Saturday, April 23, 2011

Are genes responsible for modern diseases?

Genetics, our blueprint. It is easy to blame our genes for our problems. You have a disease then something must be wrong with your blueprint. You probably have a defect, a mutation. However, how come? After studying the magnificence of the DNA duplication process with all its control points, one has to wonder how can be that 50% of Americans are obese because of their genes?

I think there is a lot of confusion regarding genetics and health. It seems like every day there is a study, a report, or news about gene A or B 'causing' modern disease (obesity, diabetes or heart disease) You will  hear to talk about the obesity gene, the heart disease gene, and so on. I know there are true genetics diseases like the the Marfan syndrome or the Polycystic kidney disease. But thinking that a complex issue such as obesity is “caused” by a single gene defect it is just not appropriate. There may be many causes (genetics could be one) including “environmental” or “ecological factors.

Take the Pima Indians of Arizona. They have a high rate of diabetes (type II) much higher than “normal” rates in the US. These Pima Indians are taken as an example of how genetics can cause diabetes and obesity. They are said to be genetically susceptible to diabetes and obesity.

However just across the border, In Mexico, A few kilometers from where Arizonian Pima Indians live, another group of Pima Indians hove low rates of diabetes and obesity. It is very difficult to think that these Mexican Pima Indians have a different genetic material than it Arizona counterpart. So, why are Arizona,s Pimas diabetic and obese and Mexican lean and with no diabetes?

Could be the diet? Well, it may be one facto. Arizonians Pima eat the standard American diet (SAD- high in refined and processed foods)  while Mexicans eat a  whole-foods, agriculture-based diet. Perhaps there is genetic predisposition of the Pimas to diabetes but the trigger is the type of food they eat.

There are other example such as this that can be observed in The US. For example Japanese that come to the US and become fat while in their traditional setting are lean and with a low incidence of diseases. Not only, this but Americans are getting sicker and more obese as times goes by despite all the “effort” on combating obesity, diabetes, heart disease etc.

I think genes are only rarely the “real” “cause” of disease, and that the majority of health problems are lifestyle-related.  This the solution must be to restore a a healthy diet, exercise, and low stress environment for us. That is why I have started this blog top convey practical ideas to obtain an optimal health.

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