Take Physical Education Classes at the Rec for Marshall Credits!

 

Did you know that you can take courses at the Rec and receive class credit for it through Marshall? This is a great way to try something new. To give you the best information, we talked to Anna, our Graduate Assistant of Fitness to tell us more about it.

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Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, Anna?

A: My name is Anna Blanchard. I’m a graduate assistant at The Rec. I am pursing my M.A in Exercise Science at Marshall. The PEL (Physical Education Lifetime) courses I am teaching are intermediate soccer, tennis, and total body conditioning with weights.

Q: Why should students take a PEL course?

A: It is for anyone and all levels of abilities. PEL courses are great learning experience. If a student is nervous about the weight room or wants to know how to do a sport then PEL course could be the perfect fit. All of the PEL classes are designed to build your abilities throughout the eight weeks. You can see yourself making progress every week by challenging yourself.

Q: Do you think all students would be interested in these course?

A: The Rec offers a broad range of courses to fit all interests from Tai Chi to Racquetball to Cycling.

Q: What is a great feature of these courses for students?

A: These courses give pre-tests and post-tests for the eight weeks. The students can see the changes from day 1 to the last day of the course. It is great to be able to see the improvement measured over time. You can develop relationships with students in the class and instructor so it is a very tactile learning environment.

Q: What do you love to see as an instructor through a PEL course for students?

A: It is great to see a student improve with time and gain confidence! When a student grows the confidence to do their own workout or pick up a soccer game because of what they learned in my class… It is the best feeling to see them apply their skills after their time spent in my class.

Q: What do you want students to get out of this?

A: I want students to learn and set personal goals through this course that they can achieve. If students can learn one new thing that is what matters to keep building your knowledge and abilities.

Q: What do you like about teaching total body conditioning with weights?

A: It is a full body workout in all different ways! Whether it is sports performance circuit workout or a spin class mixed with weight training… only thing consistent changes with this PEL course!

Q: What advice would you want to give students?

A: Try something new! Don’t be afraid to go out there and give it a shot if you’re interested! This is your experience make the most of it! If you are interested in trying a sport then give yourself permission to try it out. You don’t have to be perfect. This is excellent opportunity to explore your interests and challenge yourself and The Rec can help you with that!

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Waste Not, Want Not

There are fewer things that get me more jazzed than a day to celebrate Mother Earth or Pacha Mamma, as they say in Peru.

Rather than bore you to tears with how eating better by choosing fewer processed foods, using meat as a condiment, and buying or growing your foods locally can help lower your carbon footprint, I’ll simply share an every day, simple strategy that I use to help me do my part in offsetting carbon emissions while also nourishing my body without any additional time or effort spent.

Raise your fork if you remember the old ‘Friday Special’ otherwise known as ‘Cooks Choice’. We’ve all experienced that end-of-the-week casserole, soup or ‘mystery meat‘ that unbeknownst to a naive, hungry, 5th grader, was the leftovers or unused refrigerator finds that weren’t going to make it through the weekend.

With all due respect, it was a brilliant idea. Kudos to my mother and school cooks for the effort to save our planet (and maybe a buck or two), but if you’re anything like me, I eat with my eyes before food ever crosses my lips and the curb appeal of mystery meat, doesn’t really scream ‘Sexy’, IMO.

So what’s my savvy (read: frugal) strategy? My Friday ritual for reducing food waste, not at the expense of taste, touch, smell or feel… A smoothie bowl!

Smoothies, for many, have breathed life back into breakfast. Who can beat a nutrient dense, filling and tasty meal that can be ready in less than 60 seconds and portable enough to drink on a your morning commute?

Smoothie bowls are nearly the same, but provide the option for add-ins that those of us who enjoy chewing our food, can enjoy.

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(Photo credit: minimalistbaker.com)

Here’s an example of my Earth Day, Friday Special, sent to you, lovingly from the West Virginia Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Annual Meeting above Cheat Lake in Morgantown, WV.

Recipe:

Everything Green – Kitchen Sink Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients:

· Roughly 1/2 bag of fresh spinach nearing its last leg

· Less than a cup of plain coconut milk to polish off my container

· 1 whole mango, peeled & pit discarded, that might not last another day

· 1 scoop of freshly made almond butter that I then poured my smoothie bowl back into for sustainable transport

Process:

Blend all in a high-speed blender of your choice and serve chilled or as is.

