05 May

Want to Live Pain Free? Forget Your Symptoms and Get Personalized.

By Sophia Godkin, PhD

 

Did you know that you can stop chronic pain and disease in its tracks? After all (and this may come as a shock to you), the latest research reveals that up to 80% of the chronic pain and disease plaguing the world’s population today is, in essence, preventable and reversible. 1

In the past half century, health and medical practices have incurred a grave error in judgment by focusing on the disease rather than the person with the disease, rendering disease prevention and reversal difficult to achieve. With the emergence of personalized health – the recognition that every individual comes with a unique genetic code and thereby that not every approach is right for every body – disease prevention and reversal have turned from fantasy to reality. When it comes to health, who you are (your physique, bone structure, hormone levels, brain activity) matters more than what symptoms you present with.

While there is not one solution that works for every body, no matter who you are, there is a solution that works for you as an individual. By taking into account the various biological, physiological, and neuropsychological characteristics that make you who you are, personalized health practices devise a solution tailored to the underlying mechanisms and imbalances of your particular body. And this solution, as you’ll soon learn in this article, extends beyond the clinic and into your daily life.

Did You Know That Trying To Be Healthy May Do You More Harm Than Good?

The media may point to each person as responsible for the epidemic of chronic illness that exists today, citing poor dietary choices, lack of exercise, and other unhealthy behaviors, but that is only part of the story. Equally if not more critical – and this is where the potential to transform world health lies – is the notion that chronic illness is, at least in part, a function of people engaging in behaviors that they incorrectly assume to be “healthy”.

For instance, lists of “Top Foods” and “Best Foods to Eat For Symptom X” are easy to find in books, magazines, and across the web; yet, it’s a little known, but important, fact that there is no such thing as a universally healthy food. Tomatoes, often touted as one of the world’s healthiest foods, can detoxify and regenerate your skin and tissues, help strengthen your bones, and are excellent for the circulatory and immune systems. But did you know that tomatoes are also an acidic food and in some people can increase inflammation, cause acid reflux, and may even exacerbate gallstones or kidney stones? 2,3

Similarly, kale, considered a highly nutritious superfood, is extremely high in heart-healthy antioxidants such as quercetin, kaempferol, and vitamin C, contains a hefty amount of bile acid sequestrants which help lower cholesterol, is rich in cancer-preventing substances such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, and is one of the best food sources of vitamin K1 which facilitates blood clotting. But did you know that, given its brassicaceae or cruciferous properties, kale contains goitrogens which can affect the thyroid and cause goiters? 4–6

The old adage that “one man’s cure is another man’s poison” is extremely relevant today, more than ever before.

Causes of Pain and Poor Health That Have Nothing To Do With Your Genes

Matt Riemann, a health scientist and future medicine pioneer, is one of the leading figures to facilitate personalized health change around the globe. A lecturer and clinical educator at universities in Australia and the US, Matt’s driving force to transform world health was sparked by a life-changing personal experience. Despite leading a passionate career as a physical therapist working with Olympic athletes and considered one of the healthiest men in the world by all traditional standards, in 2007 Matt was given a diagnosis of familial amyloid polyneuropathy (a rare genetic disorder that was a function of a mutation in the TTR gene) and a 9 year life expectancy.

The diagnosis was preceded one year earlier by sudden, severe, and excruciating pain in his chest and spine. One year later, however, he was thankfully and exceedingly pain-free. His genetics didn’t change, yet his illness reversed.

Having researched and met with clinical geneticists and genetics researchers all around the globe, Matt discovered that the solution to reversing his symptoms was to change his lifestyle. Recommended for his unique biology and genetics, these recommendations led him to reduce the amount of protein in his diet and move 1300 miles away from his lifelong home in hot and dry Adelaide to warm and humid Brisbane, Australia. Within just a few days, his symptoms began to decrease and eventually completely disappeared.

49-year old Diana Anderson too found refuge in changing her diet and physical environment. An avid health enthusiast and mother of three, Diana awoke one day with seemingly simple aches and pains. Soon after she was experiencing muscle weakness, joint pain, memory loss, mental fog, ringing in her head, sinus issues, extreme hand dryness, shingles, fatigue, and constant heart palpitations. And to top it off, she was waking up with nosebleeds and spending her afternoons battling severe headaches.

After months of trial and error and with the guidance of personalized health, Diana discovered that her body requires a low altitude and a warm, dry climate; at altitudes over 5,000 feet, too many negative ions and cold winds can have a detrimental effect on her body. Kale, the nutrient-rich “superfood” (notice the quotation marks), turned out to be beneficial for her only in very small quantities; in larger quantities like the ones she was using to make smoothies every day, her symptoms exacerbated. After only three weeks of changing her diet and environment, Diana’s symptoms were gone and she was back to being the vibrant, healthy woman she had been for the first 48 years of her life.

Your Genes Reward You When You Get Personalized

It turns out that your health has little to do with what genes you were blessed or cursed with.

You are, at a very basic level, a product of your genes; however, your genes, whether they are for illness or health, can be activated or deactivated, turned on and off 7. It’s known as epigenetics.

What controls the switch? Your lifestyle and environment. Everything that you do every day – what you eat, how and whether you move, your social atmosphere, your physical climate (including the places you live and work), how you engage and express your unique cognitive and creative ability, and the thoughts you think – provides information that influences the activity of your DNA. Your genes, it turns out, are just your blueprint, not your destiny.

The most fascinating revelation from the science of epigenetics, and from capturing epigenetics in action in the lives of Matt, Diana, and many others around the globe, is that you have choice. Starting today, you too can reap the benefits of epigenetics in action. Here’s how to get started:

1. Realize you are unique. Start acknowledging today that you have within you the power to create the health and life you want. Every cellular action that switches a good gene on or turns a bad gene off begins with what you put into your mouth, into your mind, and into your social and physical surroundings, and all of these are behaviors that you control.

2. Discover what is good for YOU. Seek personalized health resources to discover what is right for your unique body and mind. ph360.me/Shae, created by Health Scientist Matt Riemann, is the world’s first smart health app to offer personalized epigenetic insights in all areas of life tailored to you. Being healthy becomes easy and simple when you know what is right for you.

3. Choose a pain free life. Trust the process. Your body is full of wisdom that in each moment is geared at ensuring your health and well-being. Be patient. In time, you will be amazed at what your body can achieve when supported as uniquely necessary.

