1. Why Does Nutrition Matter?
Why does it matter if my cells are affected by what I eat? What happens when I eat sugar?
Your cells are controlled by your genes, and your genes are passed down from your parents, but they also respond to your environment. Cells are constantly making protein building blocks to keep our bodies healthy and “young”. If our cells did not continually update themselves we would age (and die) much sooner. Luckily cells do replace old for new constantly, but the downside is also that everything in our body gets updated constantly.
When we experience stress in any form, every single cell in our body gets a signal about it, and does its’ best to compensate for the stressful situation. These reactions are controlled autonomously by many systems in our body, such as the nervous system.
Inside each cell are your genes telling the cell what to do, these genes are also affected by the information (stress) coming into the cell. All information impacts the cells for better or for worse, such as how much oxygen or pollution is in the air, what hormones are circulating etc. They react to everything you react to and a whole lot more.
Epigenetics is the scientific term to describe genes changing according to the environment & information they receive (which can be what we perceive, not what is “real”).
When we eat sugar we spike our insulin and cause a flow on effect of reactions through our body, inflaming the cells and causing oxidative stress in our bodies as they deal with these hormonal and chemical reactions.
As our cells get worn out (either in a natural timeline or faster due to overload of stress) they regenerate new cells using our genes and available building blocks of protein and fat. Unfortunately our genes have also been worn out due to increase stress as each time the cell rebuilds it is being rebuilt out of what is available, based on the information available (stress from environment & nutrition etc. influence the information). And if no good proteins and fats are available for the cell it is built out of weak and toxic materials we have been eating. Yes, food is information, and if we don’t give our bodies good information in a low stress environment we won’t get a good result, much less an optimum result.
Bad fats that have been highly processed (plus good fats cooked in high heat) oxidise, taking a foreign chemical structure into our bodies and taking the place of healthy fats as the cell membrane. This creates poorly formed cells with an impaired ability for our genes to communicate their role when new cells need to be made. These bad fats can line our cells for up to two years before they are replaced by healthy fat once again. To be specific, if we keep eating poorly they will never clear and always effect our health and longevity at a cellular level, which is every single part of your body from hormones to hair.
Epigenetics is the process of our genes changing due to the inputs they receive throughout our lifetime. This is part of evolution. Unfortunately for humans, and also some animals that get exposed to man-made products, this means the stress (information) is passed on through generations via genetic changes created epigenetically.
There are many examples of cells that no longer behave as they should have due to genes that have been corrupted through epigenetic changes. Tumours are a prime example in both animals and humans.
And it is clear now, that this flaw in our understanding of epigenetics and the process of cell/gene signalling has meant we have been ignoring the impact we have on our cells through what we eat, as well as impact of stress in all forms. But like many things, what we believe and what how we act are very different things, based mostly on the convenience and hormone response of those things. We may believe processed food is bad for us, but we ignore our own knowledge when presented with said food which is both convenient and delivers an enjoyable hormone response.
The more pressure we put on our cells to deal with our stressful state (hormone response, oxidation etc.) from unhealthy food and stressful lifestyles, the harder they have to work, the less clear the communication from our genes as they replicate new cells, the more likely we are to develop a chronic, autoimmune, or other disease diagnosis that could impact our performance, health and longevity
What is resilience? What is cellular health?
If you are under stress, whether you acknowledge that you are or not, your cells are working overtime constantly trying to keep up with your demands on them. It often only takes one larger impact of stress, be it emotional or physical trauma, an illness, or an overindulgent weekend to be the strand of straw that broke the horses back and be the catalyst for a serious disease developing.
When your cells are healthy, you can cope with stress without it tipping you off the cliff into a downward spiral of poor health. If you think of your health as purely the health of your cells you will begin to take nutrition more seriously. But of course it is our cells that also get impacted by our emotional and physical stress too, because everything is connected and our cells and genes are at the bottom of the pile that everything is built upon.
A strong immune system is the key to staying healthy and protecting your body from infection and illness. Our immune system is a very complex system of the human body. It recognises the cells that make up your body, and destroys germs and parasites as well as protect against disease and helps to co-ordinate wound healing process, cellular/tissue turnover, repair, and (re)building.
The response to pathogens (a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease) is orchestrated by the complex interactions and activities by a large number of diverse cell types involved in the immune response.
To strengthen your immune system, you must address the needs of the systems in your body starting at the cellular level. The cells in our body have the ability to bring in nourishment and rid of toxins. This means our cells need enough energy and nourishment to operate properly otherwise the cells become toxic and malnourished and when presented with an infectious organism, whether it is the virus, or bacteria, they won’t have the vitality to resist and you will get sick.
Not only will you get sick, you also be more prone to aches, pains, injuries, fatigue, poor bone and joint health, literally every symptom you have ever had is a sign of cells not being able to cope with the stress placed on them. Sometimes these infections are unavoidable, but many are preventable. “Preventable disease” is a term we all have heard in relation to everything from diabetes to cardio vascular disease. We hear “preventable” but don’t acknowledge what it means literally.
If you continue to ignore that you are in control of the health of your cells, then you are not doing anything to prevent disease and are greatly increasing your chances of poor health and decreasing your health-span (how long you have a healthy life).
Your genes may be different to the next person, maybe even less resilient to stress, but how we treat our body is the stronger influence for how the cells respond over our lifetime.
Our inherited genes can be a factor of what ailment we development if our cells do get overly stressed, and we can be at higher risk for certain diseases due to family genetics, however our predisposition for a particular condition will often only present itself when the cells are overloaded with stress.
So whether it be toxins, chemicals, emotional, physical (too much, too hard or none at all), hormonal, nutritional (too much of the bad, too little of the good), sleep deprivation, etc. you need to weigh up ALL the stress inputs and when one gets heavy, reduce some of the others. And ideally, you are always working to reduce all of these always, while also doing practices that counteract these stresses.