The Hunter Epi-Genotype
Peter D'Adamo, ND
The GenoType Diet
Environmental factors can alter the way our genes are expressed, making even identical twins different. Epigenetics is the study of changes in genetic expression that are not linked to changes in the DNA sequences but related to the influence of the environment on the genes being expressed or not --basically, whether a gene is silenced or activated. In essence, certain genes carry a sign that says, 'ignore me' --these genes are silenced. Other genes carry a sign that says 'pay attention to me' --these genes are activated. What makes the whole shebang noteworthy is that the patterns of these signs, is just as inheritable as the very genes themselves. Because of this, epigenetics offers an unparalleled indirect effect on the treatment of illness.
The GenoType Diet is a further refinement of my work in personalized nutrition. It uses a variety of simple measurements, combined with blood type data, to classify individuals are one of six basic Epigenotypes: The Hunter, Gatherer, Teacher, Explorer, Warrior and Nomad types. This article describes the 'Explorer' epigenotype.
To Learn More about the GenoType Diet, read my book Change Your Genetic Destiny.
Introduction to the Hunter
If modern humans originated in East Africa, there can be no doubt that their initial migrations took them to Asia. And, as I imply in the prior section, this probably took place in fugue-like fashion as one group set out, to be followed by another, and another. We know this migration was quite ancient, since remains of Homo erectus, who were probably ancestral to modern humans, have been found as far as Pakistan and China.
There was a significant warm interglacial period between 100,000 and 150,000 years ago and a greener Sahara allowed humans living in Ethiopia and the southern Sudan to travel north across an otherwise impenetrable Sahara and Sinai Peninsula. However there was again another sudden freezing of the world's climates about 90,000 years ago, and this saw the return of desert conditions to the Middle East with the loss of major game.
The migration from the Middle East into Europe - the presumed route by those early Homo sapiens- would have looked very different than a similar voyage embarked upon nowadays. They would have had to pass through a belt of extreme arid semi-desert conditions that extended from North Africa almost to the foothills of Armenia in the Caucuses. From there they would have encountered an almost endless expanse of dreary tundra, interrupted solely by dense stands of boreal forest in the Carpathian basin (modern day Hungary) and the headwaters of the Danube, around present day Austria.
These forests would continue to grow and spread out over Western Europe, making it difficult for the larger land animals, which were voracious herbivores, to survive. In their ultimately failed attempts to do so, these large mammals began to migrate east with the shrinking tundra forcing upon these early Homo sapiens one of two choices: Stay put or keep moving west and come to terms with the encroaching forest, or move eastward with the large mammals. Those who stayed became the hunter-gatherers of the forests and fishers of the numerous rivers, bays, and shallow waters connected to the seas of Europe. Those who moved east hunted out the last of wild big game and turned their best efforts into learning to herd what was left.
Heading further north, the tundra would have extended to about the area of modern day Denmark; since it is only there that we find the remains of Scandinavian ice-age animals older than 13,000 BCE. A large part of what is today the North Sea was dry land connecting Denmark with Britain, and the earliest inhabitants of The British Isles almost certainly walked there.
If instead Hunter turned south, to what is now Greece, Southern Italy, all the large Mediterranean islands, and the coastal areas of Turkey and Spain, the vegetation would resemble a semi-desert steppe with scattered pockets of trees in the moist areas: it was certainly a more wooded landscape than we would find taking a similar trip there today, as all these areas have been extensively deforested over the last two thousand years.
In North America, the dominant feature was the presence of a vast ice sheet almost completely covering Canada. Forest dominated the eastern USA, but it was more open in character and contained trees adapted to the cooler climates.
In the Cordillera region of the western USA, the areas below 500 meters altitude were semi-desert and scrub from 500 meters up to 1500 meters. This was also true for the whole Sonoran Desert area to the south and covering Texas and northern Mexico.