Note on blenders: While any old model will do as I’ve relied on my $10 big box store brand for years. Presently, my at-home model is a Vitamix, which I’ve found is worth every precious penny spent. For travel and work, I really like the Nutribullet Pro for portability.

As far as toppings go, options are limitless. I added a bit of shredded coconut and crushed walnuts for a crunch, a small handful of blueberries that somehow survived the week, and a few stray strawberries that were debatable as to whether to not they were in fact ‘past their prime’.

What’s your plan to pay respect to Mother Earth this month? Please share or post so that we all may enjoy!

Cheers,

Lacy

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For the Love of Carbohydrates… And Running

Tis the season for running! Whether you’re a track star, ultra distance runner, weekend warrior, 5K fanatic, or training for the zombie apocalypse, you’ve probably recognized that how well you fuel plays into how well you run.

While carb-o-hydrates (a fancy word for ‘food that turns into blood sugar’ in the body) have in recent years gotten a bad wrap, they’re the human body’s number one source of fuel. Now, having said that, they’ve gotten a bad wrap for good reason. Most of us eat and drink waaaaaay too many of the not-so-great kind of carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates (carbs) can be broken down into two categories: simple (refined, processed, or readily absorbed into the blood stream) and complex (think long, fibrous chains that are difficult to grind, blend, chew, digest, and absorb). Neither are necessary ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but for overall health and well being, we know that complex = more whole and intact = closer to it’s original form = it probably has more life giving nutrients (fiber, water, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals) = it’s digested and absorbed much slower with less shock to the body. While simple = more refined and processed = no longer in it’s whole form = probably has fewer nutrients = digested and absorbed much more quickly causing a hormonal cascade in the body as it tries to figure out what to do with this mad rush of blood sugar.

To the average Joe who wakes up and takes the dogs for a walk before driving to work where he’ll sit in a desk, get out and walk to lunch and coach little league baseball in the evening before going home to take out the trash and head to bed, a balanced intake with no more than a handful of complex carbohydrate foods at each meal would be ideal.

To the endurance athlete who wakes up early for a 15K run followed by a bike to work and an evening swim, a heaping handful of complex carbohydrates might be a better idea, along with a sprinkling of simple carbohydrate foods spread throughout the day for a combination of quick and sustained energy.

Check out this list of simple and complex carbohydrates for more info:

· Complex

o Green vegetable

o Whole grains such as brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley and foods made from 100% whole grains like oatmeal, cream of wheat, buckwheat pancakes, pastas, and breads.

o Starchy vegetables like summer and winter squashes (butternut, acorn, spaghetti squash), sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beets, other root vegetables, corn and peas.

· Simple

o Table sugar

o Soda pop

o Brown sugar

o Honey

o Maple syrup

o Molasses

o Jams, jellies

o Fruit drinks

o Candy

o Cake

o Cookies

o Sugary Cereal

o White pasta

o Enriched Bread

o Breakfast bars

o Chips, Crackers and Pretzles

Carbohydrate Loading is an often talked about topic at every running event I’ve ever been to. Some runners swear by their tried and true methods, while others are seemingly in the dark about this idea of taking in more carbs on the days leading up to a race. I’ve outlined a few ideas polled from research, the pros, and personal experience to give novice loaders an entry level ‘how to’. What we know from history is that it’s not an exact science and each runner and running event is different. Thus, a sound method of tried and true ‘trial and error’ is always the best approach.

· When to Start Loading:

o Loading up on carbohydrates more than 3 days before an event has not been shown to impact performance. Most high endurance athletes will start shifting their % carbohydrates at mealtime from 40% to 60% to 80% and 90%, 2-3 days prior to the event. Note that if you’re event is anticipated to last less than 90 min, 1-2 days prior should be sufficient.

· Tapering:

o Most athletes are aware that just as important to put more glycogen (stored muscle glucose or sugar) in their muscles prior to an event, it’s important to keep it there by not overusing muscles on the days leading up to the event. Many athletes will limit exercise to 20-30 min 2 and 3 days prior to an event and do little to no exercise the day prior.

· Portion Sizing:

o Contrary to popular belief, carbo-loading doesn’t imply that athletes pig out on carbs on days leading up to an event. Portion sizes should stay just the same as they do during training. If you’re eating a balanced diet already (2 handfuls of food at each meal and 1 handful as a snack) with 1 palm filled up with protein while the other holds your starch, thumbs filled up with healthy fats and fingers spread wide with non-starchy vegetables and fruits, then as race day nears, you maintain the same quantity of foods at each meal, but the proportion of a palm full of carbohydrates crowds out the protein a bit, and lose one of the thumbs and part of the fingers holding the veggies and fats to additional whole food starches like grains, beans, legumes, and root vegetables or squashes.

