Friday, 30 November 2018

8 top tips for looking after your genes - Igennus

Today's post is by Igennus Healthcare Nutrition with some sound advice about how you can take care of your genes for better health…

Our genes contain the complex code that programmes every single function of our cells and body but, despite what you may have been led to believe, our genetic instructions are not set in stone. Throughout our lives, the way our genes are ‘read’ can change as a result of environmental, emotional and nutritional ‘edits’ made to how our genes are accessed and translated.

Along our strings of genetic code are a number of tags that act as signposts, guiding the cellular processes responsible for reading our genes to focus their efforts on the right sections. Much like you might highlight or add a coloured post-it note to a page of a book, these tags allow for quick and easy access to the right sections of our genetic code, so that they can be easily read and activated.

Until relatively recently, it was assumed that we were all born with our genes fixed, with all the right tags in the right places; however, over the past decade or so, Epigenetic research (Epi meaning upon or above)- the study of changes to cellular and physical traits caused by external or environmental factors that lead to switching genes ‘on’ and ‘off’ and how cells read genes - has increased exponentially. Today we know that everything - how stressed you are during pregnancy, whether you were bullied as a child, what’s in the air you breathe, how often and in what way you move, the foods you choose to eat - has the power to alter these genetic tags and subsequently the way our genes are activated. Far from our fate being ‘written in our genes’, epigenetic changes with the potential to alter our genetic expression, occur throughout our lives and can even be passed down through the generations.

It is now understood that the risk of diseases such as cancer, mental illness, neurodegeneration and even cardiovascular disease all increase with certain epigenetic changes and so, more than ever, we need to understand which factors in our environment have the power to alter these genetic tags, for better or worse, and what can be done to manipulate this for personal gain.

If you want to find out more about epigenetic mechanisms this is a good place to start. 

What can we do to safeguard our genes and reduce the potential for negative health outcomes associated with epigenetic changes? 

Here are my top tips for supporting healthy genes and preventing activation of unwanted, rogue tags:

1. Avoid stress and deal with historical trauma

Recent advances in the field of epigenetics show that stress, throughout our lives, can lead to significant epigenetic changes and increase our risk for numerous negative health outcomes. Daily stress management such as mindfulness, spending time in nature and deep breathing exercises can be really helpful to combat stress and overwrite detrimental epigenetic changes with beneficial ones that seek to promote and improve our long-term health. Addressing and dealing with historical emotional and physical trauma is also important to reduce the impact this can have on our genetic tags, as well as our likelihood of passing these on to our children.

Check out these links for more information and support:

2. Check your fatty acid levels and consume healthy fats

The foods we eat have a huge impact on how our genes are tagged and, when it comes to fats, it’s important to include enough of the right fats in our diets. Research consistently links high total fat and saturated fat intake with adverse genetic alterations. Consuming healthy fats such as those from nuts, seeds, coconut, oily fish, olives and their oil and free range organic eggs, whilst avoiding vegetable oils, margarine, intensively farmed animal fat and dairy, is the best way to ensure you have a healthy balance. Ideally, fats should be consumed with most meals and snacks in moderate quantities (approx. 10-20g at a time). Testing cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as red blood cell fatty acids, can help you determine if you have a good level of healthy fats in your body.

The Igennus Opti-O-3 is a convenient home test kit and comes with a free consultation to help you interpret your results.

3. Measure homocysteine and supplement with B Vitamins

Homocysteine is the by-product of our methylation cycle, a process vital for looking after our DNA and where the tags are placed. If we over or under methylate, this can be problematic and leaves us susceptible to a range of health issues such as fatigue, poor cognitive function, reduced detoxification and diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular conditions. The B vitamins, in particular folate, vitamins B12 and 6, with the help of B2 and 3, are the most important when it comes to a healthy methylation cycle and high homocysteine levels may indicate low levels of these nutrients, or a block somewhere in the process. Eating a range of leafy greens, beans, pulses and good quality animal proteins will help keep these nutrient levels topped up. If you feel you need a little extra support, choosing a good B vitamin complex that does not contain very high levels of each ingredient can help provide gentle support for healthy DNA methylation.

