What is Epigenetics?
The term epigenetics (from Greek: epi = over) refers to molecular mechanisms that help to make our genes stronger or weaker. In this process, the DNA or specific nucleotide sequences are not changed, but enzymes mark certain sections of the DNA. This process takes place "over" or "on" the DNA.
For example, the specific cells of our organism control in this way which and how many enzymes are produced for specific metabolic processes. In a way, epigenetics describes the "operational processes" that are stored in the DNA, as follows a meta-level of genetic regulation.
In a sense, epigenetics, therefore, also describes how our genome organizes itself. The totality of these epigenetic states represents the epigenome.
By means of these "operating instructions," the cell nucleus can regulate, under the influence of external factors such as environmental influences, in what way, at what time, and in what quantity genes are switched on or off.
How Do Epigenetics Impact The Body?
A genetic mutation is a hardcopy change in one or more parts of that sequence.
This could make you, you. Or it could contribute to a genetic disease.
An epigenetic change also changes a gene’s DNA — but not at the sequence level.
Instead, special marks are added or removed to change how a protein works in the body. These could also contribute to disease. How these marks appear is a hot research topic. Some causes may be diet, stressors, or environmental pollutants such as Toxic Black Mold or Forever Chemicals.
What’s essential about epigenetics is that it offers a different approach to treating disease. Whereas a hardcopy genetic mutation is difficult to fix, finding ways to remove a bad epigenetic mark or add a good one could be a more straightforward solution.
Epigenetic mechanisms influence the cell's response, such as changing environmental conditions. This is not only the basis of our evolution as a whole but also has enormous consequences for our genetic makeup, especially in today's constantly changing environment.
We think of the climate, increasing water scarcity for parts of the world's population, hunger and malnutrition, oversupply food for other segments of the people, and the accompanying metabolic changes, epidemics, environmental degradation, increase in toxic substances, intoxicants, and the like.
The epigenetic regulatory mechanisms biochemically influence how narrow or accessible, certain areas of the genome are for other metabolic processes.
The access to the "operational" control of the genome is regulated by attaching or detaching certain methyl groups on the DNA.
The labeling pattern of the genome modified in this way is subsequently read by specialized enzymes and thus controls further steps, such as switching genes on or off.
How Do Epigenetics Impact The Body?
Epigenetic changes interfere with the usual function of a DNA sequence, such as by preventing it from being transcribed or by exposing it when it would typically be hidden - essentially controlling if and how a gene works in the organism.
In most cases, epigenetic changes involve the addition of a methyl group (one carbon joined to three hydrogens) to the DNA structure, a change to a protein called a histone that keeps the DNA wrapped up tight, or the use of non-coding RNA fragments to change the reading of a gene.
Epigenetic changes are increasingly associated with environmental conditions, being triggered by external factors such as toxins and pollutants or effects of lifestyle, stress, or malnutrition.
That means lifestyle factors can have a long-term impact on genes, influencing their expression not just later in life but potentially transferring the gene's control settings to future generations through affected sex cells.
The epigenome consists of chemical changes in the organism's DNA and histone proteins. These changes can be passed on to an organism's offspring via transgenerational, epigenetic inheritance.
Changes in the epigenome itself can lead to changes in the structure of chromatin and, thus, to changes in the function of the genome as a whole.
As a consequence of this model, descriptive epigenetics completely overturns the dogma of biology, according to which the genetic material inherited at birth was unalterably determined.
However, epigenetics can describe even subtly altered environmental factors that affect DNA. In many new research approaches, it has been shown that environmental factors, such as toxic substances like black mold, have direct access to the operating instructions of our genome.
Likewise, it has been shown that even changes in personality traits can be epigenetically influenced.
Epigenetics describes the interaction between environmental elements such as our diet, lifestyle, mindset, thoughts, and stress, which act as epigenetic signals that can change the physical expression of your genes. Your genes won’t change, but the way they’re expressed will.
The root cause of most weight gain, brain and mood problems, fatigue, and autoimmunity can take years to develop or even decades for symptoms and a precise diagnosis to arise.
Epigenetics is what happens to the gene based on how it’s influenced. We have tremendous power over our genes and how they’re expressed or not expressed, such as:
- Physical choices (how we live, the food we eat, exercise, clean water, hydration, sleep, daily sunlight exposure, taking nutrients to support and balance body chemistry)
- Biochemical choices (anything you cannot see but affects you internally, such as mycotoxins, Forever Chemicals, toxic metals, pesticides, EMFs, dirty electricity, chemicals, air pollution, gratitude, our thoughts, perception, and even our attitudes)
- Relationships, spiritual, emotional, environmental, and lifestyle choices, how we breathe, what we read, watch and listen to, and our social circle.
Genes don’t control your destiny. Just because a particular health ailment, addiction, disease, or behavior run’s in your family or is in your genes does not mean that it is your fate – it just means that you’re vulnerable to a particular disease; it’s just a weak link in your chain.
Just because Dad, grandma, or any other family member had heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, is an alcoholic, depressed or obese does not mean you’re predestined to follow in their footsteps.
Genes are plastic based on environmental epigenetics, which means we can alter which genes are expressed, turned on, or turned off based on environment and lifestyle choices such as what we choose to eat and drink, our lifestyle habits such as sleep, how we manage stress, reducing our exposure to chemicals, decreasing our toxic load, sunlight, our activity level, social circle, behavior, thoughts, beliefs and even our level of consciousness and spirituality, all which strongly influence our overall health, longevity, happiness and so much more.
Our mental and emotional states are also critical to our healing because they impact our subconscious mind and body systems.
When we acknowledge this role, we’ll understand how important it is not to attach to negative thoughts and beliefs about our sickness and therefore impede our healing.