South America was slightly cooler and generally drier than at present. It appears that the Amazonian rainforest was substantially reduced in area (though large uncertainties remain). The Atlantic forest of Brazil was also much diminished. Some desert and semi-desert areas formed in what are presently grassland and scrub zones.
The human habitation of the Americans began about 15,000 years ago although some archeologists place it as far back as 30,000 years ago. These early colonists almost certainly crossed the Beringia land bridge, which existed between Siberia and Alaska at that time of the Last Glacial Maximum. Linguistic evidence seems to indicate that they came in several waves.
The Americas had an almost complete extinction of large mammals by the time of the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th century, so much so that their horses were a source of amazement and fright. It has been argued that the extinction of large game was a consequence of the terrific hunting skills possessed by these migrating Asian hunters, but other evidence points to changes in the vegetation at the end of the last glacial period.
Originally forest hunters advancing and retreating along the outskirts of the boreal and tropical woodlands with each change in climate, Hunter GenoTypes are acutely tuned and flexible in their reactions, which perhaps explains why as a human technology they have been so historically successful - and why they continue to adapt to new conditions and challenges.
Hunter Genotype is one of the true success stories in our history as a species. They are highly charged, kinetic people with a constant need for a physical outlet - human electrons, if you will. When in shape, they are capable of prodigious physical effort and as such make for some of the best, most 'natural' athletes to be found in sports. If you need a quick metaphor for the Hunter metabolism, just think of those turn of the century steamships with their glowing coal furnaces buried deep down inside of the hull of the ship. Yet like the heart of a thoroughbred racer, they run and run, often until their heart bursts.
Tall, thin, and intense, with an overabundance of adrenaline and a fierce, nervous energy that winds down with age, the Hunter was originally the success story of the human species. Vulnerable to systemic burnout when overstressed, the Hunter's modern challenge is to conserve energy for the long haul.
The Hunter Genodynamic is reactive, adversarial, and opportunistic - basically a phenomenal combination for survival.
Typically, Hunters are long-legged, with lower legs longer than upper legs and total leg length greater than torso length. They are often lean and long (classic ectomorphs, really) but also can range to meso-ectomorphic as well, with perhaps the distinguishing feature being the fact that meso-ectomorphic Hunters tend to have denser bones but a smaller frame size. Caucasian Hunters almost always broad-headed and often have lighter hued hair; not necessarily blonde, but a broad spectrum of lighter hues of brown. In Africans, Hunters tend to have a Capoid facial structure, with a nasal index that points to a narrower nasal ridge. Biometrically, Hunters almost always have at least one hand that is testosterogenic (ring finger longer than index finger) and many, especially men, have both hands symmetrical for this. This feature and all that growth factor activity in early life are what make Hunters the natural athletes they are.
Because they typically function at such a high level of output, the Hunter rarely sickens in an over-energetic fashion, rather more likely rapidly falling into one of any types of exhaustive states. In these circumstances they can have problems regulating their blood sugar, especially if they are deconditioned from a history of sedentary behavior. Earlier in life, with all their resources at peak function, Hunters can develop a sort of free floating anxiety, occasioned by difficulties in their ability to clear adrenaline effectively from their bodies. These higher levels of adrenaline can often compromise their appetite and appreciation for the texture and flavor of food, and it is not uncommon for Hunters to complain during adolescence and early adulthood that they have difficulty keeping their weight up.
At their best, Hunters have an absolutely superb metabolism - perhaps the best of the six GenoTypes. They have a positive genius for converting calories into the perfect combination of muscle, bone, and fat, and their physiques are primed for optimal use of their lean athletic limbs and long, strong backs. If you're a Hunter you might think of yourself as a top-of-the-line sports car that burns high-octane fuel - and then ask yourself what happens to that Porsche if it gets poor-quality gasoline or isn't driven at the top speeds it was designed for.