· Hydration Status:

o A big part of why carbo-loading is so effective is because for every gram of carbohydrate stored in muscles, 3 grams of water is also stored. We’ve all got that friend who lost ‘10# the first week’ on a low carb diet… Sadly that was mostly water losses, not fat losses as water is stored in our muscle tissues along with the carbohydrates we keep there for immediate energy. This is good news for endurance athletes who will need a lot of water to perform well during an event. Hydrating to the point where every pee you take is a pale yellow color and continuing to hydrate at that rate will ensure adequate fluids on board pre-event. Alcohol, because it flushes stored water from the body as the liver breaks it down, isn’t a great idea on the days leading up to an event. Sports drinks and sugary beverages aren’t necessary as long as adequate amounts of foods are consumed at regular meal times.

· Fueling Right Before an Event:

o Event day breakfast. This is a highly debatable topic and the jury’s still out about eating right before performing. A lot of athletes have sensitive tummies due to race day jitters and many events start early in the AM. The rule here is don’t do anything you haven’t tried in training. If you usually train without breakfast, then perform without breakfast. If you typically eat, make sure it’s 1-4 hours prior and keep it at nearly 100% carbohydrate as any protein, fat, and fiber will delay stomach emptying and impact performance. No new foods on race day!

o Fluids on race day are critical. Give yourself 2 hours to down 24 oz. of fluids to process and get rid of before the race starts. 5 or 10 minutes before the race starts, take in another 8 to 16 oz.

· Time it Right:

o If you’re thirsty or hungry during the event, it’s too late! That’s the general rule of thumb. Eat and drink early and often. Typically athletes will consume 5-10 oz. every 20 min but it varies on body size and intensity. Get to know your typical fluid losses by weighing yourself before and after a training session. (1# lost = 16oz fluid losses, not fat!)

o For long distance events, roughly 250 calories from carbohydrates each hour is ideal to keep enough glucose (blood sugar) flooding the muscle tissue to keep up with the demands of the body. That’s about 60g of carbs every hour, (1 large banana or 3 energy gels, 32oz sports drink)

· Recovery:

o It’s back to normal after a race when it comes to meal planning. Avoid the urge to overeat and allow your body to use your post-event meal as recovery. It’s also back to basics. 2 handfuls of food (one palm protein, the other complex carbs, and loads of anti-inflammatory veggies, fruits and fats.)

Chat with many competitive endurance athletes and they’ll almost all agree that towards the end of any event, it becomes an eating competition as much as a physical endurance competition and everyone has their own devised strategy. Having said that, I’m curious to know what your strategy is? How do you fuel up for a race? What foods and drinks keep you fueled during competition and training? What’s your favorite way to recover?

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Hello, Spring!

Whether you’ve had your belly full of green beer, eggs & ham, or just crummy weather, there’s no question most of us are looking forward to a good Spring Cleaning. With the arrival of spring, I can’t possibly think of a timelier occasion to offer our bodies a reboot.

Spring is and has always been a time of renewal. As the sun shifts from one hemisphere to the other, not only does the Earth’s energy shift, so too does the energy of us Earthlings. Embracing this shift in energy and harnessing the Earth’s offering of renewal is one of the best therapies we can afford ourselves.

Simply looking around outdoors, it is beautiful to observe Mother Nature shedding her dreary winter cloak, digging deep into her rich, wintered soil, and unloading her bounty of nutrients bearing various shades of gorgeous green buds, shoots and sprouts. It’s not by happenstance that these are also the types of foods providing an abundance of alkalizing nutrients. Nutrients that aid our bodies own built in detox processes. This is by design.

Below are a few of my favorite spring detoxing foods in no particular order. Either eaten exclusively or sporadically, in a fancy recipe or raw, you’re sure to give your body a boot by incorporating one or several of these foods.

For a more thorough Spring Cleaning try incorporating these foods along with the removal of foods that tax our bodies detox pathways and promote sluggish digestion.

