Microbiome

Microbiome (mikro . biom) – This medical term has it’s first known use in 1952. It’s the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space.  Joshua Lederberg coined the term arguing the importance of microorganisms inhabiting the human body in health and disease.

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Simply, it’s the bugs that live on or in us.

The bacteria, fungi, and viruses that inhabit a particular environment and especially the collection of microorganisms living on our body number about 100 trillion (Carl Zimmer) and together with other microbes, collectively are known as our own personal microbiome.

The material in our gut is the personal microbiome of our gut.

The largest number of microbes live in the gastrointestinal tract and are associated with the regulation of digestion, protection from disease-causing organisms, and the development of a strong immune response.

According to an article by Will Hartfield (12/32016), the microbiome is linked to a person’s genetic footprint and hence plays a role in the determination of our unique DNA, predisposition to pathogens, hereditary traits, body type and much more. In fact, up to 90% of all human maladies are linked to the health of the gut and the overall condition of our microbiome.

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Lifestyle can affect our microbiome. Dr. Heather Tick, a researcher, and the multi-book author suggests some healthful guidelines.

Medical procedures, medications, diet, questionable drinking water, chemotherapy are just a few issues that can alter the microbiome in our bodies and bring about serious long term health issues.

When our gut microbiome is balanced – which means that the ratio of good bacteria to bad will be higher keeping everything in check – we’ll find good bacteria (probiotics), bad bacteria, yeast (like Candida Albicans) and other microorganisms.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the healthiest microbiome. So, how do we know if our gut microbiome isn’t healthy?

  • Gas or bloating  * Indigestion * Diarrhea or Constipation * Food Allergies * Frequent Colds/flues * Infections * Sugar Cravings * Fatigue * Mood Swings * Skin Allergies * Depression * Weight Loss/Gain * Brain Fog/Trouble Concentrating * Headaches * Thyroid Issues * Autoimmune Issues

Changing our diet is a good way that we can intervene.

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“Ditch the sugar.” We’ve heard it before.  Well, we’re hearing it again now.  Sugar in all of its forms creates an addictive cycle.  The brain simply signals that another sugar treat is entering the bloodstream and like cocaine, the addictive cycle begins again.

Probiotic-rich foods are great sources of dietary probiotics: these include yogurt, kefir, and kombucha.  Fiber-rich foods such as onions, legumes, and bananas are also recommended since your gut bacteria break down the fiber for their own energy helping to support the colonization of healthy bacteria in the gut.

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Supplements with a probiotic that contains a variety of bacterial strain with a high colonizing unit per capsule such as 50 billion live cultures help to speed healing and improve gut diversity.  This is important if we’ve been prescribed an antibiotic.  Antibiotics destroy bacteria in the nonselectively, meaning they also kill the probiotic we need to keep our gut microbiome healthy.

Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is important because it’s linked to our overall health.

 

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease characterized by progressive mental deterioration and memory loss. (Merrian-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus.)

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When I read this statement a quote comes to mind.  “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”  Walter Scott may not have been thinking of Alzheimer’s when he coined the phrase.

Unfortunately, and ironically, this quote seems appropriate for Alzheimer’s, especially when referring to the tangles forming in our brains from the accumulation of dead neurons after the TAU proteins have detached from the microtubules.  These tangles are part of the amyloid cascade forming from the chronic inflammation inside our brain that practices to deceive our brains.

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However, to understand a person’s brain diagnosed with Alzheimer’s we need to understand the process of the amyloid cascade.

Jonathan Cherry, a graduate student at the University of Rochester of New York in the Department of Pathology, discusses the department’s work examining mouse brains in the amyloid cascade.

Jonathan relates that microglia is the immune defense of our central nervous system.  These microglia are sensitive to degenerative changes and activate by going to the site of damage to destroy pathogens and damaged cells by phagocytosis (they destroy what’s dead).

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The microglia are the janitor cells of our brains.

Amyloid beta-protein is normally cleared from the synapses in our brain. When the amyloid proteins accumulate at the synapse site the microglia are stimulated causing them to become overactivated and produce an inflammation factor. 

