What is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is the study of molecular mechanisms by which the environment controls gene activity. It is a new scientific field and it shows that DNA blueprints passed down through genes are not set in stone at birth. Each of us inherits our own unique variation of the genetic code. We can’t change the hardwiring of our genetic code, but epigenetic factors such as lifestyle and diet can radically change what our genes do.
What’s the significance of this?
It means that you have a lot more control over your health than you think.
We have always assumed that age-related diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, stroke and cancer are inevitable consequences of aging or because of our genes. But we now know through our understanding of epigenetics that this is not true. It is not about your genes but how you communicate with your genes through your diet, lifestyle & the environment you bathe your genes in. In other words, you can change how your genes are expressed. Several studies have shown that changing lifestyle causes changes in gene expression. Stress, diet, behavior, toxins and other factors activate chemical switches that turn genes on and off and regulate gene expression.
What do you mean you can change how your Genes are Expressed?
There are thousands of genes that render you susceptible to the many chronic diseases so many people are experiencing today, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer. But whether or not these genes are expressed as diseases is determined by how you live your life…your diet, how many toxins you are exposed to, what supplements you take, your beliefs and how you handle stress. That means you may be susceptible to heart disease or diabetes, but you do not necessarily have to succumb to them. That is, your genes are a predisposition, not a fate. This is extremely empowering because you are in control.
For the most part you do not manifest disease merely by a defective gene, but by the regulation or expression of your genes, and the expression of your genes is much more dynamic and modifiable than had previously been realized.
I always thought there was nothing you can do about your Genes. Is this true?
We have all been taught that we are stuck with our genes. But this is a huge myth… most genes are not set in stone or fixed, but rather modifiable.
We are born with a set of genes, which are inherited, which we can’t change, like body frame or the color of your eyes or hair. There are also certain genes that if you are born with, you will be crippled, retarded or have some serious childhood disease and die early. But these genes that can’t be changed are less than 2%. Most of our genes are actually modifiable and can be turned on or off. In fact, you ARE changing your genetics daily and perhaps even hourly from the foods you eat, the air you breathe, and even by the thoughts you think.
What do you mean you can turn Genes On and Off?
Bathing your genes in the right environment (good nutrients, food, love and thoughts), will turn the genes for health on and the “disease” genes off.
You can “turn on” genes that prevent chronic diseases and “turn off” oncogenes that promote breast cancer and prostate cancer as well as turn off genes that cause inflammation and oxidative stress. Your genes are controlled by epigenetic coding that tells them to be expressed or not expressed — which is completely controlled by your environment and lifestyle.
Are these Epigenetic changes passed on to future generations like the Genetic Code?
YES, it’s called epigenetic inheritance!! For many years we were secure in our beliefs that, no matter what we did to damage ourselves in terms of poor lifestyle choices, it only affected us. Our children would be born with a genetic clean slate. But now we are learning that this is not true, and epigenetic changes can be passed down for many generations. So, the lifestyle choices you make today affect not only you but also your children and grandchildren. In other words, each of us has far greater responsibility than we ever imagined!