Plant Foods Repair Genetic Damage
The human body has detoxification systems that have evolved over 300 million years to protect animals from natural toxins. These same systems will also rid the body of synthetic pollutants.13-16 Much attention has been given to the ability of plant-derived folate (a water-soluble B vitamin) to synthesize and repair our genetic materials (DNA), especially during times of rapid cell division and growth, such as occurs during pregnancy. In the 1960s, research linked folate deficiency in a woman’s diet to severe birth defects, especially those of the nervous system (for example, spina bifida). Because the Western diet is deficient in folate (plant foods) there is an almost universal recommendation for women in their reproductive years to take a supplement containing 0.4 mg of folic acid daily.17 In many countries this goal has been met by fortifying cereals and flours with this vitamin. The result has been a definite reduction in birth defects, especially those of the nervous system. (Folate is the natural form of this B vitamin and folic acid is the synthetic form given as supplements.)
Eating a diet high in plant foods is also essential for making good male sperm. Men with high folate intake have been found to have lower overall frequencies of several types of aneuploid sperm.”18 Aneuploidy is a condition where one or a few chromosomes are above or below the normal chromosome number, and is associated with birth defects, such as Down syndrome. Decreased folate metabolism in mothers has also been associated with increased risk of having an infant with Down syndrome.