I follow Dr. Ben Lynch’s work and was happy months ago when I discovered that he was releasing a book which would later be known as Dirty Genes. Our genes control a lot of our everyday lives, though so does our microbiome and environment which change our gene expression which is known as epigenetics. Dr. Lynch admitted during an interview with Chris Kresser that our microbiome might have a lot more to do with the manifestation of our health than the genes we are born with, and I could not agree more. I recently read Dirty Genes and found it fascinating. I knew most of the genetic research that he mapped out in the book, but still found it an informative refresher and enjoyed Dr. Lynch’s personable writing style. So, what did I like so much about Dirty Genes and what do I believe that Dr. Lynch left out of his excellent book.
Why I Recommend the Book Dirty Genes
Dirty Genes is an easily read, relatable, and actionable book. The book makes understanding how some of the most critical gene mutations can affect your health, how they can become “dirty” (poor expression) and what can be done to “clean” (proper, healthy expression) them. The book is divided into:
- An introduction to Dr. Ben Lynch, his life/practice, and genes!
- Part 1, necessary genetic information and explanations and a questionnaire to maybe help one discover their genetic profile.
- Part 2, information about specific genes (MTHFR, COMT, DAO, MAOA, GST/GPX, NOS3, PEMT) with case studies, information, and what to do and not to do if you have these mutations.
- Part, 3, a protocol to help improve your gene expression and regain your health, with general recommendations, supplements, and recipes.
- Appendices, covering lab testing to determine specific genes and their functionality, genetic testing and evaluation, and information on mold and indoor quality testing.
- Notes, resources, and an index.
The book Dirty Genes is very well written and gives hope to people who believe that they are only born with specific genes, and there is nothing they can do to improve their health. Dr. Lynch smashes this misbelief with information about the importance of manipulating gene expression in a positive manner and concise steps on how to do it. From the book’s introduction, he talks about discovering epigenetics and gene expression research in mice on the PBS show Nova, “A Tale of Two Mice” which, changed his view on health forever. In the Nova episode two litters of mice, one litter was healthy, and one litter was obese and unhealthy, had drastically different gestations. In the healthy mice, their mother’s methylation was properly controlled through supplementation of methyl donors; the unhealthy mice’s mother was fed standard food. Both liters had the same methylation mutations, but since the healthy mice’s mother was fed methyl donors, their genes were epigenetically changed through proper methylation to be healthy. Therefore they were lean. When the show was over, Dr. Lynch was so excited over what he saw he slammed his hands on his desk and yelled: “That’s what I want to do.” Viewing that Nova episode changed his life and through painstaking amounts of research he became one of the leaders in the field of naturopathic epigenetics. I respect Dr. Ben Lynch and so should you!
Dirty Genes gives a good break down of specific genes that cause health issues and what can be done about them. For example, he writes in depth about the NOS3 (nitric oxide synthase) mutation, which is one of the lesser known mutations that causes many health conditions including cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. Remember in the United States one out of every four deaths is from cardiovascular disease, it is the leading cause of death, and many people that succumb to it, especially prematurely, might be suffering from a NOS3 mutation. In part 10 of the book, he talks about NOS3 and gives a case study of Rudy, a man that suffered from high blood pressure and lost many men in his family to vascular diseases. He goes on and talks about how he helped Rudy improve his vascular health by epigenetically changing the expression of his “dirty” NOS3 gene. Dr. Lynch then goes on to write about the NOS3 gene, health conditions that can be caused by poor NOS3 expression, what can make it “dirty” (improper expression), what to avoid when you are trying to improve NOS3 gene expression, and supplements, lifestyle, and dietary changes that can be done to fix its expression and make it “clean” (function properly).
The final part of the book is Dr. Ben Lynch’s protocol to “clean” your genes so that you can reclaim your health. He has his protocol broken down into a beginning two-week period to “soak and scrub” your gene mutations and what can be done specifically for each one and to improve your overall health. I appreciated his “pulse method” approach to supplementation in that you add supplements in individually to gauge how you react to them first in smaller doses, then increase the dose till you see the desired effect, then start reducing the dosage before you feel bad from getting too much of the supplement. Many naturopath’s do not realize that taking too many supplements or too much is sometimes worse than not taking enough. He also has recipes that can help people with different mutations. I enjoyed the Russian “Fur Coat” Salad which was good for my natural slow COMT, slow MAOA genes. The book ended with the second part of the protocol which was another two weeks for spot cleaning your genes and what to do periodically to keep your certain gene mutations “clean.”
A Few Criticisms of Dirty Genes
Overall, I believe that Dr. Ben Lynch wrote an excellent breakdown of genes and epigenetics and how you can use his research and wisdom to improve your health. There are a few items, however, I believe Dr. Lynch left out, including:
- Genes that I feel are important including SOD2 (superoxide dismutase), VDR (vitamin D receptors), and FUT2 (alpha-(1,2)fucosyltransferase). SOD2 deals with our mitochondria’s ability to produce superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that reduces oxidative stress within the mitochondria. FUT2 is the gene that deals with the health of our gut junction and microbiome. Finally, VDR genes deal with methylation and our body’s ability to absorb, process, and utilize vitamin D. From following Dr. Lynch, I know he is aware of these genes; I believe he might not have written about them because of space and time constraints of writing a book.
- He failed to mention that glutathione should not be used in people who are mercury burdened per the research of Dr. Andrew Hall Cutler.
- He did not recommend Nutrahacker, SelfDecode, or Livewello as ways to evaluate genetic data.
- I believe he was not specific enough on the genes listed and how different mutations may be more significant than others. For example, COMT V158M appears to be the dominant COMT gene; other mutations in the COMT genes (like COMT H62H) may not be as necessary at this time. Finally, there are many different NOS3 genes tested through 23andMe, and I have many mutations. I wish that he could have mentioned in the book if any mutations of the genes were more important than the others.
As you can read I only have very little constructive criticism of what I believe to be an otherwise excellent book.
Final Thoughts on Dirty Genes
I enjoyed Dr. Ben Lynch’s book Dirty Genes, and I recommend that you follow his work and his supplement company, Seeking Health. I have personally used some of his supplements. Dr. Ben Lynch has a strong passion for helping improve people’s health and lives and it shines through his personality and his work. Dirty Genes is a book that anyone can pick up and understand their genes and how to change their expression to improve their health. I love the case studies in Dirty Genes that make the book more relatable, and we get an insight into how Dr. Lynch treats his patients and improves their health. I also enjoyed the recipe section in the book. As someone who loves to cook, I enjoy trying new dishes to improve my health. I recommend that everyone read Dirty Genes and let me know what you think about the book, Dr. Lynch’s work, and his supplement company, Seeking Health.