Cancer Initiation: Medical Science zeros in on the "Popeye Diet"

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Medical Science zeros in on the "Popeye Diet"


For those of you who are not old enough to remember, Popeye was a "Sailor Man" who received exceptional power, even for a cartoon character, from eating spinach, in fact right from the can. No, there was never any mention of fried chicken. For those of you who are not familiar with the nature of the historic occupation of "sailor", one of the foundations was consumption of lots of fish. Fish and sailing go together. Fish is known to be a good source of vitamins b12, and omega 3 fatty acids. Spinach on the other hand is rich in folate and magnesium ( from chlorophyl, the green stuff ) .

 The One Carbon Cycle 

 These "Popeye Nutrients" have in common that they are all necessary to support what has become the One Carbon Cycle, or One Carbon Metabolism.  The relationship between the One Carbon Cycle nutrition is shown in this diagram that I retrieved from Khot ( 2014 ) [1] . It is online here .  What I really like about this article is that it clearly demonstrates what we already have known for ages. That is "prenatal vitamins are real good". Even better than that, they draw a diagram of the One Carbon Cycle that seems workable for what I want to say. I am not brave enough to try to draw my own One Carbon Cycle diagram.

The steps in Khots Diagram

 At the top of the Diagram are the nutrients that are necessary to support one carbon metabolism, as tested by Khot et. al. [1]. At the bottom of the first box, or one carbon box is the molecule glutathione. Glutathione is thought to do the "heavy lifting" of one carbon metabolism, but cycling of glutathione is dependent on dietary nutrients. The result of the top of this diagram is the generation of "methylation capacity". In this context, we are not taking about "anti-oxidant" capacity, but the ability to methylate DNA. DNA methylation is now known to be the essential currency of cellular development and differentiation. Methyl groups are the markers "on DNA", which is the common language translation of the term epigenetic. ( epi means "on top of", genetic means DNA )

Clinical Observation and Glutathione level

 So the question then is "Is Glutathione level a good biomarker for health". For that, we really need to leave the laboratory an the company of little mice and go to an actual medical practice. We could feel better about this whole article if we could show that clinical glutathione level is correlated with degenerative disease. For that, we can kindly reference the work of Dr. Jeffrey Dach on the subject.[2]. To quote Dach[2]:

One might argue that the root cause of most if not all disease and even aging itself ismitochondrial dysfunction. (7,8,9)  To name a few, glutathione deficiency has been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s), cataract formation, macular degeneration, coronary atherosclerosis, diabetes, renal insufficiency and hypertension.(7,8,9)


 As hoped, we have shown that we can show some logical biological/scientific background to the anecdotal evidence of Popeye the Sailor man, and his diet of spinach and ( presumably ) fish. Along the way, we have shown that the importance of "prenatal vitamins" extends all the way to degenerative disease conditions in older people, who may have never been at risk of pregnancy.


 [1] Vinita Khot, Anvita Kale, Asmita Joshi, Preeti Chavan-Gautam, and Sadhana Joshi Expression of Genes Encoding Enzymes Involved in the One Carbon Cycle in Rat Placenta is Determined by Maternal Micronutrients (Folic Acid, Vitamin B12) and Omega-3 Fatty Acids Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014: 613078. [PubMed Central]

[2] Dach, Jeffrey, Nanotechnology meets Glutathione retrieved from [jeffreydachmd.]

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