Egan Bernal will be known as the youngest to ever win the Tour de France in 110 years from its inception. What sets him apart from the usual competitors even more is that the 22 year-old athlete is from the unsuspecting Latin American country: Colombia. Tour de France has been historically dominated by first world nations (Europeans and Americans) who have access to unlimited resources, professional coaches, latest sports medicine, abroad training facilities and major team sponsorship from global mega brands.
Colombia’s cyclist’s have been inching their way into the international spotlight with the likes of Egan Bernal, who recently (Fe b 17, 2020) was given the World Breakthrough of the Year award after winning the 2019 Tour de France, in only his second year of WorldTour racing (https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/latest-news/egan-bernal-takes-laureus-world-sports-award-alongside-lionel-messi-and-simone-biles-449309). Also currently another Colombian cyclist Narino Quintana, has stolen the international spotlight, setting a new record time beating Pantani and Armstrong at Tour de la Provence (Feb 2020). And there are other prominent Colombian cyclist’s who have won major races like the Tour of Spain (2016) and Italy (2014).
Colombian cyclist’s are probably best known for their climbing ability. Colombia’s diverse terrain expands from the Caribbean Sea to the high elevations of the Andean range that top 13,000-14,000 feet. Colombian competitive cycling athletes do not need to travel aboard: they have the perfect competitive environment to train. But how does an unkn. own 22 year-old from basically second world nation is able to actually win a fierce competition like Tour de France, where the fittest, most resourced European and Americans cyclists have dominated the sport for over 100 years? The answer is:
First, lets briefly define epigenetics. Epigenetics is a relatively new field that studies how genes are expressed depending on the environment you are in. If you think about it: every cell in your body has the same DNA. These are the genes we inherit from our parents. But how these genes are expressed depends on many factors. In 2003, the Human Genome Project revealed a major scientific breakthrough in the understanding of health and aging by illuminating the role of epigenetics. Until then the dominant paradigm in medicine has been based upon the false premise that you inherit 80% of your genetic disease condition, i.e., heart disease, arthritis or breast cancer genes. And you can only influence the other 20 percent of your genetics via healthy lifestyle choices. Basically your health condition is predetermined by the genetics you inherit from your parents and diet and healthy lifestyle plays no role.
The $100 billion dollar Human Genome Project findings showed the exact opposite! In the other words, the probability of inheriting a disease from your parents is only approximately 20%, versus 80%. The epigenetic paradox begs a question: if humans come into this reality with a “loaded gun” of genetics from our parents, then what are the factors that can “trigger” the on/off disease switch? The good news of is that most individuals have a lot more control of their health through the lifestyle choices one makes. The epigenetic choices also affect the most important portion of your cellular system called the mitochondria, which determines your energy availability for living, working and competing professionally. Think of mitochondria like a Ferrari’s engine powering your brain, heart, muscular skeletal system and digestive organs. Your mitochondrial DNA will respond differently to various lifestyle inputs like foods, exercise, supplements and prescription drugs. But there is one major epigenetic “factor” that affects your Ferrari’s mitochondrial cellular engine more than any other lifestyle input and that is your “quantum environment”, or what I call the “Q” factor. What kind of “quantum environment” is your mitochondrial DNA bathing in 24/7? Is your current environment supporting faster recovery, immune system, efficient metabolic operation? To illustrate the idea that not all living/working/fitness environments are created equal in terms of supporting a thriving, nourishing cellular energy system, here is an example. One can appreciate the simple concept that not all grown foods are created equal. Food growing variables like mineral-rich soil conditions, water quality (fluoride free), amount of sunlight, absence of herbicides and other chemicals will have huge impact on the nutrient density and taste. The same way as different food growing environments are not created equal, neither is your living/working/training environments!
So, why do I consider Egan Bernal to have an epigenetic competitive advantage over the other Tour de France racers? From my “Q” factor observations and health coaching research, I’ve come to realize that optimal health goes way beyond your typical nutritionist, functional medicine, or personal trainer approach. What these professionals are missing when it comes to optimizing human performance is the “Q” factor: where an athlete lives/works/trains determines their recovery speed, blood oxygen levels, mitochondrial energy efficiency. For example, if an athlete is living in a suboptimal environment where they are constantly exposed to modern living’s ubiquitous technological reality – bathing in non-native EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) 24/7 – it can have an effect on their performance! Modern living/working/fitness environment has profoundly changed in the past 5-10 years, consequently affecting our overall health status. The greater the pervasiveness of technology dictating our way of life, the greater the exposure to non-native EMFs, which affects overall human health and performance!
The “Q” factor quantum research perspective takes into account your genetic linage, biological evolution and the training environment. These “Q” factors can have a profound effect on activating optimal human performance, compared to nutrition and diet alone.
