It’s that time of year again! When pumpkins are everywhere! You see pumpkins in stores and pumpkins on porches. When people carve them into spooky faces and light them at night, pumpkins can sometimes seem scary. However, pumpkin is really one of the most nutritious fruits there is. The seeds alone are packed with protein, magnesium, potassium, and zinc and provide lots of health benefits.
That beautiful orange color though, which is rare among fruits and vegetables, comes from the significant amount of beta carotene in pumpkins. Your body converts beta carotene into Vitamin A which is necessary for heart health, a strong immune system, and especially eye health. Sounds simple but here’s how it works and believe me…it’s amazing!
When you eat foods containing beta carotene (that is, pumpkin or carrots or sweet potatoes, to name a few foods), the food moves through your digestive tract to your small intestines where a specific enzyme cuts the beta carotene into two molecules of retinol (i.e., Vitamin A). How much Vitamin A is actually made depends on a number of things, including your overall health and the amount of dietary fat in your intestines (because the process requires some fat). However, one of the most important determining factors of how much Vitamin A is made is your body’s actual need for Vitamin A at that time. If your body doesn’t need Vitamin A, your body won’t convert the beta-carotene into Vitamin A. How cool is that?
It is an amazing process of course, that requires a lot of specific things to go just right: first you need to consume beta carotene in your diet, then you need to have the specific enzymes to cut the beta carotene, and your body has to be healthy enough that other things don’t prevent the process from taking place. But all things being equal and in good working order, the production of Vitamin A is determined by whether you need it or not. Your body has an awareness of its needs at any given moment and it responds to those needs accordingly. That’s about as amazing as it gets!
Your body is constantly creating and recreating itself all of the time without your awareness of it. The production of Vitamin A is one example of countless numbers of processes that are occurring in your body all of the time. Researchers estimate that 37 thousand billion chemical reactions occur in your body every second! That’s an AMAZING amount of things going on all the time!
That work is directed by your brain and nerve system. For you to be the best version of yourself, all of those reactions have to be their best. And for all of those reactions to be their best, you have to have the best version of your nerve system.
Your family chiropractor can help you with that by keeping your spine in good alignment so it doesn’t distort the function of your nerve system. So see your family chiropractor regularly and help yourself to some pumpkin some time soon!
By Judy Nutz Campanale, DC, ACP, FCSC (hon)