We’re all familiar with the human genome project.
When it started, the timeline and budget assumed 100,000 DNA pairs. Knowing the diversity among humans, this was the mathematically known combination required.
This project may be the first and only government-sponsored program that finished way under budget in half the time… because the National Institutes of Health scientists found fewer than 30,000 pairs.
That discovery launched an entirely new field of research: epigenetics.
This is the study of switches that turn on genes and move hookups around on DNA.
Suddenly we found that genetics don’t rule everything. In fact, we can change our genetics.
So if I want my predisposition to change, what should I do?
For example, we now know breastfeeding is far and away the best nutrition for babies. But what if you weren’t breastfed? Can you bend your trajectory?
The answer is yes.
Humbly and gratefully I need to tell you that I have not been sick for about 20 years. I mean no cold, no flu (and I never take a flu shot)… and except for some stitches, I have not seen a doctor for 45 years.
And I was neither breastfed nor particularly healthy.
But as someone who is intimately familiar with – and has studied for decades the impact of – what we put into our bodies, I have 10 things you could do in 2020 to steer your epigenetics, immune function and overall health in a positive direction.
- Sleep. Perhaps no one thing corresponds as closely to long life as adequate sleep. Our bodies are not machines. Our cells have a trillion trillion biochemical conversations a day. All that activity means most of us need eight hours a day; many of us need eight and a half or nine hours per day. Very few can thrive on fewer. If you have trouble sleeping even when you lie down, you need to deal with the stress, anxiety or whatever is making sleep troublesome through meditation, worship, whatever it takes – you need sleep.
- Eliminate sugary drinks and junk snacks. No more than one soft drink a month. No vending machine, no Little Debbie. Don’t ever bring soft drinks into your house. An occasional spritzer, or, better yet, mix seltzer water with juice – makes a great carbonated beverage. Kombucha is food drink. Top of the line? Mead.
- Reduce grain consumption across the board. You don’t need buns on burgers or rolls around hot dogs. Forget the bread on the sandwich. Evidence is mounting that grains, especially if highly processed like in white bread and commercial donuts, are not good for us.
- Stop drinking homogenized milk. If you drink milk, get it raw. Herd shares are available in states that prohibit the sale of raw milk. This isn’t about organic versus conventional; it’s about raw versus chalk and vascular-damaging fat globules. Anyone who produces raw milk will also be mindful of chemicals in their farming program. That’s an added bonus.
- Exercise. Get your heart pounding and your breath heaving for 10 minutes a day. Modern Americans cannot imagine the level of exercise enjoyed by our ancestors cutting wood without chain saws and making hay without tractors. They didn’t have cancer and heart disease.
- Get up and move around one hour for every three hours of sitting. Our bodies were made to move. This is not about strenuous exercise – but just moving around, standing up, walking. Take the stairs rather than the escalator or elevator.
- Stay hydrated. Plenty of evidence is now surfacing that the single biggest deficit in modern Americans is hydration. I think it’s because municipal water tastes horrible. You have to force yourself to drink water that you can smell 6 inches from your nose. Get a good purification system so your water tastes good. Invest in some good vacuum water containers so you can take it to work, to the park, to the basketball game. Our bodies are primarily water. We need to drink half a gallon a day. Get with it.
- Take 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day. That’s the one thing I’m religious about. Linus Pauling received a Nobel Prize for discovering the curative powers of vitamin C. It’s cheap when bought as ascorbic acid – we buy it by the canister and take it in juice every morning. Now we know it’s also the best antidote to shrinking telomeres, which are the caps on our chromosomes and the key to aging.
- Eat pasture-raised meats containing great fats. Structurally, our brains are 67% fat, and 31% of that are the cholesterols DHA and AA, neither of which is available in any plant. They’re only in animal fats. Vegan diets aren’t good for the brain. Don’t participate. If you don’t know where to get good pasture-based meats, get them from us: Polyface Farm.
- Eat no fast food; eat leftovers. I’ve decided the single most important litmus test to know whether someone is eating properly is their use of leftovers. By definition, leftovers mean you probably ate together as a family. You didn’t use single-portion, highly packaged and processed foodstuffs. And it saves you thousands of dollars a year in food costs. What’s not to love?
I subscribe to the 80-20 rule: Do 80% right. That lets you have wiggle room for doing 20% not right. That lets you enjoy your bowl of ice cream and even a Snickers bar from time to time.
This is not a cult, but it is your health. That’s no small game we’re talking about. Once you start down this path, it’ll be old hat by the end of the year. And your brain will be healthy enough to remember it.