The exciting field of health coaching is always about finding opportunities for healing and flourishing. The scientific research that is often the source of those opportunities is a progressive process by nature. The latest hotbed of investigation is opening up many new insights and raising foundational questions. It guarantees a steady stream of stirring and unexpected developments that everyone involved in this career field will need to carefully consider. Advances in technology are leading to new paradigms through which future understandings will emerge and present understanding must be critiqued.
No matter what the paradigm is, the purpose and application of a paradigm is to create explanatory power and provide a bridge from understanding to beneficial action. In the remote history of health theory, a system was developed that regarded the fundamental forces influencing health as “4 bodily humors”. Health challenges were described as the interplay of blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. The knowledge of DNA is a much more recent development. The code underlying most of the life on this planet, at first glance, also appears to boil down to understanding the messages embedded in sequences consisting of 4 things: In this case the nucleotides adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine in place of the bodily humors.
At the beginning of the Human Genome Project, the greatest hope was that once the basic code of life was deciphered, the power from that understanding would be virtually complete. Furthermore, the technical answers relating to our most fundamental needs would become an open book, written for all to see. However, the Human Genome Project is complete and that isn’t exactly how things have turned out, nor where they are headed.
The completion of the Human Genome Project, along with additional research in the biological sciences, has provided enormous advances in understanding the mechanisms that sustain life. However, through those investigations additional conundrums have risen – precisely because the genetic code (like the 4 bodily humors before it) runs out of explanatory power very quickly – or at least well before it has answered many of the pressing questions we would expect it to solve.
Years after the project was completed, it is now clear that life is the expression of the interplay between multiple information systems. Health seekers and coaches should carefully consider the following:
To implement any part of DNA coding (any gene sequence or combination of genes) requires an incredibly complicated “factory” involving sequenced disassembly lines, multiple precision enzymes, conveyor belts, raw material management and assembly processes that aren’t coded for by DNA.
Since much of this factory is located within a cell’s membrane structures, this group of functions has been cleverly called the “mem-brain.” As it turns out, the mem-brain system along with DNA, still lacks explanatory power for many observable findings. This has led to the discovery of influences from outside of those systems that produce significant regulatory changes in the function of DNA and even some changes that can be passed on to offspring. These regulatory activities as a group are called epigenetics.
Epigenetic influences can be negative or positive, destabilizing or restorative. All information systems are subject to certain types of transmission problems due to physical execution errors because entropy acts on all physical systems, and on all active information systems. For those who may not be familiar, entropy is the natural loss of order and effectiveness that works towards decay and disorder in any physical system. Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® (FDN) Practitioners are familiar with the concept of “metabolic chaos”, and epigenetics are an important consideration and often a significant contributor to that chaos.
Each component of FDN’s “D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success®” system already has well-identified epigenetic links, with many more to come.
What has become apparent through epigenetic research is how vast the sources of epigenetic influences are. Each component of FDN’s “D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success®” system already has well-identified epigenetic links, with many more to come. In the acronym DRESS, the D stands for diet. The entire epigenetic influence of diet is relatively easy to conceptualize because of the great variety of compounds that may be present or absent from certain patterns of diet, and research has built an insurmountable indictment of the Standard American diet.
The R and E stand for rest and exercise, which additionally result in deeply penetrating influences on the information systems regulating and protecting our well-being. The first S, which stands for stress reduction, more precisely refers to distress, covering an enormous number and variety of influences including mental and emotional upset, physical trauma, and chemical and biochemical stressors and contributors to Metabolic Chaos®. Nonmaterial influences like meditation or sleep have not-so-surprising epigenetic influences through indirect connections like influencing stress hormone levels, immune function, and inflammatory pathways. In FDN all this is known as the Metabolic Chaos® Cascade.
The last S, for supplementation, is likely to become increasingly important in health coaching because there are important epigenetic influences that simply don’t appear in commonly available foods. We have observed that people with certain genetic mutations appear to fair better with appropriate supplementation.
A line of investigation that has been a mainstay in the FDN approach is examining the human microbiome, which has become more important as an indicator and influencer of well-being. The information contained within the organisms that make up that microbiome is substantially greater than that within our personal DNA. Research is beginning to reveal how changes within that vast information system create important epigenetic influences on our genetic expression.
“The root cause may never be known, but that’s okay. It may be undetectable. It may be very far removed from what one predicts or even measures, but that doesn’t matter. You can have a positive effect upon it when you know what steps to take!”
Moreover, there is a profound and now increasingly defined interconnectedness and interdependence of everything within the earth’s biosphere. These relationships are often complex, and the dynamics of living systems result in ripples of influence that can obscure cause from effect. It has been something of a time-honored goal in wellness approaches to seek “the root cause” of problems, the revelation from epigenetics. However, we suffer from “comprehensive incompleteness” in our understanding of the relationships between these information systems. As FDN founder, Reed Davis, often states, “The root cause may never be known, but that’s okay. It may be undetectable. It may be very far removed from what one predicts or even measures, but that doesn’t matter. You can have a positive effect upon it when you know what steps to take!”
Health coaches must be very observant and develop increasing insights into the dynamics of each individual they endeavor to help. The proper attention of a health coach is to pursue insight and to influence balance in the broadest sense possible. The number of tools available to health coaches is increasing, and physicians are becoming more supportive of the role of health coaches as they see the research that increasingly shows the necessity of not taking anything for granted. Many physicians are too burdened within their regular scope of practice to give adequate attention to such broad educational responsibilities, and the educated public is highly suspicious of the “take this for that” mentality that typically only addresses symptoms. All of which suggests that there will be growing opportunities for health coaches who apply themselves to those needs. This is Reed Davis, just saying.
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