Have you ever feel that you were doomed to your family’s health issues (diabetes, cholesterol, weight management, even Alzheimer’s) because it’s “just in your genes”? Or maybe you’ve wondered why a certain diet, or supplement, or fitness trend seems to be working miracles for your friends, yet as hard as you try, you don’t get the same results?
Epigenetics: the study of how mechanisms – such as diet, lifestyle choices and behaviors, and stress – switch genes on or off, changing the health not only of the people who are exposed to them, but also the health of their descendants.
Consider the honeybee:
All the bees in the hives are genetically identical, yet some become workers, some become drones and one special bee becomes queen, with a lifespan 20 times that of her genetically identical brothers and sisters. How does she do this? The answer is simple: diet and lifestyle.
From the time the queen is a baby bee, she is fed a special diet and grows in a special comb. These difference in nutrition and lifestyle (epigenetics) are all that it takes for her to grow into bee royalty!
And the worker bees – are they all stuck doing the same job? As it turns out – no! All worker bees are genetically identical sisters. However, they don’t all do the same thing; some nurse and some forage. And if there is a shortage of nurses, changes in the hive environment will cause some foragers to change into nurses. The same is true if there is a shortage of foragers – epigenetics in action!
So what does that tell us? Your DNA is not your destiny! Signals from our environment control if and how our genes are expressed. We are NOT victims of our genes and can change our response to life and environment through epigenetic modifications. And this is very good news!
Epigenetics are involved in every aspect of life and are reversible, heritable changes that affect the way we live as well as our future generations.
How epigenetics works
You are a product of your DNA and your epigenetics. You are born with a unique DNA or set of genes that you received from your parents. When scientists set out to map the human genome, they hoped to predict or reveal why any individual may develop cancer, arthritis, cataracts, or other health conditions, based on the premise that we are a product of our genes. The Human Genome Project discovered humans have 26,000 genes, but to their surprise this did not help them predict any individual’s future health issues!
Scientist realized that, yes, we are born with set DNA genes which are fixed at birth, but from day one – and for the rest of our lives– other factors come into play that influence those DNA genes as to how or even if they express themselves. These ‘switches’ are called epigenetic tags.
So what decides if epigenetic tags turn on particular genes or not? The environment is the driving force. The definition of environment in this case means “what you eat, drink, breathe, touch, think, believe or perceive to be true” . And this environment is actually what determines how your epigenetic tags operate and therefore your health or lack of health.
Epigenetic Lifestyle Coaching
My training in Oriental Medicine, nutrition and epigenetic coaching – as well as my own life experiences – has taught me that we have the power to alter our gene expression through lifestyle, nutritional and environmental choices.
These are exciting times – we understand more than ever how these choices that we make on a daily basis can create changes in the expression of our DNA, literally changing the way we experience the world. Using the 23andme genetic panel, it is now possible to illuminate the optimal nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to help you be the best you!
Templates are available for the following DNA profiles:
- Movement, Athletic Performance and Exercise
- Stress (to come)
- Movement, Athletic Performance and Exercise (to come)
- Detoxification (to come)
Don’t fall into the trap of believing your genes control your future, and your health. Get into the driver’s seat by making the most efficient and effective mental, emotional, diet and lifestyle choices for your unique DNA.