. 7
( 9)


terized by a catastrophic decrease in the brain™s production of dopamine,
a neurotransmitter. The drug levodopa provides the chemical precursor
200 F E E D YO U R G E N E S R I G H T

to dopamine, but its bene¬ts are limited. Brain cells eventually become
insensitive to the bene¬ts of levodopa, and the drug can hasten the
onset of dementia. About 40 percent of Parkinson patients taking the
drug develop dementia within ten years.
Some researchers have long suspected that regular exposure to
chemical toxins, especially pesticides, can damage dopamine-producing
neurons in a part of the brain known as the substantia nigra. In one
recent study, Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine and his colleagues exposed laboratory mice to a
chemical known to cause Parkinson-like symptoms in rodents. The
mice were also fed diets either rich in or de¬cient in folic acid, needed
for the production of neurotransmitters.
Mattson reported in the Journal of Neurochemistry that a lack of
folic acid by itself did not result in any Parkinson symptoms. But when
folic-acid-de¬cient animals were also exposed to the chemical, they
suffered a 50 to 60 percent decrease in dopamine-producing brain cells
and also exhibited Parkinson-like physical symptoms.
There is also tantalizing evidence that Parkinson™s disease may
sometimes be related in part to a profound decrease in cellular energy
production. Low intake or production of coenzyme Q10 reduces cellu-
lar energy production, which may result in neurological diseases,
including Parkinson™s disease and cerebral ataxia.

What You Can Do
A recent clinical trial, reported in the American Medical Association™s
Archives of Neurology, found that large dosages of vitamin-like CoQ10
signi¬cantly slowed the progression of Parkinson™s disease. In the study,
Dr. Clifford W. Shults of the University of California at San Diego and
his colleagues treated 80 patients with Parkinson™s disease.The patients
were divided into four groups, each receiving 300, 600, or 1,200 mg of
CoQ10 daily or a placebo for sixteen weeks.
All the patients taking CoQ10 bene¬ted from a slower progression
of Parkinson™s disease, but those taking 1,200 mg daily had the greatest
bene¬ts. They suffered only about half the deterioration of Parkinson
symptoms, compared with patients taking a placebo, and they were
most likely to maintain their normal daily activities. This study suggests
that Parkinson™s disease may involve a significant decay in cellular
energy production, and Shults did ¬nd that CoQ10 did increase the
patients™ cellular energy levels.

Considerable evidence points to the toxic effects of free radicals in
Parkinson™s disease, and several studies point to the protective bene¬ts
of antioxidants. For example, Dr. Maarten C. de Rijk of Erasmus Uni-
versity Medical School in Rotterdam reported that people who con-
sumed large amounts of dietary vitamin E had about half the risk of
developing Parkinson™s disease compared with people who consumed
little of the nutrient. Similarly, researchers from Harvard Medical
School analyzed the dietary habits and risk of Parkinson™s disease
among 77,000 female nurses and 47,000 male physicians over twelve to
fourteen years. Again, people consuming large amounts of vitamin E
from foods had a lower risk of developing Parkinson™s disease.

A nutrient-dense diet plan consistent with the recommendations in
chapter 7 may also reduce the risk of Parkinson™s disease. Dr. Wiebke
Hellenbrand of the Otto von Guericke University in Germany ana-
lyzed the eating habits of people with Parkinson™s disease and found
that they consumed large amounts of re¬ned sugars and other carbo-
hydrates, including sweets, desserts, chocolate, cookies, and cakes,
compared with healthy subjects. In addition, they ate relatively few
raw vegetables and had low intake of beta-carotene and vitamin C. A
separate study found that high consumption of dairy foods, with the
exception of butter, more than doubled the risk of Parkinson™s disease
in men.

What Happens
An estimated 5 percent of otherwise healthy North Americans excrete
a chemical known as kryptopyrrole (technically, 2,4, dimethyl-3-ethyl
pyrrole). However, kryptopyrrole excretion increases sharply when
people experience chronic psychological stress or suffer from mental
illness. For example, an estimated 10 percent of stressed people excrete
kryptopyrrole, as do 50 percent or more of schizophrenics.
Kryptopyrrole (also known as urinary pyrroles, the mauve factor,
and malvaria) appears to be a by-product of the body™s stress response.
Kryptopyrrole causes most of its biochemical mischief by binding with
vitamin B6 and zinc, which are also excreted, resulting in a de¬ciency of
both nutrients.
202 F E E D YO U R G E N E S R I G H T

Both vitamin B6 and zinc play myriad roles in health. Vitamin B6 is
required for the body™s production of neurotransmitters, such as sero-
tonin and taurine, and the synthesis and repair of DNA. “Zinc ¬ngers”
provide structural and functional roles in DNA, and the mineral also
plays roles in cognitive functioning and the senses of taste and smell.
Psychological stresses place a greater demand on neurotransmitter
production, which in turn uses up more vitamin B6. Excessive stress in
people who are genetically predisposed to excrete kryptopyrrole will
increase elimination of vitamin B6 and zinc, amplifyng the health con-
sequences of that stress.
Women are more likely than men to have pyroluria. Regardless of
sex, people with pyroluria tend to have a low tolerance for stress, and
they are especially sensitive to the effects of psychological stress, such
as work and relationship pressures. They also have high levels of inter-
nal tension”they™re what would often be described as high-strung”
and often complain of depression, fatigue, and lethargy. People with
pyroluria may say that they don™t dream or never remember their
dreams. They may also be more susceptible to the effects of excess
dietary copper, which can further suppress zinc levels. White spots in
¬ngernails, a sign of zinc de¬ciency, may also indicate pyroluria.

