The epidemic of chronic disease and understanding epigenetics | Kent Thornburg | TEDxPortland

  • Published on Jul 28, 2015
  • When will we decide to conquer chronic disease? The moment we realize the future’s not only in our genes but also in our hands with the choices we make regarding food and nutrition. We now know how we grow before we are born, matters. A woman who is pregnant with a daughter is nourishing the egg that may someday become her grandchild. We must remove the vulnerability for developing chronic disease before it starts. Through the right choices in Family, School, Workplace & Policy - we can position humanity towards a sustainable, more livable answer.
    Dr. Kent L. Thornburg received his PhD in Developmental Physiology and studied Cardiovascular Physiology as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Postdoctoral Fellow at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). He participates in co-funded projects with scientists in England, New Zealand, France, Finland and Australia. He serves regularly on advisory panels at the NIH, the American Heart Association and the Children’s Heart Foundation and recently served as Co-Chair of the task force to determine the 10-year vision of the developmental origins of health and disease for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
    This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Comments • 115

  • Honorable Bunny
    Honorable Bunny 2 days ago

    Pregnant women should consult their obstetrician before including fish in their diet. Some guidelines recommend restricting fish for pregnant women due to contaminants. Refer to CDC guidelines and doctors advice, not TED talk. Omega fatty acids are also available from food sources other than seafood.

  • M Kerby
    M Kerby 5 days ago

    It isn’t just processed labeled foods that are hurting us. One more HUGE problem...glyphosate poisoning.

  • Juliette MacDonald
    Juliette MacDonald 5 days ago

    Excellent talk that is MOST IMPORTANT!
    I “Thank-You” for providing info I had no knowledge of + will share with others!
    Much appreciated!

  • JoshnoKapp
    JoshnoKapp 7 days ago

    watching this right after I spent $12 on Jack in the Box...

  • maryrose mitchell
    maryrose mitchell 7 days ago

    There is some fear mongering occurring and we should not be overly worried or concerned if we generally have healthy lifestyles.. We certainly should not tell our low or high weight birth children that they are predisposed to heart disease. All people who lack exercise and proper diet are predisposed to heart disease whether they get diabetes or not. We should be promoting healthy food to ALL of our kids no matter what their birth weight. The truth is, that if we believe we will get diseases and we fear them, we bring it into our lives. The mind is the most important instrument and is connected to the body. As we think so we are. If we think we are healthy, eat well, exercise, laugh, have meaningful relationships and activities and live with joy and with purpose following our passions we will out live most people. We are what we think we are. I’m not saying his studies are incorrect. I’m just saying there are other factors that can override them.

  • jeff sweet
    jeff sweet 23 days ago +1

    Chronic illness are from the mass injections kids receive today

    • M Kerby
      M Kerby 5 days ago

      Yes indeed. That too!

  • Anita Hyche
    Anita Hyche 27 days ago

    Don't understand why people that make processed foods don't make their foods better since WE KNOW THIS NOW. Why would any human continue to do something that we now know hurts everyone in a direct way or indirect way? How do they sleep?

    • Jefferdaughter
      Jefferdaughter 24 days ago


      In all seriousness, a lot of people just do not care about other people. Or the planet. One possible contributor to this is a recent discovery that people who take over-the-counter pain relief medications have less empathy for others. Considering that many people are given those as children, and continue to take them frequently as adults, this could be a real problem.

  • Anita Hyche
    Anita Hyche 27 days ago +1


  • David Brewer
    David Brewer Month ago

    All very good but please don't do an "inconvenient truth" on this (~14 minutes in) by quoting the cost in the US of Diabetes treatment as just $1bn/DAY & projected to be $650bn/YEAR just for the shock & awe factor. The presentation should have said "today it costs the US $365bn/year & in 2026 it is projected to cost $650bn"....Al Gore did this in "an Inconvenient Truth" & his on screen exaggeration brought into question the whole issue he was trying to make...all because he wanted to make a name for himself....

  • David Bonanno
    David Bonanno Month ago

    Nuts and seeds are toxic to humans.

  • Ross Meldrum
    Ross Meldrum Month ago

    Well I'm a dead man then. I am 64 years old and I weighted exactly 5 lbs at birth. Sure hope the Grim Reaper knocks loud enough for me to hear him.

    • Jefferdaughter
      Jefferdaughter 24 days ago

      You are aware of the meaning of the word 'risk', are you not?

