Have you been told that you just have ‘bad genes?’ Although genetics can play a role in our overall health and well-being, there is always more to the story. Beyond just genetics and environmental factors, the field of epigenetics sheds light on how our lifestyle choices and environmental exposures can actually shape the activity of our genes.
Epigenetics refers to the changes in gene expression that do not alter the underlying DNA sequence but can significantly impact cellular function. Even though your family genes may make you more susceptible to certain conditions, you actually have the ability to change your outcome, based on your choices.
This is mind-blowing for those who have been told their whole life, ‘It’s just bad genetics.’
At its core, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that don’t involve alterations to the underlying DNA sequence. Picture your DNA as a book, and the genes within it as chapters. Epigenetics is like the bookmarks, highlighting specific chapters to be read more or less frequently. What if you held the power to control what genes are expressed through your lifestyle choices? Good news… you do.
How Does it Work?
Epigenetic changes can be influenced by various factors, notably our lifestyle choices. Genes as a set of instructions, and epigenetics are like the annotations that determine how those instructions are followed. Unlike fixed genetic code, epigenetic marks can be modified by environmental factors, diet, stress, and more.
The Impact of Lifestyle Choices:
- Nutrition: What you eat plays a crucial role in shaping your epigenetic landscape. Certain foods can influence the addition or removal of chemical marks on your genes, affecting their expression.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity has been linked to positive epigenetic changes, impacting genes related to metabolism and overall health. It’s like giving your genes a workout routine of their own.
- Stress Management: Chronic stress can leave lasting marks on your genes. Practices like meditation and mindfulness may contribute to a healthier epigenetic profile, promoting well-being.
- Environmental Exposures: Factors like pollution or exposure to toxins can influence epigenetic modifications. Being aware of your environment is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy epigenetic balance.
Epigenetics & Autoimmunity
Epigenetics also plays a crucial role in the complex landscape of autoimmune conditions. Epigenetic modifications can influence the expression of genes associated with immune function. This can potentially contribute to the development or exacerbation of autoimmune diseases.
Certain environmental triggers, such as infections, exposure to toxins, or even psychological stress, can initiate epigenetic changes that affect immune-related genes.
For individuals predisposed to autoimmune conditions, these alterations may tip the balance, triggering an immune response against the body’s own cells. Understanding these potential triggers and their epigenetic impact is a critical step. It goes beyond management, to understanding why the immune system is going haywire and making changes so the body can feel safe and heal.
Remember, autoimmune conditions are not solely dictated by genetic predispositions. Even if you’ve been told that this is just your lot in life, I am here to tell you differently.
You can take control and start taking steps toward optimal health today.