by Amanda Box, N.D.
You’ve filled out health forms a million times. You’ve checked the boxes for the diseases your closest relatives suffered. The doctors ask you if your mom, dad, or grandparents have ever had any of the “following diseases.”
Now, you’ve come to expect those genetic ties to come knocking on your door at some point. You may have begun to believe that you are doomed to suffer the same ailments that plague your family line. Even if you feel cursed and helpless, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s, does not have to be your fate.
I have some exciting news to share! You are not genetically condemned to be a victim of the diseases of your parents or grandparents. You may have your grandmother’s blonde hair and your dad’s green eyes, but you do not have to embrace the diseases and ailments they had!
Even if you inherited a genetic predisposition, you can switch off the genes that influence disease in your body!
Every single cell in your body contains your one-of-a-kind DNA and specific genes. Some of these genes are visually expressed, like hair color and eye color. Other genes are not expressed, yet we still carry them and can pass them on. This is why a new baby may have red hair like her great grandfather, when both her parents have brown hair.
Predispositions to diseases like cancer and diabetes can be a part of our inherited genotype, as well. However, located on top of each genome is something called an epigenome (“epi” literally means above).
Epigenomes are like switches that tell our cells what to do. They can tell a gene to express itself or turn it off; like turning a light from green to red or vice versa. What makes epigenomes so incredibly fascinating is that they give us the power to change the destiny of our life and health!
Doctors and scientists have been studying epigenetics for years. They have come to discover that our lifestyle choices and environment have a lot to do with our genetic expression. The foods we eat, our activity level, and what we are exposed to can change the outcome of our lives on a genetic level!
What’s even more interesting is that when we change the expression of our genes, we change our genetic blueprint. This new blueprint is passed on to future children. In essence, when you choose to make healthy choices, you can pass down a blueprint of health to your kids and grandkids!!
Turning on Your Good Genes
Many of you have thrown caution to the wind believing your fate is to suffer the diseases of your family line.
- You continue smoking because you believe there is nothing you can do to prevent the impending heart attack that killed your father and grandfather.
- Maybe you eat and drink whatever you want because you feel like you might as well enjoy yourself if you’re going to die of cancer like your mother and aunts anyway.
Whatever your destructive thought pattern might have been… you are dead wrong! You are not held hostage to the diseases of your family!
You may carry the very genes for cancer or heart disease. But, those genes can stay inactive, never manifesting themselves.
However, you unlock those destructive genes when you make unhealthy choices. You activate the ability to manifest disease in your body! Essentially, you hold the key to your genetic expression, good or bad!Now that you know that you can rewrite your genetic future, I’m sure you want to know how to go about doing just that. Turning on good genes and turning off bad ones is simple. Follow the principles of health:
- Make healthy food choices
- Don’t smoke
- Drink alcohol only in moderation
- Reduce stress
These healthy principles create a favorable environment for our cells. When our cells are happy, the genes inside our cells reflect health. However, when our cells are in an uncomfortable environment, our genes receive stress signals. This is when gene expression takes a turn for the worse.
Nutrition plays a very important role in healthy gene expression. There is an entire scientific field dedicated to nutrition’s role in our genes called nutrigenomics. According to the nutrigenomics site, it is described as:
“The study of how different foods may interact with specific genes to increase the risk of common chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. Nutrigenomics also seeks to provide a molecular understanding of how common chemicals in the diet affect health by altering the expression of genes and the structure of an individual’s genome. ”
Nutrigenomics has 5 core principles(1):
- Under certain circumstances and in some individuals, diet can be a serious risk factor for a number of diseases.
- Common dietary chemicals can act on the human genome, either directly or indirectly, to alter gene expression or structure.
- The degree to which diet influences the balance between healthy and disease states may depend on an individual’s genetic makeup.
- Some diet-regulated genes are likely to play a role in the onset, incidence, progression, and/or severity of chronic diseases.
- Dietary intervention based on knowledge of nutritional requirement, nutritional status, and genotype can be used to prevent, mitigate or cure chronic disease.
Nutrigenomics provides a scientific basis to the belief that we should all receive personalized treatment. For example, when doctors suggest pharmaceutical drugs and dietary recommendations, our genetic diversity should be noted first.
Nutrigenomics is blazing new paths in mainstream medicine. It is debunking the “one-size-fits-all” diets and exercise regimes. We are individuals with different body types, blood types and metabolisms. Our varying genetic characteristics make us unique! It only makes sense that one type of diet, exercise routine, or medicine won’t work for everyone.
Chinese medicine separates people into yin and yang types. Ayurvedic medicine from India has kapha, vata, and pitta types, each of which have individual dietary and herbal recommendations. Many alternative approaches understand the importance of identifying a person’s individual differences. Eastern Medicine has been practicing this principle for thousands of years!
Eat Right for Your Genotype [am4show guest_error=’noaccess’]
Around 15 years ago, Dr. Peter D’Adamo began to classify people by their blood types. He released a book in the US titled, The Blood Type Diet. He noted that our blood types separate us, varying our ability to digest certain foods, metabolize nutrients, maintain a healthy weight and much more.
Recently, Dr. D’Adamo went a step further using epigenetic research to create a dietary plan based on different genotypes. I believe this genotype-based diet is cutting edge and provides people with a clear and concise plan to maximize nutrition. This diet is designed to influence your epigenomes in positive ways, turning on your good genes and silencing the bad ones. Simply put, this diet prevents disease and promotes health with genetically individualized plans.