 

References

  1. World Health Organization. Preventing Chronic Diseases: A Vital Investment. Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion (2015).
  2. Bhowmik, D., Kumar, K. P. S., Paswan, S. & Srivastava, S. Tomato-a natural medicine and its health benefits. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 1, 33–43 (2012).
  3. Price, S. F., Smithson, K. W. & Castell, D. O. Food sensitivity in reflux esophagitis. Gastroenterology 75, 240–243 (1978).
  4. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. RACGP – Goitre – Causes, investigation and management.
  5. Cartea, M. E. & Velasco, P. Glucosinolates in Brassica foods: bioavailability in food and significance for human health. Phytochem. Rev. 7, 213–229 (2008).
  6. Choi, W. J. & Kim, J. Dietary factors and the risk of thyroid cancer: a review. Clin. Nutr. Res. 3, 75–88 (2014).
  7. Rozek, L. S., Dolinoy, D. C., Sartor, M. A. & Omenn, G. S. Epigenetics: relevance and implications for public health. Annu. Rev. Public Health 35, 105–122 (2014).
02 Apr

5 Steps to Turn Your Beliefs From Limiting to Empowering

By Sophia Godkin PhD

 

You know when you’re reaching for your dreams and you suddenly get that feeling of “What if I’m not good enough?” or “What if I fail?” or “I don’t deserve this”?

That feeling, like most of your automatic, habitual patterns of thinking, is rooted in your subconscious mind. And the seeds for the belief that ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘important enough’, ‘worthy enough’, or whatever version of this rings true for you, were planted many many years ago when you were an innocent child first learning to navigate your world. Though largely untrue, you often believe them anyway because many are rooted so deeply within you.

Now, you might be aware that you’ve got some of these negative thinking patterns and limiting beliefs but do you know how to change them?

Here are 5 steps to undo the negative thoughts you think about yourself and to turn your beliefs – and therefore your experience of life – from limiting to empowering.

 

1. Identify what is limiting you from your greatest potential. If you listen to anyone you know explain the unfolding of their life, you will easily recognize the thoughts and beliefs that are holding them back. Do the same for yourself. Sit down in a quiet place, get comfortable, and then get real. Think back on your life so far and ask yourself what area you’ve struggled in the most, whether financial abundance, physical health, emotional well-being, career, relationships, etc. Then say to yourself, “I’ve struggled in [this area of my life] because I _______________.” Simply fill in the blank and see what arises. Whatever pops into your mind will reveal to you the limiting thought patterns that have led you to feel not-so-good and have kept you from taking the actions that will lead you to utmost fulfillment in this and many other areas of your life.

 

 

2. Begin to unravel the lies that you believe about yourself. Now that you’ve identified a prominent limiting belief, resolve to change it. How? Well, you’ve got to let your mind know that not everything it thinks is based in validity. If this idea of thoughts being other than facts catches you by surprise and you find yourself thinking “Wow I never stopped to think about it that way…”, then you are in the perfect place right now. Most people go through their entire lives without questioning a single thought they think, being at the mercy of wherever their mind feels like wandering to next. Yet, if you stop and think about it (pun intended), your mind thinks some pretty interesting thoughts sometimes. And if you really stop and ponder the nature of your mind, you’ll be left with no choice but to own up to the fact that sometimes it just down right makes things up!

So pause right now and ask yourself, “Is it true that I [insert your limiting belief here] (eg am not good enough, am not smart enough, am unlovable, am a failure, never get what I want, always mess up, etc)?” If your mind answers “yes”, then ask it again “Is it really true that I am [insert your limiting belief here]?” “Can I think of at least one instance in which this wasn’t really true?” Once you remember at least one instance in your life that did not support this belief, you will begin to challenge the illusion of what your mind has been telling you. What it’s been telling you – and what you have been blindly believing – is not the absolute truth. It was simply a passing thought, an imagined idea, a made-up story. Aaaah, you can now take a sigh of relief.

 

 

3. Find the root. Every limiting belief begins as a misinterpretation. Someone (usually a parent, teacher, relative or other parental figure in your early years of life) does or says something (eg ignores you while chatting on the phone) and you take it mean something negative (eg that you’re unlovable). You then use this thought pattern to interpret future events in your life (eg the shy guy or girl who looks away and laughs every time you look at him or her in grade school provides further evidence to you that you are unlovable) and before you know it, you’ve got a deeply ingrained belief that governs your entire life experience. Worry no more. You can leave the past in the past and not let it become your future.

But to do so, you’ve got to be willing to see what you haven’t seen before and more importantly, to feel what you maybe haven’t felt before. So have a seat, either alone or in the company of a loving friend or coach (note: the non-judgmental presence and guidance of another person can be a wonderful asset as you go back to reinvent your past), close your eyes, and feel what it is like to be [insert your limiting belief here]. Let yourself feel the full feeling of this limiting thought and then ask yourself “When was the first time I felt this way?” Again, see what arises (perhaps as a stream of words, a visual, or simply a knowing). Don’t filter what comes up, no matter how small, silly, or irrelevant it seems. Your soul remembers everything.

 

 

4. Reinterpret and re-envision the past. With the situation you remembered (eg that time your mom paid more attention to your sibling than to you, the time you did something exceptionally well but your father’s facial expression didn’t acknowledge it, etc) at the forefront of your mind and heart, bring to mind what you actually saw happen. Ask yourself “What did I see happen?” (eg I saw mom talking to my brother or sister, I saw dad look away). Then ask yourself, “Did I see that I am not good enough, that I am a failure, that I always mess up, or that [insert your limiting belief here]?” Let your mind come to its own conclusion that “No, I never actually saw that I’m not good enough. I never actually saw that I am a failure. The only place that this belief that [insert limiting belief] existed was in my mind.”

Now that you’ve logically reinterpreted the past and know that [insert limiting belief] was something your mind made up, not something you saw, you can choose to re-envision it. To visualize a different past, close your eyes and see yourself as the little boy or girl you were in the situation you recalled. See yourself re-experiencing the same event, observing what actually happened, rather than making it mean something about you. See yourself responding to what actually took place (eg recognizing that mom is occupied or that dad is distracted and returning to talk to them in a few moments when they have all their attention to devote to you). Notice and feel the pleasure and satisfaction of knowing that the situation meant nothing bad, and everything good, about you.

 

5. Step into a new way of being. One of the ways your subconscious mind learns after your childhood years is through repetition and practice. Starting today, commit to rehearse your new, empowering belief so that it will replace your outdated, limiting one. Reverse your limiting “I” statement (eg if it was “I am no good at x”, then now it becomes “I am great at x”), get in front of the mirror, and recite it at the beginning and end of every day. In the beginning, if it doesn’t feel authentic or true, just keep going. You will soon get to that juicy place where it feels so right, so true, so you. Real change also requires action. So step into your new belief and let it become your new way of being. Try it on just as you’re about to interact with someone, take it with you when you’re on the verge of trying something new, and wear it proudly as you prepare to face a  fear or challenge. Let your actions stem from this new belief of empowerment, rather than limitation, and see what beauty can emerge in your life. Any time you feel a related or similar limiting belief running circles around your mind, simply return to Step #2. Because the more you question your beliefs, the more they will weaken. And the more your limiting beliefs weaken, the more you step into the light of who you really are.

