When DNA was first identified, many scientists were certain they had found the “holy grail.” They were sure DNA would unlock the cause and create a cure for every disease. It was soon discovered that the factors determining the expression of your DNA is far more important. Thus, the science of epigenetics was born. Epigenetics began with determining how cells with the same DNA turn into different organs. It is amazing to think that one fertilized egg cell turns into a complex organism called YOU!
As the field of epigenetics grew, it became obvious that this phenomenon was not limited to creating your different organs – skin, hair, liver, heart, bone, muscle, etc. We now know that your environment, diet, and even your thoughts control the expression of your genes and is the major determinant of your well-being. Environmental influences can even affect children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Epigenetics has a greater influence on health and wellness than DNA. Multiple studies document how nutrition, sleep, stress, loneliness, and meditation turn your DNA on and off. Epigenetics is the most important field of research for your long-term health, well-being, and vitality!
Syncing Your Genome with Evolution
The extraordinary challenge we face as individuals, and as a society, is that our environment is rapidly changing. Your genes were forged during the agonizingly slow process of evolution. For billions of years, our DNA has been adapting and selecting for life on planet earth. Today, “we are living in an exponentially expanding socioeconomic urbanized world.” Everything has changed! This new environment is nothing like it was during genetic evolution. This transformation is dramatically impacting your health in many misunderstood and harmful ways. Epigenetic indicators will help you identify and overcome these challenges.
The Important Takeaway
Epigenetics is a complicated and rapidly growing field. The important thing to know is that you are not a prisoner of your genes. By transforming your lifestyle, you can dramatically impact your health. For those interested in more information, see the resources below. They are written for the scientifically literate general population and offer amazing insights.
Fundamentals of epigenetics
The first article is a bit more technical but tells an amazing story. The scientific term is high monozygotic twin discordance. Scientists have studied identical twins separated at birth. Even though their DNA is identical they grow up very differently. The second article lists how traits like height, mental disorders, and disease rates diverge over a lifetime.
These two amazing examples show how epigenetic effects can transcend the generations. A famine that your great grandfather endured can affect the expression of your DNA decades later.