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Sunday, July 22, 2012

How Bad Is Junk Food For Your DNA?

22nd July 2012
Guest writer for Wake Up World
If we all dropped dead after eating junk food, the message would have been loud and clear: DO NOT INGEST! But this is one of the things we probably have to learn the hard way. Many people these days struggle through a  long time of  sickness, being plagued with low immunity, high toxicity, and a wide range of metabolic imbalances. Most likely they will have to leave this world in a hospital, after a long addiction to medical drugs and doctors.
In the Aboriginal tribes on the other hand, the elderly leave their community and go alone to die in the wilderness when they “feel” it’s time to go. Just like that, on their own feet. Decent. Proud. Simple. Peaceful. In perfect harmony with Nature.
Most modern, “civilized” people refuse to make and acknowledge any connection between the food they ingest, their lifestyle and their health. And they can do that because the effects are both cumulative and most of the times delayed.
When you store enough toxins to build up cancer in your body, the first thought that comes to mind is  ”I have to kill it“, NOT  ”The food I ate and the lifestyle I had were bad, I have to start all new and heal my body and mind“. As you see, the focus is mainly to “kill” something external, a disease that fell on our heads with no reason, out of nowhere (like conventional medicine likes us to believe) and NOT internal, based on our own actions and choices.
This mentality allows it to easily find excuses that validate our eating behavior, with no regard to the massive negative effect the junk food industry has on the human race. And processed, toxic food can come in many forms and sizes: from packaged dinners, “cardboard” cereal boxes, factory raised meat, pasteurized conventional dairy, GMO foods, to candy and even eating un-sprouted, un-soaked, and un-fermented grains, legumes and nuts.
Some of us have awaken and now see the connection. They see and understand that you ARE what you eat…
But have you ever wondered…”How bad is it, really, to eat junk food?”
To put it simple, it goes down to your DNA. Here are the scientific facts:
1. The connection between FOOD and ALTERED GENES in humans
What we eat and what we are exposed to in our environment directly affects our DNA and its expression. Epigenetic factors (“beyond the control of the gene”) are directly and indirectly influenced by the presence or absence of key nutrients in the diet, as well as exposures to toxins, chemicals, pathogens and other environmental factors.
The “genetic material” a mother transmits to her baby is made up of very complex factors, but they all come down to the answers to these simple questions: What did the mom eat? What was her lifestyle? What were her health problems?
In her book “Deep Nutrition“, Catherine Shanahan, MD talks about how genes are affected by the foods we eat:
Epigenetic researchers study how our genes react to our behavior, and they’ve found that just about everything we eat, think, breathe, or do can, directly or indirectly, trickle down to touch the gene and affect its performance in some way. (…) Not only does what we eat affect us down to the level of our genes, our physiques have been sculpted, in part, by the foods our parents and grandparents ate (or didn’t eat) generations ago. (…) (1)
In 2005 scientists from Spain that study epigenetics showed why twins with identical DNA might develop completely different medical problems. And this is very important because conventional medicine wants us to believe that many diseases are out of our own control, that beautiful and healthy people are just a matter of luck and genetic chance.
The study showed that “if one twin smokes, drinks and eats nothing but junk food while the other takes care of her body, the two sets of DNA are getting entirely different chemical “lessons” – one is getting a balanced education when the other is getting schooled in the dirty streets of chemical chaos. ” (1)
So genes actually make very intelligent decisions guided in part by the chemical information in the food we eat. Food is the primary way we interact with our environment and it CAN alter genetic information in the space of a single generation. Researchers have become to understand that DNA has been programmed at some point in the past by epigenetic markers that can turn certain DNA portions on or off in response to certain nutrients.  If, for example there is no enough calcium and vitamin D in the body, the genes remain “dormant” (turned off) and less bone is built in the body, until the specific nutrients are again available. A “forgetful”, “dormant”, “turned off” gene can be “retrained” to function normally under the right environment.
The anthropologic literature is full of evidence and discoveries that link skeletal modification over time to dietary changes. Narrow face, small jaw, crooked teeth, thinned lips, thin bones, flattened features can be all observed in modern generations. And disproportionality disables the body’s ability to function properly.
