Quantum Nutrition, 1: Errata

Note on the usage of the word significant:

The word significant has two primary meanings in its contemporary American usage. First, the word is used to mean: notable, memorable, of a moderate, observable effect, practically important, and/or relevant to a somewhat everyday human experience. But the second definition, used in scientific studies, is more technical, usually referring to a statistically detectable, measurable effect, which ideally, should be reproducible in other studies.

As an example, let us imagine that drinking only 10 mL (a small sip) of coffee had a .05% increase or decrease in some scientifically investigated marker, such as an anxiety score, exercise performance, or blood glucose level. This, then, would be significant in the second, statistical, scientific sense. Unfortunately, both 10mL of coffee, a very small ‘sip’ of any liquid, and .05% are hardly ‘significant’ to the average person in a practical sense. We might not perceive actual changes until they reach well beyond a 10% or 20% difference.

Thus, although this is often used as a scientifically-focused, technical word, the first usage of the word significant will be used. It will often be interchanged with other common terms like practical, notable, and so on. Where relevant, the specific phrase statistically significant will be used, ideally with specific numerical results, with readers reminded of the technical meaning.

Note on sources of specific nutrients

I have also intentionally resisted the temptation to include potent food sources of each nutrient in the major sections, including the final essay. This is for two reasons, the first being general laziness as an author. (In my opinion, laziness and procrastination are sometimes useful, countering their typical roles as vices.) But more importantly, I do not wish to hold myself to an impossible task, attempting to choose some arbitrary threshold with which to include or exclude concentrated sources of each nutrient in each section. Also, the list of foods which contain each nutrient is not only constantly growing towards infinity, it is constantly changing, too. How much potassium does a banana really have? Well, this depends on the soil in which it grew, the decade in which it was grown, when and how it is consumed, and how well the human (or other satisfied primate) absorbs and metabolizes said potassium. There was even a recent paper, ‘dispelling the myth,’ if it is indeed one, that levels of micro-nutrients in modern plant species is less today because of depleted agricultural soils, as opposed to 50-75+ years ago. How much vitamin K is in a piece of cheese, or heme-iron or B-12 in cooked bovine liver? These answers, too, depend on a multitude of factors.

Thus, the U.S. FDA’s attempts at informing us of the nutritional densities of thousands of common foods is as futile as it is noble.

Moreover, modern readers will find an excess of online “blog”-based information regarding nutrients in plant foods, especially when perusing such results as ‘info-graphics,’ and little information pointing to animal foods as good sources of any nutrients. Astute skeptics will quickly note the cause: many of these websites are founded and authored by devout plant eaters, who specifically restrict any information on the nutritional value of animal foods from their websites because of their religious zealotry. Animal organs such as liver, bone marrow and other tissues are far more potent sources of certain nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, and others than the over-consumed muscle meat, eggs, and certainly than any plant sources. Might those same animal foods also include higher risks such as toxins concentrated in animal fats, in addition to the ethical issues? Certainly, but the point that vegan website/info-graphic authors sometimes conceal the truth remains. Thus after many years, some strict, devout vegans develop health problems due to deficiencies, which are conveniently left out of their blogs and websites. As diets, these ideas can often be incredibly healing; unfortunately, the influence of vegetarianism and veganism as proselytizing religions is strong in the west. But I digress.

More than general laziness, I wish for this volume to avoid getting caught up in the modern this-super-food-is-a-super-concentrated-source-of-that-nutrient bonanza, and rather focus on shifting our perspectives on nutrition overall. Readers interested in either information about food sources of particular nutrients, or “how to eat” overall should look elsewhere, as dozens of great works already exist on the subject, although the essay, “Essay III: How Should I Eat in the Modern World?,” will include the author’s thoughts.

Note on anthropomorphic focus

While the quest of Quantum Nutrition aims to avoid focusing exclusively on the human species, a bit of honesty is in order. Certainly future volumes, if practical, might focus on one or another species, including our own, or otherwise use as their principle topics from whole kingdoms to specific individuals within a long species. But there will always be a natural prejudice towards the human experience in the text ahead. We might say that focus is pro-human, human-centric, anthropomorphic, or otherwise, and it might well be a positive prejudice, but prejudice is prejudice, and we should aim to avoid it if possible, especially in professional work. However much this author tries, a work entitled Quantum Nutrition — focusing on what nurtures us as living beings — will inevitably have a human-centric tone to it.

Even if it is seldom obvious, it will be there. After all, the book was written by a lifelong human, and, I think, most of its readers will be humans. Even if we may experience our inner spirit animals, visit other galaxies from the comfort of our sleeping places each night, or travel out of our bodies with the help of rare organic substances, we are human. For now, I do not expect any feline or vegetative readers, and to my knowledge, none directly reviewed the text.

