Junk Food Encoded in Children’s DNA and Beyond

Activist Post
by Heather Callaghan

Through the emerging information from epigenetics – the study of environmental exposure on genes – it becomes apparent that we are not the body equivalent to Las Vegas. What happens to us doesn’t stay with us – it moves on.

It’s not so much that disease moves on, but a “poorly trained” immune system does, according to a unique new study in Nutrition Journal.

It starts with inflammation from the Western diet and an infinite domino effect begins….

An excerpt from the abstract of “Fast Food Fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity”:

Detailed attention is given to the dietary impact on the gut microbiome and the mechanisms by which our poor dietary choices are encoded into our gut, our genes, and are passed to our offspring.

[…]

While today’s modern diet may provide beneficial protection from micro- and macronutrient deficiencies, our over abundance of calories and the macronutrients that compose our diet may all lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease.

On page 4:

What is perhaps of larger concern is that the harmful effects of diet can actually stretch across generations. A mother’s diet may potentially shape her child’s flavor preferences even before birth, potentially skewing their palette towards anything from vegetables to sugary sweets in ways that could influence subsequent propensity for obesity and/or unhealthy dieting. In addition, children inherent their microbiome from their mother mostly through parturition but also during breast-feeding and development until the bacterial balance matures around to four years of age.

It goes on to say that microbiome can be “seeded” into the unborn child while in the womb, but if diet toppled mom’s bacteria balance, the child’s inherited immune system doesn’t have an “education.”

Later, while the study definitely doesn’t condemn the genetic modification of food crops, major concern surrounds the inflammatory effects of certain Bt pesticide-resistant varieties and its potential genetic impact on gut bacteria, and perhaps that issue being passed on. They point out that it would be hard to fully determine since patent laws bar independent study without permission, and the potential for evidence suppression and conflict of interest on the word of biotech companies is a possibility. Indeed.

The study doesn’t contest that Americans are fed, but the inability to absorb nutrients which literally leaves them defenseless in the face of disease, or rather creates the environment for it with a poorly trained and equipped immune system. Lacking a good bacterial microbiome is intensifying the vulnerability and that seems to be what we pass on to offspring.

The authors conclude:

Of potentially greatest concern, our poor dietary behaviors are encoded into both our DNA scaffolding and gut microbiome, and thus these harmful immune modifications are passed to our offspring during their most critical development window.

Therefore, given the scope of influence, the vast economic impacts, and the potential for trans-generational inheritance, the dietary impacts on immune health should thus, at minimum, be afforded a level of attention equal to that given to the dietary impacts on cardiovascular health.

In the end, it takes a terribly hopeless tone, concluding that even probiotics can’t undo the damage or help posterity – meaning, more needs to be done. But what? Intervention? The target seems to be the “damage of our dietary choices.” Yet, most people are limited in their choices, especially at the grocery store where most of the choices have unlabeled GMOs and chemicals.

Recovery for Western health and future generations of course, remains to be seen. A great many atrocities appear aimed at deactivating the entire terrain of the human immune system. What do you suppose the ultimate purpose was for this study?

Please feel free to read the study and let me know what you think. You can see some interesting charts here.

Recently, I wrote about the impact of hunger, genocide and war on the skulls of Cherokee native Americans. Skulls were shrinking in size and that trait was being passed on genetically, but only during tumultuous times. While the discovery seems quite new, I point out that doctors were warning about the necessity of nutrition on genetic impact decades before, yet they were ridiculed at the time. We come full circle again.

But it’s not just junk food – the modern bogeyman in politics; it’s everything in the environment, especially chemicals, which we eat and are exposed to with everything we touch and the air we breathe. The devastating and gene-altering capability of environmental chemicals, even before conception (through the DNA of each parent), has been documented for decades.

Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease

True Activist

The modern diet of processed foods, takeaways and microwave meals could be to blame for a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, including alopecia, asthma and eczema.

A team of scientists from Yale University in the U.S and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany, say junk food diets could be partly to blame.

‘This study is the first to indicate that excess refined and processed salt may be one of the environmental factors driving the increased incidence of autoimmune diseases,’ they said.