 

To reach your greatest potential for joy, you’ve got to believe that you can. That’s why making a conscious effort to challenge and replace the limiting beliefs we unknowingly adopted as children is the most important undertaking of our lives.

What has your experience been with using the belief-busting techniques in this article? Are there any others that you’ve found useful to you on your life path? Let us know in the comments below!

04 Mar

How To Reduce Your Stress Anytime, Anywhere

This article first appeared on www.mariashriver.com in 08/2016

By Sophia Godkin PhD and Matt Riemann

 

Stress, stress, stress. We know what we look and feel like with it. Maybe we can even fathom what we’d be like without it. Though a stress-free life seems elusive, science shows us that it really isn’t.

Thankfully, today more than ever we know quite a lot about what causes stress and how we can overcome it. So we’ve compiled a list of the 3 most important principles to implement, based on the latest advancements in health, medicine, and psychology, to live as stress-less a life as you possibly can.

1. How and what you think is as unique as your DNA.

The most common sources of mental stress are the thoughts we think and the relationships we have. Luckily, those two things are easy to circumvent when we can understand how we think and how we relate to other people. Neuropsychology makes clear that our brains are all fundamentally different from one another- that the regions of my brain that I tend to use most and how I use them are very different from the kinds and ways you use yours.

Why is this important? Well it means that how we see things, how we say things, what makes us happy, what our natural talents are – are completely different from one person to the next. So we can feel okay in not forcing our opinion on others and expecting them to believe and behave as we believe and behave, and we can learn to communicate with them in a language that resonates with how their brain naturally grasps and interprets information.
2. What your body needs is as specific to you as the pattern of your fingerprint.

The most common source of physical stress is living a lifestyle that doesn’t fit who we are naturally. In fact, our lifestyle influences approximately 90%+ of our health at any point in time and each of us have entirely unique requirements for staying healthy and stress-free.

The most vital thing then is to do the things that suit your body to keep it stress-free.

Some questions to consider: Are you living in a climate that is burdensome for your body? Are you fueling yourself with foods that are stressful for your digestive system? Are you doing the right kind of exercise and at the right time for your body? Find out what is right for your body and do it. You’ll immediately see a reduction in the stress your body is feeling.

3. Mental and physical stress go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Much of the mental stress we experience is a product of the physical stress we often don’t even realize we are under. If your body was designed for warm climates yet your daily work space is under an air conditioning vent, the cold may give you chronic pain, headaches, an unpleasant mood, and may affect how you feel about the people you work with. Swap desks with someone, bring a scarf to the office, eat more of the foods that are right for you, and all of a sudden not only is your stress lower but everyone at work seems a lot more pleasant and fun to be around.

Likewise, much of the physical stress we experience is a result of the thoughts we think. When we think negative thoughts, we are less likely to eat and move well, and less likely to spend time with people we love. Change how you think and all of a sudden your energy increases, your stress is nearly gone, you want to exercise and you can’t wait to spend more time with your close friends and family.

Staying stress-free requires understanding that for each of us, there are different ways to address stress, be it mental or physical. Stop guessing. Check out Shae and find out what’s right for you – what foods, exercises, relationships, environments, ways of thinking and relating to others most nourish the unique person that you are.

03 Feb

5 Simple Ways To Instantly Strengthen Your Relationships

By Sophia Godkin PhD

 

When you ponder the joys of life, how long does it take you to think of the people in your life? Not long, I bet. Relationships are the very fabric of our existence. They have the potential to lift us up when we’re down, to bring us delights previously unbeknownst to us, and to help us experience the wonder of ourselves in another and in so doing, to unite us with the soul essence of who we are. Yet they can also be the source of much conflict and disappointment if we are disconnected from their true purpose and life-giving potential.

Here are 5 ways that you can instantly strengthen your relationships and reap the intimate rewards of a social connection gone right.
1. Communicate openly. The root of most suffering in relationships is either a lack of communication or poor communication. Practice honestly communicating your feelings, desires, questions, and concerns whenever possible. Without honest communication, trust is impossible to build and without trust, a healthy relationship is impossible to enjoy. Though being honest can sometimes be a difficult endeavor, the alternative is not a valid option if strengthening your relationships is your goal. So go on and face the fear of what might happen if you are honest about anything and everything that you truly feel in your heart. And be ready to experience a sense of freedom and closeness like never before.

2. Practice patience and presence. Be patient with others when in their company, whether on the phone, online, or in person. Know that everyone has their own rhythm of action, of speech, and of life. Rather than trying to hurry others to adjust to your pace of life, understand that the pace at which they learn, grow, act, and understand is perfect for who they are in this moment. Be patient with the relationship too. Know that it is always evolving into something more meaningful and that each moment, no matter how seemingly small – especially when approached with presence – is contributing to the type of relationship you wish to create. There is a vast difference between sharing mere physical presence with someone and sharing true, unbridled presence. I know you’ve felt it before. So why not go forward and share that gift with someone else too?

 

3. Release resentment. Be honest, firstly with yourself and secondly with anyone who was involved, about how you’ve felt in response to hurtful things that have transpired in the past. Then decide that you want to release the resentment. First ask yourself why you felt resentment in the first place. Did you feel let down? Did you have an expectation that wasn’t met? Did something the other person said or did rub you the wrong way? Whatever it is, remind yourself that everyone is always doing the best they can, that giving (for example, by doing a favor) with the expectation of something in return is a recipe for resentment and disappointment, and that your happiness is best not contingent on the actions of anybody else. Decide that this is the day you will release any resentment that has built up inside you, choose to be grateful for the lessons contained in what’s already occurred, and look forward to a strengthened relationship in the future that is not contingent on the past.

 

 

4. Share meals. Food is more than just sustenance. It’s an opportunity to bond with the ones you love. Invite the ones you love over to share a meal. And as you meander around the kitchen, remember that preparing food, and of course eating it too, is the perfect opportunity to create a shared experience that strengthens a relationship. Most of our memories center around good conversation and good food, which not surprisingly is the ideal formula by which to create positive shared experiences that you will remember and cherish for a long time to come.

 

5. Love unconditionally. In any moment you share with another person, strive to be present with them just as they are. No judgment. No evaluation. No trying to change them. Practice seeing them through the eyes of Source – as the perfect being that they are. Reflect to them, through your loving gaze and words, that all the things they may judge, be ashamed of, and wish were different in themselves, are in actuality a non-issue. Recognize that like you, they have human experiences that suggest otherwise, and that as a result, they need to be shown even more love. Practice empathy for their life experience. As you figuratively place yourself in the shoes of someone else’s emotional life experience, you will begin to understand why they are the way they are. As a result, any judgment you may have held about them, their choices, and behavior ceases to be.

 

Stronger relationships equate to greater joy, greater fulfillment, and a deeper love of life. Choose just one person in your life with whom to practice the principles outlined in this article and let us know what ensues in the comments below!

