Okay, you might not be able to change your genes – but that doesn't mean you're stuck with what you've been handed down.
The food you eat sends messages to your genes. If your diet is high in processed foods, sugars and unhealthy fats, you may be sending some not very nice messages. How rude! Shouldn’t you use your mouth to send HEALTHY messages to your genes instead?
The science of epigenetics has proven that we have a powerful role in how our genes express themselves by what we do, what we think and what we EAT. Epigenetics has revealed that any environment cue can influence gene expression.
The discovery of the epigenome is exciting because there are new possibilities to those unchangeable genes that were given at birth. Your DNA doesn’t have to be your destiny.
A great example of diet influencing gene expression is in the Amish community. A very high percentage of the Amish community have an obesity gene known as FTO, and yet very few Amish people are actually obese. People in this community typically eat whole, unprocessed foods and generally have very physically active lives supporting livestock and agriculture.
That’s epigenetics at work.
Consider for a moment that most cells in your body contain the blueprint for making all of the things your body contains. For example, a cell in your liver contains all the data it needs to build a liver, but it ALSO contains all of the instructions on how to build a kidney, heart, or nerves.
But liver cells don’t make kidneys or nerves. They stay focused on their job of building a liver, and ignore the signals that are not liver-related work. This ability to ignore the signals is because our genes are surrounded by little coaches, keeping them on track. These coaches are called “histones”.
You WANT happy histones. It’s a great bumper sticker. “Honk If You Have Happy Histones!”
A healthy diet influences the quality of coaching your histones give to your genes, which in turn support better immune function and overall health. On the other hand, a high-fat, high-sugar diet, rich in processed foods, triggers some nasty speech from your histones which result in a cascade of biological reactions, including inflammation.
Some genes can also be tagged as “do not read” because they contain molecules known as a “methyl group”. When parts of your DNA contain a methyl group of molecules it can prevent abnormal DNA division, preventing abnormalities being passed on to new cells.
So everything! This is a key component in healthy aging because as we get older the methylation of cells gets less efficient. It’s up to you to give your body the tools it needs to support a healthy methylation process.
Here are some of the food “tools” which support methylation processes:
Genes alone are not solely responsible for all of the characteristics we each have, such as illness or health.
Genes contain the codes which outline a set of rules to instruct the proteins in a particular cell. However, there is a complex interaction between our genes and a variety of environmental triggers like stress, diet and exposure to toxins which can suppress or activate gene expression.
Was it diabetes or heart disease that was prevalent in your family, or was it bacon and donuts?
Make mealtime one of your methods for good messaging. Bon appétit!
“It’s not just your genes” was written by Nutritionist & Orthomolecular Practitioner Tricia Pearson. Thanks for reading!
Tricia Pearson is a Certified Nutritionist specializing in cancer and diabetes. Check out Tricia's services and find out how to harvest the best of your health.
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