Understanding How Biochemicals in Food Affect Body Health

While we know that our diet can impact our health, knowing what food to eat is still baffling as there’s a variety of health issues that can affect us. Food science researchers have reached a consensus that food is actually a “cocktail of hormones,” which refers to the different biochemicals that affect the health of the body in numerous ways.

To biochemist Donald Jump of Oregon State University (OSU), it is clear that food is just a concoction of biochemicals. Doctors Karen K. Ryan and Randy J. Seeley at the University of Cincinnati share similar views, explaining that the biochemical in the food we eat act like the hormones produced by our body.

Hormones, as these researchers explained, are the natural chemical compounds produced by our body and distributed in different parts and organs. They send messages to the brain to instruct the related cells to produce another chemical or to proceed with a chemical reaction.

Actually, each hormone is a chemical compound secreted by a specific organ and transported through the bloodstream to regulate the activities of specific cells; either by stimulating or inhibiting the cells’ surface receptors.

What are Receptors?

Receptors are various types of proteins that respond to the hormones by inducing cell growth, or causing cell division or death. Receptors also react to hormones by controlling membrane channels or by regulating cell binding.

Citing the Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid as an Example of a Food Biochemical

To further explain his view of food as a concoction of hormones, Dr. Seeley, who is currently a professor of surgery at the University of Michigan’s School of Medicine, cited an example of food choices that play a great role in causing obesity and inflammation. Such conditions greatly influence the development of Type 2 diabetes.

In choosing food containing high levels of the biochemicals Omega-3 fatty acids, the body will produce hormones that would trigger the receptor GPR120 to enhance cell processes.

GPR120 is a specialized protein receptor that strengthens the surfaces of muscle and fat cells. When Omega-3 fatty acids attach to the specialized GPR120 receptor, the occurrence sets off a chain of reactions aimed controlling the occurrence of weight gain and inflammation in the muscle and fat cells.

Additionally, another beneficial effect observed in the binding of Omega-3 fatty acids with GPR120 is the improvement of metabolism toward generating energy and maintaining glucose control.

However, the problem with biochemicals and hormones is that they could also trigger other receptors that react to lipid compounds. The latter refers to organic compounds that are characteristically greasy and insoluble in water but soluble in ether or alcohol.

While the Omega-3 fatty acid and GPR120 combo can help against inflammation and weight gain, other receptors that would react to the lipid Omega-3 fatty acid could yield the opposite effect in other lipid-activated receptors of cells.

Now here’s the thing, according to Dr. Seeley, there’s an array of food containing hormone-like biochemicals similar to fatty acids. Foods with amino acids can trigger a chain of events that regulates cell division and at the same time influence the effects of the insulin hormone. Various vitamins, including Vitamin D also respond with a series of chain reactions that influence the body’s immune response.

Dr. Seeley opines that while scientists have knowledge of the specific functions of many receptors, they still do not know for sure, which molecular components trigger responses on other various receptors. Apparently, translating research findings about biochemicals and the reactions they trigger on receptors is the best way of developing and recommending a diet plan. However, OSU biochemist Jump, remarked that doing so will be a challenge.

What about Food Consumed as Metabolic Meals?

Now It seems that Dr. Jade Teta, a North Carolina physician specializing in body fitness, natural health and body transformation has risen to such challenge. Dr. Teta, co-authored the book “The Metabolic Effect Diet,” where he translated research findings about food, in developing customized metabolic meals to improve metabolic processes toward addressing specific health problems.

Through a 12-week plan comprising bespoke metabolic meals and 15 minute workouts called Metabolic Renewal, participants are provided with professionally selected food. This diet Program selects food based on a participant’s age, geographical location, and on the results of an analysis of individual health conditions; with particular focus on the health issues that need to be addressed.