MindBody Fitness

Epigenetics: You Cannot Change Your Genes  But You Can Change Their Expression 

It was once thought that are our genes were our destiny. Our inherited genes would lay out a path from which our destiny and thus longevity would be pre – determined. Fast forward to today and the growing body of scientific evidence to challenge this belief.

In fact, our inherited genes only play a smart part of our health and how we age. More importantly, we now know it’s more impacted by how these genes are expressed – how they are turned on or off and how they can be altered that defines this expression. In fact, thanks to functional medicine research it could be said: ” When you change the way you look at things, the things you are looking at change.”

Thanks to genetic testing – and not all testing is the same in its explanation of the data – we are getting a better handle on how we can alter our health and wellness variables by understanding not only the genes we have but how we can alter their expression and thus prevent or at least slow down their impact on our longevity and quality of life. Combining genetic testing with the identification of specific inflammatory bio -markers we can now better pinpoint the triggers that are pulling on the chains that eventually determine the expression of these genes.

What are the most common environmental triggers that are pulling on the chain? These help us understand what takes us from wellness to illness and eventually accelerating the aging process.

The following can trigger leaky gut, brain, lungs etc by breaking down barriers or walls and  entering the bloodstream and triggering an autoimmune response and inflammation.

1. Food Toxins: processed foods, trans fats, GMO’s, wheat ( gluten), non-organic and conventional dairy ( casein) and meats, refined sugars.

2. Air  and water pollutants

3. Metal and industrial chemical toxins- found in water, paints, furniture and cleaning and health care products.

4. Pesticides and herbicides

5. Plastics

Genetic Testing: Not all testing is the same and can leave you with only partial answers.

Best in class is inDNA Life Sciences. They can personalise disease management with DNA based solutions.

It’s an opportunity to be proactive especially if you have a significant family history of degenerative disease. It can empower you to change if you know you have a weak link and give you the tools to good good stop the pulling action on the chain. You can also learn which bio markers give you valuable information. As one researchers puts it:     “Knowing your genetic profile and the bio markers that measure how these genes are expressed allows you to monitor the temperature gauge before you get a hot light.” This also allows you to be proactive and change any possible disease outcome or at least minimise its impact by addressing the weakest link

Weak Links:

1. Methylation process ( how we break down toxins ). If this is compromised a variety of systems can be affected leading to inflammation and elevated auto immune issues. You would then check the biomarkers associated with methylation.

2. Glutathione – a master antioxidant essential to detoxifying the body and lending support to our immune system. Oxidative stress and free radicals can create cell disintegration when glutathione is low. Your body produces its own but becomes vastly reduced with age and exposure to food, chemical and metal toxins, pollution and stress.

You can boost glutathione:

–  By consuming sulfur rich foods ( garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower etc)

– Consume bioactive whey protein

– Regular exercise boosts glutathione

–   N-acetyl-cysteine and Alpha lipoic acid

– Take methylation boosting nutrients (folate, vitamins B6 and 12)

– Selenium

– Milk thistle

– Vitamin C and E

Look for glutathione production and utilization. If this a weak link – address it by pinpointing the bio marker and fix the weak link !

Ketogenic Nutrition:

Nutritional Ketosis is a state of health in which your body efficiently burns fat as its primary fuel source instead of glucose. Research shows that it may be a crucial link in combating obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, ALS, autism, traumatic brain injury to name a few. This approach helps in managing insulin and leptin resistance. Ketones also spare branched chain amino acids ( BCAAs) helping to maintain and build muscle and increase cardiac mitochondrial biogenesis ( creation of new mitochondria).

Nutritional Ketosis also aids in gene stability, expression and signaling. For example, it can turn on the apoptotic gene that helps combat and destroy cancer cells. By reducing sugars , grains and dairy which trigger inflammation and increase coconut oil, microbiome friendly foods like curcumim, rosemary, garlic, ginger, green tea you can elevate your ketosis conditions. These foods also turn on butyric acid (found in butter or ghee) which aids in bacterial diversity.

