By Dr. Gabriel Cousens
Excerpt from Spiritual Nutrition
Another major source of nutrient energy is oxygen. In some modern Yoga teachings, it is said that approximately 90 percent of the energy utilized by the body is from oxygen taken in by the lung and skin systems. In the absence of oxygen, our physical bodies can only survive a few minutes. We can live without water for a few weeks and go without food for months. “Vitamin O” is our most important nutrient. This form of energy intake is the most commonly used meaning for the word prana. It is the life force that many experience when they walk into a forest and smile as they inhale the vibrant air. In forests and unpolluted bodies of water, the energetic field of the air has been enhanced. The oxygen molecule has been resonantly excited. When we take it into our lungs, its energy is transferred to our bodies. If the air has been circulated through air conditioning or air ducts, out of contact with the sunlight, polluted, or irradiated, it loses energy and less of this resonant life force is available to us. This oxygen energy comes into the lungs, which surround the heart chakra and act as a balancing point between the upper and lower chakras. Yogis and health practitioners in the West have observed that when the breath is steady, the mind becomes calm. This observation suggests an important link between the breath and the mind. Eighty percent of the oxygen we take in goes to the brain. This high degree of oxygen to the brain adds to the downward flow of the spiritual Kundalini energy and may partially explain how different pranayama exercises are used to excite the Kundalini.
Oxygen is also taken into our systems directly from our food. Steven Levine, Ph.D., has recently developed a hypothesis relating oxygen deficiency in the tissues (anoxia) to chronic disease, and a high rate of oxygen intake, relative to food intake, to good health.13 In a simple analogy to a battery, he points out that oxygen is the positive terminal and that the foods we eat are a source of vibrant, negatively charged electrons. The electrons move from the negative pole, or food, in a living current of energy to the positive oxygen pole. Trace minerals, iron, manganese, zinc, and other electron carriers are essential for the conduction of this bioelectricity through the cytochrome oxidase system and through our antioxidant system. Vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, and various antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase serve to protect this electron energy flow from being disrupted by free radicals, which steal electrons from the system. These free radicals come from external pollution and from internal pollution that results from a poor diet that includes such things as irradiation-caused radiolytic foods. During this process of electron movement and transfer to the oxygen pole, metabolic energy is released, helping to fuel our normal metabolic processes. Optimal quantities of oxygen are required to draw this living current. On the other hand, it is important that we eat fresh, natural foods that are vibrant with high electron energy. These foods are those that still retain the high-energy carbon-hydrogen bonds that have incorporated activated electrons in their bonding as a result of electron activation from photosynthesis. It is this sunlight energy stored as activated electron energy in the carbon-hydrogen bonding that we find in organic, whole, live vegetarian foods. These foods make the most powerful current with the oxygen pole. This last statement implies the superiority of plant food over animal food. It is highly possible that the direct photosynthesis energy of the carbon-hydrogen bond is either altered or lost for humans when it is metabolized first by the animal, and that the animal gets all the benefit of the direct sunlight plant energy. With the current state of our ability to measure heat release from carbon-hydrogen bonds of plant and animal tissues, we may not find any perceptible difference in energy release on a material level. But subjectively, the difference is easier to perceive.
If there is a decrease in oxygen in the system, there is less power to pull electrons to the oxygen pole of our bioelectric current, and the bioelectric current diminishes in power. Therefore, our task is to maintain a high oxygen level in our tissues. In our polluted and stressful environment, this is not easy. We are starving for oxygen in our office buildings as we increase insulation to save fuel energy costs. The rapid planetary deforestation is decreasing the local supply of oxygen, air pollution combines with and ties up oxygen in the air, and the combustion of our automobiles and industries takes it from the local ground level atmosphere. Stress causes oxygen deficiency within the organism. For example, stress from toxic environmental substances in our air, water, and food uses oxygen for detoxification. Chemical pollutants, chlorine in water, and fumes from combustion of petrochemicals from our cars all require that we use our body supply of oxygen to protect us. Emotional stress produces excessive adrenalin and related adrenal hormones, which require oxygen for their metabolism. Physical trauma reduces circulation, and therefore the amount of oxygen to the cells is reduced. Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections require our body immune defense cells, the phagocytes, to produce controlled free-radical forms of oxygen to combat them. This cell-mediated activity is the main defense against many pathogens, including the yeast candida albicans.14 Our activated immune phagocyte cells increase their oxygen utilization by as much as 50 times when they are destroying foreign invaders to our system.15 This, of course, draws oxygen away from its main function, which is the oxidizing of our foods to produce metabolic energy.
