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Top 3 Foods that Turn the Good Genes ON!

by Sean Croxton

NOTE: If you haven’t read yesterday’s blog, this one won’t make much sense to you. Check it out HERE!

“Finding substances that can turn ON the highly protective transcription factor NRF2 holds the key to preventing a host of diseases.”

A few months ago, I stood in an aisle at Borders and stumbled across that line in the book Forever Young by Dr. Nicholas Perricone.

After reading it, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I took out my iPhone and started taking pictures of the passage and texted them to my friends and critics. I posted the quote to Facebook. I thought:

“FINALLY, somebody gets it!”

I had just spent the previous months taking a bit of a beating for my Protandim endorsement. However, regardless of the hate mail and “unsubscribes” from my YouTube channel and email list, I knew I was helping people.

I also learned a lesson I would never forget, that it’s better to educate your people on how something works BEFORE selling it to them. On top of that, I may want to NOT follow a series of anti-genetic modification videos with a bunch of hype over a supplement that alters gene expression. Kinda easy to confuse the two.


Being the Just Eat Real Food guy, the endorsement of a supplement appears antithetical to the overall message of sticking to Nature, no matter how natural the product may be. We should be able to get everything we need from food, right?

Absolutely. But to hit the switch and turn ON your disease-protective NRF2 transcription factor (as this supplement is scientifically-proven again and again to do), you’re going to have to consume a very specific set of foods on a regular basis.

The Big 3 NRF2 switch-flippers we will be exploring today are teas, cinnamon, and turmeric. You can probably find all three in your kitchen cabinet. Personally, I’m not a tea guy. But cinnamon and turmeric never go missing from my ever-growing spice collection.

Here’s why YOU should add them to your diet.

Teas (black, green, & white)
It is no secret that teas provide anticancer and antioxidant benefits. Much of tea’s health-promoting value can be attributed to the polyphenol EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate).

EGCG inhibits the activation of the disease- and age-accelerating transcription factor NF-kB, thus putting the brakes on the production of inflammatory cytokines (bad guys).

When NFkB is left ON, it turns OFF the cell’s ability to self-destruct when it encounters an error, such as DNA damage. Our bodies are always making cancerous cells, even right now as you read this. Programmed cell death, otherwise known as apoptosis, allows our cells to recognize cancer-causing errors and literally self-destruct instead of replicating. This, of course, is a vital function for cancer prevention.

You want to keep your apoptosis turned ON!

While shutting down NFkB, EGCG turns ON protective NRF2, which sends a message to our genes to upregulate the production of over a dozen anti-inflammatory proteins as well as antioxidant enzymes that fight free radical damage on a scale head and shoulders above direct dietary antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E.

If you have ORAC tunnel vision, that last sentence may have bothered you a bit. This is where the disconnect occurs and the knee-jerk squabbling begins. No, I’m not saying that antioxidants from food are not beneficial. Not even!

Dr. Perricone brilliantly summarizes the difference between indirect antioxidant enzymes and direct dietary antioxidants by stating the following:

“When this natural cell-protective mechanism (the activation of NRF2) is achieved with phytonutrients, the response is far superior to the protective action of antioxidants alone, because such antioxidants as vitamin C and CoQ10 are consumed when neutralizing free radicals.”

What the doc is saying is that dietary antioxidants are great, but they neutralize disease-promoting free radicals at a rate of one-to-one. One antioxidant molecule kills one free radical. And then it’s done. The problem lies in the fact that cells produce on average about 300 sextillion free radicals every day. That’s the number 3 with 23 zeros behind it!

You’d have to eat 375 oranges a day to neutralize that many free radicals!

By activating NRF2 via phytonutrients and Michael acceptor pharmacophores (MAPs) like EGCG, the genes are instructed to produce antioxidant enzymes that can destroy free radicals at a rate of up to one million per second! And they are not used up. They keep fighting the good fight by protecting your cells and extinguishing inflammation.

One of these antioxidant enzymes is glutathione, the chief cellular antioxidant and protector. You can’t eat glutathione. Stomach acid will kill it in a hurry. Instead, you have to coax your cells and genes to produce more of it via foods you consume and the way they influence your gene expression. That is the essence of nutrigenomics.

We’ll discuss glutathione in detail tomorrow.

Nothing beats a little apple pie with cinnamon. Yum!

You may think that this tasty dish will send your blood sugar through the roof. However, studies show that just a dash of cinnamon will keep blood sugar levels stable by way of improving insulin sensitivity.

And it doesn’t stop there. Cinnamon reduces fever similar to aspirin or Tylenol, without the negative side effects. (Perricone, 40). It is also antimicrobial, fights infections, and supports the immune system.

It’s awesome! Why aren’t you using more of it?

The key flavor compound in cinnamon is cinnamic aldehyde, which is also classified as a MAP.

You know what that means!

As we discussed in yesterday’s Hittin’ Switches blog, MAPs trick NRF2 into action by producing minimal amounts of oxidative stress. Sensing danger, NRF2 sends the message for the genes to turn ON the antioxidant/anti-inflammatory hoses to put the free radical fire out.

Now you have an excuse to make cinnamon rolls on an 80/20 Day!

Gluten-free, of course. :)

Turmeric (curcumin)
This blog is getting LONG! My bad.

According to Dr. Perricone, “the single most promising food-derived compound to combat cancer, based on the current body of scientific evidence, is the curcuminoids found in turmeric.”

The curcuminoids are what give turmeric its yellow pigment. Their anti-cancer properties come from their mild oxidizing effect and activation of NRF2. They also turn OFF the aforementioned NF-kB.

Turmeric is very common in Indian cuisine, which is why curry is typically yellow. If you’ve ever wondered why Indian people age so well with such beautiful skin, it’s the curcuminoids. The deactivation of NF-kB and AP-1 (mentioned yesterday) keeps wrinkles from being born in the deep layers of the skin. Furthermore, the activation of NRF2 gives the skin a radiant appearance with decreased poor size, and reduction in fine lines and wrinkles. (Perricone, 44)

Probably why I’ve never had more guys ask me what I’ve been doing with my skin since I’ve been on this supplement! One YouTube commenter asked me recently if I had Botox done. Ha!

I like to sometimes sprinkle turmeric on my eggs and always use it when cooking chicken. Tastes so good!


Darn! I’m running out of time. Blogging hours are from 1-3pm. Gotta stick to my schedule. I intended to discuss cocoa, but you guys know the deal already. It activates the good guys and turns OFF the bad guys. Be sure to consume the 70% – 85% cocoa. Go with the non-Dutch kind since Dutching reduces the amount of flavonols in cocoa. (Perricone, 59) If you’d like me to blog about cocoa, leave a comment below. I’ll see what I can do.

NRF2 Insurance
I’m not looking to turn this blog into a sales pitch. All I’ll say is that most people take a multivitamin as a form of nutrient insurance; just to be sure they get most of what they need.

This supplement is my NRF2-activation insurance. Consisting of turmeric, ashwaganda, green tea extract, bacopa, and milk thistle, it is scientifically proven by 15 peer-reviewed studies (look em up on Pubmed) to hit the switch on NRF2 and upregulate the production of disease-fighting enzymes. We’ll discuss glutathione, likely the most important enzyme, tomorrow!

I’m out! Keep hittin’ switches!