Equinox Detox Foods to Avoid

Equinox Detox Foods to Eat in Abundance

· Refined sugars

· Refined or hydrogenated oils

· Refined salts

· Refined grain flours

· Artificial colors, dyes, sweeteners and flavors

· Alcohol

· Caffeine

· Asparagus

· Peas and Broad Beans

-Green Pea Pods

-Edamame

· Leafy Greens

-Kale

-Collards

-Spinach

· Alliums

-Onions

-Garlic

-Shallots

· Herbs

-Basil

-Parsley

-Dill

· Salad Leaves:

-Arugula

-Radicchio

-Endive

-Sprouts

· Foraged Greens:

-Dandelion

-Watercress

-Nettles

Recipes:

Equinox Detox Vegetable Dish

Ingredients:

2 bundles asparagus – trimmed

½ lemon – sliced

4 cloves garlic – minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt/pepper to taste

2 bay leaves

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Into a large bowl, add: asparagus and garlic. Drizzle olive oil to coat asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Place asparagus into the bottom of a large brown paper bag. Add lemon slices and bay leaves. Fold paper bag over itself so it lays flat. Place paper bag onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Using your hands or a silicon brush, coat outside of brown paper bag with canola oil, making sure all areas are coated. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. To serve: CAREFULLY {steam will billow out} cut into bag and either serve directly from bag or transfer to a serving dish. Discard bay leaves.

Equinox Detox – Green Dressing:

Ingredients:

1/2 large avocado

4 Tbsp hemp oil (can use olive)

1 lemon, juiced (about 1/3 cup juice)

1/2 cup fresh parsley (about a handful)

1/2 cup fresh dill (about a handful)

1 Tbsp real mayo (read your ingredients or make your own)

2 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

A few dashes cayenne – optional

Preparation:

Blend in a blender or food processor until smooth – and chill until ready for use

Equinox Detox – Green Smoothie or Juice

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1/2 cup juice from lemon

1 cup kale or other leafy greens, stems removed

1 cup dandelion or other bitter greens

1 medium apple

1 medium pear

½ inch piece fresh ginger – optional

¼ inch piece fresh turmeric root – optional

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper – optional

A teaspoon of local honey, maple syrup – optional

Preparation:

Place all of the ingredients into your high-speed blender and blend for around 30-45 seconds or until nice and smooth.

To make a juice, run each ingredient (minus the water) through a high-powered juicer and enjoy.

Equinox Detox – Green Soup

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large leeks, sliced thin

5 cloves garlic, chopped

5 cups water or vegetable stock

2 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas

4 cups firmly packed baby spinach

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Sprouts or fresh herbs for garnish

Preparation:

In a large soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil and leeks with a pinch of salt. Sauté 3 minutes until the leeks begin to wilt. Add the garlic and 4 cups of water or stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Quickly add the peas, spinach, and 1 cup of cold water. Stir well until you see the spinach beginning to wilt and the peas are vibrant and bright green.

Using an immersion blender or pour into food processor, puree the soup until it’s very smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls and serve topped with sprouts or fresh herbs

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Personal Trainer D.J. Haas

D.J. Haas has been a personal trainer for over two years but has over six years of volunteer training experience from his undergrad program.

D.J. first became involved in fitness at the age of 12 when he joined his middle school wrestling team, soon after he joined the football team.

“I eventually quit football and focused on wrestling and have placed at state, regional, and competed at the national level in freestyle and Greco-Roman.” D.J. said. “Currently I compete in strength competitions and have placed first in both of my first competitions in powerlifting and strongman.

D.J. says he adjusts his motivation tactics based on the client because motivation, like fitness in very individualized.

“Some clients thrive on a drill instructor atmosphere, others thrive on what I call “cheerleader motivation,” D.J. said. “Some clients don’t need excess outside motivation other than trying to set a PR. I usually try multiple approaches with a client the first few workouts and gauge how well the client responds to each and stick with the form that seemed to motivate the best.”

A clients’ first workout with D.J. is usually a very general workout to see the clients strengths and weaknesses and then D.J. adjust the workout plan accordingly based on what he notices during that first workout.

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“I have a very diverse background, probably more so than most people in the field because my personal belief is it’s better to be well versed in multiple facets in the fitness industry than limit yourself to one particular niche,” D.J. said. “I have worked with the general population, youth fitness, and was in school for physical therapy before I decided to change career paths and become a strength and conditioning coach.”

On a Personal Note:

Favorite Workout: I don’t really have a favorite workout, but my favorite exercises are deadlifts and squats

Favorite free time activities: “I LOVE music, especially live!” D.J. worked at the number 1 indoor concert venue for 2 years back in Indianapolis.

Favorite Workout song: Currently it’s “I Will Be Heard” by Hatebreed

Favorite food: Pizza, hands down.