03 Jan

How To Make Every Day A Day Worth Living

By Sophia Godkin PhD

 

Our lives are essentially a collection of years, years a collection of months, months a collection of weeks, and weeks a collection of days. So when you ponder how to really, truly create the life of your dreams, focus on a single day. Knowing that this day is contributing in a very big way to the kind of life you wish to create, ask yourself “How can I make this day a day worth living?”

After many consecutive days and years of asking myself this question, here is what I’ve discovered as to how you can make every day a day worth living, in 10 simple steps.

 

  1. Rise with the sun. There is just something so beautiful and life-giving about waking up along with mother nature, before the rest of the world is up, and watching the sun rise. There is a sense of peace that ensues from knowing that you have all the time in the world to do all that you need. So move at the pace that is natural for you as you ease your body and mind into the day. After all, just as the natural rhythm of mother nature suggests, there is absolutely no need to rush.

 

  1. Take five long deep breaths in and out. Let breathing consciously be the first thing you do as you wake. Simply wake up, resist the urge to reach for your phone, and take five deep breaths as you pay attention to the inflow and outflow of the force that gives you life. Tuning in to the natural state of your breath unites you with the peace that is always within you and has an almost uncanny ability to keep the chaos of the world at bay. When you do so in the early hours of the day, you invite your attention to more consciously orient towards your breath and away from dwelling on incessant thoughts for remainder of the day.

 

     

  1. Express gratitude for what you have. Start the day by focusing on what you do have, rather than what you don’t have. Guide your attention to all that’s sweet in your life – from the small things to the big. Bring to mind the beautiful way in which the sun shone this morning, the delicious meal and conversation you shared with a friend the other day,and the fact that you are alive with so many options by which to pursue your own joy. Feel the sense of accomplishment of having created a positive mood that will decide your mood for the remainder of the day. For if you accomplish a pure feeling of gratitude just as the sun rises, you have already accomplished more than the majority of the world will accomplish in the next 24 hours.

 

  1. Dream. The future is created today. So let yourself dream a little. With gratitude for all the sweetness that’s already here, envision all that you want. Sit in a beautiful spot and take your heart, soul, and mind on a journey into the future. Not just any future, but a future that contains all that you’ve ever wanted to be, do, and feel. Feel the feeling of experiencing all of your heart’s desires and rest in the contentment of knowing that it is all on its way. With regrets of the past behind you and only the present in front of you, dream yourself into the future that you desire and deserve. After all, “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” (Eleanor Roosevelt).

 

     

  1. Do something fun. As a society, we tend to be quite good at taking life seriously – at working really hard, for long periods of time, doing things we often don’t enjoy. But life, in fact, is not as serious as we make it out to be! So pause right now and smile. Smile in knowing that your attitude towards life is up to you. That if you approach it with a stern attitude and don’t seek opportunity for pleasure, that’s what you will get. And that if you approach it with lightheartedness and set your sights on having fun, you will see more and more opportunities for fun and pleasure appearing around you. Fun isn’t reserved for weekends either. Do something fun today.

 

  1. Do something for someone else. Lend a helping hand to a stranger or friend. Slow down your car and let someone easily enter into your lane. Give someone a ride. Giving, after all, is receiving. Any time you do a good deed for another person, you are doing a good deed for your own self. In fact. it’s impossible to not feel joy after helping another person – we are hard-wired for it. And each act of kindness, no matter how small, creates ripples that make the world a much better place. What a wonderful feeling it is to know that you can be a part of creating that ripple every single day!

 

  1. Get some sunlight. With added sunlight in your day, you are rendering yourself more energized, more hormonally balanced, and overall healthier. Of the many benefits of sunshine, however, none is greater than its happiness-inducing effect. (Thank you serotonin!) So step away from your cubicle, leave your shades at your desk, take a 10-15 minute break or eat your lunch outside, and let direct exposure of your skin and eyes to natural sunlight render your days brighter and lighter.

 

     

  1. Move your body. Give your body some love. Stretch it from head to toe. Take it out for a walk. Dance it to the beat of a drum. Play. Climb. Find something that fits your style and do it. Because when you give your body love, you give all of you love. You boost your mood, raise your confidence, enhance your brain power, and create a positive outlook for the rest of the day. Couple that with the mood- and energy-boosting power of #7 by taking it outside and you’ve got yourself a flawless recipe for daily happiness.

 

  1. Put a smile on someone’s face. There are so many opportunities in the day to brighten someone else’s mood and to make them feel loved and worthy. So why not smile at the stranger walking past you on the street, compliment a co-worker on something you genuinely appreciate about them, or express gratitude to a friend for being there for you? Share the love by setting your eyes and your heart on making at least one person smile each day. You never know how a simple smile may change a life.

 

     

  1. Learn or do something new. There is nothing quite as invigorating as learning a new piece of knowledge or gaining a self-awareness you haven’t had before. Your brain is always yearning to make a new neural connection and your mind to see things differently than it has in the past. To make this happen, deviate from your routine, step outside of your comfort zone, go out and do something you haven’t done before. Share a conversation with an unlikely stranger, read a chapter of a book you normally wouldn’t gravitate to, visit a part of your city you haven’t been to before. Let yourself be pulled by the vision of an evolved you. Because after all, every bit of experience and every bit of knowledge, when applied, changes you and makes you into the next and best version of you.

 

Couple these steps with elements that are personal to you (because you express preferences and desires that are unique to you) and there’s no doubt that you can create a day worth living. Make this your goal each and every day. Because a day worth living becomes a life worth living. And a life worth living is a life worth loving.

01 Dec

How To Find The Perfect Meditation Style For You

By Sophia Godkin PhD
 
As unpredictable as life can sometimes feel and as laden with uncertainty and unanswered questions that it can sometimes appear to be, there is one thing I know for sure: It is our mind that governs our experience of life – how deep, how wondrous, how logical, how heartfelt, how tumultuous, how loving and how positive it is. And there’s no doubt (the research is abundant!) that meditation equips us with awareness, helps ease our mind of the constant clutter of thoughts, and teaches us to direct our mind to the present moment, a powerful gateway to the joy and wonder that are inherently present in life.

Notably, our minds come in many different shapes and sizes. How wonderful, then, that meditation comes in many shapes and sizes too. In fact, anything we do can become a meditation if done with ease and focus. And just as a size 7 shoe is unlikely to fit a size 10 foot, a meditation that works well for one mind is unlikely to fit another mind just as well. So if you’ve ever had a hard time meditating or just felt a resounding “this isn’t for me”, I urge you to try again – this time, in a way that is made for you and that resonates with the natural tendencies of your mind.

Below, I share ideas grounded in the modern evolution of our ancient scientific understanding of mind-body typology. If you don’t yet know your mind-body type, head on over here to find out, then come back to this article to uncover the perfect meditation for you – the kind that your mind will love, that you will therefore come back to time and time again, and that will reap immense benefits for you in how you experience life every day.

