experience”.
I was born in a little hamlet called “Hapugala” in the Galle district, and at the age of 4, my family migrated to the hill capital-Kandy 1,700 ft above sea level. That’s we are still, except my second life in Sydney, Australia.
Dec. 7th 1929, happened to be a Saturday, and this year my celebration falls on the same day, a Saturday. That coincidence is auspicious to me.
Let me now take you back to the nineteen thirties, life then, as my memory remembers, before most of you friends and acquaintances were born.
We had no antibiotics. Just imagine the health risks people had to face globally. Alexander Flemings discovered that mushroom named penicillium only a year before I was born, that was 1928, but the antibiotic was not marketed till 1945 towards the end of the World War 11.
We had two drugs that stopped the growth of bacteria: sulphadiazine for general infections and suphadimidine for gastric upsets.
As I remember the most serious illness then was double pneumonia and when you are hospitalized for this serious illness, you do not come home
Heart disease was unheard of. It was described by Ancel Key in the fifties.
There was no place for heart disease then, our mothers’ cooked healthy foods at home. and we never ate those present day foods saturated with fat, salt and added sugar- out in the restaurants that did not exist, like today. In fact, there were no restaurants or street food outlets then. The only hotels were the South Indian hotels, we called “Saivar kades”. They were most unclean eating houses, we invariably bought the Dosai and idly, as take a ways to enjoy at home.
We had no big cars, except for the ‘Baby Austin’s”. To start the car you need to crank-shaft through
the front grills. You rotate the gadget many a times till you hear the start noise, or it may rebound and
hurt your shoulder to delay your trip by hours till the pain subsides.
We had no refrigerators. We bought large ice blocks wrapped in saw dust to prevent melting, and my
mother used to have a wooden box where meat and fish were stored with these ice blocks.
We had no air conditioners, except for fans.
We had the Bell type of telephones that gave problems most times.
Short messages were sent on postcards by post, unlike today free text messaging is so convenient and quick.
I am happy to be with you today, enjoying all the “High Tech” advances that has made our lives more comfortable. Today, if I want to contact someone locally or overseas, I just press a few buttons on my smartphone and wallah, I chat with my friend for hours, through whatsApp or Viber.
During the thirties, I remember we used to make a communication device with two empty match boxes and a taught thread to talk to other kids within a few feet away. That was then.
We should be not complacent with the wonderful life we all have today, because tomorrow will be different.
Disastrous climate changes will affect us all.
In 2016, Prof Hawking said it was a “near certainty” that sometime in the next 10,000 years, humanity would be faced with a global disaster. I am sorry to say that it is now at our door step.
What does the Pancreas do for you? by Dr. Harold Gunatillake
Pancreas is an organ which supports your digestive and endocrine systems. It manufactures enzymes that helps digestion of the major nutrients, includes Carbs, Fats, and Proteins. It makes insulin and glucagon which ensures the right amount of blood glucose
Pancreas is elongated tapered organ the shape of a banana, located at the back of the abdominal cavity behind the stomach. On the right side is the head and the first part of the small gut the duodenum extending from the stomach, encircles the head of the pancreas.
The pancreas in addition to its head has a body and tail segments. The bile duct which conveys bile for digestion of dietetic fat including cholesterol, runs through the head of the pancreas to open into the second part of the duodenum.The main pancreatic duct also joins the common bile duct close to the duodenal gut, expanding into an ampulla.
Let’s talk about the purpose of the pancreatic organ in the body
Two functions of the pancreas are:
Endocrine– means the enzymes enter the blood stream directly from the gland, like insulin a chemical (hormone) that regulate blood sugar. The gland produces glucagon also to control and regulate the blood sugar.
Exocrine functions: The pancreas produces enzymes that help digest our food.They pass through the pancreatic duct into the gut to aid in digestion of food.
They are protected in capsules to prevent damage to the pancreas and cause inflammation (pancreatitis), in case they rupture.