This inflammation factor actively begins to damage healthy neurons.  As more neurons are damaged, more microglia are damaged which in turn increases inflammation, leading to neurodegeneration.

An article in News Medical Life Sciences by Sophie Mullany, B.S., reinforces this step-by-step- outline of the amyloid cascade of chronic inflammation relating to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

While this inflammation is occurring neuro fibular tangles are also forming from accumulated dead neurons as the tau protein detaches from the microtubules of the neurons. The synapses in the affected neurons can no long function resulting in dead neurons accumulating and forming tangles of tau.

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Both amyloid plaque and tau tangles need to be present for the disease to present toxic symptoms often resulting in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease remains the leading cause of dementia worldwide and evidence suggests that the body’s inflammatory response may play a role in the development.

Neuroscientist, Daniel J. Levitin’s recent book ‘Successful Aging A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives,’ offers us hope by addressing what happens in our brain as we age.

Mr. Levitin proposes that aging can be a period of renewed engagement and energy. This period can also remind us that since we have already lived many years we are a lot better at some things such as recognizing pattern matching and understanding others’ emotions.

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Dr. Levitin also reminds us that keeping our brain stimulated with things that we love and enjoy is vitally compelling for our mental health. His research indicates that our peak age of happiness is 82years (he studied 60 countries) since we made it through most of the challenges in our lives.

Living a long, happy, healthy life is a beautiful thing, dealing with less can be a sorrow.

 

 

 

How To Market Your Book In 2020

‘Marketing information for this decade is in flux.’

This statement is from an article re-posted by a blogger, Nicholas Rossis, titled “How To Market Your Book In 2020.”

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It describes the changing landscape of book advancement from aggressively promoting immediate upcoming book launches that morph into promoting year-round book presentations.

The changing mindset of book promotions reflects that readers, whether by turning pages or placing an earbud in their ear, want to be offered quality, not quantity information.

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Social media platforms share and collect a variety of information through search engines yet personalization remains the key.  People want to have a conversation, even if it’s only with an interactive chatbot, and not simply be talked to.

Networking and media remain the backbone of book marketing in reaching the listening and reading audience.

This information offers an exact guideline for MARKETING OURSELVES IN 2020.

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Our landscape, our body and mind, are constantly changing so to maintain a strong physical being and a sharp, cognitive environment we may want to step up the tick-tock, tick-tock that we repeatedly hear clicking in our head each day.  Tick-tocks are little snippets of incoming information that tell us how to eat well and what type of exercise we should really be doing and how often we may want to do it.

(Tick-tock, tick-tock – take that short hike, little less sitting on the couch… .)

Exercising for 15 minutes on a regular basis may be better than exercising once for an hour and never again. Promote ourselves year-round.

Using the internet to locate websites that promote healthy lifestyles and good food picks will widen choices and promote an exciting array of recipes and particular exercise routines.

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Let’s put these ideas in our backpacks as we head out the door to take that short hike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicholas C. Rossis

Ronita Mohan | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksHere’s another post from Ronita Mohan, one of this blog’s favorite guest bloggers. Book marketing is like building on quicksand: just when you think you know what’s what, everything changes. Thankfully, Ronita shares here some tips about the book marketing trends for the new year.

Ronita is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic and design platform. She is an avid reader with an interest in mystery fiction, history, graphic novels, marketing, and diversity. Twitter: @Venngage

How To Market Your Book In 2020

Book marketing in 2020 | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksPhoto by Jamie Street on Unsplash

The marketing world is in constant flux, and book marketing ends up being impacted by these changing trends.

In 2020, certain aspects of book marketing will remain the same. For example, social media and networking will be just as important as they’ve always been.

But you also need to know about the new ways you can use the digital…

View original post 1,179 more words

Christopher Columbus

Mr. Columbus discovered the perfect foods.

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All you need to do is reach out and take them.  What a wonderful set up for you. Christopher finds lucious, ripe fruits dripping with sticky juice, a colorful array of healthy vegetables, prime sources of protein, choice selections of digestible fiber and clear, clean drinkable water. Ummm, my mouth is watering and I’m drooling just thinking about the abundance of choices.

