Medical BS , Genetics and The Bright Side
Sometimes, when we’re looking for the Bright Side of anything, we have to eliminate or expand upon ideas that until our search began were assumed to be true and inviolable. The world of health is filled with such ideas. It isn’t all that long ago, for example, that pasta was considered a health food. When I was growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, margarine was known to be a healthier choice for your bread or potatoes or corn on the cob than butter.
Recently the so-called “Central Dogma” has been promoted as the cause of both health and disease. The “Central Dogma” is a biochemical theory, first described by Francis Crick in the 1950s that basically states that once something is programmed genetically, it can’t be changed. In other words, once something is “in your genes”, that’s it. There are no other points, according to the “Central Dogma”, of control for the production of proteins, for the production of chemicals, for the production of of YOU. Now, whether or not the fact that Francis Crick was one of the guys who discovered DNA (at least that’s how the story goes), whether his role as discoverer, is important for his championing of DNA as the final determinant of how our lives and bodies show up is really besides the point.
The fact is that until very recently it was the opinion of medical professionals, scientists as well the average person on the street, that our diseases are in our genes and that’s that. If something is coded genetically cancer, for example, than cancer it is and cancer it will be. Doctors recommend the removal of organs typically the ovaries or the breasts, because of the supposed likelihood of the appearance of cancers based on genetic history. Christina Applegate’s preventive double mastectomy of a couple of years ago is just one of the more famous recent examples. Well fortunately the days of the preeminence of the genome are quickly coming to an end. What is being recognized today by more and more health care professional as well as their patients is that the structure and components of our environment have a large role to play in what kinds of expressions are produced by our genes. It’s all part of a science called EPIGENETICS, as in superior to or above genetics. Epigenetics was mentioned in Time Magazine as one of the top ten medical discoveries of 2009 and it basically frees us from the tyranny of our genes. In other words, no longer do we have to be held hostage to our genetic history. No longer do we have to be so terrified of our DNA that we feel that our only recourse against genetic disease is to have our organs removed.
The science of epigenetics is really what The Bright Side is all about, because it gives our choices an element of importance, it gives us an element of control, and that is good news! The science of epigenetics is our key to health and vitality, because unlike the science of genetics which relegates our role in our health to an “afterthought”, because after all: “it’s in our genes”, epigenetics states that what is produced, expressed at the genetic level is connected to the lifestyle choices we make. By the choices of the foods we eat, the supplements we take and even by the thoughts we think and the emotions we feel. All these factors are predominant influences in what shows up as our bodies and as our chemistry for better or for worse, because they all effect our genes.
Dr. Bruce Lipton who was one of the earliest proponents of the theory of epigenetics actually has pictures in his book “The Biology Of Belief” of black mice who were made albino by manipulation of the mother mouse’s diet. In other words what type of offspring was produced from a genetic perspective were changed by an epigenetic manipulation, in this case the mother’s diet. This well-reported and multiply verified phenomenon should be as significant to humanity as Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation was to American slaves in the mid 19th century. This new scientific reality is in essence humanity’s emancipation from genetic slavery. It does however make our choices much more important.
Epigenetics in effect makes us as conscious, volitional choice-making beings responsible for our health. And that’s the Bright Side, that’s the good news. Yes, your genes are control points for who and what we are, for the color of our skin and eyes and hair, for the production of mutations and malfunctions as well as for the extraordinary biochemical miracle the living body produces on a nanosecond basis. But, they are not fundamental. Rather, they are flexible. And they are flexible to or responsive to superior control points. In other words there are control points above genetics, epi-genetic and many of these epigenetic points are nutritional molecules. In fact gene activity depends on a wide variety of nutrients which can function as on-off switches. What this really means is that we can literally feed our genetics, for better or for worse. The latest scientific literature shows that genetics is not a hard-wired, fixed and rigid system, but rather a flexible and responsive biochemical milieu that adapts to environmental and chemical changes during the lifetime of it owner.