Our genes are responsible for so much of who we are. Inherited from our parents, our genes have determined our eye and skin colour, our physical structure, and the thickness of our hair. They’re also behind whether or not we’re predisposed to certain afflictions like heart disease or diabetes. Fortunately, not all genes are a guarantee of their outcome. Whilst some are set and fixed, others can be programmed. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s actually possible to program your genes for optimum health, and override negative predispositions.
What are Genes?
Genes, located on the DNA strands in cells, orchestrate the building of protein structures and enzyme pathways that influence every element of body structure and function. They instigate the repair, regeneration or destruction of cells, depending on stimulus received from the environment. Food, movement, sun, sleep and stress, for example, will all result in appropriate responses from the genes. They oversee whatever needs to be done to promote our survival.
Homo Sapiens Genes and Familial Genes
Within each and every cell, we contain a complete set of two kinds of genes:
Homo sapiens genes provide us will all the common attributes of humanity. They’re responsible for how we digest food, metabolise fat, breathe, respond to stress, enter the sleep cycle, absorb sunlight etc. All human beings have an identicle set of homo sapiens genes, and all respond in the same way to conditions which promote or conflict with their purpose. For example, Vitamin D from the sun positively activates the P53 gene in all human beings, which helps regulate healthy cell division. Smoking deactivates the MTHFR gene in all human beings, causing homocysteine levels in the blood to elevate, which increases the risk for cancer.
Familial genes are the basis of the incredible diversity that can be found in human beings across the globe. Our familial genes determine our physical features, our particular talents, such as for music or science, and the extent to which we express the fundamentals of our homo sapiens genes. While all human beings need sunlight in order to survive, it’s our familial genes which determine whether we can stay out for ten minutes or an hour before burning. All human beings need to move regularly, and all human beings benefit from exercise, but only those with particularly endowed familial genes will make it onto an Olympic team.
Biological On/Off Switches
Many genes, such as those that are concerned with health and longevity, act like on/off switches. Unlike our eye or hair colour, these genes have no effect until they’re activated through prompts from the environment. They are concerned with our immediate survival, not long-term consequences.
For example, when blood sugar levels are too high for our immediate survival, the blood sugar balancing genes will switch on, causing insulin to pull the excess glucose out of the blood stream and put it into storage. Our genes don’t know or care if our insulin levels are chronically elevated due to a high carbohydrate diet. They’ll keep responding to promote our short term survival, even if the long term consquences are obesity and diabetes.
Similarly, the genes for orchestrating the flight/fight response will only switch on if we’re exposed to danger. The genes don’t know or care if you are in a constant state of stress through lack of sleep and chronic exercise; they’ll simply respond immedietely in order to protect you, unconcerned that the long-term consequence is chronic sistemic inflammation.
If our genes receive positive stimulus from the environment, they’ll respond accordingly with health and strength. A brief series of intense sprints every now and again causes our homo sapiens genes to respond with a pulse of hormones which promote fat metabolism, tone and muscle. When the lights are dimmed in the evening and all electronic devices are switched off, our genes respond by increasing the production of melatonin which prepares us for a long and restorative sleep.
Positive Overrides Negative Gene Expression
Our homo sapiens genes evolved over 2.5 million years during the paleolithic period. Through a process of selection pressure, only the super strong and intelligent were able to survive long enough to pass their genes on to the next generation. The homo sapiens gene pool became so strong that, notwithstanding predator danger, the threat of starvation, accidents and ice ages, we not only survived but were able to migrate, populate the planet, and reach the top of the food chain. Our homo sapiens genes thus have certain requirements for optimum expression: a certain way of eating, moving, sleeping, responding to stress and intellectual problems.
Our homo sapiens genes, true and identicle for all human beings, are so intrinsic to our nature that they will always respond with health when nurtured with the appropriate environmental stimulus. So much so, they can ovveride familial predispositions for adverse health issues. The predispositions may be there, but if they aren’t given the opportunity to take take root and grow, they’ll remain dormant. Even if your family has a history of arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, you are not destined to follow in their footsteps. You can positively program your genes, switching ‘on’ those for health, while letting the negative ones remain in ‘off’ mode.
Genes and the Evolutionary Health Model
The basis of the evolutionary health model is the recognition that
- all human beings respond negatively to behaviours which are in conflict with our genes.
- all human beings respond positively to practices which optimise our genetic expression.
Our genes require particular kinds of food and certain ways of moving. They need exposure to sunlight, sleep and play. They require mental stimulation and muscular strength. Our genes have evolved so that when all these expectations are being met, we are at our fully functioning best.
How to Program Your Genes for Health
By choosing to optimize the expression of your genes through diet and lifestyle practices, you can override negative familial traits. Our homo sapiens genes evolved to guarantee our health, strength and longevity. Our species survived through
- eating plants and animals,
- avoiding poisons,
- moving frequently,
- having reasonable strength,
- sprinting every now and again,
- getting plenty of sunlight and sleep,
- indulging in play and intellectual stimulatation, and
- through not making stupid mistakes.
These are the factors which guarantee a healthy and happy human being, and the interplay is constant and continuous. You quite literally program your genes from minute to minute through what you eat, how you move, and through your lifestyle. Giving your genes what they have evolved to expect has the direct result of making you healthier, and of disencouraging negative gene expression.
21 Days to Health and Happiness
Because genes respond instantly to environmental stimulus, negative gene expression can be reprogrammed by adhering to a primal health model for around 21 days. Three weeks of appropriate diet, movement, sun exposure, sleep and play is all it takes to reset the genes, see and feel results, and lay the foundation for optimum, long term health.
Of course, individual results will vary. If your body has suffered a lot of damage over a long period, some aspects of healing may be slow or irreversible. And unless you’ve been blessed with extremely lucky familial genes, you’ll probably never make the cover of Sports Illustrated or Vogue. But by choosing to program your genes for positive expression through the primal health model, you will achieve your personal, optimum levels of health and longevity.
Every human being was born to be fit, strong, lean and healthy. By being both gentle with yourself with regards to your limitations, and purposeful with regards to making positive choices, you can program your genes for long term vitality and happiness.
Paleo Diet Health -Our Stories, 2 Years On – All the immediate and longer term effects that we saw after switching to the Ancestral Health way of life.
The Paleo Diet and Lifestyle in a Nutshell – A Quick Guide, all the key points.
Chronic Sistemic Inflammation – The Signs and Symptoms – I really wish someone had been able to tell me this 20 years ago, before I’d done irreversible damage.
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