In their book, The Fetal Matrix, Gluckman and Hanson make a strong point that our early Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors may have done a better job of 'getting it right.' These so called happy Paleo people no doubt inhabited a world fraught with difficulties, but the hunter gatherer diet, with its reliance on animal protein, would certainly have provided a continuous source of nutrients to their diet even if it was intermittent and sporadic. Other methods of complimenting the diet, such a foraging and perhaps even some light, subsistence agriculture, would have completed what even by our standards of today could be considered a fairly wholesome diet. Since the diet of these individuals was largely in keeping with what would have been anticipated from generation to generation, there really would not have been much of a 'disconnect' between the generations; in other words, what would have been predicted by environmental conditions and programmed in the womb would have been fairly close to what would have been encountered in life; and indeed, evidence would suggest that these people were fairly healthy.
Subsequent to this so called 'Happy Paleo Period' there appeared to be a long process of adjustment to the later Neolithic type existence with its emphasis on a less migratory, more settled existence and increasing reliance on subsistence agricultural and simple animal domestication. These must not have been easy times; the diet would probably have been lacking in some important components. As mentioned earlier from 'Happy Paleo' to subsistence Neolithic may have been the germ of an idea that was later encapsulated in the Bible as the tale of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Of course, no one argues that the effects of agriculture and animal husbandry have gone on to do nothing less than revolutionize the human experience. We and our offspring at least for the foreseeable future live in the so called 'age of plenty,' characterized by phenomenally productive agricultural abundance.
Of course, this has also gone on to become the root of many of our health problems, and one bill that does remain to be paid involves the effects of the thrifty phenotype, developed over the course of many generations in countries like China and India which have experienced a long history of subsistence agriculture, famine, and food shortages. The million dollar question remains: what will happen to these populations, as increasing affluence and the high calorie western diet meets generations of thrifty phenotype programming? The implications are chilling if you are willing to admit that we in the west are currently undergoing our own epidemic of diabetes and obesity and cardiovascular disease, for if that is the case, the sheer numbers of possible cases of these very same problems worldwide and their resistance to cost-effective treatment does not bode well for the future.
No surprise, Hunter possesses a truly amazing set of predictives for hunter-gathering. However unlike several of the other reactive/thrifty genotypes, Hunter is moderately well-adapted to the present day set of environmental conditions as well. Perhaps this is the result of a long tradition of superlative maternal effects due to the genotype possessing many of the requirements for optimum nurturing: High gestational levels of oxygen, insulin and growth factors, often the result of the mother being a Hunter as well, and being perhaps a bit more inclined towards a high protein diet.
Hunter dermatoglyphics (fingerprint patterns occurrence and distribution) show no strong associations, suggesting that this genotype is a product of vigorous and effective prenatal gestational processes, which is a reflection of their lack of thriftiness and ability to burn through calories at a prodigious rate. If you haven't been eating right for your GenoType, you'll probably have done some damage to the lining of your digestive tract and having worn fingerprints with lots of white lines will let you know that's the case.
In other words, when you can make a decent fingerprint, you can make a decent lining for your gut as well. Perhaps no surprise, white lines have been linked to celiac disease, a condition of gluten sensitivity.
Ancestry and Variants
Hunters often have variations (polymorphisms) in several of the common nutritionally significant genes. These polymorphisms fall into two very general categories: pro-inflammatory genes and genes which indirectly modules inflammation due to their ability to activate anti-oxidants:
Proinflammatory and antioxidant gene polymorphisms are common to Hunter.
DNA Y-Chromosome Analysis
Both the Western (R1b) and Eastern (R1a) Eurasian haplogroups are observed, although R1b is by far the more common. Haplogroup I is especially interesting since it may trace some of the Hunter GenoType migrations in response to the movement of the most recent glaciers, a point at which the Hunter and Explorer GenoTypes may have been one and the same.
DNA Mitochondrial Chromosome Analysis
Mitochondrial DNA tends to peg Hunter with the few ancient haplogroups and some of the more recent mutations. Most Hunters of African descent are part of the L2 haplogroup. Hunter is one of the few haplogroups that contains all three of the less common descendants of N: Groups I, W and X. Haplogroup I may have been among the very first to colonize Europe.
