Epigenetics

Have you ever wondered why some family members develop chronic diseases or cancers while others do not?  Or why identical twins are not exactly identical? The answers to these questions are not completely answered by modern medicine. New research is showing that expression of our genes comes down to the food we eat, the thoughts we think, and the environment we live in. This is a form of biology known as epigenetics.

A history of epigenetics.

Epigenetics was first theorized by Dr. Bruce Lipton, a research scientist and former professor at the University of Wisconsin. He shares his revolutionary findings in a growing field of epigenetics in his book, The Biology of Belief. Using a simple petri dish filled with stem cells, Dr. Lipton showed that the health of these cells were influenced by the medium (a.k.a. environment) they were exposed to (Ly, 2017, n.p.).

According to Rachale Rettner, senior writer for Live Science (2013), “Epigenetics means “above” or “on top of” genetics. It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes “on” or “off.” These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells “read” genes” (n.p.).  Every living organism on earth has its own specific genome. This is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including genes, found in every single cell of that organism. Each individual DNA sequence is a conglomeration of their parents, yet unique to that individual. According to Dr. Lipton’s research we may not have control of our genetics, but we can control how they’re expressed.

Controlling your genetics.

So what are these environmental factors that can affect the expression of our genes? Simply put, they are the choices we make in life: what we think, how we feel, foods we eat, relationships we make, how stressed we are, etc. All of these things influence our perceptions of the world and thus how our genes are expressed (Ly, 2017, n.p.).

What’s more, your genes aren’t just expressed through what you eat, what you drink, or how much you exercise. According to epigenetic principles, as seen in an article in The Telegraph by Chris Bell (2013) your genetic expression might also be associated with your parents’ behavior. What your mother ate, how much your father drank, and even what your grandmother smoked may affect your genetic expression. Thus, the expression of your kids’ own genes may be shaped by the choices you make and environment you live in (n.p.).

An example Bell gives of this was observed in the Netherlands (2013):

Towards the end of the Second World War, something unprecedented happened in modern Europe: a famine. The Allies’ attempt to push across the Rhine in September 1944, had failed. The Nazis had blocked towns across the western Netherlands for over six months, leading to food shortages. This became known as the Dutch Hongerwinter. Each person only had 580 calories of food per day. Over 22,000 people died from malnutrition, and thousands of babies were born underweight.

When researchers analyzed the Dutch medical records decades later, they noticed that the infants who survived were more prone to health problems. But they also found a curious anomaly. These children’s own children – born years later, and well fed – were also underweight. The famine had, it seemed, “scarred” the victims’ DNA. (n.p.)

This emerging research on epigenetics highlights why it is so important to make choices with wellness in mind. Life is not completely predetermined by our genes. Genes are no longer a crutch or an excuse. Just because your father had heart disease or your mother had diabetes, doesn’t mean that you have to. The environment you place yourself in and the corresponding affect on your genes is what determines our life outcomes. And not just our life outcomes, but the life outcomes of your children and grandchildren. This graphic shows a great representation of the epigenetic life from before conception into maturity and how not only our environment can have an affect, but how our parents environment can affect our life.

Epigentics-web1

What to do about it.

In the following weeks, we will discuss how to change our environment for better outcomes based on actual human genetic needs. It’s time to start taking control of your environment and nutrition now if you want to lead a long, healthy life, and give that sort of life to your children as well.

 

Sources:

Bell, C. (2013, October 16). Epigenetics: How to alter your genes. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/10369861/Epigenetics-How-to-alter-your-genes.html

Ennis, C. (2014, April 25). Epigenetics 101: A beginner’s guide to explaining everything | Cath Ennis. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/science/occams-corner/2014/apr/25/epigenetics-beginners-guide-to-everything

Ly, J. (2017, December 07). Can We Change Our Genes? Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jess-ly/can-we-change-our-genes_b_6306046.html

Q&A with Dr. Alfredo Galvez. (2013, November 25). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://blog.reliv.com/2013/11/25/qa-with-dr-alfredo-galvez/

Rettner, R. (2013, June 24). Epigenetics: Definition & Examples. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.livescience.com/37703-epigenetics.html.

 

 

Testimonial -Ruth Eckert

I first started seeing Dr. Melinda in early 2015.  Before that, I saw a chiropractor in St. Joseph & an acupuncturist in Overland Park.  I had heard wonderful things about Dr. Melinda – and it turns out they are all true!  At my first visit, Dr. Melinda took a great amount of time to go over my medical history, which at that time included numerous prescriptions for allergies and a history of lower back, neck and daily facial pain.  Dr. Melinda gave me my Wellness Plan at my second visit and suggested trying the Paleo food plan – she thought I may have food allergies in addition to seasonal allergies.