The Gene Connection
The speci¬c genetic mutation causing pyroluria has not been identi¬ed.
Rather, pyroluria is inferred based on the presence of kryptopyrrole in
the urine. According to the psychiatrist Dr. Abram Hoffer, 25 percent
of nonpsychotic psychiatric patients, 50 percent of chronic schizo-
phrenics, and 75 percent of acute (sudden-onset) schizophrenics have
kryptopyrrole in their urine. When these patients are successfully
treated, their kryptopyrrole levels return to normal.

What You Can Do
Some nutritional medical centers, such as the Bright Spot for Health in
Wichita, Kansas, regularly test patients for kryptopyrrole. Normal lev-
els are less than 20 mcg per deciliter of blood.
Having elevated kryptopyrrole levels in the urine increases a per-
son™s vitamin B6 and zinc requirements. Not surprisingly, people who
excrete kryptopyrrole will likely bene¬t from supplemental vitamin B6
and zinc.Their sensitivity to zinc depletion will also be helped by avoid-
ing major sources of copper, such as using cookware in which copper is
in contact with food or living in older houses that may have extensive

copper piping. Copper can be leached by acidic foods (such as tomato
sauces) and soft water.
If you are sensitive to the effects of stress or are often anxious or
depressed, it might be worthwhile to ask a nutritionally oriented physi-
cian to measure your kryptopyrrole level. (Many nonnutritional physi-
cians may say they have never heard of such a test.) Alternatively, if
you have symptoms consistent with pyroluria, you could simply begin
taking a high-potency B-complex supplement, containing at least 100
mg of vitamin B6, and 25 mg of zinc daily. If your symptoms ease within
thirty days, there is a good chance that you are genetically predisposed
to excrete kryptopyrrole. It is important to maintain normal B6 and zinc
levels and to consider stress-reduction techniques.

Sickle-Cell Anemia
What Happens
Sickle-cell anemia is an inherited disease that affects hemoglobin, the
oxygen- and nutrient-carrying molecule in red blood cells. More than
60,000 Americans of African ancestry, as well as a small number of peo-
ple of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern heritage, have sickle-cell
anemia. Two million other Americans have what physicians call the
sickle-cell trait, which increases the risk of developing some sickle-cell
anemia symptoms.
Normal red blood cells are disk-shaped and ¬‚exible, bending to
squeeze through the body™s tiniest blood vessels. They also remain
viable for about four months. In contrast, sickle cells”so named
because of their sickle or crescent shape”break down after only ten to
twenty days, causing chronic anemia. Sickle cells also tend to lodge in
blood vessels, forming clots that reduce the oxygen supply, cause pain,
and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. They can also damage
the spleen, kidneys, and other organs. Other symptoms include short-
ness of breath and greater susceptibility to infection.
Thousands of years ago, people with the sickle-cell trait had a sur-
vival advantage. Sickle-shaped red blood cells are resistant to the par-
asite that causes malaria, and people with this trait were more likely to
survive malaria epidemics. Today, with malaria eradicated in most of
the developed world, the gene responsible for sickle-cell anemia poses
far more hazards than bene¬ts.
204 F E E D YO U R G E N E S R I G H T

The Gene Connection
The disease results from an inherited genetic defect, technically known
as the HbS mutation, which substitutes the amino acid valine for gluta-
mate during the construction of hemoglobin. This simple change has
profound consequences, altering the shape and increasing the stickiness
of hemoglobin molecules.
Sickle-cell anemia was the ¬rst disease to be recognized as having
molecular, or genetic, origins. This discovery was made in 1949 by Nobel
laureate Linus Pauling, Ph.D., who later studied the molecular roles of
vitamins in heart disease, cancer, schizophrenia, and other diseases.
The HbS mutation causing sickle-cell anemia cannot be changed.
However, nutritional supplements can overcome HbS-related anemia
and other nutrient de¬ciencies, restore normal blood levels of nutrients,
and reduce many symptoms of the disease. It is very likely that a
nutrient-dense diet, emphasizing ¬sh and fresh vegetables, will also
improve health and reduce symptoms.

What You Can Do
Researchers have found that several dietary supplements can lessen
the symptoms of sickle-cell anemia. For example, people with sickle-
cell anemia have elevated blood levels of homocysteine, a sign of defec-
tive DNA synthesis and a major risk factor for coronary artery disease,
stroke, Alzheimer™s disease, and some types of cancer.
Tay S. Kennedy, Ph.D., of the Children™s Hospital of Philadelphia
measured folic acid and vitamin B12 levels in 70 sickle-cell patients,
ranging in age from infancy to nineteen years old. More than half of
them did not consume enough folic acid from food, and despite daily
supplementation of 1,000 mcg of folic acid daily, 15 percent continued
to have low blood levels of the vitamin. Although most of the subjects
had normal blood levels of vitamin B12, both B12 and folic acid levels
declined with the subjects™ age. Such ¬ndings suggest that people with
sickle-cell anemia need considerable folic acid.
In a study conducted with sets of twins suffering from sickle-cell
anemia at the Philadelphia Biomedical Research Institute, S. Tsuyoshi
Ohnishi, Ph.D., found that a combination of several high-potency
supplements greatly reduced symptoms. Over six months Ohnishi
asked 10 patients to take 6 grams of vitamin C, 1,200 IU of vitamin E,
1,000 mcg of folic acid, and 6 grams of aged garlic extract daily. Mean-
while the subjects™ twin siblings took only folic acid. People taking the

