The Sunflower: Nature’s Perfect and Amazing Super-Plant Feeds the Happiness Vibes

Not only is the Sunflower a healthy superfood, but it is also an amazing, inspiring and complex Plant that reveals both Sacred Geometry’s Secrets and Nature’s perfection. In this blog-article, i will thus take a look at one of the World’s king-like flowers and show that it is a healthy nutrient-dense superfood (Section A), as well as a mathematically complex Fibonacci sequencing model (Section B) with an extraordinary circadian and hormonal modus operandi (Section C).

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Section A

Sunflower supernutrient health-building seeds

A superfood is defined by being super delicious, nutritious and at the same time low in calories as well as high in detox potential, fiber and macrobiome prebiotics.  One-quarter cup of sunflower seeds has a little over 200 calories and super rich in vitamin E. (1) The seeds are also high in manganese, copper, vitamins B1, B3 and B6, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium and folate. (2)

Sunflower seeds are uniquely rich in many types of essential hard to get nutrient. Like nearly all types of nuts and seeds, provide a healthy source of essential fatty acids; their specific fatty acids are in the form of linoleic acid. (3) Additionally, sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of fiber, amino acids (especially tryptophan) which make up the building blocks of proteins, B Vitamins, phytosterols, and more. Below, a few of its healing effects.

 Reduces Risk for Cardio-vascular Disease

The high supply of antioxidant Vitamin E (80% of your daily recommended value in every ¼ cup of seeds) helps to reduce body-wide dangerous inflammation from leading to various diseases. Vitamin E, also known as gamma-tocopherol, is a powerful antioxidant that is found in nuts and seeds including sunflower seeds (4). Vitamin E antioxidants are found in cholesterol particles and help to prevent free radicals from dangerously oxidizing cholesterol (5).

 Useful for Detoxication and Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Studies demonstrate that sunflower seeds are especially useful for preventing cancer through eating a high-nutrient diet. The important range of antioxidants, trace minerals, and other vitamins found in sunflower seeds help to reduce oxidative stress and tumor growth (6).

Sunflower seeds also contain selenium, an antioxidant that helps to activate the endogenous detoxification glutathione system. In different studies, selenium has also been shown in to help with DNA repair and for detoxing the body of harmful, damaged cells. Selenium helps the body to stop the proliferation of cancer cells and to stall tumor growth through apoptosis, the self-destruction of damaged cells by the own body, including those found in cancerous tumors (7).

 Helps Combat Osteoporosis, Bone Loss, and Muscle Cramps

Sunflower seeds provide a high amount of essential trace mineral magnesium.  Magnesium plays many important roles within the body: it helps replenish the body in the b vitamins as well as to balance the calcium/potassium ratio within cells, which is crucial to overall cardiovascular health and it aids in healthy blood pressure (8).

 Balances Blood Sugar Levels and Helps Ward off Diabetes

A diet rich in all types of nuts and seeds has been shown to reduce hyperglycemia and to help balance blood sugar levels. This decreases the chance of developing metabolic syndrome including diabetes or insulin resistance and unbalanced blood sugar levels, which leads to further inflammation, weight gain, and even autoimmune responses and diabetes 2. (9, 10)

 Improves Skin Health and helps with Longevity

Studies have shown that antioxidant Vitamin E is especially useful for maintaining youthful, strong, healthy skin. Sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E in addition to essential fatty acid lipids that help keep skin hydrated and free from sun and pollution damage. Studies have shown that in controlled trials using animals, both sunflower seeds and flax seeds are able to keep animal coats and skin healthy and free from signs of damage even as the animals age, and believe that the same benefits are achieved in the skin and hair of aging humans (11). High levels of vitamin E are also associated with lower risk of cognitive decline  (12) and  depression. (13)

Section B

The Sunflower is also a Great Example in Guiding us back to Nature’s Circadian Rythms

If we imitated the Sunflower’s behavior to its circadian rythms and design, we would be better off health-wise. In this perspective, plant biologists from the University of California (Davis) discovered that the movements of the sunflower plant are triggered by internal hormones. (14). Thanks to this hormone driven circadian clock, young sunflower plants orient themselves in response to the sun. In the morning, their flower and leaves are pointed eastward, and as the day passes the leaves gradually move westward while at night, the leaves return to facing eastward in anticipation of the rising sun. In this realm, the sunflower uses both heliotropism (the response to sunlight) and circadian rhythm to improve growth performance. (15) Just like with humans and other mammals, the sunflower is a much healthier plant when it is free from stakes and grown in healthy organic soil. (16)

Staked plants also have fewer visits from pollinating insects. By studying sunflowers using infrared cameras, researchers found the plants that started the day facing eastward would warm more quickly than those staked or moved to continue facing westward. As a consequence, the warmth attracted five times more insects responsible for pollinating the plants. (17) (When the plants that were forced to face westward were warmed with portable heaters, the number of pollinating insects increased to the same level found in the uninterrupted plants, but not if they were not heated up).

