Mũhika na ihu – A traditional Gĩkũyũ source of powerful antioxidants
The human body is made up of trillions of cells. Like every single celled creature a cells life is sometimes just a few days and is replaced by new cells. The old are either turned into food for the new ones or excreted as waste. On average about 330 billion cells are replaced every day as some last as little as 3 days to about 120 days. In 80 to 100 days, 30 trillion will have replenished—the equivalent of a new you.
The replacement mechanism, for those who did some biology in school, is through cell division, meaning that there is a carryover of material to the next generation of cells as part of you is discarded. You are perpetually transforming slowly by slowly into a new person.
The information or blueprint that allows the cells to know how to make copies of themselves without making a mess of the encoded memory of the cell is contained in a proten called Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid or DNA. This two strand spiral contains all the information needed for all the functions necessary to be undertaken within the cell. Any damage in the DNA sequencing results in an error in the replication process.
The bad guys who run amock and do all the damaging of DNA are called Free Radicals which are unstable molecules that are by products of normal cell metabolism and toxins that are introduced through the fuel that drives the metabolism. Metabolism is, to put it simply, the burning of fuel that produces energy that powers the cell machinery and you. Oxygen is a necessary ingredient at the centre of this burning, and the output is energy and carbon dioxide.
It is in this complex chain of events that things go wrong. most times things go wrong because the quality of fuel delivered to the cell happens to have too many toxins, is the wrong type of fuel, is inadequate or even too much. The important thing to know is that we are dealing with trillions of cells and things do go and always go wrong.
Once an error has happened, it is carried forward and replicated again and again to grow into a big error, unless it is stopped promptly. Since most of what is called oxidative damage is caused by the oxygen, a process very much like rusting of iron through oxidation, the body calls in the good guys. These are called appropriately, Anti Oxidants.
It so happens that there are other living things that do the exact opposite of us and use carbon dioxide for their metabolism spewing out oxygen as waste. These are called plants. Plants therefore are the source of Antioxidants and they are the base food that keeps animals including humans alive.
Back to these errors. Errors begin small and if there is a proffusion of bad guys, Free Radicals, and if there are not enough of the good guys, Antioxidants, the results are an enlargement of rhe error. This is what we call cancer. Cancers are errors that are happening within our bodies at all times and in all of us. Everybody has a cancer at one level or another. The thing is to keep ir in check and the trick is simple. Reduce the Free Radicals and increase the Antioxidants.
Take it upon yourself to learn two things and your cancer will remain a begnin and manageable thing, a thing of no concern.
1. How can I reduce Free Radicals and DNA damage in the cells?
2. Which are the best and most effective Antioxidants that I must deliver to my cells?
Traditional man understood the above instinctively and lived on a diet rich in antioxidants and free from toxins.
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Author and administrator of Gĩkũyũ Centre for Cultural Studies, Kĩgongona kĩa Ũũgĩ wa Bũrũri Witũ. A modern Gĩkũyũ Shaman and Priest after the order of Melchizedek. A Mũnjirũ wa Mbarĩ ya Kĩragũ.