The human body is a marvelous machine. It is designed with precision and is a complex communication system that functions like the motherboard of a computer. We are each comprised of our own genetic makeup/mother board: our DNA. Deoxyribonucleic Acid, or DNA, is the carrier of individual genetic information, also known as our genetic code. Each of us is a high-powered machine capable of great things!
We are all more alike than different as our DNA code (as a species) is 99.9% the same. It is the 0.001% that makes up our apparent differences in appearance and in our health. Our genetic code is comprised of good and bad genes. A bad, or mutated, gene can mean a predisposition for a particular disease, breast or colon cancer as examples. It does not mean you will 100% get this disease.
READ THAT AGAIN!
Just because you have a "bad gene" DOES NOT mean it will be turned on. It simply means you have a greater likelihood to develop the symptoms of a predisposed disease than someone who does not carry that gene. And guess what? YOU can influence the turning "on" or "off" of your genes! You have some control in this matter. Your diet and lifestyle factors play a HUGE role if those bad genes are turned on or not.
According to Harvard Health, "The prudent advice for everyone is to take early steps to follow a healthy diet, get enough activity, stop smoking, and reduce sodium intake to avoid disease. Coincidentally, it appears that many of these steps may also work to activate beneficial genes and turn off harmful ones.... Certain vitamins and antioxidant-rich foods may protect against DNA damage."
This is your AH-HA light bulb moment! YOU HAVE THE POWER TO TURN ON HEALTH AND TURN OFF 'DIS'EASE IN YOUR BODY. With 90% of your disease state influenced by lifestyle factors and only 10% influenced by your genes, you have more control than you think!
Harvard Health mentioned vitamins and antioxidant-rich foods... What type of food do you think holds these benefits? Is it a juicy hamburger? Salty chips and spicy queso? Rich and creamy ice-cream? A thick and delicious milkshake? Or sweet chocolate cake?
Pay attention to your saliva right now, in this very moment, as you have just read about those tempting foods – Do you notice a greater production of saliva? This is due to a message sent from your brain to your digestive system telling it, "Hey, those foods sound good right now!" This message is driven by a common denominator: CRAVINGS. Cravings stem from the part of our brains in charge of memory, pleasure and reward. Did you know digestion starts in the brain? As soon as we think about food, the gut-brain connection starts communicating and the brain sends signals to the enteric nervous system within the gut alerting that it is time to digest food, your stomach growls, thanks to gastric juices being released, and you feel hunger. This cycle happens when you see ads on television, too ~ and the marketing firms know this! (Cue DOOR DASH!)
Let's get back to cravings... The body takes in food, pasta or cheese as examples since they tend to be prevalent in the SAD. Pasta contains a protein from gluten called Gliadin which contains Gluteomorphin. Cheese contains a peptide (or protein fragment) called Caseomorphin that is derived from the digestion of Casein, the main protein in cow’s milk. Gluteomorphin and Caseomorphin trigger the brain with an opiod-like effect, the same way an opiate can. In some people, this forms food addictions. The body craves the opiate effect of feeling good, feeling rewarded or pleasured and sends the message to the brain for more of the "reward" foods. Some of this is within your control, but for some with gluten or dairy sensitivity, it may not be. The craving/addictions are hard to fight. As a Certified Gluten-free Practitioner, I'm trained to help with this. But for most people, it's a matter of being aware of your choices and what they mean for your body, as a Certified Functional Nutrition Counselor, I live for this!
ASK YOURSELF: Is what I'm putting into my body nutritionally beneficial to my cells and their function?
Would you put regular unleaded gasoline into a Ferrari? No way! Your body should be regarded as your Ferrari - a high-powered, dynamic machine, as mentioned in my opening. You need to fuel it with nutritionally dense foods that render high performance!
If you are consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD), I can tell you with 100% certainty, you are not fueling your system with anything nutritionally beneficial! If you put junk in, you will get junk out. So what does that mean, junk out? The ill-effects of the SAD loaded with sugar, simple carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners and ingredients, salt, excess gluten and/or dairy can look like this:
ASK YOURSELF: Am I helping or doing harm with what's on the end of my fork?
Let's dive a little deeper...
ALL HEALTH STARTS IN THE GUT!
Over 3 trillion bacteria live among the body's microbiome, or the bacterial communities in our bodies existing on our skin, in our urine, nose, breast tissue and most importantly, in the gut.
These bacteria are a balance of "good guys" and "bad guys". What you eat feeds the gut bacteria and provides it with information to distribute to your cells as it gets absorbed into the bloodstream and filtered through the kidneys. When you feed your body junk foods it will react accordingly, producing inflammatory effects as a response to an unwanted/unknown/unneeded food or food-like products. The bad bacteria thrive on this and wreak havoc on the system. This is often where we find the roots of disease manifestation. Disease can start with an imbalance in the gut bacteria causing increased inflammation and leading to system breakdowns that can cause diabetes, thyroid disease, Crohn's, Celiac, food sensitivities, heart disease, clogged arteries, neuropathies, even mood disorders and dementias, just to name a few!
Feed your body a diet of balanced nutrition and it will react accordingly, producing anti-inflammatory affects as a response to a wanted/needed food. What is wanted or needed food? These are foods that stem from nature (pun intended!). Food that comes from plants is food our microbiome can recognize. Our bodies need phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals that come from plants… not food MADE in plants! This is the fuel for good bacteria and it is what keeps the immune system healthy and strong.
A FUNCTIONAL APPROACH
The symptoms we develop from poor nutrition can actually be a gift which affords us the opportunity to peel back the layers of the onion, so to say. It's important to take the time to unravel our health history. This looks much different through a Functional Medicine and Functional Nutrition lens, as opposed to the few moments spent with a tablet or questionnaire in your physician's office. A Functional approach wants to dive deep into the roots asking: What's the soil like? What's the environment that got you where you are today? How do we back it all up and address the issues that are out of balance in the body to regain some homeostasis: stable equilibrium between all of the body systems? What are the common denominators and how do we counteract them with functional nutrition and lifestyle modifications?
THINK ABOUT IT: Your immune system is primed to use food as fuel (information for the cells) or to launch an attack because the 'food-like products' (processed food, SAD) are not beneficial to the cells. The degree of attack (symptoms) depends on the degree of insult (like turning on the bad genes from an overly-processed diet!!!).
HEALTH COACH FOR YOU, LLC
If you are ready to take control of your health, book a Complimentary Discovery Call with me and take the first steps toward reaching the optimal health you deserve so you can live a healthy life capable of doing great things!
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