Do you think that your genetic blueprint is your destiny? I am fascinated by the “new science” called epigenetics (above the genes). Research is proving that gene expression, not necessarily your genetic blueprint, dictates your state of health.

Why is this important to you?

You have genes that promote health or disease. These genetic traits are regulated and turned on or off by the chemical changes occurring within your body, yet your genetic blueprint remains the same. Researches are reporting that lifestyle affects these chemical changes and influences how your genes express themselves. Just think: All that you have been doing to stay healthy is actually influencing your genes.

The research forces me to take epigenetics seriously. For example, according to Dr. Jean-Pierre Issa at MD Anderson Cancer Center, too many histones (proteins) within the body will “turn off” cancer suppressing genes and allow cancer cells to spread. (Less than 10% of cancer is caused by our genetic blueprint.)

Epigenetics points in a direction that gives you greater control over your health than you may have realized: What you think and feel, what you eat, your level of physical activity, and your physical environment play an important role in getting your genes to cooperative with you. While the conventional medical community may be ignorant of this “new science,” you can learn to use it to your best advantage. Knowledge will enable you to replace fear or apprehension about your genes with wise choices and purposeful action.

The “curious scientist” in me is excited by this new information even though I do not fully understand how it works. What I do understand is that as I do my part to live a healthy lifestyle, I am affecting my DNA. How amazing is that!

What influences gene expression?

Thoughts and emotions: Dr. Bruce R. Lipton in his book, Biology of Belief, explains in detail how thoughts and emotions affect the epigenetic mechanisms that control our genes. The mind-body connection influences our genes as well as food, activity, stress chemicals and environment toxins. When you develop a positive outlook and reduce the stress in your life, health producing genes will follow you throughout your life.

Nutrition: Nutrients plays an important role in regulating DNA methylation which makes a gene more or less able to receive and respond to biochemical signals from the body. (DNA methylation is one of several epigenetic mechanisms that cells use to control gene expression.) A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods will prevent epigenetic errors and reduce oxidative stress (the body’s inability to eliminate the harmful effects created by free radicals). Cruciferous vegetables, garlic and onions contain histone inhibitors which keep your tumor suppressor genes active and reduce your risk of cancer. Antioxidant supplements and a whole food diet help as well.

Exercise: A study published in the journal of Cell Metabolism in 2012 showed that vigorous exercise causes structural and chemical changes in the DNA molecules within the muscles while the underlying genetic code in the muscle remains unchanged. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, exercise does more than strengthen muscles, lungs, heart, joints and bones. It improves brain function and life enhancing genetic changes too.

Environmental toxins: A chemical toxin can enter cells and influence how a gene expresses itself, turning it on or off. Toxins that may negatively affect DNA processes are heavy metals, pesticides, diesel exhaust, tobacco smoke, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, hormones, radioactivity, viruses and bacteria. You can protect your genes and body from environment toxins by eliminating or reducing your exposure to external toxins (poisons to the body). You can also take purposeful action to detoxify your body through nutrition, exercise, supplements and internal cleanses.

Gene expression appears to be influenced by chemical processes that occur beyond the DNA molecule itself. And, these processes are influenced by your mind, body, lifestyle and physical environment. Your DNA blueprint is not your destiny because there is so much you can do to enhance your genes according to the science of epigenetics.

Support your genes through healthy lifestyle choices because your genes and you are the building blocks of radiant wellness.

Author's Bio: 

Sandra Miniere, M.Ed., offers life and executive leadership coaching and Emotional Freedom Techniques consultations in person and on the telephone. She is an author and speaker. She also gives workshops and teleseminars on a variety of motivational and integrative wellness topics. A former holistic mental health counselor, she has been helping people transform themselves and their lives for over 30 years. In her book, A Lighter Side to Cancer - From Wake-up Call to Radiant Wellness, she shares her uplifting and empowering adventure through breast cancer twelve years ago.