Genetic Linage. Egan is from a small town outside of Bogota at an elevation of 9,000 ft above sea level. The below pic of myself and Egan, where I happened to be visiting Egan’s hometown Zipaquira, where I visited my dear friend Orlando’s yoga retreat (Puda Vida). So, this begs the question: does having your genetic lineage from an indigenous culture that has lived in the Andean region for 100s or 1,000s of years cause a performance advantage or disadvantage? Many of the competitive Tour de France cyclists travel to destinations like Boulder, Colorado, where I reside, to train in high altitude terrain to mimic the low-oxygen environment of the French Alps.
Egan and many of the Colombian cyclist’s already had an epigenetic competitive advantage just by their genes coming from Andean high altitude and then training at 9,000-10,000 elevation throughout there developing years. Certainly high country living and training paid off during the French Alp’s racing segment is where Egan excelled and secured the “yellow jersey”.
Latitude Advantage. The second important “Q” factor is the latitude where you live/work/train. I am referring to Egan’s equatorial environment at 5 degrees at the equator. What does environment have to do with athletic performance? What is special about the equator? The answer to the quantum paradox is in observing nature’s intelligent design. Where do all those delicious, anti-oxidant rich fruits like bananas, pineapples and – let’s say yoga and Crossfit enthusiast’s favorite keto health food, coconuts grow?
Definitely not ions where the ultraviolet spectrum is abundant and strong 365 days of the year! If the sun’s spectrum has a profound effect on food and animal migration patterns, do you think it has profound effect upon homo sapiens?
Egan’s hometown of Zipaquira, sits at 5 degrees at the Equator, where the UV index reaches the 14-17 range in February (during Southern Hemisphere summer see picture). In comparison, if a professional cyclist trains in high altitude during the months of February-March in Colorado they most likely will be riding in conditions where the maximum UV index is 2-3 (Boulder, Colorado, is at 40 degrees latitude). And during the summer months the maximum power is within the 11-12 index for a limited 3 month window. The important difference between the equatorial and northern latitudes in terms of year around sun power is profound on activating the human performance potential! The main differences is that one environment allows you to produce copious amounts of Vitamin D year around and the other is very seasonal. You cannot make vitamin D with UV index below 3, during November-February when the sun’s angle is below 30 degrees. This is normal for most of the Northern Hemisphere, with one main exception – Mexico, which is in the most southern tip of the North American continent (I hope this geography lesson is useful, because these are critical performance factors contributing to longevity and overall health.)
UV Index & Human Performance – what does it have to do with human performance, or health advantage? Let me rephrase the question- what does vitamin D have do with health, athletic performance? To keep this blog short and sweet – everything! Vitamin D not truly a vitamin by definition, but acts more like a critical hormone that activates everything from sex hormones, to steroids, to immunity! Vitamin D studies have shown that this hormone inhibits over 165 diseases. Think of optimal immunity: what happens after a hard, intense training session? What kind of inflammatory response gets triggered? What effects recovery and the overall immune response? I bet if we tested Egan’s vitamin D levels they would be in the upper optimal range, versus normal ranges considered by modern medicine. In addition, the sun’s UV power also activates vasodilation (increases blood flow to organs and tissues, speeds up recovery) via the nitric oxide (NO) cycle in the arteries. In 1998, the Nobel Prize in medicine was given to Louis Ignarro for discovering the NO pathway and connecting it to heart disease. The implications for reducing heart attacks and strokes are profound and are monetized by the pharmaceutical industry. But what came first: nature’s intelligent design or the supplement made in a lab?
Ferrari Cellular Engine. Mitochondiria are the cell’s components responsible for energy production. Think of Egan’s legs pumping like a 12 cylinder Ferrari engine up the French mountain alps. Did Egan have an unfair advantage training at elevation and in equatorial environment where strong UV is available for 12 hours per day everyday and where no snow or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) exists? In comparison, let’s say, to Europe or America, where the powerful UV index is only available seasonally. No question: there is plenty of research that proves living and training in high altitude provides a competitive edge for oxygen deprived conditions. But what has not been well researched in terms of sports and human performance is training at elevation and at the equator where the solar index is strong year around. How does this quantum environmental factor affect an athletes VO2 maximum levels? There are some exciting opportunities in the fields of quantum biology to figure out how the amount of UV affects athletic performance and overall health and well-being. There are professional NFL sport teams that are using photo modulation tanning beds (which cost $100,000) to improve recovery and performance. So, perhaps, unbeknownst to Egan he had an environmental competitive advantage due to the quantum environment he was bathing in 24/7.
So here are some take-away points and questions to ponder:
Achieve Optimal Health and Sports Performance. Connecting the dots when it comes to the quantum environment has only just begun because we have not even mentioned water quality, water supply sources (93 percent of cell mass is water), technology exposure (WiFi, Cellular, 5G) or the earthing benefits beneath your feet!
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