4. STOP taking folic acid – opt for 5-MTHF instead

Those of us with issues throughout our methylation pathways often struggle to use folic acid, the most commonly used form of folate in supplements. Recent research now links folic acid use with a range of adverse effects from increased cancer risk to autism. Folic acidis the synthetic form of folate and people with certain alterations in their genetic code tags are less able to absorb and process folic acid, which can lead to accumulation, causing toxicity. Without testing, switching your folic acid for folate-rich foods and supplements containing Quatrefolic (such as the products mentioned above) is the safest way to avoid the risks of folic acid use and provide gentle support for healthy methylation.

5. Support your SIRT genes

Our sirtuins, controlled by SIRT genes, are superstars when it comes to epigenetic regulation and play an important role in promoting the health of not only our DNA but of the whole body. Many plant-based whole foods are packed with polyphenols that help activate SIRTgenes, so these foods are a safe and exciting addition to any gene nourishing diet. Commonly available and delicious, adding just a few ‘SIRT foods’ to your meals and snacks can help support optimal genetic tagging and healthy cell activities. Examples you might like to try include: cocoa, kale, buckwheat, red onions, parsley, red grapes and matcha green tea. Find out more here. 

6. Remove toxins

When we are thinking about healthy genes it’s important to also consider what can contribute to unhealthy tagging. We are regularly exposed to dietary and environmental factors that have the potential to change our epigenetic markers and even encourage DNA breaks. Certain chemicals can also mimic or block natural compounds that would otherwise promote health. Removing chemicals and toxins from your environment is an important step in protecting your genetic health. Swapping to natural cleaning and cosmetic brands (such as Method and Green People) can help reduce your exposure to numerous DNA damaging chemical. It’s also important to keep fatty food away from plastics and aluminium foil, especially when hot. Choosing organic products, or growing your own where possible, will also help reduce the amount of toxins in your food.

7. Control inflammation

High levels of inflammation can not only lead to epigenetic changes but also increase the risk of subsequent disease developing. It can be hard to tell if you are ‘inflamed’ as many of us walk around with no symptoms. Whilst swelling, pain and allergies suggest a higher than normal inflammatory load, any form of mental or physical stress, cell damage or infection can lead to inflammation being triggered. Without adequate cellular capacity to resolve inflammation, or in the presence of persistent inflammatory triggers such as regular exposure to foods you might be sensitive to, your body may fail to switch inflammation off and this can lead to long-term health issues as well as unwanted DNA tagging. Consuming lots of anti-inflammatory foods such as omega-3 fats, herbs and spices including turmeric, brightly coloured vegetables, fresh berries, pineapple and green tea can be really helpful in controlling inflammation.


Exercise is a very powerful therapy and even better when conducted outside in nature. Studies show that exercise elicits many of its health-enhancing benefits (beyond getting fitter and leaner) via epigenetic mechanisms, many of which are linked to improved cellular processes, enhanced metabolism and longevity. A lifestyle that incorporates movement as often as possible is associated with better health, longevity and quality of life. Find out more about how to get active here. 

Read more top tips from Igennus here.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Cancer fighting teas and tinctures - Sara Davenport

This week Sara Davenport of Reboot Health shares her top herbal teas that could be beneficial for people with cancer…