Ketosis is positive for epigenetics. It helps upregulate mitochondrial biogenesis and activity. This is crucial for a cellular activity and function.

Intermittent Fasting

In addition to a ketogenic diet, research also indicates that intermittent fasting (calorie restriction) can in fact slow down the cellular aging process This actually helps upregulate mitochondrial biogenesis and density and anti-inflammatory activity and directly on the epigenetic process. It also helps in controlling insulin resistance which we know has profound health implications. Intermittent fasting is best accomplished gradually where you shorten the window when you eat. You start off by fasting for 12 hours then build up to 16-18 hours. It’s important to be consistent with your feeding and fasting window.

This is also helps to control insulin resistance and reset metabolic pathways. Additionally, it’s been shown to help reset circadian rthyms and biological clock genes. An eat early and sleep early approach seems to have a powerful epigegtic effect on aging and longevity!
Best Diet: Combine a microbiome friendly diet with a ketogenic diet. What’s this look like?

– High in fiber ( cruciferous vegetables)

– Phytonutrient dense ( lots of color)

– Eggs, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, green tea, onion, garlic, ginger, curcumin.

– Non GMO grains

– Minimze animal fats ( which contain inflammatory endotoxins) which can elevate or exacerbate insulin resistance. If you are going to eat animal sources make sure it’s pasture fed and organic certified.

Bottom Line:

Ketosis is very effective at helping with positive DNA expression and gene signaling. It helps in down regulating inflammatory issues and pathways, effective in balancing brain neurochemistry and reducing inflammation ( down regulate glutamine and up regulate GABA). Ketones can down regulate the genes that are responsible for anxiety, depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s to name a few.

Genetics and Blood Sugar Regulation 

Blood sugar regulation and insulin resistance affects a huge population of people. It’s been estimated that in the US alone about 25% of the population has insulin resistance. It’s also been determined that this defect leads to among others, damage to the lining of blood vessels which puts an individual at risk for heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that insulin resistance and blood sugar deregulation is actually occurring sub-clinically until it’s already becoming a chronic problem.

One way to find out if you are predisposed to insulin resistance or blood sugar regulatory issues is to get genetic testing. Mutation to specific genes can give you this information and but also give you the opportunity to engage in epigenetic changing behaviours that can turn off or alter this gene expression. The experts in epigenetics beiieve that by knowing the genes that are impacted you can reverse this debilitating disease. Lifestyle changes that involve a healthy diet, high intensity or interval-based exercise, restorative sleep and stress management are powerful and effective.

One of the most effective ways to shut off or down regulate the harmful genes is stress management and reduction. Elevated stress increases cortisol which elevates blood sugar and insulin and leads to insulin resistance. Activating the parasympathetic system can help to shift the body into a healthier mode that supports lower inflammation and lead to improved insulin and blood sugar management.

Testing empowers an individual with information about their gene profile. Early detection leads to a more proactive and potentially life saving approach. What you don’t know can hurt you! By having a baseline you can test and monitor your blood sugar and insulin levels and know you are moving in the right direction.

The 5 Keys To Reversing Insulin Resistance and Diabetes:

1. Get your stress levels down by lowering your cortisol levels.

2. Restorative sleep can aid in reversing insulin resistance over time. Studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to insulin resistance and blood sugar disregulation. This can lead to obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, sleep deprivation reduces the hormone leptin ( signaling satiety) and elevates ghrelin ( increases appetite) which leads to weight gain and metabolic syndrome.

3. Fitness – high intensity or interval training elevates growth hormone which helps to lower insulin.

4. Food timing – it’s better to eat every 4-6 hours then every 2 hours. Eating this way optimizes leptin and aids in fat burning. Additionally, intermittent fasting ( eating during a specific time frame) has proven to help with blood sugar stabilization.

