One species. One diet.

In previous posts, this blog series introduced the basic concept of epigenetics and how diet can impact the expression of genes. The post that follows discusses what type of diet is ideal as well as how diet and nutrient recommendations have changed over the years and why.

Discovering our optimal diet

In order to figure out the optimal diet, we must first identify the species under consideration within the animal kingdom. Every member of each species require the exact same nutrients. For example, all dogs in the dog species, since they have the exact same genetics, will require the same nutrients. If they didn’t have the same genes, then they wouldn’t be the same species. And the same goes for giraffes, bears, bumblebees, and every other species of animal on the earth. Why would it be any different for humans? When other animals in the wild are sick or dying, we do not often undertake blood or genetic testing of these animals. We do not wonder which vitamin or mineral they are missing. Rather, we look to the environment in which they are living. What kind of environmental stressors could be leading to the sickness and death of these animals? Why would we approach human health differently?

Humans are an animal species that follow the same biological and physiological laws as any other animal on earth. Thus, determining which diet is best for humans should have nothing to do with allergy testing, blood testing, metabolic type, blood type, hair color, gender, height, race, or religion. These things may affect beliefs and behaviors but they do NOT determine our genome, thus they do NOT determine which nutrients we require as a species.

The next step is to determine which nutrients are required based on genetic requirement. Our species requires nutrients from vegetables, free range meat, fruits, nuts, seeds and water. Therefore, no refined sugar, soy, grains (including corn) or dairy are necessary (The Secret, n.d., n.p.). This is not to say that these foods may be tolerated and enjoyed by many, but they are not necessary. There is a difference. 

Many of us are not genetically equipped to process unnecessary nutrients like gluten or most dairy products, especially if pasteurized. In the beginning, none of us were equipped to process any of these nutrients. However, according to Daniel Liebermann, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, that through the evolution of the human genome the past 8,000 years, the lactose tolerance gene has gone from near zero percent of the Northern European population to almost 100%, due to exposure. So if you come from Northern European descent, you may have very few issues digesting whole, unpasteurized dairy (Forbes, 2013, n.p.). But just because one may tolerate does not make it necessary for humans. In fact, nearly 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy (Lactose, n.d., n.p.). Liebermann’s work shows us that as our species evolves, some nutrients may become much more tolerated by our species due to exposure, but again, tolerance does not equal necessity. And anything out of genetic necessity has the potential to lead to a host of inflammatory issues such as chronic pain and disease.

The problem with the pyramid

If it is true that sugar and dairy along with soy and grains are not necessary, then why are there so many different kinds of diets? Why are the food guidelines we learned in school not consistent with this? Why have we been told by nutritionists, doctors, school nurses, teachers and even the government that grains and dairy are imperative parts of our daily diet?


Here’s a slightly embarrassing story I will tell about myself, because it just relates too well to this topic. I remember in grade school learning about the food pyramid and going home to make 6 grilled cheese sandwiches and thinking I was being really healthy! I was getting all 12 servings of grains and my 5-6 servings of dairy all in one sitting! My teacher would be so proud! Problem is I was wrong. My teacher was wrong. Because the pyramid was wrong. Most recently, the USDA has given new guidelines with the Food Plate Pie, which according to human needs, is still misleading. As you can see in the image below, it still has grains and dairy as necessary foods. So why? It comes down to three things: lack of science, lack of asking the right question and an abundance of financial interests aka lobbyists (Yang, n.d., n.p.).

food plate

Dr. James Chestnut (n.d.), a doctor of chiropractic and lecturer who has been studying human wellness and prevention through genetic requirement for over 25 years tells us that:

“…paradigm also has a great deal to do with it.  Most nutritional recommendations are either based on what keeps someone alive or what can improve the health of someone who is very sick rather than what is required to express health potential. Many different diets can make very sick people a little less sick by making them a little less toxic and a little more sufficient but only the correct diet for the species can allow the expression of health potential and maximize the prevention of nutritional-related illness” (n.p).

What to do about it

It’s important with your diet to be informed, to ask the right questions, and to look carefully at your source of information and their own motivations for a specific point of view. Next week we will be talking more in depth about the types of inflammatory foods to try to avoid, breaking down how these inflammatory foods can affects the body. I’ll be spending a few posts discussing just how you can adjust your diet to fit your genetic needs.


Anand P, Kunnumakkara AB, Sundaram C, et al. Cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes. Pharm Res. 2008;25(9):2097-116.