In summary, production of the sunflower seeds depends upon pollination and sunlight.  In this perspective, the sunflower’s graceful hormonal-driven movements optimize pollination and therefore Life.

Section C
Sunflowers show complex Fibonacci sequences and remain industrial models for packaging efficiency

Sunflowers contain a hidden mathematical Code that shapes patterns of life: the Fibonacci sequence, a set in which each number is the sum of the previous two (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, …), (See Video below for a clearer explanation).

This mathematical sequence is found in many forms of Life,  from pineapples to pine cones. (18) In this case, the telltale sign is the number of different seed spirals on the sunflower’s face. Count the clockwise and counterclockwise spirals that reach the outer edge, and you’ll usually find a pair of numbers from the sequence: 34 and 55, or 55 and 89, or, with very large sunflowers, 89 and 144. (19)

Furthermore, the math behind sunflowers can even get more complex. As noted above, each entry is the sum of the preceding two. As the values increase, the fractions formed by successive Fibonacci numbers  tend to a definite limit, about 1.618 or, more precisely, φ = (1+√5)/2. The number φ, called the golden number, was known to the Greeks through their study of proportions and the geometry of pentagons. (20)

Phyllotaxis: from Sunflowers to Stellar Galaxies

Phyllotaxis is the botanical study of the arrangement of phylla (leaves, petals, seeds, etc.) on plants. More than four centuries ago, the astronomer Johannes Kepler noticed the spiral patterns on plants but no satisfactory explanation has emerged until recently.

Phyllotactic spirals form distinctive patterns in a variety of plants. For example, the leaves are often arranged in a helical pattern, as if winding around the stem. On pineapples, the hexagonal fruits fit together in interlocking families of helical spirals. The numbers of spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers like 5, 8 and 13. Sunflowers, which belong to the daisy family, usually have 55, 89 or 144 petals, and spiral patterns are evident in their seeds. (21)

A Simple Model

A simple mathematical description of the geometry of sunflower seed patterns was devised by Helmut Vogel (1979). He defined the positions of the seeds, using polar coordinates (r, θ), by r(n) = √n and θ(n) = n φ where φ ≈ 137.5º is the golden angle. Thus, as “n” increases by one, the position rotates through the golden angle and the radius increases as the square root of “n”. All points are on a curve called the generative spiral (r = √θ), a form of Fermat spiral which winds ever-tighter as it curls outwards.

Mammalian and human DNA are also contained in a very small nucleus and super packed in a spiral form thanks to the histone protein. In a similar way, sunflowers are also contained in such a manner, meaning they need to be very efficient with space, hence their use as in space-saving efficiency model for business.

Vogel’s model is a neat characterisation but, of course, it does nothing to explain why such a pattern forms. The seeds of a sunflower are arranged in a manner that makes efficient use of the available space, giving maximum room for each seed to flourish and minimising wastage of space. As a new seed sprouts forth at the growth tip of a plant, it naturally tends to grow where there is most open space. (22)

The new shoot pushes the old ones outward, resulting in a beautiful geometric arrangement. But why the golden angle? Recent research shows that the angle emerges naturally as a feature of the dynamics of plant growth.

Biochemistry

Newell and Matt Pennybacker (2013) have shown that the observed patterns emerge from a pattern-forming front arising from a combination of biochemical and mechanical instabilities. Growth is stimulated by a plant hormone called auxin. The growth front is a solution of a nonlinear partial differential equation (PDE) for u, the concentration of auxin:

Auxin-PDEThe formation of primordial seeds is driven by high auxin concentrations. The growing seeds exert forces on each other, creating geometric patterns, and the geometry can trigger the production of auxin, leading to a feedback loop. Thus, biochemistry, mechanics and geometry all play a role in generating the observed Fibonacci space-saving, algorithm-based highly organized patterns on Sunflowers. (23)

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How to Eat Sunflowers Raw and Sprouted and Why

Although sunflower seeds can be eaten directly raw once the husk is removed and if organic,  they are easier to digest and become richer in nutrients once soaked and sprouted. The soaking helps to remove its insect protecting anti-enzyme substances while sprouting makes the nutrients more bioavailable, for example, magnesium and calcium bind to protein, a process that promotes a stronger bioavailability. The vitamin, mineral and essential fatty acid content of sunflowers also  increase during the sprouting process. Sunflower sprouts also help extract more of the nutrients  (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats) from the foods with which they are paired, thanks to their abundant digestive enzymes. Sprouting equally  helps to alkalize tissues. Sunflower sprouts are high in phytosterols, which can help lower cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) etc. In Happiness Medicine Institute’s workshops, we teach worshopees how to prepare delicious rawfoods and crackers based on sunflowers and other super foods. See the HMI’s clinical nutrition workshop.