5. Genetics – we now know what genes are involved with insulin resistance and blood sugar regulation. It’s imperative to get insulin resistance and blood sugar regulation under control in order to prevent the onset of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. If any of the following gene mutations show up in testing they can and should be addressed.

– MTHFR gene mutation can lead to elevated homocysteine ( a toxic amino acid) which damages insulin receptors. The receptors can not hear the signal to take sugar out of the blood which leads to elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance.

– MTTR mutation affects B12 methylation. This gene provides instructions for making and important enzyme methionine synthase which plays a role in processing amino acids.

– IGF1R mutation blocks insulin from entering cells because the receptors are not genetically optimized. This gene helps build resistance to and managing oxidative stress.

Testing For Insulin Resistance

–  Positive if fasting blood sugar > 100

– If blood sugar > 120 it’s likey you have peripheral nerve damage.

– If between 120-140 vulnerable to retinal damage.

A1C – above 5.7 pre diabetic. Should be tested about every 4-6 months.

Bottom Line – genetic testing tells you what could happen in the future even if you are asymptomatic now. Genes and gene mutations are very telling and enable you to be proactive and slow down or reverse many chronic degenerative diseases. The great news is that genetic testing is critical information into your inner ecosystem. Epigentic factors like diet, sleep, stress and physical activity can have powerful effects on our genes. Information is empowering.

Genetic Testing and Toxicity

We are all exposed to a variety of toxic compounds and chemicals on a daily basis. Whether it is from air pollution,  industrial chemicals and metals found in water and cleaning products, food toxins from pesticides, GMO’s, engineered wheat, processed foods, molds, vaccines, pharma drugs, antibiotics, etc. – the toxic burden  is enormous. This toxic exposure over time combined with our genetic makeup and physiological susceptibility and ability to eliminate and detoxify sets us up for a cascade of events that can lead to inflammation and chronic degenerative disease.

Industrial Chemicals:

Chronic and repeated exposure to up to 200,000 known toxins is a real assault on our bodies. Some of these toxins are fat soluble and get stored in the body while others are water soluble and the body can easily remove them.

Pesticides ( glyphosates)  which are very ubiquitous in our environment  and vaccines  (aluminum hydroxide ) to name a few, are powerful endocrine disrupters – no amount is safe. Mycotoxins ( molds) and metals like mercury and cadmium ( found in fish) have similar negative affects. Their toxic burden over time can outweigh our bodies ability to detoxify and bio transform them.

The challenge is finding out if you have a genetic susceptability to these toxins. Some of us are more susceptible because we are genetically more hyper sensitive due to having more receptors or deficient in our bio transformation systems. The ability to absorb, bio transform and eliminate toxins is very individually-based.

Need to look at exposure and frequency of exposure to toxins.

  • Pre natal exposure is a factor.
  • In and outdoor pollution via inhalation.
  • Dermal exposure ( our skin is a very vulnerable barrier)
  • Vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Carcinogens ( pesticides, chemicals, metals )
  • Food toxins ( gluten, trans fats, GMO,s)
  • Industrial chemicals ( cleaning and health care products)

Detoxification Process:

Reducing the toxic load begins with looking at our genetic profile to assess our susceptability and capability to handle the toxic burden.

Phase 1: Begins in the liver and gut mucosa. Cytochrome p450 enzymes start the process of detox to rid the body of toxins.

Phase 2: Involves glutathione conjugation and SNPs ( variations in DNA sequencing – copying errors) that reduce enzyme speed and function.

The real challenge to medicine is that multiple genes are affected by a vast array of environmental toxins ( pesticides, industrial chemicals, metals, molds, GMO’s etc) combined with individual genetic and epigenetic ( lifestyle) factors that affect susceptability and ability to handle detoxification.

The big question: Will the toxic burden combined with oxidative stress and weak genetics outweigh the body’s ability to bio transform the toxins. Toxic burdens affect cell membranes, enzymes, glutathione production ( master antioxidant) and the nrf2 pathways ( senses and handles oxidative stress ) all contributing to the onset of chronic degenerative disease.