high-potency vitamins had one-third the number of painful sickle-cell
episodes, compared with those taking only folic acid.
Red blood cells from people with sickle-cell anemia are more sus-
ceptible to free-radical damage, and low intake of vitamin E may
increase the risk of sickle-cell symptoms. Supplemental vitamin E helps
protect the membranes of red blood cells against free-radical damage.
In addition, frequent blood transfusions may boost iron levels, as might
iron-containing supplements, which could lead to further free-radical
damage to red blood cells.
A cell study at the Philadelphia Biomedical Research Institute
tested the effects of green tea extract and aged garlic extract on sickle-
cell dehydration, which exacerbates blood-cell damage and may
increase clotting. Epigallocatechin gallate, a major antioxidant compo-
nent of green tea extract, almost completely inhibited sickle-cell dehy-
dration. The garlic extract reduced dehydration by 30 percent.
Taken together, these studies show that people suffering from
sickle-cell anemia risk multiple nutrient de¬ciencies and often have
extremely high vitamin requirements. People with sickle-cell anemia
should undergo a comprehensive nutrition workup, including blood
tests for vitamin levels. At the very least, a high-potency multivitamin
(described earlier in this chapter) should be taken. However, higher
dosages may be justi¬ed if such a supplement fails to raise blood levels
of the vitamins.

Skin Aging and Wrinkles
What Happens
The skin, like every other organ, undergoes an age-related deteriora-
tion. But unlike other organs the skin is directly exposed to environ-
mental factors that can accelerate its aging”and make you look older
than your biological age. Ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight age the skin
more than almost any other factor, other than perhaps tobacco smoke.
The greater a person™s exposure to UV rays, the greater the skin dam-
age”though the seriousness of the damage may not be obvious for two
to three decades.
When skin ages, its constituent proteins (such as collagen and
elastin) break down, lose their elasticity, become tough, and develop
ridges. Fats, which normally give skin much of its ¬‚exibility, become
stiffer and reduce the ¬‚ow of nutrients into and waste products out of
206 F E E D YO U R G E N E S R I G H T

cells. These destructive processes can be slowed and to some extent
reversed, but the damage is best prevented or minimized.

The Gene Connection
Free radicals are generated when UV rays strike water molecules in
cells. Some UV wavelengths, such as UV-A, cause damage primarily
by generating large numbers of free radicals, which then oxidize
DNA, proteins, and fats. Other wavelengths, such as UV-B, cross-link
the chemical compounds forming DNA, which in turn degrade the
integrity of that DNA. Damage that cannot be repaired leads to either
poorer-quality DNA in new skin cells or the wholesale loss of skin cells.
Sunburn is essentially an in¬‚ammatory response to UV exposure,
but very subtle skin-cell damage can be detected before the skin red-
dens. Within about fifteen minutes of UV exposure, the amount of
hydrogen peroxide, a potent generator of free radicals, increases signif-
icantly in skin cells. In addition, levels of several proin¬‚ammatory mol-
ecules, such as cytokines, also begin to increase in the skin.
After about an hour, cell-signaling molecules called protein kinases
boost the activity of AP-1, a transcription factor that turns on several
genes involved in breaking down the protein matrix forming skin.
Speci¬cally, these genes code for collagenase, metalloproteinase, and
other enzymes whose job is to break down proteins. At the same time,
AP-1 interferes with the genes normally involved in programming pro-
duction of collagen, one of the principal skin proteins. Interestingly, one
of the genes that codes for metalloproteinase is especially active in
smokers, just as it is in people who have been exposed to UV rays.
Research by Lester Packer, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the Uni-
versity of California at Berkeley, has shown that the skin normally con-
tains a large reservoir of antioxidants, which protect against modest
exposure to UV rays. These antioxidants can be rapidly depleted by
intense or lengthy exposure to UV rays. Antioxidant-rich diets and
antioxidant supplements work by tempering the activity of genes acti-
vated after UV-ray exposure.

What You Can Do
A diet rich in nonstarchy vegetables and fruits can increase the reser-
voir of protective antioxidant vitamins, carotenoids, and flavonoids
normally found in your skin. In fact, researchers have found that people

eating a healthy diet”one consistent with the recommendations in
chapter 7”are less likely to develop wrinkles. Dr. Mark L. Wahlqvist of
Monash University in Australia analyzed the diets of 453 elderly peo-
ple of different ethnic groups. Wahlqvist carefully measured the
amount of sun-related damage to the subjects™ skin, then looked for
dietary patterns related to skin aging.
He found that people who consumed a lot of olive oil, beans, ¬sh,
vegetables, and other healthy foods experienced relatively little skin
damage. In contrast, those who ate a lot of saturated fat, red meat,
processed deli meats, sugary soft drinks, pastries, and potatoes were
more likely to suffer premature skin damage.

Dr. Bernadette Eberlein-Konig of the dermatology clinic at the Tech-
nical University of Munich measured the responses of 20 men and
women to arti¬cial UV light. After giving the subjects 1,000 IU of nat-
ural vitamin E and 2,000 mg of vitamin C daily for eight days, Konig
found that their resistance to sunburn increased by 20 percent. That
resistance to sunburn indicated lower levels of in¬‚ammation and less
damage to skin cells. In contrast, people taking a placebo became more
sensitive to sunburn.

