I wonder if you can explain more about how we can manipulate our genes for better health? When you say we don’t have to be victims of our genetic makeup, what other choices do we have?Tony, UK
Dear Tony,Thank you so much for writing in. When we take a look at the DNA that is passed down from parents to their offspring, we have to understand the important role epigenetics plays. Epigenetics is our ability to change how our genes are expressed within the body due to external factors that contribute to our overall health and wellbeing. In many facets of our lives relating to diet, lifestyle, behaviour, psychological influences and environmental factors, we have the capacity to alter up to 90-95% of how our cells communicate with each other by activating or inactivating genes that either prevent or promote disease and illness including cancer, autoimmune disease, mental disorders, cardiovascular health, diabetes, etc. Our genes don’t determine our destiny or fate but they create certain predispositions within our body, meaning that with the right or wrong combination of factors in play, we can express or suppress certain characteristics over others.
There are many factors to take into consideration when it comes to changing the operation of genes. Some elements that can negatively impact our human genome are malnutrition, poor health, harmful relationships, stress, depression, trauma, exposure to toxins/ pollution, inactivity, substance abuse and lack of self care. Conversely, eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting a proper amount of sleep, maintaining an appropriate weight, avoiding chemicals, getting enough clean air and water, being a non smoker and having low to no alcohol intake are all ways to positively affect your gene expression. Stress management is particularly important. Incorporating forms of meditation, mindful thinking, optimism and gratitude (and generally being more loving) have been shown to have a positive impact in reducing inflammation, which can be the underlying cause of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Another amazing way we can alter genes is by actually growing new nerve cells. This process called neurogenesis is the birth of new brain cells. Why is this important when it comes to epigenetics? It can improve our mood, emotions, memory and learning skills which is great for neurological diseases. By eliminating things like processed sugar, high saturated fat, alcohol, dairy and eating a healthy plant based diet loaded with vitamins E, A and B and flavonoids and antioxidants, particularly those found in grapes and berries, one can aid in neurogenesis. Introducing hemp, such as CBD, blueberries and curcumin into the body is also extremely beneficial and highly recommended. Cardio/ aerobic exercise, meditation, intimacy, cognitive stimulation, intermittent fasting and sunlight exposure are all great ways to not only give you more blood flow and oxygen but also help new nerve cells to be born. This can treat and prevent depression, as well as help reduce anxiety and prevent the decline associated with ageing and stress that leads to disease and illness. I hope this was helpful and I encourage you to take a deeper dive into the science of neurogenesis and epigenetics! Blessings!
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