The Explorer Epigenotype
Peter D'Adamo, ND
The GenoType Diet
Environmental factors can alter the way our genes are expressed, making even identical twins different. Epigenetics is the study of changes in genetic expression that are not linked to changes in the DNA sequences but related to the influence of the environment on the genes being expressed or not --basically, whether a gene is silenced or activated. In essence, certain genes carry a sign that says, 'ignore me' --these genes are silenced. Other genes carry a sign that says 'pay attention to me' --these genes are activated. What makes the whole shebang noteworthy is that the patterns of these signs, is just as inheritable as the very genes themselves. Because of this, epigenetics offers an unparalleled indirect effect on the treatment of illness.
The GenoType Diet is a further refinement of my work in personalized nutrition. It uses a variety of simple measurements, combined with blood type data, to classify individuals are one of six basic Epigenotypes: The Hunter, Gatherer, Teacher, Explorer, Warrior and Nomad types. This article describes the 'Explorer' epigenotype.
To Learn More about the GenoType Diet, read my Change Your Genetic Destiny.
Introduction to the Explorer
In genetics it is almost become an almost religious belief that information flows in a downward direction: From DNA to RNA, which determines the amino acid sequence; then to the ribosomes for the assembly of the amino acids into proteins and finally climaxing with the proteins assuming a 3-D origami shape and morphing into a myriad of different enzymes, which go on to catalyze life itself. This is known as the 'Central Dogma' of genetics.
To assume anything different would be the equivalent of driving in the oncoming lane of a superhighway and expecting to get somewhere. The Central Dogma was elegant, it was logical, and it worked. However, sometimes karma runs over dogma. One of the problems with The Central Dogma was that it appears awfully slow and inflexible given what we know about the changeable ability of the environment. If the only way that organisms can react and adapt to a changeable environment is through random mutations and survival of the fittest, you are asking a lot to assume that the environment is just going to sit on their hands while we wait until a random mutation occurs. There had to be some other mechanism that allowed for adaptation to the environment in a much timelier manner.
One of the first geneticists to actively question The Central Dogma was the British biologist Conrad Hal Waddington, who thought of GenoType as a walk through an 'Epigenetic Landscape'. To visualize this landscape, think of your genes on their way to creating your physical body as glass marbles rolling down a mountainside. In the beginning the marble has many different options, however as it proceeds down the side of the mountain, certain decisions cannot be reversed. The mountain has lower hills, valleys, and basins, and with every choice the marble comes closer to a final resting place, but has fewer and fewer options. Eventually the marble comes to rest at some low point, and the journey ends. He described the genes as becoming 'canalized' as they moved down the mountain. If we think of the canals of Venice, the analogy works even better; our gondola floats from one canal into another and then another. Each choice leaves it fewer options than before especially if the canals are narrow and you can't turn the boat around. And, since gondolas need water, we can't just pick it up and put plunk it into another canal.
I like to think of Explorer as a GenoType that spent a lot of times running down
the sides of that mountain in the Epigenetic Landscape. Unlike the marble that
could only roll downwards, Explorer sped a lot of time circling while he tried
to figure out what the next move should be. Not that he was a procrastinator.
He just had a lot on his mind.
Although it may sound like a cliché , the phrase 'think outside of the box' really does apply to these folks. Perhaps it's because Explorers are modern day descendants of 'glacial refugees' who survived by finding their way through the rapidly moving ice flows of the Last Glacial Maximum 12,000 years ago. Or perhaps it is just the way that they are wired out of the womb.
Explorer is a predominantly Mesolithic GenoType, and reached its current worldview at a point just before the Last Glacial Maximum, about 15,000 years ago, after which it scattered to various points of refuge. It is almost always found in Caucasians, and principally in Western Europe, North Africa and the Caucuses Mountains. Always the visionary, Explorer probably had a critical vanguard role in adapting to the new Neolithic technologies as they penetrated across the Eurasia steppes and into Europe.
The early adoption of herding type animal husbandry, perhaps one of the simplest
of these technologies, especially in the arboreal forests and verdant foothills
of the inter glacial period was a key terraforming influence on the Explorer
GenoType. The genetic memory of this persists in the mindset of the present day
Explorer in the form of an almost spiritual, kindred relationship with animals
of all sorts. Explorer is one those special types of people who can have a hawk
perched on one shoulder while cradling a field mouse in the opposite arm and
have both put aside their natural predator-prey relationship; at least for the
moment. When you hear about someone who has taught their English bulldog to skateboard,
it's almost always an Explorer GenoType.
