C17-32a Eating for Ethnic Origin with Collin Ruiz

Choose Positive Living with Sara Troy and her guest Collin Ruiz, on air from August 8th 


Eating by Ethnic Origin  nutritional genomics (a.k.a. nutrigenomics)

The path to longevity and good health may lie in eating like your grandparents—or better yet, your great-great-great-great grandparents.  The theory behind the ancestral diet is that you will be the healthiest when you eat the foods for which your body is best adapted.

 Your genetic makeup and diet may have a powerful influence on what we like to eat (bitter vegetables or sweets), why some people get fat and others stay thin, why some develop diabetes and others don’t, why certain people get a buzz from coffee and others aren’t affected and why two people following the same diet can end up with cholesterol levels at opposite extremes.


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The Inuit of Alaska, Northern Canada, and Greenland traditionally ate far more fat than most other populations and their gastrointestinal systems apparently are more capable of breaking fats down for use by their bodies.  Compare that with patients with confirmed coronary artery disease (CAD) before age 60 years who have a genetic (lipoprotein) disorder.  Everybody benefits from eating healthy fats, fats from nuts, fish, avocado, olive oil, etc.

The ability to produce lactase is genetically controlled.  Lactose intolerance in adulthood is caused by gradually decreasing activity (expression) of the LCT gene after infancy, which occurs in most humans.  As we age we are becoming lactose intolerant.  After infancy 65% of the worldwide population is lactose intolerant.  Around 10% of Americans, 10% of Africa’s Tutsi tribe, 50% of Spanish and French people, and 99% of Chinese have trouble digesting milk.

 Alcohol sensitivity between Asian, American Indians and Caucasian populations has genetic factors.  Alcohol intolerance is caused by a genetic condition in which the body is unable to break down alcohol efficiently.

An MTHFR mutation is a problem associated with poor methylation and enzyme production. 60% of the population in the United States have these genetic variations which play a role in the ability to maintain a healthy mood.  Those with a mutation may have trouble effectively making folate usable by the body and eliminating toxins from the body.

This is an indication that adapting to local nutritional opportunities has led to the evolution of related genetic differences among the populations of the world.

For the MTHFR mutation, the simple treatment is to take folate in an activated form orally.  Eat folate rich foods: Folate rich foods include: Calf’s liver, chicken & turkey liver, Spinach, Black-eyed Peas, Brown Rice, Okra, Asparagus, Lentils, Brussels sprouts, Romaine lettuce, Belgian Endive, Turnip greens, Sunflower seeds, Mustard greens, Oranges & juice, Parsley, Parsnips

Epigenetics – Eating for your epigenome

While the DNA sequence stays the same during the entire life, the epigenome is affected by environment and lifestyle.  Some genes that have been passed down in our lineage, don’t serve us, therefore we want them to be “on”. There are lot of cancers that are triggered when certain genes are turned on.

If there is a reason for one of your genes to be turned on (with detrimental effects), the pattern for the condition is passed on through the subsequent generations.

An example of what this looks like is the gene called agouti. When a mouse’s agouti gene is completely unmethylated, its coat is yellow and it is obese and prone diabetes and cancer. When the agouti gene is methylated (as it is in normal mice), the coat color is brown and the mouse has a low disease risk. Fat yellow mice and skinny brown mice are genetically identical. The fat yellow mice are different because they have an epigenetic “mutation.”

When researchers fed pregnant yellow mice a methyl-rich diet, most of her pups were brown and stayed healthy for life. These results show that the environment in the womb influences adult health. In other words, our health is not only determined by what we eat, but also what our parents ate.

In order to maintain the correct patterns of methylation through cell division, new methyl groups are stuck onto freshly-copied DNA. This requires a constant supply of new methyl groups, which can be provided directly from our food, including the trio of molecules methionine, betaine and choline. Alternatively, we can make methyl groups from precursor chemicals, including folate.

Optimize your epigenome, when you can eat foods that provide the building blocks for methylation in the body.

Foods rich in Methionine: Egg whites, fish, Elk, chicken, turkey, tofu, edamame, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, seaweed, spirulina, Foods rich in Folate: leafy greens, peas and beans, sunflower seeds and liver

Foods rich in Betaine: Wheat bran, Quinoa, Lambsquarters, Beets, Spinach,

Foods rich in Choline (preursor to betaine): eggs, shrimp, scallops, cod, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, Swiss chard, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach,

Foods rich in Folate: Beef, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils

Alcohol can interfere with folic acid in the body, disrupting methylation patterns.

