Raluca Schachter, Guest Writer
How important is it what you put in your mouth, after all? How much man made, toxic lab food can one ingest before negative symptoms show up? How much more sickness does this society have to endure before we finally stay united and demand more from our food system, through the choices we make every day?
A brilliant researcher named Francis Pottenger might have an answer and the proof humanity needs these days to fully grasp the importance of HEALTHY FOOD. His amazing discoveries have contributed to the developing, new and fascinating science of epigenetics we learn about today.
What Did Pottenger’s Famous “Cat Study” Prove?
In 1930, Pottenger began a study with the intention to find out more about the nutrient quality or difference of raw versus cooked meat, as well as raw versus pasteurized milk. And he wanted to know if meat and milk, when modified by high heat, had an impact on growth and development. During the ten years of the study, nine hundred cats were studied, in order to not only see the short term effects of the food, but also the influence the cats’ diet and health status would have on their kittens over three generations. The results of this study were stunning: a seemingly simple modification in diet – in this case, consuming raw meat and raw milk versus heated and cooked meat and milk – can affect cats’ health over four generations!!
The conclusions of the study can be summed up in the following:
- Physical degeneration caused by a poor diet in the mother is inherited in the offspring and passed on through the third generation. But when a mother’s diet is nutritious, not only does she benefit with good health, so, too, do her offspring.
- Pottenger discovered that poor health could, indeed, be reversed. The third generation of cats that developed health problems from the entirely cooked diet was the proof in this experiment. Pottenger started to feed these cats raw milk, raw meat and cod liver oil. What he noticed was that with the first generation of cats as well as with the three successive generations of kittens they produced – each kitten was healthier than the prior one.
So, what Pottenger discovered 70 years ago and what ancestral cultures have been knowing for centuries is that: The food we eat each day influences illness or wellness, not only in ourselves, but in our children, grandchildren, even our great-grandchildren, born or unborn.
Processed and Genetically Engineered Foods Cause DNA Damage
(Weston) Price eventually came to see the problem of diet and health as a problem of ecological dysfunction. By breaking the links among local soils, local foods, and local peoples, the industrial food system disrupted the circular flow of nutrients through the food chain. Whatever the advantages of the new industrial system, it could no longer meet the bio-chemical requirements of the human body, which, not having had time to adapt, was failing in new ways. (Michael Pollan)
Throughout our existence as humans, our genes have shown they are highly adaptable to the available food supply and a wide variety of diets. Our genes gradually adapted to new ways of eating and we continued to thrive. For example, two “new” nutrients which humans had to adapt to were lactose in milk and gluten in grains. Populations that were exposed to milk and grains for the longest periods of time have inherited the ability to metabolize these foods. This way, 85 percent of hunter-gatherer Australian Aborigines can not tolerate lactose, while only 2 percent of Swedish people – who have been consuming dairy as a staple for a long time – have problems metabolizing lactose in milk.
But all these “new” foods where WHOLE FOODS, unprocessed, unaltered, found in Nature.
How about the new era of highly processed foods from the industrialized diet?
Convenience and cheap prices were enough to fool people into believing that chemical concoctions sold widely in stores today can actually pass as food. Just the fact it can be chewed, doesn’t mean it fulfills its purpose.
Here are just a very few of the mostly used and most dangerous processed “foods” found in all stores these days and their impact on our DNA:
Genetically modified foods (GMO)
The truth is…every time (corporate scientists) insert a novel gene into a plant cell, the gene ends up in a random location in the plant’s genome. As a result, each new gene amounts to a game of food safety roulette, leaving companies hoping that the new gene will not destabilize a safe food and make it toxic. (Andrew Kimbrell, GMO expert)
For centuries humans have altered the genetic characteristics of plants naturally by selecting seeds from plants with desirable physical characteristics, such as taste, size and color. But “breeding” is totally different than the genetically engineered monstrosities, which are created these days and sold as “food”. The genetic code of GM plants has been modified by humans, whereas hybrid plants create their own genetic structure!
When researchers Ian F. Pryme and Rolf Lembcke conducted in vivo studies about the possible health consequences of genetically modified food, they concluded that genetic engineering creates widespread genetic mutations in hundreds of thousands of locations throughout the genome!
Food that’s made in the lab and was not meant to be recognized by your cells will eventually build up as toxic material in your body. What’s the worse that can happen? It starts with digestive problems, lowered immunity and eventually tumors and cancer.
