Nancy Appleton PhD and G.N. Jacobs
Authors of Suicide by Sugar
© 2009 Nancy Appleton Books
Can your thoughts and perceptions about your world, your body and your genetics affect how you get sick or, more importantly, well? Considering the number of articles dealing with alternate approaches to cancer and other diseases the answer is yes.
Most of this new research has been lumped into a field called epigenetics, which means Above Genetics in science speak. The term refers to heritable changes in gene expression that occur without changing the underlying DNA sequence. Do our genes control our lives or does our environment have a role to play? Until recently, DNA was destiny.
Epigenetic inheritance has been documented many times by Israeli researchers in many types of animals, whether fruit flies growing protrusions on eyes in response to chemicals or giraffes growing their necks by stretching out for food. These researchers spent most of their time explaining one of these processes – DNA methylation in which methyls act as a switch that turns genes on and off, changing gene expression but not the genes. One example of this process occurs during tissue differentiation where an organism begins with one jack-of-all-trades cell and finishes with muscles, nerves, skin and other organs. If changes happen in this process, then the genetic expressions can be permanent and be passed onto future generations.[i]
The primary epigenetic statement is that your environment affects your genes and by extension, your health. Your diet is clearly part of this environment. Dr. Appleton’s own nutritional research, that essentially says SUGAR KILLS, shows that people get sick in high-sugar environments and that genes only determine how we get sick. Someone with cancer in the family will get cancer when they put themselves in a get sick environment.[ii] We also stated that the reverse is true, the person in a get healthy environment will be healthy regardless of his or her genes.
Since we come to the debate from the nutrition corner, we couldn’t resist another dig at our modern diet courtesy of researchers at Newcastle University. They say in their conclusions to research on dietary effects on fetal epigenetic programming that “There is now proof of principle that maternal diet can have a profound impact on the epigenome (combined genetic and epigenetic state of a cell) and so determine gene expression patterns and health throughout the life-course.”[iii]
We really like beating sugar into the ground. An international study on diabetes found that high sugar conditions cause epigenetic changes in patients that last for quite some time after blood sugar levels returned to normal.[iv]
We must write of Francis Pottenger, Jr., MD, who researched 3 generations of cats between 1932 and 1942. Pottenger fed cats 2/3rd raw meat, 1/3 raw milk and cod liver oil over three generations and saw healthy cats that could reproduce healthy liters. From generation to generation they maintained a regular, broad face, broad dental arches and regular teeth fully developed internal organs, fur of good quality with little shedding, were all similar in size and happy cats.
Cats that were fed 2/3 cooked meat, 1/3 raw milk and cod liver old reproduced kittens of indifferent sizes in the same litter. These kittens had heart problems, nearsightedness and farsightedness, underactivity or inflammation of the thyroid gland, inflammation in the joints and many other irregularities. By the time the third deficient generation is born, the cats are so physiologically bankrupt that none survive beyond the sixth month of life, thereby terminating the strain.
When the cats of the first and second generation cooked meat fed groups were returned to a raw meat diet, they are classified as regenerating animals of the first and second orders. Their progeny were then maintained on an optimum diet to measure the time needed to rebuild their health to that of the normal cats. It required approximately four generations for either order to regenerate to a state of normal health.[v]
In another Pottenger experiment, cats were fed condensed milk, which of course has sugar in it. This sweetened condensed milk developed much heavier fat deposits and exhibited severe skeletal deformities in the cats. They showed extreme irritability and paced back and forth in their pens nervously. A recent review of the cat study based on subsequent similar studies pinpoint a deficiency in the amino acid taurine, which seems to respond badly to overheating, as an explanation of what Dr. Pottenger found in the original experiments.[vi]
These long-term studies certainly show that diet over generations plays an immense role in the health of newborns and in adult cats. The term epigenetics had not been coined when Pottenger was doing his research, but the follow up studies published recently do fit into epigentics because they describe various environmental factors like amino acid deficiencies as affecting health.
