Jeffrey Bland spoke of environmental epigenetics, the exposure and its relationship to chronic illness, and also the effect of specific nutrients on genetic expression. He spoke of how phytochemicals “talk to our genes”. Food is information, eat dead food, get dead information. He encouraged us to eat for health.
What amazed me is transgenerational epigenetics, the effect on our future generations. He explained that once the genes are marked, they carry to the next generations, already marked. So, the lifestyle modifications that make you sick, such as radiation, stress, infections, drugs, diet, and pollution, will likely make generations forward sick. He mentioned Moshe Szyf, whose concern is what happens in a world community where the children don’t feel safe. Will this emotional stress jeopardize generations forward?
He then got into how the food a mother eats during pregnancy imprints the gene expression in her babies. A lack of Folate or b-12 can have detrimental consequences. He gave the example of childhood leukemia; that it has been identified to be associated with altered epigenetics, and in this case, he was especially concerned with the deficiency of B12 and Folate in those that carry the gene. He also said that early-life environmental conditions can cause epigenetic changes in humans that persist throughout life.
Leo Galland reminded us that it’s not that stress suppresses the immune system, it is because the stress directly affects the gut flora. The gut has a brain of its own; an intact and independent nervous system containing over 500 million neurons. The gut is also the largest organ of immune function in the body; 70% of our lymphocytes live here. (And we all know how important the immune system is in fighting cancer). He also commented that large bowel cancer is associated with high fat, high protein, low fiber diets. He suggests probiotics and prebiotics, foods that support the growth of probiotics, such as bran, psyllium, inulin (think chicory and artichokes), resistant starch, and oligofructose (think onions, garlic, rye, blueberries, bananas and chicory).
Dean Ornish talked about how fear is not a sustainable motivator; that we might agree to a treatment plan or drug out the fear our doctors might instill, but real change comes from what you want to do, not on what someone says you should do. If lifestyle changes make you feel better, you are more likely to stay with them as opposed to taking a drug that you fear of that makes you feel bad. Lifestyle changes empower you to take control of your health, and this was Dean Ornish’s message. He spoke of lifestyle and Prostate cancer risk and said that lifestyle had up to a 70% effect on risk. He also said that only one in 49 patients treated for prostate cancer actually live longer, so it would likely be better to treat with lifestyle changes. He spoke of lung cancer. Telling patients that by quitting smoking they will reduce risk of lung cancer did not motivate them to quit, but telling them that it gives you wrinkles or makes men impotent, well yes, now that was motivation.
He spoke of diet and like others, suggested that if it comes from a plant, eat it; if it is made in a plant, avoid it. He also reminded us that what you include is just as important as what you exclude, so eat mindfully.
He also made us aware that Medicare is now paying for comprehensive lifestyle changes for patients wishing to reverse heart disease, so hopefully the same will soon be offered for cancer patients.
He embraced support groups commenting that meeting in a group once a week dramatically improved the five-year survival rate. He asked us if we knew the difference between illness and wellness. (I also stands for Isolation, btw, and is not indicative of wellness).
Lise Alschuler explained that flavonoids exert powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune modulating, hormone balancing, blood sugar stabilizing and cancer prevention effects. Flavonoids are one of the reasons why it is so important to consume a diet full of colorful vegetables and fruits. She stressed that they can help your chemo work and protect you during radiation. She also said you need to eat them every meal, as the effects last for about 1-4 hours.
She also showed the reverse relationship between flavonoid consumption and ovarian cancer (37%), and 47% for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as between isoflavonoids (Non GMO soy) consumption and ovarian cancer (49%).
She explained the powerful properties in Delphinidin as a cancer prevention agent (think Maquai berries) and mentioned that they were also helpful in reducing the damage of radiation, and that in general, flavonoids should not be so quickly dismissed during chemotherapy as they can be helpful, not harmful. She also mentioned the many benefits of Resveratrol, (heard this from many during the three days…)
· Sweat regularly using saunas
o Milk thistle has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels
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