DNA and our Genetic Destiny
The Paleo Diet and Lifestyle seeks to reconnect us with what we need to do in order to live a long and vital life. It recognizes that we are modern human beings living with the DNA of Paleolithic homo sapiens. The goal is not to return to the cave. That’s neither possible nor desirable. The objective, rather, is to optimize health through our everyday life choices.
In the same way that zoologists study the food and natural habitat of the animals they’re looking after and seek to reproduce those same conditions as faithfully as possible, we need to understand and do our best to recreate the conditions that are necessary for a human to thrive. We also need to be aware of how and why certain aspects of contemporary life are causing such debilitating health problems across the globe.
In essence, it’s all about DNA and genetic expression.
DNA AND GENETIC EXPRESSION
Our genes are responsible for who we are. They determine 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. But not all genes are a guarantee of their outcome. While some are set and fixed, others, amazingly, can be programmed. By programming our genes for health, we can actually override negative predispositions.
Genes are located on the DNA strands in cells. They orchestrate the building of protein structures and enzyme pathways that influence every element of body structure and function. Every cell contains a complete set of two kinds of genes: homo sapiens genes and familial genes.
- Homo sapiens genes, identicle for all human beings, provide us with all the common attributes of humanity: we all need oxygen, exposure to the sun, and every human has the ability to sprint.
- Familial genes are the basis of our diversity. So, if we talk about oxygen, sun and sprinting it’s the familial genes which determine whether or not we have the capacity to breathe well at 5,000 meters, stay out in the sun for 30 minutes without burning or win gold at the Olympics for the 100 meters. The familial genes also determine our predisposition to certain diseases.
Fortunately, many of our familial genes are like on/off switches: they have no effect until activated. In addition, our homo sapiens genes will always respond with strength and health if they receive the right stimulus from the environment, so much so that they can override familial predispositions for adverse health problems. This is great news.
So, in the example above of sprinting for Gold, someone may have the genetic predisposition to win, but if that person lies on the couch and doesn’t “turn on” the genes responsible for explosive speed, the potential will never manifest.
In the same way, a person may have the genetic predisposition to develop cancer, but if those genes aren’t “turned on”, the tumour may never develop. Those genes will simply remain in standby. Even though your family may have a history of arthritis, diabetes, heart disease or cancer, it doesn’t mean that you’re destined to follow in their footsteps.
GENETIC MINDFULNESS: RESPONDING TO THE HERE-AND-NOW
In order to keep negative gene expression “switched off” we simply need to provide the relevant genes with positive stimulus. We need to keep providing them with positive stimulus because they respond instantly to whatever they receive.
Our genes are concerned about our immediate survival, not long-term consequences. This is really important to understand. Genes are like the ultimate practitioners of Mindfulness: they respond to the here-and-now, they’re not interested in the past or the future.
For example, when blood sugar levels are too high for our immediate survival, the genes responsible for blood sugar balance are activated. Insulin extracts excess glucose out of the bloodstream and puts it into storage. The genes don’t know and don’t care if our insulin levels are chronically high due to a high-carbohydrate diet. They simply respond to promote our survival in the here-and-now, even if the long-term consequences are obesity and diabetes.
When, on the other hand, our homo sapiens genes receive positive stimuli, they’ll respond with health and strength. Always. Every time. That’s what they’ve evolved to do.
In order to identify what those positive stimulants are, we need to consider the situations we were exposed to during the 2.5 million years when our DNA was being formed. This is the fundamental concept of the Paleo Diet and Lifestyle: that the evolution of our DNA was stopped in it’s tracks at the advent of the Neolithic period. This means that the requirements for optimal gene expression haven’t changed over the last 10,000 years. Our second millenial genes require the same kind of stimulants that a Paleolithic human was exposed to every day.
This is why the Paleo Diet and Lifestyle is so transformational. By following the recommendations we “turn on” our positive genes, “switch off” the negative ones, and allow adverse predispositions to remain in standby.
And because genes respond instantly, it doesn’t take long. Seriously, it’ll take you less than a month to steer yourself away from “Physical Meltdown” and re-set your genes for a fabulous life of health and wellness.