Processed omega 6 fatty acids and trans fatty acids
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the processing of omega 6-rich vegetable oils- such as corn, soybean, canola and safflower oils- that are so abundant in our diet today – the balanced ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids on which our human genome thrived for hundreds of thousands of years changed drastically. These days, it is estimated that we eat one-tenth of the amount of omega 3 fatty acids required for normal functioning. This is why a high percentage of our modern population is susceptible to food-related health conditions like heart disease, cancer, insulin resistance and diabetes, obesity, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
The elimination of toxic trans fatty acids alone, could avert tens of thousands of coronary events each year in the United States and around the world!
A team of molecular biologists at the National Institute of Nutrition in India performed a study on rats to to seehow gene expressions are affected by trans fatty acids. What the team discovered was that rats fed higher levels of trans fatty acids had three types of gene expressions that raise insulin resistance. These observations help explain how consuming trans fatty acids increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
In 1820 the average sugar consumption per person per year was less than 20 pounds. Today it is 150 pounds per year! No to mention that indigenous peoples didn’t know what sugar was for a very long time, and lived long, healthy lives without it.
What genetic “imprint” is left by sugar in our body? Epidemiologist Lisa Giovanelli performed a study collecting dietary information via a food-frequency questionnaire from 71 healthy adults. Giovanelli made the sugar-connection when her findings revealed that the more simple sugar (from soft drinks, desserts and other processed sweets) a person consumed, the more oxidative DNA damage occurred in blood cells (lumphocytes). When the body doesn’t contain enough antioxidants, the free radicals can oxidize and in turn damage cells and DNA.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
In 1970 food technology, huge crop subsidies for corn and industrialization made it possible to manufacture inexpensive high fructose corn syrup. Today, HFCS is added to thousands of fast foods and beverages such as soft drinks.
One reason why HFCS raises a health alarm is that your brain doesn’t recognize it as food or that it has calories, although it is, indeed, calorie dense. Instead, your brain thinks you’re under eating and starving; to compensate it signals you to keep eating. And this dangerous chemical is found now in almost all processed foods which are considered a staple of most Americans’ diet. The outcome is obvious and obesity is just the beginning of a long list of health complaints.
This toxic substance can, too, damage gene expression; the damage is rather due to the chemical hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), the syrup produced when HFCS is heated during processing or afterwards.
This effect was confirmed by a groundbreaking “bee -busting” study published in 2009. Thousands of bee colonies had been dying because for years, commercial beekeepers had been feeding HFCS to their bees when nectar from flowers was scarce. When the effects of HMF on individual human cells were further studied, there was also found a strong dose-response relationship ; the more exposure to HMF, the more DNA damage.
As you see, our DNA is quite vulnerable and constantly the subject of attacks on its composition and integrity from nutrient imbalances and oxidizing agents. It is a delicate balance and the bombarding with toxic substances we could take in daily will not maintain this balance for too long. Unless we re-learn the normal, health way of eating!
Because through epigenetic mechanisms from infancy to old age, our genes “remember” how they’ve been treated!
About the Author
Raluca Schachter is a passionate Nutritionist and Metabolic Typing Advisor®, with a background in both nutrition and communication/PR. She believes in traditional, unaltered food, ancestral wisdom, sustainable farming and living. Raluca was able to naturally reverse chronic health conditions she was struggling with most of her life, and now uses her knowledge to help as many people as possible do the same. Her health programs and diet plans offer a very unique and comprehensive approach to health, where individual nutritional and biochemical requirements are firstly met using specific nutrients and foods that each metabolism thrives on. This approach reveals why and how ‘one diet/herb doesn’t fit all’ and why ‘one man’s food is another one’s poison.’ Raluca currently resides in Garden Grove, CA and offers her services for local and distance clientele. For more information visit her website and blog guide2health.net or join Raluca on Facebook
Pottenger’s Prophecy – How Food Resets Genes For Wellness Or Illness, by Gray Graham, Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz.
Price, Weston. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
D. Mozaffarian and W.C. Willett, “Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular risk: A unique cardiometabolic imprint?”
N. Saravanan, A. Haseeb, and N.Z. Ehtesham, “Differential effects of dietary saturated and trans-fatty acids on expression of genes associated with insulin sensitivity in rat adipose tissue.” European Journal of Endrocrinology
L. Givanelli, C. Saieva, G. Masala, G. Testa, S. Salvini, V. Pitozi, E. Riboli, P. Dolara and D. Palli. ” Nutritional and lifestyle determinants of DNA oxidative damage: A study in a Mediterranean population.” Carcinogenesis
B.W. Leblanc, G. Eggleston, D. Sammataro, C. Cornett, R. Dufault, T. Deeby and E. St Cyr, “Formation of hydroxymethylfurfural in domestic high fructose corn syrup and its toxicity in the honey bee.” Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
I.F. Pryme and R. Lembcke, “In vivo studies on possible health consequences of genetically modified food and feed- with particular regard to ingredients consisting of genetically modified plant materials.” Nutrition and Health