How the environment influences health and beauty by John Appleton

Recently I attended a lecture by world renowned cell Biologist Bruce Lipton PhD.  He’s an amazing speaker who can hold an audience spellbound for hours. Some of his lectures are on DVD at . The ‘Power of Love’ on DVD is one that every parent, or those about to become parents, will find inspiring and extremely helpful.

Many people believe that our lives are entirely pre-determined by our genes but as Dr Lipton pointed out so eloquently in his lecture, genes are merely a blueprint and it’s the signals that our cells receive (from the environment that they are exposed to) that determines how our blueprint is read. This is the basis of a new science known as Epigenetics which means control above genetics.  Dr Lipton says that genes are not destiny. He says that environmental influences (signals), including nutrition, stress and emotions can modify our genes without changing their basic blueprint. To understand that we can influence our health by changing the environment that we expose our cells to is indeed empowering. Dr Lipton who was a pioneer of stem cell research, talks of placing stem cells in a petrie dish and watching them divide and replicate.  He then placed some of these stem cells in another petrie dish with a different ‘medium’ (environment) and they became skin cells and some in another petrie dish with another ‘medium’ became bone cells. In each case the blueprint (DNA) was read in accordance with the environment the cells were placed in.

The message for us is that we have an opportunity to influence the way our cells respond by ensuring that they receive health inducing signals.  It’s something we should contemplate every day. A recent article in the NZ Herald illustrates this well – New research shows that Mothers who live close to a motorway are more likely to give birth prematurely.  The air pollution (an environmental signal) is said to be responsible for this.  So what can we do to ensure that our cells are getting the ‘right’ messages?  The good news is that just as the formula that will promote the health of one cell will promote the health of all of our cells, the formula that will promote the health of one individual can work in the same way for others. 

For almost 30 years I battled a chronic gastrointestinal condition that progressively worsened despite having had major surgery and spending thousands of dollars on countless visits to doctors and specialists. The drugs I was given didn’t even control the symptoms let alone address the cause and the side effects were extremely unpleasant. When I finally discovered what was driving the problem and implemented very significant health inducing lifestyle changes, not only did my gastrointestinal problems go away, my eyesight improved, my joints stopped aching, and several risk factors for heart disease disappeared. All I had done was find the formula to heal my gut but all the other cells joined the party and responded enthusiastically. Just as our cells have an amazing ability to communicate with each other, with people talking to people and sharing their stories we will begin to see the some significant improvements in the health of our fellow New Zealanders

When I grew up we were not exposed to the thousands of (untested) chemicals that now abound in the environment. Today it’s almost impossible to avoid exposure to cleaning products, pesticides and herbicides, traffic pollution, electromagnetic fields from televisions, computers and cellphones, and heavy metals that are being pumped into the environment from factories and power stations etc. And then there are the estrogen mimicking plastics that so many of our foods are wrapped in. To say we live in a toxic environment is an understatement. No longer is it possible to have access to good (wholesome) food, clean water and fresh pure air.

I don’t claim to have all the answers but I have identified a number of things that I believe are very important pieces in the ‘puzzle’. In terms of diet, for me sugar is enemy #1 (“Lick the Sugar Habit” by Nancy Appleton PhD) and my own experience suggests that anyone removing sugar and all products containing it from their diet will experience significant health benefits. Refined carbohydrates in one form or another are found on almost every supermarket shelf. These have no place in a health inducing diet but the problem is that almost all of us are totally addicted to them.

I have a problem with gluten and I think many of us do to a greater or lesser extent. I recommend that anyone who has unexplained symptoms try removing gluten from the diet (one has to be very strict). I avoid inflammatory and highly processed vegetable oils and the spreads containing them and caffeine and alcohol are crutches that I have managed to forgo in pursuit of better health. 

When it comes to what I eat, although I am not vegetarian, my focus is on a plant based diet with an emphasis on green vegetables which I juice every day. I try to eat as much organic food as possible and for me it’s more about whether the produce is sprayed or not sprayed that is relevant. My oils are virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil and some unsalted butter. I am particularly focused on hydration and I try to drink 3 litres of unchlorinated and unfluoridated water daily while steering clear of diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol. If the skin is showing signs of dehydration, imagine what’s going on ‘inside’ the body?

Just as an apple protects itself with antioxidants, I am doing much the same in order to maintain good electron flow.  It’s quite simple; anything that impedes the flow of electrons or robs them (the toxic environment) from cells and tissues will adversely affect health.  Anything that improves electron flow by donating electrons improves health.

There are many antioxidants but my focus is on a group of antioxidants (5) that network with each other by donating electrons to others in the group when one has itself become oxidised.  The network antioxidants are GSH (Glutathione) – Coenzyme Q10 – Vitamin C – Vitamin E  and Lipoic acid.  In addition I take Vitamin D as a supplement together with a high potency Omega 3 product (as Fish Oil). These antioxidants have many vital roles in the body. Vitamin C – is essential for collagen synthesis and when it comes to infection either bacterial or viral, Vitamin C is first on my list. Coenzyme Q10 provides the ‘spark’ that generates the production of almost all of our cellular energy. Vitamin E protects against heart disease and helps to reduce inflammation and promote healing and Lipoic Acid is a powerful chelator that can help with removing heavy metals from the brain. Researchers from University of San Diego reported last year that having an optimal level of Vitamin D can reduce the incidence of Breast Cancer by up to 75%. Most New Zealanders have a sub optimal level of Vitamin D.

Everyone likes something for nothing and recently when I read about how we could all obtain a free supply of electrons simply by walking barefoot on the ground outside I was quite excited. According to the authors of a new book “EARTHING THE MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERY EVER” many common diseases are driven by electron-seeking free radicals that drive chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation may be attributed to an electron deficiency that is remedied by contact with the Earth's infinite reservoir of free electrons. Today with our Nike ‘trainers’, Jandals and rubber soled work shoes we are insulating ourselves from the earth and what’s becoming known as Vitamin G (grounding). For me now it’s shoes off as much as possible.

Exercise is one thing we have no excuse for not taking seriously. It costs nothing to take a long walk, to lift some weights, to do some pushups or to run up and down a few flights of stairs. Exercise has a major influence on creating a healthy environment for our cells by assisting with the oxygenation of our tissues but for me the role of exercise in stimulating the lymphatics is the most important. Removing the toxins from our bodies should be top of mind every day. Cancer is said to be caused by the mutation in the DNA of formerly healthy cells. As to what might do this – look no further than environmental toxins and a poor diet.

Something else we should all be working hard to achieve and that is to lower our stress levels. Stress impacts significantly on our health because when we are under stress the body is in ‘fight or flight’ mode and the energy that would otherwise be allocated to our immune system is reallocated.

With chronic degenerative diseases (that can be significantly influenced by lifestyle changes) accounting for up to 80% of what our government spends on ‘health’ each year, taking more responsibility for our health is surely a step in the right direction.  Yes there is a cost in terms of time and money but as I see it we can either pay to promote and maintain our health or pay to pick up the pieces when the ‘wheels’ start falling off. 


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