They are-pancreatic amylase that breakdown carbohydrates. Protease breakdown proteins into amino acids. Lipase breaks down fat These exocrine enzymes are wrapped in a protective layer while they are in the pancreas to reach the gut. Once they are out of the pancreas the protective layer is removed and the enzymes become active The gland makes about 2.2 pints of enzymes a day for the digestion of regular three meals you consume.
About 5 percent of the secretion is insulin secreted in the islet cells, which regulates the sugar level in the blood in addition to other functions.
“Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
If the pancreas does not make enough enzymes that your body needs to break down and absorb nutrients and can’t absorb fats, some vitamins and minerals from foods, is referred to as “Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). You will pass undigested food into the colon and you will become weak and malnourished within a few days.
There are pancreatic enzymes in drug form to be given in such situations. The protease enzyme the gland secretes include trypsin and chymotrypsin to breakdown proteins.
Amylase is an enzyme secreted by the pancreas to breakdown carbohydrates.When amylose content in some foods like basmati rice is high, the digestion and absorption get slower and hence the rice has a lower glycaemic index of 59, suitable for people having diabetes. Also, the amylose content is high in long grain rice like the Australian produce ‘Dongara’. When the amylose content is high when cooked rice is firm and dry.
The round grain sambas have an intermediate amylose content tends to be softer and stickier, and waxy rice has a zero-amylose content and is often referred to as sticky rice or Jasmine rice. These rices get absorbed fast and the glycaemic index is over 80.
The salivary glands that secrete saliva also produce salivary amylase which breaks down amylose in the chewed carbs into smaller chains of glucose, called dextrin and maltose.
Amylase seem to work in the alkaline media and no digestion of carbs occur in the acidic media in the stomach.
In the small gut pancreatic amylase breaks down starch which has many molecules of glucose into a simple sugar- glucose.
Enzymes Trypsin and Chymotrypsin
Trypsin breakdown proteins into smaller peptides and the latter are then further hydrolysed into amino acids.
Chymotrypsin is selective. They select aromatic amino acids such as phenylalanine, tryptophan and tyrosine
Lipase is another enzyme made in the pancreas and it break down fats into fatty acids and cholesterol. They participate in the role of digestion, transport and processing of dietary lipids, such as triglycerides, fats and oils used in cooking and frying.
The islet cells secrete insulin and other hormones. Insulin regulates the blood sugar level in non-diabetics and diabetics may need to be supplemented to maintain a blood sugar within the normal range.
In diabetes, insufficient insulin is secreted, or more will be formed if there is a condition called insulin resistance.
Obesity seems to be one of the main causes of insulin resistance. By slimming you increase your insulin sensitivity.
When the blood sugar falls the pancreas also secrete and release a hormone called glucagon.
Glucagon helps to maintain the blood sugar level by releasing sugar from the liver stores.
You will now realise the importance of having a well-functioning pancreas for digestion and absorption of food for health and wellbeing.
Your pancreas can get inflamed. This condition could be acute or chronic.Acute could be due to a minute stone obstructing the pancreatic duct. Intense pain in the upper belly (epigastrium) could be due to acute pancreatitis. It can also be caused due to a gallstone obstructing the common bile and pancreatic duct near the entrance of ducts to the duodenum.
Other causes of acute pancreatitis are medications, autoimmune disease, infections, trauma, metabolic disorders and after surgery.Chronic pancreatitis is a situation where the pancreatic enzymes start working within the gland without being released to the gut. Heavy drinking could be a factor.Increased levels of triglycerides in your blood or an immune system disorder can also cause chronic pancreatitis.
In cystic fibrosis the body makes unusually thick sticky mucus due to a genetic disorder affecting mostly the lungs, pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestine. Long term, the person finds it difficult to breath, and coughing up thick mucus. The condition is diagnosed by doing a sweat test and genetic testing. The condition is treated with antibiotics and pancreatic enzyme replacement.