Many of the nutrigenomic profiles available today test for polymorphisms (the SNPs, or 'snips') in certain genes that have been linked to disturbances in body function and which may be amenable to diet and lifestyle changes. Three of the common SNPs of interest for Explorer GenoType are variations in the genes for glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1), glutathione S-transferase theta 1 (GSTT1) and glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1). Genetic variations in these genes can change an individual's susceptibility to carcinogens and toxins as well as affect the toxicity and efficacy of certain drugs. These genes play a critical role in the detoxification and elimination of man-made or xenobiotic compounds from the body.
The unique metabolic profile of the Explorer is manifested in very distinct physical characteristics. They are typically mesomorphs, possessing a low to medium body fat percentage, a high metabolism, and a large amount of muscle mass and muscle size. They can be rather large-boned, and the men tend to have asymmetrical, chiseled, craggy faces. Their trunk length is usually longer than their total leg length and their upper legs are usually longer than their lower.
Explorers tend towards asymmetry and often have different fingerprint patterns on their left and right index finger, one often being that rather uncommon radial loop pattern. Another asymmetry often found in Explorers is that their finger lengths tend to be backwards for their gender. Men often having a longer index finger on one or both hands, and women vice versa.
A lot of left-handers are Explorers, as are people with Rh negative blood type
and, although almost any ABO blood type can be an Explorer, 'Non-secretors' also
are more common. The Explorer GenoType is largely a GenoType of blood groups
A and O, although numbers of type B individuals with African ancestry will GenoType
as Explorer as well as some northern Europeans, principally female. A common
hallmark of Explorer is the interweaving of A and O blood types in the maternal
lineage, with many Explorer GenoTypes having mothers who are type A blood, but
who are children of mothers who were type O blood. This intergenerational
A-O weaving gives Explorer its unique patterning of epigenetic silencing and
activation. Other blood groups of interest that often signal the Explorer GenoType
are the Lewis Double Negative and Duffy Null Allele in Africans. The MN blood
grouping system and the A2 subtype do not seem to factor significantly in this
The Explorer somatotype is typically mesomorphic to meso-ectomorphic. It is a moderately common GenoType in Caucasians, found in some Africans and other mixed groups, but is not often seen in Asians. They can be rather large boned, and Explorer men tend to have a somewhat asymmetrical, chiseled, almost craggy look to their faces; what anthropologists might call the 'Borreby,' 'Tronder' or 'Brünn' craniofacial types. Explorer tends to have an elongated torso relative to leg length. Their upper leg length to lower leg length ratio often appears balanced, although a especially mesomorphic Explorer will often have a slightly shorter lower leg length. Explorer is often brown eyed and dark haired; although it might also be possible that some of the lighter haired, brown eyed Lappish peoples may carry the GenoType world view as well. A common characteristic seen in many Caucasian and African Explorer GenoTypes is the presence of the Carabelli's cusp on the first molar, a feature not common in other hunter-herder types.
Explorer fingerprint dermatoglyphics are interesting. One characteristic of Explorer that is quite common is a difference of finger print patterns on the index fingers of both hands. Common index finger combinations in the Explorer GenoType often involve an ulnar loop on the index finger of one hand contrasted with a radial loop or arch on the other. This is almost a sure sign that the prenatal relationship with the placenta was oxygen deprived and as a consequence, acidic. If they take the time to do a careful job of things, many Explorer GenoTypes will discover that their AB ridge count is lower than average and that there is often a discrepancy between left and right palms.
Like Hunter, Explorer has a reactive, opportunistic worldview, and is in general sero-negative; i.e. having the types of genes and blood groups that are characterized by the 'missing' state. A good example of this is the Rhesus negative blood type, which is found in higher concentrations in Explorer. Many though certainly not all Explorer GenoTypes have Rhesus (Rh) negative blood or have an extensive Rhesus negative maternal parentage. Almost all Explorer GenoTypes are PROP tasters, and quite a few are actually super-tasters, sometimes complaining that they can taste the testing strips hours after its administration.