Cigarettes. Apart from damaging DNA, some chemicals in tobacco smoke can change epigenetic marks – effectively a double-whammy for causing cancer.

Another example of “Epigenetics”, World War II and the so-called ‘Dutch mothers‘. A group of pregnant women living in the Netherlands, labouring under starvation conditions imposed by a harsh winter and food embargo, gave birth to relatively small babies. When their children grew up, in relative prosperity, to have children of their own their babies were unexpectedly small. So the effects of poor nutrition on Dutch mothers carried through to their grandchildren.

 Adapting to Different Foods

Consider the evolutionary case against daily consumption of fruit/juicing: We lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C. A subsequent change brought higher levels of uric acid—which happily provided an antioxidant effect similar to vitamin C’s. But when higher uric acid levels meet high levels of fructose or purines (a chemical found in meat, seafood, lentils), the result can be insulin resistance, hypertension, gout and obesity-related disorders.  However, juicing can provide nutrients without a lot of work for the body.  Therefore juicing can be very beneficial to those with compromised digestion and juicing can provide “rest” to the organs of the body.  Juicing more vegetables limits the fructose and provides valuable vitamins and minerals.  Juicing is also a very excellent option when intermittent fasting, say 1-2 days per week.  I believe juicing has a useful place in our diets as long as we are honouring where we come from and our nutritional requirements in the present time.

Vegetables rich in Vitamin C: chilli peppers, red (3xC), green bell peppers, kholrabi, Leafy greens (kale, mustard greens, watercress, Swiss chard, spinach), broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts,

Raw vegetables were late arrivals to our diets, long after meat, and even dairy—because they were full of toxins. Lima beans contain cyanide; the phytates in peas, beans, apples and tomatoes can deplete our bodies of essential minerals including magnesium, zinc and iron,  Our ancestors developed means of neutralizing such problems by cooking!

 Methods have a history of making these often hard-to-digest foods more easily assimilated and their nutrition more readily available. Whether we’re looking at the artisan-style true sourdough baguette, or injera at the local Ethiopian restaurant, fermented, soured, or sprouted grain dishes are rich in enzymes and vitamins. The whole process neutralizes much of the phytic acid that can bind up minerals in the body.

Human beings on this little planet of ours have been eating properly prepared grains in different cultures for millennia, so maybe they know something we don’t? The underlying recommendation is: don’t fear the food – consider it an invitation to really listen to your body.

 When it comes to eating ancestrally, the quality of your food is extremely important. Access to fresh produce, quality proteins and health-supporting fats and oils are key. In an effort to bring your body into a healthier state, banish as much of the processed food as possible.

Eating whole foods, not overly processed makes a difference.

Avoid processed sugars and seek out true old-fashioned cane sugars, raw honey and maple syrup in lieu of the common alternatives.  Avoid chemical sweeteners like aspartame, etc. It’s been shown over and over again how addictive these substances are, and how many processed foods trigger cravings, and reduce satiation, leaving you hungry and unsatisfied.  Refined sugars can increase inflammation, cause cancer, promote dementia, just to name a few of the detrimental effects of refined sugars.

 Take a look at your genetic heritage and focus your Traditional Diet on those foods consumed by your specific, cultural ancestors.

Northern European cultures did not consume rice, beans, and corn.  These cultures also ate little if any fruit or raw vegetables.  The focus is on sourdough bread, raw dairy, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, and meat, cooked stews and soups.

Latin Americans This eating pattern is a blend of the broad traditional diets of four major cultures: the indigenous people (Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, and other Native Americans), the Spanish, Portuguese, and continental Africans.  The focus on maize (corn), potatoes, and beans. Pima Indians in the American Southwest, (and Pacific Islanders) have alarming rates of diabetes (40%)! & obesity (70%) when there diets adopted refined flour and sugar.

African heritage Diet  whole, fresh plant foods like colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens; tubers like yams and sweet potatoes; beans of all kinds; nuts and peanuts; rice, flatbreads and other grain foods, especially whole grains; healthy oils; homemade sauces and marinades of herbs and spices; fish, eggs, poultry and yogurt. It’s naturally low in processed sugar, unhealthy types of fats, and sodium, and includes only small amounts of meats and sweets. Using lots of fermentation to preserve foods.

Asian high consumption of plant foods, including vegetables, rice, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, herbs and spices. NO dairy.  Asians who migrate to North America and Europe see elevated rates of breast cancer as well as prostate cancer.

Feed your Genes


Collin Ruiz, MS, is a nutritionist using superfoods, herbs and supplements to raise up the level of health of her clients.  By exploring which foods support the individual, the client has the power to make a big impact on their health and change their life for the better.


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