  • SkillCult
    SkillCult Month ago

    Rather simplistic and doesn't take into account the huge increase in quantity and number of environmental pollutants. Also, no mention of the chronic mystery diseases that are rising at a huge rate. So people used to not live as long, then they lived longer, but it all caught up with us and now we are dying younger of heart disease. But many people did not used to have very good diets, yet diabetes and heart disease are what grew. And of course he has to use the opportunity to sell us a dietary dogma. Not saying there is nothing here, but pretty arrogant to think we have it all figured out.

  • Manuela Rodriguez
    Manuela Rodriguez Month ago

    So awesome!!😁

  • Geane Peixoto
    Geane Peixoto 2 months ago

    Education/knowledge changes the world👏 It isn't about me but about the others

  • Joseph Cingrani
    Joseph Cingrani 2 months ago +1

    Watching this while in pain now. God please help me.

  • Dawn Brosnan
    Dawn Brosnan 3 months ago

    I'm with him about eating a good diet, and about not eating processed foods, but to me that include rejecting grains and legumes and high carbs, NOT rejecting meat. Still this is four years old and re-examination of old data is proving the case against meat was biased and fiddled with and discredited and that meat is healthy and oxalates are not. Otherwise this was a really good and very enjoyable talk.

  • Anna Carolina Medeiros
    Anna Carolina Medeiros 3 months ago

    I’d like to know the name of the studies he talks about! Do anyone knows or can send me the links!? 🙏🏽

  • Bob Owen
    Bob Owen 4 months ago +1

    Dude! You missed the blood glucose problem and how to fix. Oh well, you have good intentions. Kinda deficient in how to fix. Dr. Salisbury gave us the answer in 1888. Should know what's in his book before you give further diet advice.

  • :D Lima
    :D Lima 6 months ago +1

    Ótima essa palestra. Um alerta em tanto! É hora de despertar, vamos lá pessoal!!

  • nosmartyr
    nosmartyr 7 months ago +4

    Diet of grains nooooo. We are poisoning ourselves with grains; causing immune attack via leaky gut. Fish are needed for sufficient DHA for brain development tho.

    • Phoenix Love
      Phoenix Love 3 days ago

      You dont to kill fish

    • Jefferdaughter
      Jefferdaughter 24 days ago

      @David Bonanno - Or Omega 6. Virtually all Americans get more Omega 6 fatty acids than they need, so their is no need to take Omega 6 supplements. 100% 'grassfed' milk, butter, and cheese from animals not fed grain is also a good source of Omega 3s.

    • David Bonanno
      David Bonanno Month ago +1

      @R E We need a higher omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. Don't take supplements for omega 3. Get them from grass fed meat, wild caught fish and mollusks.

  • Kathy Coleman
    Kathy Coleman 7 months ago

    We won't, because corporations like money. Getting rid of chronic disease would destroy a source of profit, which is the antithesis of what various aspects of the medical industry actually want to do. Most normal nurses and doctors totally want to help, but at the roots of that 'family tree' lies corporate greed, just like in any other industry. Pain, deterioration and even death are products. And until we, as a society, quit viewing them as such this will not change.

  • Kasnar Burns
    Kasnar Burns 9 months ago +2

    He might have gone a step further and insisted we select organic foods.

    • tiago ciriaco
      tiago ciriaco 9 days ago

      Within few more years, there will be no more organic food. World is getting toxic.

    • Jefferdaughter
      Jefferdaughter 24 days ago

      Especially from local farmers that we know care deeply about the food they raise/produce. Industrial organic food often is not truly organic.

  • SeiF eL Hadidi
    SeiF eL Hadidi 9 months ago

    Super Like .. Very great talk .. & very informative !!

  • Geoff Fieldew
    Geoff Fieldew 9 months ago +3

    Some interesting facts and figures in this talk. Agree re the processed foods. Don't agree with his very high carb diet, especially the fruits and whole grains that are way too high in sugar for diabetics.

  • Matthew Watson
    Matthew Watson 10 months ago

    He barely touched on epigenetics at all. He also failed to mention that epigenetics are a factor thoughtout our lives as different genes become active or inactive in response to our stresses and environment. The phenotypes of identical twins become less identical every year due to epigenetic changes. Our bodies are not fully predestined from birth as this talk seems to hint towards; it's actually the opposite. Our bodies are in constant flux and our genes have many possible ways to express themselves. Yes, the biggest changes occur before birth and the changes in childhood will be more significant than changes post-puberty, but our bodies and minds are still responsive to change throughout our lives.

  • 堀口寿人
    堀口寿人 10 months ago


  • Preeti Hamilton
    Preeti Hamilton 11 months ago

    Let me come to the point this so called opioids crises that doesn't really exists. The reason this is created is because the health insurance companies are in loss the most that is damaging their economy is chronic pain patients. They wanna either get rid of them or eliminate them as they can't refuse eligibility for health insurance. It's high time health insurance needs to get out of system as thy r not authorized to decide what medication n treatment shud be given to the patient it's the docs that have to decide. The cost of treatments n medication needs to get under intros so even a low class economy shud be able to effort it.

