Tag Archives: epigenetics

Healthy Pregnancies: Looking at Epigenetics and the Difference a Healthy Lifestyle Makes

baby knowles watermark titlesThis is a guest post done for Kimi Harris of The Nourishing Gourmet who is taking some time off for maternity leave. Congratulations to the Harris family!

What if it were possible to press a genetic reset button? To wipe away something that has been plaguing generations of your family. To give your children and grandchildren a fresh new future. The key to finding this genetic reset button lies within the science of epigenetics, and then the application of some timeless wisdom.

This article is possibly one of the most exciting for me to write because this topic melds two fields about which I am passionate; these fields intrigue me and make me want to learn more and more and more. The first is the cutting edge field of science called epigenetics, and the second is the historically significant field of ancestral diets. “Cutting edge science combined with dusty old diet studies from 100 years ago or more? How can this possibly excite?” you ask. Well because when you link the new information with the old you have the ability to radically change families, to help parents give their children AND grandchildren the best health possible, in some cases to even save lives.

To read the rest of this article please go here….

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7 Secrets to Controlling your Genes

Ben Lynch

Dr. Ben Lynch

Dr. Ben Lynch runs the website MTHFR.net where he posts his latest findings and research dealing with the MTHFR genetic mutations that so many people around the world have.  In spite of the health challenges faced by people with these genetic mutations (including the doctor, his wife and three children) Dr. Lynch still says we are not our diagnosis, we are still in control of so much simply because we can control our environments.

He gives as an example the fact that nearly 50% of people of Mexican heritage, and a large percentage of Caucasian and black Americans all have some kind of MTHFR mutation that results in neural tube defects, but people of Italian descent living in Southern Italy who have these same mutations do not have the problems with neural tube defects simply because their lifestyle and environment make up for their genes.

In reality everyone can have an impact for good by what we do to manage our environment. Dr. Lynch says one of his mentors was Dr. Lipton who taught at Lynch’s medical school, as well as produced a DVD about the impact of lifestyle. Lipton taught that everything we do in our life has an impact on what goes on with our bodies.

  1. We can be proactive and seek out dietary changes to bring about healing such as the GAPS diet, the Paleo Diet, or other clean-eating, nutrient-dense, probiotic rich food tradition.
  2. We can avoid using toxic pesticides inside our house and on our lawns, avoid harsh chemical cleaners and detergents, and make our homes as non-toxic as possible. Just like agricultural insecticides are killing off the bees, so are the toxic chemicals in our home environments causing injury to ourselves and our families.
  3. Even our state of mind can bring health or sickness. When we wake up grumpy, irritable and pessimistic this turns on our sympathetic nervous system and floods our body with negative hormones and neurotransmitters. Instead of allowing our body to work at fighting the toxins outside in our environment, instead it now has to work overtime just to detoxify those negative stress hormones, causing us to be more susceptible to sickness.
  4. Keeping our digestive tract populated with healthy, strong gut bacteria is important. Overgrowths of bad bacteria such as Candida will produce acetylaldehydes which have to be detoxified and cleared away. Beneficial bacteria actually absorb toxins for you, and even make certain vitamins for you thereby taking a load off your methylation pathways.
  5. Methylation is a critical function your body needs in order to keep your DNA regulated. If your DNA isn’t regulated then everything else can spiral out of control and you get cancer and many other conditions.
  6. Dr. Lynch reminds us that we are not born with things like bipolar, cancer or autism, but rather these kinds of conditions are environmentally triggered. If we life a life that is focused on eating well, sleeping well, exercising, living well and eliminating the toxins from our environment then we are on the right path. We need to be motivated and take the time and effort to understand and educate ourselves and others on important things like eliminating GMOs from our diet, focusing on organics and growing our own food and finding grassfed beef and eggs.
  7. Lastly we need to seek out integrative forms of healthcare, because the more advanced we get the more we realize that we need to return to our roots and live more simple lives. Follow the example of the backyard squirrel – he runs around outside all day, doesn’t eat anything processed, and then goes home and sleeps with his family and doesn’t worry about GMO pine nuts.

Be like the squirrel, find a good backyard and eat natural foods. That will control your environment in a positive way and help to keep the negative genes from getting activated and turned on. squirrel from Marie

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Hybrid vs. GMO – What is the Difference?

I’ve been hearing lately that people are confused about what it means exactly to be GMO and how that is different from being hybridized. I’m posting this in hopes of clearing up that confusion. Please let me know in the comments if you still have questions.