Wilhelm Stahl, Ph.D., of the Heinrich Heine University in Germany
asked 36 men and women to take one of three supplements daily for
twelve weeks: 24 mg of beta-carotene (equivalent to 40,000 IU); a
mixed-carotenoid supplement containing 8 mg each of beta-carotene,
lutein, and lycopene; or a placebo. At the end of the study, tests indi-
cated that both carotenoid supplements improved the subjects™ resist-
ance to sunburn.
In another study, conducted at the University of Arizona, Ronald
Watson, Ph.D., and his colleagues asked 22 men and women to take
natural beta-carotene supplements for almost six months. As the
dosage increased from 30 to 90 mg, the subjects™ skin became increas-
ingly resistant to sunburn from simulated sunlight.
A separate study identified at least one of the reasons beta-
carotene protects against sunburn. Scientists at the University of Bath
in England, determined how UV rays activated the HO-1 gene, which
helps promote the in¬‚ammatory response in skin after sunburn. Beta-
carotene, however, suppressed the activity of the HO-1 gene.
208 F E E D YO U R G E N E S R I G H T

Pycnogenol, a natural complex of antioxidants, derived from French
maritime pine trees, has also been shown to increase antioxidant
reserves in the skin and build resistance to sunburn. Researchers asked
20 fair-skinned men and women to take Pycnogenol supplements
(approximately 75 to 120 mg) daily for eight weeks. After four weeks
the subjects were 40 percent more resistant to sunburn, and after eight
weeks they were 84 percent more resistant. Pycnogenol works partly by
reducing the activity of two genes, calgranulin A and B, involved in skin

Several studies have determined that a combination of beta-carotene
supplements, taken orally, and topical sunscreens are more effective
than sunscreens alone in protecting against sunburn. Although these
studies focused only on beta-carotene supplements, it is likely that a
multiple-antioxidant supplement (or a high-potency multivitamin) will
work just as well, if not better.

Skin creams and lotions rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin C or the
herb chamomile, have been shown to reduce wrinkles and improve
overall skin tone. Several studies have found that creams containing
vitamin C can reverse some of the damage from “photoaging” (sun-
light-induced damage) of the skin. Meanwhile, European researchers
have found similar impressive benefits from chamomile-containing
creams. One high-quality, reliable brand of chamomile-containing
creams and lotions is CamoCare.

Common sense dictates that you not spend excess unprotected time in
the sun, particularly if you live in hot, sunny regions. If you expect to be
in the sun, especially during summer months or at high altitudes, for
more than ten to ¬fteen minutes, apply topical sunscreen (SPF 15 or
higher) and wear a hat, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt.This is espe-
cially important if you must be outdoors between 10:00 A.M. and 2:00
P.M., when UV rays are their most intense.
It is bene¬cial, however, to spend a little time in the sun during
early-morning or late-afternoon hours, so your body can make vitamin
D. For added protection, take a multivitamin supplement that contains
at least some of the antioxidants discussed in this section.

We are all familiar with the phrase “knowledge is power.” Under-
standing our options in any situation gives us the opportunity to make
the best possible decision. The same idea holds true for your health and
risk of disease. Given a variety of options, you can make the best possi-
ble decision about your health”or you can squander the opportunity.
One of the ironies we face is that the role of genes in health has
often been overstated, whereas the role of nutrition has been greatly
undervalued. The medical promise of genetics and gene therapy has
attracted billions of dollars in investments. By comparison, nutrition
research receives paltry funding and lacks the allure of high-tech med-
icine. Yet nutrition provides all the basic building blocks of your entire
body, and nutrients are essential for normal gene function.
For many years physicians and researchers believed that our
genetic traits were ¬xed. They came to this conclusion based on the
idea that if some of our genetic traits, such as the color of our eyes,
remained the same throughout life, then all of our other genetic traits
must stay the same as well. This view amounts to a form of genetic
fatalism, a belief that we cannot change a thing with the genes we inher-
ited from our parents.

210 F E E D YO U R G E N E S R I G H T

But the truth is actually the very opposite. We can and often do
modify our risk of disease. An obese person can lose weight and lower
his or her risk for diabetes. A person with a family history of heart dis-
ease can change his or her diet and lifestyle and lessen his or her
chances of suffering a heart attack. Doctors routinely tell us that eating
better and exercising will reduce our risk of disease. Only recently,
however, have they begun to understand that improvements in health
are the result of more than just losing weight or controlling cholesterol
levels. Underlying all of these visible improvements in health are more
basic changes in gene activity.
The lesson in these examples, and in this book as a whole, is that our
genes are not rigid. Rather they constantly respond to the cellular envi-
ronment around them. This means that you are anything but powerless
when it comes to modifying the activity of your genes. Because you
control what you put into your mouth, you can also control the activity
of your genes.
The simple act of eating, the most natural of all habits, forces us to
make choices.Again, we can make the best possible decisions or we can
squander the opportunity.We can eat fast foods and convenience foods,
which are built primarily on sugars, refined carbohydrates, and
unhealthy fats. By doing so we set the stage for abnormal gene activity.
Or we can consciously decide to resist unhealthy foods and instead opt
for wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, such as ¬sh and vegetables. This
approach fosters normal, even optimal, gene activity.
Everything you do in life is a choice, and doing nothing or delaying
a decision for another day is a choice as well. In Feed Your Genes Right,
I have provided an explanation and a plan for enhancing your genes
and health. I encourage you to use this information to make the right
choices, the ones that build the foundation for a long and healthy life.
Knowledge is power. Use it wisely to promote good health.

Genetic and Nutrition Testing

By now you understand that the health and and lifestyle habits.genes also
function of your are
shaped in large part by your individual dietary You
know that you can protect your genes and enhance their activity with a
nutrient-dense diet, nutritional supplements, stress reduction, and other posi-
tive lifestyle changes. These are changes you can adopt on your own without
any genetic testing. I encourage you to make as many of these changes as pos-
sible, just as I have done.
But should you consider genetic testing?
Unfortunately, the answer is currently not as straightforward as I would
like. Some medical laboratories provide various degrees of genetic testing.
(See the list of laboratories later in this appendix.) When done correctly, such
testing can reveal important information about how speci¬c genetic polymor-
phisms, mutations, and other anomalies might affect your nutritional require-
ments and long-term health. Unfortunately, many genetic tests remain
relatively expensive. Because of this, you and your physician may often do just
as well interpreting more common blood tests in terms of their genetic and
health implications. The situation will certainly improve. In the next two to ¬ve
years, genetic testing will likely become more sophisticated, more common-
place, and less expensive.