Another common arena for epigenetic changes to happen is a mother’s womb. A recent study at the University of Utah shows that poor nutrition on the part of the mother affects the offspring to favor such diseases like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. The researchers studied two groups of rats, a control group and a reduced fetal nutrition group that mirrored what human mothers experience when diagnosed with a condition called Preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia occurs during pregnancy and immediately after birth and is characterized by such symptoms as high blood pressure, edema, various pains, headaches nausea, vision changes and shortness of breath. Preeclampsia kills quite a few women (76,000) and babies (500,000) every year. Common remedies for a pregnant woman include bed rest, regular prenatal checkups and better nutrition to include no sugar, few processed foods, no caffeine and no alcohol.[vii]
So, it seems that the Preeclampsia advocacy groups have artfully skirted the direct statement that these elements of our bad diet cause the condition to avoid excessive interference from Big Sugar. But, getting back to the rat study, the nutritional conditions of the rodent fetuses were meant to mimic the conditions of a human mother and child with the disorder where nutrients are cut off to the fetus. The offspring of the bad nutrition group were smaller at birth and far more susceptible to disease throughout their lives. This was explained with the mechanism of the IGF-1 protein, which wasn’t significantly present in the small, diseased rats, a permanent genetic change.[viii]
“The jury’s in and, yes, expectant moms really are eating for two,” says Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the journal publishing the article.
Now many articles about epigenetics don’t include studies that specifically state thoughts heal. These articles are mostly about the interplay of genes, environmental factors and diet that affects which genes are expressed as healthy traits and which are simply a major malady waiting to happen. But, some do speak to the effects of the mind on health; typically we call this a placebo effect.
Placebos in normal medical usage are sugar pills given to some participants of medical trials in order to test the new medicine against doing nothing. But, doctors have noticed that in these trials some patients taking the placebo improve as well. The patient who is not told that he or she is in the control group believes the smiling doctor in the lab coat and gets better. Could this effect explain spontaneous remission of cancer? Is there an opposite to the placebo that kills us? It’s called a nocebo and recent research says that such negative thoughts and beliefs can kill.
According to the recent works of Bruce Lipton, the answer to all of the above is yes. In a series of YouTube videos, Dr. Lipton demonstrates that life results from proteins reacting to external stimuli. He states that the placebo is our positive beliefs and the nocebo is our negative thoughts. He also shows that we have perception filters that sit between what really happens in the environment and how we perceive them. Thus regardless of what really happened a person with a negative response will go into Fight or Flight mode, which shuts down the growth and reproduction systems in favor of protection systems. This is the same when deciding to run from a tiger or yell at the blockhead boss who ruined our weekend with a stack of work. A stressor will then choose genetic expressions that make the most sense in the here and now and some of these can make us sick.[ix]
What this means for your health is this, you become responsible. We bought the gene theory and we became victims. We stopped looking for environmental causes whether it was our diet changing the sugar content of our cells or our thoughts and beliefs getting in the way of our health. We program ourselves to be victims. Perception becomes belief and cells react to these changes in the same way it would react to less sunlight, by changing genes. Curiously the beliefs of others are also part of the problem; negativity around us also affects our environment, because our beliefs form in response to those around us. According to Dr. Lipton the only limitations are on the environment, which limits perception.
Dr. Appleton has always included the psychological as part of her health plan. People who need to get well are given a food plan and told to evaluate how they reacted to the stress that is naturally part of life. Many do not want to hear this. They want to hear about nutrition. What food you put into your mouth, what words come out of your mouth, what you think and what you feel are all important. It is a holistic approach.
We would like to paraphrase something Bruce Pacetti DDS said to us, “If you’re a Nazi, you’d better darn well live with other Nazis, because your views will be wildly divergent from anyone else and this stress may make you ill.”
[i] Jablonka et al. “Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance: Prevalence, Mechanisms, and Implications for the Study of Heredity and Evolution.” The Quarterly Review of Biology, 2009; 84 (2): 131
[ii] Appleton, Nancy Lick the Sugar Habit (1996 Avery Press, New York)
[iii] Mathers JC, McKay JA “Epignetics – Potential Contribution to Fetal Programming” Adv Exp Med Biol. 2009;646:119-23.
[v] Pottenger, F. M. Jr. Pottenger’s Cats, (1983, Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, La Mesa CA.).
[vi] Beyond Vegetarianism. ”Lesson of the Pottenger’s Cats
Experiment: Cats are not Humans.” http://www.beyondveg.com/tu-j-l/raw-cooked/raw-cooked-1h.shtml. Viewed July 10, 2009.
[viii] Qi Fu, et al. “Epigenetics: intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) modifies the histone code along the rat hepatic IGF-1 gene.” FASEB 2009 J. doi:10.1096/fj.08-124768 http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/fj.08-124768v1
[ix] Lipton, Bruce “Biology of Perception Pts. 1-7” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLZ7GqWpEqM&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuJdVdArDgc&NR=1