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Worth it’s Weight in GOLD!

Bodybuilders, runners, yogis, swimmers, mothers, fathers, and kids rejoice from inflammation fighting, immune boosting, nutrient rich and delicious tasting golden milk tea!

A beverage taken daily by the likes of many in eastern civilizations, turmeric tea is well known for the wide array of benefits it provides. The staple ingredient, turmeric, is easily distinguished by its bright, mustardy color, used to brighten traditional Indian curries. The bright color is simply an indicator of how insanely potent turmeric is as an anti-inflammatory agent, brain booster, liver detoxifier, anti-carcinogenic, and master healer of achy muscles and joints.

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Golden milk is a great way for first timers or new comers to enjoy the super root, turmeric. As if another reason was necessary to love this tasty tonic, an additional benefit is what golden milk is laced with… Ginger!

While the star of the show may be turmeric, its bold hue shouldn’t overshadow the powerful benefits that ginger provides in this drink. Also an edible root, ginger has been touted for years for its anti-inflammatory, de-bloating, anti-nausea benefits to name a few.

And while turmeric and ginger may be the headliners, black pepper is another ingredient that slides in under the radar, yet has a slew of health benefits of its own. Piperine, a phytochemical in black peppercorns, enhances the absorption and anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric.

Taken as a recovery drink after a grueling work out, or sipped as a cozy morning beverage, Golden Milk offers up something tasty for anyone willing to stain a white mug or two. While recipes vary widely, this simple formula has been my go-to for quite sometime:

Golden Milk Tea

· 1 can of coconut milk (can use almond, soy, or organic whole milk)

· 1 cup water

· 1 teaspoon turmeric

· 1 teaspoon cinnamon

· ¼ teaspoon ginger powder

· 1 teaspoon local maple syrup or honey

· Pinch of black pepper

· Pour all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

· Transfer to a saucepan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat.

· Sip indulgently

What’s your favorite way to recover from a workout or long day? As always, we love to hear your tips, tricks, and tonics!

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It’s Genetic, or Is It?

Something I hear all the time from my family, friends and clients, ‘the doctor said I have high cholesterol. So did my mom and dad so there’s nothing I can do about that. It’s just genetic.’

While there’s a sliver of truth to that statement, certain genes are passed on from parent to child; the reality is, it’s simply not true. Let’s talk a bit about genetics for a second.

The way heredity works is that mom and dad get together and each donate a half a set of genes to their child. Baby has a brand new ‘blueprint’ that is all his own. This blueprint dictates what color baby’s eyes will be, his hair color, how tall he’s going to get and the shape of his nose. But that’s not all. New baby’s genes also dictate what foods he might like or dislike, what type of exercises and activities might be best for his body, and what diseases he has the potential to develop.

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Photo cred: http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/structures-called-genes-7925135

Our bodies, like everywhere else in nature, prefer to stay in a state of balance that in science we call ‘homeostasis’. When we expose our genes to substances that have the potential to offset this balance, disease sets in. The picture below indicates a shift in our lifestyle as a society that is upsetting to our genes. The below was taken circa 1949 at a swimming pool in Wayne County, WV. As you can see, very few obese people are in this photo.

Fast forward to today when over 2/3 of our nation’s adult population is overweight or obese with BMIs greater that 25 or 30kg/m2.

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1949 – Dreamland Pool – Wayne, WV

The point is that in a mere 50 years, our genes haven’t changed. However, the food environment that we live in, and our fast paced, convenience driven lifestyles certainly have. This has caused a profound impact on the expression of our genes.

What we’ve known for thousands of years, and now what science has the ability to explain, is that while our genes may ‘load the gun’ it’s our lifestyle that ‘pulls the trigger’. Let me explain with a life size example…

Mom has a history of heart disease having sustained a heart attack at age 68 and a stroke at age 72. Dad lived a long life and never experienced a single heart event. Babies (twin brothers) now carry a family history of heart disease. That is, they have an increased risk for developing high blood pressure, sustaining a stroke, or heart attack. But let’s look further. Mom was also a smoker. Her diet was rather limited and didn’t include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, which we know provide our bodies (and genes) the material they need to fully express and protect our bodies from disease.

Dad, however, traveled a lot in his younger years. He lived in Italy, Japan, and settled in West Virginia, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables with very little processed foods. While he didn’t smoke, he did consume a moderate amount of alcohol. They give birth to twins with exactly the same genes. They both have one half of dad’s genes and half of mom’s. Beyond the genes they’ve been blessed with, they also have the information of how lifestyle plays a part in gene expression.

