Take Control of Your Genes

Last week, this blog presented the concept of epigenetics and how our life choices can affect our genes. Not only do our choices affect us, but they may also affect the genetics of our offspring. Along our sequences of DNA are the recipes for optimal human survival. Humans have different requirements for living than a lion or a bumblebee, yet all animals follow the same biological laws. According to biological law, the nutrients necessary to thrive as humans, or any animal for that matter, can be found on the genes. So what are these genetic requirements and what exactly do we as humans need? Much can be learned by looking at the diet of humanity’s ancestors. Although our ancestors may have died from acute diseases, chronic diseases did not exist. Hygiene may have been poor in these early humans, but they did practice ideal movement and nutrition. The evolution of the human diet over the past 10,000 years has shifted from diets high in fruits, vegetables, lean meats and seafood to processed foods that are high in sodium, hydrogenated fats and low in fiber. These new dietary changes full of inflammation and antinutrients have negatively affected dietary parameters, resulting in an increase in obesity and chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and cancer. the_evolution_of_man The top killers in the U.S. are chronic diseases, with heart disease leading the way. Although modern medicine has found ways to combat many acute diseases, we are still lagging on ways to combat chronic diseases. Five of the top ten leading causes of death in the U.S. are chronic disease related, with the top three being only chronic disease (heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease). According to the research 90%-95% of cancers are preventable, including breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, oral, prostate, skin and testicular! Diet is just one of the most critical, yet often overlooked, prevention tools we can use. The foods we consume affect the expression of our genes through DNA methylation. DNA methylation is the addition of a methyl group, or a “chemical cap,” to part of the DNA molecule. In theory, a cancer gene can be “turned off” from attachment of a methyl group. Where are many of these methyl groups found? Fruits and vegetables of course! Familiar nutrients like folic acid, B vitamins, and SAM-e are key components of this methyl-making pathway. Diets high in these methyl-donating nutrients can rapidly alter gene expression, especially during early development when the epigenome is first being established. Thus, you can literally prevent cancer cells from reproducing with every vegetable you eat! Many times the reason that offspring develop the same diseases as their parents is not because of genetics, but because offspring tend to grow up in the same environment and learn the same behaviors as their parents. Kids learn how to eat, how to move, how to think from their parents. Genetics and family history can no longer be an excuse for people with chronic disease or chronic pain.  If a parent is unhealthy, the odds are their offspring will be unhealthy as well. If you want to interrupt the cycle of disease in your family, change the environment your family is living in and start to notice the changes. Rather than focusing on calorie intake and weight loss, shift your focus to a more genome centric lifestyle. Focus on foods that our body and genes require. In doing so, your results may not be instant, but the impact will be sustainable and long lasting. You will begin to notice your clothes fitting looser, your cravings subsiding, increasing energy levels, and quicker immune responses. Most importantly, you can improve quality and quantity of life by preventing chronic disease. Next week, we’ll go into more detail about what our bodies need to live a genome centric lifestyle. Below are more links to learn more about the genome-centric lifestyle as well as articles and research that support it. http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/06/16/u-s-healthcare-ranked-dead-last-compared-to-10-other-countries/ http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2008.0268 (abstract) http://www.livescience.com/37703-epigenetics.html http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/nutrition/ http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/404465/your-genomic-diet/ http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm http://preventcancer.org/prevention/preventable-cancers/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515569/