What is Epigenetics?

There’s a quote that goes something like this:

“Genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.”

The way you eat, your exposure to environmental toxins, stress, sleep habits, and much more impact your genetics and your susceptibility to disease risk. For example, your susceptibility to developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and of course, heart disease depend a little on your genes, but A LOT on your lifestyle and environment. This phenomenon is called Epigenetics.

Nature vs Nurture

We are born with our own specific genetics, passed down from our parents; however, research shows just because your father had Alzheimer’s disease does not mean this terrible disease is your destiny too. There is much more at play than genetics alone. The path your health takes as you age is actually influenced less by your genetics and more by factors within your control.

Your Genes Interact With Your Environment

These are the primary factors that influence your body’s health over time because they can modify your genes like a light switch, turning them on or off.

  • What you eat and drink
  • The cleanliness of your drinking water
  • Where you live (ie: city vs rural)
  • The chemicals and heavy metals you are exposed to
  • Who you interact with
  • Your sleep habits
  • How and whether you exercise
  • Your stress levels
  • Chronic infections

For example, in certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, there are certain factors listed above that will influence various Alzheimer’s genes to be switched away from the normal, healthy state. 

Here are a few more examples of how the environment affects genetics:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic ingredient of plastics like water bottles and canned food, is linked to obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. It exerts its effects by altering our DNA, including being passed during pregnancy. 
  • How old are you? Most people state their biological age; however, epigenetics explains why there are discrepancies in the manifestation of aging such as when one 50 y.o. appears much healthier (or unhealthier) than another 50 y.o. It is a difference of an individual’s environmental exposures, food choices, behaviors, etc. that impact their genes to age.
  • Overeating can affect genes, causing those genes affecting obesity to become "switched on" and those carrying messages for longevity to become "switched off."

Clean Up Your Environment

Chemicals and heavy metals in your environment are detrimental to your genes. Here are many ways chemicals can impact the body and influence health from an epigenetic standpoint:

  • Fertility issues
  • A more difficult transition into menopause
  • Changes in uterine integrity
  • Early puberty in children and teens
  • Changes in cholesterol metabolism and health of your blood vessels
  • Changes in sugar metabolism
  • Disruption of thyroid function
  • Weight gain
  • Changes in bone health
  • Imbalanced immune responses

These are all preventable health issues if you take the time to assess your daily exposure to chemicals in your environment and take steps to minimize anything you identify as harmful. It will make a massive positive impact on your health.

There are three primary ways your body is exposed to chemicals -- inhaling them, absorbing them through your skin, and consuming them in your food.

For information on how you are inhaling chemicals in the air, go here.

For information on how you are consuming chemicals in your food, go here.

For information on how you are absorbing chemicals through your skin, go here.

A Roadmap for Optimizing Genetic Health

If you want to learn more about optimizing your personal genetic function and health by cleaning your genes, I highly recommend Dr. Ben Lynch’s book Dirty Genes. He helps you unlock the secrets of turning genes “on” or “off” for wellness.  

The best way to test heavy metals.

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