The Human Genome Project

A Grandfather died from Heart Disease, the Father died from Heart Disease, the son will probably die from Heart Disease. Is that not a logical conclusion that we Americans make? Wait a minute your doctor says if you change you diet, exercise and lose weight you will not suffer the same fate. What he is saying that you have control of where you want to go. Your Health fate!! The Human Genome Project (HGP), which started in 1990, was planned for 15 years and 3 billion in cost.

These scientists were to map and sequence the human Genome, meaning they were going to diagram and map out the complete set of genes and human chromosomes. They have finished 2 years ahead of schedule and the finings are fascinating. You say,” so what” what does this have to do with my health or me. Well a lot!!

You see the excuse of my grandmother had it my mother had and died from it is no longer a scapegoat for our poor choices, when it comes to our health.

Preventing the suffering and disease is the whole focus on Nutrigenomics (study of how individual dietary and nutrition factors impact genetic expression and disease). Nutrigenomics has gotten a huge boast from the HGP. The human diet requires at minimum about 40 micronutrients. Any micronutrient deficiency can cause DNA damage and are associated with a # of diseases. For example B-6 and B-12 deficiency is associated with cardiovascular disease, Folic acid deficiency can cause chromosomes breaks in the DNA, which may lead to Heart disease and Colon cancer. Researchers have found about 50 human genetic diseases. What else is exciting is that the natural occurring chemicals in our food can alter our genetic expression in a number of ways and that specific chemicals affect genetic expression differently in different individuals. Certain food chemicals (mineral, botanical, lipids) will encourage positive genetic expression in one individual but in another individual it might be neutral or antagonistic. Can you see why playing Russian roulette while trying to guess at your supplement choices or, exercise plan intake is reckless.

It is probable that genomic testing will soon be part of proactive healthcare effort to predict not only which of these diseases we are most at risk of developing but also what foods, supplements, drugs and types and intensity of exercise are best for optimum health. Just imagine, in the future we may be able to see our personal genomic information so that we could obtain a specific list of foods and supplements to enhance out genetic expression. For now we need to use our doctors, nutritionist, and our personal understanding to guide our choices.

Some dust has to settle and much is still to be uncovered before this testing would go mainstream. Though it is worth your time to get familiar with genetic concepts. It is worth understanding that how our simple choice in life can now flip the genetic switches that will make or break our health down the road.

As the disease and symptoms appear the CAM (complimentary alternative medicine) choice become much less effective. The poor choices (poor diet, wrong or no exercise, smoking, excess stress) which lead to negative signs (weight gain, headaches, aches, poor blood biomarkers) will be furthered expressed in the full-blown disease. Proactive choice or reactive waiting. Many test (colonoscopy, mammogram, prostate exam) that seem normal are nothing but early detection. They have nothing to with prevention. These test are not something to avoid or negative but we have to understand that if we find the state of disease with these test we have ignored the power of guiding our fate with genetic expression. Prevention is choosing lifestyle that positively expresses you genes so that you experience optimum health. Choosing a proactive healthy lifestyle and listening to the whispers that your body has given puts the ball in your corner. We can heed or ignore, act or sit, responded or react. Our choice will lead to the genetic expression of disease or Optimum health.

Here’s another point to ponder: you noticed when we started in the beginning of article with a grandfather, a father, and a son. The weakened DNA was passed that lead to the genetic traits of each generation. Very rarely do studies show degenerative disease pass from great grandfather or great great grandfather. Why? Well the expanding state of degenerative disease is something new to our society, increasing only at the dawn of the industrial revolution. That is a very interesting contemplation and a topic for another article. Have wonderful month.

Having the genes that determine heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. does not always mean you will get the disease. Genetic switches, which happen everyday in our DNA, are affected by the choices we make everyday.

This is exciting in the fact that now we know that our genetic expression can be controlled. Yes we determine our fate. The discoveries at the molecular level are being discovered weekly. 12,000 mutations have been found on over 600 genes. These new discoveries are helping scientist relate specific mutations to specific disease. With this, prevention strategies can be developed to your genetic makeup. Predictive Genomic testing- test that help identify people who are at risk of getting a disease. The idea is to give the individual, their doctors, their nutritionist information that can help them take action (exercise, nutritional therapy and other CAM modalities) before the symptom appear. The scientist also know that the genes can be turned on or off by environmental cues. This means our genes have a dormant predisposition to express a particular trait. They know that specific circumstances or behaviors can either trigger or discourage the eventual expression of that trait. This advance warning of genetic risk will help spur otherwise apathetic patients into self-care measures.

Marc