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Hand-Me-Down Genes

  • Written by Submitted by Alex Kraft, ND Lac, Health Moves, Woodinville

Let’s start with a question: Which of the following are true?

1. You inherit genes from your parents that predispose you to certain traits.

2. The expression or activation of genes in your DNA is influenced by your diet and lifestyle factors.

As with most questions of this sort, the answer is of course both. Darwin began the modern thought that genes from parents are passed on to their offspring in part through random genetic variation.

But the new field of epigenetics takes this a step further by showing the influence one’s lifestyle and genetic background has on our gene expression or activation.

Why is that?

The DNA which exists in each of us contains packets of directions (genes) for what our cells and hence our bodies should do. But unlike the directions for operating your dishwasher, gene directions can change based on their environment. The most obvious example of this is that every cell in our body has the exact same genetic material, the exact same instructions as to what to do, but some cells become part of the heart while others become part of a finger.

These cells have a different fate because the signals from the cells around them are different.

They are in a different environment. In addition to this, it seems that which genes are turned on or off are also influenced by which genes were active in our parents!

What the modern field of epigenetics is starting to see is that our nutrition and our exposure to chemicals are having an impact on whether or not we develop disease.  And even more interesting is that science is starting to show that what happens with our genes not only determines what happens to us, but can influence what happens to our kids!

Johns Hopkins University now even has a department of epigenetics which is looking into how this influences the chances for developing autism and bipolar disorder.

In one of the most well-known examples of epigenetics, Francis Pottenger conducted an experiment in the 1940s in which he fed cats a diet of either cooked animal products and meat, or the same foods in their raw form (more ideal for cats).

What Dr. Pottenger found was that the cats fed the raw food diet were typical cats with some developing disease later in life, but the cats fed the cooked foods were not as healthy. OK, interesting.

But he also found that the offspring of the cats fed the cooked meats and processed foods developed disease earlier and earlier in subsequent generations.

That is, the same illnesses that occurred later in life in the “grandparents” consuming cooked foods developed earlier in their children with the same diet, and even earlier in their children (the grandchildren).

Finally, he found that by the third generation (the grandchildren), these cats were essentially infertile or did not survive to reproductive age. (Just to be clear, he did not propose that the ideal diet for humans would be raw meat scraps.)

So, as always, what do we do about this? If one has children or expects to have children, one’s obvious course of action is to eat a healthy, whole-foods-based diet and limit the amount of chemical exposure you have, knowing that this will have a positive influence on you and your future children/grandchildren.

Perhaps this is further motivation to eat well and live a more “organic” life.  And, modern nutritional science has found yet another reason to eat your broccoli, cauliflower and kale. In particular, while everyone has heard that broccoli and other “cruciferous” vegetables are healthy, it seems that these groups of plants contain nutrients (sulforaphanes) which actually turn on genes in our cells to help prevent cancer and increase our overall antioxidant ability.  And these genes continue to function for three days.  And these genes help our liver function better and improve our cholesterol — just from eating broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale!  And not only that, if you want to be a real hippie, you can eat broccoli sprouts or take supplements containing sulforaphanes and get WAY more of these amazingly protective chemicals. This is short term epigenetics in action.

The concept of epigenetics is reminiscent of the Native American belief that we need to think of our actions not only for us personally, but also for seven generations forward.

This seems to play out in terms of our environmental stewardship, but also apparently that how we eat actually influences the DNA of subsequent generations.

Finding Kind

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Woodinville Fire Benevolent Fund is sponsoring a viewing of “Finding Kind” at Overlake Christian Church, 9900 Willows Road NE, Redmond. The viewing is May 10, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. The show is free to the public. The movie addresses girl-on-girl bullying. Due to the nature of the subject and some strong language used intermittently throughout the film, it is recommended for age 10 and over. More information about the film can be found at findingkind.indieflix.com.

Whiplash & Massage

  • Written by Kirk Bradley, LMP
You probably have heard the term “whiplash” used to describe a type of injury to the neck caused by an automobile collision. And if you have ever had a whiplash injury, you know how painful it can be and how it can adversely affect your quality of life.

In an auto collision, your head is suddenly and violently moved backward and forward (similar to the motion made with the wrist when someone cracks a whip.) This sudden and  violent movement damages the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) in the neck by over-stretching or tearing them.

Common symptoms of whiplash may include:

Neck pain

Neck stiffness

Headaches

Back pain (between shoulder blades and/or low-back)

Fatigue

Dizziness

Difficulty concentrating and/or remembering

Irritability

Sleep disturbances

Blurred vision

Effective treatment of whiplash initially consists of reducing the pain and swelling of acute inflammation. Ice or cold packs, applied to the neck for 15-20 minutes several times per day, is a must.

Anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications may also be prescribed by your doctor. After at least 48 hours have passed from the time of the injury, light and gentle massage techniques should be performed to help decrease pain and inflammation and increase circulation in the traumatized tissues, thus speeding-up the healing process.

As healing progresses, slightly more aggressive massage techniques are vital for breaking up and realigning scar tissue in the neck muscles in order to prevent adhesions (adjoining tissues which have become “stuck together” by scar tissue, causing tightness and decreased flexibility). Without therapeutic massage treatment, the pain, tightness and loss of flexibility will likely become chronic and may go on for years or decades. If you have been in an auto accident and have any of the symptoms of  whiplash injury, it is vital that you get massage therapy as a part of your full treatment plan in order to restore your muscles’ full health and function. If you have personal injury protection as part of your auto insurance policy, we can usually bill your insurance, with no out-of-pocket expense to you.

