ScienceDaily (Sep. 19, 2011) — In a new study, Chen-Yu Zhang's group at Nanjing University present a rather striking finding: that plant miRNAs could make into the host blood and tissues via the route of food intake. Moreover, once inside the host, they can elicit functions by regulating host "target" genes and thus regulate host physiology.
The finding is obviously very thought-provoking; for instance, it would indicate that in addition to eating "materials" (in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, etc), you are also eating "information" (as different miRNAs from distinct food sources could well bear different consequences on the regulation of host physiology once taken by the host due to potential regulation of different target genes as determined by the "information" contained within the miRNA sequence), thus providing a whole new dimension to "You are what you eat."
How much does what we eat influence our bodies? Of course, the amount of fat, sugar or proteins we take in can influence our weight, but new research is suggesting that special compounds in plants could change how our bodies use our genes and proteins.
Called microRNAs, these compounds are the movers and shakers of our cells, as scientists have found they turn up and down levels of human proteins. However, until now scientists thought these chemicals were only made and used inside our bodies, but new research shows that microRNAs from plants can enter the human body.
The study was published Tuesday (Sept. 20) in the Nature journal Cell Research.
Like ancient Rome, we today are once more importing every form of exotic superstition in the hope of finding the right remedy for our sickness.
-- C. G. Jung
Richard Wilhelm: In Memoriam (1930), CW 15: pg. 60