Life expectancy is less than 40 years Early sigs include salty sweat, poor growth and weight gain. Constant coughing and wheezing are features.
The other inherited condition of the pancreas is Schwachman-Diamond syndrome. In this condition less pancreatic enzymes are secreted due to missing cells in the pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer is quite common among Sri Lankans. Diets high in red meat consumption and eating fried foods and nitrosamines may increase risk of cancer. Diets high in fruits and vegetables seem to reduce the risk of pancreatic cnacer.
Cancer of the pancreas could occur following pancreatitis, diabetes, family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation.
High blood sugar raises the risk of pancreatic cancer- one of the deadliest forms of the disease.
Life threatening tumours are more common in people with hyperglycaemia Research has shown that high blood sugar could increase the risk of pancreatic cancer A study of more than 25million people found the killer disease is more common in adults with hyperglycaemia
Earl symptoms of cancer of the pancreas are:
Yellow discolouration of the eyes due to jaundice caused due to an obstruction in the biliary canals.
Weight loss and poor appetite and upper abdominal pain are early symptoms. Research has shown that obese men and women have a high chance of getting pancreatic cancer. Chronic heavy alcohol use is also a cause of both pancreatitis and cancer.
Hope you enjoyed watching this you tu.be. It is important that you grasp the essence and add on to enrich your lifestyle. All cancers are preventable, except those ones that are hereditary.
It is our tasty addictive dietary indulges and sedentary lifestyles, getting obese and lack of exercise that are main culprits for these dreaded diseases.
Walking daily 10,000 steps may reduce the incidence. Try and eat home cooked foods, with less salt, less oil and unprocessed. Take care Goodbye for now
Dish hopper night – Video by Dr. Harold Gunatillake
Hoppers attract Sri Lankans’ globally. It was a staple food originated in Kerala called “appam”. The main ingredients in the batter are coconut milk, rice flour, yeast, water and sugar. It is kept overnight to ferment and the batter would be ready. This Hopper Nite was organised by Manjula, the owner of “Dish” restaurant in Glebe, Sydney. Filmed by Dr. Harold Gunatillake.
Organised by Manjula, owner of “Dish” Restaurant In Glebe, Sydney.
Conventional Alternative Medicine-By Harold Gunatillake
In the nineteen thirties, the time I was born, there were no antibiotics. The only drugs that were available for severe bacterial infections were Sulphadiazine and Sulphadimidine for gastric upsets, respectively. For minor symptomatic ailments dispensed mixtures prepared by the pharmacist on doctor’s prescriptions were given to patients, then. Patent medicine was unheard of. A few mixtures to name are Mist cough linctus, Mist Cough expectorant, Carminative mixture, and so.
Penicillin was accidently discovered by Alexander Flemings, in 1928, a year before I was born, but was not marketed till the second world war (1939- 1945).
The only serious noncommunicable disease, as far as I remember was double pneumonia, and you succumb to the condition, never came home from hospital, considered such a serious killing disease, then.
Heart disease was unheard of. We had no street foods, street restaurant like today serving high dense, salty, highly fried fatty foods responsible partly for the prevalence of heart disease.
I only remember the Vegetarian hotels (Ananda Bhawan), in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), serving South Indian foods like Dosai and wades’. They were most unclean places, so we used to take away those foods home and enjoy.
Today, your GP will prescribe antibiotics for pneumonia and the following day you could go back to work under antibiotic cover. Such is the marvellous change from deathbed pneumonia to back at work the next day, today.
Heart disease was discovered in the fifties by Ancel Key, an American physiologist who studied the influence of diet on health, he hypothesizes that dietary saturated fat causes cardiovascular heart disease. His selection of seven countries to prove his point was a fake.
Today, a person suffering from heart disease can live much longer, than 50 years ago, when cardiologist of the day thought that morphine for cardiac pain was the only treatment available. Due to the pioneering work of surgeons, cardiologists, researchers, with open-heart surgery techniques, coronary vessel ballooning and stent insertions, better nutritional care, the mortality has dropped, and people live longer after heart disease.
