Thursday, February 7, 2008

Genetics Vs. Learned Behaviour

Science shows genetics may play a part in obesity. Some people are more prone to gain weight than others. Slower metabolism from a depressed thyroid can cause a number of symptoms as well. One of course being weight gain. Putting that aside, could the problem acually be a learned behaviour? How much are we allowing science to mask the real problem?

Looking back on my friends in primary (elementary) school, I'd estimate that 90% of my class were at their ideal weight. In fact, obesity was so rare that the heavier kids were picked on as it wasn't the norm of the times. I went to a friends house, who was on the heavier side, and met her family. Not suprisingly all of her family members were obese. I was invited to stay for dinner. I graciously agreed because upon arriving I was treated to cookies and milk, so I figured dinner would be a treat as well.

I observed her mother making dinner and noticed a few things that, realizing now, shouldn't have been on the menu. Frozen chips (french fries) cooked in a deep fat frier, pork chops loaded with grease, white bread and butter, and frozen peas warmed on the stove with butter. I loved all of it and had seconds for the first time in my life.

Her mother cooked mostly whole foods, but how she cooked them and what she put on them afterwards was the problem. Fats, hard fats that don't metabolise well if at all. Plus she was a caterer so an array of fatty foods were available at all times. Cookies, cakes, crisps (chips), and an array of sweets all in the pantry for our consumption. My friend didn't run around as much as I did or play sports of any kind to burn off these extra calories so she gained weight. I didn't like what I was fed at home because it was either canned, processed, or cooked to a crisp and good fats were never added. So that had a tendency to keep my weight in check.

What people don't seem to understand is what you put in is what you get out. Just because some people have a faster metabolism and can eat whatever they want to keep the weight off doesn't mean they are healthier for it. Foods are medicinal and not eating the right ones will show in an obvious symtom, fat.

My view about genetics vs learned behaviour all boils down to this. Instead of it being written in one's genetic code that one will be fat, maybe it's more of an inherited deficiency dis-ease that's been passed down from the mother because of poor prenatal care. Then perpetuated by what the children are being fed and thusly taught to feed themselves later in life. This could have started several generations ago or become a newer problem with the latest pregnancy. What this means is; if your ancestors never got proper nutrition, like iodine to nourish the thyroid, then maybe that deficiency of low iodine was passed to you through your bloodlines and continued with the foods you're being fed. When breastfeeding, you cannot get nutritients from a person that just doesn't possess them.

So maybe genetics does play a part, just not in the way you would think.

Foods have changed over the years, but how to prepare them in your kichen hasn't. Think about this. Do you have recipes from your grandmother on how to prepare her trade family secrets? How did you learn how to cook? Do you prepare the same things "like mom used to make?"

I grew up in a household where canned vegetables, processed meats, packaged microwavable dinners, and fizzy soda were drinks served daily. I wasn't obese because I never over endulged in these foods and I played sports to burn off the extra calories. The only side effects I noticed looking back were concentration difficulties and depression from a lack of essential nutrients. But my father, on the other hand, was overweight. He ate twice the amount everyone in the family did at dinnertime and loaded his food with black pepper (very acidic, not recommended). This lead to a 'pot belly' or 'beer gut' effect even though he never drank.

Long story short, it was because the foods he ate gave him an enzyme and HCI deficiency that lead to improper digestion. The processed foods he ate were not bioavailable or digestable so they stayed in his intestines causing the look of obesity when in fact it was an impacted bowel. Yes, that's just what it sounds like. He was full of s***.

Over the years the problem became worse, leading to two hernia operations as his intestines broke throug his abdominal muscles. The end result of a lifetime of improper diet causing poor digestion was pancreatic cancer that took his life in September 2003. He was only 61 years old.

Seeing this pattern unfold in front of me lead me to do several things. The biggest one, of course, being reevaluate my entire diet. I replaced all harmful processed foods with whole foods and no ingredients I couldn't pronounce and I'm all the better for it. I take supplement my body needs to thrive and have slowed the aging process by eating healthy, medicinal foods and keeping up on my physical activity.

Obesity will never be a problem for me because I know what causes it, how to prevent it, and even how to reverse it once it's begun. I'm just sorry it took losing my father to teach me that lesson.


Catherine said...

I'm glad you wrote about your story, and it's good that you bring the point up, it's a tragic way to have to wake up to this from your Dad's suffering, but it's a lesson and in a way I feel I'm observing the same deterioration.

My fathers diet appears to be detrimental because of his breathing, body weight, energy levels etc; and it makes me enquire trial-and-error methods since my entire family are so different [body shape, energy, general health] and clearly it's not completely to do with our genes. The one thing we all have totally different, is our tastes.

As you mentioned with black-pepper, if your 'balance' seems fine, maybe you over-eat slightly but it's still in moderate 'balance' it's the additions; the acids or the types of food you're eating, & when in the day; and ultimately, most importantly, how much respect you're having for your digestion.

There's so much out there about food pyramids, or restriction diets, or what is good for you, what isn't, but there's very little public informations about the obvious signs that what you eat affects your health & lifestyle.
And consequently diets don't work for people or they continue to have problems with weight or energy, it just seems like vicious cycles and people become frustrated.

We seem to be missing a crucial part of the process.
There needs to be more information, and more knowledge, and more stories like yours, and your fathers to bring light to the fact that we are not informed enough about our digestion.
We can use our digestive enzymes as the reason for our behaviors, or general health, and so surely it should be as simple as being respectful to how our bodies work and what our body's needs are; and not what is the general consensus of 'daily intake' which may not be entirely relevant.

I hope you are doing well with your lifestyle now and I wish you all the luck in the future and that you'll be able to share your knowledge with others to help them also.

Blogcrumbs said...

Thank you for your comment Catherine. Sorry this reply is so late. I didn't receive an email showing I had ANY comments so I do apologize. Hope my other posts since then have helped and given you some ways to treat/avoid health issues.

I appreciate all the feedback and hope to hear from you again soon.