I’m not sure how the idea of fast foods and extra-large, sugary drinks comes into the picture but somewhere along the way this idea of reaching out and grabbing the ‘perfect food’ gets mixed up.

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Man and his mate make choices.

I don’t think that Christopher Columbus has a vote on the matter since he ‘passed’ a few years ago.

Sailing a ship around the world takes determination, courage and a definite plan.  Chris seems to have had a plan mapped out before he sailed for ‘the New World.’ Christopher Columbus was in search of something; something new, something better.

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Map out your health and nutrition goals for the new year and new decade with a definite plan just like Mr. Columbus.  You’re navigating a sturdy ship through swift, often dangerous, waters of food choices and culinary preparation in order to reach out and pick only the tempting fresh fruits, crunchy vegetables, savory mouth-watering protein and fiber-rich grains that Christopher discovered so long ago on his long sea voyage to the Americas.

Start with a simple, achievable plan.

Check the plan often.

Recognize your achievement and make new achievable goals.

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Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. You will discover a healthy you no matter what your starting point.  Map out your route, check it often and stay on course and then you can be Chris’s, ‘first mate.’

 

 

 

Anticipation

We enter a New Year with a decade attached.

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Hopes are high and resolutions sharp.

Anticipation drips off words and actions.

Verbosity and intention our worth.

Too much adrenaline may be our curse.

Enjoying the feeling sways easy.

Focusing attention skews the anticipation.

Throttle and measure the pedal of movement.

Counter annihilation of anticipation

and propel yourself on a true course of achievement.

Heavy Handed

Hands heavy with dirt, disease, and devilish deed doers touch our lives every day.

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According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, (10/2018) handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea and almost 1 out of 5 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia.

Feces (poop) from people or animals is an important source of germs like Salmonella, E.coli 0157, and norovirus that cause diarrhea, and it can spread some respiratory infections like adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease.

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Germs get into our bodies through our eyes, nose, and mouth.  Proper handwashing with soap removes germs from our hands and helps prevent sickness.

Teaching people about proper handwashing helps them stay healthy.

  • Reduces the #of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23 – 40%
  • Reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%
  • Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16 – 21%
  • Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57%
  • Handwashing kills bacteria, reducing the risk of infection with two common viruses up to 77% according to the research of the Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health

92% of telephones are contaminated with bacteria such as staphylococci and E. coli.

$260 Billion is the annual cost of missed work and lost productivity due to illness.

100% is the reduction in bacteria after cleaning a keyboard with an antibacterial wipe.

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So, what is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean running water (warm) and apply soap
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap
  • Scrub all surfaces of your hands, including the palms, backs, fingers, between your fingers, and under your nails.  Keep scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.  Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  • Rinse your hands under clean, running water
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel and towel or air dry them.

Proper handwashing is one of the most effective things we can do to prevent the spreading of disease.  Soap and flowing water together are the most effective combination, as the two help wash the germs away from the skin.

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Wash your hands often especially after you go to the bathroom and before you eat.

Medical Debt

Our personal credit cards may be straining after this holiday gift-giving season but according to new research reported on the Nightly Business Report, (12/12/2019) 137 million people face financial hardship in 2019 due to medical debt.

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An increased number of patients are paying off medical bills with their credit cards.

  • According to CompareCards.com, 33% are in debt due to medical bills.
  • 60% used a credit card because they had no other way to pay
  • 15% owe $1 thousand – $5 thousand in medical debt on a credit card

PBS (Public Broadcasting Systems) published (Health Jul 26, 2018, 5:26 PM EST)) a study found in Health Affairs that one in six Americans have past-due health care bills on their credit report, a debt totaling $81 billion in all.  These findings are consistent with a 2017 Urban Institute report that suggests medical debt is the most common financial burden in collections in the United States, a country where health care spending amounts to 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

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Medical debt imparts other parts of a patient’s life such as trying to purchase a home.  A Zillow survey shows that 13 thousand people who owe money for their health care expenses are turned down (38%) for their home mortgage applications.  Financial companies see these people as a financial risk. Forty-four percent of mortgage applicants admitted that if they had a $1,000 unexpected bill they could not financially handle paying the bill.

Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute who studies asset building and poverty found in a 2016 study that families that set aside between $250 and $749 were less likely to be evicted or miss a mortgage or utility payment.

However, Benedic Ippolito from the American Enterprise Institute feels that “If you know you can’t afford a bill, and you really don’t want to incur debt, then you might not go out and seek care.”

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Here are some options to dig yourself out of medical debt if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in that situation.  It can happen to you even if you have a full-time job with medical insurance – it only takes one catastrophic medical event.

  • Negotiate with the provider before or after the surgery/event
  • Get on a payment plan
  • Transfer medical debt from a high-interest credit card to a low or no-interest card
  • Hire a medical bill advocate

Some people are one catastrophe away from being insolvent or using credit cards to finance their health care; it’s a fact of life.  Hopefully, you’ll never be in that situation.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you’ll know that maintaining health and wellness is a great idea.  So, I wish you happy, healthy holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

Profiles of Holiday Shoppers

The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping bring out unique shoppers.

The joy of the holidays can be overshadowed by the stress of shopping.

Stress often disrupts our sleep pattern and can have a negative impact on our immune system.

With this in mind, there are a few holiday shoppers to be aware as you forge ahead to stay healthy and happy this holiday season.

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There’s bruising Bubba who always barges in front of the line.

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Who can forget elegant Eloise sniffing everywhere for a good deal?

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Lumbering Luke usually arrives late in the day but always seems to step on toes and shove shopping carts.

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And no one wants to upset angry Angus when he spots a sizzling sale.

Some helpful shopping hints may be practical for your peace of mind.  Avoid animal crowds and start early.  The National Retail Federation (NRF) states that only 6.7% of shoppers begin their holiday shopping in September, 21.3% by October 1, and 42% by November 1.

Limits and lists are good – stick to them.

Establish your deadline, not someone else’s. Don’t sacrifice your time.

You don’t need that sparkly, seven-toed, whirly-durly dancing doll next to the check out counter.  Impulse buying is a NO-NO.

Looking back on your holidays feel a heart full of love, not a stocking full of the sappy stuff.

 

Endocannabinoids

A recent article in American Nurse Today (Nov. 2019 Vol.14 #11 p.6-11) written by Eloise Theisen MSN, AGPCNP-BC, and Eileen Konieczny, RN, BCPA outlines the long history that cannabis has taken for medicine and spiritual use.  Currently, 33 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto allow medical cannabis use under specific qualifying conditions, and 11 states (and the District of Columbia) allow adult recreational use.

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The endocannabinoid system maintains homeostasis which makes it a unique target for medical applications. This molecular signaling system consists of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 are the most common and well studied), ligands, and enzymes that regulate sleep, pain perception, memory, mood, and appetite.

The receptors can be stimulated by our own endogenous cannabinoids, by plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids), and by synthetic cannabinoids.

Ligands act as chemical messengers to get cannabinoids to interact at the receptor site while enzymes break down cannabinoids after they’re completed their function.

CB1 and CB2 receptors are found throughout our bodies.

When activated CB1 receptors mitigate anxiety, stress, pain, inflammation, depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and neurogenerative disorders.

CB2 activation mitigates inflammation, mental health disorders, neurologic disorders, and multiple sclerosis.

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that can influence the cannabinoid receptors and promote the release of neurotransmitters. They include phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids.

Phytocannabinoids are produced by the cannabis plant.

Endocannabinoids are molecules produced naturally and on-demand by our bodies.

Synthetic cannabinoids are created in the laboratory and are single, isolated molecules.

The two most studied phytocannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

In 2018 the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved a medication called Epidiolex, an oral solution of plant-derived CBD for treatment of seizures in Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes in patients 2 years and older.

