Monday, December 10, 2012

Teaching our genes new tricks

One of the concepts in the book I'm reading (Deep Nutrition, Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food) speaks to our genes' ability to learn even as we age. I initially fought that concept as completely foreign to what I've been taught to believe, but over the last several months of trying to discard my preconceptions, I've had a change in attitude.

Dr. Shanahan writes of our cellular structure, and what has been learned from the Human Genome Project that has led to the new field of Epigenetics. Each cell in our bodies contains a nucleus, floating inside the cytoplasm, like the yolk of an egg. This nucleus holds 46 chromosomes, and each chromosome contains up to 300 MILLION pairs of nucleic acids. She says if we could stretch out the strands of all the DNA in a single human body, it would stretch to the moon and back more than 5,000 times!

That's a LOT of chemical information, but in reality our genes only make up 2% of the structure of a cell. The other 98% was thought to be "junk" because scientists didn't know what it was, or how it functioned.

Now epigenetic scientists are discovering the "junk" is really a massive, complicated regulatory center, assisting our biology in the never-ending, moment-to-moment decision-making. It responds to every molecule that we put into our bodies (and even the air we breathe), and when it's fed real food, it knows how to produce health. When it gets junk, it gets crazy, jumbled signals that ultimately lead to dis-ease.

Our genes make decisions based in part by the chemical information in the foods we eat. In effect, our DNA collects information from food, and it is in our best interests to give it the best food we can.

Plus, our genes have to be activated for results. One example the author gives is calcium and Vitamin D. If the gene for building bone gets both, then it can perform as it should. But if we are too low or even depleted of Vitamin D, all the calcium we can ingest will not build or repair bone.

Think about this: a single sperm cell mated with a single-celled egg to produce each of us. As the cells divided, how did our genes/DNA know whether to make an eyeball, or a foot?

At some point I will talk about Dr. Shanahan's food suggestions, although they are not a whit different than what I have posted about over the last 3 years. Sometimes we just need reminders.

This post is just a short distillation of some of her text on how our bodies actually function at the cellular level, something she takes pages and pages to explain. I could not begin to explain it, and can only encourage you to read her book if you want to understand and gain better health, and better genes to pass along to future generations.

1 comment:

  1. Now I have my copy back, I think it's time to read it yet again. That will make 4 times in 1 year, and each time I've taken something else away to mull over.

    Superb book!


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