A recent study from Nanjing University in China has shed some light onto the phrase “you are what you eat.” Researchers found that mRNA from rice was present in the bodies of people who commonly ate rice. To understand why this may be significant, mRNA codes for DNA, other strands of RNA code for protein synthesis, and others turn genetic expression on and off. It is not currently known what mRNA from rice would do in the body, but the question must be considered: If RNA from rice is found in those who commonly eat rice, then is RNA from every food we commonly eat found in our bodies? How significantly does this affect our health? Furthermore, what does this mean about the risks of consuming GMO foods?
Although this study was not aimed at GMO foods, its discoveries has prompted grave concern among the health community. If mRNA from normal foods can be found in our bodies, what kind of RNA could be present from genetically modified foods? The process of genetic modification involves use of viruses, bacteria, and forceful integration of new genetic material. Studies have begun to show that the resulting DNA is not extremely stable, and therefore is apt to mix and mingle with other cell types. If RNA from altered DNA is freely circulating in our bodies, capable of turning on and off genes in our organs, the consequences could be endless. Making the necessity of avoiding GMO foods more poignant.
The flip and exciting side of this discovery is the solid proof that what we eat may be more important than the components of which it is made. Showing that food is not only about vitamins, minerals, fats, and carbohydrates but may also be about supporting proper genetic and cellular functioning. Debunking those who claim if you take your vitamins, you can have less than ideal daily nutrition and be ok. Epidemiological studies of people who eat clean, unprocessed foods have always shown strong genetics, little disease, and minimal chronic health conditions. Yet, as packaged, and pre-processed foods increase, so does disease. Some have attributed this to specific nutrients which it very well may be, however, this study indicates that it may be much more than that. If our bodies are dependant on RNA from foods to achieve normal function and sustain health, absence of these foods and incorporation of RNA from inferior foods may in fact be the primary culprit in chronic disease.
Although this is only the beginning of our understanding of RNA from food and its implications for human health, the curiosity it sparks and the scientific questions it raises are endless. Hopefully, this information will initiate new thought about elimination of GMO foods from our diets and reignite health focus on foods more than high cost supplements. Ancient medical traditions have always extolled the virtues of eating correctly, with particular attention to how food is raised, cooked and spiced, and obviously, they were onto something. Because if our bodies needs could be surmised as RDA numbers, the world would be a much healthier place.