Chestnut, J. L., Dr. (n.d.). The Wellness Practice. Retrieved from

Forbes, P. (2013, October 17). The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease by Daniel Lieberman – review. Retrieved from

Lactose intolerance – Genetics Home Reference – NIH. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Living a Genetically Congruent Lifestyle: Understanding the Basics. (n.d.). Retrieved from

The Secret to Living Your Healthiest Life: Understanding Our Hunter-Gather Ancestry. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Yang, S. (n.d.). All Out Effort Blog. Retrieved from

How to change our gene expression

Last week, this blog presented the concept of epigenetics and how our life choices can affect the expression of our genes. Not only do our choices affect us, but they may also affect the genetics of our offspring.

The Evolution of Man

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.

Learning from our ancient ancestors.

So what are these genetic requirements and what exactly do we as humans actually need? Much can be learned by looking at the diet of humanity’s ancestors. Although our ancestors may have died from acute diseases, chronic disease 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 from a more paleolithic diet (a form of eating before the agricultural revolution) to our modern diet has resulted in profound changes in feeding behavior. We have shifted from diets high in vegetables, fruit, quality, lean meats, and seafood to foods that are high in processed sugars, sodium, hydrogenated fats and low in fiber. These dietary changes have negatively affected dietary parameters, resulting in an increase in obesity and chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and cancer.

The top killers in the U.S. are chronic diseases, with heart disease leading the way (National Center for Health Statistics, 2017, n.p.). 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 95% of cancers are preventable! Including breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, oral, prostate, skin and testicular. The contribution of genetic factors and environmental factors towards cancer risk is 5–10% and 90–95% (Preetha, 2008, n.p.).

Disease Prevention Tools.

Diet is one of the most critical, yet often overlooked, prevention tools we can use towards chronic disease. The foods we consume can affect the expression of our genes through DNA methylation. According to Rettner (2013), DNA methylation is the addition of a methyl group, or a “chemical cap,” to part of the DNA molecule (n.p.). 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 giving nutrients can rapidly alter gene expression, especially during early development when the epigenome is first being established (Anand, 2008, n.p.). 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.

What to do about it.

Rather than focusing on calorie intake and weight loss, shift your focus to a more genome centric lifestyle. Focus more 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 length of life by preventing chronic disease.

Next week, we’ll get into more detail about what our bodies need in order to live a genome centric lifestyle. Below are links to learn more about the genome centric lifestyle as well as articles and research that support it.


Anand, P., Kunnumakara, A. B., Sundaram, C., Harikumar, K. B., Tharakan, S. T., Lai, O. S., . . . Aggarwal, B. B. (2008, September). Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from

Genetic Science Learning Center. (2013, July 15) Nutrition & the Epigenome. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from

Jew, S., AbuMweis, S. S., & Jones, P. J. (2009, October 26). Evolution of the Human Diet: Linking Our Ancestral Diet to Modern Functional Foods as a Means of Chronic Disease Prevention. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from

Kummer, C. (2013, December 30). Your Genomic Diet. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from

Munro, D. (2015, February 03). U.S. Healthcare Ranked Dead Last Compared To 10 Other Countries. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from

National Center for Health Statistics. (2017, March 17). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from

Preventable Cancers. (n.d.). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from

Rettner, R. (2013, June 24). Epigenetics: Definition & Examples. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from


Testimonial – Ruth Finnegan

Around 34 or 35 weeks, my lower back began to hurt terribly. I couldn’t sleep in my bed, couldn’t bend over, couldn’t lift things. It was even hard to sit in a chair. My midwife recommended that I see a chiropractor. I was very hesitant, because I had never been to one before and was under the mistaken impression that once you see a chiropractor, you have to keep seeing them forever. The pain got to be so bad that I broke down and made an appointment with Dr. Melinda. What a good decision it turned out to be!
I’m a huge fan of holistic and natural medicine. So,  when I walked in to the office the day of my appointment and saw essential oils on the counter,  I was greatly encouraged and my hesitation about seeing a chiropractor lessened.  Dr. Melinda was,  from the start, warm and inviting.  Her demeanor was calm and caring and she put me immediately at ease. She was interested in a complete picture of my health and the cause of my back pain. We spoke about diet, exercise,  treatment options, pregnancy, and more. I really felt as though she not only wanted to take care of my back issue, but also to make sure that I was living well. She made it clear that her goal was to fix the real problem so I didn’t need her any more. I loved the honesty of that attitude and her whole body approach to her work.
The adjustment was so easy for me as a patient.  She explained everything before she did anything and talked me through it as she worked.  She warned me that I would be sore the next day, and sure enough, I was.  I thought perhaps the treatment hadn’t worked.  But, by the following day, I was totally pain free and have been ever since!
I am so glad that I decided to make that appointment.  I highly recommend Dr. Melinda any chance I get.  I’m so grateful that she made my last few weeks of pregnancy bearable!
– Ruth Finnegan

photo via

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


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.