The Potential Downside of Genetic Testing
Sadly, as genetic testing becomes a more common feature on our medical and
social landscape, the risk of genetic discrimination will likely increase. But such
genetic discrimination does not have to occur.
I believe that you and I will have a right to obtain genetic testing, assum-
ing that the technology is widely available and of reasonable cost. Knowing of
certain genetic risks we face would give us an opportunity to make better
dietary, lifestyle, and medical decisions.
But there may be a catch. We live in a society in which insurers of one type
or another control the purse strings that pay for medical tests and treatments.
Insurers are for-pro¬t businesses, and they seek to earn a pro¬t while mini-
mizing their costs. All too often insurers ration health care or deny coverage
instead of ful¬lling their social obligation.
The consequence may be a collision between your right to know about
genetic risks for disease and an insurer™s temptation to discriminate against
you. There is a legitimate reason for this concern. Insurers have often
appeared arbitrary and unfair in denying approvals or payments for medical
care, and it is common for an insurer to deny coverage for a preexisting
condition. For example, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes and then
change jobs and insurers, your new insurer may refuse to pay for the treatment
of your diabetes. Like other businesses, insurers are averse to obvious risks or
So what will probably happen when insurers are asked to pay for your
genetic testing, as they inevitably will be? Just as insurers currently want to
learn your medical history, they will undoubtedly want to know the results of
your genetic testing. For all practical purposes, the tradition of patient-
physician con¬dentiality does not exist when it comes to insurers.They want to
learn as much as possible to predict the cost of your potential future medical
claims. In one potential scenario, if insurers learn that you have a genetic pre-
disposition for a serious disease, they may de¬ne it as a “predisease,” similar to
the current de¬nition of a preexisting condition. With a predisease you may be
denied insurance coverage, or your insurance may exclude coverage for the
However, there are possible alternative scenarios.
A genetic predisposition indicates only risk, not destiny, a key point that
is often ignored in discussions of genetics. You and I were born with various
types of genetic risks for disease, and we acquire additional genetic damage
that increases our risk of age-related diseases. Insurers have had a tendency to
see a person™s risk of disease as a threat to their future pro¬tability. For exam-
ple, a slight variation in the MTHFR gene increases a person™s risk of heart
attack, stroke, Alzheimer™s disease, depression, and delivering an infant with
birth defects, all very costly medical conditions to treat.
But the risks associated with the MTHFR gene can be offset with good
dietary habits (such as eating suf¬cient leafy green vegetables) or for as little
as two cents a day in vitamin supplements, adding up to about seven dollars a

year. If insurers are at all shrewd, they will recognize that disease prevention
through genetic testing, diet modi¬cation, and vitamin supplementation is far
more cost-effective than is later treatment with drugs, surgery, and hospital-
ization. Rather than being used as a tool of genetic discrimination, testing, diet,
and supplementation can be a way to reduce long-term medical costs.
If there is to be a more rational approach to our future health care, it may
be along these lines: Your physician would test you for various genetic predis-
positions, as well as for levels of vitamins and other nutrients involved in gene
and overall cell function. She would make dietary recommendations, such as
eating more ¬sh and vegetables, avoiding french fries and soft drinks, and
exercising more. She might also recommend certain vitamin supplements. And
she would caution you, if you had no obvious genetic predispositions, that you
should not be complacent and take your health for granted.
In the process, medicine would shift a signi¬cant portion of its current
activities related to the expensive and aggressive treatment of disease to less
costly prevention. Under these circumstances insurance companies could earn
and save millions of dollars, our society™s health-care costs would decrease, and
nearly everyone would have an opportunity to be truly healthy.

The Upside of Nutrient Testing
So, a bit more practically, how can a person determine his or her individual
nutritional requirements, which are shaped by a combination of genetics and
lifestyle? It is currently easy and relatively inexpensive to measure blood lev-
els of vitamins and minerals, though only nutritionally oriented physicians
routinely do this with patients.
As an example, on several occasions since 1997, I have undergone testing at
the Bright Spot for Health, a nonpro¬t, nutritionally oriented medical clinic in
Wichita, Kansas, to assess my nutrient levels. These tests have helped me
improve and ¬ne-tune my eating habits and supplement regimen. I™ll offer two
personal illustrations from my experience there. Several years ago blood tests
found that my levels of vitamin B1 were relatively low.This was odd, because my
dietary intake of the vitamin was high, and I had also been taking 50 mg of it as
part of a B-complex supplement. (The daily value, or DV, for vitamin B1 is a
scant 1.2 mg.) Only after taking an additional 250 mg of vitamin B1 daily (more
than 200 times the DV) for many months did my B1 levels increase to normal.
On another occasion, during a period of extreme personal stress, my right
arm became stiff and painful to move for many months. I had been taking 50
mg of vitamin B6 daily. (The DV for B6 is only 1.7 mg.) Again, after consulting
a physician, the evidence pointed to an inadequate intake of vitamin B6. How-
ever, vitamin B6 is needed for the body™s production of serotonin and other
neurotransmitters, which may have been compromised by stress. The pain in
my arm did not decrease until after I took 500 mg of B6 daily (almost 300 times
the DV) for several months. It took an entire year for me to regain complete
mobility of the arm.