Other Western Haplogroups seen in Hunter are U and K. Haplogroup U is believed to have risen somewhere in Europe or the Near East approximately 55,000 years before present. Haplogroup K is a mostly Eurasian haplotype, and is believed to have first appeared when human populations expanded through Europe after the last glacial maximum in 16,000 BC. Mitochondrial H haplogroup is very common in European Hunters, but is also very common in other European genotypes as well. Mitochondrial haplogroup B may be an especially strong indicator in Hispanics and Polynesians.
The organs that govern our stress response are the adrenal and pituitary glands, and, not surprisingly, these are vulnerable areas for most Hunters. Well-functioning Hunters run on a healthy adrenaline high with short, sustained bursts of energy that members of other GenoTypes often find astonishing. But good adrenal function requires down time - periods when adrenaline is discharged through satisfying physical exertion and when the mind returns to a place of calm. Hunters in our modern world, with its perpetual deadlines and sedentary life, are all too prone to adrenal burnout, the sad condition that results from excess adrenaline production and insufficient stress release.
Hunters can also have difficulty properly adjusting what physiologists call the 'HPA Axis' the series of connections between the adrenal gland and the pituitary and hypothalamus glands in the brain. The HPA Axis is responsible for regularizing and normalizing the adaptive stress response, sometimes called the 'fight or flight' reflex. Probably as a result of their optimization for hunter-gathering with all its attendant risks and needs for present-time consciousness Hunters would seem to wear a path out in the rug between their pituitary and adrenal glands. Adrenal glands vary in weight from 7 to 20 grams in normal adults while the thickness of the gland varied almost tenfold among individuals, and you can bet that Hunters are at the top of the scale.
In the 1960's Henry Bieler, a medical doctor wrote a book called Food Is Your Best Medicine. In it he described what he called 'Glandular Types' - differences among people that are the result of one glandular system acting pre-eminently over the others. Hunters would likely classify as 'Pituitary Dominant' in Bieler's system; he describes the type as suffering from weak adrenal function, having tall stature and a somewhat moody and perfectionist mental outlook. This is way too broad of a brushstroke: Hunters display what more likely seems a highly developed mechanical aptitude rather than any moody perfectionism.
An interesting feature of Hunter is that they almost always seem to be hungry, yet often fill up quickly, with just a few bites of this or a sip of that. A half hour later, it starts all over again. If you watch a few Hunters, you can begin to see that this GenoType is hungry on a lot of levels; they love to tinker with stuff and enjoy learning new things. However, like their appetite, they often zoom right past it all in a desire to get to the end, or bottom, of things. Before long, they're on to something else.
Because of their reactive and inflammatory tendencies, Hunters can age rapidly. Keeping a healthy dietary supply of proper gene promoting factors such as the B vitamin Folic Acid is especially critical for optimizing gene methylation (the process of maintaining DNA integrity during replication). Because of their exposure to the various growth factors in early life, which can increase risks for certain cancers, this is especially important to consider when supplementing. Often the buildup of combinations of antigens and antibodies that come out of solution in the blood and deposit in the tissues, called immune complexes, can lead to autoimmune problems with the joints, kidneys and skin.
Hunters are prone to inflammation - the heat, redness, swelling, and pain that result when the body fights off what it perceives as a dangerous invader. In many cases, the cure is worse than the disease, since inflammation contributes to numerous health problems, including arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Inflammation may also contribute to obesity, so hyper-reactive Hunters' price for not following their ideal diet is to, well, need a diet! As you can see, an over-reactive immune system is the powerful Hunter's Achilles heel, so the GenoType 1 Hunter diet is designed to get that immune system back in balance and damp down its hair-trigger responses when they're not really needed.
