Genes vs. Lifestyle - Which one controls your health?

eating for your genes Nov 12, 2018

We all have heard of someone who smoked since they were a teen and lived to 80 plus years and never got lung cancer.  On the other hand, we all have heard of a person who never smoked and got lung cancer in their 50’s. How does that happen?  We know that smoking is a very negative health and lifestyle habit that has the potential to cause disease but why are some people affected more than others?  The answer may be in our genes. APOE is an apolipoprotein that is a genetic marker in our body. There are three types of APOE2, APOE3 and APOE4. We get one gene from each parent, for example, an individual may have a E3/E4 or a E2/E3 or even a E3/E3 to name a few.  People who have the genomic makeup with a APOE 4 are more sensitive to smoking, while it is advised everyone avoids this deadly habit it is especially important for E4 people

APOE4 genotype people make less APOE than other genotypes.  The deficiency of this lipoprotein can not only cause the increase of a negative effect on smoking but it can also increase your risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.  Now don’t get me wrong it does not guarantee you will get these disease it just means there are some things you need to do to make sure you don’t because you are more susceptible to them.  

If you have a person in your family with early onset heart disease or heart attack (before the age of 55 for a male and before the age of 60 for a female) this may be a hint you have this genotype.  If your total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) has run “high” most of your life or for as long as you can remember you may have this genotype. The best way, of course, to know if you have this gene is to get a blood test and find out.  It is a simple test that gives you this great insight into your next steps to prevent and yes even reverse chronic disease.

If you know or highly suspect you have this gene what can you do about it so it doesn’t “express” it’s ugly effects?  In our scientific community genomics is a very hot and current topic. More and more research is pointing to the fact that our genes account for diseases but we can turn them off.  Our lifestyle is what “fires the gun” the APOE4 “loads the gun”. Just because you have a loaded gun doesn't mean you need to pull the trigger. Changing your lifestyle will keep that safety on the gun and prevent the gun from firing! It will prevent you from having that heart attack and yes even Alzheimer’s.

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of APOE and lifestyle.  

  1. A high poor quality fat diet will elevate LDL (bad cholesterol)
  2. Smoking has the most devastating effects in these people
  3. Exercise will give a moderate benefit to lowering the cholesterol and other coronary risks in these patients
  4. Eating only a small to moderately small amounts of protein will benefit these patients.  APOE4 individuals should have 60% complex carbohydrates (things grown in the ground not found in a box) and only 40% protein and fat.  The fat should be the “good” fat - monounsaturated, like almonds, avocados, olive oil and ALA alpha linoleic Acids like Walnuts, flax, chia seeds and flax seeds.  
  1.  Stress reduction is beneficial to all people but APOE4’s will benefit from this reduction in particular.

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