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September 5, 2013

Genetics or Environment: Which Determines Your Health?

Linus Pauling, the founding father of molecular biology and author of Vitamin C and the Common Cold, scientifically demonstrated that the origin of disease is based on specific changes in genetic materials due to environmental influences. Bishop and Waldolz, in Genome, point out that "aberrant genes do not, in and of themselves, cause disease. By and large their impact on an individual's health is minimal until the person is plunged into a harmful environment..." (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1990). In February 2006, The National Institutes of Health launched the Genes, Environment and Health Initiative (GEI) to support research that will lead to the understanding of genetic contributions and gene-environment interactions in common disease. Each person's gene pool has the flexibility to express itself with health and longevity, or with illness and degenerative disease, depending on environmental conditions.

Given that the environment and health are so entwined and given that many environmental influences — stress, inadequate nutrition, toxins — modify genetic expression towards disease, wouldn't it be fantastic to have a tool to accurately monitor your health on an ongoing basis? Your conventional medical doctor uses blood tests. Unfortunately, blood tests often look good until something is "really" wrong.

Recently, I was talking to a client whose medical doctor had told him, "There is nothing wrong with you, but there is really nothing right."

On the other hand, your hair can provide unique metabolic and intracellular information more readily than your blood. First of all, human blood is highly regulated to stay within narrow ranges. For instance, a buffer of carbonic acid and bicarbonate is present in blood plasma to maintain a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. These buffer solutions are necessary because many enzymes work only under very precise conditions. Because of this, the blood is often not an effective diagnostic tool for metabolic imbalance. Second of all, toxins such as lead are instantly removed from the blood as a protective measure. For 30 to 40 days following an acute lead exposure, elevated serum levels of lead are undetectable in the blood. Smartly, our bodies deposit the metal into tissues such as the liver, bones, teeth, and hair.

The hair is analyzed through a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA).

HTMA areas of analysis are:
  • Mineral/electrolyte levels in the body's tissues including calcium, chromium, magnesium, selenium, sodium, potassium, nickel, iron, copper, lithium, and zinc. All these minerals are key to good health. If you don’t know your mineral levels, how do you know if you need a multi-vitamin or how much of that multi-vitamin you need to take each day? Also, did you know that calcium loss from the body can become so advanced that severe osteoporosis can develop without any appreciable changes noted in the calcium levels in a blood test? And, did you know that magnesium is required for normal muscular function, especially the heart, and that magnesium deficiency has been associated with an increased incidence of heart attacks, anxiety, and nervousness?
  • Toxic metal levels including lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and aluminum. Hair is used as one of the tissues of choice by the Environmental Protection Agency in determining toxic metal exposure. A 1980 report from the EPA stated that human hair can be effectively used for biological monitoring of toxic metals. The average person is continually exposed to toxic metal sources such as cigarette smoke (cadmium), hair dyes (lead), hydrogenated oils (nickel), anti-perspirants (aluminum), dental amalgams (mercury and cadmium), copper and aluminum cookware, and lead-based cosmetics. Your body is designed to cleanse; without this mechanism, you would die. If your individual biochemical needs are being meet, you can fight off pollution and the ill effects of stress and your biochemistry. However, most of us aren't. An HTMA allows you to track the heavy metals and biochemical stress within your own body, assisting you to create and more easily follow a personalized health plan.
  • Significant mineral ratios that help determine carbohydrate metabolism, thyroid function, level of inflammation, adrenal reserves, copper toxicity, and tissue breakdown.

Take a HTMA seasonally to develop a nutritional program that is tailored to your body's particular requirements to assist it to express health and longevity.

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