There is a relatively new, and very exciting area in Nutritional Therapy called nutrigenomics.  Nutrigenomics explores the relationship between your diet and your genes.  Whether we eat, drink, move or breathe, we initiate interactions between our genes (nature) and their environment (nurture). This is nutrigenomics in actions, every minute of every day. 

Nutrigenomics is often used interchangeably with nutrigenetics however there is a difference.  Nutrigenetics refers to the effect of genetic variation on a dietary response.  Examples could be the LCT gene on lactose tolerance.  Nutrigenomics is more systemic, describing the impact of nutrients and foods on gene expression.  An example might be the effect grapefruit juice has on detoxification pathways and vitamins such as folate and B12 has on the Folate and Methionine Cycles, equating to methylation. 

Nutrigenomics as a far-reaching effect and potential when it comes to preventing diet-related diseases.

Nutrigenomics is far from straight-forward when providing a linear perspective on anyone give SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism), or enzyme deletion.  Since nature has always provided multiple pathways to arrive at any one end result. Therefore when considering the health of each organ and system, there will be many complexes, and interrelated factors to be considered  With rarely one single gene that inevitably leads to any given result.


Single Gene Impacts

BCO1 is the gene responsible for the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A, its biologically active form. When there are two BCO1 SNP’s, this can reduce the gene activity by as much as 69%.  BCO1 is then further reduced by each variant,  Someone with no variants would expect to have hi conversion activity, whereas variants on both BCO1 SNP’s would expect low conversion.  Other genotypes would be somewhere in the middle.

This expressivity is the key, which links the gene activity to an observable trait or disease.  Not necessarily directly, as there are multiple and bio-directional downstream consequences with every SNP’s deletion.

Another example of variable expressivity is eye colour. Whereby the extent to which the gene for brown pigment is expressed on a sliding scale in the eyes.

Those with low expressivity should look to food with sufficient vitamin A, such as liver, fish oil and egg yolk, rather than relying on carrots, and beta carotene in its unconverted form.

The HLA gene family and coeliac disease

HLA means the Human Leukocyte Antigen family of genes, that help the immune system to distinguish our own proteins in the body from those made by foreign invaders; such as viruses and bacteria.

Those people who have dysfunctional HLA genes, due to genetic variance are more likely to develop autoimmune diseases from cross-reactivity between viruses and food. Diseases such as coeliac, but also type 1 diabetes, RA other autoimmune conditions.

Coeliac results from an immune response to gluten in those who are genetically predisposed, with 90% of those with Coeliac Disease having the HLA-DQA1 gene and about 8% on the HLA-DQB1 gene.  The level of risk is highest with the two variants on the HLA-DQA1 gene.

However, a positive DQ gene on its own does not mean that a person has coeliac.  It just means there is a likelihood that they will develop it, given the wrong food and pathogenic environment.  But having negative HLA DQ test result can be, and is used to rule out coeliac disease.

Methylation

the infamous MTHFR gene, playing out a key role in the conversion of 5,10-MTHF to 5-MTHF.

Arguably the most impactful SNP of the MTHFR gene is C677T, reducing activity by up to 35% in a heterozygous genotype and 70% for a homozygous genotype. Ultimately generating less 5-MTHF, and reduced homocysteine recycling, reduced glutathione ad a myriad of detrimental health outcomes.  The C677T SNP is however very common with about 10% of people homozygous, and 30% heterozygous.

Once again, it’s vital to look to the bigger picture!

Diet, lifestyle, health history, environmental influences.  Gut health, pregnancies, stress, exercise, and family history of diseases all play their part in the potential outcomes of this deletion.


Many people with the MTHF SNP’s are healthy, as they have instinctively selected a diet high in folate and other B vitamins and cofactors as well as a lifestyle that is supportive of their genetic make-up.

However there is also hyper-methylation as well as hypo-methylation, which can occur when those who have not bee tested self-diagnose, and self prescribe with B-vitamins especially.  For the sensitive individual, this can be just as damaging as hypo-methylation.

Nutrigenomics is both insightful and incredibly powerful when used in context, by an experienced health practitioner.  It can also be motivational and empowering


Next step

When a client presents one or more complex health symptom I recommend that they work closely with an experienced Genetic Nutritionist and complete a comprehensive genetic report that looks at the folate, methionine, transulphoration, BH4, acetylation cycles. With the addition of other specific genes.

Gene Reports – click here


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What is Toxic Stress?