What Some Nutritional, Medical,
and Genetic Tests Might Reveal
After reviewing your medical history and discussing your symptoms, a physi-
cian will likely order a variety of blood tests. These tests might point to genetic
mutations, risk factors for disease, or nutritional de¬ciencies. These are some
of the tests you might undergo:
• Antioxidant Panel. This test measures blood levels of various nutrients,
including vitamins E and C, beta-carotene, and other nutrients.
• Antitissue Transglutaminase. A positive test for anti-tTG indicates gluten
intolerance, the cause of celiac disease.
• Aspartate Aminotransferase. An extremely sensitive test to assess func-
tional vitamin B6 levels. It measures the activity of an enzyme dependent
on B6, instead of just measuring the vitamin.
• BRCA1 and BRCA2. Mutations in these genes are associated with an
increased risk of breast and cervical cancer.
• C-Reactive Protein. The “high-sensitivity” CRP test re¬‚ects your body™s
level of in¬‚ammation, which is involved in most disease processes. A high-
sensitivity CRP level of 3.5 mg/dl indicates a high risk of heart disease.
Ideal levels are less than 0.1 mg/dl.
• Glucose. An elevated fasting glucose (greater than 90 mg/dl), part of all
standard blood tests, may indicate a risk of developing diabetes.
• Glutathione Reductase. A sensitive test for vitamin B2 that measures the
activity of a key antioxidant enzyme that depends on the vitamin.
• HbS Mutation. This mutation indicates either sickle-cell anemia or the less
serious sickle-cell trait.
• HFE Mutations. Detection of C282Y and H63D mutations indicates
hemochromatosis, an iron-overload disease that increases the risk of dia-
betes, heart disease, and premature death.
• HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8. These tests indicate a genetic predisposition
for celiac disease, an intolerance of gluten proteins found in wheat and
many other grains.
• Homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine levels (especially greater than 13
mmol/L) are indicative of low folic acid, possibly low vitamin B12, and
poor methylation reactions. An ideal level is between 4 and 8 mmol/L.
• Insulin. An elevated fasting insulin level (greater than 20 mcIU/ml) may
indicate prediabetic insulin resistance. In fact, insulin levels may be
increased years before blood-glucose levels become elevated. An ideal
level is less than 12 McIU/ml.
• Kryptopyrrole. The presence of kryptopyrrole in the urine indicates that
vitamin B6 and zinc are being excreted at abnormally high rates. Elevated
kryptopyrrole is strongly associated with poor stress responses and an
increased risk of mental illness.
• Lipoprotein (a). This cholesterol subfraction may be indicative of an
inherited risk of heart disease. Lp(a) levels above 20 mg/L point to an

increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The ideal level is less than 15
• Methylmalonic Acid. This is a very sensitive test for vitamin B12 levels.
Rather than directly measuring the B12 levels themselves, the test looks at
the vitamin™s functional impact on methylmalonic acid.
• MTHFR Polymorphisms. The presence of polymorphisms in the gene
coding for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase may point to increased
nutritional requirements for folic acid and an increased risk of coronary
artery disease, stroke, Alzheimer™s disease, and depression.
• Transketolase. A highly sensitive test for vitamin B1. It measures the activ-
ity of an enzyme in¬‚uenced by B1 levels.
• Vitamin D Receptor Gene. Polymorphisms in the VDR gene interfere with
utilization of vitamin D and may increase the risk of osteoporosis, dia-
betes, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

Referral Services for Finding a
Nutritionally Oriented Physician
The ideal way to assess your overall health and nutritional status is to work
with a nutritionally oriented physician. A physician can order laboratory tests
for vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients and help you interpret the results
and develop a dietary and supplement plan. The following organizations pro-
vide Internet-based referral services.

American College for Advancement in Medicine
International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians

Laboratories for Blood and Genetic Testing
Some laboratories (indicated with an asterisk) are equipped to test for genetic
variations that interfere with normal nutrient utilization. However, such test-
ing is relatively new to the marketplace and can be expensive. It may be just as
worthwhile to arrange for more standard and less expensive blood testing of
nutrient levels. Your ¬rst round of tests should establish a baseline, indicating
where improvements (in nutrient levels) are needed. Follow-up tests should
show whether you have achieved these improvements. Most testing laborato-
ries prefer to work with physicians, but some offer home-testing kits. Your
physician may be familiar with other laboratories as well.

Bright Spot for Health
(316) 682-3100

Carolyn Katzin* (represents multiple laboratories)

Genelex Corporation*
(800) 523-3080

Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory*
(800) 522-4762

Pantox Laboratories
(888) 726-8698

Your Future Health
(877) 468-6934

Resources for Supplements, Foods,
and Additional Information

Nutritional Supplements
Thousands of companies sell proprietary brands of vitamins, minerals, and
other types of nutritional supplements, resulting in an often confusing array of
products and competing claims. The companies listed here are known to the
author and have particularly high-quality products.

Abkit, Inc.
Abkit manufactures and distributes a variety of excellent supplements and
cosmetic products. Its AlphaBetic is a well-rounded once-a-day supplement
for people with glucose intolerance or diabetes. The company™s extensive
CamoCare line of cosmetics is designed around the venerable antioxidant
herb chamomile. For more information call (800) 226-6227 or go to www.

Advanced Physicians™ Products
Founded by a nutritionally oriented physician, APP offers an extensive line of
high-quality vitamin and mineral supplements. For more information call
(800) 220-7687 or go to www.nutritiononline.com.

