January 24, 2017

Turning on Health and Turning off Disease

 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!

Rewrite Your Genetic FutureNow 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
  • Exercise
  • 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):

  1. Under certain circumstances and in some individuals, diet can be a serious risk factor for a number of diseases.
  2. Common dietary chemicals can act on the human genome, either directly or indirectly, to alter gene expression or structure.
  3. The degree to which diet influences the balance between healthy and disease states may depend on an individual’s genetic makeup.
  4. Some diet-regulated genes are likely to play a role in the onset, incidence, progression, and/or severity of chronic diseases.
  5. 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?

eating for your genotype

The Hunter  

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.

The Gatherer

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

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

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 Warrior

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 Nomad

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.

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:


Amanda Box, N.D.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.



(1) http://nutrigenomics.ucdavis.edu/?page=Information



Eating for Healthy Genes

 by Amanda Box, N.D.

Eating right isn’t just about being able to fit into your skinny jeans. What you eat has an effect on a different kind of jeans; the kind of genes you were born with.

These genes make you the unique person you are, from the color of your hair to whether you can curl your tongue or not. When your mother and father’s DNA combined, it formed an exclusive genetic blueprint. This inherited design created a unique you.

In many aspects of who you are, you have every right to shout out, “Take it or leave it! I was born this way!” Embrace your uniqueness because it is what makes you truly beautiful.

However, when it comes to your health, just because you were born with “bad” genes, doesn’t mean you have to “wear” them. Your parents’ and grandparents’ health issues don’t have to determine your fate. You may have been born with a predisposition to a disease, but science has revealed you are not enslaved to what you inherited.

You have a choice not just to make the best of what you were born with, but to alter your body’s genetic design. What you choose to put in your body can change the genetic blueprint passed down to you, as it pertains to health and disease.

Scientists studying the effects of nutrition on our genome have branded this field nutriepigenetics. This study of nutrition’s role on gene expression has proven that we have some control over our genes.

Certain foods and nutrients can turn bad genes off and good genes on, or vice versa.  Our genes are not fixed. A gene might express itself depending on factors like diet, stress and exercise.

This is an exciting discovery because many of us live in fear of the impending diseases that took our family members. What is fascinating is that when you better your genetic blueprint, the new and improved version is passed down to your future children. You have the power, in many ways, to break the disease curses that have passed down through your family for generations. You have the power to create healthy and strong genetic lines for your future children and grandchildren!

Macronutrients and Gene Expression

Knowing what to eat and what not to eat is a powerful tool in controlling your gene expression. Activating bad genes boils down to making poor decisions.

Chemicals, toxins and a sedentary lifestyle are primarily responsible for causing genes to activate disease. Click to Tweet.

Though everyone is different and unique, there are certain foods and lifestyle choices that can have a negative effect on gene expression. Our macronutrient ratios negatively or positively impact our genes the most. These are the amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats we eat on a daily basis that vitally alter our health.

Carbohydrate Intake

A high carbohydrate diet benefits no one, regardless of their genotype (complete heritable genetic identity). A diet high in carbohydrates is attributed to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and much more.

A recent study in Norway monitored a group of 32 obese men and women.  The group was divided and given a powdered diet formulated with calories to maintain their body weight. However, each group was given a different macronutrient ratio. Specifically, the amount of carbohydrates and protein varied. The first group’s powder was formulated according to USDA recommendations:

  • 65% carbohydrates
  • 15% Protein
  • 20% fat

The second group’s formula included:

  • 33% carbohydrates
  • 33% protein
  • 34% fat

Both groups took turns on each diet. Their blood work and genetic expressions were observed and noted. The studies found, that no matter what a person’s unique genetic makeup was, a high carbohydrate diet exacerbates disease.

Professor Johansen, who spearheaded the study stated, “Genes that are involved in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of cancer respond to diet, and are up-regulated, or activated, by a carbohydrate-rich diet.” (1)

This study is a huge step towards our understanding of diet and gene expression. We live in a society overloaded with carbohydrates and, consequently, saturated with disease, as well.

Reducing carbohydrate intake is a huge step towards activating healthy gene expression. Click to Tweet.

If you have been consuming a high carbohydrate diet, it is never too late to change!  According to the findings in this study, it only took around 6 days to change the gene expression of the participants! This means if you lower your carbohydrate intake, you can begin to reap the benefits within a week!


Protein doesn’t seem to have the same detrimental effects on gene expression as do carbohydrates and fats.

Most people don’t eat excess protein, but rather excess fats and carbohydrates. However, it is important to note that more is not better when it comes to protein consumption. A diet balanced in the macronutrients carbohydrates, protein, and fat is best.

Our bodies are constructed of protein. Our organs, muscles, skin, hair, glands, and bodily fluids all contain protein. Our cells need protein to survive and to make repairs in the body. It is also important to consume adequate levels of protein to maintain healthy levels of essential amino acids. Amino acids from protein are crucial on a genetic level in the body.  We need amino acids for coping DNA, RNA, and for gene expression.

Proteins are the building block of life. However, consuming too much protein can create an acidic environment in the body that triggers harmful gene expression leading to disease.  Remember, balance is key when it comes to macronutrient consumption, even with the amazing benefits of protein.


Fat consumption can be a little tricky because not all fat is created equal. Although some forms of fat can cause disease, other fats actually prevent them!

