Blame it on your genes . For the past 50 years we have been told your genetic blueprint inherited from your parents is like the ultimate dice game that Life has rolled out for you — for better or worse.
We have all heard people say, “Cancer (or diabetes, or depression or heart disease, etc.) is in my family genes.” Our genetic inheritance seems to put the final stamp not only on our height, eye color, disposition, habits, weight, and predisposed illnesses but even the length of our life.
The gene theory taught us organisms are hardwired in their genetic makeup, and that the environment has little if any influence on the structure and function of the genes. It’s an impressive and revered scientific theory. Fortunately for us, it is also wrong. More precisely, it is an outdated theory.
The new revelations in science reveal we, in fact, influence and alter the expression of many of our genes in very profound ways.
Rather than being hostage to our gene pool inheritance, we actually have the power to alter our genetic destiny.
This new buzzword in science is called “Epigenetics” which has proven genes and DNA are not the final arbiters of our biology. The big message of epigenetics is that our DNA is actually controlled by signals from outside the cell.
New discoveries have found a major flaw in what was once considered an immutable scientific truth. Dr. Bruce Lipton, a world-renowned leader in cellular biology and quantum physics research, proved that our environment — not our DNA — shapes the development of our cells.
What kind of signals can impact our gene expression? They include influences such as dietary choices, lifestyle factors, environmental exposures and even our thoughts and feelings.
For instance, even though the common observation is that obesity runs in families, genetic research actually shows the habits you inherit from your family are more important than the genes you inherit. Obesity genes account for only five percent of all weight problems. So, we have to wonder, what causes the other 95 percent of weight problems? These are really important questions. The world of epigenetics empowers us with the answers that allow us to profoundly alter our life and our world.
As it turns out, the genes we were dealt are not the genes we’re stuck with.
Dean Ornish, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and his colleagues recently published two landmark studies showing that changing lifestyle, changes our genes. In the first, a combination of improved nutrition, moderate exercise, stress management techniques, and increased social support caused the expression of over 500 genes to be changed in only three months — in effect, up-regulating or “turning on” disease-preventing genes and down-regulating or “turning off” genes that promote heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and oxidative stress.
And, may I emphasize, that all occurred in just three months!
In the second study, they found these lifestyle changes increase telomerase, an enzyme that repairs and lengthens damaged telomeres. Telomeres are the ends of our chromosomes that control how long we live. This was the first study showing that any intervention can increase telomerase and, thus, telomere length.
This stunning discovery proved we literally have the power to turn back the clock.
Another impressive study assigned two groups of adults; one ate a low glycemic index diet and the other ate a high glycemic index diet. (Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high glycemic index; carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, have a low glycemic index.)
In just 12 weeks, the high GI diet increased the activity of 62 genes that lead to disease. These genes activate your stress response, which lowers your immunity and causes damage to your cells.
But the low GI diet decreased the activity of 71 disease-causing genes, including hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). Low HSL is associated with a resistance to obesity.
It turns out every fork full of healthy food, every step on the treadmill and even every positive emotion are optimizing your gene expression — turning up the good genes and turning down the bad ones!
Enter the World of Nutritional Genomic Testing
The future of healthcare will be determined by personalized medicine. A one-size-fits-all diet or lifestyle no longer makes sense in light of epigenetics. As it turns out, it depends on how you learn to talk to your unique genes through the language of diet, nutrition and exercise.
The 21st century personalized medicine has arrived in the form of Nutritional Genomics.
Australian molecular geneticist, Margie Smith PhD, is creating the future of personalized medicine now. As a brilliant scientist with over 20 years of experience in neurogenetics and cancer genetics, she has been pioneering such work as diagnostic screening for heritable breast and breast/ovarian cancer.
Recently she has turned her attention to nutritional genomics and co-founded a nutritional genomic testing company called SMART DNA, the only genomic testing company in Australia and one of the few presently available in the world. This company has a mission to offer affordable, predictive and preventative nutrition based genetic testing for practitioners and their clients.
The test, itself, is incredibly simple. It only requires a saliva sample, which is included in the test kit. Using your saliva as the medium to enter into your unique DNA world, the test looks at 70 different gene variations that impact your health profile including cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, diabetes, bone health, lactose intolerance, DNA repair, weight and even your ability to detoxify chemicals efficiently.
Curious about nutritional genomics, I decided to do the test myself. And, am I glad I did! The test showed me how to incorporate specific nutrition to up-regulate my specific genes in need of some nutritional fine-tuning. For example, in my case one of my gene variations impacts the production of an enzyme that plays a role in my body’s ability to do DNA repair. I learned that I was 70 percent deficient in the important enzyme necessary for DNA repair. Without proper DNA repair, I would be a risk for numerous diseases, especially heart disease and cancer. With this information, I now take an increased amount of folic acid, the appropriate vitamin, to address this problem.
I also learned my body requires a low carbohydrate diet to maintain my ideal weight. Too much pasta with my variant gene would be piling on the pounds in no time. So following a low carbohydrate diet is essential if I want to keep my girlish figure and steer clear of diabetes.
When it comes to the best exercise for me, my SMART DNA test clearly showed my body does best with resistance training, not aerobic exercise like running. So, marathons are clearly not in my future!
Through the SMART DNA testing I found the specific nutritional and lifestyle road map to guide me along my highway of good health.