Stress can be toxic, or it can be beneficial.  Simply put, toxic stress is stress that we are no longer able to adapt to.  It is stress that tips us over the edge, and we all know what that can feel like. Overwhelm.  

Stress that is toxic can be defined as ‘the tipping-point’ between what we experience as ‘good’ and healthy stress, helping us to flex and grow as we adapt to the new experience.  And ‘bad’ stress, resulting in over-whelm and low tolerance, or a lowered thresh-hold to tolerance and overwhelm.  

Examples of some categories of stressors are; thermal, emotional, spiritual, EMF / electrical, environmental, viral and physical stressors.

Although stress is commonality within 21st-century living, when we reflect back through the ages we could argue that stress has, in fact, decreased during the last century. 

This might be the direct result of our raised ethical and living standards; improved home appliances, women’s right to vote, racial equality, even the digital age.  All of which apparently lower overall stress levels and decrease uncertainty.  

Let’s face it, we’ve never had it so good! 

Edwardian England and post second world-war Europe saw the age of invention and new home comforts. But, the type of stress that we do experience today is very-very different from before the age of invention.

Ancestrally,  stress meant life or death uncertainty;  tribal rejections, the survival of the fittest, plagues, wars, religious and social class. 


Modern stress

Today we have adopted novel stresses such as holding down more than one job, or the stress of being a working mother – effectively holding down two jobs.  The stress that comes with relentless studying, or sitting in relentless city traffic jams.  The feeling of constantly being up against time, and the persistent stress of environmental toxins such as glyphosates in our air, herbicides, and pesticides in our food, and fluoride in our water.  All persistently burdening and stressing out our immune systems. 

And then there are the controversial stressors of mandatory vaccinations, and their counter-part viruses being routinely shot into our bloodstream.  And the subsequent immunological stress and reactivation of retroviruses embedded within our RNA / DNA.


Dietary stressors

There is also the stress that sugar and refined grains can cause within our biological systems.  Creating a mass internal tsunami of inflammation every time we consume these non-foods, as well as stripping us of our valuable growth and repair nutrients. Sugar and highly refined grains have been coined as A-nutrients – meaning Anti-nutrients. 

And, since food can be used as a medicine, used to palliate and anti-dote all the other stressors by decreasing inflammation and up-regulating detoxification, why are we not always using it in this way.  Detoxification as a way of life.

It’s simply crazy silly and even down-right stupid to be stuffing yourself and children with inflammatory promoting foods, which either corrupt or bung up our mitochondrial membrane mechanics whilst inhibiting detoxification.  

And of course with the advent of the digital age, comes persistent invasive and pervasive EMFs such as electrical circuits griding our homes: Consider 3G, 4G, and now 5G, SMART meters.  

It seems, at least in my view, that today’s stressors are more subtle, insidious, virulent and internally toxic than those experienced by our predecessors. 


So let’s take a few steps back

Good stress, may at first help us to achieve great things, but when not well managed and fortified with appropriate diet, and nutritional building blocks, stress may stop being ‘good for us’.  We counter this by reaching for stimulants such as caffeine, refined carbohydrate, and sugar. We stay up late. We become addicted to our devices and the trap of toxic stress ensues.

Personally, I have always enjoyed stress to some degree, or at least I did until I pushed through until breaking-point.  What came next, was that I developed a series of debilitating conditions: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, followed by Benign Fasciculation Syndrome, along with other symptomatic profiles.  That taught me!!


So when does healthy stress become toxic stress?  Or is all stress potentially toxic once we pass a certain thresh-hold?

From a Functional perspective, once there has been a neuro-endocrine reset, the body never experiences stress in the same way again.  The reset point occurs from the day impactful trauma was experienced, and so the thresh-hold to stress has been lowered from that moment and going forward. 

A single major stressor such as divorce, death, car accident, extreme shock can be enough.  Or perpetual emotional trauma such as bullying or abusive parents can also lower a person’s threshold very early in life. 

From the moment of the reset, all stress becomes toxic.  The nervous system and amygdala literally re-train to respond to a PTSD type picture. 

Or it may not be PTSD, but instead categorised as relational trauma, but it is still felt in the nervous system as PTSD lowering the person’s threshold to stress.


Healthful hormetic stress

On the other end of the stress-spectrum, when we are young, fit, and uncompromised. When glyphosate has not messed up our hormone endocrine signaling. When heavy metals do not yet inhibit mitochondria energy production or cause us to become electrically sensitive.  If we are lucky enough to have parents who are not addicted to their screens. Then, stress can actually be good for us. 

