When we talk about health and nutrition, there is a tendency for many people to think of calorie counting and exercise as the ways to ensure good health. While exercise is definitely a good thing, what you put into your body is far more important than most people realise. And it’s more involved than you may think.

Epigenetics: we can influence our genes

Epigenetics is an emerging field of science that looks at gene expression and how it is influenced. The overall health of your body is determined by the overall health of your cells. Epigenetics refers to external modifications (chemical tags) to DNA that turn genes on or off. These modifications do not change the DNA sequence; instead, they affect how cells read genes. This is why a skin cell looks different from a brain cell or a muscle cell. All three have the same DNA, but their genes are expressed differently which creates different cell types. These external modifications to the DNA come from various internal and external factors, most of which are under our control.


This means that even though we inherit the genes of our parents, we can influence which ones get expressed. Diseases and traits that were once thought of as hereditary (inherited from your parents) may no longer be inevitable! Our health is in our hands!

We are NOT the code, we are the WRITERS of the code

There are several factors which affect gene expression, here are some of the main ones:

  • Exercise
  • Hydration
  • Nutrition
  • Environmental toxins
  • Exposure to stress
  • Exposure to daylight
  • Mindset
  • Unresolved emotional trauma

As you can see, most of the factors on this list are things we have control over. Which is amazing! I could talk for hours on this list, but today I will focus on hydration and nutrition and how important they are for your overall health and wellbeing.

“Food is the code that programs your biology. You can literally upgrade or downgrade your biological software with what you choose to eat.” – Dr. Mark Hyman


waterWhen you wake up from a good night’s sleep, most people have been fasting from food and water for at least eight hours. If you have been intermittent fasting as well, you might even be up to sixteen or more hours without food! For some, this idea sounds crazy. For me, its how my body works best.

Dry fasting is the practice of not drinking any liquids for a certain amount of time; everyone dry fasts overnight, Muslims dry fast in daylight hours during Ramadan, others try it as a detox tool. On a normal, non-detox day, you want to end that dry fast as soon as possible, so it is an act of self-love to your body to start the day with a nice long drink, 500ml works best. Water doesn’t hang around in your stomach for long, so making this the first thing that enters your body each day, ensures it gets to where it’s needed as fast as possible.

Your body is made up of 80% water, help it out and replace all that has been lost overnight. You can prevent a lot of health problems by simply staying hydrated. Your body needs water to flush out waste products and boost your immune system! Added bonus points for adding lemon juice to your water first thing in the morning, this helps flush out toxins and alkalize the body.

“Genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger” – Dr. Mark Hyman


Some people mistakenly think that self-love regarding food means giving in to their food cravings once in a while. Letting themselves indulge in that piece of chocolate cake or the occasional pizza can seem like it’s an act of self-love because you want it so badly and it makes you so happy to eat it. However, how long are you happy for once you have eaten it? Do you feel guilty afterwards? Do you try and make up for it by eating less for the rest of the day? None of these habits are healthy or acting out of self-love.

foodFood is information, and not all calories are the same. Many people count calories but don’t take into account that 50 calories of cake (or pizza) and 50 calories of vegetables contain very different nutritional loads. Counting calories for weight loss may work for some, but it is not an indication of health. You can be thin and still be unhealthy. On that note, here is a list of foods that are great for your health at any time…

  • Cruciferous vegetables (think cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
  • Root vegetables
  • Peppers (capsicum)
  • Mushrooms
  • Leafy greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Avocados
  • Coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil (cold-pressed, virgin)
  • Olives
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, etc.)
  • Fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Organic pasture-raised eggs

When we are talking about food as information for your DNA, you can’t go wrong with the list above. What you do need to be aware of, however, is the toxin load that may come with these if they are not organic. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are toxic to your body and will provide negative information to your DNA. Always wash your fresh produce if you don’t know where they have come from, or ideally, grown your own.

Every bite you eat is either fighting disease or feeding it

Next is a list of foods that are not good for you, no matter how much your body craves them…

  • Any processed foods (anything that comes out of a factory)
  • Sugar and flour (flour acts like sugar in the body)
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Refined vegetable-, bean-, and seed oils
  • GMO foods
  • Alcohol
  • Deep-fried food
  • Confectionery
  • Pastries, cookies, and cakes
  • Processed fruit juices
  • Convenience snacks (eg. crisps, salted nuts, crackers, etc.)
  • Carbonated drinks

unhealthy food

There is so much more to put on this list, but I think most of us know when we are choosing to eat something that is not in our body’s best interest, we just ignore that voice in our head.

“You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet” – Dr. Mark Hyman

Little known intolerances

lactose glutenA little known fact is that everyone is intolerant to gluten to some degree. Many people have trained their bodies to eat it so may not show many adverse effects. This does not mean that it has no effect on your body. Gluten will cause inflammation on some level; maybe it is consistent enough that you don’t notice it anymore. The more I have cut gluten out of my diet, the less I can tolerate it when I do eat it again. This has made me more aware of the effects it has on my body, and it is a lot less desirable to eat than it used to be!

Another little known fact is that every human on the planet is supposed to be lactose intolerant once weaned from breast milk. The enzyme lactase is responsible for breaking down the lactose in milk and we are genetically designed to reduce production of this enzyme from infancy onwards. 75% of the world population is lactose intolerant because it’s a natural process for humans. The reason many people can still tolerate lactose is because they have trained their bodies to continue producing lactase by drinking cow’s milk.

Hopefully, you noticed that on the healthy foods list, eggs are the only animal product listed. I personally do not eat fish, meat or dairy due to the unavailable knowledge on how that animal was raised, what it was fed, what antibiotics, growth hormones, and chemicals it was given during its life, and how it was killed.

You eat what your food ate

cattleOn one level, I want to know what I’m putting into my body, and I can’t do that not knowing the information above. On another level (even ignoring all the ethical and environmental issues associated with animal agriculture), the stress that animal is subject to before it is killed results in an extreme level of cortisol and adrenaline in the body, and therefore in the meat. These are not hormones I want to increase in my own body.

The eggs I eat I can source back to the farmer, I can see how they are raised, what they are fed, and that the chickens and ducks are happy. If I am in a situation where this is not the case, I then need to make the choice of whether I continue to eat eggs or not. Luckily, that is a rare situation.

I am not trying to preach a particular diet to anyone; different foods react differently in each individual. What I am asking is that you educate yourself on what nutrition you put into your body. Find out where your food comes from, if it was once alive, find out what it was fed, how it lived, what chemicals it was given and if it lived as naturally as possible. Organic is a good start but you still need to ensure that your beef cows were fed grass instead of grains, that your chickens were allowed to see sunlight and lived longer than 5 weeks, and honestly, I don’t think there is a way to make sure your fish is chemical-, heavy metal-, and antibiotic-free. There are many reasons I choose not to eat meat, fish or dairy, but I definitely feel more healthy without them.

Nutrition is information to your DNA, learn what information is contained within your food and you can effectively change your gene expression. Just because you are genetically predisposed to a certain disease, does not mean you are predetermined to get it. That is in your hands.