Bioforce is a venerable Swiss maker of herbal products, with a strong com-
mitment to product consistency and quality. For more information call (877)
232-6060 or go to www.bioforce.com.


J. R. Carlson Laboratories
Carlson Laboratories offers the widest selection of natural vitamin E products,
as well as a broad range of other vitamin and mineral supplements. For more
information call (800) 323-4141 or go to www.carlsonlabs.com.

Founded by researchers Bruce Ames, Ph.D., and Tory Hagen, Ph.D., Juvenon
makes an Energy Formula that provides acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic
acid, discussed in chapter 4 and elsewhere in the book. For more information
call (800) 588-3666 or go to www.juvenon.com.

Nature™s Way
Nature™s Way™s products include many German pharmaceutical-grade herbal
supplements. For more information call (801) 489-1500 or go to www.

Nordic Naturals
Nordic Naturals markets a line of high-quality ¬sh-oil capsules, with slight dif-
ferences in formulation designed to support the joints, the cardiovascular sys-
tem, and brain function. For more information call (800) 662-2544 or go to

Nutricology/Allergy Research Group
Nutricology/Allergy Research Group is often at the cutting edge of original
nutritional supplement formulations. Nutricology is the company™s consumer
brand, and Allergy Research Group is the company™s professional (physi-
cian™s) brand. For more information call (800) 545-9960 or go to www.

Nutrition 21
Nutrition 21 is the company behind the popular Chromax brand of chromium
picolinate, which is also sold under other, more familiar brand names. In addi-
tion, Nutrition 21 also sells Chromax and Diachrome, the latter a chromium
picolinate“biotin combination.

Pure Scienti¬c
Pure Scienti¬c markets Advantig brand supplements, which target different
aspects of health, including energy and body-mind balance. For more infor-
mation call (877) 877-4566 or go to www.advantig.net.

Thorne Research
Thorne sells its extensive line of high-quality supplements primarily to physi-
cians, but it also accepts orders from consumers. For more information call
(208) 263-1337 or go to www.thorne.com.
R E S O U R C E S F O R S U P P L E M E N T S , F O O D S , A N D A D D I T I O N A L I N F O R M AT I O N

Natural Food Grocers
Feed Your Genes Right recommends that you eat nutrient-dense fresh and nat-
ural foods. Your best bet for ¬nding meat from range- or grass-fed animals and
organic fruits and vegetables is a natural foods grocery store.

Trader Joe™s
Trader Joe™s is a chain of high-quality specialty retail grocery stores, with many
organic, gluten-free, and wholesome products. For more information and the
locations of Trader Joe™s stores, go to www.traderjoes.com

Wild Oats
Wild Oats, a national chain, emphasizes natural and gourmet foods.Their meat
departments offer free-range meats. For more information call (800) 494-
WILD or go to www.wildoats.com.

Whole Foods
Like Wild Oats, the emphasis at Whole Foods is on wholesome, natural foods,
including free-range meats, organic produce, and a wide variety of other
healthful food products. For more information go to www.wholefoods.com

Vitamin Cottage
Vitamin Cottage is a Colorado-based, family-owned group of nineteen natural
food stores with markets in Denver and other cities in Colorado, as well as in
Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. For more information and the locations
of Vitamin Cottage stores, call (877) 986-4600 or go to www.vitamincottage.com.

Specialty Foods

CC Pollen
If you exercise regularly and intensely, you may require relatively high-carb
energy bars. CC Pollen makes Almond-Date, Cinnamon-Apple, and Peanut-
Raisin Buzz Bars, which may be the best-tasting energy bars sold. The princi-
pal sweetener in these bars is honey, and they also contain small amounts of
bee pollen harvested in southern Arizona. Many health food stores and Web
sites sell Buzz Bars. You can also order them directly from CC Pollen by call-
ing (800) 875-0096 or visiting www.ccpollen.com or www.buzzbars.com.

Czimer™s Game and Seafood
If you live in the Chicago area, you are lucky enough to be near a longtime
purveyor of game meat. Czimer™s has been in retail business for more than
thirty-¬ve years, selling venison, bear, antelope, and other game meats. It is
located at 13136 W. 159th Street, Lockport, IL 60441. For more information
call (708) 301-0500. (Many other cities have butchers that specialize in game
meats”check your phone book or the Internet for information.)

Earth Song Whole Foods
Earth Song makes several whole-grain snack bars that rede¬ne the meaning of
a wholesome sweet. Among the bars are Apple-Walnut and Cranberry-
Orange. In addition, Earth Song blends an excellent gluten-free muesli, known
as Grandpa™s Secret Omega-3 Muesli, which makes for a tasty and quick
breakfast (if you take about ¬ve minutes to prepare it the night before). For
more information call (877) 327-8476 or go to www.earthsongwholefoods.com.

Greatbeef.com is supported by more than a dozen independent family farm-
ers who humanely raise livestock and chicken. Most of the animals are free-
range or pasture-fed, so that the meat has a natural balance of fatty acids and
less saturated fat than corn-fed beef. Members of Greatbeef.com are located
in Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska,
Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. For more
information about speci¬c ranchers and how to buy meat from them, go to

Indian Harvest
Indian Harvest, a mail-order ¬rm, sells a variety specialized rices, including
black, purple, red, and green rice. For more information call (800) 294-2433 or
go to www.indianharvest.com.

Lotus Foods
Lotus Foods sells a selection of original and tasty rice and rice ¬‚our products,
including Bhutanese Red Rice and purple Forbidden Rice. The rice ¬‚ours can
be used to dredge ¬sh and chicken, as well as to make gluten-free crepes. For
more information call (510) 525-3137 or go to www.lotusfoods.com to place an
order or to ¬nd recipes.

