The infinite game of health optimisation

To be honest, I don't know much about cars.I may have changed a tire once or twice or made sure the oil levels never ran out but otherwise left the rest to the experts.But if you want a car to perform optimally, I know it requires a lot of fine tuning and engineering.

Have you ever seen the preparation of a Formula 1 car before a race? How many adjustments are being made? How many trials?

‍To be honest, I don't know much about cars. I may have changed a tire once or twice or made sure the oil levels never ran out but otherwise left the rest to the experts. But if you want a car to perform optimally, I know it requires a lot of fine-tuning and engineering. Just like most of us treat our car, this is how we treat our bodies, only going for a tuneup when things break down.

If you would need to go for a long trip, which would you choose?

Would you go for a 40 years old non-serviced car or would you prefer to go with the constantly updated and fine-tuned car?

Your body has its own warning signals just like your car. Those signals which we call symptoms are not to be ignored but unfortunately, we tend to switch off those signals and get on with our busy lives. But would you ignore the red light of your car indicating low oil or water, switch it off and get on with your road trip? If you did, no doubt you are heading into a costly breakdown. There is no difference when it comes to your body.

Did you ever slow down and realise how you feel before getting sick? Our bodies send signals when there's an issue but if we don't understand the warning signs or how to fix them you may run towards the breakdown.

Here are a few signs from your body that you should take as a warning light and what the appropriate preventive actions are that you should take.

1. Running out of fuel?

Each body will metabolise and transport certain vitamins and minerals in its unique way. Some people might be good at transporting and absorbing key nutrients, while others may struggle. If you're experiencing low energy, you may want to check your levels. You may simply be a poor metaboliser of vitamin B12. In that case, you may need to increase supplementation or eat more B12-rich foods like mackerel or dark greens when it comes to your nutrition.

Lifestyle recommendation such as hiking and exploration can be amazing mood booster too, triggering neurotransmitters like dopamine, endorphins and noradrenaline

How to fine-tune before even the symptom shows up

Certain warnings can be pre-written in your genetic make-up. Certain genes like the MTHFR & COMT gene will have an impact on how your Vitamin B12 is being absorbed. People with a homozygous variant of the gene, should level up their folate intake in their diet and make sure to adjust their lifestyle accordingly, with outdoor activities and any other mood-boosting tricks.

2. Too many scratches on the bumper?

Fine-tune your exhaust system for optimal functionality and performance. Your exhaust system is a two-way process that we like to call detoxification. The first phase involves enzymes known as activators; they activate the substance that needs to be removed, allowing the next phase to proceed. The enzymes that take over from phase 1 are called excretors because they catalyse reactions leading to the excretion of toxins from the body.

Just like the exhaust system of a car, your detoxification pathways are crucial for you to work optimally

If you feel you often have skin reactions or get a rash out of nowhere? Or maybe that you sometimes experience headaches for no apparent reasons? Does it take you a full day or two to recover from an evening drinking with your friends? These are signs that your detox system is overwhelmed and needs a little boost.

One important gene is GTSM1: in the absence of this enzyme, your body's ability to detox is undermined. Therefore, there is a higher risk of certain types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases or even lung deficiency (especially in smokers). It can also lead to greater levels of free radicals, increased fatigue and slower recovery from exercise.

To optimise your exhaust system, consuming copious amounts of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, other members of the cabbage family, as well as allium vegetables (garlic, red onions etc.) is a great place to start.  Bioavailable DIM (a compound your body creates when you eat cruciferous vegetables) as a supplement can also be added to improve this crucial bodily process and switch it back on to work optimally.

3. On the verge of burning out?

Do you feel you are too stressed out or your body is too often inflamed? Oxidative stress is caused by a stressful lifestyle and results in more free radicals in your body - which are a normal by-product of the body's energy-generating biochemical processes. Think of it like a car; when fuel (petrol) is burned to create energy, the by-product is the CO2 released by the exhaust. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules and can damage DNA, proteins and cellular membranes as much as the CO2 is damaging our atmosphere's membrane. 

Antioxidants are free radical scavengers that interact with free radicals to ensure it's no longer a reactive molecule.  Antioxidants are found naturally in the body in the form of enzymes but can also be consumed in a wide variety of foods, especially fruit and vegetables as well as green tea and red wine. The SOD2 enzyme destroys the radicals produced within cells. There is evidence that people without the variant (and with a lower consumption of fruit and vegetables) have an increased risk of developing diseases including the risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Food rich in antioxidants help in supporting the eradication of excess free radicals in the body.  Foods rich in antioxidants include all purple, red and yellows, grapes, blueberries, aubergines etc. Fresh beetroot juice in particular can have a dramatic effect on nitric oxide production. This should help to preserve vascular health and you should find considerable exercise benefits go hand in hand with a cup of fresh beetroot juice pre-workout. Adding antioxidant supplementation (due to the depletion of our food as a result of mass production and other environmental factors) is such that food alone is usually not enough to meet our nutritional requirements.

4. Prevent mechanical breakage. Are you prone to too many injuries?

Your bone and tendon health depends on many factors that you can control. Our bones are not a fixed structure. Our cells work continuously to dissolve old bone and create new bone tissue. After the age of 30, both men and women start losing bone mass; the loss is particularly marked in women after menopause. According to the latest research, both nutrition and genetic factors play an important role in determining bone health.

To prevent the breakdown, a high calcium and magnesium diet is your best bet. Regularly lifting weights will also help in preventing bone mass loss.

It is time to really put the seat belt on?

There was a time where we did not have the option of a seatbelt. Many lives that had been lost could have been prevented. When it comes to disease prevention, we have access to so much more knowledge than we have ever had. Not using this information is like driving without a seatbelt just because that's how people used to do it. It doesn't make sense to ignore all this new information and technology that is available to us now which can help optimise your health and wellness. We now have the ability to create a personalised relationship with our own physiology. It is time to tune in and be part of this preventative revolution that is happening now. It makes no sense nowadays to drive the old car without a cleared MOT, when you can drive the latest, fully serviced and upgraded version personalised to your needs.

Don't think of food as a simple source of energy, a simple fuel. Think of it as a complex variety of functional "tools" to repair, build, support and enhance your key biological processes. It is important to understand that the food you eat today will have an impact on your future. Nutrition is your fuel and tool for tomorrow. The growing and fascinating world of Nutrigenomics is constantly proving how important your food choices are in determining your health, by sending the right message to your genes.

Learn further on how to Crack your health code here

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