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Jan 30, 2010

From 10 Ways Your Food Can Bring Out the Best in Your Genes | Care2 Healthy & Green Living:

There are multiple factors in your diet, environment and lifestyle that affect your genes and how you age. Many of these are within your control. Of all the factors, diet is the easiest to control and probably the most important determinant of how our genes are expressed
   1. Eat real food, not junk.
   2. Try to eat as close to natural as possible. 
   3. Select fruits/vegetables in a wide variety of colours. 
   4. Buy fresh, organic, local foods when possible.
   5. Stop eating when 80% full.
   6. Be skeptical of foods with individual
       labels bearing a health claim. 
   7. Be wary of advertised foods.
   8. Be careful of obsessive calorie counting. 
   9. Enjoy your food.
   10. Don’t waste your time feeling guilty
         if you ate the “wrong” thing.
A revolutionary new science, NUTRIGENOMICS, is showing how different foods may interact with specific genes, how food “talks” to our genes and how our genes express themselves after the conversation. It is confirming that food provides potent dietary signals that directly influence the metabolic programming of our cells and modify the risk of common chronic diseases. It is telling us that food is information, that it contains “instructions” which are communicated directly to our genes.
Armed with this information, your genes commandeer various metabolic actions and affect millions of critical biological processes, including cholesterol levels, aging, hormone regulation, weight gain and loss, and much more.
Eat the right foods and they will send
instructions to your genes for good health.
Eating the wrong foods however,
sends messages for disease.
What we are finding out is that there is so much more to food than just the nutrients we have discovered thus far. Real food is packed with thousands of compounds which have a complex and dynamic relationship with one another and your genes. With processed foods however, these micronutrients have either been altered or are missing, and therefore they can never deliver the same beneficial messages to your genes. Just as a computer program won’t function well when it gets fed bad data, neither will your body. Once you understand that food is “data” or complex information that the body uses to direct the multifaceted actions that keep us vibrantly alive, it’s easy to understand that loading up on junk food is like taking the fast lane to a giant system failure.
Foods containing SUGAR, TRANS FATS and
CHEMICALS, and heavily PROCESSED foods,
are simply “bad data” for human consumption.
Lipman call these food-like substances because they are not real food. If you eat these regularly, your body stops working properly. It makes perfect sense...
When you bathe your genes in an unhealthy
environment, like the one created when you eat
junk food, your genes “miscue” metabolic
actions that can trigger disease.
e.g. your body responds to food-like substances
as if they are foreign bodies. This prompts an
inflammatory response as your body tries to
protect itself.
Over time, continued consumption can lead to the development of a low grade chronic inflammatory condition which is now becoming recognized as an important precursor to a variety of more serious forms of illness.
Bottom line: the food you eat affects
the functioning of your genes
10 ways to bring out the best in your genes

1. Eat real food i.e. fresh, whole, unrefined and unprocessed food. Food is more than a delivery system for nutrients containing protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Real food is more than the sum of its parts, it’s about how it all works together, about the integrity of the information or the total message. Although you should know how to read food labels, most real food does not come with a label — vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grass fed meats, wild fish, organic chicken and eggs etc.
2. Although there is no one right diet for everyone (as we are all different), try to eat as close to nature as possible. The further removed food is from its source the less good data it will contain, and the more likely it is of being a “food-like substance” and not real food.
3. Select fruits and vegetables in a wide variety of colors. For a list of fruits and vegetables with the most and least pesticides, check out
4. Buy fresh foods whenever you can, preferably organic and locally grown if possible. Fresh foods are better than frozen foods, which are better than canned foods.
5. Stop eating when you are 80 percent full.
6. Be skeptical of foods that come individually labeled with a health claim. Most healthy foods don’t need a health claim. Have you ever seen a health claim on a bunch of broccoli or on a box of blueberries?
7. Be wary of foods you’ve seen advertised as the vast majority of these are processed foods.
8. Be careful of obsessive calorie counting. Figuring your diet simply in terms of calories or even percentages of protein, fat and carbohydrate, can inadvertently deprive your body of the “complete” messages that real, whole foods provide.
9. Enjoy your food, preferably in the company of people you love.
10. Don’t waste your time feeling guilty if you ate the “wrong” thing. I think Michael Pollan summarizes it really well in his brilliant book, In Defense of Food: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He too is talking about real food.
Dr Lipman on Twitter:
Michael Pollan:
In Defense of Food:
Frank Lipman MD, is the founder/director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center-emphasis on preventive health care and patient education. He blends Western and Eastern Medicine combined with other complimentary modalities. His books: SPENT: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again (2009) and Total Renewal; 7 key steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health (2003)..
Dec 10, 2009

Dr Frank Lipman, a newer member of Care2, is contributing interesting health articles. I especially appreciate Dr Lipman's enthusiasm for changing the way (American) children are educated and fed. Bravo!
*N.B. from Jenny. As this following article was written for American readers, I think it would be advisable for Australian (and New Zealand?) readers to double-check with their doctors before making changes to their habitual sun-exposure practices. 
This blog has been adapted (i.e. paraphrased etc by me) from a post by Dr. Frank Lipman in Care2's 'Greenliving' section

Doctors usually advise us to avoid the sun.
What does Dr Lipman think?