  • chernoyahya choi
    chernoyahya choi 11 months ago

    i like it when you said '' the egg that made me was made in my mother's.. ovary when she was in my grand's womb '' And this '' the egg that made her was made in her mothers womb when her mother was in her grand mother's womb'' you are powerful,

  • chernoyahya choi
    chernoyahya choi 11 months ago

    point of correction Sir, i am seeing 1879 , but you said 1897. so i don't understand why.. may be because so time are tough still now. and not only that times were tough before the civil war...

  • comfortouch
    comfortouch Year ago +3

    I disagree with his diet recommendation. Different bodies need different nutrition. Beans, seeds, nuts and whole grains can kill people. He should just recommend people don't eat processed food.For more info read the 'Plant Paradox' book or look up the videos about it in YT.

    • David Bonanno
      David Bonanno Month ago

      @hampuztt So is anyone who says that humans should eat grains, nuts, and seeds.

    • hampuztt
      hampuztt 4 months ago

      comfortouch Plant paradox is really Quack lol

  • Earmuff Hugger
    Earmuff Hugger Year ago +5

    I prefer meat and natural plants and I will live in a lean-to down by the river not in a care facility.
    Thank you

  • Star Gazer
    Star Gazer Year ago

    In egg years, I'm a hundred...Funny yet interesting talk.

  • mike mike
    mike mike Year ago +1

    Too much speculation. But still interesting.

  • rajat thapa
    rajat thapa Year ago +3

    He warns us about the epidemic of diabetes and then goes to tells us to eat foods high in carbohydrates (fruits, grains and legumes) in every meal. Don't trust his sport jacket.

  • shellyslioneyes
    shellyslioneyes Year ago

    I will watch the other 4 TED speakers on this subject and maybe I will figure it out. LOL. Have a great day. :)

  • Almur Abdelkreem
    Almur Abdelkreem Year ago

    Thanks a lot..That is amazing.

  • Julia J
    Julia J Year ago +2

    I have IBS and I can't eat only vegetables.

  • Monica Havemann
    Monica Havemann Year ago +1

    I had a normal birthweight, but my spinal cord didn't develop as it should have, and I live with the consequences, which is chronic pain. So, even in my case, you make a point.

  • Vera Nova
    Vera Nova Year ago +1


    • David Bonanno
      David Bonanno Month ago

      "Chemtrails" are condensed water vapor. Geez, learn some basic science.

    • shellyslioneyes
      shellyslioneyes Year ago

      And hurricanes that they cause? EXACTLY!!!

  • Project Malus
    Project Malus 2 years ago +4

    Let's put a health tax on that crappy food, then the big corporations that make so much money off of people's sickness will have the choice of either raising the price of the food or taking a profit hike.

    • Jefferdaughter
      Jefferdaughter 24 days ago

      The 'health tax' would be paid by the person buying the food-like substances, NOT the corporations profiting from harming people.

  • Timothy Franke
    Timothy Franke 2 years ago +1

    how can I take.thos guy seriously that opens with a completely unfounded Stat.

    • Jefferdaughter
      Jefferdaughter 24 days ago

      If you read their newsletter or magazine, you will find that they provide references for everything they say, whether or not it is something you are aware of, or agree with.

    • Timothy Franke
      Timothy Franke 2 years ago

      oh my this is garbage

  • Andrzej Sati
    Andrzej Sati 2 years ago +4

    Number one chronic disease is nowadays Lyme disease, but so called health care system hides it before public!

    • Andrzej Sati
      Andrzej Sati 2 years ago +1

      oliverlaurasykes You've just shown your anger, not a rational statement. Relax and have a nice day.

    • Felicity
      Felicity 2 years ago +6

      Andrzej Sati Lyme disease is a huge problem, but by no means the leading chronic illness. Stop spouting bullshit please. As a sufferer of lyme disease myself I can tell you that it's people like you that are making it harder to raise awareness, because you say these lies and it spreads misinformation and makes everything harder.

  • Kathleen Gustafson
    Kathleen Gustafson 2 years ago +9

    Huge new scientific evidence that many of the most serious chronic disease is caused by infection by bacteria and parasites, Alzheimer's, MS, fibromyalgia, Lyme and more. There is some science that needs to be done here. Yes diet is critical but big business has determined what we will eat and what chemicals we will eat and be inundated by. If you are growing your own organic, non GMO food I guess you will do better than the rest of us. But the environment continues to get dirtier with no projected hope of miraculously become cleaned up. There seems to be little hope for our oceans, they are fast becoming a toxic soup. It is a crime, but don't blame the eaters, follow the money.

