“Contrary to popular opinion, genes dictate as little as 2% of our life expectancy”
Dan Beuttner, Author on Longevity via the ‘Blue Zones’
You are not your genetics
Your genome contains the entire digital recipe for you. It consists of three billion individual letters of the genetic alphabet, arranged in a crazy sequence that is totally unique to each person. You are the only you that has ever been, or will ever be! You are gifted a unique raw genetic DNA. Genotyping is what is written in your genes for your hair colour, eye colour, skin tone and height, etc. However, your DNA is malleable and does not exist in isolation. It has a deep and constant interrelationship with your diet. Your genome is basically around 23,500 human genes that determine the production of the proteins, cells and tissues of the body. The really powerful and life-changing thing to know is that nutrients in your diet affect the use of the information contained within your genome. As proven through the massive genetic study, the Genome Project, each one of your genes can create up to 30,000 proteins, any and all of which can create a different outcome (as in, you get sick, or you get healthy). The aspects that activate or suppress your genes are almost always lifestyle-related. Your genome is like a giant never-ending piece of clay that you can mould into whatever you want it to be.
Your genes are not your master
The myth that a person’s life course is set by their genetic make-up at birth is only a small part of the story. Are we merely a helpless, ticking biological bomb waiting to explode into our genetic destiny? No. Could it be that you are caught up in a maelstrom of marketing that tells you that your genetics are to blame and that there is nothing you can do about it? Yes. Each piece of human tissue only uses about 15% of its gene complement, so you want to be sure that those genes are the most advantageous possible for your health. Genes have nothing to do with your diet? WRONG. Your diet has nothing to do with your genes? WRONG. The truth is, every year, over 97% of your body is completely replaced. Even down to your genetic DNA. You are rebuilt from the nutrients in the foods you eat.
The three rules are as follows:
- You are composed entirely of molecules derived from food.
- Your body’s genetic expression is run by food interaction.
- If you are confused, go back to #1.
Your health is the cumulative experience of your lifetime.
The blame game
But what do most people do if they find a set of problems that they do not want to acknowledge? Blame someone else. Most people blame their genes or their family genetics for their illness instead of their lifestyle and diet. So often people say, “Oh, it’s all in my genes, what can I do?” It turns out you can do a great deal indeed as blaming ‘bad genes’ for your health is no longer accepted and not particularly empowering either. An elite bodybuilder brilliantly summed this up as “The harder I train, and the stricter I diet, the better my genetics appear”. True genetic diseases are rare and they affect less than 1% of the population. Environmental variables interact with genetic susceptibilities, in effect flicking the genetic switches ‘on or off’. Your body is simply a collection of cells, all with different jobs to do. When fed well it works in perfect harmony to support the system as a whole.
For example, many people believe that breast cancer is genetic, however only 10% of breast cancer cases come from families with a history of breast cancer. Around 90% of breast cancer cases are NON-genetic. This is why the rates of breast cancer vary from 1-in-12 in NZ to 1-in-10,000 in rural China. What are they doing differently to us? Their diet and lifestyle – what they eat, how much they eat, how much exercise they get, if they drink or smoke, stress levels, sleeping routines and of course, sunlight on the skin. The one thing you control over all other aspects of health is that you are in charge of your genetic expression towards health or disease. This has been proven over and over again in mainstream science as well as long-term epidemiological studies on large groups of people all around the world. The longest-living peoples show us the same thing – it is not genetics – it is diet and lifestyle that dictates your health profile.
114 years old with the same genes as us
The latest study to confirm this yet again was published just this month. The scientists did the entire genome for two people – a man and a woman both aged over 114 years. They found both had about the same number of bad genes as the rest of us – potentially leading them to painful early deaths in their mid-70s. However, the man had beaten colon cancer in his mid-70s and then lived an additional 40 years and was in excellent mental and physical health right until he died. The study commented “The woman carried at least 30 mutations linked to Alzheimer’s disease, 201 mutations associated with cancer, 52 mutations associated with heart disease, 136 mutations associated with diabetes and 12 linked to macular degeneration that she was diagnosed with after the age of 100 years. The man carried 37 mutations associated with increased risk for colon cancer”. Both the man and the woman had genetic expression that disabled/overpowered/removed/influenced the deadly genes and gave them long life. This is genetic expression working at its best. Your diet and lifestyle supporting your good genes to kill off and remove your bad genes.
Remember: your genes are not in control; genetic expression is around 95% up to you.
Study published January 2012 in Frontiers in Genetics by Thomas Perls, founder and director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University, and colleagues.