The Do It Yourself (DIY) movement is quite popular these days, fueled by readily available Internet videos which demonstrate step-by-step how to build a deck, replace a broken car part, or repair a computer. A person with a phone camera and a few tools can post a video or article showing you how to take something apart or assemble something new. Sometimes that person is a professional, although frequently not. And not all topics have DIY videos: DIY dentistry and DIY trips to the moon are quite hard to find.
The proliferation of DIY might make you think you can follow the videos and succeed in doing what they show being done. Sometimes you can, but often things don’t go quite as smoothly as the video shows: a rusty bolt won’t break loose, then the head breaks off, or the deck you build is not level plus it becomes a home for skunks rather than a great home addition. The job seems a lot easier in the video. And then there are jobs that require specialized gear and expertise in using that equipment, without which you had best forget DIY and take the work to a professional.
DIY health is very popular, as the Internet has made medical information easy to find. With that explosion of information also comes a lot of confusion — you can literally find Web articles that completely oppose each other, with one stating that a particular diet is the key to health, and the other trashing that diet as causing a host of diseases. The main problem with DIY health is that it gives you “just enough knowledge to be dangerous.” Health is complex, and even adding a “good” food or exercise could, in your unique case, might be a bad idea, because the articles and videos assume a one size fits all approach. That may work OK when cars of a certain make and model are made alike, so yours should be just like the one in the video, but your body is unique. You won’t find all your answers on the Web, because you are special.
That doesn’t mean that DIY health advice is all bad. Some statements are universal for everyone. No one, under any medical scenario, should eat trans-fats for instance. These fats are artificial, and they fool the body into using them to build cellular structure which is always inferior. Even your pets should stay away from trans-fats: they are universally harmful to any living creature. You can improve your health using Web research if you know how to find the good and weed out bad advice. But you still will be limited, because you don’t have the equipment and expertise to find out exactly what works best for you.
The explosion of medical information also may sometimes do a better job in producing fear than building your health. This is certainly true of cancer articles that suggest if you have a genetic predisposition to cancer, that your only hope is a lot of testing to try to catch it early. This is archaic old school thinking. The new school is one of epigenetic influences affecting outcome more than any set blueprint.
Don’t get SNP’y
As medical science delves more into genetics, the term “SNP” (single nucleotide polymorphisms) appears frequently. There are roughly 4 to 5 million SNPs in your genome — we all have lots of them. Each SNP is a tag or marker in the DNA coding process, where something in the DNA “letters” where altered. This tag is inserted into the DNA sequence at a certain point during replication. Once the change is made, either positive or negative, it is passed down to other generations of the cell, which themselves may make further SNPs during division. But only a part of DNA consists of genes, most of the rest are the SNPs that have been placed environmentally.
Genes are like the DIY articles and videos: they can’t actually do anything. They are information, which cells can use to do something, but the cells must read or view that information, otherwise it just sits there. They act through the processes of transcription and translation which produce special action-causing proteins called enzymes. Since the gene code is the pattern used to create the enzyme, the gene has an impact on the actions of cells, even though it does not directly cause that action.
Genes can have an almost unlimited combinations: the theoretical limit is 70,368,744,177,664, which is trillions of times more than the total population of the world. The different enzymes that can be coded from genes are also extremely numerous. So an SNP genetic coding error can indeed change the enzyme that is produced, having an impact on the chemical processes that happen in cells. We can’t ignore the SNPs, but when we realize that SNPs follow the same rules as all genetics, we see that the presence of certain SNPs that medical science deems as cancer or other disease producing doesn’t mean that the disease necessarily occurs. Since genetic expression is heavily modified by the environment, the expression of SNPs is also. We look to enzymes to understand this.
Breaking down enzymes
We are familiar with some enzymes. We know that digestive enzymes help break down food. The food is very slowly breaking down anyway, but the enzymes speed up the process massively by giving the chemical reaction what it needs to happen quickly. Enzymes get the reaction “over the hump” to get the chemical reaction to where it is trying to go but doesn’t have a simple way to happen otherwise. Enzymes can speed up chemical reactions by a factor of millions. Essentially, enzymes turn on a reaction, much like you turn on the lights in a room by flipping a switch.
Digestive enzymes break down food quickly, releasing the energy of food and providing that energy to you. The food doesn’t release energy quickly when it sits out on the counter and slowly rots, but the much faster breakdown in your digestive tract gives you energy quickly. Cellular enzymes are more complex and control most of the chemical reactions within the cell— essentially enzymes control the biochemistry that makes life possible. Enzyme action depends upon the quantity of the enzyme as well as the enzyme composition: more of certain enzymes means more of the particular action that they control will happen. Under or over production of a certain enzyme can have a significant health impact. Also the molecular shape of the enzyme makes a difference in how it functions. Even when produced, enzymes can be hampered or completely deactivated by other cellular functions. Put simply: there are many factors that are involved with enzyme action in cells. It’s quite complex.
SNP errors often have no impact on enzyme reactions. Some SNPs result in exactly the same enzyme being produced anyway, so there is no change in the action of the cell. SNPs that never get expressed or are overridden by other genetic expression are not a concern. Environment is a much bigger factor.
Each of us is unique. Even identical twins are influenced by the different lifestyles and environmental factors that they live in, and may have very different life outcomes. In a study of 80 monozygotic (identical) twins published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 35% of them showed significant genetic expression which could be detected through methylation testing. This effect increased with age, so older participants in the study showed greater differences. These twins also were mostly living in similar circumstances and culture, so the variances would likely be higher if they lived in significantly difference environments.
Recognizing the extreme complexity of the biological processes that make us increasingly unique, in a review article published in Cell Metabolism, researchers acknowledged that dietary interventions do in many cases positively impact health and longevity, but that the “one size fits all” approach was leading to inconsistent results in those impacts. When individualizing the diets with precision nutrition, which they dubbed precision nutrigeroscience, rather than using the same limited diet for all, they could get better results. How did they determine what dietary intervention to use? They tested for various biomarkers, which gave them a better understanding of the cellular pathways that were being influenced by the diet.
DIY health is a great step, but you risk being frustrated when you think you are following an excellent lifestyle, yet are not getting the results you wanted. You don’t have the tools or expertise to dig deeper, and DIY just may not be enough. Testing to determine your specific individual makeup can take you the rest of the way.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
SNPs are made by the environment you live in. That is why you can change your SNP expression when you change your diet and lifestyle. What you need to know is this: you are unique — no one else has your genes and your SNPs, not even your identical twin. That is why just because two identical twins have a strong genetic pattern for breast, prostate or colon cancer, it does not mean that either one will ever have cancer if they work on maximizing their physical and mental/emotional environments. We are what we eat, drink, breath, move, sleep and what we think. All these can be changed, so that means all genetic outputs are modifiable by your choices. Here is the big question: do you know how to modify that environment for your unique gene and SNP pattern? The answer is usually no, because you have not had this aspect of your health analyzed with an experienced doctor who has worked with over 10,000 of the most difficult and advanced diseases and genetic makeups. This is what we have done for many years at Total Health Institute. We have optimized patients health and personalized their unique health and healing programs. It not only about healthy food making a healthy person. It is about optimized genes and SNPs making a healthy person, and if that person is eating or drinking something that does not support their genetic makeup they will fail even doing all the healthy things they can think of. So what is the answer? You must be analyzed for your uniqueness and put on a program that supports your uniqueness. This is not a DIY job but one that needs an expert coach to bring you to your maximum potential.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.