Explorer can often have variations called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in several of the genes that are involved in detoxification. These include the genes that code for a family of glutathione S-transferase enzymes, a family of enzymes responsible for the metabolism of a broad range of xenobiotics and carcinogens. These include: the glutathione transferase polymorphisms (GSTM-1, GSTT-1, GSTP-1).
Explorer has a very mystical, animistic bent. Yet while we might normally associate these tendencies with a more introverted nature, with Explorer, this is not the case. Rather, their deep seated appreciation for the flux and complexities in Nature give them tremendous power in group situations, as they better than most will almost always find the note which is the fundamental and creates a choral structure out of a cacophony. This, in addition to their great capacity for abstract thinking, marks the Explorer GenoType as natural leaders and motivators: A sort of human fugue, if you would, uniquely capable of weave sonic textures in such a way that the same note structure assumes a different melody depending on when and here you chose begin listening to it.
Explorers are very often medical enigmas. They can be challenging to diagnose, since nothing apparent or obvious presents itself as a problem. Physically, they may appear to be in good health, but will complain of a sudden loss of energy, or a sudden inability to tolerate a certain food, supplement or drug. Explorer women often suffer from chronic yeast infections or heavy periods. Blood tests often reveal anemia, or other blood disorders.
Explorers often have problems with the liver or gall bladder. This can sometimes manifest as intolerance to fats, or sudden breakouts on the skin. Migraines are not uncommon in Explorers.
Caffeine sensitivity is a hallmark of Explorers because they are almost always what geneticists call 'Slow Acetylators'-- a fancy way of saying drugs spend a long time in their livers, going round and round, when they should just get processed and eliminated. Like a man who shakes his fist at the bicycle in the road that just missed hitting him -and totally ignores the bus heading his way, the liver of the Explorer GenoType will often overreact to small levels of toxins, to the point that it lets larger amounts of toxins pass by without doing anything about them.
Explorer can have problems with certain antioxidants necessary for detoxification.
They often lack adequate levels of in an enzyme G6PD (Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase)
found on red blood cells that is critical to maintaining proper levels of the
anti-oxidant glutathione in its active form. Glutathione acts as a scavenger
for dangerous oxidative metabolites in the cell. Many drugs and a few foods can
induce this damage to the red blood cells, which often is severe enough to cause
anemia. Fava beans contain vicine and convicine, which can induce severe destructive
anemia in people with the G6PD deficiency. This condition, which is quite common
in certain ethnic groups, is called favism.
Many Explorer GenoTypes are also slow acetylators. Slow acetylators respond poorly
to some drugs and tend to show more side effects because the unprocessed chemical
remains at high levels in the blood. This is because there are two versions of
gene called N-acetyltransferase (NAT), which adds a small molecule, called an
acetyl group, to drugs as they pass through the liver or intestine. This small
molecule does a few neat things; it helps some drugs become effective, detoxifies
some cancer-causing substances, such as those found in tobacco smoke or even
some of the carcinogenic amines that result from grilling meat. There are several
alternate versions of the NAT genes, polymorphisms that are typically called
'fast', 'medium', or 'slow' acetylators. The highest frequency of Explorer slow
acetylators is found in the Middle East, one of the first regions where agriculture
originated 10,000 years ago, and these frequencies decrease toward Western Europe,
North Africa, and India, three regions where agriculture was subsequently diffused
from the Fertile Crescent.
Explorer can also have difficulties clearing foreign or man-made chemicals from the body, often as a result of lower levels of activity of the p450 system of enzymes. The P450 families CYP1, CYP2, CYP3 and CYP4 appeared to have evolved as a means of detoxifying foreign chemicals (xenobiotics) encountered in the environment and diet. A xenobiotic is a chemical which is found in the body, but which is not normally produced or expected to be there. For example, virtually all man-made chemicals are xenobiotic. Principal xenobiotics include drugs, carcinogens and various compounds that have been introduced into the environment by artificial means, such as pesticides, fertilizers and hydrocarbons.
