The Gatherer 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 Gatherer
If you could possibly even imagine it, Africa 20,000 years ago was drier than it is today. However, by about 13,000 years ago, this began to change; the world became warmer and moister, creating large belts of Savanna-like grasslands where once and future sand dunes would predominate. Then it changed again. Creeping cold from the north again made the desert more arid and similar to the present, as the great northern glaciers sucked up and froze all the available water.
Gatherers often skirted wastelands and deserts. The GenoType stretches along a broad continuum of landforms, a sort of 'Junction GenoType,' connecting the variations of a number of gene systems to changes in rainfall and temperature. This is what makes Gatherer so efficient and thrifty; they are able to survive the lean and sparse interregnums between migration and relocation. Because of this phenomenal adaptability Gatherer cuts a wide swath across ethnic and geographic distinctions, connecting diverse groups together via two basic reaction norms: a marked ability to survive famine, and outside of that environment, a tendency to gain weight gradually throughout their lifespan.
These temperate regions are usually semi-arid, with a wet and dry season. The soils are quite fertile with rich nutrients, and the plentiful grasses are natural attractants for grazing animals and birds. However, these regions are climatically rather schizoid with burning days followed by freezing nights, blazing hot summer and freezing winters, inundations of rain and flooding followed by drought, and long periods of peace and tranquility followed by new migrations. Like the coiling of a great metal spring, each installment of abundance and scarcity would program the need for survival and thriftiness even further.
The combined influences of nature and nurture give Gatherers a complex psychological profile. Let's face it, our attitudes are formed in large part by social feedback, and in Western cultures there has been a reversal of fortune for Gatherers. One hundred years ago, even industrialized societies revered voluptuous women and portly men as symbols of affluence and fertility. Today the opposite is true. Being slender is viewed as a sign of success and affluence.
Gatherers carried humanity on their backs during times of famine and scarcity. They are Nature's ultimate survival strategy. Vulnerable to conserving calories as stored fat, the Gatherers' modern challenge is to fit their survival programming to the realities of today's overabundance of fats and sugar.
Gatherers are not usually very tall, and their lower legs are shorter than their upper legs. Thrifty genes tend to inhibit the activity of insulin-like growth factors, both in utero and in early childhood. Growth factors are molecules that are involved in many key aspects of development. Among their many functions, these growth factors cause the elongation of lower leg bones, and Gatherer's typically shorter lower legs are a sign of their inhibition.
The lower leg extremity space is typically smallish and closed, usually a sure sign of a gynic endomorph. Gatherers often have very wide gonial angles, which tend to give the women an oval like appearance to the face. This, in combination with their voluptuous body shape, often makes for stunningly beautiful people. Not surprisingly, in the days before our current fat phobia, these women would have been viewed as highly fit and desirable, most likely since they possessed above average fertility and could survive in a host of potentially life threatening environments.
Gatherers are endomorphic to endo-mesomorphic somatotypes, which is not that same as saying that they are fat or obese. Endomorphic types have a greater percentage of endoderm tissues, the germ layer that goes on during fetal development to produce the thyroid, the lining of the whole of the digestive tract, the lining of all the glands, which open into the digestive tube, including those of the liver, pancreas, and the follicles of the thyroid gland. Endomorphs can easily become overweight, but being an endomorph in itself is not a state of obesity. Endomorphs often have soft and round body types, but that does not always mean that they are obese. Anyone can become fat - even an ectomorph, a somatotype most often thought of as long and skinny.
A good distinction between the Hunter and Gatherer GenoTypes for type O and the Gatherer and Nomad GenoTypes for type B is the absence of shovel-shaped incisors in the Gatherer. Many Nomads and Hunters have shovel-shaped incisors, which just means that the back of the four front teeth are scooped out a bit, like a teaspoon. You can usually feel this with your tongue or your finger. From the back, shovel-shaped incisors display enhanced side ridges and present with a distinctive shovel-shaped appearance on the side that faces backwards towards the tongue. On the other hand, all hunter-gatherers do not necessarily have well-developed shoveling. However, among hunter-gatherers there is a variation from vegetarian to meat-eating that corresponds gradual change of climatic zones from the tropical to the polar regions. The main foods of northern hunter-gatherers were animals, those of the hunter-gatherers living in the tropical islands of Southeast Asia or the like were vegetables, the latter seeming to be typical of the oldest stage in the evolution of human food habits.