Junk foods at fast food restaurants as well as processed foods at grocery retailers represent the largest sources of sodium intake from refined salts.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal sent out an international team of researchers to compare the salt content of 2,124 items from fast food establishments such as Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway. They found that the average salt content varied between companies and between the same products sold in different countries.

U.S. fast foods are often more than twice as salt-laden as those of other countries. While government-led public health campaigns and legislation efforts have reduced refined salt levels in many countries, the U.S. government has been reluctant to press the issue. That’s left fast-food companies free to go salt crazy, says Norm Campbell, M.D., one of the study authors and a blood-pressure specialist at the University of Calgary.

Many low-fat foods rely on salt–and lots of it–for their flavor. One packet of KFC’s Marzetti Light Italian Dressing might only have 15 calories and 0.5 grams fat, but it also has 510 mg sodium–about 1.5 times as much as one Original Recipe chicken drumstick. (Feel like you’re having too much of a good thing? You probably are.

Bread is the No. 1 source of refined salt consumption in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just one 6-inch Roasted Garlic loaf from Subway–just the bread, no meat, no cheeses, no nothing–has 1,260 mg sodium, about as much as 14 strips of bacon.

How Refined Salt Causes Autoimmune Disease

The team from Yale University studied the role of T helper cells in the body. These activate and ‘help’ other cells to fight dangerous pathogens such as bacteria or viruses and battle infections.
Previous research suggests that a subset of these cells – known as Th17 cells – also play an important role in the development of autoimmune diseases.

In the latest study, scientists discovered that exposing these cells in a lab to a table salt solution made them act more ‘aggressively.’

They found that mice fed a diet high in refined salts saw a dramatic increase in the number of Th17 cells in their nervous systems that promoted inflammation.

They were also more likely to develop a severe form of a disease associated with multiple sclerosis in humans.

The scientists then conducted a closer examination of these effects at a molecular level.

Laboratory tests revealed that salt exposure increased the levels of cytokines released by Th17 cells 10 times more than usual. Cytokines are proteins used to pass messages between cells.

Study co-author Ralf Linker, from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, said: ‘These findings are an important contribution to the understanding of multiple sclerosis and may offer new targets for a better treatment of the disease, for which at present there is no cure.’

It develops when the immune system mistakes the myelin that surrounds the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord for a foreign body.

It strips the myelin off the nerves fibres, which disrupts messages passed between the brain and body causing problems with speech, vision and balance.

Another of the study’s authors, Professor David Hafler, from Yale University, said that nature had clearly not intended for the immune system to attack its host body, so he expected that an external factor was playing a part.

He said: ‘These are not diseases of bad genes alone or diseases caused by the environment, but diseases of a bad interaction between genes and the environment.

‘Humans were genetically selected for conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where there was no salt. It’s one of the reasons that having a particular gene may make African Americans much more sensitive to salt.

‘Today, Western diets all have high salt content and that has led to increase in hypertension and perhaps autoimmune disease as well.’

The team next plan to study the role that Th17 cells play in autoimmune conditions that affect the skin.

‘It would be interesting to find out if patients with psoriasis can alleviate their symptoms by reducing their salt intake,’ they said.

‘However, the development of autoimmune diseases is a very complex process which depends on many genetic and environmental factors.’

Stick to Good Salts

Refined, processed and bleached salts are the problem. Salt is critical to our health and is the most readily available nonmetallic mineral in the world. Our bodies are not designed to processed refined sodium chloride since it has no nutritional value. However, when a salt is filled with dozens of minerals such as in rose-coloured crystals of Himalayan rock salt or the grey texture of Celtic salt, our bodies benefit tremendously for their incorporation into our diet.

“These mineral salts are identical to the elements of which our bodies have been built and were originally found in the primal ocean from where life originated,” argues Dr Barbara Hendel, researcher and co-author of Water & Salt, The Essence of Life. “We have salty tears and salty perspiration. The chemical and mineral composition of our blood and body fluids are similar to sea water. From the beginning of life, as unborn babies, we are encased in a sack of salty fluid.”

