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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Deep Nutrition- 1

Have you heard of this book?

It is, hands down, the best book I have ever read on nutrition.

And I have read many. A vain, shameful amount, really.

The author, Catherine Shanahan, is medical doctor as well as a molecular biologist. She also is very involved in the science of traditional nutrition. That this book is written by someone of such credentials is very important to my husband, who has finally given some credence my mad rants about raw milk and bone broths.

Dr. Shanahan is highly trained and very technical in her understanding of the depth of the role that nutrition plays not only in our bodies, but the bodies of our offspring and so on. Therefore, a good portion of the book reads like (what I assume would be) a molecular biology textbook, but it is worth dissecting and understanding. I want to share a few of the most interesting things with you over the next few weeks. I always have it in the back of my mind that mommies are the first line of both defense and offense in the health of the next generation. I just never realized the extent to which this is true. What we put into our bodies affects us on the genetic level, and while anomalies may not manifest themselves in our own lives presently, be quite assured that a poor diet will negatively impact you in the near future, and your children exponentially more so!

Wow, that was kind of ominous.

There are plenty of easy, affordable ways to care for your "temple". And nothing that has been done cannot be undone, in time.

Will you scan through this book with me?

"You can see evidence of this retraining in laboratory animals. Dr. Randy Jirtle at Duke University studied the effects of nutrient fortification on a breed of mice, called aguouti, known for their yellow color and predisposition for developing severe obesity and subsequent diabetes. Starting with a female agouti raised on ordinary mouse chow, he fed her super-fortified pellets enriched with vitamin B12, folic acid, choline, and betaine and mated her to another agouti male. Instead of the usual, overweight, unhealthy yellow-coat babies she would normally give birth to, she instead bore brown mice that developed normally. You could interpret this study as follows: The agouti breed has regulatory DNA that has essentially been brain damaged by some past traumas in the history of the lineage. As a result, agouti chromosomes, unlike other mice, are typically incapable of building healthy, normal offspring. In this study, researchers were able to rehabilitate the agouti's genome by blasting the sleepy genes with enough nutrients to wake them up, reprogramming their genes for better function.

"This has enormous implications for us, as researchers are finding abnormal regulatory scars all over our genes, records of our ancestors' experiences- even with the weather. Toward the end of WWII, an usually harsh winter combined with a German-imposed food embargo led to death by starvation of some 30,000 people. Those who survived suffered from a range of developmental and adult disorders, including low birth weight, diabetes, coronary artery disease, breast and other cancers. A group of Dutch researchers has associated this exposure with the birth of smaller-than-normal grandchildren. This finding is remarkable as it suggests the effects of a pregnant woman's diet can ripple, at the least, into the next two generations. Unlike the agouti mice, which required massive doses of vitamins, these people would possibly respond well to normal or only slightly above normal levels of nutrients as their genes have been affected only for a short while- just a generation or two (unlike the mice)- meaning it might not take quite so much extra nutrition to wake them up".

It certainly has made me think twice about the food I am putting into this body with baby #4, especially since all of my pregnancies have been in the short period of 5 years. What do you think? Do you know the health your mother was in? Your grandmother?


Brandy @ Afterthoughts said...

Can't wait to read it! Fascinating stuff. Si and I have talked about the differences in our children. The first two are both quite different than the second two--right down to hair coloring and freckling! The interesting thing is that everyone tells us that Number Four doesn't look much like the others, even though his coloring is similar to Number Three. We'll see if this changes in time, but his facial structure seems entirely different--wider mouth, rounder face, and more room for his teeth. He was the first one with a truly good maternal diet on my part (it helps that I could keep food down). Not that having children is a science experiment, but I wish I could have had more just to see what happened as we continued to change our diet!

I *do* want to swap books with you, by the way. It's just that Rebecca has my copy of the modesty book...When she's done I'll figure out how we'll make the trade. :)

Kessie said...

Now that is a really intriguing book. I'd like to pick it up at the library and give it a good run-through. I have all these vague ideas about eating a balanced diet (remember that book The Zone? I loved eating food in The Zone), but it's really cool to have them validated on such a basic level as the genes.

Farm Girl said...

I think it sounds pretty interesting too. I will look forward to reading more of what you post about it. I do think that we can change our makeup by paying attention to what we are putting in, My mother died at 31 from Melanoma. But in my memory of her I never saw her eat anything she was so afraid of getting fat. She lived on ice tea and cigarettes. She would put two cups of white sugar into a gallon of tea. She smoked like a smokestack while pregnant with me. So in the back of my mind I have tried to undo the damage I am sure that I was born with by paying better attention to nutrition.
So I will look forward to the data.


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