After several chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture sessions, plus converting to the Paleo lifestyle, I was able to stop using numerous nasal sprays & other prescription medicines. I now know what my “trigger” foods are, and I feel great!  My  allergist & ear/nose/throat doctors are amazed that I am no longer visiting them several times a year for infections.  Both have told me they are encouraging their other patients to try chiropractic and acupuncture.  My previous chiropractor had told me I have arthritis in my lower back – but after Dr. Melinda’s adjustments I rarely have any lower back pain.

If anyone is skeptical about trying acupuncture – give it a try!  It is painless – and I consider it a 20 minute nap.

Ruth Eckert

Testimonial – Myra Harwood

Growing up on the farm I always wanted to be out working with my older brother and my dad. I was also very competitive in sports. Both of those things meant various injuries to my joints and my back. When I was about 22, I suffered a significant injury to my right leg, hip and lower back while serving in the Navy. Additionally, I have been a nurse for over 25 years and we all know the work of a nurse takes it’s toll on the back, knees, hips and shoulders. After years of punishing my body I came to a point that I could no longer do the work I loved in the ER. It was simply too painful to continue. I had been to various chiropractors for 30 years. I had done physical therapy and had my back and hip injected but nothing worked long term. I also suffered from headaches and seasonal allergies that have gotten worse each year. Much to my dismay, in 2010 I had to take a nursing job that did not involve all the physical work as well as a job that could accommodate my absence due to severe headaches that occurred at least monthly.

unnamed (1)

In August of 2014 a friend told me about Dr. Melinda at Trusted Care Chiropractic. I made the appointment that changed my life. First I was welcomed in like a dear friend by Erin. Then Dr. Melinda took an extensive health history. Then she performed a physical evaluation unlike any I had ever had before. Dr. Melinda developed a holistic plan of healing, recovery and maintenance for me and we set to work. I had chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture treatments and exercises to do at home. I was also encouraged to eat better, stay well hydrated and walk every day. The positivity in the office really makes me want to do better and be better! Plus they work very diligently to get everyone worked into appointments.

By December of 2014 I was able to return to the ER full time! I can meet and exceed all the physical demands of the job. I rarely have a headache! On those rare occasions the headaches are not nearly as intense, they are no longer accompanied by debilitating nausea and they may last an hour or so, not up to an entire day. My hip pain has been completely resolved and my back is better than it was in my 30s! I continue to get adjusted and receive acupuncture about every six weeks. The treatment I receive at Trusted Care Chiropractic has given me back the job I love and tremendously improved the quality of my life! I will always be grateful to Dr. Melinda.

– Myra Harwood

 

The Problem With Counting Calories

In American culture, we have become so focused on counting calories that we don’t pay any attention to what we are actually putting into our bodies. We’re all guilty of it. We see those yummy packaged cake rolls that say “50% fewer Calories” or that cereal bar with the “light” frosting, or only “100 calories”. This seems too good to be true! I can eat my favorite guilty pleasure foods without increasing my calorie count?! Why not!?

Sadly, it’s far too good to be true. Where you gain in one area, you sacrifice in another, and with these types of “calorie-saving” foods, you sacrifice REAL nutrition.

Humans didn’t even start counting calories until we started processing our foods. There was no need. Even 40 to 50 years ago we were still eating REAL food, not synthetic, processed “food”. For those of you who like numbers and charts, below is a link from businessinsider.com showing 11 charts comparing the consumption of food over the past 50+ years. My favorite chart is the last one – #11. It links the start of the obesity epidemic to the publishing of low-fat dietary guidelines. We ate food that was digestible by our bodies and obesity was not an issue. As soon as we started processing and adding refined sugars to our food, the rate of obesity, heart disease and certain cancers increased. Our bodies are not meant to eat these processed, boxed, fake foods! According to Joe Rigonlas:

“The correlation between obesity and disease with the consumption of things like refined sugar, grains and processed vegetable oils is crystal clear. Simply put, we have evolved to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. When your diet is centered around basic foods like veggies, fruits, quality sources of protein and natural fats, there’s no need to count calories (or “points”). These foods will nourish you and naturally make you feel satisfied making you less likely to over-eat. More importantly you become healthier as your body begins to learn how to run on this better source of fuel for energy rather than relying so heavily of sugar.”