Sibling A grows up and takes a desk job in a big city. He lives a fast paced life drinking coffee with cream and 4 packs of sugar every morning, fast food lunches, takes more than his fair share of smoke breaks and doesn’t have time for exercise. He’s a heavy alcohol drinker at more than 2 drinks/day, and falls asleep watching the nightly news on the couch each evening, lucky to get 5-6 hours of sleep each night. By age 45, he’s taking 3 medications to control his blood pressure, taking a statin drug to try and manage his cholesterol, and has just recently discovered that he has metabolic syndrome and borderline diabetes with a fasting blood sugar of 120mg/dL.

Sibling B stayed at home after graduating high school and decided to take over the family business. He runs the farm, grows a garden, raises his own chickens and eggs, and trades pork for beef yearly. He hunts deer in the fall and turkey in the spring. He doesn’t smoke because he knows it makes it harder to hike up and down the mountain when he goes trapping. Sleep is important to him so he has plenty of energy for bailing hay and fixing fences. He attends church when he can, but feels spiritual in his own right walking his land. He goes out for dinner from time to time but most often he knows where his food comes from and the care that was taken to raise it. Following a recent check up with is primary care provider; his blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar were all normal. He takes no medication. He has no real health complaints other than minor bumps and bruises from a hard day’s work.

What’s occurred here? Both have identical DNA, but they lead entirely different lives. Sibling A, it’s clear that he’s very out of balance with nature; relying on artificial stimulus (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol) to keep him going on so little sleep and poor nutrition, while sibling B is living much more in tune with nature (aka his genes). He has little to no external stimulus and relies solely on his body to keep him in tiptop shape (remember, his genes are already programed to do this). He has learned to fuel himself the way nature intended with lots of colorful vegetables from his garden, fish from his pond, and some but not much meat from his farm and hunting adventures, relying very little on processed foods from the grocery aisles or fast food restaurants.

As a result, sibling B feels great. He takes no medication, and only sees a doctor one time a year with a $25 co-pay. Sibling A has exceeded his deductible of $2500 by March due to frequent specialist visits. He is maxed out on out of pocket expenses from his medications at $500/month, not to mention his ‘fun money’ is quickly depleted each month on his daily pack of smokes and bottle of wine with a price tag of $20/day. This has added to the stress he feels at work.

As depicted in this example, thanks to an emerging science called epigenetics, the great debate of ‘nature vs. nurture’ has nearly come to close. We now know that it’s not either nature (how our genes are programed at birth) or nurture (how we live our lives) that dictates health outcomes, it’s both!

While this case is an extreme example, it’s very suggestive of that fact that our genes are not our destiny. What this illustration explains is that while mom or dad may have dealt us a deck of cards that weren’t exactly stacked in our favor, living in tune with nature, we can modify our genetic expression to reach our maximum human potential, living long and fruitful lives.

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Photo cred: https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org

In my office, I offer clients tools to take this idea a step further, putting into practice the science of nutrigenomics. That is, the study of how our genes and our foods interact to predict our risk for developing disease. Of all the subtypes of epigenomics, nutrigenomics is one of the most promising sciences, seeing as how food is the number one substance that washes over our genes on a daily basis.

The nutrigenomic test I use with my patients has allowed me to modify my own lifestyle to further lessen my risk for heart disease based on my results. After a quick sample of saliva is collected in a test tube, the test is sent off for analysis and a panel of 45 genes that relate to the foods we eat and our health outcomes is analyzed. The completed analysis allows us to fine tune a meal plan that’s unique to the individual’s needs, taking into consideration any other lifestyle factors.

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For me, it meant less sodium (goodbye Taco Bell bean burrito) and not too much caffeine (more tea, and weaker coffee) to lessen my risk for heart disease. Not only do I feel confident I’ve lowered the chances that I’ll develop a disease that took my grandmother, but I also noticed that I feel less puffy and get a better night’s sleep since making the changes. For other clients, the test results showed us that increasing a variety of whole grains would lessen their risk for type II diabetes, and that more fatty fish could protect their heart and other organs.

Can you think of examples of how this scenario has played out in your life? What changes have you or would you be willing to make, knowing your family history? Beyond your family history, would knowing what your genes have to say help you to modify your lifestyle choices? If so, let’s connect. There’s nothing I enjoy more than helping people help themselves.

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