Vegetable oils can actually induce health problems. But because they are unsaturated, many believe they are healthy. The most popular vegetable oils (soy, corn, canola) are genetically modified. When you introduce GMO foods into your body, you run the risk of modifying your own genes.

GMO foods are created by the splicing, dicing, and transferring of genes from one organism to another.  Although GMO foods have their own built-in pesticides and resistance to herbicides, these modifications come at a price, not improvement.

GMO foods not only negatively impact our gene expression, but they change the actual DNA of bacteria in our body! Click to Tweet.

Genetically modified foods convert bacteria in the gut turning our digestive system into a pesticide-producing factory!

Frying with these oils only makes things worse. They create oxygen radicals that negatively impact our genetic expression. Furthermore, these oils produce carcinogens that are linked to cancer and heart disease.

Although canola, soy, and corn oil should be avoided, there are a few healthy unsaturated oils to include. These oils, as with any type of fat should be consumed in moderation and always avoid using them over high heat.

  • Avocado
  • Safflower
  • Olive Oil

Saturated fats are often painted as the bad guy, especially for heart disease. However, coconut oil can be safely incorporated into your diet without causing negative gene expression. Coconut oil contains compounds that improve health by encouraging weight loss and fighting viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Healthy Foods for Your Genome

BP-Food PlateGood nutrition is key to reprogramming our genes from a state of disease to a state of health and wellness.  However, following the USDA’s Food Pyramid is not going to lead you to wellness. The food pyramid pushes grains and isn’t truly balanced. Instead your diet should be:

  • Low to moderate in carbohydrates
  • Low to no sugar
  • Moderate to high in protein
  • Moderate in healthy fats like coconut oil and omega-3
  • High in colorful vegetable and fruits

I’ve included Barton Publishing’s Healthy Food Plate for a good visual reference.

The foods that seem to have the greatest positive effects on gene expression contain substances called polyphenols. Polyphenols are a compound found in antioxidants that fight inflammation and protect our cells from free radical damage. Protecting cells protects our genes, making these compounds extremely beneficial.  They can also lower blood pressure and increase insulin sensitivity preventing heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Many fruits and vegetables contain polyphenols. Some of the highest levels are found in:

  • Green Tea
  • Red Wine and Grapes
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Dark Chocolate (at least 60% cacao)

Replacing a large part of grain-based carbohydrates with vegetables is a fantastic way to enhance your polyphenol and nutrient content. Skip the bread and add another vegetable to your plate instead. Eating to maximize your good genes doesn’t have to be boring or without flavor. It won’t take long before you begin to crave these healthy foods that boost your health and wellness.

I’m a huge fan of ethnic food, whether it is Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean; you name it. I love the vast array of spices and flavors. Something I feel we lack in the West are dishes that are flavorful, but also are packed full of healthy vegetables. In America, vegetables are often kept separate, as a side dish. However, in other countries they are incorporated into the main dishes adding both flavor and color.

One of my favorite dishes to prepare for my family is a Korean Dish called Bibimbap. You can pick your vegetables making this a great “clean out the fridge” dish. Using quinoa instead of rice bumps up the protein content making it even healthier. This beautiful dish comes packed full of nutrition, polyphenols, healthy fats, and protein.

Korean Quinoa Bibimbap

korean quinoa bibimbap 2Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ red cabbage, finely sliced
  • ½ lb ground beef, sliced beef, or chicken browned
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp Bragg’s Liquid aminos or tamari sauce
  • A handful of raw organic spinach
  • 1 ½ cooked quinoa
  • 1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 zucchini, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 2 eggs
  • Cilantro, lime, and chili sauce to garnish (optional)


  1. Heat coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add garlic and cabbage. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add beef or chicken. Cook and break up ingredients with a wooden spoon until browned.
  5. Add spices and Bragg’s Aminos or tamari. Cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add baby spinach stirring until wilted. Remove from heat.
  7. Divide quinoa between 2 serving bowls. Add meat and vegetable matchsticks.
  8. Cook eggs to your liking and top each bowl with an egg.
  9. Top with cilantro, lime, and chili sauce. (2)

Even though sugar is truly bad for your genes, it doesn’t mean that those of you with a sweet tooth need to be deprived! Luckily, there are healthy alternatives to sugar that taste delicious and give you the ability to still have dessert!

Since dark chocolate in high in polyphenols, this dessert is not only delicious, but good for you!  The surprising part of this recipe is the avocado, which makes the mousse not only creamy, but packed with healthy fats. This recipe is a snap to make. It is also raw, vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free!!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

avocado chocolate mousse_2Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 2 tsp liquid stevia
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh fruit and nuts for garnish


  1. In the bowl of a blender or food processor, blend avocado until smooth.
  2. Add all other ingredients, blending until mixture is uniform.
  3. Chill for about 2 hours in the fridge or half an hour in the freezer.
  4. Garnish with fresh fruit or chopped nuts.

It is NEVER too late to incorporate healthy food choices into your life. As I stated earlier, studies have shown it only takes 6 days for your genes to change expression.

For those of you headed down a path of disease and destruction, this is incredible news! You can begin creating a life of health and wellness today!  Don’t drag around the ball and chain of your family’s diseases any longer! You have the power to cut that chain and run towards a long future of health and wellness.

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:


Amanda Box, N.D.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.



(1) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919073845.htm
(2) Adapted from www.iquitsugar.com


Pin It on Pinterest