There is an old Italian saying...
Where the sun does not go the doctor does.

In the last 25 yrs, doctors (esp. dermatologists) have demonized sun exposure and repeatedly told us it is bad for you and causes cancer. But lately studies have shown that modest exposure to sunlight may actually be good for you, helping the body produce the vitamin D it needs to keep bones healthy and protect against cancer, including skin cancer
It’s almost impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from food alone; sun is the best source.
 DON'T go bake in the sun or tanning salons. 
 DO get some sun without getting burned.

All you need is a little common sense when heading
outdoors; do it gradually and always avoid sunburn
 Remember to take antioxidants when
 you sit in the sun, as these can help
 prevent skin cells from sun damage.

How much sunshine do you need?
All living things need sun, the key is balance.

Too much sun exposure can cause melanoma and skin aging, while too little creates an inadequate production of vitaminD. The amount needed depends on the season, time of day, where you live, skin pigmentation and other factors.
*If you are not vitaminD deficient, about 20 minutes a day in the spring, summer and fall on your face and arms or legs without sunscreen is adequate.
It doesn’t matter which part of the body you expose to the sun. 
 If living further from the equator
  you need longer sun exposure  
  in order to generate vitaminD.

Why are tanning beds not recommended?
...because light sources vary with different tanning beds, so they are unpredictable;
...because most commercial tanning beds emit an unknown amount of EMF - it may be an unnecessary high dose.
Can I take cod liver oil to get my vitaminD?
No. Even though Cod liver oil contains vitaminD, it also contains high amounts of vitaminA. VitaminA antagonizes the action of vitaminD and can be toxic at high levels.

What are food sources of vitamin D?
--Fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil.
--Fatty wild fish like mackerel, salmon, halibut, tuna, sardines and herring
--Fortified milk, orange juice and cereal
--Dried Shiitake mushrooms
--Egg yolks
(But to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from food, you would have to eat at least 5 servings of salmon a day or drink 20 cups of fortified milk.)
How much vitamin D do I need?
As a general rule, old people need more than young people, big people need more that little people, fat people need more than skinny people, northern people need more than southern people, dark-skinned people need more than fair skinned people, winter people need more than summer people, sun block lovers need more than sun block haters, sun-phobes need more than sun worshippers, and ill people may need more than well people.
What Dr Lipman and colleagues (*ie America) are finding is that even people spending what we thought was adequate amount of time in the sun, are still showing up with low blood vitamin D levels.
I am not sure why at this stage, but there is an easy and cheap solution: vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D supplements (see more in original article) 
 N.B. take vitaminD3, (cholecalciferol)
  the active form of vitaminD.
DON'T take vitaminD2 -it is not as biologically active nor as effective, and nor as safe as vitaminD3.
And taking the right amount is crucial, most doctors tend to under dose. See original article and your doctor for dosage guidelines
It takes a good 6 months usually to optimize your vitamin D levels if you’re deficient. Once this occurs, you can lower the dose to the maintenance dose of 2,000 - 4,000 IU a day.
What about vitamin D toxicity?
 It is impossible to generate too much 
 VitaminD in your body from sunlight
 exposure: your body self-regulates;
 only generate what it needs.

Although very rare, it is possible to overdose and become toxic with supplementation ...if you are taking 5,000 IU or more daily, you should have your blood levels monitored approximately every 3 months.
Frank Lipman MD, is an author, and founder/director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, NYC. Emphasis is on preventive health care and patient education; Western/Eastern medicine plus other complimentary modalities. Hompage: 
Skin Cancer Statistics Within Australia 
Cancer Council Australia 
SunSmart; Risks and benefits of sun exposure 
According to Cancer Council Australia, "The sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation is both the major cause of skin cancer and the best source of vitamin D. In Australia, we need to balance the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure with maintaining adequate vitamin D levels. Sensible sun protection does not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency."


Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.


Jenny Dooley
, 3, 2 children
Eastlakes, SW, Australia
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