    • Better Health Better Life
      Better Health Better Life Year ago

      I saw a terrifying map of the USA - two actually. One highlighted regions with MS deaths; the other highlighted regions with Lyme. They were practically identical. Look on Facebook - if you belong to facebook - for groups about Lyme, MS, Ehlers Danlos, Lupus, etc etc etc. You will learn so much from the discussions people have. Loads of good info and little gems of wisdom. Saves hours of research - you hear something interesting from anyone there, and you look it up and go from there!!! I read that Claritin - loratadine - kills lyme bacteria. I have read that when you get blood drawn with a tourniquet, your blood levels of potassium will appear higher. That's what I am talking about - little bits of info that you otherwise may never stumble upon - and eventually you begin putting pieces together regarding your own health.... very good resource! And yes, I looked those two things up to make sure there was truth behind it. Take care and have a good one! :)

  • C N
    C N 2 years ago +13

    Advise that fish for pregnant women should be eaten 3 times a week?! No way!! Full of heavy metals. There are plant alternatives.

    • David Bonanno
      David Bonanno Month ago

      No, there aren't plant alternatives. Wild caught salmon, sardines, mollusks are safe and super-nutritious.

    • Matthew Watson
      Matthew Watson 10 months ago +1

      Look up studies of fish consumption and heart disease. Also there's no B12 found in vegetables, and many vegetables high in omega-3 are not easily a regular part of people's diets. Plants mostly contain omega-6, and there is a body of evidence that a poor balance of omega-6 and omega-3 causes inflammation. Many Americans have a massive surplus of omega-6.
      From the research I've done, the nutritional and health befinits of wild fish consumption outweigh the risks. Especially if the fish are low on the food chain, where heavy metal accumulation is low

  • Brodie Hawkes
    Brodie Hawkes 2 years ago +12

    I really hate when a speaker doesn't state which type of diabetes they are talking about. They would only have to add two words (type one or type two) and it'd all be so much clearer.

    • Richard Tooth
      Richard Tooth 7 months ago +1

      Type one is not acquired through poor diet. So it’s pretty obvious

    • SeiF eL Hadidi
      SeiF eL Hadidi 9 months ago +2

      It does NOt matter here bec. he talks about the disease acquisition either since childhood or at adulthood.

    • Alex r
      Alex r 9 months ago +1

      hey said acquired implying type 2, which over time turns to type 1 via autoimmune

    • Gordon Charlton
      Gordon Charlton Year ago +5

      I don't believe you "acquire" type 1, so I would presume he is talking about type 2.

  • Lindsey Briolat
    Lindsey Briolat 2 years ago +8

    How can we stop chronic illness? According to Thornburg, we can prevent chronic illness when we decide to make a change. Chronic disease is on the raise because of the food that we have been eating, this is show with obesity on the raise. However, there is little other information because this increase of chronic illness will not begin presenting itself until the current young generation becomes older. These diseases are effected before birth from our mothers and even our grandmothers. The egg that I developed from in my mother was formed in my grandmother before my mother was born. This concept is basic but unimaginable to rap your head around at the same time. Thornburg discusses this through his family to clarify the concept. Chronically for the past three generations Americans have been eating processed food that industries have provided for the past 50 years. This is effecting the development and this current young generation is the first in one hundred years to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Over all is it up to individuals and society to decide when chronic disease is going to end.

    Judy FIELDS DAVIS 2 years ago

    Thanks so much

  • Winter Star
    Winter Star 2 years ago +8

    Lifespan increased....until the last 25 to 30 years or so...when death rates started exceeding birth rates. Baby Boomers will start showing as the early wave of people dying younger, generally, than their parents. I've been watching it in my family, in client's families, and others I speak with.
    I witness 3 generations of epigenetics happening: From the Irish potato famine immigrants included a great grandfather; boys about age 10 who experienced famine, spawn generations of male heirs who will likely develop diabetes type 2. My grandfather, and father, both developed DM2; It won't be long before we learn if my brother also develops it...because he also eats junk-food while traveling a lot ...then, his son, later.
    What each person experiences in their life, DOES change how genes express themselves, daily, cumulatively, into generations to come. Also, those genetic switches are not simple on/off switches...some behave more like rheostats.
    But his advising grains as healthy?
    Not these days...grains have mostly been GMO'd, contaminated with multiple rounds of poisons used to grow cosmetic, long-shelf-life 'foods'; and, other chemical exposures also are hormone interrupters--of all hormones; those and other things, all contribute to making entire populations into 'walking wounded'...heaven only knows what 60 years of increasingly intense chemicalization will cause...we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now....'tsunami' barely describes what's coming.