A common aphorism in the military is 'Learn right in the beginning, do it right
forever. Learn it wrong in the beginning, spend the rest of your life learning
to do it right.' An Explorer with proper epigenetic programming will work very
well and live a long and rewarding life. An epigenetically compromised Explorer
GenoType will spend the rest of their lives trying to strike some sort of balance
between ever shifting opposing forces. In the case of blood it could manifest
as chronic anemia suddenly replaced with a lymphoma, or an iron storage disease
suddenly complicated by a rapid drop in platelets. A long time ago when the sole
goal was to live long enough to pass on ones' own genes to their offspring these
types of gyrations may have had a fitness advantage, perhaps with regard to holding
bloodborne parasites in check. However, they hold little currency today. In
the case of the liver and metabolism it could involve their immune system so
fixating on small amounts of one particular toxin that it ignores larger amounts
of other toxins and lets these pass unmolested.
Explorers who maintain a detoxifying diet that also nourishes the blood and bone marrow will have few health problems and usually will have very little trouble attaining a healthy weight. If you are an Explorer you can modify the genes that cause poor detoxification in your own lifetime -- but even better, you can take steps to change the forecast for generations to come. With the right diet and lifestyle for your GenoType, you can be caretakers of both the young and the old. Perhaps like Simone, you may be surprised to find out that food sensitivities and toxicity are best treated by the proper foods for one's body, not just avoiding the wrong ones.
Explorers often enjoy greater longevity than the other GenoTypes. Many of the genes we typically find in Explorers, such as the Rh negative blood type, are common in areas of the world where people seem to live 'forever' ---such as the Basque provinces of Spain and the Caucasus Mountains of Asia. Explorers can benefit greatly from the GenoType Diet and should expect to lead long and healthy lives if they follow the recommendations in this book.
One wonderful thing about Explorer is that as a GenoType, they make a wonderful photocopy machine. Perhaps this is the result of their higher capacity for gene repair, or the fact that their activation and silencing patterning is so stable, but if you are looking to make a copy of a gene, Explorer is your man. Give them enough dietary methyl group donors, and watch them go. Explorer bears a striking similarity in many ways to the characterization, or dosha, seen in classic Ayurveda called the pitta, especially the mental attributes and the need for balance.
Explorer GenoTypes seem to have a good balance between proper gene repair and
the ability to keep one's own risk of malignancy at bay. This is always a matter
of balance, since the very telomerase enzymes that re-elongate and repair genes
are often misused by cancer cells in an attempt to achieve immortality. Yet Explorer
seems to accomplish this genetic tightrope walk relatively well. They seem to
not only age very well, they also don't appear to come down with a lot of the
more common cancers either. Not for nothing do the major genes that determine
Explorer GenoType find their greatest concentration in areas of the world with
legendary accounts of longevity.
A properly balanced Explorer will expostulate and complain constantly of their
day-to-day health issues, all the while being in constant demand to provide funeral
eulogies for their less long-lived friends and relatives.
Explorer types like to avoid bloodshed, especially their own, since they tend
to have problems keeping their blood adequately supplied with proper levels of
blood building nutrients. They can often be left handed, with an 'aura' about
them that often results in electro-chemical disturbances in the nervous system
such as epilepsy, but other Explorer GenoTypes have their fair share of autistic
tendencies, hyperactivity issues, and in extreme cases, schizophrenia and bi-polarity
can result. One of the interesting things about Explorer is that their blood
changes viscosity with their moods. This phenomenon, called rheology, probably
occurs as a result of changes to blood clotting factors, which are often occur
in far greater concentrations in Explorer GenoTypes, even when otherwise normal
and healthy. Explorer GenoTypes from the Mediterranean area of Europe or the
areas around Indian and Pakistan are often carriers of the gene for thalassemia
(a type of anemia), which may have started out as a protective adaptation to
infection by the malaria parasite.
The liver and spleen hold great significance for Explorer. Together they contribute to the health and persistence of all the cellular substances of the blood. The spleen in particular, is an important organ of balance to the Explorer. If it is too immunologically overcharged it will overreact and remove red blood cells too aggressively. Located under the left side of the rib cage, this fascinating organ has two types of tissue; red pulp and white pulp. Red pulp functions much like the labyrinth in the myth of Theseus and Minotaur. Throughout its convoluted corridors scavenger cells lay in wait. As red blood cells age and become senescent their surface appearance begins to become more spherical until finally they are engulfed by the scavenger cells and destroyed.