 

Ectomorphs (crusaders and sensors), here is the perfect meditation for your naturally active mind.

If you are an ectomorph, you have a naturally overactive mind, making meditation a must-have in your toolkit of success. With a very active mind, you can get lost easily in your thoughts. The best meditation for you, therefore, is not one that directs you to absolve all thoughts but rather one that gives you a concrete point of focus and concentration. A mantra meditation (focusing on some word or phrase of meaning), or visualization (focusing on some imagined picture or scenario), can be great for the ectomorph mind. Sound meditation can also take your mind to a more still, and less active, place. Put on some headphones and try this or any number of 432 Hz sound meditations.

As an ectomorph, it is good for you to work with, not against, your naturally active mental energy, letting it flow as it wishes rather than trying to suppress it. You need to have enough energy to concentrate so when you’re lacking energy, try deepening your breath to invite in more prana (life force energy) during your meditation practice. Know too that meditation can work wonders for not only your mind, but that it helps also to create sound sleep, give you smooth digestion, and strengthen your immune system.

Of all the emotional experiences available to us as humans, fear and anxiety will be most common for you as an ectomorph. During meditation, it is therefore helpful to direct your mind back to your inherent fearlessness, peace, trust, and protection. Focusing within on universal truths (eg There is no dream that is too big to achieve) and laws (eg As above, so below; as below, so above) and on your stable inner nature – rather than the changes and disturbances of the external world – will help you maintain a calm, content mind capable of achieving all your goals and dreams.

 

 

Mesomorphs (connectors and activators), mindfulness meditation was made for you.

Because you have a strong ability to focus your attention and can do so more easily than your ectomorph and endomorph counterparts, vipassana (mindfulness) meditation and mantra meditation are great ways to help you focus your mental energy in a positive way. Because your mesomorphic personality lends itself to holding tight to opinions and judgments, meditation can especially be a great time to leave behind the limitations of the critical mind, and to experience your Higher Self beyond it.

As a mesomorph, the sways of emotion for you tend to be expressed as anger, frustration, and aggression. In fact, many of life’s circumstances can become conquests and challenges for you. It is therefore important that you be mindful not to make meditation into a similarly competitive, goal-oriented activity, thereby negating the whole purpose of it. During meditation, concentrate on releasing stress and tension, foregoing the desire to control and strive, and opening your mind and heart to what’s possible. Because you have a notable capacity to experience anger, guided meditations focusing on love and compassion are great, especially those that invite you to visualize giving, asking for, and receiving forgiveness.

Most important of all in your meditation practice is emphasizing your body as a vehicle for anything that your mind yearns to achieve. As a mesomorph, you tend to be an active, somatically-focused being so combining meditation with movement can be a great way to settle your mind. In fact, movement can naturally become a meditation for you. So take your mind for a walk and focus on the feeling of your feet as you do so, or lie down and follow – with your attention – the sensations in your body from your head to your toes. Chanting, as a form of self-expression, is another wonderful modality to try!

 

 

Endomorphs (guardians and diplomats), allow yourself to be held in the loving embrace of meditation.

As an Endomorph, you are far more inclined to adopt a meditation practice if it is done in a group and you are far more likely to maintain it if you approach it with some discipline and structure. So find a group meditation class and perhaps invite a friend, partner, or child to come along with you. Because you have a propensity for lethargy and can fall asleep during meditation, more active meditations, such as those infused with periods of breathwork (pranayama) are great for you. Walking meditation is also a great option to sustain your wakeful attention while simultaneously enhancing your circulation.

Meditation teaches the principle of non-attachment: being with each moment as it arises rather than clinging —whether to relationships, jobs, or material things— in hopes that they will last forever. Because you are not drawn to change and can become possessive and attached to people, emotions, circumstances and things, meditation can be a wonderful way to release these attachments and to help you move forward, inviting yourself to change along with a life that is always changing with or without you. You may also choose to recite an affirmation of freedom, independence, and non-attachment (eg “I deeply appreciate my life and the people and things within it while they are present, knowing they can change or cease to be at any time”) to help ease yourself into this understanding that all of life is impermanent and eventually gives way to something else.

Above all, know that you can support your naturally loving and caring nature during meditation by focusing your attention on love for all beings and for the divine (like in loving-kindness meditation), in whatever form it may come for you. And if you’d like to explore something very special to you as an endomorph, try the Hugging meditation created by Thich Nhat Hanh with a child (whether your own or the child of someone you know and love), a friend, or even a tree. First, recognize each other’s presence with a simple bow towards one another. Next, take three full, conscious breaths to welcome yourself into the present moment. Next, open your arms widely and hug, holding each other in a warm embrace for three in-breaths and out-breaths. While hugging, become aware that you and the other person are sharing a present moment together and invite yourself to feel the joy and gratitude that this togetherness brings. Complete the meditation by releasing and bowing to each other to show gratitude for the blessed time you spent together.

 

 
As you venture into the depths of meditation on your life’s journey, keep in mind that each of these descriptions is a constellation of tendencies meant to help you get to know yourself better. You are and always will remain an individual with unique preferences and proclivities. Be mindful of your individuality as you journey to explore your mind and the practices that help it be calm, content, and in harmony with your body and soul as you journey about this wonderful experience we call life. And know that the more you understand the ways that your unique mind and body work, the more you can find those ways of being, living (and meditating!) that feel good, that have positive, lasting effects on your life, and that make you eternally happy to be alive.

01 Nov

Overcoming a Devastating Diagnosis: Matt Riemann’s Story

Untitled design (56)My Story

“You have familial amyloid polyneuropathy and will be alive for a maximum of 9 more years, most of which you will spend in a wheelchair” is what the doctors told me in 2007, one year after I awoke in severe and excruciating pain- a sensation that felt like I was being stabbed in the chest and soon enough in my spine too.

Hearing this news may make some people sad. Me? I was confused.

You see, I was doing everything I thought I was supposed to be doing – eating right, exercising every day, managing my stress, spending time with loving, supportive family and close friends, and leading a passionate career as a physical therapist working with Olympic athletes. So it wasn’t a logical progression of events that led to my suddenly experiencing constant, severe pain that wasn’t budging despite my trying all the then available treatment options, everything from physical and hydro therapy to pain and anti-inflammatory medication.

If I was following the guidelines for nutrition, exercise, and stress management recommended among professionals and public organizations worldwide as the means to be healthy, yet I was unhealthy, that meant that someone somewhere was misinformed. So, being aware that familial amyloid polyneuropathy was a function of a mutation in my TTR gene, I began researching and meeting with clinical geneticists and genetics researchers.

What I discovered was life-saving and life-transforming.

Epigenetics. It’s the field devoted to studying the factors that impact how our genes, like the TTR gene, are expressed in the cells of our body. What epigenetics makes clear is that our genes, whether they are for illness or health, can be activated or deactivated, turned on or off. And our environment and lifestyle control the switch. At last! A solution.

