A couple of days ago, I was traveling and checking out the restaurants at the airport. A couple of them were Mediterranean, Greek, and Middle Eastern restaurants. Somehow the pair made me think about the Blue Zones, the handful of locations around the world where living to a hundred years old is more probable. Those five places are the Italian island of Sardinia, Japanese Island of Okinawa, Nicoya in Costa Rica, the Greek Island of Icaria, and with the cluster of Seventh-Day Adventists in Loma Linda California. Now people have examined the diets and lifestyles of the people living in the Blue Zones. For example, for Okinawa, the researchers believe its because they put family first, are semi-vegetarians, have moderate physical activity, less smoking, have lifelong close friendships, and eat plenty of seafood. The other Blue Zones have similar patterns.
Now, I believe all of those observations are real and true. But I also think there is also a more in-depth explanation. I believe the key is the fact that many of the Blue Zone locations are near the ocean. The people eat seafood, and the soils that grow the foods are likely to be rich in minerals.
You may be wondering why I am fixated on this mineral explanation. Its because over the years, I’ve had to connect a crazy number of dots to help keep my wife well. And one of the dots that I had to connect was discovering that the critical mineral that dramatically affected her well-being was the mineral magnesium. And after I learned about magnesium, I studied further and learned more and more about minerals. Because I started to see the mineral connections in the scanty number journal papers in Pubmed.gov, I started to ask, "Are there other places in the world I could look to better understand the importance of minerals?"
And that is when I remembered that long time ago I had an unwell aunt. She had flown to this place called Lourdes in France to spend time at the famous baths there to help her to try to recover from a health issue. Then I also remembered there was a Roman bath in a Southern English city called Bath. Although I never visited Lourdes, I did travel to baths in Bath. They were not merely holes in the ground filled with water. These were elaborately constructed rooms built of carved stone. The Romans designed and built plumbing systems for heated water and steam moving under the massive floors. Now the Romans were one of the most powerful, intelligent, and successful civilizations to walk this planet. And for them to make a big deal about taking a bath in a bunch of water seeping from the Earth, there must have been a real reason. They must have seen things that were really important for health. You see, one thing I have learned is that if our ancestors believed in certain things for centuries, there often was an underlying reason that deserved exploration. So what was the magic of taking a bath?
One day the light turned on. I remembered around 1993 when I received safety training while working in semiconductor factories. My trainers warned us of the dangers of getting toxins onto our skin because they could be transported into our bodies and cause serious trouble. So flashing back to the Roman baths, I reasoned that centuries ago many people in Europe probably had limited diets where minerals may have been deficient. For the reasons discussed below, they would develop health challenges. When someone immersed themselves in the warm baths, they were heating up their skin, opening the pores and letting things into their body. But what was that something? That something was the minerals could be rapidly absorbed through the pores of their skin. They could immediately get transported throughout the body. Thus rapid improvements would be possible as their minerals would get rebalanced.
I come from the world of semiconductors where touching a 2-inch thick solid quartz component that was on the outside of the machine that made the computer chips with an ungloved finger could contaminate a computer chip processed inside the machine and later destroy a satellite that depended upon that chip. The reason was that the minuscule amount of sodium contained in the oil from your fingerprint was so small and lightweight, it would rapidly move through 1 or 2 inches of a quartz part into the machine. Then it would go onto a computer chip and change and damage the way the electricity moved in that chip and mess up the computer’s calculations, later wrecking the function of a $200 million dollar satellite that depended on those calculations.
So this fact engrained the idea that tiny amounts of the wrong minerals could sabotage a machine. I also imagined that the opposite case, where small amounts of the right materials, could help a machine.
The problem was in the details of the physics. The analogy between computer chips and biochemistry breaks down because the tiny amounts of minerals messing up a chip affected how the electrons moved in the chip, but not how molecules were processed in the body. I imagined that it was not quite the way minerals affected the body. The only way that such minute amounts of minerals in a Roman bath to quickly have huge effects would be if they were behaving like some kind of molecular stamping machine. Just like how there are stamping machines in a car plant stamp doors out of sheet metal all day and all night in an auto plant. So somehow a single mineral atom would amplify its effects by making many many chemical reactions over and over.
For years I sat on this thought, and later during my research, I learned about metalloenzymes, which are enzymes that utilize certain minerals at their active sites. Enzymes are molecules your body makes that are molecular stamping machines. Many of them look like the letter “C” where the black line of the “C” is a structure that flexes as if you were opening and closing the gap between the tips of your thumb to your fore-finger over and over again. In this analogy, every time the tips of your fingers touch, bang, a new molecule could be created or a harmful one destroyed at the contact area. The metal mineral would be at the tip of your thumb. So when your fingers squeeze together in the presence of key chemicals, a good molecule could be made or a bad one destroyed. The good types of enzymes make helpful molecules or destroy harmful molecules.