Hunter has a somewhat hostile bent, and this can be tremendously amplified if they are forced to derive intrauterine nourishment from a mother who is consuming an inadequate amount of dietary fat or who is blood group A. The female Hunter is a very effective genotype, with some wonderful predictives behind her. Curiously, the spectrum of cancers that Hunters appear prone to seem to impact men a bit more than women, especially those that involve hormone activation and the organs of reproduction. In essence Hunter women are a bit more prone to malignancy, but it is not malignancy that involves the breast, uterus or ovaries - the reproductive organs. Male Hunters on the other hand do seem to have their fair share of prostate cancer.
The high water mark of hunter-gathering is often called the Mesolithic period ('Middle Stone Age') which began around 10,000 years ago and ended with the introduction of farming. The onset of farming differed from place to place, starting early in the Near East and much later in Europe. Hunter-gatherer technology reached its apex during the Mesolithic era; fishing tackle, stone adzes, canoes and bows have all been found preserved at various sites.
Popular culture tends to depict our Stone Age ancestors as crude, simplistic animals perpetually at the point of starvation. "Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" as Thomas Hobbes had put it in 1651. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Though small in number, Paleolithic hunter-gatherers worked far fewer hours and enjoyed more leisure than typical members of industrial society, and they still ate well, satisfied with very little in the material sense. The transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture was not necessarily a one way process, and evidence seems to disprove any notion that hunter-gatherers were saved from extinction by the advent of farming technology. They seem to have been familiar with farming practices when it arose, but for the longest time simply rejected it or used it as a marginal supplement to the diet.
As these late hunter-gatherer societies evolved, they began to develop specializations such as fishing and seafood collection, harvesting nuts and fruits, or trapping small animals. They often had simple forms of representative government, based around family or clan.
Perhaps it is not coincidental that the story of the Garden of Eden in the Bible shares some of the same elements in its storyline. Some anthropologists have hypothesized that the Garden of Eden does not represent a geographical place, but rather represents cultural memory of the simpler times of hunter-gathering, when man lived off God's bounty, as opposed to being civilized and toiling at agriculture.
Because they typically function at such a high level of output, Hunter rarely sickens in an over-energetic fashion, rather more likely rapidly falling into one of any types of exhaustive states. In these circumstances they can have problems regulating their blood sugar, especially if they are deconditioned from a history of sedentary behavior. Earlier in life, with all their resources at peak function Hunter can develop a sort of free floating anxiety, occasioned by difficulties in their ability to clear adrenaline effectively from their bodies. These higher levels of adrenaline can often compromise their appetite and appreciation for the texture and flavor of food, and it is not uncommon for Hunters to complain during adolescence and early adulthood that they have difficulty keeping their weight up. If not effectively dealt with, this could easily devolve into anorexia and its associated eating disorders - a major problem with Hunter, since the muscle loss that occurs as a result of this difficult period can almost never be replenished.
Overcompensation was at one time a very effective survival strategy in the pre-antibiotic, pre-vaccination days, but in our modern society with its abundance of new man-made, xenobiotic chemicals, this type of reaction norm is as exhausting as it is unprofitable. An exhausting it is: as Hunters age, their immune function can drop precipitously, which along with their tendencies to longer lower leg length and its implications with regard to childhood exposure to high levels of growth factors, goes a long way to explain their surprisingly higher rates of malignancy. It's also likely that this tendency to malignancy is a result of epigenetic programming that needed to anticipate maximum energy, fertility and strength during the 20's and early 30's but did not anticipate effectively the effects of the ongoing and steady increases in lifespan that have occurred in the last several centuries.
The Hunter diet could be described as 'Pure Paleo' but that would not give this GenoType adequate credit for the marvelous efficiencies by which they approach and react to environmental challenges. By and large, if they can poke it with a sharp stick, it's pretty much fair game for Hunter, though there is a difference between their predictive goals - which are to survive long enough to reproduce - and what most of us really want - the ability to survive a bit longer than that. In order to accomplish that, Hunter must optimize their production of kinetic energy, temper and balance their stress axis, and strive to control tendencies towards runaway inflammation and pre-mature aging.
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