Dr. D’Adamo divides people into 6 genotypes based on ancestry. These genotypes are the genetic blueprints our ancestor’s created. Their lifestyle is passed down through the generations.
I believe the Genotype Diet takes popular dietary plans like The Paleo Diet and Nourishing Traditions (Weston A. Price) and goes one step further. D’Adamo identifies genotypes by characteristics. Your body structure, fingerprints and length, metabolism, and immune system function reveal your genetic makeup. Identifying your genotype allows you to dictate how and when your genes express themselves. Ultimately, with the right tools, you can turn on the good genes and shut down the bad ones. Which genotype are you?
This type is typically tall, thin, naturally athletic, and has a fast metabolism. They are very energetic, but prone to burnout when overstressed. The hunter has a strong immune system. Hunter men often have a ring finger equal in length to their index finger. This genotype does well on a Paleo-like diet.
This genotype does well on a Paleo-like diet. Foods the Hunter needs to avoid are dairy and grains. Beef, chicken and turkey are all acceptable meats for the Hunter type. Beneficial produce for the Hunger type include sweet potatoes, broccoli, peaches, and pineapples.
The Hunter genotype needs vigorous exercise for at least 40 minutes at a time. Dr. D’Adamo suggests running, biking, and high intensity dance exercising.
This type is not often tall. Their lower legs measure shorter than their upper legs. Gatherer women tend to have an hour-glass figure. They also carry extra body fat and gain weight easier than other types. The Gatherer is very similar to the Kapha type in Ayurvedic Medicine. They often have symmetrical differences in fingerprints, finger lengths, and breast size.
A Gatherer’s diet is more vegetarian based, although lamb, turkey, eggs and most fish are acceptable. Most legumes and seeds are not beneficial for the Gatherer. The Gatherer can choose from a plethora of fruit and vegetables, including raspberries, watermelon, asparagus, and onions.
To develop long, lean muscles, Gatherer genotypes should try swimming, pilates and yoga.
The teacher type is not very tall, not noticeably muscular, and quite thin. However, they have a steady energy and strength that seems out of the ordinary for their stature. They are very close to the Chinese Yin category and are robust, energetic, but have a strong dislike for the cold.
Teacher’s benefit from a vegetable based diet, but can include some meats like turkey and fish. They can also derive protein from legumes, nuts, and seeds. Teachers tolerate grains, so wheat, rice and quinoa are acceptable. Some of the vegetables and fruits included in the Teacher’s diet are blueberries, grapefruit, spinach, and artichokes.
Hiking, yoga, and resistance training are all recommended exercises for the Teacher genotype.
The explorer is quite muscular and has a torso length that is often longer than their legs. Many left-handed people are explorers. They can have difficulty digesting fats. They may suffer with acne and migraines due to impaired liver detoxification. They often have reactions to medications, but improve after completing a liver cleansing program.
The Explorer’s diet excludes pork, eggs, and most cheeses. They can eat ricotta and mozzarella cheese, as well as meats like mutton, quail, and turkey. Most legumes and grains are acceptable foods. Vegetables like carrots and broccoli, and fruits like raspberries and watermelon, are part of the Explorer’s diet.
Aerobic exercises like running, competitive sports, and dance are the most beneficial for the Explorer genotype.
The warriors are often tall with long faces. They tend to flush and get hot easily. Warriors are often quite thin and energetic in their youth, but can gain weight around their abdomen as they age. When this occurs, they have what is referred to as the apple body shape.
The Warrior diet includes mostly seafood for their source of meat, but should limit their intake of red meat and poultry. Many grains and legumes are also part of the Warrior’s diet. Apples, grapes, lettuce, and cucumber are all recommended produce for the Warrior type.
Suggested exercises are pilates, hot yoga, and golf (without the cart).
The size of the nomad can very greatly. But, they tend to have equal torso to leg length as well as equivalent upper leg to lower leg measurement. Most green-eyed and red hair people are nomads. They have a larger bone structure, but not necessarily a higher fat percentage. They can be quite muscular with normal to high metabolisms.
Nomad’s need to limit red meat and poultry. They can, however, have lamb, mutton, turkey, and most fish. Most grains are acceptable for the Nomad type, as well as a long list of vegetables and fruits. Recommended produce includes cauliflower, zucchini, strawberries, and tangerines.
Jogging and dance are exercises that benefit the Nomad genotype.
If you’d like more help in identifying your genotype, Dr. D’Adamo offers a genotyping kit. You can also use this website to help with identification.
I also recommend purchasing the Change Your Genetic Destiny for more complete descriptions of dietary recommendations based on your genetic makeup.
Once you have identified your genotype, you can make the appropriate adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to maximize your genetic potential.
You have the power to change your genetic destiny! Taking control of your health is so much more than losing weight and having low cholesterol. Things like following the FDA’s food pyramid or signing up for the latest MLM diet fad are not designed for your genetic potential. They are broad one-size fits all plans that don’t work for everyone!
Identifying your genetic type and making the appropriate lifestyle changes can rewire your genes. Break free from the diseases of your family and flip your genetic switches towards well-being and a long life! It’s truly in your hands.
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Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.
com/ for contact info.