Counting calories will work to an extent, but if you want to drop the size of your waist, and build a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, you must first drop the processed foods. I tell all my clients to get rid of the scales and stay away from “diets”. You aren’t likely to succeed with them and even if you do, you’ll likely struggle to maintain that combination of weight and lifestyle. If you are serious about getting healthy, start by eating REAL food. Below is a diagram called the “Real Food Pyramid” that shows what your daily food consumption SHOULD be. Your body will pay it forward by trimming inches from your waist, giving you more energy, and putting you in a better mood!

Paleo-Food-Pyramid (1)

I tell my clients to give yourself a 30 day trial when making a significant lifestyle change. That’s how long it takes to “retrain the brain” and build new habits. Be patient with yourself and know it’s okay if you falter at first – but stick with it and you’ll see the results you desire.

So stop. Stop counting those calories. Throw out the weight scale and start eating REAL food.

http://commack.patch.com/groups/joe-rignolas-blog/p/bp–dont-count-your-calories-make-your-calories-count-4a6201f4

http://www.businessinsider.com/whats-wrong-with-the-modern-diet-charts-2014-2

Fat Myths

Everything you think you know about fats is probably wrong… so forget what you thought you knew! For so long we’ve been told that fats are bad, that they cause heart disease, and that they make us fat. In reality, most fats are good for you, decrease your risk of heart disease and will help trim the waist!

fats-3As most of us correctly know, some fats are better than others. What a lot of us don’t know is that many of the “fatty” foods that we have been told NOT to eat are actually nutritious and essential to bodily health. Fats are vital in the making of vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which are necessary for maintaining healthy skin, promoting proper eyesight, brain development in babies and children. In fact,  our brains are 65% fat! When it comes to losing weight, fats help us reach satiety, meaning you actually feel full when you’ve had your fill. They can also help curb those overpowering cravings!

A trick that really helped me to stop the sugar cravings was to eat a handful of tree nuts, such as almonds, cashews, macadamia, and pistachios. They are a filling snack and after eating them, I didn’t crave the sugar anymore!

Not shown on the “Fat Facts:” chart above are the dreaded trans fats. If listed, they would be labeled “bad for you”. These are the fast, deep fried, guilty pleasure foods that should be avoided, such as potato chips, donuts, french fries, just to name a few. These are the fats that lead to heart disease and obesity.

6a00e39823747b88330148c6c3c180970cSaturated fats seem to get a bad rap when it comes to nutrition, but there are actually some saturated fats that are fine to eat in moderation. When it comes to saturated fats, you must look at the source (see “Which to Eat” diagram to the right).  Just like in humans, animals store toxins in their fats. Thus, animals raised commercially, those given steroids and antibiotics, will store these toxins in their fats, making them less healthy than the animal fats of grass-fed, organically raised animals. If the meat you eat is grass-fed and/or organic, there is not much to be concerned about when eating the animal fat.

To sum this up, do not fear fats! They are an essential part of a healthy diet as humans and necessary for good health. Always know the source and try to keep your fats of choice clean, unprocessed and free of steroids or antibiotics. Following these guidelines should help you choose wisely when it comes to fats. Good luck and remember, DON’T FEAR THE FATS!

Next week, I will be expanding on this fat topic and talking about how to make your calories count when it comes to healthy eating! Below are links to give you more information on good and bad fats.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/good-fats-bad-fats

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/

Graphic 1: http://colorsnspirits.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/fats-3.jpg

Graphic 2: http://www.windycitycrossfit.com/.a/6a00e39823747b88330148c6c3c180970c-pi  via http://www.balancedbites.com

New Year’s Resolution Got You Down?

We are just three weeks into the new year and I find myself wondering how many of us have sustained our new year’s resolutions, even for this short time? A study from the University of Scranton showed that 92% of people do not keep their New Year’s Resolution. “That means that only 8% of people who make resolutions actually keep them—only 8%! And of that 8%, only 46% of people keep their resolutions for longer than six months.” *

It’s pretty clear we could all use a little help when it comes to our efforts for personal betterment in the new year. Here are a few simple ways to get started again and improve your chances for sticking it out this second (or third) time around:

  1. Ask yourself:

*Is my goal realistic?

*Can I measure this goal to see my progress?

*Is my goal achievable?

*Is my goal logical – does it make sense for me?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, then your goals need to be revised. Without a “yes” to each of these, your goals will be counter productive by negatively affecting your self-esteem and self-confidence. Trust me, you will need both your self-esteem and self confidence to be soaring in order to successfully and persistently pursue your goals.