The solution to turning off my TTR gene, recommended for my unique biology and genetics by some of the greatest minds in the world, led me to change my diet and move 1300 miles away from my lifelong home in Adelaide, Australia, to Brisbane. Within just a few days of moving to my new home, I knew I was experiencing epigenetic wisdom in action. I was feeling like myself again! And soon enough I was completely pain free.

Untitled design (57)Your Story

The wisdom of epigenetics can be applied to any and every instance of someone not feeling healthy and happy. It’s unlikely that you have a mutation in your TTR gene, but it is quite likely that you have another condition or a knowing that you can feel and be healthier than you currently are.

That’s why I knew I had to use my new-found wellness and understanding of human health to give everyone the same chance I had to let epigenetic wisdom work in their favor. And 10 years later, I’m happy to say that it’s here. Developed alongside a global team of doctors, researchers and scientists, it’s a wellness platform known as Personal Health 360 (ph360) that applies personalized health to give each person insights specific to their unique body, from the point of view of the many facets of epigenetics. The solution to your quest for optimal health can lie in the ways you eat, exercise, think and sleep, the ways you socialize, work, and live, or anywhere in between. How incredible that we are all born with a unique genetic code and that we can each make lifestyle choices tailored to our unique code that support our body and mind every single day.

As people are discovering the right lifestyle and environment for them right now through ph360, they – like me in 2007 – are experiencing myriad improvements in their symptoms and well-being and recognizing first hand the power of their lifestyle and environment to change the course of their health and their life. And me? I’m reminded time and time again why, in the grand scheme of things, it was important that I have the arduous, trying experiences of almost a decade ago.

Our story

Those experiences of nearly one decade ago were fundamental in shaping the course of my professional career and my very existence, for they showed me, without a doubt, that optimal health is possible for everyone.

And this is where our story, the story of changing the way we experience health around the globe and impacting millions of lives, begins. It begins with acknowledging that epigenetics and personalized, preventive health are the way. And that being healthy can be simple and convenient when we integrate everything we know in health and medicine with the technology of our time. That’s why the real excitement and potential in transforming our health lies in the new generation of ph360, known as ShaeTM, the very first application to customize health specifically for your unique body and circumstances in real time. Join our global community of people who are getting informed, empowered, and healthy, and supporting Shae. Because in essence this isn’t my story. It’s our story.

01 Oct

10 Truths You May Have Forgotten

By Sophia Godkin PhD

Truth is relative. No one can tell you what the truth is. You have to decide for yourself what the truth is. That being said, there are universal truths that when understood, appreciated, and practiced, can transform the course of your life in amazing ways. And though you may have forgotten them, know that they’ve never ceased to be.

1. You are not the lies your mind tells you about yourself. Your mind is a beautiful thing. It helps to create the intricate, wonderful world you live in. It gives you a perspective of life that is unlike that of anyone else. The key to ensuring that this perspective is one that helps, rather than hurts, you is to first recognize that your mind thinks lots of thoughts, many of which have no factual basis. Learn to spot the liars by noticing the thoughts that don’t feel great, question their validity, and decide to transform them into thoughts that feel better. Your thoughts are everything. Choose the good ones.

2. Your past doesn’t have to become your future. We all have wounds that we’ve accumulated simply from being a human being raised by other human beings with wounds in a world with wounds. These personal wounds are messengers, waiting and wanting to be acknowledged, integrated, and healed. So allow yourself to be vulnerable, acknowledge these past hurts, see their role in shaping who you are today, and shift how you think about the events and people involved. When you heal these wounds, hurts from the past won’t have to become fears of the future that ruin your present potential for happiness.

3. You are worthy of all that you desire and you can and will reach your dreams. If you are alive, that means you are here to have and be all that you want. In fact, that is the very reason why life exists – to give us, as individual souls, an opportunity to evolve and create a physical manifestation of what our hearts desire. So if you ever catch yourself doubting your ability to have all that you want, or the Universe’s ability to provide it for you, just remember that both you (the soul) and she (the Universe) are all-knowing and all-powerful. The when, where, and how, however, are up to her – and that’s what drives your mind crazy.

4. Your life is your own. Any time a friend, parent, family member, or anyone else verbally ‘shoulds’ on you, telling you “you should make this decision” (eg “be this profession”, “marry this person”, and so on), recognize their words as an act of caring and then set them off to the side. The only thing you need to listen to is your own heart and the only thing the ‘shoulds’ floating around in your energetic field do is activate your mind and cloud your heart. Don’t try to live your life based on the wants and needs of others. Live only from the wants and needs of your heart, for it knows you best.

5. What other people think about you is none of your business. In a world of 7.4 billion people, it is unrealistic to expect that each one will like, appreciate, and accept you as you are. Why? Because each has their own likes, dislikes, wounds, and personalities, making it impossible for you to control what they think, feel, say and do about you. What you can control, however, is what you think, feel, say, and do about yourself. And when you are true to yourself and think only the best of yourself, what others think about you becomes less of a concern. You do have an intrinsic need to belong, but your belonging isn’t conditional on you saying certain things, doing certain things, and buying certain things. You already belong. You always have and always will.

6. You teach others how to treat you based on how you treat yourself. Treat yourself as the beautiful, worthy being that you are, for it will dictate how others treat you too. If you love and accept yourself, they will too. Because you will approach them with kind words and positive actions. If you respect yourself, they will too. Because you will relate to yourself and to them in a respectful manner of speech and action. If something happens that does not meet your criteria of respect, you will stand up, set boundaries, and let the other party know what is and what is not acceptable when it comes to their interactions with you. Instead of sitting back and accepting any and all kinds of rude, demeaning, disrespectful behavior, you will voice your discontent. If it continues, you will gather up your courage and trust that all is for the best and you will walk away because you know that you deserve to be surrounded by people who treat you as you deserve to be treated and as you treat yourself.

7. You can bounce back from anything. Think back on your life. See all the ups and downs it’s been filled with. Remember the lows and see the highs that followed. Now remember the very lowest low. Was not even that circumstance followed soon enough by a high? Life goes sour sometimes but you can bounce back from anything. You’ve got the strength, resilience, and determination to do so. In fact, it’s all those lows that have given you ample strength, courage, and wisdom to get right back up after you fall, to see a glimmer of good when all else looks bad, and to try again soon after it’s felt like a piece of your heart was torn out and stomped on. Remember this the next time you are in a very low low.

8. You always have options. If you feel “stuck” and you don’t like how your life is going, it’s likely because you are using the same logic to make changes in your life as the one that created the life you currently find yourself in. As our friend Albert Einstein said, “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” So if you don’t like how your life is going, you’ve got to do something differently than you’ve done before. Oftentimes, this means changing the way you think about your life or any particular situation so that you can allow fresh insights and inspired action to emerge from that new awareness. You always have options, you just have to create space to see, hear, and feel them.

