Eating Brains to Become Smart

February 26, 2019 in Foodland Chronicles, General, Health by Joyce Bunderson

The other day, in the course of having a little conversation with a friend, she told me that she takes supplemental enzymes orally that help her health. She believes that when she swallows the enzyme supplements that the enzymes do whatever they normally are supposed to do if they were injected into the bloodstream. She absolutely believes that this happens in her body and it improves her health. Frankly, I was surprised; but then I started thinking about it a bit and realized that supplement companies and cosmetic companies profit in a big way as long as people keep believing in this fallacy.

First, I began thinking about the skin care businesses that touts taking collagen supplements to improve the skin’s appearance. People buy the idea because we know that collagen is what keeps skin elastic and smooth. When you look in the mirror and discover that little lines are appearing all over, you may begin to spend a few more moments at the cosmetic counter or on the internet trying to discover how to make those lines go away. Heaven knows, we’d all like to fix the fragmented, frayed collagen that our older bodies perpetuate, especially those of our face. It would be nice if our collagen-making cells would perform like they did when we were young.

Unfortunately, we cannot simply eat brains if we want to become smarter; or heart if we want to have more courage; eating insulin will not make our blood sugar go down nor will our diabetes  go away; eating collagen will not result in a smooth, young face. There is an important bodily function to understand that will help protect each of us from the charlatans.

When you digest protein, all proteins, whether they’re collagen, enzymes, insulin (a hormone, but still protein) they are broken down into two or three amino acids. We call these peptides. Peptides and amino acids can be absorbed across the intestinal wall, into our blood. Then, each group of specialized cells of our body uses the amino acids from the peptides to build the proteins, enzymes, hormones and connective tissues like collagen that those cells are designed to produce for us from the peptides.

Did you ever wonder why people with diabetes have to use a needle or a pump to get insulin into the blood? Why can’t they just take it orally? That’s because the insulin would be digested into peptides and amino acids and would not turn back into insulin; unless the cells of the pancreas work well enough to take the amino acids from all food and supplement sources to make the insulin from scratch. Note: Sometimes people get confused that oral medications that can help lower blood sugar or improve the ability of cells to absorb sugar are insulin. No, there are medications that cause the liver to produce less glucose (blood sugar), or improve the sensitivity of the cells to whatever insulin is still produced by the pancreas. These are NOT “oral insulin”. Metformin and other orally administered drugs that help keep blood sugar under control are not insulin.

The system of making all the protein-containing parts of our body is beautiful to to contemplate -- it even seems somewhat miraculous. That system is a fairly complex system, like most things that happen in the human body, with all kinds of regulatory systems governing it. But the take-away lesson is fairly simple. If we realize that taking protein like chicken, fish, beef, the protein in nuts, seeds, vegetables, and grains; or insulin; or collagen from a jar, or enzyme supplements –all of these are broken down into amino acids and peptides. Once we have learned this lesson, we will not allow supplement producers or anyone to swindle us.

We all have to eat; and if we eat a healthy diet containing protein, and with a few exceptions, most foods (not just meat) contain protein. Protein from all kinds of foods will give us the protein building blocks (amino acids) to make your enzymes, collagen, and all the rest of you. It is a mistake to pay the price of buying supplements.

For me, one of the most upsetting aspects of this type of fraud is the knowledge that some people who are spending money on this type of supplement, could buy better food with the money. They’re being led to believe, erroneously, that the protein supplements will assure them of better health or beauty. People are wasting their money.

We have presumably left behind the beliefs of the Dark Ages, when people believed that you could eat brain to be smart; and heart to have courage. Now we must leave behind he equally uninformed notion that we can eat enzymes and other specialized proteins and have the same benefit as if it were like insulin, injected into the bloodstream.