Archive for February, 2013

As a strength coach and nutritionist I hear one excuse more then others.  People tend to blame their issues on their genetic makeup.  There are some things that we cannot control such as: eye color, sex, and height.  However, that does not mean we are destined for a life of being sick and overweight.

Our genetic code is wrapped up in our DNA and then bundled into 23 pairs of chromosomes.  The DNA is wrapped around proteins that are called histones. On the outside of these histones are chemicals that listen for cues from inside our body and from our outside environment.  This whole piece is referred to as the epigenome.

The epigenome is responsible for the shape and structure of our genome.  It tightly wraps up inactive genes so that they are not able to be read by other cells.  On the contrary it relaxes its grip around active genes so that cells can easily access them.  The DNA code is fixed for a lifetime, but the epigenome can be altered by environmental changes and this is referred to as epigenetics.

The chemicals that surround the outside of the epigenome react to cues from our environment.  Some of these cues include diet and stress.  This is an amazing piece of the human body.  It allows us to thrive in changing environments.  A good example of how this process works is using exercise.  If we lift weights the chemical tags on the outside of the epigenome pick up on that cue.  To counter the changes in the outside environment they signal the production of new muscle tissue.  If it were not for that mechanism I would probably still be wearing children’s clothes!

Understanding this concept is important when looking at genetic disorders.  A disease such as Huntington’s Disease (HD) usually comes on post-reproductive age.  Huntington’s Disease is a trinucleotide repeat disorder.  This is referred to as the CAG repeat.  A non-HD person will typically have 10-28 of these CAG repeats while a HD positive person will have 36-120.  This can cause the cells to act abnormally.

The CAG repeats form what is known as polyglutamine tracts.  These polyglutamine tracts cause abnormal cell architecture and the longer they are the more damage they do (  We need to look at the epigenetic factors that are causing this gene to express itself.  One of these issues is gluten in which we will get to in much greater detail at a later time.

The range in which people start showing symptoms of the disease is usually between 35-50 years old.  Tends to be that the longer the CAG repeats the earlier it begins, but this is not always the case.  Why does one person with a 36 CAG repeat get a disease much later then a similar person with the same CAG repeat?  Having this observational data would make a starting point much easier.

Just because you have a specific genetic disorder it does not mean that that gene needs to express itself.  We need to figure out the environmental triggers that are causing that to occur.  This may prove to be a much simpler test then attempting to develop a drug or proceedure to fix it.  However, there is a group of drugs called antisense oligonucleotides (AS0) that show great promise in blocking the Huntington protein message in monkeys and mice.  This was published in the journal Neuron in June (  We will discuss the mechanisms of those drugs to further understand the disease and how to prevent it in the next blog post.


New Direction for My Studies

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

After talking to someone at my fitness class this morning (you know who you are) I did some soul searching.  I asked myself where I would like to go with my profession.  I got into this field to help people and of course to make enough money to have all necessary things covered.

My new professional initiative is going to be developing a nutritional and lifestyle protocol for people diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease (HD). Treatment currently is inadequate and not acceptable.  After a positive genetic test the treatment is to wait until symptoms show up and then receive medications to help with those symptoms.  The treatments are also counterproductive.  Medicine will treat the depression associated with HD with SSRIs even though known neurotransmitter imbalances already exist due to the disease.

After reviewing the literature for quite some time I feel strongly that there is a solution to atleast prolong the onset of symptoms.  HD is unique in that it is not being selected against.  This means there is an evolutionary advantage to this gene selection.  The survival benefits of HD are minimal risk of cancer and increased offspring.  They are healthier and reproduce more!  The onset of the disease happens post-reproductive years.  This is when the advantage is no longer necessary because the genes have been passed on.