Harmony Massage

www.HarmonyMassageBothell.com

Plan ahead for spring allergies

  • Written by K. W. Scarbrough, OD
Despite snow or rain, Mother Nature will have her way. Spring means pollen, and pollen means allergies.  The Northwest has more than its share of pollen-bearing months. Allergy sufferers have a variety of approaches to help get them through the season.

The allergy season starts in January with the smaller shrubs:  hazelnut and maple.  In February and March the big guns, cedar and alder, bloom. These put out large amounts of pollen to which even the mildly allergic react. Birch and cottonwood follow in April. Just as the trees are done pollinating, the grasses begin to bloom. Many blame the Scotch broom but it is actually the grasses and weeds which grow alongside it that are responsible for the allergy symptoms of scratchy eyes and nose, sniffles, raspy voice, itchy skin and aching sinuses.

Allergists prefer stopping allergies at the nose rather than using oral medications, so nasal steroids are often prescribed.  These dosages are very small and locally administered; the side effects are less serious than with oral steroids. These must be used consistently, however, for best outcome.  Some people also get relief with simple nasal irrigators otherwise known as Neti pots.  While a little cumbersome, the relief can be profound simply from rinsing the pollens out of the sinuses.

Most allergy sufferers know about the over-the-counter oral medications such as Zyrtec and Claritin. These are second-generation antihistamines and usually cause far less sleepiness than the earlier generation medications such as Benadryl. Benadryl, however, can be very helpful for short-term use when sleep is difficult. Unfortunately even these second-generation products do have side effects, namely dryness. They dry out eyes, mouths, noses and skin. Sometimes painful dry eyes and nosebleeds can be the result.

Eye allergies are poorly treated with oral medications.  That is because the cells causing allergies in the eyes are slightly different than in the nose and throat. Eye drops are available over-the-counter or prescription strength.

These apply the medicine directly to the affected area.  The drops have two methods of action: immediate and cumulative. The immediate effect helps to stop itching.  The cumulative effect adds to overall relief, however, by toughening the cells containing histamine, the chemical which causes allergies.

These tougher cells do not release the histamine as readily when exposed to pollen. It takes about two weeks for maximum impact so drops should be started before the season really takes off, then continued throughout.

Allergy shots involve a great commitment in time and money. These are reserved for year-round allergies of the more severe type.

Environmental support within the home such as HEPA filters, dust management, and keeping windows closed are helpful adjuncts and allow less medication to be taken.  Taking an antihistamine before exposure such as cutting the grass also helps.  Washing pollen off after being outside is a good idea, too.

Allergies can be mild or life threatening. Please see your allergist or eye doctor for determining the best treatment plan for you.

I’m Sooo Tired

  • Written by Dr. Elizabeth Thybulle

How often do you respond to a friend or coworker “how you are doing” by saying; “I am so tired?” Do you find your energy levels are low at the same time every day? Are there some days you feel too fatigued to go to work or spend time with family, much less go to the gym and exercise?

Why is that?

While a simple solution to not being tired during the day is to get a good night’s sleep, many other factors can influence your energy level.

Your naturopathic doctor will discuss your fatigue and other symptoms and determine the cause of it so you may be treated appropriately. Be sure your ND draws your blood as it is possible to discover nutrient deficiencies. Did you know that low levels of vitamin D, vitamin B12, or iron can cause significant fatigue?  If you are deficient, simply supplementing specific nutrients could bring those levels up along with your energy. These are relatively easy and inexpensive ways to give you a boost, however be sure you are taking the prescribed dose and using a quality product.

Do you have seasonal allergies starting at this time of year? Allergies can cause tiredness as well, not to mention all types of itchy, dripping and sneezing symptoms. Talking to your ND about getting your allergy symptoms under control is another step in the right direction to resolving your fatigue. Natural remedies; such as Chinese herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, and acupuncture can all help decrease the symptoms of allergies, consequently adding another jolt to your day.

Various hormones play an important role in your energy level throughout the day. Both men and women are affected by the hormones released by the adrenal glands. These stress hormones are important for keeping your body going during stressful times or while exercising. NDs are able to test for low hormone levels and supplement when necessary. Women are also more susceptible to fluctuating hormones during the menstrual cycle or menopause. Hormonal balance is very important and they can be tested to determine if an imbalance is the cause for your lack of energy and vitality.  It is also helpful to consume a healthy diet during those times by avoiding too much sugar, alcohol and coffee and by increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables, water, and protein at each meal during the day.

Sometimes your mood can affect your level of energy.  If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, it is possible that you may not bounce through your day with a smile on your face. There are tests you can take that show the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain. The results are very helpful in determining how to balance your mood, calm your nervous system and help you sleep. Finally, some simple solutions to not being tired during the day are to get a good night’s sleep, plenty of exercise and maybe even some meditation and yoga.  Sleep issues? Well that’s a whole other article.


Dr. Thybulle is a naturopathic doctor and may be reached at: Health Moves 17311 135th Ave NE Ste. C-800 Woodinville, WA 98072 Phone: 425.402.9999 or www.HealthMoves.org  Most insurances accepted.