Solid, liquid, and gas—these are the three states of matter presented in the homeschooling science curriculum I was preparing to review with our 7-year-old daughter. The best example to learn these states is water in its different forms: moisture vapor in a cloud, liquid rain, and solid ice. I couldn’t stop there though, not when the intersection of biology and physics tells of a truly amazing fourth state of water that may be the key to life in the animal kingdom.
The fourth state, or phase, of water is gel. With a love of all things cooking and baking, our daughter immediately thought of an example of a gel. Gelatin, a nutrient-dense snack when prepared with pure fruit juice and quality gelatin, is a favorite in our home. The cooking process is amazing to watch. Gelatin is slowly stirred into hot fruit juice until it dissolves. Upon cooling, the proteins in gelatin set and form an organized structure that transforms the liquid into a semisolid. It’s an ideal example of a state of matter that has qualities of both a solid and a liquid.
At room temperature, gelatin will remain semisolid. Heating causes the proteins to change shape and the liquid to become liberated. This is analogous to how the liquid water within the human body is structured. All animals are a complex interaction of all states of matter (solid bones, liquid blood, gaseous oxygen, and carbon dioxide), but it’s the gel-like matrix of cellular cytoplasm that allows for optimal efficiency of biochemical work.
Although humans are predominately water, having gel in our cells explains why water doesn’t leak out whenever we have a cut. Trauma leads to bleeding, but tissues don’t deflate like a punctured water balloon. Cell integrity and the ability to import potassium and export sodium are dependent upon having healthy gels.
The structuring of water in cells is enhanced by getting adequate sunlight, eating a diet with sufficient protein, and staying hydrated. All three of these combine to make the gel within you. Drinking pure water begins the process; consuming gelatin or collagen provides the proteinaceous building blocks; and, as the work of Gerald Pollack elucidates, sunlight is one way to structure water into its fourth phase. The metabolic activity of mitochondria generates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the power source for most of our cellular activity. ATP is like biochemical sunlight that “cooks” our cells into a gel state.
Unhealthy fourth-phase water may underlie cancer formation and numerous other chronic diseases. Cells become congested as toxins and toxicants burden intracellular integrity. In response, the body turns up the heat to convert the semisolid state of cellular cytoplasm to a slightly more fluid state, allowing impurities to be flushed out of the cells and carried away by the lymphatic system. That increase of heat may be localized inflammation or systemic fever. It can be externally initiated by the warmth of the sun or the infrared radiation of a sauna. Dehydration, avoiding natural light, and exposure to chemical carcinogens can outpace the body’s ability to depurate.
It’s time to be kind to our gels. Breathe clean outdoor air, bask in sunshine, and eat unprocessed whole foods. Humans are a symbolic fusion of the elements of nature and literally a blend of all states of matter. Ocean waves pulse through our blood vessels, minerals compose our bones, and the sky descends into our being with every breath of life. The purity of the environment is reflected in the integrity of the human body. Inside and out, the health of our matter matters!
Brandon LaGreca, LAc, MAcOM, is a licensed acupuncturist in the state of Wisconsin. He is the author of Cancer and EMF Radiation: How to Protect Yourself From the Silent Carcinogen of Electropollution and Cancer, Stress & Mindset: Focusing the Mind to Empower Healing and Resilience. He shares his thoughts at Empowered Patient Blog.