We have all heard the expression: "We are what we eat." In my physiology and nutrition classes I teach at the university, I have, over the years, changed this to "We are what we don't eat." This is because the standard American diet is so poor due to our lifestyles, we do not get the proper nutrition for our bodies to grow, rejuvenate or repair. In other words, our diets are nutrient-depleted for the way we were designed.
The food we eat changes our genes
Recently, new evidence has emerged that supports the idea that nutrition has an effect on most diseases. What I mean by this is that nutrition can cause and reverse most diseases. Scientists at the University of Cambridge and the Francis Crick Institute published research recently that showed almost all of our genes are affected by the food we eat, and that these genes change according to the nutrients that are available to them (Nature Microbiology, 2016; 15030; doi: 10.1038/mmicrobiol.2015.30).
How is this different than what we believed before
The current medical model assumes that our genes play a significant role in disease and this may still be true. However, these scientists have discovered a stage before that - how we feed our genes! These scientists published that food plays a more significant part than suspected and up to 90% of our genes are affected. Although we have known about a connection between our diet and genetic behavior, the new evidence suggests that food plays a more significant part than originally suspected. Previously, it was felt that our genes controlled the way our nutrients are broken down, but now it appears that the opposite is also true - the way our nutrients break down affects the behavior of our genes.
What does this mean?
It means that we must give our bodies the proper fuel to run our metabolisms correctly. So lifestyle and what we put into or on our bodies is very important. To give us the best fuel, consider doing some or all of the things below:
- Eat organic meat if possible - this eliminates pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and other toxins in the meat we eat.
- Eat foods without preservatives and artificial sweeteners - This limits the amounts and types of toxins we subject our bodies to on a daily basis and toxins help make us fat.
- Drink pure water - Use filtered water, if possible. This reduces the contaminants we ingest through our water supplies which are becoming more dangerous daily (Remember Flint, MI).
- Use organic beauty and skin care products - the products we put on our skin gets into our blood supply quickly. Again, this eliminates the effect of chemicals on our bodies.