How Our Food Can Damage Our DNA : Renegade Health Interview

Monday Apr 4 | BY |
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dr catherine shanahan deep nutrition
I found this flyer in a subway in Argentina. It’s a picture timeline of our DEvolution.

After the Great Health Debate, we had a lot of experts contact us who wanted to either be a part of the program or share their thoughts and research.

We, of course, couldn’t accommodate all their requests, but I’ve been able to do some interviews and provide them to you to further continue the discussion.

Today, we have Dr. Cathrine Shanahan. She’s the author of a book called Deep Nutrition. Her works focuses on how we eat, what we can eat according to our genes, and the similarities that diets of all different cultures have.

This interview is Part 1 of 2 and run time is about 20 min. (Click here for Part 2)

Listen to Part 1 here:

dr catherine shanahan

Click the play button to start the call:


Here are some of my short comments. I’ll provide some more on tomorrow’s post once you’ve listened to the entire interview.

1. Genetic changes are happening.

If you feed mice a poor diet, they start to show changes in their genes. Some of them over a few generations actually become sterile.

For us to think that this doesn’t happen to humans, as our diet devolves, is shortsighted – at the least.

Dr. Cate discusses how our DNA expresses itself negatively when we eat poor foods. The example used frequently is of the Samoan people in the Pacific islands. When they eat their native foods – lots of carbohydrate – they get big, but don’t suffer from diabetes. When they start to eat processed carbohydrates, they become very overweight with very high incidence of diabetes.

This negative expression can be reversed by changing the food. But, if over time, the food (or exposure) is not changed, the hard coding of the DNA from generation to generation can change as well.

I suspect over the next 2 generations, we’ll start to link issues like certain allergies, autism, and other diseases to DNA that has been unraveled and rewired by diet.

2. Good news is that our DNA is adaptable.

Of course, if you want to change your genetic expression, you can. (At least for now.)

Our food choices, stress, sleep, amount of exercise and environment all can cause positive or negative gene expression. If you’re eating a diet that is not suited to you, you will show signs of poor gene expression. If you are not exercising, your genes will express in a less than optimal way.

What’s not as promising is that as we become deeper – through generations – into the processed food revolution, we lessen our ability to control our gene expression because the genetic code is no longer the same.

When mice are feed diets (you can look into Dr. Stanley Bass, plus other scientists as reference of this) that are not optimal for them, they show poor gene expression by getting fatter, getting aggressive or potentially eating each other. They also get cancers, liver issues, kidney problems and more. You generally can bring them back to health, if they’re not so far gone, but bringing their diet back to what they’d naturally eat.

After a few generations of poor eating and poor gene expression, many mice are born with genetic code that can’t be reversed. So if the mice are born aggressive, deformed or weak, they do not get better with dietary changes that reflect their natural diet.

The same can happen to humans, so now is the time to reverse our negative expression before it becomes permanent genetic modification.

3. Changes she’s seen in her practice…

I like talking to clinicians, because they have observations that most people who talk about health never speak about.

One thing that Dr. Shanahan talks about is how some of the boys in her practice seem to have narrower chests and some kyphosis (curvature) in their backs.

I wonder how much of the weakness is due to the activity level of the kids or actual physical design.

I’m assuming that she meant their overall physique is changing, but I wonder if the kyphosis is due to environmental factors such as increased time on the computer.

I’d like to see more research on this, but at the same time, what will the research do?

It will only confirm that we’re spending more time inside in unnatural environments with unnatural equipment and it’s affecting us negatively.

The obvious doesn’t need to be studied.

It seems like we always want to explain things, before we make a change. We don’t need to see research to determine the exact cause of a disease when the first step – by default – is to change our diet and exercise habits.

Why do people need to wait?

4. 1 / 100 born have autism (or autistic tendencies.)

I was amazed by this statistic and have confirmed it as a number released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2009.

Many of us know there is a link between autism and vaccines (despite the media smear campaign launched against Dr. Andrew Wakefield.)

I’m not an expert in autism, but this number (even if it’s wrong and is 1 / 1000) is alarming to me.

As a someone who eventually will be a parent, this definitely makes you think twice about having kids. (Yes, I’m healthy and do all the “right” things, but what if everyone’s wrong about the cause. What if it’s EMFs? They’ve increased at just about the same rate as the number of vaccines and amount of mercury in them.)

We’ll have more from Dr. Cate Shanahan tomorrow. In the second installment, she talks about the 4 types of foods that all traditional cultures have.

I want to know your thoughts: Were you amazed by the statistic on autistic children?

To learn more about Dr. Catherine Shanahan, click here!

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Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Thomas says:

    That is an amazing statistic. It’s obviously becoming more prevalent in our society. It’s quite difficult to pinpoint the cause due to all of the uncontrollable variables involved.

