So I just bought another book — Dr, Michael T. Murray MD’s The Magic of Food – Live Longer and Healthier and Lose Weight- with the Synergetic Diet. I need another diet plan like a hole in the head, but after reading the (free) first chapter, I realized this is more about healthy eating and living than a follow-the-dots diet plan.
Naturopathetic medicine is not a 21st century concept. According to Murray, it started in 1900 by physician’s like Dr. Henry Lindlahr who emphasized non-toxic, natural therapies, such as diet, to maintain health and even cure diseases. Since then, the pharmaceutical industry grew to the point where drugs replaced these natural remedies.
Yet even today, when we compare the health of native people who live an active life and eat their ancestral diet, we see they have less disease. For example, the Pima Indians of Mexico grow corn, beans, and potatoes to eat. They use medicinal plants more than medications. Just providing for their daily needs, such as walking to draw water, gives them plenty of exercise. Type 2 diabetes is rare and only 10% of the population is obese.
On the other hand, Pima Indians of Arizona exercise less and eat the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.). Consequently, 22% of the population has type 2 diabetes and 70% are obese.
Our Genome and Epigenome
Hopefully, few doctors now believe genetics alone determines health status. My personal DNA helix is unique to me and my heritage. Think of my DNA as my hard drive. Now, what we call the “epigenome” works kind of like the software program ON my genome. (“Epi” is a prefix meaning on or upon.) To put it another way, my genes may say I will likely develop diabetes because it “runs in my family.” However, that is not written in stone and what I eat and my lifestyle, has the power to turn that gene on or off.
Murray writes, “We now know that the epigenome can change in response to diet, environmental factors, lifestyle choice, and even the way we think.” So it’s probably not a good idea to sit around all day near a contaminated landfill, eating a fast-food burger with a bag of chips, washed down with a 20 oz. soft drink, while contemplating how nasty my boss is.
Food Interacts with our Genes
My paternal grandfather died from a heart attack, while mom’s dad died from a stroke. Doesn’t look promising for me. Indeed, my “23 and Me” genetic assessment showed a DNA snip that may make me a candidate for cardiovascular disease. I could eat the SAD diet and take medication to drop my cholesterol to prevent a C/V incident. But so far, my whole food/plant based diet with far lower saturated fat and sugary foods, has been working well. (I should exercise more, but I’d rather write. Maybe reread my own blog about exercise?)
Turns out, plant foods contain bits of RNA which modifies genetic behavior. A current example of this is the mRNA (messenger RNA). It instructs certain cells to make a specific protein or perform some other vital task.
We know this little wonder from COVID vaccines that use mRNA. Notice I wrote plant food contains bits of RNA. We still need a COVID vaccine for protection. In fact, doctors are noting that their hospitalized COVID patients are mostly those who have not been vaccinated. I have nothing against vaccinations and medications, but my first line of defense is whole and plant based food — so my physician won’t need to prescribe a drug in the first place.
“In the future, nutrigenomics will enable us to used food prescriptions that influence gene expression so as to promote health, based upon our individual makeup,” Murray concludes.
Murray is not alone in his conclusions. Here is a link to Dr. William Li’s blog about food synergy (foods working together for a better outcome than each alone). There’s a link to his TED talk about eating to starve cancer in his blog, but I’m including it here also. It’s too good to pass up!
To put it another way, the food at the end of my fork has a lot to do with my health. I can poke myself with my fork or promote my well-being despite my DNA.