Control Your Exposure to Good and Bad Molecules
by Greg Maguire, Ph.D.
Because there are so many powerful social, economic, and political forces that work to undermine our ability to be truly healthy, becoming proactive in one’s health is essential. The overuse of antibiotics, processed foods, sugar, environmental toxins, and pharmaceuticals within western culture has become the norm, and is fueled by well-funded interests that make money by perpetuating an unhealthy system. The result are conditions in our society that initiate and support rather than prevent disease. To successfully live in this culture we must educate ourselves, and can no longer passively accept what is presented to us by industry. Many companies are more interested in their profits than they are in your health. Therefore, every individual must take responsibility for his or her health, the health of our families, our society, and ultimately the world at large. The daily choices we make affect our energy levels, mental health, our health in general, and our quality of life. The choices we make directly affect us as part of our exposome (Rappaport and Smith, 2010), while those choices will also affect the health of your children through trans-generational epigenetic inheritance (Schmidt and Kornfeld, 2016).
Thanks to science, we now know that how your DNA is expressed is determined in part by what information you feed the DNA. This is the new science of epigenetics, meaning the study of everything that occurs above the DNA base and affects the chemical structure of DNA. This means that what, for example, you eat, the amount of exercise you perform, how you think, what supplements you take, how much toxicity you have been exposed to in your life, have an enormous effect on your genome, and consequently your health. These environmental and endogenous factors all act as information that is “read” by your genome. These factors can influence whether certain genomic sequences are activated or inhibited, and ultimately whether you develop certain diseases or not. For example, whether or not you actually develop a certain disease, such as heart disease or cancer, is largely determined by what information you feed your genome, that is, what environment you have presented to your genome. The environmental factors will also act at multiple levels, including at the level of protein formation. Here again, what you choose to do, such as lifestyle and diet, will determine to a large degree how well your proteins function. Examples of how the molecules you’re exposed to affect your health include:
1. Exposure to BPA, a common chemical found on, for example, cash register receipts, can alter your metabolism and potentially cause diabetes if exposure occurs in development (Choi et al, 2016),
2. Chronic exposure to certain pesticides will cause Parkinson-like disease (Betarbet et al, 2000), and
3. ALS is associated with exposure to a number of common toxins in the environment (Su et al, 2016).
Let’s all remember that we are not simply predetermined by our DNA. Instead, about 75% of your health state is determined by the molecules you experience in life (Rappaport and Smith, 2010), and these molecules are dramatically controlled by the choices you make.
Betarbet R, Sherer TB, MacKenzie G, Garcia-Osuna M, Panov AV, Greenamyre JT. Chronic systemic pesticide exposure reproduces features of Parkinson’s disease. Nat Neurosci. 2000 Dec;3(12):1301-6.
Choi B, Alexandra J. Harvey and Mark P. Green (2016) Bisphenol A affects early bovine embryo development and metabolism that is negated by an oestrogen receptor inhibitor. Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 29318
Rappaport, SM and Smith, MT (2010) Environment and Disease Risks, Science, 330: 460-461.
Schmidt E and Kornfeld JW (2016) Decoding Lamarck-transgenerational control of metabolism by noncoding RNAs. Pflugers Arch. 468(6):959-69. doi: 10.1007/s00424-016-1807-8. Epub 2016 Mar 9.
Su FC, Goutman SA, Chernyak S, Mukherjee B, Callaghan BC, Batterman S, Feldman EL. Association of Environmental Toxins With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. JAMA Neurol. 2016 May 9. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.0594. [Epub ahead of print]
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