Huh? Epigenetics, what’s that even mean!
That was my exact thought when I first heard the word epigenetic in my Functional Nutrition courses. I was literally mind blown to learn that Epigenetics is the study of how our behaviors, environment and life choices can alter the way our genes work. Maybe read that line again! Yes you can alter your genes with your thoughts and with what you choose to put at the end of your fork! While epigenetics are reversible and can’t change your DNA sequence, they can change how your body reads the DNA sequence. A little scientific I know, but I’ll try to put it in terms that helped me understand it better.
Our genes only have 5% to do with determing our risk of developing a particular disease. That means 95% has to do with our behaviors, environments and lifestyle choices. That doesn’t mean that if you do develop a disease it’s 95% your fault. A lot of people cannot control their environment. It does mean that we can greatly influence our genes with what we choose to put in our mouths and our outlook on life. So when I hear people say things like, “My whole family is obese so I am obese,” doesn’t fly. Or my mother and grandfather died of heart disease so I probably will too. Here’s the thing….if you know you have these traits in your family, whether that be heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimers, ADHD, MS, Parkinson’s, the list goes on and on, then you actually have the upper hand. You know you can alter your genes with the your life choices. Epigenetics can turn a gene on or off. If you have heart disease in your family, you can choose to exercise, eat well, live as stress free as possible and keep your waist line down. By choosing this way of life, you can alter that gene in a positive way. If you choose to ignore the fact that your family has a history of diabetes, and you eat a highly processed diet, a lot of sugar and carbohydrates, live a stressful life, then your epigenetic will be influenced in a negative way and you may very likely turn that gene on.
Epigenetics and Pregnancy
One of the most awesome things a mom to be can do for her unborn child is change their behavior before they become pregnant. You see a mother’s food choices, such as eating a healthy diet, avoiding too much sugar, and living as stress free as possible can actually change the unborn Childs epigenetics. Your baby doesn’t have a choice is in this, it’s up to you to impact it’s genes in a positive or negative way. These changes to your babies epigenetic can impact the child for decades and may make your child more likely to get certain diseases.
Epigenetics and Aging
I have been literally so excited to learn that aging doesn’t have to be a terrible thing. We’ve been conditioned to believe that menopause for women and aging in general for men and women is awful. We’ve been told menopause is terrible and all the symptoms that go with it are just the way it is. Men have been conditioned to believe that as they age they’ll lose some of their libido, their bellies will just naturally get bigger, and our mental prowess will begin to decline. But it’s totally not true! We can absolutely impact aging with our behaviors, life choices, and amount of stress we allow in our lives. I’ve personally experienced how changing my diet and lifestyle habits has impacted my moods. How choosing the right foods and supplements has changed peri-menopause symptoms. Of course, it’s not all fun, and I’ve had a few symptoms that were challenging, but it’s definitely not the normal symptoms that I’ve been conditioned to believe were going to happen!
Ultimately, it’s up to you. You play the most crucial part in how your life plays out. I’d love to help you with getting on the right track! If you’re interested in working one on one with me to learn the best choices for your particular health and mental needs, let me know by setting up an appointment below. Health isn’t black and white and neither should your healthcare be. Everyone has different needs and conventional medicine doesn’t address those, but I will!
Cause we’re not there yet, but perhaps together, we’ll get there Soon Enuff…..
Amy Lopez, FNC
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