So I reasoned that if someone were to be deficient in minerals to make the active sites (the tip of your thumb in this example) in these metalloenzymes, they would not be able to make enough good molecules or destroy harmful ones. As a result, the body’s systems would eventually start to lose their function.
This is exactly what happens with heavy metals like arsenic, mercury, and cadmium when they run into a metalloenzyme. Those heavy metals are aggressive and displace the lighter metals like magnesium or zinc that normally sit at the active sites of the metalloenzymes. This is why heavy metals are serious toxins in the food supply. They break the enzymes, which then cause parts of the body to lose its ability to perform effectively.
So where do these minerals in our food supply come from? In North America, places like our farmland or rainforest have topsoils that at least 100 years ago were rich in minerals. But this begs the questions, where did the minerals in the topsoil come from? Some of them came from dust that gets blown around the world in dust storms and some from volcanic ashes or debris from meteorites or comets settling down over the land over millions of years.
Also, many of the minerals originate from the sea. You might be wondering, "How could the farmland in the Great Plains get minerals from the ocean?" After all, the coast could be hundreds or thousands of miles away from the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, or Atlantic Oceans. One explanation is that much of continent was under the ocean millions of years ago so the sedimentary rock would have ocean minerals, such as limestone. Erosion of those rocks would carry minerals far distances, such as across the Great Plains. Waterspouts over the oceans would introduce minerals into the rainclouds that could then be carried over and deposited in the rain far away from the oceans. Over geologic periods of time, those minerals would accumulate and be available in the topsoils to nourish our crops.
The other source of minerals is not as obvious: animals. In and around the rivers that carry spawning ocean fish, such as salmon, bears catch and eat the salmon on land, sometimes hundreds of miles upriver from the oceans. Since the salmon had spent most of its life in the sea, its full of ocean minerals. So when the bear catches it and eats most of it, it leaves the carcass somewhere in the forest near the river. That carcass deposits its minerals back into the soil. Also, when the bear poops, it leaves the minerals someplace away from the river.
Similarly, migratory birds that eat seafood during the winters and migrate inland during the summers, poop all over the land as they fly. Their poop carries minerals from the sea inland. This mineral transport method may seem super slow. However, after millions and millions of years of animals eating food from the sea and pooping inland, it started to add up and helped to make the farmland rich with minerals.
However, with the invention of large-scale modern industrial farming and irrigation practices, the minerals from our topsoils have been rapidly depleted within a century. As a result, you may have to eat many, many times the volume of vegetables or fruits to ingest the same amount of minerals that you would have gotten a hundred years ago.
Now we just discussed how the minerals in our farmland came from the ocean. The next logical question would be where did the ocean's minerals come from. That answer is genuinely out of this world - supernovas, which are dying stars found across the universe. Nearly all of the materials that make Earth came from an exploding star somewhere in our universe. It takes a lot of different nuclear reactions to transform the protons, neutrons, and electrons, which are the building blocks of atoms, into the elements found in the periodic table. Those same minerals make our cells. So we are all made of stardust.
I wonder if this is why our ancestors and we have stared and wonder at the night sky. I wonder if somehow our ancestors’ instincts, before science understood supernova and religion described Creation, knew that our origins were somehow up in the heavens.
In a previous letter that discussed tea, we discussed how the polyphenols, which are helpful chemicals in plants, were stimulated in the plants by insects biting the plants which would then improve the flavor profiles. It’s inevitable that some of those flavor enhancing polyphenols would require some enzymes, and hence minerals, to be available in their production. Thus, the mineral content in the soils affects the food’s flavor profiles. For organic crops to thrive, organic farmers have to take great care of their soil. This helps the crops' immune and growth systems to be operating at maximum capacity since the farmers have fewer options to protect the plant from predators and stimulate growth artificially. So for optimum growth, the farmers need to work to ensure that the mineral contents in the topsoils are optimized. They do this by mixing mineral-based fertilizers back into the soil. This is why we are such proponents of using organic milk in Liovi. We believe that the organic food that our cows eat will inevitably have better mineral contents. So when you drink Liovi, you won’t just be getting the benefits of the revolutionary B-30892 probiotic strain, but also from the naturally occurring minerals contained in the organic milk.
Best of Health,
Maker of Liovi Probiotic Drink
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