Dr Allen stating to avoid doctors and hospitals if you want to live up to the right old ages, is laughable.
The pioneering work for the present-day conventional therapy goes back to eminent doctors like Rudolf Emmerich (1856-1914), Oscar Low (1844-1941), Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915) and so on.
Life expectancy during the early nineteenth century was approximately 50 years, compared to today, over 80 in most developed countries.
What part has herbal medicine and naturopathy played in the role of better health care and longevity among people, globally?
This is a question you must ask yourself, after reading Dr Allen Greenberg’s pronouncement.
He states that the best chance of living to a ripe old age is to avoid doctors and hospitals and learn nutrition, herbal medicine and other forms of natural medicine.
All drugs are toxic
“Dr Allen claims that all drugs are toxic and are designed only to kill symptoms and not to cure anyone”. What a misleading pronouncement is this?
In conventional medicine following the accepted way, the doctor, by listening to the patient’s history, cursory physical examination, clinching a tentative diagnosis, requests for relevant investigations to confirm the diagnosis, and further care by referring to specialists, form the most clinical way to treat patients.
Conventional methods are also referred to as allopathy meaning treating with drugs to affect the aetiological factors that cause the disease and is very specific. Those drugs are well researched with rigorous clinical trials on mice, and other ways to find out the efficacy of such medications. In the US. FDA must approve such drugs before being given to patients.
The naturopaths seem to help people by treating them as individuals and addressing the physical, environmental, lifestyle, attitudinal, and emotional aspect of health. This is beating about the bush, and a merry go round technique of alluring sick people to these unscientific methods.
All drugs are toxic including herbal preparations, and that is the reason why only qualified doctors can prescribe such medications with strict controlled supervision. Even water consumed excessively can become toxic.
If you are on conventional medication for a chronic ailment, it is important to check with your doctor if you contemplate in supplementing with herbal preparations. Herbs can interact with other pharmaceutical medications and should be taken with care.
Herbal medicine is non- specific, and you should never stop taking prescribed medications in favour of herbs without first discussing with your GP. You need to be careful about purchasing herbal medicine over the internet. Unregulated herbal medicine, such as some traditional folk medicine, may interact with your prescribed drugs by your GP.
There are certain herbal medicines that are prescribed by doctors, not in the natural state but the active ingredients in pill-form distributed by the big Pharma.
For instance, aspirin is manufactured from salicylic acid found in the plant meadowsweet.
Other common -or- garden herbs in your home would be garlic, ginger, ginkgo biloba among others that relieves symptoms especially specific for gastrointestinal upsets. These herbs have some therapeutic value but not strong enough specifically to cure diseases, like the conventional drugs undergone many rigorous clinical trials.
Bottomline: If you have minor ailments like a cold, influenza, joint pains, go for herbal medications that are so popular. They want kill you. If you suffer from a more serious non-communicable chronic disease see your doctor for investigations and scientific approach to curing the disease. Dr Allen Greenberg’s pronouncements should not be taken seriously when you fall ill. Written by Dr. Harold Gunatillake www.doctorharold.com
About the author: Health editor is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Member of the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK), Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Member of the International Societies of Cosmetic surgery, Fellow of the International College of Surgery (US), Australian diplomat for the International Society of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, Board member of the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, Member of the American Academy of Aesthetic & restorative Surgery, Life Member of the College of Surgeons, Sri Lanka, Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery (Cey) ;Government scholar to UK for higher studies and further training. ———————————————
Script: Let’s first talk about the difference between processed and whole foods. Processed foods are altered from natural state, while whole foods are close to natural state.
Processed foods can be categorised as less processed and highly processed food. These are foods where chemicals are added. They are loaded with sugar or its twin- high fructose corn syrup.
Less processed foods maintain some of the original properties.
