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.
- World Health Organization. Preventing Chronic Diseases: A Vital Investment. Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion (2015).
- 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).
- Price, S. F., Smithson, K. W. & Castell, D. O. Food sensitivity in reflux esophagitis. Gastroenterology 75, 240–243 (1978).
- The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. RACGP – Goitre – Causes, investigation and management.
- Cartea, M. E. & Velasco, P. Glucosinolates in Brassica foods: bioavailability in food and significance for human health. Phytochem. Rev. 7, 213–229 (2008).
- Choi, W. J. & Kim, J. Dietary factors and the risk of thyroid cancer: a review. Clin. Nutr. Res. 3, 75–88 (2014).
- 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).