True or false: If you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, or cancer, it is probably inevitable that you’re going to “come down with” the same condition.
What do you think?
What have you been led to believe?
Have you ever felt any confusion about this topic?
Let’s explore this…
I’ve had conversations with numerous people about this topic and the majority of them were confused or entirely misinformed about it. I hear all the time: “Well, everything kills you so, whatever, I’m just going to eat whatever I want.” Or “It runs in my family- it’s inevitable.”
What I really hear is: “I’m overwhelmed, confused and addicted to cheese/meat/sugar/soda/processed food and it’s easier to bury my head in the sand than to educate myself and make changes in my life.
Let me tell you-I used to be highly addicted to sweets, candy and cheese, so I’ve been there and know what it’s like to be out of control with food. I also have a high genetic susceptibility to heart disease and Alzheimer’s if I don’t control it with diet.
And by becoming a health coach, I finally figured out how to make the changes needed in my life so that I could get rid of my addictions and crave foods that would help my genes express themselves in the healthiest way possible.
What you eat goes beyond how you look: it changes the expression of your genes at a fundamental level. If your cells don’t get the nutrition they need, they know it and will eventually start to malfunction, leading to many lifestyle-related illnesses and diseases.
Our bodies don’t make mistakes, we do. Our bodies were not designed to give us cancer or Type II diabetes. A hereditary predisposition to certain diseases contributes a lot less to their manifestation than most people believe or understand. Our bodies respond to the materials we give them. When we build a subpar foundation through food (because food IS the foundation), the building will be shoddy, we alter the expression of our genes, and the walls will fall down eventually.
Mark Sisson, author of the Primal Blueprint, said: “The key to switching genes on or off is based on the signals we give them.” The signals are food, environment (like stress and primary foods), and mind/body connection.
This may be hard to believe and many of you might argue with this but it’s true: Often the cure is in the diet.
I pulled many of the following statistics and quotes from Dr. Joel Furhman’s book Eat to Live but you can find many of the same stats and figures from other studies, books, documentaries and trustworthy scientists and physicians who actually take an interest in nutrition (see end of article for more resources):
Food can either be the best form of medicine or the worst kind of poison.
“Almost a third of our young children are obese, and many do not exercise.” –Mehmet Oz
Rates of obesity are rising: The national Institutes of Health estimate that obesity is associated with a two-fold increase in mortality, costing society more than $100 billion per year.
Obese families tend to have obese pets, which is obviously not genetic. And overweight and obesity are directly correlated with diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Let’s be clear: being overweight is not caused by how much people eat but by what they eat. We must eat large amounts of the right kinds of foods.
“Most Americans are not aware that the diet they feed their children guarantees a high cancer probability down the road.”
“If you have to give up something you get pleasure from, your subconscious may prefer to ignore solid evidence or defend illogically held views.” (Been there, done that, too!)
More than 85% of adults between the ages of 21 and 39 already have atherosclerotic [clogging of the arteries] changes in their coronary arteries.
High nutrient, low calorie eating results in dramatic increases in life span as well as prevention of chronic illnesses (heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer). From rodents and primates we see:
-Resistance to experimentally induced cancers
-Protection from spontaneous and genetically predisposed cancers
-A delay in the onset of late-life diseases
-Nonappearance of atherosclerosis and diabetes
-Reduction in parameters of cellular aging, including cellular congestion
-Enhancement of cellular repair mechanisms, including DNA repair enzymes.
-Protection of genes associated with removal of oxygen radicals
All forms of meat, cheese, dairy, processed and refined foods, sweets and many oils are, in fact, low-nutrient density foods and do not fit into the high nutrient, low calorie foods referred to above.
Those with diets high in refined carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, and pasta had two and a half times the incidence of Type II diabetes.
Refined carbohydrates, white flour, sweets, and fruit juices also raise triglycerides, increasing the risk of heart attack in susceptible individuals.
Refined foods are linked to (refined = anything altered from its original state in the ground): oral cavity cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, intestinal cancer, breast cancer, thyroid cancer, respiratory tract cancer, diabetes, gallbladder disease, heart disease.
“Heart attacks and the most common cancers (breast, colon, prostate) are found in rich societies where nutritional extravagance is the rule.”
“Cancer is a disease of maladaptation… Your risk of cancer decreases with an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, and the earlier in life you start eating large amounts of these foods, the more protection you get.”
“Too much animal-source food is one of the leading causes of heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, obesity, etc.”
“The China Study showed a strong correlation between cancer and the amount of animal protein, not just animal fat, consumed. Consumption of lean meats and poultry still showed a strong correlation with higher cancer incidence.”
“Cancer is much more preventable than treatable. Studies show that plant-derived nutrients are able to prevent the occurrence of, and even reverse, DNA damage that may later result in cancer. The ability to remove and fix damaged cells is proportional to their exposure to phytochemicals.”
The answer? False. You have the ability to turn your genes on or off, depending on what you subject your body (and therefore cells and DNA) to. This may seem scary to some and totally liberating to others! It all depends on how much responsibility you want to take for yourself, your life and your health.
So, what to do about it?
You are going to get the most nutritional bang for your caloric buck through fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes. Most of your diet should come from these sources and oils, animal products, sweets and other junk food should take up a very small percentage of your food pyramid.
Also, you don’t have to be perfect! I tell my clients to follow the 90:10 rule. If 90% of the time they are eating a diet of nutritional excellence, then the other 10% of the time, they can eat foods they really love! They usually find, however, that the higher the quality of food they put in their bodies, the less likely they are to crave processed foods.
So when someone asks me “If I can’t eat all this stuff, what can I eat?!” It’s simple- eat lots of plants: fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes! You will likely lengthen your life, never have a problem with your weight again, and kiss any “pre-determined” disease goodbye.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Let’s chat!
P.S. You cannot take a pill for nutrient density and continue to eat processed foods and animal products. This is because isolated compounds of certain vitamins and minerals can be toxic and don’t absorb as well as their plant-based forms. There are also many unknown beneficial compounds found in plant-based foods that are vital to our health and wellbeing. Because they are unknown, you cannot bottle them!
For more information and to thoroughly educate yourself on this topic check out the following resources:
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