Falling Leaves, Food, Antioxidants, and the Book of Revelation

Revelation 22:2 (NIV)

Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

The title of the Book of Revelation came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalypsis, meaning “unveiling” or “revelation”.  It is also known as the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ in reference to the opening line of the book.

The fall season is marked by colder temperatures and the changing colors of the leaves of trees.  Leaf pigment behind the autumn display of colors reveals much more than a dazzling array of colors to view for our pleasure.

Each fall our landscape is filled with a cornucopia of orange, yellow, pink, red, tan, and brown hues. Many tourists are attracted to the forests of Wisconsin and the surrounding states to view the display of beautiful fall foliage.

Trees shed their leaves to conserve energy through the winter.  To maintain a leaf, it requires energy. Given that there is less sunlight in the winter to supply the energy for maintenance, the deciduous trees release the extra baggage, slowing down their metabolism to hibernate for the winter.

The wide array of colors displayed by leaves in the fall are always present during the spring and summer, they are just “covered” by the abundance of chlorophyll, the green pigment of leaves that is necessary for trees or plants to transform the energy of the sun into fuel such as starches (think sap) which is subsequently stored by the tree in the branches or trunk for later use.

Chlorophyll is the key substance involved in energy production of a tree or plant. The work of chlorophyll regarding energy production is so vital for the life of the tree that it must be protected. Moreover, it is susceptible to damage from too much sun exposure and extreme temperature changes such as freezing or drying.

By the way the sun is good for us. Do not avoid it.

Which substances in the leaves protect chlorophyll from damage? Antioxidants!

Function of Autumnal Leaf Pigments

Carotenoid pigments are found abundantly in such vegetables as carrots and tomatoes. The carotenoids include lycopene and beta-carotene, known to be powerful antioxidants and cancer-fighting substances in humans.  The amount of carotenoids in one’s body is a good indicator of general health.  In my office I have a scanner that non-invasively measures one’s levels of carotenoids.  For a mere $20 one can know whether one is at risk for degenerative diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

Do you know your carotenoid score? Contact the Byron Health and Healing Center for a scan.

The yellow and orange carotenoid pigments are present in the leaf all year, they are simply masked by the abundance of green chlorophyll in the leaves.  As chlorophyll degrades in the fall, the carotenoid pigments degrade more slowly and persist, revealing their yellowish colors.

Tannins

Tannins cause the brown hues in leaves of some oaks and other trees in the autumn. The golden yellow or copper colors produced in some leaves, such as those of beech, result from the presence of tannins along with the yellow carotenoid pigments. Like the carotenoids, these compounds are always present, but only become visible as chlorophyll and carotenoids both disappear from leaves.

Tannins actually act as a defense mechanism in plants against pathogens, herbivores and hostile environmental conditions. Foods rich in tannins include the leaves of green tea and fruit juices. Tannins in fruit juices, such as those found in pomegranate juice, provide antioxidant and other health benefits to humans.

Anthocyanins

Anthocyanin pigments are responsible for the pink, red, and purple leaves of  many  woody plants. Anthocyanidins, formed from anthocyanins, are flavanoids: antioxidants that are beneficial to human health and possibly able to help prevent such diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Anthocyanidins are a subclass of flavanoids, a group of antioxidant compounds found in plants including fruits and vegetables. The variety of pink to purple colors in leaves is due to many, slightly different compounds that can be formed.

The Book of Revelation’s very name means to reveal —to unveil, to open to understanding what otherwise could not be comprehended.  In a similar fashion, we see the God’s glory through the unveiling of different nutrients that are readily available to us for our consumption which ultimately both nourishes and protects us.

Although you don’t see the numerous colors within the leaves in the height of the spring and summer, they are present. Like the colors of the leaves of the tree, Jesus is always with us.

Do you see Him?

After all the leaves fall off of the tree, the tree rests. It hibernates for the winter.  Once we shed all of personal  means of self-sufficiency and protection, when all of our leaves fall off,  we are assured that we will achieve true rest, namely, rest in the Lord (Hebrews 4:1-11).

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