It is often joked that human beings are the only machines that don’t come with an instruction manual, but we have approximately 25,000 instruction manuals for every system in our body; they’re called genes. Genes are the blueprints for building and operating every nuance and function inside these masses of plasma and bones we live in. They determine everything from eye and hair color to cellular metabolism and how your immune system reacts to carcinogens. These are hereditary traits, passed down through the history of human kind. However, while genes play a role in determining things like a person's height; the environment, nutrition and health that person experiences in childhood also have a large effect.
And that’s what we call Evolution. For the life of this planet (that we know of) the environment of has directly affected the organisms on it and vice versa. And the environment we’ve created over the last several hundred years of human history is radically affecting everything. It is undeniable that the prevalence of coal based industry, nuclear energy, chemical use, and even a diet of highly processed foods is changing us. And I don’t think we’re going to like what we’re changing into. The most common diseases in the world like diabetes and heart disease are both genetic and dietary; as generation after generation of humans are exposed to varying toxic chemicals, and consume processed and low nutrient foods, the genes of their offspring change, go dormant or shut down entirely over time. The way we are headed now will have us all evolving into Jabba the Hutt!
As science is giving us more understanding of our genes, the study of how nutrition affects our genes is growing with it. It is my pleasure to introduce Nutrigenomics to you; in Nutrigenomics, nutrients are seen as signals that tell a specific cell in the body about the diet. The nutrients are detected by a sensor system in the cell, and depending on the level of nutrients it detects, it changes gene expression and metabolite production. As a result, different diets should elicit different patterns of gene expression and metabolite production. Nutrigenomics seeks to describe the patterns of these effects, and help create diets for individual needs.
This is a relatively new science and still in early forms of development, but here’s something we do know; the best thing you can do to keep your genes awake, alert and ready for action is to (you guessed it!) eat a diverse diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, whole organic grains, and well raised, untreated meats and seafood (in that order).
Even here in Santa Cruz, where our health and diets are a high priority, it’s never a bad idea to supplement your diet with any one of a variety of tasty, nutrient dense green drinks such as New Chapter’s Berry Greens, Healthforce Nutritional’s Vitamineral Greens, Garden of Life’s Perfect Food, and the newly released Nutrigenomics Powder by Eclectic Institute which contains rich red fruits like black raspberry, Aronia and Acai.
There are evolutional factors that we can’t control, but our diet and lifestyle are things we can, for our lives and the lives of generations of people to come.