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Discussion and Conclusion.

There are nonetheless a few caveats with regard to the using of sunflowers as food. (25) First, the seeds must be non gmo and organic. Second, pasteurized, cooked or roasted seeds are not healthy. Third, lots of rinsing is needed in the sprout process. And lastly, sunflower oil, even organic, should be avoided. When pressed into oils, sunflower seeds get fragilized and become more prone to oxidation. Worse, when processed, sunflower oil becomes inflammatory, there are way too many omegas 6 and not enough omega 3 lipids.

As for Sunflowers circadian model and its fibonacci sequence, they teach us how to use circadian rhythms to improve growth and homeostasis, (24) while inspiring us about Nature’s beauty and awesomeness.

Christian Joubert: CSO and Director of HMI

EXHIBIT A
FIBONACCI EXPLAINED IN ITS SIMPLEST FORM VIA THE SUNFLOWER

EXHIBIT B
FIBONACCI CONNECTED TO THE GOLDEN RATIO, HENCE A BIT MORE COMPLEX

EXHIBIT C:
FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: SUNFLOWERS ARE HORMONALLY DRIVING TO DANCE WITH THE SUN

Top: Not all sunflower plants follow the sun. As the researchers demonstrated, it is only the young plants that move with the sun across the sky. As they mature, the plants continue to face eastward without movement. See, Monitor, T. (2016). How do sunflowers follow the sun’s path? A circadian clock revealed. The Christian Science Monitor. (Source)
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Reference and Precision Notes
(1). Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of many vital nutrients including Vitamin E, also known as gamma-tocopherol. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that is found in many nuts and seeds, but sunflower seeds are one of the best natural sources of this antioxidant, which works hard to fight free radical damage within the body.
(2). Sunflower Seeds Nutrition A ¼ cup serving of sunflower seeds provides (in value recommended values): 190 calories, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber • 82% of Vitamin E• 70% DV of copper • 43% Vitamin B1 (thiamine) • 34% of manganese • 34% of selenium• 33% of phosphorus • 28% of magnesium• 28% of Vitamin B6 • 20% of folate• 18% of Vitamin B3 (Source)
(3). Healthy sources of fats like those found in sunflower seeds (polyunsaturated) are actually the building blocks for cell membranes, allow your body to balance hormones, help to slow down absorption of food during meal time so that we can go longer without feeling hungry, and also act as carriers for important fat- soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
(4) Sunflower seeds are most highly correlated with boosting cardiovascular health thanks to their ability to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and to prevent hypertension, in addition to many other positive effects like cancer prevention, less headaches and muscle cramps, improved detoxification, healthy skin. See www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/80400525/Articles/AICR06_NutSeed.pdf
(5). Sunflower seeds  boost cardiovascular health thanks to their ability to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol. Cf www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/80400525/Articles/AICR06_NutSeed.pdf
Cholesterol must first become oxidized before atherosclerosis can occur, which results in blocked arties and eventually can lead to cardiac arrest. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19451807
(6). www.nutritionj.com/content/3/1/19 In this perspective, the antioxidants found in sunflower seeds are utilized for DNA repair and work to slow the growth of mutated cancer cells. This makes consuming sunflower seeds an excellent way to prevent cancer and also to decrease the chance of reoccurrences taking place. Gamma-tocopherol (Vitamin E) has been proven effective in studies at aiding in cancer prevention. Studies have demonstrated that Vitamin E protects men from prostate cancer and a new study conducted by the Texas Woman’s University suggests that it can also help to reduce the risk for lung cancer. One-quarter cup of seeds provides your body with well over half the amount of copper you need each day. Your body uses copper to maintain skin and hair, to produce melanin and support your body’s cells in the production of energy. Maintaining your copper and zinc balance is important to your health and to supporting your immune system. The best way to accomplish this is through the food you eat.
(7).  www.nutritionj.com/content/3/1/19
(8). www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19828898 It is partially responsible for keeping the skeletal structure healthy and helps to prevent conditions related to loss in bone mineral density like osteoporosis. Additionally it helps with blood clotting as well as bone calcification. Magnesium also helps to reduce chronic migraine headaches, constipation, chronic fatigue, and even symptoms associated with mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Sunflower seeds are a rich source of B Vitamins, including Vitamin B5, which is also known as pantothetic acid. Like the other types of B-vitamins, Vitamin B5 plays an important role in energy metabolism, since it acts as a coenzyme involved in energy-producing chemical reactions within the body. Pantothetic acid also plays an important part in synthesizing fat, regulating hormones, and maintaining healthy brain function. While a severe deficiency in Vitamin B5 is not very common, mild deficiencies include symptoms like fatigue, muscle cramps, and plantar fasciitis which is a common, painful injury within the shin and feet that are often found in athletes.