Individual Genetic Testing and Toxic Load

  • Comparative Toxicgenomics Database – CTD
  • Ctdbase.org – which examines the relationship between environmental chemicals and toxins and genes, proteins and diseases.
  • Obtain core data: chemical-gene interactions, chemical -disease associations, gene-disease associations and chemical-phenotype associations.
  • By integrating the above 4 data sets, CTD automatically constructs putative chemical-gene-phenotype-disease networks to illuminate molecular mechanisms underlying environmentally-influenced diseases.
  • Not a single gene is involved in toxicity issues – up to 100 genes may be involved.
  • Besides genetic testing one can do blood and urine testing.
  • Genova Diagnostic Gene test – examines SNP’s that affect phase 1 and 2 detoxification.

Reduction and Avoidance:

  • Besides knowing your genetic profile and susceptability,  its important to engage in epigenetic ( lifestyle ) interventions to reduce your toxic load.
  • Need to identify and eliminate exposure to environmental  toxins.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Use quality air filters in your home.
  • Drink clean water.
  • Increase dietary fiber ( >30g/day)
  • Pre- and Probiotic foods ( onions, garlic, sauerkraut, kimchi)
  • Cruciferous and dark leaf vegetables
  • Phyto nutrients – tumeric,  green teas, dark berries, milk thistle
  • Eggs
  • B Vitamins, folate
  • Omega 3’s ( 1-2 g /day)
  • Alpha lipoic acid

Bottom Line: Must reduce toxic load by reducing total exposure and understanding your individual genetic profile and susceptability so you can target your approach to healing.


⁃ No, MTHFR is not a  swear word !

⁃ The gene helps regulate 200 other genes.

Methylation process:
⁃ MTHFR enzyme needed for the following: folate ( B9) conversion to a usable form methyl folate.

⁃ Which helps homocysteine make SAMe.

⁃ SAMe helps support dopamine and norepinephrine which support gene expression.

⁃ This keeps cycling around !

⁃ Converting folate ( B9) into methyl folate is essential for DNA synthesis and repair, neurotransmitter production, detoxification and immune function.

⁃ Helps regulate neurotransmitters levels.

⁃ Binds to the COMT gene.

⁃ Helps clear dopamine and norepinephrine in order to sleep.

⁃ Also can help make these neurotransmitters when needed.

⁃ Helps convert serotonin to melatonin.

⁃ Helps histamine convert to methylhistamine.

⁃ Helps regulate the genes that allow tyrosine to make L- dopa which helps make dopamine.

⁃ SAMe through gene expression than affects depression due to impacting levels of dopamine!
Need to have adequate levels of methyl folate and B12 to keep methylation process working.

Do the following test for methylation function:

⁃ Take 250 mg of SAMe.

⁃ Methylation cycle works by taking SAMe and you sleep soundly. If you take it and don’t sleep well your methylation cycle isn’t working !
Yeast Overgrowth or inflammation in gut interferes with the methylation process.
Oxidative stress ( free radicals ) reroutes homocysteine to make glutathione instead of SAMe.
Low homocysteine indicates oxidative stress and /or inflammation in the gut !
Take away- clean eating fuels healthy microbiome that impacts inflammation and oxidative stress.
Ammonia Production.

⁃ Toxic to cells and mitochondria

⁃ Microbiome ecology affected.

⁃ Gut dysbiosis created by ammonia buildup.

⁃ Liver mitochondria where ammonia detox and methylation happens.

⁃ Combine dysbiosis with high protein diet with tired mitochondria and weak methylation you will feel sick and declining health.
To promote healthy cellular machinery you need to first REMOVE before you ADD!

⁃ Need to remove the triggers !
Meat might be a big trigger of high ammonia build up !

⁃  Need to add more dietary fiber and vegetables and probiotic foods !
Lowering Ammonia is a must !

⁃ Affects brain fog, moods and gut function.