All veggies are natural and unprocessed while any food in cans for instance beetroot is processed. The canned products have added sugar and preservative ingredients. Stick to natural products and avoid canned product purchases from your supermarket. Why? I will explain as we go on.
Processed foods are not just microwave meals, other ready meals, white rice and white bread. 90% of the foods you buy from your supermarket is processed, and that’s what you enjoy daily.
Next time when you visit the supermarket buy natural unprocessed foods grown in the grounds like veggies, fruits, and avoid canned products. Freeze readily made foods like pizzas, potato chips from the cool fridges in your supermarket, in addition to the unhealthy effects of processing also have added trans-fat to increase their shelf life.
Avoid all such foods. Your body cannot recognise the difference between trans-fat and normal fat. This bad fat gets into each cell in your body and plays havoc,leading to chronic diseases.Processing means doing something to the foods to change it from its natural state. Some foods are highly processed where sugar, oils and artificial colours or preservatives are added.
What we eat today, purchasing foods at the supermarket is processed foods other than the vegetables, fruits and nuts, legumes, cereal grains, lean meats, fish and dairy products. The rest of the products on your trolley are processed foods.
Six out of ten Australian packaged foods are highly or ultra-processed, more than half are discretionary/junk foods and only one third are healthy, according to a new analysis by The George Institute for Global Health.
Lead researcher Michelle Crino said: “Our research shows that Australia’s packaged food environment is full of foods laden in sugar, fat and salt that are also highly processed. It’s not just a few packaged foods that we need to be aware of. Our supermarket shelves are full of products that are making us fat and making us sick.”
Most of these processed foods purchased from the supermarket- are energy dense and nutrient-poor foods such as sweetened soft drinks, cordials, flavoured waters, biscuits, chocolate, meat pies, butter and salty snacks.
These processed foods could be ultra- processed, moderately processed and less processed foods.
Most ultra-processed category of foods in your supermarket are convenience foodsincluding ready to eat meals, pre-prepared sauces or dressings, canned or processed meats, ham, salami, bacon sausages, cheese, breakfast cereals, cakes and biscuits, frozen meals and desserts.
Professor Bruce Neal, of The George Institute for Global Health, said shoppers are being bombarded with junk foods and it is little wonder we are during an obesity epidemic.
It is sad that unknowingly you are mostly buying junk foods we should be eating occasionally. These foods cause an obesity problem with the nation’s waistline.
It is not the intention of people to become obese, but they have no choice, because wherever you go you must eat unhealthy food.
In addition to obesity problem the findings come just months after a UK study published in the British Medical Journal that these ultra-processed foods are linked to a heightened risk of cancer.
Processed foods are tasty due to the added sugars, salt and fat and your chances of eating more resulting in being overweight and risk of chronic diseases are more likely.
Processed foods that do not contain excess sugar, salt and fat may not be unhealthy.
Some foods needs to be processed to make them safe, such as milk, which needs to be pasteurised to remove harmful bacteria.
To improve one’s diet you should include whole foods and decrease the amount of processed foods.
Most beverages to make them sweet are added with corn syrup, which contains high levels of fructose a twin of glucose. The labels will read that “no added sugar” Sugar consumed in excess, cause serious harm to the metabolism in your body. Sugar has ‘empty’ calories. It has no essential nutrients but only a large amount of energy.
It leads to insulin resistance, high triglycerides, increased levels of harmful cholesterol and increased fat accumulation in the liver and the abdominal cavity.
Increased sugar consumption in your processed foods and beverages can be linked to chronic illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
If you read the labels in packaged foods, they give whole heap of ingredients. These ingredients are not actual foods, they are all artificial chemicals that are added for various purposes.
Highly processed foods often contain: Preservatives: Chemicals that prevent the food from rotting. Colorants: Chemicals that are used to give the food a specific colour. Flavour: Chemicals that give the food a flavour. Texturants: Chemicals that give a texture. Junk food you eat are all processed foods. Your brain gets addicted to such foods and you may start eating them to lose control over their consumption.
