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Changing your genes!

Updated: May 9

How often have you heard it suggested that to be good at something, you needed to have selected your parents? How often have you seen it written that your destiny is locked in because of the genes you have inherited? There is an underlying belief that once your genes are selected there is nothing that can be changed, but I am beginning to understand that this is definitely not true.

Laboratory testing

Earlier today, I was listening to an interview with Dr. Lucia Aronica PhD, a lecturer in nutritional genomics at Stanford University and the penny dropped for me. She is a specialist in epigenetics which is the study of factors that can turn genes on and off.

Your DNA is like hardware and mostly unchangeable, but it is clear that there are many ways in which your genes can be affected, that can have an immense impact on your life, even though there is no permanent change to your underlying genes. One of these is called methylation. This is where the genes are turned down or even turned off by the addition of a methyl group, or a ‘chemical cap’, to part of the DNA molecule, which prevents certain genes from being expressed. Another example is a histone which is a protein that DNA wraps around, which can squeeze tightly preventing the DNA from being ‘read’ by the cell but could be loosened by specific diet changes.

Is this significant? Well yes. Think about this example. The queen bee larva starts out the same as any other larva, but by locking it away in a cell and feeding it only royal jelly, the workers change this larva from being a worker bee to becoming a queen bee. Identical genes but the ‘expression’ of these genes is radically different, purely because of the food being eaten.

If food can make this level of difference then it must be the nutrients in the food and the resulting chemical impacts, or biological information, that can change the expression of genes. What else in the body has biological information that could be changing genes? Exercise has important impacts on body chemistry and can create new biological information, triggering activities such as muscle building. Emotions also deliver biological information to the body. Stress and our reaction to this also has important impacts on the chemistry of the body. How often have you seen someone who has suffered massive trauma or on-going stress from an unresolved conflict over many years, then succumb to a serious cancer or another very poor health outcome? It strongly suggests that the insult has triggered the health problem.

This reinforces the concept that everything is part of something bigger and even small actions can have a significant impact on the whole organism. It follows that good nutrition, or poor nutrition can have an unsuspected impact on your body and mind. If a ketogenic diet can reduce brain seizures and lower blood pressure, then what you are eating really matters. Not only for health, but for mood, longevity, creativity etc.

Think about this. What if the food you choose to eat ‘turns off’ genes that can help repair damage leading to an increase in DNA damage, which then increases cancer risk. What if forgiveness changes your brain chemistry, and generates biological information that promotes your own health and longevity

As always, for health advice and comment check out my blog or find links to my book at:

Regards George Elder

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