Dronabinol derived from THC is approved by the FDA to treat AIDS patients and patients undergoing chemotherapy experiencing nausea and vomiting.

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In December 2018, The Agricultural Improvement Act (“Farm Bill”) legalized hemp and defined it as any part of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, including cannabinoids.  These changes removed hemp from restriction under the Controlled Substance Act.

THC produces euphoria, psychoactive effects that influence mood, conscious and behavior. Side effects are dose-dependent.  THC can lead to a substance use disorder.

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CBD improves mood by decreasing anxiety and depression and is effective for treating nausea and vomiting: seizures, inflammation, and neurogenerative disorders; and pain.

Cannabis products can be administered by many routes; topical, transdermal, inhalation, sublingual, ingestion however buyer beware.  Cannabis plants are bio-accumulators that absorb contaminants and pollutants from the soil and environment. Heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins may be present in the plant and when extracted or concentrated can be detected in the final product.  Cannabis product testing requirements vary from state to state, so check with your state’s cannabis regulatory agency to understand specific testing requirements.

As cannabis legalization continues to bring more products into the public and medical field finding credible information about cannabis products may rest solely on the consumer. Just as in any other medical situation when a person has questions – ask.

 

Oscar De La Hoya

Boxing is a competitive sport in which Oscar De La Hoya excels.  He retires and enters the International Boxing Hall of Fame holding six boxing titles: Featherweight, Lightweight, Super Lightweight, Welterweight, Super Welterweight, and Middleweight.

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Oscar gives a television interview with Dan Patrick on “Undeniable” in which he discusses his ability to switch from a fierce-contender fighting attitude inside the boxing ring to a likable guy outside the fighting arena.

Competing at the Middleweight level gave Oscar an overreach for his ability. During the interview with Dan Patrick Oscar stated that he let his competitiveness override his thoughtfulness even though he loves to challenge himself.

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We’re like Oscar.

We get on an even road with our health and nutrition plan and our life seems in control;  taking on the world is our goal.  Slowly we skip our exercise routine, next, we eat 2 gooey, sticky cinnamon buns and then we binge-watch our favorite television show on a three-day weekend.

However, Oscar met his athletic goal of attaining six boxing titles while developing the Golden Boy Promotions Company. He also realizes that his competitiveness killer instinct is needed in the boxing ring while his business development skills are used for challenging himself outside the arena.

So, what do we learn from Oscar?

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We need exercise on a regular basis.  Taking a short break from our exercise routine is okay however keep it “short.”  When we get a craving for something sweet eat a “small” piece and then put the rest of it away.  Television watching is great if you anticipate that murder mystery or golf tournament but binge-watching on the couch for three days eating junk food might not be a good idea.

Oscar says “that as a fighter I was always proud that I fought – I did some pretty cool stuff.”

We all do cool stuff; exercise, nutrition, health – repeat.

 

 

Finalist

This is a busy week full of travel, adventure, and socializing with authors who write about adventure, science fiction, intrigue, suspense, family drama, animal science, and police investigations.

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I’m honored to be a Finalist in the Readers’ Favorite 2019 International Book Awards Contest with my latest book RIPPLES IN THE GENERATIONS.  The award ceremony recognized gifted authors from around the world who received not only prestigious peer reviews but were recognized as credible storytellers in the publishing world.

My book RIPPLES IN THE GENERATIONS shares an unimaginable tale of deception and betrayal as the Henry family struggles through a lineage of hidden money, lies, secret adoption, death, and scientific inquiries.

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The opening scene – “Hushed, unsettling stillness seduces the space between the tentative greeter and the suspicious guests.  Rapid-fire mental, followed by visual, conversation quickly fills the void.  “Well, this could be an awkward situation if it weren’t for the fact that we’re all here to resolve some long-held secrets.” sets the tinged tone of the book.

RIPPLES IN THE GENERATIONS fills the drama-fiction writing niche because the character’s desire to turn back time isn’t an option since emotional controversy delays them at every turn.

When you decide to investigate your personal DNA can you accept the consequences if it reveals deep, dark secrets?