Article – Genes – Subject to Your Interpretation
by Chris Litten
As I was finishing up a session recently, I was talking with a client who is really set on getting her fitness back to a previously realized level she knows she can attain. As I asked her about what she was doing to compliment her sessions at BodyBasics she beamed confidently telling me about her added walks and even some at home exercise. I was thrilled for her. Knowing that she also needs to improve her body composition I asked her what dietary changes she was making to which she said she knew she needed to get to that.
Acknowledging that she needed to improve in that area was great. But then I was startled when she asked me if her genetics influenced her ability to change her body composition also. I assured her that she is in no way held captive from achieving a healthy body because of genetics. And then I went right to writing this article for all of you to hear as well. My hope in writing this is to both educate and empower. I want to explore at some length how our genetic code is influenced by so much more that what we were born with.
For starters, let’s visit what genes are. Simply, they are tiny strings of chemicals that are the microscopic building blocks of life.1 They essentially contain complete instruction manuals for every living thing. Genes consist of four different chemicals called nucleotide bases.
The four nucleotides are called adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). The different characteristics we have that are hardwired such as our natural hair color, the color of our eyes, our bone structure, these are all a part of our genetic code. But, contrary to early thinking about our gene makeup, other things such as incidence for heart disease, our likelihood for getting cancer, obesity, insulin resistance are not completely out of our control. Granted certain people based on ethnic backgrounds, family history, and other longer developing histories are more susceptible to certain gene expressions than others.
However, a bright spot is that what’s also become clear in recent years is that genetics is only half of the discussion. Our lifestyles are equally important in increasing or reducing our risk of various diseases. Research in the new field of epigenetics is finding that our lifestyle choices – the foods we put in our bodies, the chemicals we are exposed to, how active we opt to be, even our social environments – can actually alter our health at the level of the gene. These choices can have big effects on our risk for disease, even if our genes seem to be working against us. So before throwing your hands up and saying, “What can I do? It’s all up to my genes,” read on.
Looking at the differences between two identical twins is a good way to understand the field of epigenetics. So, let’s say you are one of two identical twins. You’re identical twin was adopted at birth and contrary to your wonderful upbringing, was brought up on the road as a circus performer. Your twin was malnourished, exposed to nasty fumes (have you ever smelled elephant dung?), and started smoking at the age of 10.
You on the other hand grew up well taken care of, solid nutrition and no exposure to smoke or any other toxic fumes. You can imagine that the two of you would probably come out different despite having the exact same genetic code. Despite you and your pretend twin coming from the same gene pool your individual influences turn on or turn off genes (methyls and histones, worth looking up if you like this stuff) causing you each to have different levels of risk for disease, mental conditions such as anxiety or depression, and so on.
Another great way to visualize the differences between your epigenetics and your genetics is to think of your genetics as a pen and your epigenetics as a pencil. The pen does not erase and therefore cannot be changed. That would be something like your eye color. But your epigenetics are your pencil and you have all authority to use your pencil’s eraser and alter elements of your genetic makeup based on your choices.
A great example of this is a study2 I came across where people with a predisposition for heart disease were tracked. All of the participants had been determined to be carriers of a specific gene, 9p21, that was well recognized for its association with cardiovascular disease. The investigators involved in the study sought to find a causal relationship between 9p21 carriers and heart attack risk in individuals of different ethnic backgrounds. Interestingly they included any interactions from environment in their studies. What they found was that despite having such a strongly correlating gene to heart disease, those individuals who followed a prudent diet high in raw vegetables and fruits significantly reduced their risk of ever having a cardiovascular event.
Hopefully you have found this information as empowering as I intended it to be. As we head into June full swing let this additional reminder of how much control you have over change in your life, down to the level of your genes, guide your decision making.
1-Mork, Rachel. “Explanation of Genes and Chromosomes for Kids.” – Life123. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.
2-The Effect of Chromosome 9p21 Variants on Cardiovascular Disease May Be Modified by Dietary Intake: Evidence from a Case/Control and a Prospective Study, Do R, Xie C, Zhang X, Männistö S, Harald K, et al. (2011) The Effect of Chromosome 9p21 Variants on Cardiovascular Disease May Be Modified by Dietary Intake: Evidence from a Case/Control and a Prospective Study. PLoS Med 8(10): e1001106. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001106
Client Spotlight – Trish Harris
1. What was the reason you decided to go to a trainer?
I needed to be strong enough to move my 90 pound harp .
2. Did you consider or participate in any other form of treatment for your reason before seeking a trainer?
3. How did you hear about BodyBasics?
I heard of Chris Litten, the owner, many years ago when I worked out for a short time at Gold’s gym.
4. Did you evaluate other gyms or trainers before deciding on coming to us? If yes, what were other places missing that BodyBasics was able to provide?
Yes I did. They were missing the environment of BodyBasics and the commitment to support my needs.
5. Ultimately, why did you choose BodyBasics over other options?
Shelley Phipps is in my tennis clinic and moves great and highly recommended it. I needed (and still do) help to be strong and fit.
