You might be thinking, “Don’t you mean ‘jeans’?”
For decades, we’ve been bombarded with messages about nutrition and health that focus on shrinking into our blue jeans instead of turning on the healthy genes that help our body function better. Many of these headlines and marketing slogans have proven terribly detrimental to our health:
- “Eating fat makes you fat, so choose fat-free or low-fat.”
- “You won’t gain weight with zero calorie or artificial sweeteners.”
- “All calories are the same.”
- “High fructose corn syrup is natural.”
You get the picture.
But where is the information about how food affects our bodies? How the nutrients in the food we consume is used for hundreds of metabolic processes, including gene expression? Instead of focusing on how we can eat for wellness, many marketed “nutrition and health” messages have instead focused on how to stay slim or eat junk without worry.
Thankfully, the tide is turning. There are more and more campaigns and information focused on the benefits of eating non-processed foods (a.k.a. real food) and how to use nutrition and health to thrive.
Much of this information is rooted in a budding science focused on how nutrients in food affects our health by altering the expression of our genetic make-up (known as nutrigenomics). Talk about a mouthful of a word. Let me break it down a little more.
We all have a set of genes passed down to us from our parents, their parents, etc. At one time it was commonly believed that our fate was determined by these inherited genes. Instead we now know that environmental substances actually wash over the genes inside our bodies. As these substances wash over our genes (through our blood and lymph system), they interact with our bodies and (de)activate many genes that our cells express.
Nutrients in our food are the main source of environmental substances that wash over our cells. We consume tons of food containing macronutrients like proteins, fats, carbs and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. But, some of the foods we eat also contain pesticide residue, artificial ingredients and other chemicals.
While the body is very effective at removing unwanted substances from our systems, we’re still exposed to their effects as they travel through us. Depending on the overall health of a person, detoxification or removal of harmful substances can be less effective – thus providing more time for unhealthy gene changes to occur.
The science around how nutrition impacts our genes continues to grow and deepen our understanding. The ultimate message though? We should always eat for healthy genes!
My philosophy? Worry less about your blue jeans and more about the power you have to change your personal health by changing your genes.
A few tips to get you started:
- Choose food your body can recognize. Ask yourself, would I see this in nature in the same form that I’m eating it? Strive to make this answer YES.
- Make real food taste good. You won’t eat it if it takes like cardboard so make it taste better using healthy fats like olive oil or coconut oil, pure mineral-rich salt like Himalayan sea salt or other options.
- Start small. Review your diet and favorite foods. Which foods are taunting your genes and making them feel bad, and which ones are giving them a boost? Find small alternatives, one food at a time.
If you’re an old pro at using food to thrive, please tell us where and when you learned about the importance of eating real food and how it’s changed your life. Your story matters to us and will inspire others to join us on a journey of eating for healthy genes. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, a few of my favorite quotes … food for thought.
"Food is more than just calories. Food is information for your cells. Food talks to your genes." - Dr. Mark Hyman
"Food is thy medicine." - Hippocrates
Hyman, Mark. (2012, January 21). Nutrigenomics, how food talks to your genes. Retrieved February 19, 2015 from http://drhyman.com/blog/2012/01/21/dr-marks-minute-nutrigenomics-how-food-talks-to-your-genes/
Hyman, Mark. (2011, January 1). Why Your Genes Don't Determine Your Health. Retrieved February 19, 2015 from
Kaput, J. and Rodriguez, RL. 2004. Nutritional genomics: the next frontier in the postgenomic era. Physiological Genomics 16, 166 - 177. Retrieved February 19, 2015 from
Sellman, Sherrill. (2013, October 1). Nutrigenomics: Hitting the bullseye for health. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from