Read an Excerpt
Chapter One What Color is Your Diet?
There is a tradition that colors our diets beige. Discovered in the Fertile Crescent, beige grains such as wheat provided a reliable source of calories -- but at a price. Egyptians ate a beige, grain-based diet in ancient times, and when Egyptian mummies were unearthed they demonstrated remarkable evidenceof arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. Early farmers were also shorter thanhunter-gatherers, due to the nutritional deficiencies of their grain-baseddiet compared to the colorful diversity of the hunter-gatherer's diet. During the Roman Empire grains were exported from Egypt to Rome to be fed to the lower classes to keep them from rioting. Are fast foods playing a similar role in our modern society? We have a grain-based diet that includes corn oil, corn sugar, and corn-fed beef, all of which are inexpensive and available twenty-four hours a day. Our pets eat a grain-based diet and suffer from cancer, diabetes, and other diseases of man. Even our laboratory rats get a beige-pelleted chow diet and suffer from a high rate of obesity and spontaneous tumors as they age.
Eating is a pleasure, and we have voted with our dollars for a beige diet of French fries, burgers, and cheese. The only problem with the diet we love is that it doesn't fit our genes, which evolved over eons in a plant-based, hunter-gatherer diet with half the fat, no dairy products, no processed foods, no refined sugars, no alcohol, and no tobacco. Our closest animal relatives, gorillas and chimpanzees, choose a richly diverse selection of plant foods based on color, size, texture, and taste. Today, in places suchas New Guinea, we can still find hunter-gatherer populations who eat more than eight hundred varieties of plant foods. Americans eat fewer than twenty different fruits and vegetables, and most Americans eat only three servings of these a day. Adding foods is easier than taking them away, so we will start with a simple addition of fruits and vegetables to help protect your genes from being damaged.
From Beige to Rainbows of Color
Habits, whether good or bad, are familiar and pleasant and shield us from the storm of everyday stress. As stress has increased in our lives, so has stress eating. The rise of steak houses, take-out restaurants, and the continuing popularity of familiar burger-and-fries fast-food restaurants attest to the staying power of stress-release eating. You may know deep down that eating the way you are is not good, but you don't know how to change. If you are ready to change the way you are eating to improve your health, for whatever reason, this book is for you. I wrote this book to simplify much of the confusing information out there about diet so that you can change now. It's no good continuing to eat unhealthy food until the last juror comes back on every scientific study. You can't wait until every naysayer agrees. By then we'll all be dead. Now is the time to change your eating habits or get them tuned up to maximize your health and longevity.
The fact of the matter is that there is a solid foundation of knowledge in nutrition and exciting new breakthroughs in human genetics and disease that tell us loud and clear: Eat a colorful diet. My job is to translate information from scientific jargon into understandable, everyday English while maintaining its essential truth.
DNA and the Language of Four Bases
DNA is found in every cell of your body as part of a long chain of four different but closely related units called "DNA bases." There are four different bases, A, T, G, and C, which form a biological alphabet that the body can read to program the production of specific proteins. The program for each protein is called a "gene." Imagine the bases making up each gene as links between two mirror-image strands of a double helix that can be unzipped and can dictate the exact sequence of these bases on another strand of DNA. Certain bases pair up with other bases, so A always goes with T and G always goes with C. It is this language and the integrity of the DNA zipper that makes the miracle of cell reproduction possible. Cells involved in producing a new human being consist of single strands from two different individuals, so you inherit traits from both your mother and your father. The simple DNA code of four bases continuing through twenty-three different pairs of bodies called "chromosomes" makes up a total of 4 billion such letters to form your personal genetic code. Every time a cell divides, which happens every few hours for cells on the tongue and in the intestine, the DNA must unzip and rezip perfectly. Errors are sometimes made, and these are then repaired. However, as we age there is an accumulation of damage to DNA, much of it harmless. But on occasion, the damage programs the development of cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
The Color Code is designed to minimize this damage by teaching you to eat protective foods and dietary supplements within a healthy diet.
DNA and Genes
When translated, the information found in DNA provides the text that sets the stage for the development of all your physical and behavioral attributes, including hair, nails, internal organs, bones, brain, personality, and the sperm or egg cells necessary for passing your genes on to the next generation. We know that over 90 percent of our DNA is not actually
coding for the production of proteins but is thought to be concerned with regulating how our DNA is used. So damage to DNA can affect how genes are turned on and off, and this process can influence the development of a number of diseases, including common forms of cancer.
DNA Damage and What
You Can Do About It
How is DNA damaged in our bodies?