In recent years, the conventional wisdom surrounding the inheritance of health conditions has been challenged by groundbreaking research in the field of functional medicine. Contrary to the widely held belief that certain diseases or health conditions are passed down genetically, a new perspective has emerged, suggesting that the key to understanding and preventing ailments may lie in our nutritional deficiencies. 

During a recent podcast with Joe Rogan, Gary Brecka, a prominent figure in the field of functional medicine, emphasized the correlation between mineral deficiencies and common health issues. According to Brecka, the majority of pathology and disease as we know it today are due to nutrient deficiencies—a lack of essential raw materials in the human body. Conditions often attributed to aging, such as weight gain, water retention, lack of sleep, poor focus and concentration, lack of waking energy, and hormone imbalances, may actually be manifestations of nutrient deficiencies rather than inherent pathologies. This perspective challenges the prevailing notion that genetics is the primary driver of these conditions and suggests that our bodies are not inherently flawed but are, in fact, deprived of vital nutrients.

During his eight years of education, Brecka took a number of plant biology classes where he learned that botanists, when faced with a struggling plant, instinctively examine the soil to identify nutrient deficiencies rather than looking at the leaves. This approach, surprisingly absent in human healthcare, has led Brecka to question why we don’t apply the same principle to our own species.

Much like the process of refining crude oil into gasoline for our cars, the human body undergoes a similar transformation with the nutrients it receives. In the intricate machinery of the human body, there is not a single compound that remains in its original form upon entry. The food and nutrients we intake need to be processed and transformed into a format that our bodies can utilize effectively. This conversion process is known as methylation. Failure to accomplish methylation results in a deficiency that is at the root of many prevalent health issues.

Governing this process are numerous genes, each playing a role in ensuring that the body can refine nutrients effectively. The tendency for certain health conditions to run in families is often attributed to genetic inheritance. However, it’s not the disease itself that passes from generation to generation; rather, it’s the inability to refine raw materials effectively. This genetic legacy sets the stage for deficiencies that, over time, can contribute to the development of diseases.

Let’s take the example of hypertension or high blood pressure. Nearly half of Americans ages 20 years and up – or more than 122 million people – have high blood pressure, according to a 2023 report from the American Heart Association. In the conventional approach to managing high blood pressure, medications are often prescribed without investigating the underlying cause. In fact, 85 percent of high blood pressure diagnoses are labeled as idiopathic, meaning their origin is unknown. 

However, elevated levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the bloodstream, have been linked to hypertension. While everyone has homocysteine in their blood, some individuals may struggle to break it down and convert it into a harmless amino acid called cystathionine. When homocysteine levels rise due to this breakdown deficiency, it becomes a highly inflammatory substance in the body. This inflammation can irritate the inner lining of arteries, potentially causing constriction and contributing to hypertension. Genetic mutations, such as those in the MTR or MTRR genes, can compromise the enzymes responsible for breaking down homocysteine, leading to high blood pressure even when traditional tests show a healthy heart.

After reading thousands of medical records, Brecka and his team found that patients exhibiting elevated homocysteine levels and hypertension could benefit from a straightforward, over-the-counter amino acid known as trimethylglycine (TMG). This strategic supplementation effectively compensated for the genetic deficiency or absence of the requisite code to metabolize homocysteine. The administration of TMG led to a notable restoration of hypertensia levels, bringing them back within the bounds of optimal health.

By drawing parallels between plant biology and human health, Brecka encourages a reevaluation of the factors contributing to common ailments. The realization that many pathologies and diseases are, in fact, often nutrient deficiencies underscores the importance of providing the human body with the raw materials it needs to function optimally. Stay tuned next week as we discuss more!