Throughout history, food has always been much more than the source of our nutrient needs. Eating is one of the great sensual and esthetic pleasures of life. Food can be a metaphor for human comfort, emotions, happiness and sadness. Food reflects many mystical aspects of our lives, social values, seasons and cultural. Consider examples from your own life from birth to death. The gathering and consumption of food ranges from survival to gastronomy to gluttony.
Medical scientists have developed and routinely use liquid suspensions called Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) that can be customized and fed intravenously to humans (when their normal digestive system or nutrient absorption mechanisms are not working correctly).
TPN can be precisely tailored to provide ALL of the essential nutrients for human survival, growth and development from the birth of a premature infant to full maturity.
(If you want to investigate TPN further, some of the modern intravenous TPN brand names include: Travasol, Freamine III, Trophamine, PremaSol, Aminosyn, Aminosyn (pH6), Aminosyn II, Aminosyn-PF, Renamin, Aminess, Aminosyn-RF, Clinimix, Nutrimix, Novamine and Clinisol. There are similar products available for oral tube feeding.)
There is a finite number of specific, well-researched, scientifically-essential chemical nutrients in TPN. (Other substances, like insulin, may need to be added to intravenous TPN in some patients with diseases like diabetes, but they are not considered ESSENTIAL NUTRITION.)
The ESSENTIAL TPN nutrients listed below are grouped into six categories:
2. ENERGY: glucose (a sugar), which may be augmented by ketones when excess body fat is burned during weight loss, lecithin (a fat), and other essential fatty acids like linoleic acid, linolenic acid and DHA
3. PROTEIN / Essential Amino Acids: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine
4. VITAMINS: Fat Soluble (A, D, E, K), Water Soluble (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, biotin, folate, pantothenate)
5. MINERALS: calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, (in electrolyte compounds such as: acetate, chloride, gluconate, phosphate, sulfate)
6. TRACE ELEMENTS: boron, chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, zinc
The body cannot function properly without the proper amount of all of the above. The daily requirement varies by individual. For example, a person with hemochromatosis may need less iron and vitamin C. While administering TPN, physicians should monitor: patient’s weight, plasma urea and glucose (several times daily until stable), complete blood count (CBC), blood gases, accurate fluid balance, 24-hour urine output, and electrolytes. Liver function tests should be performed, and plasma proteins, prothrombin time, plasma and urine osmolality, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate must also be monitored. With these test results, the amount of the TPN essential nutrients can be precisely controlled and regularly adjusted to individual patient needs. Managing a patient on TPN is NOT a trivial matter, but it is scientifically precise.
Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) has been available for 30 years. However, the history of this field dates back to the 1628 discovery of the anatomical basis for parenteral intravenous infusions.
Over the last three decades, TPN has evolved and been refined. For example, in 1992 an important study of TPN deficiency diseases pointed out the need for the trace element selenium. More recently, experiments have shown the need to add other trace elements chromium and molybdenum, and essential fatty acids (EFAs like DHA) to TPN.
Many clinical investigations and reports have shown that today’s TPN is an adequate alternative to the ordinary human diet. Other nutritional substances may be beneficial, but are not absolutely essential.
TPN made it possible to maintain a good nutritional condition in most situations when oral or tube feeding cannot be used. TPN has been shown to be of great clinical importance to prevent and treat starvation. The decades of knowledge gathered about intravenous TPN now help us understand the scientific fundamentals of essential human nutrition. Good nutrition is no longer superstitious alchemy, but rather a set of scientifically established facts that are the foundation of “what we are made of.”
Basically, every food that humans consume must have one or more of the above essential chemical nutrients, in various forms that can be digested and metabolized into essential body building blocks and fuels. Different people at different stages of life. and different daily/hourly levels of human activity, require different amounts of these foundational chemical nutrients.
