Epigenetics - what is it?
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 certain 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 certain metabolic processes. In a way, epigenetics describes the "operational processes" that are stored on 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 describes 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.
A new promise of healing or does it provide the key to how our genetic makeup is controlled?
Epigenetic mechanisms influence the cell's response, for example, to change 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 of food for other segments of the population, 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 further 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, for example, to switch genes on or off.
The epigenome consists of a set 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.
In fact, 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, 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, our 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 clear diagnosis to arise.
Epigenetics is what happens to the gene based on how it’s influenced. We have great 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 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 certain 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 that 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 key to our healing, because of the way in which they impact upon our subconscious mind and the systems of our body. When we acknowledge this role, we’ll understand how important it is that we don’t attach to negative thoughts and beliefs about our sickness and therefore impede our healing.
Researchers have found that an extra dose of a vitamin or nutrient, a brief exposure to a toxin, even extra nurturing and the quality of mothering can tweak the epigenome.