“In water, salt dissolves into mineral ions,” explains Dr Hendel. “These conduct electrical nerve impulses that drive muscle movement and thought processes. Just the simple act of drinking a glass of water requires millions of instructions that come from mineral ions. They’re also needed to balance PH levels in the body.”

Mineral salts, she says, are healthy because they give your body the variety of mineral ions needed to balance its functions, remain healthy and heal. These healing properties have long been recognised in central Europe. At Wieliczka in Poland, a hospital has been carved in a salt mountain. Asthmatics and patients with lung disease and allergies find that breathing air in the saline underground chambers helps improve symptoms in 90 per cent of cases.

Dr Hendel believes too few minerals, rather than too much salt, may be to blame for health problems. It’s a view that is echoed by other academics such as David McCarron, of Oregon Health Sciences University in the US.

He says salt has always been part of the human diet, but what has changed is the mineral content of our food. Instead of eating food high in minerals, such as nuts, fruit and vegetables, people are filling themselves up with “mineral empty” processed food and fizzy drinks.

IQ Foods: Processed Food Lowers IQ in Children, Nutritious Food Raises It

Natural Society

Processed foods are the staple of far too many diets, particularly in the United States where 105 million people have either diabetes or prediabetes. These processed foods are filled with white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, artificial food colorings, and a wide variety of other toxic substances. Interestingly enough, research shows that these are some of the worst IQ foods. Given the makeup of processed foods, is it any wonder that children are suffering from IQ reduction upon introducing these foods into their diet.

IQ Foods: The Findings
British researchers uncovered the connection between processed foods and reduced IQ. They followed what 14,000 children ate and drank at the ages of 3, 4, 7, and 8.5 years of age, with answers submitted via parents through questionnaires. The researchers found that if children were consuming a processed diet at age 3, IQ decline could begin over the next five years. The study found that by age 8, the children had suffered the IQ decline.

On the contrary, children who ate a nutrient-rich diet were found to increase their IQ over the 3 year period. The foods considered nutrient-rich by the researchers were most likely conventional fruits and vegetables. If children were to eat a wide variety of organic produce, superfoods, mineral-rich plants, and perhaps even consume a food-based multivitamin, the researchers would most likely see a substantial IQ increase. This eating plan would also benefit the children — or even adults — in other aspects of their lives as well, such as better overall health & well-being.

Processed foods have been known to wreak havoc on the body for quite some time. One joint American and Spanish study has even found that junk food products, particularly those containing trans fats, can make healthy young men infertile by damaging their sperm. Another study, conducted by scientists from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, reported that both junk food and fast food consumption can bring on depression. The link was so strong, in fact, that those who consumed fast food were 51% more likely to be depressed. It isn’t surprising that some of the worst IQ foods are the same foods that cause numerous health complications.

Diet, nutrient levels linked to cognitive ability, brain shrinkage

Science Blog, Jan 12, 2012
New research has found that elderly people with higher levels of several vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had better performance on mental acuity tests and less of the brain shrinkage typical of Alzheimer’s disease – while “junk food” diets produced just the opposite result.

The study was among the first of its type to specifically measure a wide range of blood nutrient levels instead of basing findings on less precise data such as food questionnaires. It found positive effects of high levels of vitamins B, C, D, E and the healthy oils most commonly found in fish.
The research was done by scientists from the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore., and the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. It was published today in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.Full story

Report links farm subsidies, obesity

The Sacramento Bee, Sept. 26, 2011

Are farm subsidies making us fat?

Billions in taxpayer dollars are going to support high fructose corn syrup and three other common food additives used in junk food according to a report released this week by the California Public Interest Research Group and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, both consumer advocacy groups.

The report, “Apples to Twinkies: Comparing Federal Subsidies of Fresh Produce and Junk Food ” makes the case that federal farm subsidies are helping feed the nation’s obesity epidemic. The research shows that from 1995 to 2010, $16.9 billion in federal subsidies went to producers and others in the business of corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soy oils.

Full story
Related: Report: U.S. spending billions of dollars to subsidize junk food