9. There are people out there who will love you just because you are you. If there is one thing that is critical to living a healthy, fulfilled life, it is the friendships, relationships, and connections you create. When our social interactions are filled with judgment, criticism, and conflict, they make for a life that is unnecessarily unpleasant, difficult, and unfulfilling. So find those people who love and appreciate you for no reason other than that you are you. Don’t settle for anything less than unconditional love. It is being around these types of people that will help you to love and accept yourself unconditionally. And when you love yourself no matter what, you’re free to shoot for the stars and reach all of your wildest dreams. After all, even if you miss or fall, the love you have for yourself stays the same.

10. You were born to be yourself. There is not one other person on this planet who thinks, looks, walks, talks, and emotes in the same way as you. You were born to be the best version of you, not a copy of anyone else. So relinquish any urge to conform. Be true to yourself, listen to your intuitive inner guidance, and know that it will not lead you astray. Embrace the good bits, the seemingly bad bits, and the strange bits of who you are. The more you can relax into being just as you are, the better life will be. Just ask ph360.me.

Integrating these 10 truths has turned my life from just fine to extraordinary and my heart from me to you. Live by these truths and you will not only experience true happiness but you will deeply know it, feel it, and be it.

 

01 Sep

“My Healthy Habits Were Making Me Sick”: Three Women Share Their Stories

By Sophia Godkin, PhD

If you’ve ever had symptoms that won’t go away no matter what you try, prescribed or over-the-counter, physical or mental, big or small, then I think you’ll enjoy reading the stories of Janna, Diana, and Maddie. Though their stories are very different, they have something very important in common: each woman, either suddenly or over time, was faced with a slew of physical symptoms that persisted despite her leading what she considered a healthy lifestyle – eating right, exercising, and managing her stress. More importantly, what these women’s stories share is a triumphant conclusion!

Janna

My life. I‘m a 63-years young proud mom of two beautiful daughters who love to travel the world. I spend a lot of time on my own, with my nose in a book, my arms deep in soil while I garden in the sun, or discovering new places, cultures and foods on my own travels to far off lands.

My challenges. Just a few years ago, I went for my annual physical and quickly saw that my doctor was sporting that concerned look on his face that everyone dreads. One week, one biopsy, and many tests later, it was confirmed; I had inflammatory breast cancer. Stage 3. Immediate chemotherapy, a full mastectomy, radiation; my body went through it all. I felt extremely weak and constantly ill. My hair and nails were gone, as was the sensation in my hands and feet from the nerve damage. To top it off, it turned out that all the treatment was also killing my liver. All I wanted was the strength to complete treatment and regain my strong body.

My triumph. I was blessed to be given personalized lifestyle recommendations via a health program my daughter discovered and suggested to me. Little by little, I changed what I was eating – less fats and proteins, and more vegetables, spices, garlic, vinegar and lemon. Green smoothies became a standard meal for me. Little by little, my liver values returned to normal. All I knew was that I was happy to have my liver and my body back, to be feeling anew, and that I had personalized health to thank for it. And I still do. I notice that when I follow my diet closely, my lymph flows freely and the swelling that sometimes shows up in my arm (a function of several lymph nodes being removed along with my left breast as part of cancer treatment), goes down.

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Diana

My life. I’m 49 years old, an avid skiing, hiking, and health enthusiast. I have three daughters and three grandchildren who are my world. My life’s passion is helping others, which I did as a women’s coach for twenty years and now do in the health arena after a personal triumph with my own health.

My challenges. Out of my 49 years of life, I’ve been extremely healthy for 48 of them, maintaining a slim, strong figure with only a few grey hairs visible on my head. That all changed a few years ago, when I began to get aches and pains, and soon after muscle weakness, joint pain, memory loss, mental fog, ringing in my head, sinus issues, extreme hand dryness, shingles, fatigue and constant heart palpitations. If that wasn’t enough, I was waking up with nosebleeds and rarely did a severe headache pass up the opportunity to greet my afternoon. The vibrant, energetic woman I considered myself to be was all of a sudden physically debilitated and unenthusiastic about life.

My triumph. I sought help from numerous health professionals – naturopaths, clinical specialists, and the like – and though well-intentioned, none could tell me what was going on with my body or why I felt 40 years older than I actually was. Then came the long-awaited solution that at first threw me for a loop. Could it be that the causes of my symptoms and years of weakness and frustration were the very things I thought were good for me? I discovered, thanks to a personalized health solutions recommended to me by a friend, that my particular bodily constitution benefits from living at low altitudes and warm, dry climates, whereas altitudes over 5,000 feet can have the opposite effect. I also discovered that kale, touted as the nutrient-rich “superfood,” was good for me in very small quantities and that other greens were more beneficial for me at the time. Here I was living in the mountains, drinking green smoothies packed with kale every day for the past two years.

Pessimistic yet hopeful, I went to stay with my daughter, who lived in an environment that mimicked what I was being told was ideal for my body, to give this latest recommendation a try. Lo and behold, after nearly 3 weeks, all of my symptoms were gone! My soft hands, supple joints, and clear head and sinuses were back! I felt like a completely new woman! One who was and is so grateful for finding the right things for her body when she did!

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Maddie

My life. I’m a twenty year old nursing student, living at home with my family in Southern Canada. I spend a lot of time studying and I also work part-time. I have a pretty active social life, when I can fit it in, and I love to travel.

My challenges. Growing up, I considered myself to be quite healthy, having no issues aside from the occasional cold or flu. Then in 2015, within the span of a year and a half, I had walking pneumonia, strep throat several times, persistent inflamed acne breakouts and frequent vaginal infections (potentially a function of the antibiotics I was on for the pneumonia and strep throat). As a young woman just starting college, these symptoms were unpleasant to say the least. I was embarrassed about my breakouts, which persisted despite my trying a whole gamut of dermatologist-recommended treatment (benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide creams, extractions, lasers, and so on). It was unfair. I was eating healthy and working out 3-4 times a week. No one else my age was experiencing this, so why was I?

My triumph. In autumn of 2015, I received some insights, almost serendipitously, about foods that were great for my body to have at that time, and foods that were less good for my body. The insights suggested that I eat little if any eggs, gluten, and certain types of dairy products and that I eat a larger variety of vegetables and prepare them in a way so as to maximize the nutrients my body can absorb. The insights didn’t come from a health professional or a blood test, but from a health program that let me know what types of nutrition, exercise, and environment were best for my particular body. Just a few months later, my acne completely cleared up! Vaginal infections were a thing of the past. An unintended but definitely welcome effect- I lost 5 pounds too. I felt like myself again. Confident. Healthy. Happy.

