Forging Your Own Genetic Destiny

As you may know, at the core of the Primal Blueprint is gene expression – the idea that our genes can be “switched” on or off, or influenced into producing varying amounts of proteins based on environmental factors (like diet, exercise, and exposure to toxins). In fact, the Primal Blueprint is designed around maximizing positive expression and minimizing deleterious gene expression, the idea being that the best way to express our genes is by living like our Primal ancestors. Eating clean, whole foods, getting plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and sleep – these are the ways Grok lived (if he was lucky), and these are the methods by which our genes are best influenced. And it’s not just conjecture. Time and time again, science (read: unbiased, unaffiliated observations on the human condition) has suggested precisely the same thing about environmental effects on the way our genes work.

You probably also know by now that we relish beating a dead horse – especially if CW is still trying to throw a saddle on the damn thing and ride it. Though that may not be the case with gene expression (rather, almost no one has really caught on yet), we’re not taking any chances. Mounting an effective case against centuries-ingrained ideas about nutrition and lifestyle requires mountains of evidence. With that said, here’s another bit to throw on the pile.

A team of international researchers, observing the effects of cigarette smoking on lung cancer, discovered an interesting new mechanism that further reinforces the link between cancer and smoking. Tobacco smoking was shown to cause hypermethylation (complete or partial deactivation) of a single gene, MTHFR. The silencing of MTHFR in turn seemed to trigger hypomethylation (or systemic dysfunction) in many genes, setting the stage for further cancer development. According to the study’s head researcher, they “found that tobacco-mediated… silencing of the gene, may trigger global hypomethylation and deregulation of DNA synthesis both of which may contribute to cancer development.” All this is to say that researchers have found another, previously unkown mechanism by which smoking tobacco can lead to cancer via altering the ways genes express themselves.

This is simply confirmation that the day-to-day choices we make – whether it’s what to pack for lunch, or hitting the snooze button and missing the gym, or even sneaking a cigarette break – don’t just impact us in the short-term (or even in ways that are immediately clear to us). Rather, they can have long-term consequences (for good or for bad) with genetic implications. And, as we’ve seen with MTHFR, the silencing of even a single gene can wreak havoc on our entire being.

These sound like grave pronouncements to be sure, but they don’t have to be. Knowing truly is half the battle, and the fact that we now know about genetic expression and our ability to affect it simply gives us more options. We like options around here; we don’t like the idea that we are beholden to our genetic destiny, or that a genetic destiny even exists. I guess it all depends on whether your glass is half-full or half-empty – we tend to welcome the news that a few seemingly inconsequential lifestyle choices or environmental factors can have resounding effects on our genetic expression. Because if it can go one way – towards negative gene expression (and, for much of humanity, it seems to be heading there) – it can certainly go the other way. We don’t know about you, but the Primal Blueprint seems to be our best bet for ensuring things go our way.

Further Reading:

Dear Mark: Go Primal in 2009

Loathe Handles: Belly Fat Increases Early Death Risk

Dear Mark: Healthy Body Weight?

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