  1. Now, take some time to rewrite your goals, making sure you are able to answer “yes” to each of the questions above.

  1. Lastly, review your goals with someone else. Someone who can verify that these goals are realistic, measurable, achievable and logical. Having another perspective can help clarify your goals. Not only should this person be a support system for you, but they should also be there to hold you accountable. If these goals are something you’re serious about, you’ll need support and accountability to stay on track for the long haul.

Following these few simple steps can help put you in the 8% of successful resolutions. One of my favorite quotes is an old chinese proverb that provides a beautiful metaphor for this exact topic:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.”

Do not give up on the goals that you started January 1, simply begin them anew today.

 

* http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/simple-steps-to-keeping-new-years-resolutions-011414

Diet & ADHD

More children in the U.S. are being diagnosed with ADHD than ever before — 10.4 million in 2010 — a 66 percent increase since the year 2000! *

The majority of these millions of children will be prescribed mood altering drugs by default, some of them as young as four years old.

With growing concerns of over-diagnosis and the impacts of mood altering drugs on children and teenagers, many parents are now looking for non-drug treatment options. In a previous post, I discussed how chiropractic could potentially benefit kids diagnosed with ADHD and today I will introduce another effective non-drug treatment: diet.

So many of the “foods” (I put quotations around “food”, because is it really food that we now feed children?) are now processed and packaged in factories where scientists have manipulated the chemical composition to improve shelf life, injected artificial dyes to improve eye appeal, and inserted artificial flavors to create addictive tastes. Most “food” has become so processed that regular people stumble to pronounce more than a few items on the product ingredients list. For example, the ingredients list from a package of Wonder 100% Whole Wheat bread:

  

All kids, and especially those who are hyperactive, need real, nutritious food. I encourage parents when going to the grocery store to stay to the outside edges of the store – that’s where you find the real food: fruits, veggies, proteins, and nuts.

Here are a few guidelines to follow when choosing food for your kids:

1. At the grocery store – stay to the outside!

2. Stick to foods with 10 or fewer ingredients

3. Understand and be able to pronounce all the ingredients.

Remember, even if you don’t feel like you can follow all these guidelines right away, know that just following one of them is greatly helping you, your child, and your entire family!

A healthy diet is important for everyone, but for children experiencing symptoms of ADHD, improving the nutritional value of their diet can help improve behavior at home, in school, and in their interactions with other children and adults.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

Hippocrates

Below are links that provide more information on what diets are appropriate for kids with ADHD, along with peer reviewed research on ADHD and diet.

ADHD & Diet – WebMD

ADHD & Diet – A Collection of Research 

*Huffington Post Article on ADHD Diagnosis Patterns

The Paleo Challenge

I frequently see clients who ask,  “What can I do to help myself lose weight?”

My response, “Go paleo.”

Or they may ask, “What can I do to help with my digestive system?”

Go paleo.

Help with food allergies?

Go paleo.

Help improve my mood and have more energy?

Go paleo.

The paleolithic diet, abbreviated paleo diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era before the development of agriculture and grain-based diets.

Put most simply, the idea is to eat what our ancestors ate thousands of years ago.

Meaning…

NO: grains, legumes, dairy, refined salt OR sugar, and processed oils.

YES: fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, veggies, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts

Before I decided to take the paleo challenge, I was working out and I thought I was eating healthy – a bowl of cereal for breakfast with 2% milk, a turkey sandwich loaded with veggies for lunch, and a light pasta dish for dinner (notice all the grains), yet I felt stuck at the weight and size of clothes I was at. Then I took the challenge. And wow what a change! After just a few weeks I had lost a size, had more muscle definition and had more energy. I also noticed I wasn’t as bloated, my digestion regulated and I was more focused at school and with clients.

I am very weary of calling this a diet – to me diets are fads that run their course and eventually fall out of favor. Rather, going paleo is a lifestyle change. One must be mentally prepared to change their lifestyle in order for this way of eating to be successful.

To learn more about going paleo and the pros and cons of going paleo, check out these websites. Also, included is a website to one of my good friends in Kansas City who is a personal paleo chef who can help keep variety in your meals! Enjoy!

Pros and Cons of Paleo
Caleb Summers – Personal Paleo Chef
Delicious Paleo Recipes:

Boneless Pork Short Rib Breakfast Tacos

Sweet Sexy Wings

Coffee Marinated Steak Fajitas

Cinnamon Caramel Brownie Fruit Dip