Think back to elementary school science class about how we classify all living things. We start with the very broadest of categories, called Kingdoms, and then get narrower and narrower, until we reach one single living thing. For example here’s the classification for a cow:   Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia, Order Artiodactyla, Family Bovidae, Genus Bos, Species Bos taurus or Cow

cows

Bos taurus or Cow

In nature things cannot reproduce with other things that are not closely related. Usually this means they have to at least be the same Species or the same Genus. So even if two things are in the same Kingdom, Phylum, or Class they cannot breed together. This is why we don’t have Minotaurs, Centaurs or Hippogriffs roaming around.

 

 

Hybrid

cockapoo

Cockapoo

 

A Toyota Prius is a hybrid car. It combines features from gas and electric cars to create a new kind of car that can use both fuels. A hybrid living thing is a lot like the Prius. Two different, but closely-related, organisms reproduce to make a new offspring. This happens in nature when a Blue-winged warbler mates with a Gold-winged warbler and they have little baby Lawrence warbler chicks, hybrids between the Blue and Gold. People can facilitate hybrids like when a Cocker Spaniel is bred with a poodle to make designer puppies called Cockapoos. In each case, whether bird or dog, the organisms are close enough that they can reproduce without surgical or technological help. Hybridizing techniques have been used for centuries to make more beautiful roses, hardier tomatoes, and fluffier sheep, and a whole lot more.

 

GMO (Genetically Modified Organism)

A Genetically Modified Organism is a living thing, whether plant, bacteria, insect or animal, whose genetic material has been altered using technology through genetic engineering techniques. Perhaps a better name more clearly expressing this combination of genetically unrelated things would be trans-genic . This biotech process produces a completely new living organism with novel genetic material. These completely modern organisms cannot happen without technological intervention because they combine two unrelated things.

hippogriff

hippogriff

 

Like the mythological Hippogriff that combined lion and eagle to create something entirely its own new being, the biotechnology that combines genetically unrelated organisms has created a new population of seemingly mythical creatures. So far GMO technology has produced combinations of such unrelated organisms as corn with jellyfish, sugarcane with human, corn with hepatitis virus, soybean with soil bacteria, canola with bay tree, spiders with goats, fish with strawberries, corn with bacteria, and pigs with jellyfish.

When foreign DNA invades your body, as when a cold virus tries to live in your nose, you automatically launch an attack to get rid of it. The watery eyes, the runny nose, all that mucus – that’s your body trying to evict the invaders. The genes of all living things naturally guard against foreign DNA. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, unless two things are closely related, their DNA does not willingly combine. In order to create trans-genic GMO it requires outside intervention, special technology; and truthfully this technology isn’t all that precise.

To insert foreign DNA into a non-compliant organism requires drastic measures. We use gene guns with DNA-coated ammunition and shoot them at cells; we use electric shocks to tear holes into cells to stick in the new DNA; we use viruses to “infect” cells with new DNA. Out of thousands of bombarded cells only a few get successfully re-engineered.

We are still learning about genetic expression and the environment’s effect on our genes. The field of epigenetics is in its infancy. We do know every living thing is connected by the vast web of life. Not only are there unknown consequences to altering living things by tampering with their genes, but the natural environment is also at risk.  A trans-genic plant produces pollen that blows on the wind; insects chew these plants and are then eaten by other animals; small animals live in the fields and nest among the roots of these plants. A GMO fish swims away with its new genetic material sharing it with other fish as it mates, and sharing it with the animal that eats it for supper.

We already know that pollen from GMO corn carried by the wind has landed on milkweed plants killing off monarch butterfly larvae who were eating the pollen-coated milkweed. The monarch butterfly already has “Near Threatened” status. This surely won’t help its recovery.

When plants and animals used as food are genetically modified, it can also change their nutritional profile.  It can give them too much or too little of certain nutrients, or even create new kinds of proteins that have never been in our food supply. This affects the animals and people that eat them. Safety testing has been left up to the companies that produce these GMO foods. The FDA does not do independent testing. Some in the scientific community are now taking it on themselves to test GMOs and are finding toxins, allergens and nutritional problems to be just the tip of the iceberg.

For more about GMOs go here or here or here. This blog is being posted on the Sunday Social Blog Hop.

