What makes us eat certain things?

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Holstein cattle, the dominant breed in industr...

Holstein cattle, the dominant breed in industrialized dairying today (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever asked yourself why we eat or drink certain things? I have spoken, in this BLOG, about the problems associated with drinking milk. We are the only mammal that drinks the milk of another mammal on a regular basis. We are the only mammal that drinks milk beyond a young age. Think about early man and woman. Walking across a field with cows and one says to the other, “I wonder what the taste of that animals insides is like”. Maybe they were thirsty and saw young cows drinking from the mother. It is weird to fast forward to today and see every store with cow’s milk in it. We call it a staple as if it were needed for life. When in fact it causes cancer, allergies and a slew of other illnesses. Don’t even get me started on snails!

Jackie, this one is for you…

Epigenetics – It’s all about the ON & Off of Genes



Epigenetics (Photo credit: AJC1)

Every once in a while I like to re define epigenetics for my new readers. It literally means above genetics. Epigenetics are influences within the body and external from it that switch genes ON or OFF. This controls our genetics, our bodies as well as our health. Most mammals have very similar genes. So what makes us different from the apes or our cat & dog? It is how those genes are “played”. Epigenetics plays our genes like a piano. Different ways of playing yields different music. Each mammal is like a different song being played. Within our cells, epigenetics determines if a cell is a heart cell, ling cell, bone cell, etc. Once a cell is switched to a particular type, it and it’s descendents will always be that type of cell.

Let’s look at another analogy. Our home TV has many stations we can watch. We switch to a station with our clickers. We can also program child protection by not allowing certain stations to be viewed without a password. Epigenetics is like this. In some cases it switches a gene on (like selecting a TV station). That gene then does something. It can also block a gene from being turned on. That gene can then not do its thing.

We all have almost identical genes. Having a cancer gene is not good or bad. Switching it on can be bad! We all have tumor fighting genes as part of our bodies natural defense system. Having those genes switched off can be bad. These switches can happen from our diets, how we think (positive or negative), and what we believe. The placebo and nocebo effects show how powerful our thinking really is. Stress can also cause genes to be switched ON or OFF.

Even how our parents and grandparents thought and ate can influence us. It turns out we get not only inherited DNA but epigenetics from each parent.

We are Just Mammals

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Lonely Monkey Ape at Zoo

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Our DNA is almost the same as most mammals. If that is so, what makes humans human and apes an ape? For the longest time we believed it was genetics but we now know the genetics are similar so it can’t be just in the genes. Epigenetics would seem to be what makes us what we are. It plays different genes differently in different mammals. This will be an interesting field to follow over the coming years.

Are Humans Really the Smartest Mammals?

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Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. Red chalk....

Image via Wikipedia

Humans may be the only species that knows what we are eating is killing us but continues to do so. The dinosaurs were made extinct by a meteor. Will our epitaph be we wiped ourselves out eating? How can we be so smart, so technological and still do so many dumb things to ourselves? How can we be so totally unaware that it is happening? People like Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci had no technology but they had incredible powers of observation. Today we have a lot of technology but have lost our powers of observation. Things can be as plain as the nose on our face but we miss it somehow. How can we not see how many of us are sick and having horrible qualities of life? How can we not realize we are pouring more and more of our tax dollars into a health care system that doesn’t work? We seem to like things that don’t work but cost us money. We like diets even though they never really work. We like the medical solutions available even though they seldom cure anything. If we want to survive, we must get back our power of observation and make smart decisions in our life.