Bottom line: Remember, you patronize your supermarket with the hope of purchasing nutritious food, but what you are bringing home is processed foods in various forms of packages that is detrimental to your health. Vegetarians are lucky people on our planet. Hope you enjoyed watching this video, and give it a thought about your next purchases at your supermarket Bye for now.
Did you know that plants are held erect from its fibre content? So, all dietary fibre seems to come from plants and pulses, nuts, seeds and fruits of such plants.
Same plant fibre is used for coarse textiles, and the cotton shirts you wear.
Dietary fibre or roughage is the portion of plant-derived food that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes.The carbs you eat containing starch and polysaccharides from plants and roots, in simple and complex forms, is your main source of energy. These carbs are digested through pancreatic enzyme called amylase and absorbed through your gut for energy as glucose and fructose. Although it’s best to get fibre from food sources, fibre supplements can also help you get the daily fibre you need. Examples include psyllium and methylcellulose. Increase your fibre intake slowly to help prevent gas and cramping. It’s also important to so increase the amount of liquids that you drink.
People from the stone age have been eating plant foods containing fibre, but the gut has never created an enzyme to digest them.
• Fibre helps control blood sugar. It also helps you lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. You get fibre from plant foods, so plan to eat more of these foods: Fresh fruits and vegetables
The obvious reason why there is no enzymes to breakdown fibre, is that undigested fibre serves a better function in the gut, than being absorbed. These fibres can give you a feel of filling and fullness and eat less food.
Dietary fibre though being a component of carbs does not affect your blood sugar levels. Also, dietary fibre seems to slow the absorption of glucose from your digested carbs.
This prevents spiking of sugar levels in your blood.
Fibre also reduces blood cholesterol.
So, if you suffer from diabetes, you need to eat Carbs with low Glycaemic index and carbs with plenty of fibre content to prevent spiking of your blood sugar.
Let’s talk about ‘resistant starch’. These starches behave as dietary fibre. Most of the carbs you eat in food are starches. They are found in grains, potatoes and various other foods.
All this starch in Carbs are not absorbed. Small portions will pass through your digestive tract unchanged.
This starch that is not absorbed in called ‘resistant starch’.
Resistant starch functions just like soluble fibre.
They go through your gut and reaches the large gut.
All fibre, including resistant starch feeds the trillions of microbes in your large gut.
These microbes through a process of fermentation form several beneficial compounds which protects your large bowel from chronic diseases like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, cancer and any form of inflammation. These are gases and –These short chain fatty acids (SCFA) also brings down your blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Let’s talk about how one could get resistant starch in rice, to slow the digestion and absorption to reduce blood sugar levels and provide various health benefits.
“How could you slow-Digesting Rice to fight Diabetes and Obesity?” Steven Smith, professor in the University of Tasmania, pointed out that rice is normally digested quickly. Because starch makes up most of the rice’s components and sugars make up starch, people eating rice get a sugar hit. As for the new form of rice, it contains a kind of starch that is digested more slowly. Therefore, this slow-digesting rice would not provide the same sugar hit. Professor Smith said it could help reduce cases of health problems linked to diet like diabetes and obesity.
Furthermore, Smith said the slow-digesting rice would benefit numerous people in Asia, where rice is an important part of the diet. He also stressed that it would be mostly beneficial to those who need to control their intake of sugar.
Sudhair James, an undergraduate student from the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka, discovered a way to make white rice healthier. The chemistry of the starch is manipulated through adding coconut oil into the boiling water before cooking the well-washed rice. The cooked rice is then placed in the fridge overnight to give a dense coating that will lead to less calorie intake and slow digestion. Eating the manipulated rice would reduce the chance of spiking blood sugar levels, making it beneficial to people suffering from diabetes. You will be delighted to know that the Asian biriyani, Lumprai and fried rice have more resistant starch than eating plain rice, and your blood sugar level may not spike.