An addition discriminator between Gatherer and both the Hunter and Nomad GenoTypes is the PROP taster polymorphism. Most Gatherers have a hard time tasting PROP, whereas most Hunters and Nomads either taste PROP ot actually 'super-taste' it. It has been noticed that the results for the tasting gene parallel in general what has already been observed for the Rh negative and A2 genes, that is, that the European populations tend to differ rather strikingly from Asiatic populations. In both cases there is insufficient information about Africans.
Gatherers are typically 'gynic,' exhibiting tendencies associated with above average estrogenic stimulation in the womb. Gatherers almost always have long index fingers compared to ring fingers, indicating high levels of estrogen in the womb. Other signs of estrogenic influence are the narrow interior space between the legs, and a wider, rounder jaw angle. Asymmetry is another characteristic of the Gatherer. These often show up by one hand having different fingerprint and palm patterns than the other. In particular, Gatherer women tend to have visible differences in the size of their breasts. The index fingers are typically longer that the ring fingers in most Gatherers.
Gatherer is closest to what is called Kapha in the Ayurveda system of body classification. People with the Kapha constitution have a strong tendency to have regular appetites and carry excess weight. Their chests are expanded and broad. The veins and tendons of Kapha people are not obvious because of their thick skin. Kapha often have good complexions with soft, lustrous skin. Their hair is often thick, dark, soft and wavy. Their eyes are very intense, the white of the eye generally very white. Psychologically, they tend to be tolerant, calm, forgiving and loving. Their comprehension is consistent and deep; once they understand something, that knowledge is retained.
In early childhood the Gatherer surprisingly tends towards scrawniness and smaller than average birth weight, unlike the other thrifty GenoType, Warrior, who are usually having the best years of their life at this point. In the case of Gatherer, the thrifty genes assert themselves almost immediately after growth ceases, at which time their weight gain can be breathtakingly rapid.
DNA Y-Chromosome Analysis:
Gatherer can trace lineage back to the African A and B macrohaplogroups-- haplogroup A in particular. B haplogroup is found sub-Saharan Africa, especially to tropical forests of West-Central Africa. It contains the C and F macrohaplogroups, which represent its 'Out of Africa' component, haplogroup C perhaps signifying broad coastal migrations. Like Mu, Tau has contains both haplogroups (D and E) with the YAP polymorphism, although the E haplogroup is by far the more significant, especially its descendant E3a, a very common haplogroup in African Gatherer genotypes. E3a is thought to be associated with the group that spread agriculture across the central and southern parts of Africa during the last 3000 years. The Bantu culture appears to have been the agent of the spread of this agricultural revolution. Another haplogroup variant of Gatherer genotype is Y DNA haplogroup I, which is found in Europeans and represents a northern variant of the thrifty adaptation, these individuals skirting glacial encroachment instead of the southern Gatherer varieties who more likely were being uprooted by desertification. Also related to Haplogroup I is Haplogroup J, often seen in Gatherer GenoTypes located in Mesopotamia. Tau also shares the K macrohaplogroup lineage with many other genotypes, and contains both variants of it most numerous endpoint: Haplogroup R1a in Northern and Eastern Europeans and Haplogroup R1b in Western and Southern Europeans.
DNA Mitochondrial Chromosome Analysis:
Gatherer tends to be all over the place when one looks at Ancestral MTDNA analysis. Perhaps no surprise, it's found in many of the ancestral haplogroups that go on spawn other haplogroups; for example, Gatherer is one of the few GenoTypes (Teacher is another) that appears to link back to all the M, N and R mtDNA macrohaplogroups. In Africa, the L haplogroups (L1, L2, L3) make up almost 100% of all Gatherer GenoTypes, with L2 being quite common in African Americans. Haplogroup M and descendants are found in Eurasia. Its main descendant in Gatherer is Haplogroup C, found in many New World populations and D, found along the Asian coastal rim. The major descendants of macrohaplogroup N are found in Europeans; Haplogroups Pre-HV, H and V are commonly seen, all of which probably represent Mesolithic transitions from hunter-gathering to other types of subsistence existence.
Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)
These gene polymorphisms may be of special interest:
Metabolic and Aging Profile
The Gatherer's metabolic thriftiness, such a survival asset in ancient times of scarcity, comes with a price to pay. It doesn't fit the lifestyle of the modern industrialized world, with its amply and inexpensively available carbohydrates and fats. The vast majority of these excess carbohydrates and fats will be taken out of the bloodstream and stored, typically as triglycerides and glycerol, a type of anti-freeze. However, Gatherers are usually so good at taking sugar out of the bloodstream and storing it that they essentially spend most of their time a permanent state of hypoglycemia. Thus they suffer on two accounts: first, the energy sources are stored instead of burnt, resulting in weight gain, and second, they don't get the 'reward' of having consumed these nutrients because they are removed so efficiently from the blood stream that the brain and muscle tissue fails to get their fair share.
This eventually fractures the relationship between food and appetite to the point that Gatherer begins to eat simply to feel better rather than as any result of hunger signaling. The effects are chronic and serious. Gatherers can easily develop disturbances of their carbohydrate regulation and insulin sensitivity resulting in metabolic syndrome X and 'diabesity.' It is a slippery sloop from there leading to artery disease, kidney disease, and premature aging.
Both aging and metabolism for the Gatherer center around what are called the Advanced Glycation Endproducts, conveniently abbreviated AGEs. Strangely enough, a cooking metaphor may well be useful here. How often do you hear a television chef claim to be caramelizing onions? Well, if truth be told, they are not really caramelizing the food, but rather performing what chemists call a 'Maillard Reaction,' which is the result of a process called glycation. Glycation occurs when a sugar molecule, such as fructose or glucose, bonds to a protein or fat without the controlling action of an enzyme.
Because there is no controlling enzyme, glycation is often rather haphazard, and glycated proteins and their end products (AGEs) produce 50-fold more toxic free radicals than proteins which are not glycated. As a result of this, AGEs exert a slew of very bad effects in the body. For example, AGEs induced free radicals activate the tendancy to make the immune system go a bit crazy, increasing inflammatory diseases of the joints, plaque in the arteries, and degeneration of the central nervous system. If you have ever tried to remove burnt sugar from a casserole pan, you'll appreciate just how difficult it is to get rid of these AGEs. They are eliminated from the body only very slowly; The half-life of a glycation end product within the body is about double the average cell life. Basically as we age, our cells and tissues accumulate burnt-sugar proteins on their surface, which cuts down on their ability to function and makes the immune system start attacking the tissues that contain them. The results are the common disease of aging: diabetes, artery disease, Alzheimer's, joint degeneration and whatnot. Fortunately, as we'll discover, there are measures you can adopt along with The GenoType Gatherer Diet to help eliminate these AGEs.
The key to successful Gatherer dieting is to lower the fructose content of an otherwise low glycemic diet. Fructose is often recommended for diabetics due to its glycemic index being significantly lower than both glucose, sucrose and starches. However excess fructose consumption has been hypothesized to possibly cause insulin resistance, obesity, elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, leading to metabolic syndrome. A number of reports correlate fructose consumption with obesity, especially central obesity which is generally regarded as the most dangerous type. Unlike glucose, fructose is almost entirely metabolized in the liver. When fructose reaches the liver essentially shuts down all other processes in order to metabolize the fructose.
The spontaneous addition of single sugar molecules, such as fructose to proteins, known as is a strong stimulus to tissue glycation and AGE formation, and is a significant cause of damage in diabetics. Fructose appears to be as dangerous as glucose in this regard and so does not seem to be a better answer for diabetes for this reason alone. This may be an important contribution to senescence and many age-related chronic diseases.
Most fructose is consumed as high fructose corn syrup, which is corn syrup (glucose) that has been enzymatically treated by the enzyme glucose isomerase. This enzyme converts a portion of the glucose into fructose thus making it sweeter. This is done to such a degree as to yield corn syrup with an equivalent sweetness to sucrose by weight. High fructose corn syrup should be avoided by all Gatherer GenoTypes.
