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Thursday, November 17, 2011

You Are What You Eat - Beat Genetics

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Genetics you're stuck with--like it or not. But the ramifications health-wise, you're not. According to an article written by the Berkeley Heart Lab in San Francisco, studies have indicated that carriers of specific 9p21 gene variants have increased risk of :
1) a heart attack before the age of 60 in women and 50 in men,
2) an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and
3) blocked coronary arteries or a heart attack at any age. 

People who are known to have this gene are told to watch their weight and if blood pressure is an issue, it's treated aggressively with medication as well as other more moderate means (yoga, exercise), but now research is showing that diet plays a larger factor than originally thought. (Remember the statement "You are what you eat." made famous Frances Moore Lappe? While studying food supply at UC Berkeley, she had an epiphany: It is possible to feed and nourish every person in the world if everyone simply eats less meat and more vegetable proteins. She had this epiphany more than 40 years ago. Her book Diet for a Small Planet spells out her philosophy and it is as relevant and groundbreaking today as it was then.

The Berkeley Heart Lab cites a study published in PLoS Medicine, which concludes that the risk of heart attack, and heart disease in general, associated with the 9p21 variants appeared to significantly decrease with consumption of a diet high in fruits and vegetables. To the degree that their risk of a heart attack or heart disease was the same as those without the risk variant. So even if your genes are not on your side, you can do something about it. You truly are what you eat. So who do you want to be?

(BTW, if you want to find out if you carry the 9p21 gene, talk with your physician about the test. And here is a link provided by the Berkeley Heart Lab that will give you more information about the gene and its association with heart disease. Apparently 73% of Caucasian carry the gene. So if you have it, you're certainly not alone.

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