A lot of the issues with HD are associated with the diseases of aging.  Makes sense since the body has already reproduced.  Looking at the disease and the survival benefit have led me to develop a hypotheses that I will lay out in pieces over the course of time.  They will be detail orientated and link to all research.  Things to be covered will be the role of gluten and polyglutamine repeat proteins in the role of the disease, glucose metabolism and glutamine pathway issues, neurotransmitter imbalances, the decrease in DNA methylation that leads to an increase in trinucleotide repeats, and gut etiology as well as nutritional therapies and lifestyle modification that can prevent the defective gene from expressing itself. 

I have already reached out and received help from my awesome network of colleagues.  There is a lot of science to cover and a lot of potential options, but I feel confident a solution can be reached that can have great benefit to those given a  diagnosis that may leave them feeling hopeless.  I will be posting articles here as well as on the Paleo Solution Blog at (a welath of nutritional info can be found there!).  The first article on environmental enrichment will be published shortly so stay tuned!

Katelin’s Testamonial

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Just a couple of months ago I was diagnosed with GERD and IBS-C. At the time I couldn’t eat anything without having heartburn or an upset stomach. My doctor put me on multiple medications as a way to “relieve” my symptoms.  Being only 27 years old and an athlete most of my life, I  just couldn’t believe that I would have to be on prescription medications (ones that have some serious side effects)  for the rest of my life. That is when I decided to find someone well versed in health and nutrition to see if there was a natural solution to my digestive  issues. That is when I came across Kevin.  He helped fix my diet, and also placed me on a supplemental regimen. Since working with Kevin I no longer have to take my meds that my doctor prescribed and have been symptom free since then.



Rant About S&C

Posted: February 14, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Due to some overwhelming questions I have decided to write a quick blog post regarding proper programming for strength and conditioning.  The goal of any fitness program should be to become stronger, faster, and more powerful athletes.  How do we go about doing this?

Proper movement is the foundation of all athletic endevours.  It decreases injury risk and also the more efficient we are at moving the less energy that movement takes to perform.  You can get as strong and as fast as you want, but if you do not address improper movement you are building a house on a cracked foundation.  I am a big fan of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).  This allows the trainer to assess any movement pattern issues and gives them a starting point to programming.  It also tells the trainer what movements should be avoided. 

This does not mean doing squats without weight, or lifts with lighter weights.  This is only encouraging more poor movement.  There are many well educated people in the field that can help you here and it is worth the money. 

Corrective exercise does not necessarily mean it is easy.  You can get a pretty kick-ass workout while correcting movement.  I understand chicks dig big bench presses and aren’t impressed with your assisted SLDLs, but they won’t be impressed when you’re hobbling around on crutches.

Once that foundation  is cemented in then you can start adding in more complex excercises to increase physiological features.  The most advanced being the Oly lifts such as the clean.  This is a means to add heavy weight to triple extension 9extending hips, knees, and ankles).  This should be done heavy for few reps.  They are not there to get you winded!  There is an excersise to get you winded, it is called sprinting.  try a 300 yard shuttle and tell me it is easy.

Med balls, and kettle bells are great tools that can be used to teach proper triple extension.  They are safe and extremely effective.  Running, jumping, and crawling excersises should be the staple of any fitness program.  This is what we do in any sport.  It may seem easy, but ask anyone at my gym how a couplet of continuous broad jumps and sideways crawls feels.

You should not feel like death at the end of every workout.  excersise is a stressor!  On top of all the stress we have on a day you do not need to overdo it.  We need the right amount of stress to come back stronger.  too little or too much will both have issues.  Puking at the end of a workout is not cool.  Puking should be reserved for the flu, food poisoning, and college parties.

Periodization is necessary to adapt.  Muscle confusion is absolutely ridiculous.  Back to the stress piece, you keep introducing new stressors and not allowing your body to adapt will only result in you becoming broken down over time.  Continuously introducing a stressor makes us handle it much better and makes us stronger, faster, and more powerful over time.

I hope this helps with some questions.  Excercise to move better, eat to lose weight, get your sleep, manage your stress, and do it all together to be healthy.