(9). www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21868780
(10). http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=57#nutritionalprofile
(11). www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11360337
(12). http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain#1
(13).  Serefko A, e. (2016). Magnesium in depression. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
(14). This discovery was a collaboration between molecular biologist Stacey Harmer, Ph.D., from UC-Davis and her colleague, assistant professor Benjamin Blackman, Ph.D., from UC-Berkley. Lead author Harmer told Science Daily. Source See also H. S. Atamian, N. M. Creux, E. A. Brown, A. G. Garner, B. K. Blackman, S. L. Harmer. Circadian regulation of sunflower heliotropism, floral orientation, and pollinator visits. Science, 2016; 353 (6299)
(15). Monitor, T. (2016). How do sunflowers follow the sun’s path? A circadian clock revealed. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 9 August 2016. Genes are implicated in the control of growth triggered by light, but not the growth patterns that cause the plant to re-orient during the night hours to face east.
(16). Staked plants also had fewer visits from pollinating insects. The reduction in visits from pollinators was also an important find. By studying the plants using infrared cameras, the researchers found the plants that started the day facing eastward would warm more quickly than those staked or moved to continue facing westward. Cf. Monitor, T. (2016). How do sunflowers follow the sun’s path? A circadian clock revealed. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 9 August 2016
(17). Monitor, T. (2016). How do sunflowers follow the sun’s path? A circadian clock revealed. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 9 August 2016
(18)   A medieval mathematician, Leonardo of Pisa, usually known as Fibonacci, published a book, Liber Abaci (The Book of the Abacus) in 1202. While working in North Africa, he had come upon the decimal system of notation used by Arab mathematicians, and he introduced it to Europe in this book. In the same publication, while studying the way in which rabbit numbers increase, he described a sequence of numbers that bears his name and that has been a source of interest ever since.
(19). Newell, Alan C. and Matthew Pennybacker, 2013: Fibonacci patterns: common or rare? IUTAM Symposium on Understanding Common Aspects of Extreme Events in Fluids. Procedia IUTAM 9, 86 – 109.
(20). Ibid
(21). Newell, Alan C. and P. Shipman, 2004: Phyllotactic patterns on plants. Phys. Rev. Lett 92, 168102.
(22).Vogel, Helmut (1979). A better way to construct the sunflower head. Mathematical Biosciences 44 : 179–189.
(23). Newell, Alan C. and Matthew Pennybacker, 2013: Fibonacci patterns: common or rare? IUTAM Symposium on Understanding Common Aspects of Extreme Events in Fluids. Procedia IUTAM 9, 86 – 109. And Pennybacker, Matthew and Alan C. Newell, 2013: Phyllotaxis, Pushed Pattern-Forming Fronts, and Optimal Packing. Phys. Rev. Lett., 110, 248104. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.248104
(24). Circadian rhythms or circadian clocks  also affects mammals and humans. The body releases hormones in response to light and dark, affecting your ability to fall asleep and to enjoy quality sleep. This internal biological clock regulates your sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day and night. Adults experience their strongest sleep drive between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., and in the afternoon between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. During the morning hours, when light strikes your optic nerve, the signal travels to your suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). This is a group of cells in your hypothalamus that respond to light and dark. Exposure to light reduces your production of melatonin and increases production of cortisol to wake  us up.
(25). Populations within South America, including those living in present day Mexico and Peru, have been consuming sunflower seeds for thousands of years. It’s believed that the seeds were first eaten for their satisfying high fat content starting around 5,000 years ago. Spanish explorers who discovered the seeds in South America spread their uses across Europe after returning home, and then brought them to North America thereafter.
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Professor Joubert teaches in different parts of the world how to extend a healthy Lifespan to 120 years and beyond. Working on a Documentary and book that redefines Medicine in light of new discoveries, ancient wisdoms, innovative research and holistic science, he can be nonetheless available to coach patients back to homeostasis, wellbeing & Joie de Vivre. On occasion, Pr. Joubert can also coach health professionals to better protect their holistic practice when they must deviate from outdated and irrational mainstream “standards of care”. See links on “Contact” and “Mission” (under the “About” link) for details.

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