Saturday, July 25, 2009

Genetics : What Do We Know?

Since the human genome has been mapped, perhaps you were wondering why we haven't eliminated all disease now. Since the map was supposedly completed in 2003, haven't we had enough time to make cures for all the diseases?

This is, of course, a little bit ridiculous to expect such results. But most people don't seem to realize how ridiculous it really is.

We have learned quite a bit about genes in the last decade, so let me fill you in on some of the most interesting things we have learned.

Genetic engineering isn't nearly as accurate and precise as many of us are led to believe. It is very complex, and a little chaotic. New genetic material can be injected or shot into a mass of older genetic materials, and it is hoped that some of the new genetic material will integrate with the old. Of course one of the problems with this is that we don't know precisely which of the old genes could be affected or changed by the new genetic material. That is one of the problems with genetically modified foods. Instead of just changing the one gene that they want to change, they generally end up changing anywhere from 5% to 15% of the genes. This, of course, causes all kinds of unexpected side effects.

So, instead of easily fixing genetic disorders (which is the dream), we are actually creating other genetic disorders.

Last year it was reported in the news that they have added another 11 genes to the list of cancer-causing genes.

It just goes to show you that we still don't really know much about genes. The human genome project has helped us learn many things about genes, but there are still so many that we don't know.

I'll let you in on one of the little secrets we have learned about genes: They don't actually do anything.

I'm sure you read the last sentence a couple of times, just to make sure you read it correctly. We have been told for so many years that the genes determine everything in the human body, that we just take it for granted that that's the way it is. Let me explain a little further.

Genes do indeed hold a type of blueprint material for what our bodies may become. However, it is nothing like a blueprint that a contractor would use to build a house. It doesn't contain a set plan that must be followed as we grow and develop. Instead, it contains a whole bucket full of possibilities.

Genes are, believe it or not, inactive. They don't actually do anything. They are more like books in a library. If they are left on the shelf, then nothing is gained from them. They have to be read and acted upon by some active part of our systems in order to make any difference. That is why you can have a gene for being short, but grow very tall.

The gene is entirely dependent upon it's environment. Proteins are the carriers of genetic messages. Only certain proteins can read certain genes. The proteins go to the genes to look for solutions for particular challenges that may come their way. The body only creates the proteins that the environment calls on it to create. If you have a gene for colon cancer, but your body never creates the protein that reads that genetic sequence, then you will not get colon cancer.

The body is very complex, and there are millions of possibilities contained in our DNA. There are literally billions of possible combinations. The more we learn about genetics, the more apparent it becomes that genetics are not the determining factor in what happens to our bodies in our lives. That is why we now use the terminology "genetically predisposed".

We now know that just because you have a gene for something, that doesn't mean that that particular thing will manifest itself. As we study this process we come to the realization that the environment determines which genes will be read and acted upon. You will never get cancer if you live a lifestyle that never calls on the cancer gene.

It is starting to be realized that many of the things that we thought were genetically determined are actually environmentally determined. We are starting to see that children have many of the same attributes and challenges that their parents had because they inherited their environment from their parents. We tend to live the same life styles that we grew up with. Our internal environments start off in the internal environments of our mothers wombs. We live where our parents lived. We tend to eat the way they ate. We tend to exercise in the same ways they did. It's even been shown that we tend to use the same eye movements that our parents used, which can effect our eye sight.

That is why as our world becomes more and more polluted, we see children getting more diseases earlier in life. Many children now have diseases that people used to only get in old age. The environment is everything when it comes to genetic causes of things.

So, yes, the genes do matter. But the good news is that by changing our behavior, our environment, we can control which genes get used. A clean environment with good wholesome food creates an entirely different set of proteins than a polluted environment. The proteins then interact with the genes and take messages to the cells of the body. The body acts according to those messages.

The more polluted our environment gets, the more negative proteins we build. A polluted environment can also actually change the DNA causing even more problems. Kind of like going through the library and throwing all the books in a big mud puddle. Then when you try to read them, you only get some of the information. Some of the information can be so distorted that you get an entirely different message than the author of the book intended.

Luckily the body has a pretty good librarian. If given the time and the right materials in a clean enough environment, the librarian can repair most of the damage previously done. However, if we keep it too messy for too long, sometimes even our marvelous librarian can't fix all of the mess.

So make sure you give your librarian the proper materials, and the proper environment as soon as possible.

Just eat a high quality natural foods diet, exercise, drink plenty of good clean water, make sure you get fiber (whole raw foods), get plenty of sleep, breathe deeply and have a gratitude attitude.

Your body will take care of you, if you take care of it.

Coach G.

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