October 14, 2017
This article first appeared in my book ‘Reclaim Your Health’. For a limited time, you can download a FREE PDF copy of the entire 100+ page book HERE.
The most likely origin of the adage “You are what you eat” was by French gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who wrote in his 1826 book “Physiologie du Goût” (“The Physiology of Taste”):"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”
More recently, in 1942, a nutritionist called Victor Lindlahr published You Are What You Eat: how to win and keep health with diet, and of course the phrase became a popular mantra of the 1960s hippy movement.
Regardless of the origins of the phrase, for thousands of years, mankind has understood the vital importance of diet to the health of the individual, yet, mainstream health professionals are only just beginning to wake up to the fact that diet is the major contributing factor to our health - not just physical, but our mental health as well.
Scientists and doctors long thought diseases such as cancer, Alzheimers, and diabetes were largely determined by genetics and age, but the emerging field of epigenetics is now beginning to show the degree to which diet and environmental factors cause physical modifications to our DNA, resulting in altered expression or functional properties.
Researchers found in a 2015 study🔗 that nutrients in the food we eat affect the behaviour of genes and the protein molecules they produce in 'almost every gene in our body', directly impacting our health and longevity.
In a Daily Mail article, study co-author Markus Ralser, Ph.D. said: “Nearly all of a cell's genes are influenced by changes to the nutrients they have access to. In fact, in many cases the effects were so strong, that changing a cell's metabolic profile could make some of its genes behave in a completely different manner.
The classical view is that genes control how nutrients are broken down into important molecules. We've shown that the opposite is true, too - how the nutrients break down affects how our genes behave.”
A number of superfoods such as deer antler velvet, pomegranates, and turmeric, have been shown to contain active substances that can modulate genetic activity and expression by promoting healthy cell function and destroying cancer cells.
For example, a recent study🔗 which investigated the effects of deer antler velvet on prostate cancer found that it possessed anti-prostate cancer activity. Researchers found that the deer antler velvet reduced levels of the key marker of prostate cancer, PSA, and also inhibited the migration rate and expression of migration related-genes.
Another study🔗 on curcumin (the active substance in turmeric) published in Biochemical Pharmacology, found that curcumin inhibits the activation of NF-kappaB, a regulatory molecule that signals genes to produce a slew of inflammatory molecules (including TNF, COX-2 and IL-6) that promote cancer cell growth.
By regularly consuming such superfoods, along with fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes, you are supporting your body's natural ability to fight tumors as well as slow the effects of aging.
On the other hand, the consumption of refined sugar, grains, and processed vegetable oils are now known to be especially damaging, adversely affecting key genes that govern longevity, and turning off tumor-suppressor genes that fight cancer.
As well as giving us the profound insight that we can change the expression of our genes by what we choose to eat, there is also strong evidence for epigenetic inheritance. So, while ‘we are what we eat’, we are also to an extent what our parents and grandparents ate!
However, regardless of what we’ve inherited through the epigenics of previous generations, our own epigenome remains flexible. In other words, we have enormous power to undo advantageous epigenetic inheritance from our parents and grandparents by feeding our bodies junk, but more importantly we can negate disadvantageous epigenetic inheritance and reclaim our health by eating the foods thousands of years of evolution have designed us for.