Explorers often have sluggish bone marrow function and struggle to keep up their white blood cell counts. This GenoType is prone to many types of anemia, such as those that result from inadequate levels of folic acid, B12 and iron and other types of anemia that result from bone marrow suppression or low levels of an enzyme called G6PD. G6PD is critical to the body because it enables the production of a critical antioxidant called glutathione. In addition to powerful detoxification effects in the liver, glutathione protects red blood cells against damage caused by certain drugs and foods.
Probably as a consequence, or maybe a testament, of their survivability as the really only true hunter-gatherers, Explorers tend to be spooked by most microbial toxins, such as endotoxins from bacterial and mycotoxins from fungi. This was probably at one time a conserved trait that had adaptability advantages, since not every animal that went down thru the Explorer digestive tract was fresh caught or killed. An interesting aspect of the Explorer is an an apparent polymorphism with what is known as 'Schwartzmann's Phenonomena', an almost obsessive-compulsive disorder of the liver in which the detoxification mechanisms fixate on a small initial 'primer' dose of a toxin, and then let subsequent, larer amoutns pass completely unheeded.
Explorers often have trouble clearing foreign or man-made chemicals from their blood. This clearing process is called acetylation. Efficient acetylation helps drugs become more effective, and detoxifies cancer-causing substances. GT4 Explorers have problems detoxifying drugs, carcinogens, and various compounds that have been introduced into the environment by artificial means, such as pesticides, fertilizers, and hydrocarbons. Because of these issues, Explorers can be quite chemically sensitive, and often react negatively to the 'typical doses' of drugs, antibiotics, and even vitamins and minerals. When using these medicines they should always start with the lowest doses and gradually work their way upward.
Explorers often have polymorphisms of the cytochrome p450 detoxification system. The first thing you need to know is that the name cytochrome P450 has no relevancy whatsoever. It was coined in the early 1960's to describe an unknown pigment in cells which when bound with carbon monoxide, absorbed light at the 450nm wavelength and the name has stuck ever since. The P450 system is a giant superfamily of enzymes that now number well over 400 genes, with 60 in us humans alone. With all those genes, there needed to be some sort of order developed, so in 1987 a system was developed whereby the symbol CYP followed by numbers and letters detailing the gene and its individual qualities.
The P450 families CYP1, CYP2, CYP3 and CYP4 appeared to have evolved as a means of detoxifying foreign chemicals encountered in the environment and diet.P450 enzymes have three basic functions and most of members fall within one or the other. These include certain aspects of our internal metabolism and the production of steroid hormones. The third, and the one almost everyone is interested in these days, the metabolism of foreign substances, or xenobiotics.
Are you sensitive to medications? Does caffeine keep you up all night? Until recently physicians could not account for these unexpected variations in patient response to administered therapeutic agents. Now we know that these differences are due to the genetics of individualized detoxification.
Explorers often have variants in the CYP1 family. These enzymes are involved in the metabolic activation of many procarcinogens and environmental toxins such as dioxin (Agent Orange). The two major versions are CYP1A1 and CYP1A2. CYP1A1 is found in the lungs, placenta, and lymphocytes whereas CYP1A2 is primarily in the liver. CYP1A1 metabolically activates many compounds found in cigarette smoke. Both are involved in the metabolic breakdown of caffeine, and the rate of caffeine clearance is a useful way to determine their activity. In postmenopausal women, East Asians had higher levels of CYP1A activity when compared with Caucasians and Jewish women had the lowest activity of all. Because of genetic variations in CYP1A1 about one-tenth of the population may be at greater risk for development of certain chemically induced cancers. The levels of CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 activity are therefore considered to be important determinants of our individual response to many potentially toxic chemicals.
Always the paradox, Explorer is one of the very few GenoTypes, which appear to
have arrived at an environmental endpoint that is actually superior to the one
for which there were predicated. A lot of this may be due to the complexities
of the relationship between the developing Explorer GenoType and the placental
interface. Although not programmed for metabolic thriftiness like the Gatherer
GenoType, the developing Explorer fetus had a relationship with the placenta
that almost approximates with a modern statistician might call game theory: The
need to anticipate and out-guess your opponent. In the case of Explorer the opponent
is the placenta itself, a device existing between the sustenance of the mother
and the demands of the fetus.
