Epigenetics Defined

We are living in the “epigenetics revolution”.  Did you know that?  I bet up until now you may have never even heard the word epigenetics!  So what is this fuss all about?  What is this phenomenon that is making the covers of Time, Newsweek and other major magazines and newspapers?

Epigenetics is defined as “the study of the heritable changes in gene expression that occur without a change in DNA sequence”.  There you go.  Class over.  By the way, if you want to read the paper that quote came from…check it out here.

Yeah right…I can hear you muttering to yourself right now, fixing to delete the email or close the web browser because it’s still about as clear as mud.

Let’s consider a great analogy written in the same paper as the quote above.  If the genome is compared to the hardware in a computer, the epigenome is the software that directs the computer’s operation.  Now it’s speaking a little more common language.

The reason that your epigenome is so important for you to understand is because it IS YOU!  It is how you are expressing the genes you were born with.  How is it that identical twins can be genetically identical but one will manifest cancer and one won’t?  Or one will get diabetes and the other won’t?  They are identical.

To many times we get stuck into believing that since “it’s in our genes” there is no reason to try to improve our health.  I hear it all the time, “Yeah, my dad was diabetic so I should be pretty soon”.  That statement leads them to continue making really poor health choices and guess what??  They do get diabetes!  But they didn’t have to!  That is the powerful, promising and motivating fact behind epigenomics.

Your genes express what you bathe your cells in.  Give your cells the building blocks, nutrients and raw materials they need and they can build a pretty find building (i.e. your health, mental health, energy, etc).  But overwork and underpay your cells and they will start to turn on genetic pathways that will lead to an expression of disease and suffering.  It’s all about your choices!

“Nutrients and bioactive food components can  reverse or change epigenetic phenomena either by directly inhibiting enzymes that catalyze DNA methylation or histone modifications, or by altering the availability of substrates necessary for those enzymatic reactions.” (You can download full article here)

I put that statement in here just to set the stage that your DIET…your FOOD CHOICES…and your SUPPLEMENTS can reverse negative consequences of genetic expression or they can change it so that you don’t go down a pathway of disease.  I can’t wait to tell you the cool story about the Agouti mice!

Until then I’d love to hear any thoughts you have. Feel free to share this post below or leave your comment and join the conversation!

This post is part of a series that I am writing to share my experiences at a recent conference I attended.  I attended the 22nd Annual Scientific Symposium with the IAACN in San Diego, CA.  The symposium title was, “Epigenomics and Orthomolecular Nutrition: Keys to Sculpting Optimal Health”.  I want to share my thoughts as I assimilate all the great information.  Some posts may be long, some may be short, but I hope they all assist you on your wellness journey.  Thanks for reading!  You can read all IAACN2013 related posts by clicking IAACN2013 category link at top of post.

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