6. What goals did you have when you started at BodyBasics?
To stand up straight and make my knees healthy and straighter.
7. How long have you been training at BodyBasics and what specifically have you achieved over that interval?
I have been at BodyBasics just over one year. My posture is much better, my knees are better, I am stronger and able to do all the physical things I want to keep in my life: moving my harp, playing tennis, riding and working with my horse and moving bags of grain and dirt necessary for him.
I visited my sister last week and we went on a bike ride. I hadn’t been on a bike in 60 years and I rode 18 miles and was not sore the next day!
8. What current goals are you pursuing with your trainers at BodyBasics?
To continue to improve my fitness, to know that the workouts are designed specifically for me and they will always ask me to do things that are for my benefit.
I do not cancel workouts. BodyBasics is here for me to give me the ability to say “I can do this.”
Thanks to the entire team for your support!!
Welcome New and Returning Clients
The greatest compliment we can receive is a referral from one of our clients or allied health network!
- Joanne Miller ~ referred by a friend of Kris’s
- Kelly Rose ~ referred by Dr. Martinez at TMC One!
- Martha Eicher ~ referred by Dr. Lemcke at TMC One!
- Bob Smith ~ referred by Dr. Seth Peterson from The Motive Physical Therapy Specialists
- Londynn Whittier ~ Found us via Google!
- Cameron Foss ~ Welcome Back!
- Susan Enholm ~ Found us by driving by!
- Mason Catterson ~ referred by a friend of Kris’s
Shout outs are about us voicing victories we witness you all having at BodyBasics. We’ll keep it to our top 5 each month.
- Jane Spitzer ~ for eclipsing her bodyweight on her hip thrusts!
- Barbara Supper ~ for achieving her single leg press goal before leaving for the summer!
- Al Polonyi ~ for beating his Up and Go time by 10+ seconds in less than 1 month from his first evaluation!
- Jim Gressinger ~ for continuing to reach new milestones in his overall movement quality and independence despite a significant brain injury!
- Trish Harris ~ for riding 18 miles on a bike for the first time in over 60 years and feeling amazing doing so!
Recipe – Grilled Corn Pasta Salad
BBQ season has arrived. I’ve got another salad option and this one highlights grilled corn. Corn and summer, just go together so nicely. This is a spin on Mexican Street corn, and is a fan favorite! I’ve kept it simple but you can be creative and add onion, cilantro or any other favorite ingredients you’d like! Enjoy!
For the Salad:
- 6 ears of corn, shucked and grilled
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 cups dried pasta
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup halved tomatoes
- 1 avocado, cubed (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
For the Dressing
- 1 lime, juiced
- 3 tablespoons mayo
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
For the salad:
- Preheat your grill to 400-450F degrees.
- Clean corn and lightly brush oil on all sides of the corn.
- Grill corn straight on the grill. Turn to get all sides of the corn, 5-8 minutes each side (takes about 20-25 minutes total).
- While corn is grilling, prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Cook the pasta per package instructions and set aside once done.
- In a large bowl mix cooked pasta, and tomatoes (any other veggies you’d like).
- Cut grilled corn, and add to the large bowl of pasta/veggies.
For the dressing
- Mix together ingredients
- Assemble Salad
- Add 1/2 the dressing to the corn salad and mix well to incorporate.
- Taste and add more dressing if needed.
- Top with avocado and fresh cilantro
Recipe By: Ashley Munro, RD, CDE
Ashley is a Tucson native, and the owner of Ashley Munro Nutrition, LLC, were she offers virtual nutrition counseling and meal planning support. She is a trained chef, and certified Intuitive Eating counselor. Through delicious cooked meals and recipes, Ashley shares her passion for food freedom, cooking, and family on her blog. Outside of work, Ashley enjoys running and ice cream dates with her 4 year old.
Basic Moves by BodyBasics ~ Prone Pressout
80% of cardiac disease is preventable if people just put on their shoes and go for a walkDr. David Sabgir – CNN Hero
Walk With a Doc! – July 7th at 8:00 A.M. at Children’s Memorial Park
Join our community partner, Dr. Seth Peterson, owner of The Motive Physical Therapy Specialists, July 7th at 8:00 for a mix of learning and moving! Dogs are DEFINITELY welcome! Bring your neighbors as well. Dr. Peterson, Chris and Amber from Pusch It Personal Training are all rallying to increase your fitness and the fitness of our local community as well. The 30ish minute walk will be done using the paved path along the Rillito River starting at Children’s Memorial Park. Stay tuned for more information at the front desk, on our Facebook page and email.
FaceBook Lives Every Wednesday at 1:40 p.m.
We want you all to know that we have been getting on FaceBook every Wednesday at 1:40 for about 10-15 minutes as a team and sharing our thoughts on different topics we’ve heard all of you mention or stuff we think you’re interested in learning more about. Please LIKE our BodyBasics FaceBook page and tune in every Wednesday for these FB Lives! We’d also love for you to share topics with us you’d like us to talk about on these live videos.
Chris, Kris, Kristian, Amanda, Dustin, Chelsea, Xavier and Aaron