Epigenetics: Unraveling Your DNA
We are all born with the genes we inherit from our parents, but how and whether our body expresses these genes is gaining increasing attention in the emerging science of epigenetics. The term epigenetics means on top of the gene. This means that even though we might have a hereditary or genetic predisposition for a certain disease, it is possible to bypass acquiring the illness. Having a gene is not the same as activating a gene. The activation part depends on lifestyle, diet, and other factors. We are learning that foods, supplements, and lifestyle can not only influence genetic expression but actually down regulate hereditary disposition.
Keep in mind, it is not only our physical but also our emotional well-being that can affect how our genes are expressed. A sedentary lifestyle can amplify the effects of a genetic tendency toward obesity, while a daily walk can reduce genetic influence toward obesity. But meditation can also epigenetically influence our genes by suppressing genes responsible for inflammation.
The deeper we delve into this newly growing field of epigenetics, the more reason we find to approach health naturally, through lifestyle modifications and a wholesome diet, dietary supplements, and a positive frame of mind.
Improving Your Longevity through Epigenetics
By giving up unhealthy habits and making better choices, you may be preparing yourself for a longer, healthier life. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can benefit your body through the concept of epigenetics.
In a study performed at the University of Florida, it was found that intermittent fasting benefited the body in several ways. During the study, the test group would alternate fasting days with feasting days and the participants actually found it easier to fast than to feast.
How is this beneficial to epigenetics? In the fasting state free radicals are released. Having these free radicals released intermittently helps your body build up a tolerance for them, ultimately promoting longevity.
Just like humans, plants can also be affected by epigenetics. In fact, plants and microbes are much more affected by epigenetics than animals. When plants are modified, the modifications can reach on for generations to come. Since plants are more susceptible to epigenetic influences, it can be harmful to the organism to endure too many genetic changes.
By avoiding GMOs, you are avoiding eating genetically altered foods that can have a negative effect on your own health. While people may believe that the changes made make the organism better, it is really messing with its genetics and can cause problems later on.
Changing your diet and exercise habits now can help you boost your longevity no matter when you start. While you may not have had the best habits in the past, making an effort to improve these habits can have lasting benefits for your future. Knowing and understanding your health risks and how to avoid them can also help you to live a longer and healthier life. Epigenetics shows you that your life is really in your own hands. Sure, you might be suffering from some bad decisions made by your parents or grandparents, but you still have the ultimate control over your gene expression.
Guiding Your Gene Expression
Emotions and Gene Expression
Understanding how your mindset can affect your gene expression might have you trying to change your state of mind. It has been proven that your emotions have a link to epigenetics and gene expression. Our thoughts and feelings can ultimately affect how our genes are read and how they express themselves. Learning to control your emotions can help promote positive gene expression. Diseases such as cancer can actually be prevented by having positive emotions.
So think positive thoughts and keep negative emotions in check. It is not bad to feel negative emotions like sadness and anger from time to time. That, after all, is what it means to be human. But you should not get swept away in these negative emotions. You are the master of your emotions, not the other way around.
The reason people get stuck in negative emotions is they try hard to avoid them. This might sound paradoxical, but it’s true. When we think of negative emotions as bad and try to avoid feeling them at all costs, these negative emotions build up within us. Small sad emotions begin to pile up and one day you find that there is a lot of negative emotion within you and it will actually change your gene expression and make you physically ill.
The way to deal with negative emotions is to feel them fully and then move on. Think of emotions like waves in the sea. The crests of happiness have to be followed by troughs of sadness. Let the emotions flow freely. When you do that, when you allow yourself to feel negative emotions, you’ll find that you are happy most of the time and when you do get sad, it always passes. The sadness will actually help you appreciate your happiness even more and avoid building up a huge store of negative emotion.
The Role Your Diet Plays in Gene Expression
Your health and diet can have long-term effects on you and your offspring. If you eat a healthy and balanced diet, then your genes are more likely to express themselves in the way that they were meant to in the beginning. However, if you have an unhealthy diet, it can cause changes in the way in which your genes are read, altering how your body reacts. Having healthy habits now can have lasting effects on how our futures play out.
So eat healthy, eat whole foods, avoid processed foods, and eat in moderation. Do not over eat and limit your intake of sugar. Eat fresh and organic food and include a lot of vegetables in your diet. Don’t just eat muscle meat but also organ meat. By doing all this, you will help your genes express in the right way.