In western Societies, approximately 75% of mortality (death) is due to chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. In fact, obesity, diabetes and hypertension are now even commonplace in children.

The interesting fact is that these diseases were virtually unknown or very rare 8 to 10 generations ago! That means our ancestors 200 years ago rarely had heart diseases, diabetes, cancers or metabolic syndrome.

During the same 200 years, our genes have remained the same as our ancestors. Genes do not change quickly. In fact, our genes are almost identical to our ancestors thousands of years ago. That means that we have the same genes as our ancestors who did not have our diseases.

The following are Scientific Journal excerpts confirming that our genes have not change in thousands of years:

“…the overall genetic makeup of Homo sapiens [humans] has changed little during the past 10,000 years.” (J. Appl. Phys., 2002)

“Genetically, our bodies are virtually the same as they were at the end of the Paleolithic era some 20,000 years ago.” (Asia Pac. J. Clin. Nut. 2004)

“Natural selection has produced only minor alterations during the past 10,000 years, so we remain nearly identical to our late Paleolithic ancestors…” (Eur. J. of Clin. Nut., 1997)

“The human genetic constitution has changed relatively little since the appearance of truly modern human beings, Homosapiens sapiens, about 40,000 years ago.” (N.Eng.J.M.ed, 1985)

The reason I site the articles above is to point out that it is a scientific fact that our genes did not change for hundreds of years. It is also a scientific fact that our ancestors did not die from the top “killers” of modern society. So how can we blame the epidemic in cancer, diabetes and heart disease on our genes?

If our genes are responsible for our sickness, then why is it that we are not sick the minute we are born? Why does it take us 40 to 50 years to develop these diseases? Our genes do not change in our lifetime! They have not changed for hundreds of years!

How about identical twins! They have identical genes. Why do they not develop the same diseases?

(PBS link – mice)

It is also a fact that today’s humans who live a lifestyle similar to our ancestors virtually do not have cancers, diabetes nor heart disease. In regards to the modern epidemic of sickness, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine states that: “These conditions have emerged as dominant health problems only in the past century and are virtually unknown among the few surviving hunter-gatherer populations whose way of life and eating habits most closely resemble those of pre-agricultural human beings.”

Our genes did not change! It is our way of life that did!

We have genes that are programmed for people who are hunting and walking around gathering fruits, vegetables and nuts. Our ancestors had to walk, run, climb, lift, farm, gather, dig… They lived a very active life style. Our ancestors never had to eat hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, white bleached flour, soda drinks and the rest of modern day “marvels”. Our genes, like their genes, are designed to have physical activity, vegetables and fruits. Our genes require them for proper gene expression.

What is Gene Expression? Our genes are codes that tell our cells how to do and make stuff in response to our environment. These codes do not activate themselves. A signal comes to the cell and sends a messenger to our genes to turn it on or off.

It’s the signals that determine which gene is turned on / off, when and for how long is it going to be on. That is what is meant by gene expression.

The signals to the genes control the genes. They are above the genes (epigenes).

What is epigenetics? Epigenetics is a field of study that investigates the signals to the genes and how they control their expression. (Please see this Discover Magazine article.)

These signals are from our environment. What you ingest (eat), the toxins you are exposed to, the physical activity you perform (or don’t) and the thoughts you think, all have an effect on your genes. These are the things that control your gene expression and the function of every cell in your body.

Other resources:

Harvard: How Early Experiences Alter Gene Expression and Shape Development

Wiki: Epigenetics


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