⁃ Prolonged  fasting between meals (overnight best ).

⁃ Acetyl l – carnitine ( biotin and B vitamins help with fat burning, then can lower protein intake )

⁃ 1500mg of acetyl- carnitine

⁃ Omega ratios need to become healthy and balanced.

⁃  Daytime activity crucial.

⁃ Take Liposomal Glutathione (Seeking Health ) use low dose ( use a drop).

⁃ It is a sulfur compound !
Need Electrolytes

⁃ Are needed  for cellular hydration and communication.

⁃ Sodium , potassium, magnesium and chloride.
23AndMe – get genetic information and look for the MTHFR mutation.
Then send to StrateGene.org

⁃ Great genetic testing report !!

⁃ How genes are impacted and work !

⁃ Learn about MTHFR

⁃ Shows how genetic expression is impacted by microbiome and food, toxins, lack of activity that impact our genes.
Microbiome Impact

⁃ Impacted by your interval and external environment.

⁃ Chew your food.

⁃ Slow down.

⁃ Stop eating when you are 80% full!!!

Aggression in the NFL: Who’s to blame?

 Previous actions by star football players like Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, Ray McDonald of the San Fransisco 49ers and Adrien Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, may be, in fact, a signal of the early stages of CTE.  The murder by and subsequent suicide of Aaron Hernandez might be tied to a very advanced stage of CTE. CTE ( Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) has been a hotly debated subject of interest over the past few years. Unfortunately, there is no medical framework for the accurate diagnosis of such a disease while someone is alive.  Currently, the only current method to diagnose CTE is after death, by analyzing brain tissue and discovering an abnormal protein called TAU protein.  The suicide of Junior Seau – a beloved and passionate football player, who devoted his life to the game and was posthumously diagnosed with CTE, began to shed more light on a growing problem, and subsequently, its implications for the NFL.

A study published in the Journal of Neurology on 9/10/2014 suggests that CTE may start at a very young age. It also points out that when symptoms of CTE emerge at a young age, players  exhibit behavioral and mood problems, whereas symptoms that begin to emerge later in life tend to show up as memory and thinking problems. CTE  is a gradual degeneration of brain function due to repeated head trauma injury consisting of both symptomatic and asymptomatic concussions. Once the initial symptoms fade, months and years later, new symptoms emerge. The onset of new symptoms begins slowly and then builds in severity over time (e.g. concentration, memory, confusion, dizziness and headaches, and then eventually, leading to mood variability,  emotional instability and aggression).

Victims of CTE often turn to drugs and alcohol to numb their pain and issues, or worse, suicide. Since it is evident that CTE is real, and the end result is brain degeneration and often fatal, self-inflicted tragedies such as suicide, something needs to be done soon to address this growing problem. Without exception, all of these players have been playing football at a high level since they were kids and, as with so many gifted players who show early potential, it is virtually impossible to measure and calculate the amount of head trauma they have all sustained. Perhaps their actions are impulsive and involuntary due to the neurological damage they have sustained. We ask them to strap on a helmet and pads ( for which they are well compensated for)  not only every Sunday ( but training camp and off and pre- season as well) and perform a brutal job that we all love as entertainment. We ask them to turn on the warrior personality on the field and shut if off when they are not on the field.

Can this really be switched on and off ? The question is how many more incidents of  criminal or violent behavior ( domestic abuse, weapons charges, assault or substance abuse) are we going to witness? Are the players to blame or is it the game to blame?

The NFL, up until recently, did not want to acknowledge it had a CTE problem. Big lawsuits ( of which there are many still pending), public outcry and undeniable medical testimony forced the NFL to change its tune and face reality. New concussion protocols were implemented to protect the players after sustaining any head injury. New rules are in place to minimize helmet to helmet contact or using your body as a flying missile. Moreover, performance-enhancing drugs (PED’s) which are now banned have probably not helped to minimize the damage that players have  sustained. Recently, the NFL finally added HGH to the banned substance list. Nonetheless,  players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before. The reality is that every time a player collides with another player or his head snaps back during a hit or after he strikes the ground the brain moves inside the cranium and is bruised. This is unavoidable.

