In the movie Jerry Maguire, Dorothy Boyd, played by Renee Zellweger, tells Jerry, played by Tom Cruise, “You had me at hello.” For me, it was Dr. Ben Lynch. He had me at, “Your genes are not your destiny.”
I am geekishly (is that even a real word) fascinated by how the body wants to be healthy. Its capacity to heal itself astonishes me, even after years of exposure to toxins in our food, water, air, daily use products, and one cannot forget toxic people. As such, I have spent thousands of hours of my life and more in financial resources, learning how to help the body get there. I pursued an education in fitness, nutrition, and finally functional medicine long before I decided to dedicate myself, body, and soul to help others transform their genetic destiny, extend their healthspan, and become the highest functioning humans they know.
At the same time, the light was being shined on my own autoimmune condition, Addison’s disease; I’d gone from being a woman known for her go, go, go, a caregiver and a professional to a wife and mother beset with stress and anxiety on behalf of her family and an entrepreneur who didn’t’ have the energy and stamina that role indeed demanded of me.
Being the bottom-line kind of gal that I am, I knew, without my health, I risked not only my quality of life but theirs too. For me, that wasn’t an option. I had to figure this out, I threw myself into the research, learning the root causes of autoimmune disease.
The “A” in the ABCD’s of Autoimmune
It all begins with your momma and your poppa. Acknowledging your genetic inheritance is essential.
Genetics is one of the four scientifically validated causes of autoimmune conditions. Not knowing your inherited tendencies toward disease means you risk creating illness and diminishing your healthspan, rather than nourishing health and extending it.
A powerful illustration of genetic inheritance is illustrated in the book Dirty Genes where Dr. Lynch tells the Tale of Two Mice – a program that played on PBS in 2007. The tale introduces us to two agouti mice, genetically identical sisters from the same parent who had a strong genetic potential for obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. These two little ladies look vastly different; one is lean and brown, and the other is obese and yellow. Although each has the same genetic potential for significant illness and excess weight, only one of the sisters was unhealthy.
The reason behind this was the researcher’s ability to manipulate genetic inheritance, creating health in one mouse and disease in another – a biomechanical process called methylation. By methylating specific genes in the brown mouse, the researchers turned off the genes or the genetic tendency for obesity and disease. In that experiment, they did it with diet and nutrition alone.
In additional experiments with mice still in the womb, researchers gave some mother mice nutrients that support the methylation process, while others received none. Again, the right nourishment (proper diet and supplementation) turned off the mice’s genetic inheritance and reshaped their genetic destiny. This process of turning genes on and off is known as epigenetics.
For instance, let’s say that your mother has rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, or even dementia. Based on your genetic susceptibility, you know that you have an increased likelihood of developing a particular disease. This tells us that we do not have to fear or settle for a life experiencing the same body-brain symptoms and deterioration.
WHY DO I CARE?
Because it means you, me, or anyone else is not destined to keep the thing we never wanted to begin with – a life lived with chronic symptoms and sickness.
It means that once you see that you have a genetic tendency toward these kinds of conditions, you can learn to leverage specific lifestyle choices like diet and nutrition to dramatically reduce the likelihood that your genes express themselves in such a way that manifests as an illness in you too.
So, who gets autoimmune disease?
Anyone. All ages, genders, and ethnicities can get an autoimmune disease. Women are at higher risk for developing autoimmune diseases than men.
What’s the next best step to solving your own chronic autoimmune condition?
Get to know the environment you’re working with intimately.
For some people, the most comfortable place to start is by having a conversation. And by that, I mean to collect a medical history from both parents. After all, each of the 46 molecules called chromosomes is the blueprint for building you, 23 from your momma and 23 come from your daddy.
There is genetic testing for others who don’t have an open dialogue or access to both parents’ medical history.
There may also come the point in your own health rebuilding journey when you choose to do both.
Knowing now that our genetic inheritance is just one-fourth of the whole is empowering.
I’m happy to report that reversing chronic autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, Eczema, Lupus, PANDAS, Celiac, Crohn’s, Endometriosis, Fibromyalgia, Inflammatory bowel disease, Addison’s, Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s, Restless leg syndrome, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, Rosacea, and others is doable for you too!
Join us as we discuss autoimmune disease and genetics at our upcoming Tea and Talk. Find out more about our virtual event and sign up here.