The purity of food is the most effective safeguard against late-onset medical problems. The arrival of food-industry improvements is prompted by facts and opportunities that are known today.
Whole foods, such as vegetables, grains, meat, and fruit each contain a number of nutrients together with other substances. They are mainly comprised of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, water, dietary fiber, lipids, and the DNA of the life forms from which the whole foods were harvested.
Consuming the DNA of the life forms from which the whole foods were harvested is harmless. It is beneficial only in rare cases. The digestive process obtains DNA bases from the DNA. This does nothing for normal individuals. The nitrogen bases of DNA are consumed whenever animal meat or plants are in the diet. These nitrogen bases obtained from the DNA are rarely needed. The body normally makes these bases in sufficient quantity. They are adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine.
The digestive process routinely converts the proteins into their constituent amino acids. We do not eat foods to obtains protein. We eat foods containing protein in order to obtain amino acids.
Each of these nutrients can be obtained from any of a huge variety of life forms. For example, any particular amino acid is exactly the same biochemical compound whether extracted from green pepper, seaweed, egg, wheat, or from any other living thing on Earth.
The amino acids are alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, and valine. There are 20. Some are made by the human body, but all are good to eat.
There are a great many sources of these nutrients. If any particular plant contains the amino acid glycine, this glycine molecule is identical to the glycine found in any other living thing. The practice of separating nutrients found is food sources before recombining them offers enormous opportunities for the economical production of nutrients.
The number of combinations of these nutrients is truly enormous. Therefore, there is enormous opportunity in developing new foods with yet unexperienced taste, texture and aroma.
The aim of the new food technology is to extract nutrients (not protein but rather amino acids, and not DNA but rather the nitrogen bases of the DNA) and combine them leaving unwanted substances behind to form novel and optimally healthy foods.
Not all food toxicity is a product of the modern era. Elements are made in stars. For billions of years, the gravity of the earth has been pulling in the dust and rock produced by exploding stars. The elements made in stars have been falling into the sea and onto the land since well before there were animals and plants on Earth.
There have been efforts to address the food toxicity produced by pollution and pesticides, but there has been no discernible effort to address the massive toxicity introduced to our food plants from natural soil. In fact, all of the toxins consumed by individuals are routinely recycled by using manure as a fertilizer to feed our food plants. New ways of making fertilizer must be developed, and we know how.
Except for technetium (atomic number 43) and promethium (atomic number 61), elements up to atomic number 92 (uranium) are widely distributed. Technetium and promethium are exceedingly rare because they have no stable isotopes and quickly decay to become other elements. Elements having an atomic number greater than 92 are very rare in nature. Of the remaining 90 elements, six of them are inert gasses that exclude themselves from the chemistry of plants and animals. Of the remaining 84 elements, 28 are known to be needed by the human body, but at least 61 are found in almost every person. The number of unneeded elements that we consume outnumber the ones we need. They are responsible for many late-onset medical problems. Although the amounts of these unneeded elements are small, they do us harm. Some of these toxic elements accumulate, never leaving the body.
Cadmium is a very toxic element. However little cadmium we may eat every day, it accumulates year after year. In recent times, we are eating more cadmium because the dumping of cadmium in the ocean has caused a major fraction of phytoplankton (the subspecies called diatoms) to incorporate cadmium in their system to ward off other microorganisms. This affects us because phytoplankton is the foundation of the food chain in the ocean. Everything that lives in the ocean either eats phytoplankton or eats something that eats phytoplankton. Because fish and whales and lobsters and all of the other sea life fail to discriminate between diatoms and the other phytoplankton, every living thing in the ocean contains far too much cadmium.
Another serious problem has more recently come about. Sea salt was given a measure of status by selling it at high prices in health food stores. Then it began to appear in soup, nuts, and other packaged food at a cost no higher than that of table salt. The motive to promote and use sea salt is simple. Sea salt costs the food producer less than the cost of refined table salt. No refinement process is needed. This took deliberate planning and has many people singing praises for sea salt obtained from numerous exotic locations. Meanwhile, this sea salt contains every water-soluble compound that can be formed from elements that have fallen into the sea.
The reason for eating amino acids separated from proteins instead of getting them the old fashioned way (eating proteins) is simple. Not all proteins are good for you. An extreme example of a protein that you can't afford to eat is a prion. Prions have an unusual ability, as far as proteins go. They multiply in your digestive system and they give you mad cow disease. Fortunately, we are well protected from this threat by means of screening cattle. The other proteins are not so well watched. We needs to appreciate the purpose for which these proteins are made. Each of them are made for the benefit of the life form that created it. Proteins are not made to accommodate our needs. We destroy them (or attempt to) by digesting them by means of hydrolysis.
Uranium forms six water-soluble chlorides in the ocean. They are in sea salt. These uranium compounds substitute for calcium compounds in the body as we eat them. They accumulate in the bones. They are mildly radioactive. The are responsible for a small fraction of cancers. 61 minus 28 is 33. That is the number of elements that form compounds in your blood that do you no good. In my opinion, this is a crime.
Addressing toxicity is important because we wish to improve the health of the entire population. Too much is made of our differing genes. The mere fact that some people differ in their ability to ward off late onset medical problems better than others ignores the fact that such defenses become equally effective whenever there is no assault.
In the ocean, a microscopic plant called phytoplankton converts seawater and sunlight into food. Every life form in the oceans of the world either eats phytoplankton directly, or eats life forms that are in the food chain that is ultimately sustained by phytoplankton. Phytoplankton makes food from seawater and sunlight and by that means provides food for everything alive in the sea. Phytoplankton is said to be the bottom of the food chain in the oceans.
Phytoplankton is exquisitely productive. If protected from its predators, it can survive in high concentrations with undiminished efficiency in its conversion of seawater and sunlight sustaining its own population. A managed seawater pond or segregated area of the sea can easily produce 50 times as much food per square meter per year as does rice on land. See Dardeau et al. (1992), Verity et al. (1993), and Dawes (1998).
Phytoplankton is food. It contains 18 of the 20 amino acids. Like all life forms, it contains vitamins, minerals, lipids, and carbohydrates. Cultivating phytoplankton goes a long way toward supplying the nutrients that the human body needs.
To go the whole distance, other sources must also be cultivated, but there is no doubt that farming phytoplankton can reduce the cost of obtaining a large fraction of what we need.