- Alyssa Abrahamson
Genetics load the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger
You know the phrase, “it’s in my genes”?
For example, if you grew up with your family fostering pets and caring for hurt animals, and you become a veterinarian, you might say, “it’s in my genes,” as the love of helping animals “runs in the family” or is “in your DNA.”
Or if you have a history of heart disease in your family, you might believe you will ultimately have cardiovascular health issues because “it’s hereditary.”
While your genes play an important role in your health, so do your behaviors, lifestyle, and environment.
Welcome to the world of Epigenetics.
This field of science has transformed the way we think of the old view that “we are our DNA” in favor of a much more dynamic model. In this new model, while genes remain pivotal in establishing certain aspects of our health, it is actually our behaviors, and ongoing lifestyle choices, that play a central role in gene expression, turning those genes “on” or “off."
This turning genes “on” or “off'' is what influences the way our brain, organs, skin, bones, etc. develop and function.
The power to activate or silence our genes is called epigenetics.
Epigenetics studies how our behaviors, lifestyle, and environment can cause changes that affect the way our genes work.
Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible; while they do not change your DNA sequence, they do change how your body reads your DNA sequence.
Your epigenetics change throughout your life. Some epigenetic changes can be added or removed in response to changes in behavior or environment and they change during childhood and adulthood.
Where you live, who you interact with, your physical activity, which medications you take, tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, environmental pollutants, psychological stress, and, yes, of course, your food choices result in changes in your body that will switch your genes on or off.
When you recognize the factors that are within your control, including diet and lifestyle, how you choose to live your life on a daily basis, can change the way genes are utilized in your body -- that’s empowering.
Here’s the takeaway: your DNA is not your destiny after all.
Genetics load the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger.
Love, Your Wellness Coach,
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January 26, 2021