Milk Rice or “Kiri bath’ you cook on special auspicious occasions and ceremonies is full of resistant starch. Enjoy eating after keeping in the fridge for a few hours.
This does not mean that you should eat these tasty cuisines daily, because of the high calorie content may create an obesity problem. So, moderation applies here.
Concentrate on eating a low carb, low glycaemic index foods with high fibre daily, for better health and better lifestyle. Also remember, the popular Keto diet lacks much dietary fibre and may harm you, at the expense of success in losing weight. Website: www.doctorharold.com
Folate is an important B vitamin for metabolic, genetic,nervous system functions, also has immense potential to prevent cancer. It is naturally present in most vegetables,fruits, abundant in breakfast cereals and whole wheat bread, among others.
Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards and other greens are rich in folate. Vegetarians will not lack folate vitamin.
Folate is an important factor in several metabolic processes, without which may not occur without folate vitamin. You need about 400 micrograms of folic acid or folate in your diet to prevent any deficiency.
Your body proteins are built from dietary amino acids. Folate is required for the conversion of amino acid homocysteine to methionine. Folate deficiency will lead to a build-up of homocysteine in your blood. Elevated homocysteine levels in your blood leads to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Folic acid is an oxidised synthetic form of Folate, used commercially in supplements and in fortified foods.
Folic acid taken in supplements and fortified foods when consumed seems to improve the folate status in your body: in short once absorbed into your body, folic acid is converted into metabolically active folate.
Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin, and deficiency seems to cause anaemia, thickening of blood vessels (atherosclerosis), cause spine abnormalities (neural tube defects), adverse effects on pregnancies, cause neuropsychiatric disorders, reduces diseases and worst increases the risk of cancer. Folate is essential to produce new red blood cells, and deficiency can lead to anaemia.
Epidemiological studies show evidence consistently that high intake of dietary folate as a preventive agent lowers the risk and incidence of cancer by 40% in the intestinal tract including the colon, and pancreas Now let’s be more technical and find out how folates can prevent and lower the risk of cancer.
Every cell in your body carries the same genetic information.It primarily synthesises a chemical called thymidylate. This chemical acts as an enzyme to produce the precursor for DNA biosynthesis. Folates also synthesises purines that’s needed for DNA replication and repair. The term replication applies to the process occurring in all living organisms to copy their DNA. and multiply.
Folate deficiency in tissues of your body with rapidly replicating cells may result in ineffective DNA synthesis. Such ineffective DNA synthesis replication in tumour cells results in inhibition of tumour growth.
In cancer chemotherapy number of antifolate agents such as methotrexate and 5 fluorouracil are used to suppress the growth of tumour cells.When doctors prescribe methotrexate as an antifolate agent to suppress cancer one should avoid taking foods containing folic acid, such as dark green leafy vegetables like spinach; broccoli; kidney, lima, and lentil beans, peas; beer; whole grains; wheat germ and organs.
Methotrexate in addition being given as an antifolate agent to suppress cancer, is also freely given as a treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis.
Methylation of DNA
Also, adequate folate status is essential for production of S- adenosylmethionine, which is important in methylation reactions, including DNA methylation. DNA methylation is a process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule.
DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism that occurs by the addition of a methyl (CH3) group to DNA thereby modifying the function of the genes, causing a mutation affecting gene expression. Such methylation of the DNA can induce mutational events and precipitate the development of a large and diverse number of human cancers.
Studies also have shown consuming dietary folate reduces the risk of invasive breast cancer in women. There are contradictory reports that high folate supplementary intake may cause breast cancer risk, and the increase is significant as much as 20%.
Be aware that folate deficiency can occur without being aware of the situation. It is sensible to get your folate level in your blood if you have any doubts, and especially there is a history of cancer in your family. Vegetarians and vegans get sufficient folate vitamin and they have no worries. Mainly meat eaters with less green vegetable consumption, should be aware of the risks they could face with. Dr Harold Gunatillake