How many of us have been taught that our genes are predetermined or fixed? That we can’t change our genes? That certain diseases run in families, like heart disease or cancer, may be your eventual reality?
I’m here to tell you that this is not true. Most of us think of genes in what they give us: blonde hair, blue eyes or height, for example. While these genes are fixed, these genes are very few. We are given a set of genes that we cannot change but we can change how they are expressed.
The science of Epigenetics is showing that our genes and our environment are inseparable. What is Epigenetics?
The new field of Epigenetics is showing how your environment and your choices can influence your genetic code whether positively or negatively.
Essentially our genes have an ‘epigenome’ and this epigenome sits on top of the gene. Think of your genome as being like computer hardware. If you were to program your computer you wouldn’t be changing the hardware, rather, you would be changing the software that tells the computer what to do.
You can also think of the epigenome like a signature on our genes. Our genes have instructions on them via the epigenome, through our lifestyle choices, that essentially tell our bodies how to perform in any capacity, and those genes interact with our environment. Here’s how the interaction works: The environments that we live in, the choices we make and the experiences we have, leave a signature or a mark on our genes.
These choices we make leave a mark on the gene that authorize some parts of the gene to go ahead and others to hold back from giving their instructions that will or will not create optimal health.
To illustrate this further, think of a grand piano. The keys, are like genes: They’re silent until fingers on the keyboard pick out a tune (our choices). The result? A beautiful sound (positive gene expression) or sounds you do not appreciate (negative gene expression).
Take for example, the story of twin girls both born with identical DNA. They both come from the same egg, literally clones. They are mirror images of each other.
As the twins get older, they take two different paths. One twin chooses more activity in her life, chooses a healthy diet, exercises, makes an effort to reduce stress, has social connections and she consciously chooses positive thoughts.
The other twin, however, takes the unhealthy path riddled with poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, no exercise, lack of stress reduction, no social support and she was overweight.
The two sisters come back together at age 93 and they were markedly different. The twin who chose a healthier lifestyle was independent, driving, walking and had a social support system. The other twin who made unhealthy lifestyle choices was suffering from multiple illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease. The sisters, who share the same identical DNA, did not look alike, they didn’t look the same age, in fact, they did not even look like sisters.
It turns out we have much more control over how our genes express than we ever thought, in fact, we have 80-90% control. How we influence our genes through diet, lifestyle choices, the thoughts we think and our environment is our key to optimal health.
This means that genes alone do not cause faster aging, illness or disease in most cases – our choices do. The probability of developing symptoms, illness or disease rests upon the lifestyle decisions we make.
You may have the genetic potential for heart disease, but through your lifestyle choices – you can effectively turn on or off certain switches that prevent heart disease from manifesting in your life.
We are fortunate that we now know that we have 80-90% control in how healthy we are.. or not. This control, however, requires an element of responsibility and yet, gives us hope that we will not be another negative health statistic.
As Tony Robbins, the masterful inspiration, states it so well “Our decisions, not the conditions of our lives, determine our destiny.”
If you would like to learn more about how I will customize your path to optimal health, please sign-up for your FREE eBook “The Health Attraction System: Your Guide to Optimal Health.”
Lori is the Health Expert for the #1 ABC show “Good Morning Texas” She was named one of the “Top 16 Health and Fitness Experts” by the Huffington Post. She is a professional speaker, author, and weight loss specialist.
Lori L. Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC, is Founder and President of DLS HealthWorks. Lori has devoted the past 20 years practicing and teaching others how to easily CREATE OPTIMUM HEALTH in their lives. Lori is the Co-Author of “A Practical Guide On Aging Parents And Nutrition.