For example, consider our essential iron requirement. Children and menstruating women need much more than most men over age 40 and postmenopausal women. The body conserves iron and has no mechanism to purge excess iron. If iron supplements are given to people who already have too much iron built up in their tissues (hemochromatosis) it can damage every organ in their bodies (“rust” build up), and lead to greatly accelerated disease and death. TPN (and everyone’s diet) MUST be continually readjusted for each individual’s nutritional requirements, or adverse health effects will surely take place over time. What was proper at age 20 will not be correct at age 60, and so on.
Most people do not have a clue how to readjust and translate their metaphysical food desires into what they purchase in restaurants, junk food polluters, and grocery stores. Despite our mystical cravings, our body does NOT have a “need” for specific foods (like chocolate, although chocolate does have some of the nutrients that we do need - chocolate also has things in it that we should avoid, especially when consumed in excess). Individuals need to develop better understanding and decision-making criteria about our particular daily nutrition needs, and the adverse effects of some foods on some people.
A “diet” is defined as the integrated net amount and variety of foods we consume over a period of time. Diets are adult lifestyle choices that greatly influence our health and wellbeing. Children are at the mercy of misinformed institution dietitians and naive parents. Dietary nutrition intake is not defined by a single food, a single meal, or a single day's consumption. We should constantly adjust and rebalance our diet, based on optimal healthy nutritional requirements, adverse reactions (like weight gain, sickness, skin reactions, poor health, etc.) and mystical issues of personal satisfaction controlled by inaccurate mental and emotional images.
If mystical, metaphysical, personal pleasure, gastronomical, gluttonous, traditional, habitual and commercial advertising decision criteria determine our diet, we are likely to suffer from many deadly diseases like: obesity, heart disease, heart attacks, brain strokes, diabetes and cancer, which may be the direct effect of poor nutrition education and generally bad eating habits.
From a purely scientific viewpoint, we need to understand our basic biochemical nutritional needs, which desirable, available, healthy foods provide the essential nutrients we need for each different day, and consume the exact amount for optimal hour by hour performance, health and happiness.
Consider the following “Silly” Science Fiction Scenario (which may have some basis in truth in the lifetime of children who are alive today):
In the future, our scientific knowledge of TPN will evolve and be iteratively refined, just has happened during its first three decades. By 2005 we understood that some essential nutrients (like vitamin E) have different forms (like synthetic versus natural) that significantly impact human health in different ways. We learned that some lipids (like omega-3 fatty acids) are essential – we must ingest them, since the body cannot generate them. We learned that some essential nutrients (like iron) must not be administered in excess. The knowledge of the interplay between many good-and-bad kinds of carbohydrates, fats and protein sources was greatly improved and refined.
It was eventually discovered that 2005 TPN lacked certain desirable biological characteristics, just like 2005 baby formula was not as good for an infant as healthy mothers milk is. When the 2005 TPN limitations were better understood, they were corrected and the product perfected shortly thereafter.
Early in the new millennium, computer miniaturization and digital medical sensor technology exploded at an unprecedented pace. The basic concept of a 2005 personal blood sugar monitor and sensor-based insulin pump for diabetics was extended to ALL essential advanced TPN nutrition chemicals.
Some individuals had miniaturized New Nutrition System (NNS) digital technology implanted in their otherwise unnecessary stomach cavity. Ready-to-use liquid TPN elements were fed in through the mouth and held in a storage bladder for use when needed by the digital TPN distribution computer. They are replaced the same way previous humans drank water.
The implanted nutrition-requirement sensors for all essential nutrition chemicals monitor second-by-second chemical demands, isolate only what is needed from the ingested TPN solution, and precisely release exactly what is needed moment by moment, without too much or two little of anything.
When a person exercises to varying degrees, more glucose is automatically released in the proper ratio with other exercise-related nutrition requirements. When more water, protein, calcium, structural fats, etc. are needed, they immediately are automatically added to the blood stream.
NNS users are never hungry, never too full, and always weigh precisely what they should. When the ingested TPN contains more of a nutrient (like iron) than the individual needs, the NNS will isolate and route it through normal human evacuation paths.
