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
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.

Sources:

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 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515569/

Genetic Science Learning Center. (2013, July 15) Nutrition & the Epigenome. Retrieved August 21, 2018, from https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/nutrition/

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 https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2008.0268

Kummer, C. (2013, December 30). Your Genomic Diet. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.technologyreview.com/s/404465/your-genomic-diet/

Munro, D. (2015, February 03). U.S. Healthcare Ranked Dead Last Compared To 10 Other Countries. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/06/16/u-s-healthcare-ranked-dead-last-compared-to-10-other-countries/#2a805e7576fd

National Center for Health Statistics. (2017, March 17). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

Preventable Cancers. (n.d.). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://preventcancer.org/education/preventable-cancers/

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

 

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 http://newwavecarlsbad.com/chiropractic-care-during-pregnancy-in-carlsbad/

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.

 

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