    Today’s news contains an article on autism and brain differences:

  2. Melina says:

    Personally, after reading Weston Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration I too began to notice all the physical changes in a lot of modern people. I have noticed it is more pronounced and noticable in those whose relatives have been in this country for more generations. For instance my mother is from Greece and grew up on a more protective traditional diet. This has clearly given my brother and I an advantage because our genetic degradation is less than someone whose ancestors have been in this country a long time and have lived in a city. I mention the city distinction because often kids that have grown up on a farm in this country have better gene expression (they grew up on a more traditional diet typically). Some of the physical degeneration characteristics that Weston Price mentions that I have observed too are narrow hips in woman, inability to breath through the mouth due to narrowed face and sinuses, being born with poor eyesight, flat feet, unpronounced cheek bones,and needing braces for crooked teeth. Weston price did not mention this one, but I think it might be one too: small, beady eyes especially in women. I think women should naturally have large eyes.

  3. Yamina says:

    For Mr Mosséri and Shelton, the human height (taller and taller) are sign of degenerescence. Sort of acromegaly. I met an american girl here in Paris, who was so tall, so big, and I thought, had a sort of stupidity. Her aunt told me that her body was so occupied with her growth that she hasn’t the energy to think ! I think that the SAD diet transform people in to idiotic herd. Huge persons are abnormal, it is certain.

  4. Melina says:

    In my previous post I meant to say an inability to breath through the nose..

  5. […] Here’s where you can listen to Part 2 of 2 (Click here for Part 1)… […]

  6. casey says:

    “the health and beauty of our children is limited by the health and beauty of the planet” !!!
    sounds like something william tuttle would say!

  7. Doug says:

    100% Fruit. Everyone else is wrong.

  8. oreganol says:

    I am no longer amazed by statistics like these. I know so many people that are in poor helth and have children that are in poor health that it seems almost mormal these days. When I was a kid, there was just one girl who got spevial lessons ate scholl because she was considered so far behind the rest. This is one girl out of about 1000 children. Nowadays in teh UK it’s commone to have 10-20% of children in special needs classes. I’m sure a lot is down to putting some children in the classes just to get extra government money, but it seems that teh health of children is on a very steep downward trend. Add in all teh people who can’t have children these days and you can see that part of the human race is on the way out. I suppose that over a few generations that the weakest will die out and teh sttrongest will survive and adapt. The small problem though is that doctors give fertility treatment to allow these weak individuals to have children. And these children are no doubt even further weakened.

  9. Sophie says:

    I appreciate your conducting and posting this interview. Although I am not vegetarian, I do read your blog regularly, as I seek to gain insights into health and nutrition from as many sources as I can. Thank you for your open-mindedness!

    Deep Nutrition is a great, easy-to-read, thought-provoking book. It changed my understanding of food and nutrition profoundly and I would recommend it as a starting point to anyone who is curious about epigenetics and nutrigenomics.

  10. Melissa says:

    Donna Gates, who was on the Great Health Debate has had great success greatly improving and/or curing autism and autistic tendencies through her Body Ecology Diet. When you read the book or listen to her talk about it, it makes perfect sense. It seems like autism is not caused by one certain thing, but a number of things all together. For example, poor diet of the pregnant mother, drugs during pregnancy and birth, poor diet of breastfeeding mother or formula fed, vaccinations, then all the antibiotics so freely prescribed. The child starts eating the SAD diet and add into all this the other things we know contribute to poor health, like EMFs. The child’s immune system is so broken down, especially in the gut, where food absorption is bad, the bad bacteria grow and then you have a systemic yeast infection which affects the brain. This seems to be manifesting as autism in a huge amount of children. Some get cancer. The cancer rate is approximately 1 in 300 children. I was amazed at the autism rate but the cancer rate is more alarming to me because it is a life-threatening disease.

  11. Rick says:

    It was a very good book and I enjoyed the interview too. I think I’ll probably have to pick up “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”, by Weston A. Price too.

    EMF’s do impact not only our health, but our genetics too! I highly recommend reading the books by Albert Roy Davis and Walter C. Rawls, Jr. on biomagnetics. Their first book, “Magnetism and Its Effects on the Living System”, goes into detail about how magnetism can actually change our genetics, for better or worse. We are getting exposed to a greater and greater amount of South pole magnetism from power lines, radars, cell phone towers, etc., which is extremely dangerous.

    The books of Dr. John Ott would be on my list of required reading too. He did a great deal of research on light frequencies and how they effect our health. After reading his books I suspect that light, which is also electromagnetic, is capable of changing our genes too.

  12. Barbara Nakato says:

    Hi Dr. Shanhan it was nice seeing you i would like to let you knowq that my dad pass away on June 5 2010 ..You look real good . My mom lost a lot of weight because she has a lot of stress . My dad had congestive heart failer and among other things .lets keep in touch ok . Aloha from Kauai . Friends Barbara.

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