Epigenetics – Influencing our Genes Through Health and Wellness
Influencing Gene Expression
Epigenetics is the study of how our genes can be influenced by environmental factors, such as diet, exercise, stress, and exposure to toxins. These factors can affect the expression of our genes, which is the process by which the information contained in our DNA is used to make proteins and other molecules that perform functions in our bodies.
While our genes are fixed and cannot be changed, the expression of our genes can be influenced by a variety of factors. This means that while we may be predisposed to some health concerns or conditions given our genetic makeup, we absolutely can take steps to modify the expression of our genes through important lifestyle choices. These choices, or healthy habits, can help reduce our risk of developing some of these conditions that we’re often told we cannot control “because of our genes.”
You Have the Ability To Change How Your Body Works
In a recently published article titled “Live Longer by Living Younger” in National Geographic, the author, Dr. Michael F. Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic states, “You have the ability to change how your body works and reacts – and ultimately how healthy you are and how long you may live. You should build a strong foundation now.” He goes on to say, “In the United States about 40 percent of premature deaths – defined as occurring before age 75 – are related to lifestyle choices, behaviors we can change. Lifestyle and genetics are intertwined, in that your lifestyle choices influence the ways that many of your genes function – thus how your body functions.”
This is exactly the principle Doc Wallach has fought to bring to the mainstream for a generation.
There are two ways in which lifestyle choices can affect gene expression: DNA methylation, and histone modification. Essentially, these processes modify the way a gene is expressed. They can determine whether a gene is turned “on” or “off”. A growing body of research indicates that the way we live our life, the foods and supplements we consume, and the environment in which we spend our time, can change our bodies at a cellular level.
Stress and Toxins
In addition to diet and exercise, stress and exposure to toxins can also affect gene expression. Chronic stress has been linked to changes in gene expression that can contribute to the development of various health conditions, including heart disease and cancer. Exposure to toxins, such as those found in tobacco smoke and certain chemicals, can also affect gene expression and increase the risk of developing certain diseases.
The good news is that you can make small changes to your lifestyle, which in turn can make a big impact. Roizen writes, “Why bother with the little things? Will they really matter that much? Yes! Every little decision adds up, and even more as you live longer.” Adding more vegetables to your diet, cutting down on alcohol consumption, and going to bed an hour earlier are a few simple changes you can make that create big change down the road.
Make Good Lifestyle Choices
Overall, the field of epigenetics is still relatively new and researchers are continuing to learn more about how lifestyle choices can affect gene expression and contribute to disease risk. However, it is clear that our genes are not our destiny and that we have the power to make lifestyle choices that can positively influence our health and well-being.
Remember, it all starts with giving your body proper nutrition that can start with 90 For Life! Prevention is Key.