MacNut Oil (Macadamia Nut Oil)
MacNut Oil, made from Australian macadamia nuts, is rich in oleic acid, the
same type of fat that makes olive oil so healthy. MacNut Oil has a slightly nutty
¬‚avor and a higher smoke point than olive oil. For information call (866) 462-
2688 or go to www.macnutoil.com.

Omega Nutrition
Omega Nutrition produces a broad selection of unre¬ned, organic, and mini-
mally processed cooking oils, which can be shipped directly to your home. For
information call (800) 661-3529 or go to www.omega¬‚o.com.

Terrapin Ridge
Terrapin Ridge makes and sells an extensive line of tasty sauces, such as Apple
Dill and Rosemary, Apricot Honey with Tarragon, and Spicy Chipotle
Squeeze, as well as ¬fteen different mustards. If you are tired of the same old
chicken, turkey, or beef, these sauces can add bright new ¬‚avors to your meals.
For more information call (800) 999-4052 or go to www.terrapinridge.com.
R E S O U R C E S F O R S U P P L E M E N T S , F O O D S , A N D A D D I T I O N A L I N F O R M AT I O N

Information on the Role of
Nutrition in Birth Defects
Autism Research Institute (Autism, Down syndrome)
San Diego, California
(619) 281-7165

Nutri-Chem, Inc. (Down syndrome)
Ottawa, Canada
(613) 820-9065

The Warner House

March of Dimes (spina bi¬da and birth defects)

Newsletters, Magazines, Books, and Web Sites
Many publications provide excellent information on diet and supplements,
though you may sometimes have to navigate contradictory information or
ignore information inconsistent with the Feed Your Genes Right diet plan.

Newsletters and Magazines
The Nutrition Reporter
The Nutrition Reporter is a monthly newsletter, produced by the author,
that summarizes recent research on vitamins, minerals, and herbs. The annual
subscription rate is $26 ($48 CND for Canada, $38 in U.S. funds for all other
countries). For a sample issue, send a business-size self-addressed envelope,
with postage for two ounces, to The Nutrition Reporter, P.O. Box 30246, Tuc-
son, AZ 85751. Sample issues are also available at www.nutritionreporter.com.

Let™s Live
Let™s Live, a monthly magazine, focuses on how diet, nutrition, and sup-
plements help maintain health and reverse disease. The annual subscription is
$15.95. To order call (800) 365-3790.

Alternative Medicine
As the title suggests, Alternative Medicine is a consumer-oriented maga-
zine that focuses on alternative and nonconventional approaches to healing,
including vitamin supplements, diet, and energy medicine. The annual sub-
scription is $24.95, with payment to Alternative Medicine, P.O. Box 1056,
Escondido, CA 92033-9871.

GreatLife magazine is not sold by subscription. Rather, it is provided free
at leading health food and natural food stores.

The In¬‚ammation Syndrome: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent
and Reverse Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Allergies, and Asthma, by Jack
Challem (John Wiley & Sons, 2003, $14.95). With a diet plan similar to the one
in Feed Your Genes Right, this book is tailored more to people with chronic
in¬‚ammatory diseases.

Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse
Insulin Resistance, by Jack Challem, Burton Berkson, M.D., Ph.D., and Melissa
Diane Smith (John Wiley & Sons, 2000, $14.95). With a diet program similar to
the one in Feed Your Genes Right, this book focuses more on preventing dia-
betes and heart disease, as well as losing weight.

The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. (John Wiley & Sons, 2001, $24.95).
Cordain, one of the leading experts on the Paleolithic diet, describes the Pale-
olithic diet, which can be considered the original Feed Your Genes Right
dietary plan.

Why Grassfed Is Best! The Surprising Bene¬ts of Grassfed Meat, Eggs, and
Dairy Products, by Jo Robinson (Vashon Island Press, 2000, $7.50). This small
book (128 pages) is worth every penny. It makes a powerful case for eating
grass-fed meats and other foods, most of which are compatible with the
Feed Your Genes Right dietary plan. Included is a list of sources for meat from
free-range and pasture-fed animals. Order it from Vashon Island Press,
29428 129th Avenue SW, Vashon, WA 98070. For more information call
(206) 463-4156 during West Coast business hours. You can also order it from
www.thestoreforhealthyliving.com. Add $4.50 for shipping and handling.

Going Against the Grain: How Reducing and Avoiding Grains Can Revitalize
Your Health, by Melissa Diane Smith (Contemporary Books, 2002, $14.95).
This book explores how the cultivation and consumption of grains led to a
deterioration in people™s health. Smith provides dietary plans for eating low-
grain and no-grain diets.

Web Sites
The Of¬cial Feed Your Genes Right Web Site

The Of¬cial Anti-In¬‚ammation Diet Plan Web Site
R E S O U R C E S F O R S U P P L E M E N T S , F O O D S , A N D A D D I T I O N A L I N F O R M AT I O N

The Nutrition Reporter
Dozens of articles on vitamins and minerals.

The world™s largest searchable database of medical journal articles, providing
free abstracts (summaries) of more than 8 million articles.

Merck Manual
The online edition of your physician™s standard medical reference book.

Nutrient Data Laboratory Food Composition
Type in nearly any food or food product and you instantly get its nutritional
breakdown per cup or 100 grams.

Paleo Diet/Recipes
Most of these modern versions of Paleolithic recipes are compatible with the
nutrient-dense food guidelines described in chapter 7.

Price-Pottenger Foundation
A Web site dedicated to two twentieth-century nutritional pioneers.

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