Modern medicine, with its increasing diagnostic prowess, forces us to consider the very far-reaching implications of some recent developments in disease definitions. Advertisements abound for medications that treat “diseases,” which did not exist a decade ago. Add to that, the ever-closer detail revealed about our bodies provided by today’s proliferation of imaging technologies, like MRIs, CAT scans, and more finely grained autopsy studies.
What makes these developments important for our considerations about ecogenetic food and health is that they go very deeply into the question of what counts as a disease or being in a diseased state.
In this discussion, I also recommend nine nutrients and explain how they support specific health conditions by inhibiting inflammation — an early marker for diseased and pre-diseased states. Viewed in the context of Ecogenetic Medicine in which diseases do not have to be full-blown to be “treated,” these supplements illustrate how simple daily actions make a marked difference in personal health at the genetic level. We can make our bodies more vital, while also curtailing undue stress on our body’s natural ability to heal. It is never too late to bring back the balance.
“We Are All Sick.” Really?
On the surface, this would seem like a pretty obvious observation — you are “sick” if you have any of the active signs or markers of a cancer or heart disease, and so on, as these things are determined by examination. So, in effect, if you look under the microscope and see disease, then the patient is ill, and if not, then the patient isn’t. It’s a yes or no situation.
But there is a problem with this narrow view, and it is a new kind of problem: What the new diagnostics are showing is that the closer you look for disease, the more of it you will find.
New Diagnostics: Is Health What It Used To Be?
You have probably heard about recent changes in the recommendations for certain types of widespread medical screenings. It used to be that women over age forty were universally encouraged to undergo annual mammograms. But in 2009, this recommendation was questioned in a major and controversial policy shift. A similar trend is seen with prostate cancer screening. Men over age fifty were encouraged to undergo the PSA blood test for early cancer detection. In 2011, this advice, too, was reversed.
But what caused this remarkable about-face? What changed in the intervening five or ten years from the tests being recommended to their being questioned?
Questioning Traditional Tests
Because of the preponderance of information provided by tests, we became flooded with information that did not fit into the traditional definitions of health and sickness. It is not that the tests were found to be faulty or that the information they provided was not useful. Rather, the information was in a sense too accurate, and “useful” in a way that nobody actually knew how to use. Modern imaging technologies are able to detect such fine-grained conditions in the body that their use opens up a whole new set of questions about what real sickness looks like. Who is sick and who is healthy turns out to be a much trickier question to answer than we had thought.
Take the startling example of the thyroid gland. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed this and other conditions. It is now plausibly estimated that almost 100% of people, if they had their thyroids dissected for examination by the newest methods, would show signs of cancer or precancerous mutation. The closer you look, with the new high-powered techniques, the more cancer and cancer-like states you find. And no matter how finely you slice the tissue, there may always be smaller tumors that fit into the spaces between the slices. The same is true for prostate cancer. Almost 50% of men between sixty and seventy would show signs of the disease if examined in this way. Almost 40% of women aged forty to fifty would show signs of breast cancer under the new microscopes.
Seeing Disease More Often, More Deeply
What seems to be happening is that the scanners are opening our eyes to the very deepest depths and long prehistories of disease — depths and lengths that go far beyond what we are used to thinking of as the safe confines of serious illness. It is a situation that is emphasized by the new technology, and brought into focus by it, but that is not exclusively tied to it. It’s just that now it is much easier to look so closely.
The hearts of soldiers in the Vietnam and Korean wars were carefully examined in post-mortem autopsies, and 77% and 45%, respectively, showed signs of pathologic lesions. The average age of these soldiers was only 22. Additionally, children under three years old, and even fetuses, regularly show the earliest signs of heart disease.
Today, sickness, in dormant or slow-moving or precursor forms, is so pervasive as to be more than common. Which is to say that if you track sickness back down to its smallest and earliest traces, you are driven to the conclusion that, in one way or another, we are all sick.
Targeting Triggers of Disease: Medicine’s New Frontier
The triggers of sickness can be grouped into types of mechanisms that trigger disease — these mechanisms, thankfully, can be targeted by many of the bioactive compounds I discuss in my new book, The Gene Therapy Plan.
Many processes in the body contribute to the deterioration of tissue. These mechanisms all interact with each other to cause disease in the body. Throughout my book and on my website www.genechanger.com, I discuss and update the advances in many of these diseases.
What are the major culprits linked to aging, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer? Well, there are many but there’s also a lot of overlap. In my book, I look at five major mechanisms associated with disease (all of which operate in conjunction with others at one point or another):
- Cell membrane damage
- DNA damage
- Oxidative stress
Five Major Mechanisms Associated With Disease
Below are the five major mechanisms associated with disease. Many times they overlap. Targeted nutrition promotes positive change at the cellular level for each of them.
Cell membrane damage causes apoptosis (cell death), and persistent membrane damage will eventually lead to tissue and organ impairments and diseases like Alzheimer’s or congestive heart failure. What causes cell damage? Various offenders cause cell membrane damage such as deficiencies in nutrients like glucose or oxygen — both crucial sources of energy for our cells. By disrupting the integrity of the cell membrane, the internal contents of cells spill out, which leads to the loss of structure and poor cell-to-cell communication.
DNA damage results in the inability of genes to produce the necessary proteins required by the body to carry out important functions; it can also lead to the loss of cellular replication. Because of DNA damage, mutations are likely to occur, which lead to diseases like cancer.
Glycation is the process in which proteins and fats are bombarded with sugars, which impairs the function of cells in the body, promotes inflammation, and triggers oxidation. All of these result in chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and obesity, to name just a few.
Inflammation of the acute type is normal. However, chronic inflammation, which occurs for an extended period of time, damages cells in the body to such a degree that it results in conditions such as arthritis, cancer, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Oxidative stress leads to the formation of free radicals in the body that destroys cells and tissues. Free radicals result in DNA and cell membrane damage, which creates proinflammatory conditions in the body. Free radical formation in the body causes diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
These 9 supplements illustrate how targeted, individualized nutrition aids in the prevention of disease or the minimization, and even reversal, of disease — this is the new frontier of medicine. Through ecogenetics, healthy gene expression is achieved. By incorporating foods that prevent, restore, and maintain health, each individual can adapt a way of life that not only provides vibrant health, but also promotes healthy gene expression for future generations. Our bodies are not static. Destiny is not fixed.
To summarize, these recommended supplements are effective aids in establishing vibrant health and are targeted specifically to modify inflammation, one of the major mechanisms involved in the onset of disease. They are presented below as a printable PDF document that you can download and use as a daily reminder. To your health.