Nonetheless, my goal is that the work is equally interesting to the chief plant scientist of a botanical gardens, the dog trainer, the professional gymnast, and the ice sculptor. Some sections have been rewritten to lower their human centric tone, but I ask readers to accept the inevitable failure in this regard. Again, at first glance, it may appear to many that Quantum Nutrition is not immediately practical in one’s daily life, although the final essay on food recommendations exists to that effect. However, it should stimulate the mind greatly, and if some readers come away with a sense of growth from the intellectual stimulation, especially months or years later, I shall feel honored. And if but a few — including myself — make positive changes because of a this new way of thinking, I shall feel blessed to have contributed to my species’ existence.

Notes on terms used

‘Modern Humans’ vs. Westerners

As east and west merge, the term westerner becomes less useful. Case in point: close your eyes and think of what the mind conjures up with the word westerner. Perhaps you think of a human who spends most of her life inside a box of some sort (a house or apartment, an office building, an auto-mobile box, etc.), has daily access to water, both clean and hot, has a regular commute to some kind of mentally-focused job, regular economic transactions, spends leisure time with various forms of electronic media, and has access to every food group. But this does not describe a westerner, as contrasted with a person from the east (whatever that means), Africa, South America or otherwise. This simply describes most urbanized citizens, whether from an American-like suburbia or a more densely packed city.
Those who have traveled see this often: the ideas of the cities and our electronic media know few limits on planet Earth.

There are differences between westerners and easterners, to be sure, and this author has spent little time in Asia.

However, these differences are minor compared to those between modern suburban- and city-based humans versus their more rural counterparts. The villagers without electricity and running water in rural China, Nigeria, Norway, and Nebraska might not understand each other’s languages, but overall, they would connect more easily with one another than with their fellow citizens in the nearest large city.

For this reason, the term modern human will be used when necessary. It is not done to contrast the modern human to any mythical ancient, or otherwise more natural human, rather to simply part from using the word westerner, which by geographical and linguistic necessity contrasts with easterner.

Microbial vs. Bacterial

The term microbial encompasses all bacterial species, but not vice-versa.

In biology, the term life is often grouped into eight encompassing classifications, which are, from largest to narrowest: domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and lastly, species. These classifications are debated, as part of an entire subset of biology, named taxonomy, where the meaning of a species shifts or is even argued to be a mere illusion. Still, the most general organization of life, the domain, is useful. Because a full semantic discussion of taxonomy is not urgent, a basic understanding should help us grasp the difference. All life is said to exist as one of three such domains: archaea, bacteria, and eukarya. Moreover, the former two domains are both considered pro-karyotic, as opposed to the third, considered eu-karyotic. The first two domains, archaea and bacteria, exist in simpler biological cells, without encompassed specialized microscopic structures, called organelles. Conversely, all prokaryotic life contains these more focused organelles, and all life under the eukarya domain is thus eukaryotic. Finally, while most of the mass of life on earth that we humans know about and regularly see — trees, mammals, insects, fungi and the like — is indeed part of this third, more complex, eukarya domain, most of the earth’s species of life belong to the two prokaryotic domains, archaea and bacteria.

This explanation is necessary because of those two domains of life without organelles, the archaea form the least known domain of life. It is noted in biology courses that our understanding of bacteria is so primitive that our modern technologies for culturing them in laboratories is restricted to far less than 1% of known species. Yet we possess an even more limited understanding of archaea, which often live under extreme pressures at undersea thermal vents and inside rocks, and are sometimes termed ‘extremophiles.’

Thus we return to our two terms. Eukaryotic cells generally require a micro-scope to view, but they are not necessarily considered microbial life. Microbial refers to all microbes, meaning any microscopic species of whatever kind, archaeal or bacterial. But those latter words — archaeal and bacterial — are each exclusive of the other domain. Bacterial refers to only bacterial species, as opposed to archaeal life, and vice-versa. The phrase ‘anti-microbial’ is often used when the phrase ‘anti-bacterial’ would be more appropriate, depending on the evidence for the substance being described. Often a product is anti-viral and anti-bacterial, and the description anti-microbial (the more encompassing term) is used, even though little testing has been done that the substance is also anti-archaeal. Semantics and practicality.

Thus, when referring to life in general, the term microbial will be used, unless explicitly referring to one domain or the other. Likewise, when referring to substances which hinder or prohibit the growth and reproduction of these microbes, anti-microbial will be distinguished from anti-viral and anti-biotic where possible.