When properly configured through the always tricky medium of correctly selecting of one's parents, the placenta exerts a wildly trophic, anabolic effect on Explorer, especially with regard to components that are very sensitive to a stable development, such as the tiny capillaries that are part of the blood supply network, and the interconnectivity of the hemispheres of the brain. However, in some instances it would almost appear that someone forgot to tell the placenta that it is not star of the show, and it begins to act in a rather selfish many, especially with regard to sharing one of its more precious commodities: oxygen. At that point Explorer may well be headed towards a future full of difficulties.
A further consequence of this low oxygen environment often results in many Explorer GenoTypes being ambidextrous or being left hand dominant. GenoType Explorer tends to have a considerable amount of Type I or 'juvenile' diabetes in their family lineage as well as personal health history. However, Explorer does not have a particularly thrifty metabolism, so the more common type II or adult onset diabetes is actually less common in this GenoType that on average. The same placental hostility that may play a role in Explorer type I diabetic tendencies might also explain their above average occurrences of autism, schizophrenia or epilepsy.
From a biologic worldview, an important concept to grasp about Explorer is best exemplified by the term dyscrasia. It is a medical word of ancient origin, meaning 'bad mixture' and was used in ancient Greek medicine to indicate and imbalance of the so-called 'four humors' (blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm) and was believed to be the direct cause of all disease. It is still used in medical context for an unspecified disorder of the blood.
One of the more interesting aspects of the Explorer GenoType dyscrasia worldview is the effect that it produces in their reaction norms, the expected way that they should react to challenges from a multi-system standpoint. The Explorer GenoType has an interesting glycome --the universe of all their signaling sugar molecules. Once the Explorer glycome activates, it tends to behave like a diesel engine, which was once explained to me as 'Not wanting to be turned on, and having endured that insult, next not wanting to be turned off.'
We currently live in an interglacial period, the interval of warmer global average
temperatures that separates the ice ages, and if anything our climate seems to
be getting warmer. This current interglacial period has lasted for about the
last 10,000 years, so we've all grown quite accustomed to a warmer and humid
climate. However, before that things were quite different. Ice sheets covered
northern Europe and Scandinavia. Most of the rest of Europe resembled a grassland-desert,
except that it was very cold. Since so much water was locked up in ice, there
much more dry land around the North Sea area than there is now: You would not
need to take the Channel to get from London to Paris, you could walk it, and
a lot of folks did. Most of modern Europe would resemble this largely featureless
This is the land of GT4, The Explorer. To get here he had to pass through a belt
of extreme desert that extended from North Africa almost to the foothills of
the Caucuses. From there on he would have encountered an almost endless expanse
of dreary tundra, interrupted solely by dense stands of old forest and the headwaters
of the Danube, around present day Austria. Yet this tundra was rich with life;
herbivore animals love grasslands, and the rich plant life supported large numbers
of wandering herds; steppe game such as mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, musk ox,
steppe bison, reindeer, and wild horse. Steppe tundra is too dry for forest growth
and too wet to be considered a desert, however unlike extreme desert area, steppe
tundra has many small rivers, which support stands of willows and other water
But always there was the pressure from the north. 'We fight, get beat, get up
and fight again.' This was how a Revolutionary War general once described his
victory strategy. Explorer was like that: He would fight as long as he could;
but then, being no fool, he would pack and move south again; a refugee from the
eternal ice and cold. Every time he did this, he changed a little bit, becoming
increasingly idiosyncratic and unique, but like Waddington's marble, discovering
that you really can't ever go back home again.
This standup nature, in addition to their great capacity for out-of-the-box thinking, makes Explorer GenoType some of the best natural leaders and motivators. You can see this in a Julius Caesar, a classic Explorer, who almost never responded to a threat or challenge in an expected way. Like Caesar, a lot of Explorers are left handed. And again like Caesar, epilepsy is not an uncommon condition. The early stages of epilepsy are called to as the 'fugue state.' This is an altered state of consciousness in which a person may move about purposely and even speak but is not fully aware. Explorer is a human fugue, if you would, best understood in its musical sense; capable of weaving sonic textures in such a way that the same note structure assumes a different melody depending on when and here you chose begin listening to it.