Practicing Good Nutrition From the Very Beginning
The Remarkable Effect of Practicing Good Nutrition
From the Very Beginning
Nutrition and the Gene
Research of the past twenty years has taught us that early nutrition may have a profound effect on development of, or protection from, later diseases, a phenomenon that goes beyond the direct effect on the disease itself. A growing body of evidence based on this research indicates that nutrition can actually control the genes for diseases. For instance, it is known that poor nutrition during infancy and adolescence seems to program the genes for early onset of major degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease, strokes, diabetes, and degenerative brain diseases. Further, good nutrition has the opposite effect, programming
genes for a life free of major diseases.
Most lay people are of the opinion that genes are set at birth, thereby programming our cells to function in a certain way. For example, if we inherit a bad gene for an early heart attack, there is nothing that we can do to change our fate—it is locked in our system. To say otherwise would be to imply that through lifestyle changes we could, for instance, change the color of our eyes. This argument has been given a boost following the excitement generated by completion of the Human Genome Project. Recently, geneticists have announced that there appear to be more gene-controlled diseases than we ever thought in the past. Upon hearing this, many may conclude that we should eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die; our fate is locked into our inheritance.
Fortunately, not all genes behave in such a predetermined fashion. We now know that genes have switches that allow them to be turned on or off, and that numerous genes in our cells are continuously turned off and unused. For example, we know that a cartilage cell in the knee joint has all the genes necessary to be a brain neuron or a heart cell, but it remains a cartilage cell because the genes that would make it otherwise are turned off. Recent experiments have shown that brain cells can indeed be transformed into heart cells merely by turning on the heart-cell genes.
It is true that some of us carry genes that make us more prone to early heart attack, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, or cancer, yet for these genes to cause these diseases, they must be turned on. As long as they are off, we are safe. So what regulates these “on” and “off” switches? Several factors contribute, including stress, physical trauma, and environmental agents, but the most important element of all is nutrition. In fact, nutrition can override many of the chemical and environmental triggers for bad genes. We know that in juvenile diabetes (type I), genetic susceptibility is a major catalyst in those who develop the disease, but diabetes only occurs following early childhood exposure to particular environmental or infectious triggers. Exposure to a virus, cow’s milk, or MSG all act to turn on the diabetes gene switch, allowing the disease to fully manifest itself. Without these triggering exposures, the disease may never manifest.
We also know that certain chemicals, viruses, physical irritations, and nutritional deficiencies can all result in the development of cancer. Yet the process may take years, even decades, to develop. The reason for this delay is that the switching on of cancer genes (oncogenes) has to occur in a certain sequence and involves numerous genes. This polygenetic basis of disease occurs in many diseases including hypertension, diabetes, lipid disorders, gout, arthritis, osteoporosis, and polycystic ovaries. Each gene contributes a small part of the puzzle that eventually results in the disease. If a piece is missing, the disease may not fully develop.
Certain vitamins and plant chemicals, called phytochemicals, can inhibit the activation of these cancer genes, and prevent a gene’s instruction from reaching its destination in the cell’s mechanism. This is how genes influence the function of cells, by ordering the secretion of special signaling molecules that instruct enzymes, for instance, to build a special protein that will promote the growth and spread of the cancer. Or in another instance, it will turn off a gene’s instructions, preventing the information transcription.
Health and Nutrition Secrets by Russell Blaylock available in print and electronic files @ www.healthpress.com and www.amazon.com