Around the world, certain herbal teas and tinctures are repeatedly being shown to have significant effects on the growth of cancer tumours. Interestingly, many of them contain a variation of the same ingredients; and equally interestingly, most of them have a ‘story’ attached - of an initial remarkable discovery and then full recovery from the disease. Side effects are rarely reported and most of them boost immunity and purify your blood in the process, so adding them into your daily routine sounds a no-brainer. Swop your daily mint and camomile for a more potent brew....
Jason Winters was a US stunt man, who in 1977 was diagnosed with an aggressive terminal cancer and given just three months to live. He decided to take matters into his own hands, turned down surgery and all conventional treatment and instead travelled the world in search of a cure. He found it in a particular combination of herbs, healed himself successfully, and developed a proprietary herbal tea blend which is now marketed globally. He wrote a book about his experiences, ‘Killing Cancer’ and has won many awards for his contribution to health.
Made from the leaves of the soursop plant, this is also known as graviola or pawpaw tea and there are many claims that drinking it has powerful anti-cancer effects. The tea contains a combination of potent natural antibiotics called acetogenins, alongside other immune boosting substances - alkaloids, antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium, gentisic acid, and anonol - all of which fight tumour growth and development and boost apoptosis, the self-destruction of cancer cells. One site I saw claims it to be 1,000 times more powerful than chemotherapy.
The slightly strange sounding ‘Essiac’ tea is, in fact, simply a reversal of the surname of the woman who made it famous. In 1922, a young Canadian nurse, Rene Caisse, was given certain herbs by an old woman who had cured herself of breast cancer and had been handed down the recipe by the Ojibawa Native Americans who had used it for generations.
When Rene’s aunt was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer and given just months to live, she remembered the information, brewed up the tea, and gave it to her. The aunt recovered completely. Rene treated more cancer cases in the years that followed, and those that drank the tea successfully healed too. Word spread and it became more and more popular with those who were sick. In 1926, supported by 9 senior doctors, Rene Caisse petitioned the Canadian government for funds to carry out formal research into the tea. Instead, they tried to arrest her for treating cancer patients without a medical license and in an official investigation concluded that not one of the people diagnosed had been suffering from cancer after all.
Essiac tea is made from burdock root, the inner bark of the slippery elm, sheep sorrel, cats claw bark and Turkish or Indian rhubarb. Kelp, red clover blossom, watercress herb and blessed thistle herb are often added into the commercial teas, and it is sold under the names of Tea of Life, Flor-essence and various other brands as well as Essiac. There is also a cannabis oil and essiac tea combination available - Canessiac.
Rene Caisse never charged for her tea and the precise recipe died with her. It is still not authorised as an official cancer treatment.
In 1840, the favourite horse of a farmer named John Hoxsey developed cancer and grew a large tumour on its skin. He turned it out to grass, not expecting it to survive the summer. He noticed, however, that it always fed in the same area of the field, and when one day the growth fell off, and the horse recovered, he went to inspect and collect the herbs and grasses it had been eating. He developed a formula that years later, his grandson, Harry Hoxsey, would use in the chain of cancer clinics he opened throughout the USA.
Hoxsey’s herbal tincture consists of a mixture of burdock root, red clover, liquorice, cascara sagrada, Oregon grape root, buckthorn, poke root, prickly ash, chaparral and wild indigo with potassium iodide.
The bark of the Pau D’Arco tree contains a combination of chemicals with tumour shrinking properties; tannins, triterpines and quinones. Different species of the trees have different medicinal properties which have been identified in scientific studies on animals.
The cancer curing properties of this tea were discovered in Brazil in 1967, when a young girl was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Praying for a cure for hours each and every day, she was sent a vision of a monk, who told her that if she drank a tea made from the bark of the Pau D’Arco tree she would be healed. In a second vision, the same monk re-appeared and told her exactly which species of the tree to use. She searched, found it, and drinking it over a period of months, was cured.
It is the bark that is powerful. Look for a brand that contains lapachol, the most potent of the quinones in the bark and a strong immune system stimulator. To make it yourself, place six tablespoons of the bark in a saucepan with a litre (4 cups) of boiling water. Boil for a further 5 minutes until the water is reduced to 3/4 litre (3 cups) and then cool down and strain. Drink around 5-8 cups of the tea a day, sipping it slowly. It’s very bitter. If you develop a slight skin rash, reduce the amount you are drinking until it fades. There are no other reported side effects.
This, I am afraid, I know little about, except that a visitor at The Haven raved about it to me and it has so odd a name I have remembered it for years. It contains many of the ingredients of the other teas and is a combination of distilled water, red clover, chaparral, inkberry, bloodroot, taheebo bark, galangal root, arrowroot, zinc chloride, unrefined honey and glycerine. It also contains a small amount of alcohol. If you google it on the internet, there are both hugely positive and also negative reviews, but the FDA has now prohibited it from sale in the USA.
You can google for independent suppliers in countries all over the world but these are reputable U.K. shops with a wide variety of herbs and tonics for sale.
Baldwins - - this is a brilliant online shop that stocks many of the teas as well as the unusual ingredients of the teas if you decide to make your own.
The Herbal Apothecary -
Jason winters tea is available from his own website –

You can purchase Sara’s book, Reboot Your Health, which is currently on special offer from Amazon here.

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