Poor diet is another form of oxygen stress. Foods that are excessively acidic such as meat, coffee, carbonated drinks, and alcohol create acidity in the system. This acidity is an excess of hydrogen ions (H+) in the system, which deplete oxygen by combining with it to create water. In doing this, they short-circuit the system so that the full energy-producing movement of electrons going to the oxygen pole is reduced. When less oxygen is available for metabolism, there is a build-up of lactic acid, and our cellular environment becomes progressively acidic, resulting in the destruction of cellular function. According to Dr. Levine, hypoxia, or lack of oxygen in the tissues, is a fundamental cause of all chronic degenerative diseases.16 Low tissue oxygen has been associated with candida albicans infections and the degenerative disease of cancer.17
Eating foods high in oxygen content seems to be associated with good health. Water is 85 percent oxygen, so we benefit by drinking water and eating foods with a high water content, such as fruits, which can be up to 90 percent water. The next highest oxygen-content foods are carbohydrates, which are slightly more than 50 percent oxygen by weight. This is computed by using the chemical formula for a carbohydrate, which is CH20. The molecular weight of carbon is 12, hydrogen is 1, and oxygen is 16. These foods are vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts. Seeds and nuts have fats and proteins that lower the oxygen content, but are still high in complex-carbohydrate content. For example, sesame seeds have three times the carbohydrate content of red cabbage, mung bean sprouts, green snap beans, and many other fruits and vegetables.18 Proteins contain an average of 25 percent oxygen. Fats have the lowest oxygen content, an average of about 12 percent. Although we need some unsaturated fatty acids for cell membrane formation, they steal oxygen. Another problem with fats, especially animal fats, is that most pesticides, herbicides, and other environmental toxins are fat soluble, so they increase our environmental toxin load and divert body oxygen for detoxification. For these reasons it is better to consume foods that contain essential fatty acids rather than nonessential fats. Avocados and sesame seeds are examples of these beneficial fats. We need 10—15 percent of foods that contain high amounts of unsaturated free fatty acids.
It is important to get the right ratio of oxygen-to-food density. Dense foods are those which have a high molecular weight and therefore are physically heavy for their size. Dense foods in this context also refers to foods, such as fats, which require a lot of oxygen to break them down completely for our oxidative energy metabolism. Fatty foods are the densest by these two criteria. Concentrated proteins such as meats, fish, and fowl are the next densest. They are like putting a big log in the fire; they require much energy to ignite and burn. If we eat too many dense foods, we run out of oxygen to oxidize them efficiently and we get more free radical by-products as part of the metabolism.19 With an excessive fat-to-oxygen ratio in the system, the oxygen supply is disrupted and diverted and we see the formation of toxic oxygen compounds called “oxitoxins,” which include free radicals and lipid peroxides. Lipid peroxides are incipient free radicals. This appears to be the mechanism that explains how a high-fat diet results in cardiovascular disorders. Proteins, in excess, represent “dirty fuel” and require excess oxygen to help us eliminate their nitrogen by-products. Proteins are not really designed for energy production, but we do need proteins for their essential amino acids. Again, we have to find a balance, and 10—15 percent protein in the diet may be quite sufficient for the optimal protein-oxygen mix. Carbohydrates are the best foods to eat for energy production because they burn evenly and require less oxygen to extract the metabolic energy from them; they are the small logs in the fire that burn easily. This awareness has already seeped into athletics and fitness; athletes regularly practice carbohydrate loading to maximize energy for competition.
Research in Japan by Kazuhiko Asai, Ph.D., has shown that an unusual mineral oxide called organic germanium greatly increases the supply of oxygen to the system and catalyzes many of the detoxification functions of oxygen.20 Asai has found germanium to be of much help in treating cancer, hypertension, endocrine insufficiency, asthma, and Raynaud’s disease.21
Other ways to increase the oxygen in our systems include placing more green plants in our workplaces and homes and doing moderate aerobic exercise five times per week. This can be anything from fast walking to sacred dance for approximately 20 minutes per session. We can also use antioxidant supplements or eat foods high in both the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E and key antioxidant enzyme cofactors such as zinc and selenium. Such foods include blue-green algae, wheat-grass, seeds, nuts, and complex carbohydrates.