Volume VII, No. 7 • July 16, 2015
The Power of Epigenetics
The Gene Therapy Plan by Mitchell L. Gaynor, MD, is a new book with the subtitle: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle. This book is about your power to influence your health for good or for ill. Can you really change your genetic destiny? Dr. Gaynor says “yes” and shows us the power of epigenetics through many case histories.
Gaynor is on the faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College and has been listed as one of the top physicians of New York since 1997. He has been director of medical oncology at the Weill Cornell Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine and is founder and president of Gaynor Integrative Oncology. His academic background and his extensive experience in caring for patients with cancer and other illnesses are impressive. Yet this book for the layperson is easy to read because it’s written so clearly.
How Can You Change Your Genetic Destiny?
You can’t exchange the genes you’ve inherited, but you have more power over their impact on your life than you realize. The function of our genes is greatly affected by what we eat and drink and by our physical activity. Our habits and living patterns modify gene expression. Dr. Gaynor tells us how we can prevent and even reverse disease with foods, supplements, and lifestyle choices that turn good genes on and bad genes off.
He illustrates this with histories of many patients who have been healed under his care after previously being told they had incurable disease. He emphasizes the importance of a healthy diet and outlines his healthy eating plan. This is based on what he calls “The Rule of One-Thirds,” in which each of the three major food groups (fats, proteins and carbs,) provides a third of our calories. Healthy choices are important, and he provides clear directions as to what choices are healthier than others.
Avoid fad diets and “faux” foods, including many highly processed kinds of food that flood the supermarket today. Instead, go with “whole foods” whenever possible. Gaynor believes wisely chosen supplements have great value but stresses the importance of being cautious in one’s choice of supplements. Based on his clear understanding of what makes many supplements valuable, he makes specific supplement recommendations for many conditions.
Anti-oxidants and Free Radicals
Dr. Gaynor contributes much to our understanding of how food, drink, and exercise influence our genes. Most highly processed foods are loaded with free radicals that turn on bad genes and create havoc in our cells. They disrupt harmonious cellular function and, over a period of years, they lead to many serious diseases and premature aging.
Most wholesome plant-based foods have few free radicals. Instead, they are loaded with thousands of antioxidants that absorb free radicals like sponges, preventing them from damaging our genes and cells. This is a major reason why wholesome plant-based foods protect and enhance health. I’m over-simplifying very complex processes here, but this is an accurate description of the consequences. Lifestyle has a powerful impact on our genes and health!
I recommend Dr. Gaynor’s book. It’s easy to read, and it provides clear directions for healthy living. It also provides sample meal plans and a chapter full of recipes for good health. I have a few minor caveats about the book, but it’s loaded with good information and is a very useful tool for anyone who wants to build a healthy life!