Sunday Social Blog Hop

Sunday Social Blog Hop

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Wise Traditions 2013 Day Three Synopsis

My apologies for taking so long to get this last blog up. As soon as the final session was over on Sunday we had to jump in the car and head home. For me that was two days of car travel,supergold kvass zukay but then once back home I turned right back around and started on another trip out west to visit more family. I’m writing this now from a hotel room in Tulsa. It’s kind of crazy to go from a weekend of fabulously healthy, farm fresh food for three meals a day straight into the food deserts of the airports and life on the road. I’m thankful to have found Zukay Live Foods Super Gold spicy beet kvass at the Tulsa Whole Foods yesterday. Dr. Mercola said one serving of fermented vegetables (this kvass qualifies for that!) is equal to a whole bottle of probiotic supplements.  Ok, on to my synopsis of the final day’s sessions….

I began the morning in a packed house to hear Dr. Joe Mercola. As usual, he was engaging and funny and had lots of good ideas. His loosely-organized talk on the failed drug system of conventional medicine was really an overview of his own recipe to take control of your own health. He had 12 bullet points with accompanying power point photo illustrations. I’ll list them here, but if you’ve spent any time on his website you are probably familiar with many already. The title of the talk could also be “Optimize Your Gut Flora”.  1. No sugar (you knew this was important!) 2. Reduce grains (or for the bold, eliminate grains entirely) 3. Eat lots of good vegetables and sprouts 4. Eat fermented vegetables, learn to ferment your own vegetables and fruits. We surprised Joe on this one…he said for anyone who had ever made their own fermented vegetables to raise their hand. Pretty much the whole room held hands high, and he was blown away. Said he’d never talked to an audience where the vast majority were fermenters much less even knew about it. This is when he told us that a 2-3oz serving of fermented vegetables has 100 trillion beneficial bacteria and is equal to an entire bottle of probiotic supplements. 6. Grow and eat your own sprouts. He recommends sprouting in soil rather than just in a sprouting dish. Sprouts have 30x the nutrients as the mature vegetable with sunflower seed sprouts being the highest. There are directions on his website on how to sprout using trays of soil. Takes about 5 days from start to finish. 7. Drink pure water. He said this was a good “gateway” first step for anyone wanting to begin the journey to health. 8. Eat a HIGH FAT diet. Especially for anyone who is currently insulin or leptin resistant he recommends using intermittent fasting techniques and converting to a fat-adapted diet rather than a glucose-burning diet. On the topic of fat-burning and eating high fat (good fats like coconut oil, butter) that insulin and leptin resistance lead to heart disease and cancer. Another moment of surprise for Dr. Mercola came when he asked anyone who has had a heart attack to raise their hand. In the packed auditorium of several hundred people only one person raised their hand – Mercola was stunned saying he attributed the low heart attack count to our healthy WAPF diets. 9. Exercise was next. Cardio, sitting killshe says, is not the most efficient. Better exercise is one that activates fast twitch muscles such as the Peak 8 training program. Great photo from this segment was a picture of a comfy chair with the caption “sitting kills”. 10. Grounding or Earthing – going barefoot on the earth or ocean activating a free flow of electrons to replicate natural principles to help naturally thin your blood. 11. Keep cell phones off and away from your body. 12. Small initiatives can make a big differences: say no to GMOs, Fluoride removal from city water supplies, ban mercury in dentistry, and the National Vaccine Information Center.

From Mercola I went upstairs to a more intimate classroom area to hear Dr. Deborah Gordon speak about Preventing Breast Cancer. This class was packed full of information, so much so that I want to do a more in-depth blog just on this topic. So what I give you here is just the surface of the deep pool.  First of all it is important to know that Prevention does not equal  Detection. 68% of women actually think mammograms prevent breast cancer. The industry claims they are the only way, but in reality there are many things you can do to help prevent breast cancer (and all cancers).  Prevention can come both before and after a diagnosis of breast cancer. It is important to know your personal risk factor. The Cancer.gov website has a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool you can use to start with. Don’t stop there. Know about all the risk factors. Things like family history, age, race, age of menstruation/menopause, age of first full-term pregnancy, and breastfeeding all play a role. We have all heard of BRCA genes and while genetics themselves are fixed the epigenetics are modifiable. This means the environment we live in and the lifestyle we live. Exposure to radiation, carcinogens, toxic hormone modifiers and other substances are all risk factors we can lower or eliminate by lifestyle choices. Biggest is with food, personal care products, our homes and our lives. Keep cell phones away from your body and NEVER carry them in your bra! Choose organic foods and non-toxic cosmetics and cleaners. Parabens in deodorants are big cancer offenders. Use the EWG’s Skin Deep website to find good products. Never put anything on your skin you can’t safely eat. Sleep in a completely dark room, exercise – especially intense exercise for better hormone/metabolism/insulin. Have a little red wine – One 6oz serving per day at most. Manage your stress! Stress hormones kept low allow all your other glands to operate optimally! Eliminate sugar – many cancers are dependent on sugar, but humans are not. Vitamin D, probiotics, fermented foods, iodine, selenium, turmeric are all good. Statins double the risk of breast cancer.