  • Carly Robles
    Carly Robles 2 years ago +1

    This was a very educational video. I throughly enjoyed it!! I love that I have found a new way to think about my health and my children's health. I only wish I saw it years ago. Thank you to everyone who is doing this research. It is very essentially needed! I will spread the word as I hope others will do!!

  • Shawn Dewar
    Shawn Dewar 3 years ago

    love his intro

    ABAZER SIRAJ BIVIJI 3 years ago


  • lpelsue
    lpelsue 3 years ago +20

    I loved his talk, right up until the point that he recommended a diet of grains.... I'm sorry but no. The grains we get today are mutated ghosts of the grains our previous generations ate. That's part of why people are so sick.

    • hampuztt
      hampuztt 4 months ago

      lpelsue care to show evidence for that statement?

    • nosmartyr
      nosmartyr 7 months ago

      As far as Im aware sourdough because its fermented might be acceptable & only France has wheat we are not harmed by.

    • Richard Tooth
      Richard Tooth 7 months ago +1

      lpelsue grains are fine if they are organic. Man has eaten grains for thousands of years. It is the preparation of grains that cause the problem.

    • Kasnar Burns
      Kasnar Burns 9 months ago

      Have you read Wheat Belly or Grain Brain? I'm just corroborating your point!!

  • Patrick Macdonald
    Patrick Macdonald 3 years ago +33

    It's slightly ironic he recommends pregnant mothers eat fish 2-3 times a week. Mercury is a major factor in epigenetics. Despite the distorted data to downplay its significance, even the WHO recommend mothers minimise fish consumption.

    • David Bonanno
      David Bonanno Month ago

      Eat sardines, wild caught salmon, and mollusks.

    • Katia Tannus
      Katia Tannus 5 months ago

      Salmon doesn't have mercury though

    • Richard Tooth
      Richard Tooth 7 months ago +1

      Patrick Macdonald eating fish and it’s benefits of nutrients far outway the exposure to heavy metals. And there are certain fish that contain tiny amounts. Like mackerel

    • Better Health Better Life
      Better Health Better Life Year ago

      If only it really were that easy, @The Future Is Fit :/

  • sagar Joshi
    sagar Joshi 3 years ago +2

    what is this? how is genetics n chronic disease linked is not clear at all

    • Primrose Dahlia
      Primrose Dahlia Year ago

      Genetics and chronic disease is linked because of this: every cell in your body contains your genome (dna) but the cells have no idea how to use the dna without getting information from outside. Epigenetics is the knowledge we have about how genes are activated or not, and how much a gene is expressed in the individual. For a gene to be activated,you need methyl groups (hydrogen and Carbon compounds), these methyl groups will activate or deactivate a gene, almost like a light switch . You also have something called histones which impact how much the gene is expressed. This is all controlled by things like diet, stress etc. so you may have hear disease in your family, but that does not mean that you will have heart disease... your diet, your stress level and if you exercise will affect the epigenome and result in getting heart disease or not.

  • MaxxABillion MaxxABillion

    I recommend a Ted Talk with Dr. Sebi. He talks about diseases as well as a diet to cure those diseases!

  • Prffft Diaria
    Prffft Diaria 3 years ago +3

    Why does this talk feel like absolute garbage. Where is the substantial information. My mother's body conditions had an impact on my health conditions? Ya don't say, wow.. not wow. May I have my ten minutes of life back, please.

  • Nope
    Nope 3 years ago

    I live in Portland, and am willing to volunteer.

  • Nope
    Nope 3 years ago

    How can I get tested? I have 13 different conditions. I am veteran. I need help.

    • tiago ciriaco
      tiago ciriaco 9 days ago

      Get rid of the excess of heat from the body, it is the cause of many conditions.

    • Edwin Kok
      Edwin Kok 6 months ago

      Happyfeet. I saw your comment. As a vet...did you ever get antibiotics like cipro or others from fluoro quinolone family? Look into you medical history. You might be 'floxed'.

  • Roopradha Datta
    Roopradha Datta 3 years ago +6

    Dr. Kent is just amazing. As a MPH student, I had an opportunity to hear him as a guest speaker in one of my classes. That was the first time I heard about epigenetics and the concept totally blew my mind.

  • Pasala Ravichandran
    Pasala Ravichandran 4 years ago +4

    I love this talk. If absolutely everyone listens to this talk there is a chance things will get better