When planning your diet, think of how well the ecogenetic foods that you’re eating work together to promote health and longevity. For instance, turmeric (curry) is better absorbed when taken with a nutrient called piperine that’s found in black pepper. And a study from the University of Illinois at Urbana found that rats injected with human prostate cancer developed much smaller tumors when fed broccoli and tomatoes together compared with either food alone. (Fun fact: Broccoli sprouts and seeds contain up to 50 times more cancer-fighting nutrients than broccoli spears.)

I outline in my upcoming book, The Gene Therapy Plan (which is on sale April 21), how genes have been identified that regulate fat metabolism and insulin sensitivity. These genes are susceptible to dietary nutrients, including CLA, cayenne, fruit, grape seed extract, and cinnamon. Other genetic variations alter one’s sensitivity to developing cardiovascular disease. These also are affected by nutrients such as folic acid, selenium, garlic, saffron, and berries.

Exercise can turn on and off our genes, as well. For instance, in skeletal muscle exercises, the interleukin-6 gene that limits inflammation increases by about 100 times. The gene product is a protein called interleukin-6 (IL-6) that circulates to other tissues and lowers many pro-inflammatory, cancer-stimulating proteins like tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). Because inflammation is linked to diabetes, cancer, obesity, and aging, it’s clear that exercise is important to disease prevention. Studies have also shown that exercise training turns on key genes that are responsible for the breakdown of fat. Clearly, there is a lot more to weight loss than simply counting calories.

Ecogenetics is about understanding how foods can be used to change your genetic makeup to promote vitality and keep disease in check. Vitamins are an important part of your diet and serve a multitude of functions to maintain balance in the body. Most of our daily vitamins come from our diet—but sometimes even they aren’t enough, so we rely on supplements. Vitamin D is one of many necessary vitamins that we need to regulate different functions in our body such as bone strength. It’s also a vital piece that we need to activate our T cells, which are the main fighting cells that kill off intruders that cause disease. A study now shows that vitamin D supplements can help combat the flu. Researchers reported that, of the 354 school-age children in the trial, the incidence of flu development was 11 percent in the group that received vitamin D supplements compared with 19 percent in the group that wasn’t given vitamin D supplements.

Most Americans eat an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 20 to 1 or more. My gene therapy diet calls for a ratio of 3:1. Both the National Cancer Institute and the American Heart Association recommend that less than 30% of your daily calories come from fat. One third of your diet should include fats, particularly unsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are the best—specifically, omega-3 and omega-6 fats. In today’s society, the average American diet contains very few omega-3 fats, which is extremely bad.

With such a disproportionate consumption of these fats, it’s no surprise that the Western diet is leading us toward health epidemics such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The common denominator of these chronic illnesses is inflammation. Since omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory, their consumption must be increased. Therefore, include cold, deep-water fish in your diet, as well as flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds. The Gene Therapy Plan contains delicious recipes for meals, juices and smoothies using these ingredients.

Cook with organic coconut oil because it’s readily available and not easily damaged by high heat. One ecogenetic key to consuming fat as well as protein and carbohydrates, is to consume each group with enzyme-rich, raw, ecogenetic foods. These raw ecogenetic foods include unprocessed wheat germ, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and juices. Begin each meal with just a sip of lime or pineapple juice. Pineapple contains bromelain, a key digestive enzyme. Each meal should also begin with a raw vegetable such as a lettuce-based (non-iceberg) salad and end with a raw fruit salad. These simple tips will both supplement and stimulate digestive enzymes.

It is also a good idea to begin using honey, which is loaded with natural enzymes, as your primary sweetener. Also consider goat’s milk occasionally, which is loaded with enzymes. Fermented ecogenetic foods such as kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut are all great sources of enzymes. Herbs that have proven weight loss properties by working as appetite suppressants are: willow, poppy, aloe, sesame, garlic, tea and brown seaweed, Hoodia, and bitter orange. Kidney bean extract blocks sugar absorption. Pumpkin seed oil, garlic, fiber, and cinnamon assist with sugar metabolism. Fermented Korean red pepper (gochujang), psyllium, and aralax augment fat burning. Quercetin, EGCG (tea), CLA, and naringincause fat cells to die (apoptosis). DHA, genestein (soy), procyanidins (grapeseed), and guggulsterone (the Aryuvedic herb, guggul) inhibit new fat cells from forming. The Gene Therapy Plan lists the best brands and tips on how to incorporate these into your genechanging diet.

Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010;91(5):1255.
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