Epigenetics: Were You Born This Way?
Your Genes Make You You
Genes found within your DNA create the building blocks of each person. They determine hair color, eye color, affect height, and control any number of things about you. In essence, every aspect of yourself, from physical characteristics to personality, can be, at least in part, attributed to your genetic makeup. This is the basic premise of the “nature vs. nurture” discussion. But what if “nature,” your genes, were themselves affected by your environment. This is where epigenetics comes into play.
At its heart, epigenetics is how and why specific genes are expressed and why others are dormant. For example, the COL1A1 gene is present in all cells, but it is only utilized (or expressed) in skin cells that need to produce collagen. Epigenetics tells cells which proteins to produce and which genes to express. This opens up a whole world of possible gene therapies to help combat inflammation, genetic diseases, even genetic dispositions to cancer. Epigenetics can be the future of medicine. The question is: How can we directly affect the epigenetic process ourselves?
Be Your Own Epigeneticist
Epigenetic changes can occur from any number of things that are present within our world. We have recently begun specific gene targeting for direct and controlled mutations with CRISPR technology. However, that is far from the only method to alter your genetic expression. You can be your own epigeneticist with much more ease than tracking down a state-of-the-art Genetics lab. How much you sleep, what you eat, even how much and what types of exercise you do can all have epigenetic effects. What is impressive is that these epigenetic activities that you can do at home can affect simple things. Such as reducing inflammatory responses, to long-lasting and significant life factors, such as delaying the onset of partially inherited diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
What is in your genes will ultimately have a significant effect on who you are in life. Our growing understanding of epigenetics is giving us the power to control what genes, what parts of ourselves, we want to show the world. This is a small introduction into the broad world of epigenetics that we are just now scratching the surface of. At Thrive, our certified Functional Medicine (IFM) providers are accustomed to addressing complex and intertwined health issues, such as epigenetics, from a functional and preventative standpoint. Allow Thrive to play an integral part in your journey to optimal health and wellness in 2019. Your provider at Thrive can help guide you through the process of ensuring you put your best foot forward. By making sure you take all the steps necessary to put your best genes forward.