2. Gene mutation and Methylation
It is estimated that 49% of the general population has an under methylation gene defect. They cannot detoxify well. “More than any other molecule, methyl groups are involved in the healthy function of the body’s life processes, and more than any other molecule, the lack of methyl groups for methylation is involved in chronic, degenerative diseases, autoimmune concerns, hormonal processes and neurotransmitter balances.(…)
The onslaught of cellular damage has only increased in the past ten years. The toxic environment damages cellular function deep within the cell’s epigenetics. Ionizing (x-rays, mammograms) and non-ionizing (cell phones, airport scanners) radiation damage DNA. Genetically modified food damage DNA more and more every day as Round Up Ready genetically modified (GMO) toxins are being incorporated into infants DNA around the world.” (2)
How do methyl groups get damaged?
Poor nutrition along with stress, free radical damage, lack of vitamin B 12 and folic acid and exposure to environmental toxins all damage methyl groups. Methyl groups also decline with the aging processes.
Why are methyl donors so important?
Our bodies conduct a billion methylation processes every moment of our lives! Methyl groups keep every cell doing its correct job for the good of the whole according to the body’s innate intelligence. (2)
They unlock the resistance to healing by supporting the cells with nutrition required for them to heal themselves. All genuine healing is within the cell.
The body uses millions of methyl groups to turn on the stress response according to the laws of Nature. But if a person does not have sufficient methyl donors, that person won’t be able to turn off the stress process anymore.
In a cellular methylation process called DMA Methylation, methyl groups attach to cromosomes and deactivate certain gene sequences so we don’t express them. This includes deactivating disease processes, viral genes and other deleterious elements that may be introduced to a person’s genetics. (2)
Methylation helps convert dangerous molecules to ones that the liver, gall bladder, and kidneys can eliminate.
Excessive weight gain and the inability to lose weight is a cellular issue – one involving inflammation, the cell membrane, anti-oxidants and… methylation!
These are just a few of the very important and numerous roles methylation is conducting. To find more information about this extremely complex process you could check out these websites:
3. The connection between FOOD and ALTERED GENES in animals
Our ancestors chose their food in terms of : good soil, healthy animal, freshly picked. It was not the cheapest, the fastest or the most convenient. And this was the reason they kept themselves healthy and thriving, staying connected to their land.
Not the case these days anymore. A surprising conclusion was drawn in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition regarding conventional fed chickens versus organically fed chickens. It seems that organically fed chickens develop a different process of gene expression in their small intestines than that of chickens which get conventional feed.
“The result is that the genes responsible for creating cholesterol have a higher expression in organically fed chickens, yet these birds do not have elevated blood cholesterol levels. Researchers were surprised to discover that simple differences in cultivation methods can have such a drastic outcome in how chickens process their food and express it in their genes. Dr. Astrid de Greeff from Livestock Research and her colleagues came to find that 49 genes ended up regulating differently in the organic group.” (3)
As you see, you might not feel the negative effects of junk food today or tomorrow. You might even be one of the lucky ones that have stronger, healthier genes and feel relatively ok until later in life. But in the end, that doesn’t mean you and your future generations will be immune to the explosion of Franken-foods that flooded the world and are ingested every day. The old excuse “my grandma lived to be 90 and smoked and drank her whole life, I can do the same” doesn’t apply anymore, and now you know why. Because she already passed down poor genetic material determined by her lifestyle. It can’t get better from there.
Article References
About the Author
Raluca Schachter is a passionate Nutritionist and Metabolic Typing Advisor®, with a background in both nutrition and communication/PR. She believes in traditional, unaltered food, ancestral wisdom, sustainable farming and living. Raluca was able to naturally reverse chronic health conditions she was struggling with most of her life, and now uses her knowledge to help as many people as possible do the same. Her health programs and diet plans offer a very unique and comprehensive approach to health, where individual nutritional and biochemical requirements are firstly met using specific nutrients and foods that each metabolism thrives on. This approach reveals why and how ‘one diet/herb doesn’t fit all’ and why ‘one man’s food is another one’s poison.’ Raluca currently resides in Garden Grove, CA and offers her services for local and distance clientele. For more information visit her website and blog or join Raluca on Facebook