Third up was a lecture called “Failed Promises-Flawed Science” from retired Col. Dr. Huber, Professor Emeritus Purdue University. Dr. Huber’s research into GMOs is legendary and stretches back 20 years or more to the inception of the biotech industry. This was another lecture that deserves its own blog post (or two or three). For this lecture he focused mainly on the herbicide glyphosate, brand name “Round Up”, used in GMO agriculture. Setting aside the actual GMO plants we learned that glyphosate on its own was a huge problem. It is a chelator of all cations, inhibits enzymes, shuts down the shikimate pathway (which I wrote about here), is a strong antibiotic (glyphosate was first marketed as an antibiotic before being used as an herbicide), and accumulates in shoot, root and reproductive tissues, accumulates in the soils, is toxic to beneficial soil organisms and just all-around nasty. Because of widespread glyphosate usage we are now seeing re-emergence of old diseases as well as brand new ones. Things like Corynespora Root Rot, Goss’ Wilt of Corn, Take-All of Wheat and Sudden Death Syndrome are all plaguing farmers now. It only takes 1/2 oz per ACRE of glyphosate to damage crops with low vigor, lower yields, and lower mineral values. Even after 30 years the glyphosate is still present in fields – it doesn’t go away. Now on to the crops themselves….There is a reduction in the nutrients from 13%-52% in RoundUp Ready (RR) crops. It takes extra fertilizer and micronutrients just to get these crops out of the ground. Animals fed GMO feed struggle due to nutrient deficiencies directly as a result of deficient feed plants. RR plants have a high amount of formaldehyde and contain at least 13% glyphosate within the plant itself. Mice and squirrels will ignore GMO feed corn due to the formaldehyde content. 80% of the beef livers from commercially raised and slaughtered cows have to be thrown away directly due to the premature aging from the GMO feed. 20% of all pregnancies in commercially raised dairy cattle are lost due to insufficiencies in the feed.  Erosion of the stomach and intestines from GMO soy and corn reproduce symptoms of autism in herds of animals eating GMO feed. When the GMO feed is removed the symptoms go away. Glyphosate presents long-term toxicity to liver, kidney and tissues and is a long-term carcinogen. Refining oils from GMO crops (soy, canola) concentrates this effect. We even have a new disease called Morgellan’s disease linked to GMOs.

buchi kombucha

buchi was a sponsor for Wise Traditions

The last session of the day was Kombucha and Cancer Therapies – Historic and Modern from Kombucha Kamp found Hannah Crum. Hannah’s bubbly personality spilled out like effervescent kombucha bringing a joyful tone to the serious topic of cancer.  Something I knew but forgot was that kombucha is not a lacto-fermented beverage like kefir or kvass. Instead it is an acetic acid ferment similar to apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is about 5% acetic acid while kombucha is a more drinkable 1%.  Hannah repeated what Deborah Gordon said about cancer being caused by environmental factors such as diet, toxins, lack of exercise and radiation.  Much of the research done on kombucha is from other countries where kombucha consumption is more the norm than it is in the US.  Stalin urged research on kombucha in the 1800s because he feared getting cancer. His scientists discovered a population in Russia living near an asbestos mine that should have been sick but instead the people were healthy – they drank kombucha. Dr. Rudolf Sklenar in Germany used kombucha to prevent cancer as well as treat and cure it using daily protocols of probiotics and kombucha. More recent research shows promise using kombucha to help heal diabetes, to repair kidneys from exposure to toxins such as carcinogenic solvents, to lower levels of radiation poisoning and to reduce human cancer cell activity. Hannah gave an in depth look at all the good things in kombucha from polyphenols to healing acids, and talked about how kombucha is a “gateway ferment”. People who are new to fermented foods often like kombucha just because it’s fizzy and it tastes good, but they keep drinking it because it makes them feel good.

 

Next year Wise Traditions 2014 will be in Indianapolis – I hope you can attend!