People with an implanted TPN NNS will live long, productive, healthy, happy lives with no food-induced depression or disease. The NNS can help appropriately enhance mood and eliminate the obsolete mystic craving for “comfort foods” (like chocolate, unhealthy snacks, etc.). Nutrition will never again be a problem for TPN NNS users.
Minor NNS tuning adjustments and software upgrades will be entered through a highly-secured wireless proximity interface – no hackers allowed. The number of irritating version 1.0 NNS software errors will decrease gradually over time, as the number of 2.0+ users increases, and more pragmatic implementation details are learned. (No one from error-prone Microsoft will be allowed to provide any software for the NNS. Smile!)
Of course, TPN NNS is merely a “Silly” Science Fiction Scenario. Most people would NOT want a NNS, just like most people don’t need or want an automated implanted insulin pump today. But for those who may die without TPN NNS, our “Silly” Science Fiction Scenario IS based on rock solid scientific and engineering trends.
Our fictional twenty-first-century TPN NNS is more than possible – NNS is completely predictable! Elements of TPN NNS (like implanted insulin pumps) are already available. No scientific breakthroughs are necessary; just follow well-documented R&D trends (including today’s evolving TPN knowledge plus implanted digital medical devices, pumps, pacemakers, hearing sensors, muscle activators, etc. that already exist).
The future trends and medical progress that point toward TPN NNS are as predictable as Moore’s Law (of ever denser, cheaper, faster computers) has always been since the 1960s.
Some type of advanced TPN NNS will surely emerge in the near future, piece by piece. It will first be used for diseased patients with eating disorders (non-compliant diabetics, etc.), but may soon evolve into cost-effective, pervasive solutions to the rampant American morbid obesity epidemic, professional athletes and everyone interested in maximum performance health and happiness. If there are large numbers of people foolish enough to not take control of their eating habits and resort to serious high-risk gastric bypass surgery (1 in 200 die), then there will also be many customers for the TPN NNS implant, when it becomes available (soon).
Joyful Aging is NOT advocating such a NNS, but merely introducing it as an intriguing possibility for tomorrow, based on today’s explosive technology expansion trends. What we would like to point out is that intelligent people who care about their health and the wellbeing of those around them can LEARN how to be their own NNS, without the surgery, hardware or software (just like the effect of gastric bypass surgery can be achieved by merely intellectually restricting your food intake, which you would be forced to do after the surgery anyway).
Until the controversial TPN NNS day arrives (if and when), most humans will have to rely on traditional mystical metaphysical dietary decision criteria. We can only hope that their knowledge is mixed with a little bit of the nutrition science that is document here on JoyfulAging.com.
Required nutrients can be obtained without TPN NNS by well-informed, judicious dietary choices from seasonally-available food sources, but may sometimes need fortification or food supplementation to meet essential nutrition minimums. Without an implanted NNS, intelligent personal responsibility is required to avoid eating “too much of a good thing.”
Each individual has unique and personal daily diet requirements, defined by three interrelated parameters: (1) energy (sugar, fat and proteins, depending on hourly activity level), (2) adequate amounts of all 44 essential nutrients, and (3) demographics, such as: age, sex, height, lifestyle, genetics, health, condition, etc. Our lifestyle, physical activity and exercise habits particularly affect our energy requirements and our need for particular body-building nutrients. At each stage of human growth and development, from embryo through infancy, adolescence and maturity, our dietary needs continually change.
Each of us has personal genetic inheritance, including "tall-versus-short genes" and genes that may increase our vulnerability to various diseases (such as cancer), which may be aggravated and accelerated by poor nutrition choices, or greatly helped by good nutrition choices (like antioxidant vitamins, essential fatty acids, etc.).
Every adult must take personal responsibility for our individual health, regardless of the bad habits we acquired in our youth or by viewing commercial advertising messages. Personal responsibility requires Lifelong Learning and continual retuning to help us select intelligent, healthful and pleasurable diets, exercise and mental activities, to maintain optimal physiological, neuromuscular, vascular, respiratory and mental performance while avoiding destructive self abuse (like obesity, anorexia, smoking, alcoholism, drugs, promiscuity, etc.).