As an entertainment business, the multi-billion dollar success of the NFL depends upon consistent delivery of  great thrills to fans — whether or not that involves brutal hits, etc.  This clearly translates into  huge bucks from the full spectrum (game tickets, merchandising, etc). So it is in the interest of the NFL franchises to keep the aggression on the field alive.

Are we paying these athletes too much money and putting them on the proverbial pedestal until they fall from grace and TMZ releases a video of domestic abuse?  That seems apparent, but what is going to change this? The NFL is a hugely profitable business that is THE ultimate destination for young, aspiring athletes. The new research on CTE and the recent aggressive and physically and emotionally abusive behaviors of our star athletes begs questions that finally deserve some attention from the NFL:  Is there a medically-proven direct correlation? Is the game of football safe for our kids to play (for the record, Terry Bradshaw, Brett Favre, both stated they would not allow their kids to play football today)? Is the risk too great for  both adolescent cognitive development and  longer-term development? And what preventative means are we going to put in place to handle what appears to be individuals with damaged brains committing violent (if not criminal) acts?

Pumping Up Your Willpower

People in general seem to have an overly positive vision of themselves. People have a hard time admitting the one thing they have a real problem with, self-control.

Research shows that people who perceive themselves as having the most willpower actually are the most likely to lose self control when tempted.

For example,  drinkers who are the most optimistic regarding their ability to control their intake are the most likely to fail and overoptimistic  dieters are the least likely to lose weight.

How can we really boost our ability to increase willpower?

1. Develop ” keystone habits“.  A great example is exercise. Exercise seems to lead to other great and even unrelated habits. It tends to lead to better eating habits, improves sleep, stimulates the brain, leads to more productivity, more tolerance and patience. It simply has a “spill over effect”.

2. Leading self-control researcher Roy Baumeister believes that willpower is limited. It is highest early in the day but as we make more decisions it seems to lower as the day progresses. Therefore, he suggests that you do the most important things first. As the day gets longer our self -control and discipline decreases and therefore at night is when you see the most self -control issues ( i.e. late night snacking). Impulsive behaviors are greatest late at night!!!

3. Improve willpower by not depending too much on it. We tend not to use willpower when something is a habit ( automatic behavior). Research suggests that we manipulate our environment so as to make things easy for things we should do and make things hard for those things we shouldn’t do.

Ex: Don’t keep sweets in the house ( when you are trying to lose weight or even worse have blood sugar issues). Put your workout clothes at the end of your bed!

People expose themselves to many temptations when they believe they have a lot of willpower – but eventually give in. So do not rely on willpower.

4. Willpower is like a muscle. When you over use it it fatigues and gives out. But, by exercising it, over time, it get stronger. It is more effective to rely on habits that you build up. You need to tap into your willpower a bit every day. Like building muscular strength – work on it gradually and stimulate it daily, but take some rest days.

5. Eat healthy. Healthy nutrition has far reaching benefits and is a real driver to self-control.

6. Get restorative sleep.  Getting to sleep and awaking at the same time helps to re-balance the brain and body’s biochemistry that has a direct effect on one’s mood, energy and self-control.

7. Postponing self-gratification or deliberate procrastination can also help to build willpower. Research shows the people that tell themselves ” Not know, but later”, is far more powerful than “No, you can’t have that.”  Delay, distraction, or even giving in a defined way can help increase discipline.

8. Giving into temptation is not always the worst thing – it will happen. It is what you do afterwards. Self-blame ( especially in the face of stress and failure) is very defeating and reduces self-control. Showing self compassion actually increases it.

Self-criticism often leads to lowered motivation and research indicates that it can also lead to depression, which drains both “I will” power and “I want” power.

BOTTOM LINE: You are going to make mistakes and that’s ok!!