But Environment Pulls the Trigger – Part 2 on Your Genome

If your body could talk what would it say to you? Well I have news for you: Your body does talk to you but a lot of us ignore what it is saying to us. So let’s rephrase the question: If your body could talk English what would it be saying to you?

The tongue and brain:

MMMM that pie tastes great let’s have another piece.

Stomach, liver and bloodstream:

No! Not more starch, sugar, and fat! Bring on more insulin as soon as possible! This has been going on too long! More insulin! Execute the metabolic syndrome!

Small and large intestine:

I’m tired of processing this sludge. I ‘m going to work to rule, slow the digestion down…So what if he gets constipated.

Bloodstream:

I’m tired going to shrink down those pipes so less blood will flow, I need a break. Besides it’s hard getting the blood through when there’s all these bits of fat in the way.

So then after all that dessert you go and take a nap.

Legs and heart:

I wish he’d get up and take the dog for a walk I feel so flabby and out of shape. I’m tired of all the extra work I have to do him carrying 30 extra pounds around.

Knees:

I am sore and inflamed I feel swelling happening, my tendons are sore. Send on the pain to get him to stretch. And get off the couch.

Heart:

Hey you all, what about going on strike?

In 1995 Dr. Dean Ornish proposed a Medicare demonstration project that involved lifestyle changes to reverse heart disease. The Director of Medicine said that unless he could prove his program was safe it would not be considered.

Here’s how the conversation transpired:

“Dr. Ornish you will need to get a letter stating your program is safe. “
Dr. Ornish said: “You mean that it’s safe as an alternative to bypass surgery or angioplasty?”
Dr. Vladeck: “No, just that it’s safe.”
Dr. Ornish: “You want me to get a letter saying that it is safe for older Americans to walk, meditate, quite smoking, and eat fruits and vegetables?”

Dr. Ornish goes on to say: ”We have got to a point in medicine where it’s considered conservative medicine to cut open someone’s chest or to inflate balloons in arteries even in the absence of evidence that these actions prevent heart attacks or extend life in stable heart disease patients, yet it’s considered high risk to ask people to walk, meditate, quit smoking, or eat fruits and vegetables. (3)

Talk about a topsy turvy world! Yet there is a new field of research called nutritional genomics which in plain English means that a person’s lifestyle especially nutrition, can influence the expression of their genes. Why is this important? Because just because a person has a genetic predisposition for a certain condition doesn’t mean they will suffer the full ramifications of it. How does that make you feel to have that much power over your health’s future? No more blaming mom, dad, or uncle for your high blood pressure or diabetes.

That knowledge puts the patient back in the driver’s seat. No more abdication of responsibility. The Preventive Medicine Research Institute has done studies on heart disease and prostate cancer patients that have shown a reversal of the patients’ conditions on a genetic level, due to lifestyle modifications. This can be true of many medical conditions, but it is up to the people BEFORE they become patients.

A series of small positive changes can greatly influence whether you get a chronic condition or not and if you do you are able to determine its outcome more than you think.

So instead of 4 pieces of cake at the buffet you take a small piece and three pieces of fruit.

Instead of a large theatre popcorn with extra butter you order a small no butter. These little changes add up over the course of a lifetime.

Because if life is a journey you don’t want to get to your destination and say could have should have, can I turn back the clock?

(1) The Spectrum Dean Ornish MD 2007 Ballantine Books p85

(2) Medical Myths that Can Kill You Nancy Snyderman MD 2008 Crown Publishers p125

(3) The Spectrum Dean Ornish MD 2007 Ballantine Books p15

Why Our Health Matter Andrew Weil MD 2009 Hudson Street Press

The Clear Skin Diet Alan Logan ND FRSH 2007 Cumberland House

Photo courtesy of Dollar Bill.

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One Response to But Environment Pulls the Trigger – Part 2 on Your Genome

  1. Rachel says:

    I really enjoy this post. Especially breaking down each part of the body as the repercussions of what we eat starts to take effect. Your analogy is brilliant.

    I just started reading The Spectrum today. The part where he had to spend time and money to prove to eat vegetables, exercise and meditate were healthy brought back memories of when my son was in cancer treatment and how some of the doctors poop-pooped the idea that his diet mattered during high dosage chemo and radiation. Nothing has every frustrated me more.

    My hope is this message becomes more mainstream and not alternative. I hope the scalpel becomes the alternative.

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