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You too can triumph over your health challenges, confusing and frustrating as they may have been for you in the past. That’s because we’re now understanding that our genes, whether for illness or health, obesity or thinness, acne or clear skin, brain fog or mental acuity, can be activated or deactivated. Turned on or off. And our environment and lifestyle control the on/off switch. What Janna, Diana, and Maddie have in common is that the cause of their triumph was personalized.

The wisdom of epigenetics has revived in society a new hope that each one of us can get and stay optimally healthy by learning to operate our personal epigenetic on/off switch. Developed alongside a global team of doctors, researchers and scientists, is a wellness platform known as Personal Health 360 (ph360) that applies personalized health to give each person insights specific to their unique body, from the point of view of the many facets of epigenetics.

The solution to your quest for optimal health lies in the ways you eat, exercise, think and sleep. The ways you socialize, work, and live, or anywhere in between. So I hope you’ll join Janna, Diana, Maddie and thousands of other men and women all around the world who are reclaiming their health and wellness by discovering what is right for them with Shae™, the next generation of ph360 and the very first application to customize health specifically for your unique body and circumstances in real time.

 

01 Aug

How You Can Influence the Genes of Your Unborn Baby

It’s widely known that a baby is a precious gift that is a combination of its mother’s genes and its father’s genes. You hear it all the time from doting relatives and friends when a new baby is born: ‘He has his father’s eyes’, ‘She has her mother’s chin’, ‘He’s the spitting image of his daddy at the same age’. The parents’ physical features are passed down to the child. As the child grows some other similarities may become apparent also – the like or dislike of certain foods, the natural abilities or talents with particular sports, an interest in specific academic pursuits. Many of these things can be attributed to genetics.

We see this ‘passing down’ of traits as something fairly rigid and outside our control. The kid will either have dad’s eyes or he won’t – nothing to be done about it. But did you know that a mother’s health can have a far wider reaching impact on her unborn child than just that of physical traits or lifestyle predispositions?

We all know that, for example, smoking during pregnancy can be very bad for the unborn baby. It is very clear cause and effect. Now, research suggests that what the mother does and doesn’t do during pregnancy can have a far more complex effect on the baby – on a genetic level. A mother’s health can change a child’s genetic predisposition to disease.

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Though there are many examples of how a mother’s health, nutrition, gestational wellbeing and birthing process can influence the health of her child, studies on specific genetic expressions have begun to shed light on epigenetic effects of intrauterine life. Intrauterine exposure to poor maternal nutrition or maternal obesity has consistently been demonstrated to contribute to a particular epigenotype that has a higher risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome. So mothers who have poor nutrition and/or are obese are, in effect, writing these same health problems into the genes of their unborn children.

Studies have shown that despite a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes, body mass index (BMI), body fat index (BFI), family history, age, sex, HDL cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and other risk factors outperform our ability to predict diabetic onset. Studies using familial clustering of type 2 diabetes found that the risk for onset of this disease is not entirely due to genetic factors. Epigenetic processes can produce inherited risk over one or several generations. So basically your risk for ending up with type 2 diabetes is not simply genetic (you either get it or you don’t) but can be influenced by things outside of genetics (epigenetics). For instance, pregnancy related factors, nutrition, toxins and infectious agents can also play a role in the activation of genes that may influence the risk of diabetes.

Mechanisms like histone acetylation, DNA-methylation, RNA coding patterns and the regulation of gene expressions in response to environmental cues can be passed on generations later. But the one factor that has the most epigenetic impact remains obesity. Studies focused on epigenetic markers found altered methylation and histone acetylation levels in genes involved in metabolic processes. For one, there is a huge influence of maternal obesity (including gestational and postnatal diet, maternal insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome) on changes in the biochemical structure of the baby’s DNA that alter gene expression involved in the risk for developing metabolic syndrome in adulthood. Put simply, the mother’s obesity can literally change how her child’s genes are expressed.

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The exact reason behind this is unclear, though leptin and adiponectin may play significant roles. Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat tissues that traveles from the mother’s blood to the fetus and works on the development of the central nervous system. After birth, leptin regulates appetite and energy expenditure. Maternal hyperglycemia have been shown to be related to increased leptin levels in offspring. Similarly, adiponectin should maintain insulin sensitivity but has been found to be significantly lower in children from mothers with high-fat diets. Meanwhile, a mother’s insulin resistance can cause pregnancy complications due to impaired glucose transport, including an increased risk for metabolic disturbances, cardiovascular disease and even telomere length.

In a nutshell, science is still hard at work figuring out exactly how a mother’s health has such a huge impact on the child’s genes. But one thing that is becoming increasingly more evident as each new study is released, is that the health of the mother is more important than we ever realised to the health and development of the child.

Now, if this has all left you searching for a medical dictionary to understand all the complicated words above while freaking out that you might be giving your unborn baby some genetic disease without even knowing it, please don’t stress. The intention of this article is not to further add to the fear and anxiety of pregnancy. It is simply to inform. It is to let you know that if you take care of yourself first you will be giving your baby the best, healthiest possible start in life. Eat well, exercise, avoid stress. Put yourself first because at it’s simplest, this article is about one thing: healthy mom = healthy bub.

References

Talmud PJ, Hingorani AD, Cooper JA, Marmot MG, Brunner EJ, Kumari M, Kivimäki M, Humphries SE. Utility of genetic and non-genetic risk factors in prediction of type 2 diabetes: Whitehall II prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2010;340:b4838

Skinner MK. Environmental epigenetic transgenerational inheritance and somatic epigenetic mitotic stability. Epigenetics. 2011;6:838-842

Burgio, Ernesto, Angela Lopomo, and Lucia Migliore. “Obesity and diabetes: from genetics to epigenetics.” Molecular biology reports 42.4 (2015): 799-818.

Kaar JL, Crume T, Brinton JT, Bischoff KJ, McDuffie R, Dabelea D. Maternal obesity, gestational weight gain, and offspring adiposity: the exploring perinatal outcomes among children study. J Pediatr. 2014;165(3):509-515.

Smith, Caitlin J., and Kelli K. Ryckman. “Epigenetic and developmental influences on the risk of obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.” Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity: targets and therapy 8 (2015): 295.

Briffa JF, McAinch AJ, Romano T, Wlodek ME, Hryciw DH. Leptin in pregnancy and development: a contributor to adulthood disease? Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2015;308(5):E335-E350.

Hou M, Chu Z, Liu T, et al. A high-fat maternal diet decreases adiponectin receptor-1 expression in offspring. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2015;28(2):216-221.

Doblado M, Moley KH. Glucose metabolism in pregnancy and embryogenesis. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2007;14(6):488-493.

West NA, Crume TL, Maligie MA, Dabelea D. Cardiovascular risk factors in children exposed to maternal diabetes in utero. Diabetologia. 2011;54(3):504-507.

Xu J, Ye J, Wu Y, et al. Reduced fetal telomere length in gestational diabetes. PloS One. 2014;9(1):e86161.