This type of stress is known as hormetic stress.

It occurs when the body is capable of adaptation.  Then, all stress may serve to strengthen the body.  In much the same way that a virus or bacteria in small doses can aid to strengthen the immune system of the host, and even stimulate growth in the development of a child. 

The stress experienced by the beating of newly formed butterfly wings against the wall of its chrysalis, this stress is also known as hormetic stress.  

Science shows that hormetic stress serves to strengthen, whilst toxic stress serves to deepen non-adaptive endocrine issues.  Ultimately leading to a myriad of complex health conditions. 


Which category are you?  

How many people do you know who are ‘tired all the time’? How many people do you know with an auto-immune condition?  Or a complex health condition, with a as yet unidentifiable cause.

Fatigue has become the common thread within all complex, chronic and non-responsive diseases.  So why are doctors not considering the mitochondria and/or adrenal glands when these patients are flooding their surgeries. 

When Functional testing could provide many answers if only our GPs were willing to look in the right places.  Or more appropriately, refer their patients to a Function Nutritionist who has experience in working with complex health cases. And an understanding when it comes to identifying which tests clients should engage in. 


Disease paradigm vs the wellness paradigm 

One of the reasons the medical model is stuck in a cul-de-sac, is because traditional medicine is built upon what is termed as the Disease Paradigm, rather than a Wellness Paradigm. 

Mainstream medicine is literally operating in the ‘Disease game’, focusing on inhibiting patient symptoms, inhibiting the disease with a targeted drug.  At no time was traditional mainstream Western medicine in the Wellness game, AKA holistic medicine, which instead focuses on riding the body of underlying triggers that caused the dis-ease in the first instance, with a view to getting the person actually well again.  

And so if the aim of mainstream medicine remains to ‘name the disease’ with its sole aim ‘to create a single drug’ as a ‘palliative-cure’, then it will never have the intention of supporting the person toward total health. 

Therefore mainstream medicine diametrically opposes the functional perspective of nutritional therapy; which is to read between the lines, to observe multiple biological systems, to open drainage pathways and allow the body to heal itself.   


The British Food Plate

Is also part of the problem! We are taught in school this overly simplistic theory that our energy is derived from calories, found mainly within carbohydrate and sugary foods. Apparently, according to the BFP this linear model of thinking is good.  Unfortunately, it is both dated and completely untrue. Our bodies do not rely upon one singular source for energy, calories.  Energy production is complex and dynamic, requiring nutrient density within our food to deliver.  


How do we actually produce energy?

Firstly, we are not a car, requiring a single oil for fuel.  Our mitochondria create energy and for healthy mitochondrial activity, we need nutrient density, phospholipids, and fats.  

We also need to NOT have toxic elements such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium which may block mitochondrial performance. We also need to have a reasonably strong immune system so that opportunistic viruses hosted by us, do not switch off our mitochondrial performance.

There are many other factors that we could consider when wishing to improve our energy and ability to deal with stress; healthy adrenal performance; balanced blood sugar levels; a healthy thyroid; and of course a clean liver and a healthy gut.  All play into an optimal energy machine.


Adrenal glands

And then lastly we have the adrenal glands.  Our adrenal glands love to run into any fight and flight issue to save the day!

Adaptive adrenal functions involve squeezing out cortisol, which both acts as a fire blanket to decrease inflammation and also mobilses stored sugar from our muscles back into the blood so that we can run and think really fast!   


Cortisol and its uses

Cortisol decreases inflammation in our tissues, or in our joints, due to wear and tear from inappropriate exercise, for instance.  

Cortisol decreases inflammation in our guts, due to postprandial stressors caused by metabolites resulting from undigested and digested food.  But especially after consuming those foods that we are intolerant to, for instance. 

People who persistently eat food that they are intolerant to every single day, sometimes every meal every day (think wheat, sugar, and milk) run the risk of driving their cortisol levels into the ground.  30 years of persistent food abuse is just about enough for anyone to run the risk of maladaptive cortisol levels.  


Test-kits you may considering Energy production and Toxic stress

  • Chemical Immune Reactivity Screen

  • Lymphocyte Sensitivity Testing

  • Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen

  • Wheat/Gluten Proteome Reactivity & Autoimmunity

  • Gluten-Associated Cross-Reactive Foods and Foods Sensitivity

  • Adrenal Stress Profile

  • Metabolic Analysis Profile

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