Written by Nick Link
Before I get into the cool science stuff, I want to take a brief moment and say that I know some of you may not give a s**t about all of this. But for those of you who want to know they “whys” and “how comes” of all this paleo/crossfit/healthy food stuff, it is important to have a basic understanding of the geeky stuff. And there really is no better place to start than to describe in simple terms what DNA is and how our human DNA has evolved and come to exist as it does today. So first, the basics…
DNA is located in the nucleus of ALL of our cells. And guess what, all the DNA is the SAME in every sing one of our cells! It is all made up of four different nitrogenous bases called Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine and Thymine. With just these four different bases, DNA constructs a code of such complexity and intricacy in order to produce one of the most self-sufficient and efficient organism that exist: Homo sapiens (us). It does so by simply coding for something called an Amino Acid. There are 20 different Amino Acids that exist. All these 20 Aminos are put together in complex and divers ways in order to produce all the different cells, tissues, organs and organ systems in our body. CRAZY RIGHT! In order for DNA to code for the right protein, it must first be transcribed into RNA. Why you may ask? Well…DNA is double stranded, and therefore can never leave the nucleus of the cell (it’s just simply too big.) What happens inside the nucleus is that the code on DNA is changed into a single strand of RNA. THEN, since the RNA is lean and slim due to being single stranded, it can leave the nucleus of the cell and enter the surrounding jelly like material of the cell called cytoplasm. RNA and DNA are essentially the same and carry the same code for the same amino acid. The only difference is like I said, RNA is a single strand, and instead of Thymine, RNA has a Nitrogenous base called Uracil. Once RNA is in the cytoplasm, it goes to this thing floating around in the cytoplasm called a ribosome, which is essentially a protein factory. So, see where I am going with this? The ribosome uses the RNA as a blueprint to insert the right block (or amino acid) in order to build the right structure (protein). That’s right, amino acids are the building blocks of protein! This process of building proteins in the ribosome is called translation.
OK, so to sum it up, all it takes is four different things in DNA (nitrogenous bases) to code for 20 other things (amino acids) and make protein that eventually constructs an organism! The entire scheme of life (also known as Central Dogma) looks like this: DNAàRNAàProtein. A better way to think of this scheme is to pretend DNA as a book written in a language you do not understand (i.e. Japanese, unless you know Japanese. In that case, just pick another language you don’t know!). Someone then re-writes or “transcribes” that book into RNA (or English) for you. THEN, someone reads the book to you (assuming that you are too lazy to read yourself) and “translates” what was originally written in Japanese into verbal English so that you understand the message and meaning of the book.
And by the folks, that is pretty much what DNA does. What is super cool is that all of our cells have the same DNA. The only reason all the cells have different structures and functions, (fat cells are round and can swell up to store energy, where as nerve cells are long in order to relay messages), is because only certain parts of the DNA are being activated to build certain proteins. SEE! Not only does protein (MEAT!) taste good, our entire body is made from it and functions because of protein! Man…I love science…and protein! And have some of you heard the term “genes” before? (and no, I am not talking about the things you wear on your legs). Guess what makes up these “genes” that make us? DNA! To keep is simple; DNA is just a synonym for genes.
Now, to end this little DNA ramp, I am going to leave you with one fact about DNA and our genetic material. 99.99% of our genes (DNA) were formed before the development of agricultural! And, 99.9% of your entire DNA is similar to everyone else’s! That’s right folks, we are all 99.9% identical (can’t you see why racism and discrimination truly makes no sense at a scientific level!) That means the only .01% of your DNA separates you from everyone else! So no more excuses like “it’s my genetics” or “I can’t do what he does because I’m not as big or strong”. BULL S**T! If you need further viewing, watch the movie GATTACA. Never seen it? Here’s a taste: “He had everything, except desire.”
Before I now get into the cool stuff like epigenetics in future posts, I want to leave you with a quote from Dr. Nora T. Gedgaudas: “Our physiology is fundamentally the same as that of people from the Paleolithic Era, which refers to the human evolutionary time period spanning from roughly 2.6 million to about 10,000 years ago – before the dawn of agriculture. We are the result of an optimal design, shaped and molded by nature over one hundred thousand or so generation. In other words, we are all – biologically, genetically, and physiologically – without exception – hunters and gathers.”