Food is information that influences your genes. Nutrigenomics is the scientific study of the interaction of nutrition and genes, especially with regard to the prevention or treatment of disease. Science is discovering the multidimensional role of food in health. Food is information that instructs body functions that control all aspects of your health and disease risk. We have coevolved with the food in our environment and use it to regulate every single bodily process including our gene expression, inflammation, oxidation, hormonal function, immune function, and gut flora balance.
Epigenetics is the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off. In simple terms, epigenetics is how your environment affects your gene expression. What you eat, where you live, who you interact with, when you sleep, how you exercise, even aging – all of these can eventually cause chemical modifications around the genes that will turn those genes on or off over time. Additionally, in certain diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, various genes can be switched into the opposite state, away from the normal/healthy state.
People in North America die more from inflammatory disease than they do from infectious disease. Most chronic diseases including obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, dementia and cancer, all have roots in inflammation. I see inflammatory diseases every day in my practice. These diseases are so prevalent most people consider them normal. It doesn't have to be that way. It never fails to amaze me how most patients accept their disease as inevitable. The attitude is, both my parents had this disease so it is only natural that I now have it. I hope everyone reading this email understands this does not have to be. What is the biggest source of inflammation? Sugar! And where do we get sugar? From our diet. It is everywhere. The average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar a year. That's right, 150 pounds. Two hundred years ago the average yearly consumption was 20 teaspoons. Most of you have heard me say, Cholesterol is not the problem oxidized cholesterol is the problem. What causes oxidation and oxidative stress? Inflammation. Get the picture?
As you can see your environment and the food we eat is important in gene expression. Just because your parents had a particular disease or health problem does not mean you have to have it.
What can you do to reverse the family curse of disease? Most of you are doing it. Hormone optimization, proper nutrition, exercise, and nutraceuticals.
Let's look at diet. It is a confusing topic. This expert says to eat this and another one says to eat that and on and on it goes. Who is right and how do you know who to listen to? I attend lectures. I read multiple diet books and articles from many leading authorities. They all do a great job of making their case backed by good research. The truth is they are all right in some form or another. We are all individuals and no one size fits all. If you look at the research on native diets around the world you will see that some people thrive off acorns and cactus. Other cultures survive on yak meat and horse blood. Some live on high fat diets while others exist on high carbohydrate plant based diets. How is that possible? Genetics and gut microbiome, that's how.
There was a study that compared low-fat, low carb and the Mediterranean diets. What the researchers found was there was an overall decrease in weight of 1 Kg among participants. The same people were subjected to genetic testing and the results were much different. Those with the low-fat gene lost 14 lbs on a low-fat diet, but only 3 lbs on low carb diet. Those with low-carb gene preference lost 12.3 lbs with a low carb diet, but only 2.2 lbs with low-fat diet. That does not mean we should all get genetic testing although it might be indicated for some individuals. My advise is to eat real food (not processed), nature made food and not covered with pesticides. Try to eat organic pasture-raised and grass fed meat. Dairy should also come from grass-fed live stock.
We will discuss supplements in a future newsletter.