Perhaps the discovery that has best captured the imagination of the media is the possible link between caloric restriction (CR) and increased lifespan. CR has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Some consider these to be biomarkers of aging, as related diseases are more frequent with increasing age. CR has been shown to be effective in several species of animals, including primates, rats, worms and spiders, although it has also been shown to be ineffective for others such as the housefly. CR must actually be more that just low calorie to work; Energy intake must be minimized, but sufficient quantities of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients must still be ingested.
Calorie restriction is probably not a great course of action for Gatherers since it subjects their organs to a lot of stress and most Gatherers will not be happy with the results of calorie restriction on their physical appearance; these types of stressful diet often leaving them haggard and unhealthy.
This GenoType ages moderately well, especially if they manage to keep their metabolic requirements met without the intake of unnecessary or otherwise harmful glycating calories.
AGEs have been implicated in atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer's. Increased levels of AGE molecules also creates inflammation, as well as the universal symptoms of aging: reduced organ function, weakened lungs, compromised blood vessels, general reduction in blood flow, and a loss of collagen under the skin, a.k.a. wrinkles.
Because Gatherers are so good at storing fat, they can be more at risk of accumulating of man-made chemicals called xenobiotics - a term that literally means 'foreign to life.' Virtually all man-made chemicals are xenobiotic. Principal xenobiotics include drugs, carcinogens and various compounds that have been introduced into the environment by artificial means, such as pesticides, fertilizers and hydrocarbons. Periodic detoxification is a great way to prevent these complications from developing.
Gatherers are typically blood type O, although a few type B's are also Gatherers. Virtually all Africans with blood type B are Gatherers, as are type Bs of other ethnicities who are non-secretors. Almost all type B Gatherers are 'fast acetylators.' In the Type 2 diabetic patients an association between the fast acetylator phenotype and the B blood group is fairly well-known.
Gatherers typically have strong immune systems. However, there are specific weaknesses which should be addressed. Because of the extra-estrogenic activity during fetal development, there are slightly greater odds of problems with the reproductive organs, especially estrogen-dependent cancers. When they do strike, reproductive cancers tend to afflict Gatherer women earlier in life.
We've all seen GT2 Gatherers on weight-loss programs. Just think of any person you knew both before and after a period of extreme weight loss. Those who looked the worst and felt the most miserable after dropping all of that weight were Gatherers, especially those who developed puffy darkened bags under their eyes as a bonus to go with their newly svelte figures.
It would not be too difficult to conjure present day circumstances that could activate the GT2 thrifty survival mechanisms. Just think of any difference between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. And it is not just about what you are eating; it's also about what your mother and grandmother ate and how they conducted themselves. Obesity is one of those genetic traits which can be passed on as epigenetic inheritance; thrifty genes with the volume control set on overdrive.
I'm sure that cigarette smoking or drinking during pregnancy turns on Gatherer thrifty genes in the offspring; they're just different types of fetal stress. Any difference in health care, living standards and education between the more affluent portions of modern industrialized nations and those less fortunate would qualify. Even in the wealthier, more cosmopolitan West, young girls are given media role models who are thin to the point of anorexia, and are taught to take pride in 'not gaining too much weight' when they become pregnant. The price we as a society are paying for producing thrifty children, environmentally or artificially, is our current epidemic of obesity and diabetes, or what some scientists call 'diabesity'.
To understand this we must first realize that the Gatherer's great thriftiness comes with a major metabolic price to be paid. As they scavenge and store every bit of carbohydrate and simple sugar that comes their way, two characteristics unfold. The first is that the vast majority of those carbohydrates will be stored, typically as triglycerides and glycerol, a type of anti-freeze; and the second that this tremendous efficiency at removing and storing carbohydrates from the blood will often leave Gatherers in a state of hypoglycemia. Thus they suffer on two accounts, the first is that the energy sources are stored instead of burnt, resulting in weight gain; the second that they do not even have the reward of having consumed these nutrients, since they are removed so efficiently from the blood stream that their brain and muscle tissue fail to get their fair share. Thus they need to eat more, but the same results ensue.
In reality, the best thing Gatherers can do for their dietary health is to eat enough food. However while Gatherers need to consume enough food, it also has to be the right kind of food. They must learn not simply how to cut calories, but also which specific foods do the healing - and the GenoType 2 Gatherers diet and GenoType supplements will help them do just that.
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