When I was studying Nutritional Therapy, one of the most fascinating subjects was the one about Genes and Epigenetics.
Why? Because, as a daughter of a mother who had breast cancer and father who died of lung cancer and stroke – it gives me hope and piece of mind that health, for most part, is in our hands.
We will all pass on one day, however, I want to serve as long as possible in this body and create & discover as much as I can in a pain-free body. I aspire to live a healthy lifestyle for my children too as we all are our children’s teachers. My mother was mine.
All children deserve the best start in life and part of that is being the best role model we can be.
So, that is my motivation and this fabulous quote was one of the most profound thoughts I came across that explains role our lifestyle plays in best influencing the state of our health:
“Your genetics load the gun. Your environment pulls the trigger.”, Francis Collins
While we used to believe that 30% of what happens to us are our GENES, that figure is now more close to 10% and many scientists believe it is even as little as 2%, thanks to the breakthroughs in Epigenetics, “above the gene” science.
Foods that we eat have power to switch genes on and off (think of cancer genes as well as hundreds of other degenerative diseases).
Science shows that expression of our genes is modifiable. And the way that we change gene expression is by changing the chemical environment the genes bathe in… from foods and supplements we take, air we breathe, stress we experience to the environment where we live. But the effects of food on our genes and disease development is the one that is most researched!
HOW DO WE DEVELOP HEALTH ISSUES?
As our current state of health is a result of the interaction between our genes and environment, if our environment is a problem – if we eat poorly and not nourish our body properly, live in a very polluted location that is exposing us to toxins and viruses, if we do not exercise or suffer from high stress levels – what is likely to happen is that we are highly likely to exceed our genetic capacity to ADOPT to the environment, which can then switch the disease gene ON.
Good health is a sign of a successful genetic adaptation to our environment.
Going back to our genetic expression, one cause of activating disease genes is damage caused by free radicals or oxidants such as toxins, radiation, fried food, processed food, poor diet in general, smoking, alcohol, pesticides in food, pollution, etc.
As an antidote to this radical damage, body created antioxidants in order to neutralise the free radicals. Antioxidants from our food – vitamins A, C and E in particular, we consume through food and supplements.
When there is an imbalance between cell damage (our exposure to free radicals) and our antioxidants supply that provides the protection for our cells is when our genes, like cancer genes, are switched on.
Our environment has always been toxic, however, our bodies have an incredible ability to adopt and heal in order to keep us alive.
They key to preventing degenerative diseases such as cancer is to enrich our DNA protective mechanism with antioxidants foods and exercise such as yoga that promotes relaxation response, proven to reduce oxidative stress.
Very first study that demonstrated a consumer product of a green tea can help prevent cancer was back in 2003 as it stops faulty gene expression and reactivates cancer fighting genes. (Cancer Research, AACR Journal, Nov 2003, Volume 63, Issue 22)
It is also empowering us to understand that most of our health is in our own hands, with nutrition being a large part of it.
Many studies on identical twins prove time and time again that, despite an identical genetic code, their susceptibility to diseases is hugely different dependent on the lifestyle that each decides to lead.
There is a rather complicated science behind genetics studies, however, point of this article is not to dwell too deep into it, but just plant a seed that, while genes play some part, what truly shapes us is our lifestyle.
We can take responsibility for our health and our future because, for most part – we truly are in the driving seat!
According to the latest research – only 25% of the population considers nutrition when making food choices, so, we have a lot more work to do to raise the awareness of this and increase the percentage of those who look at nutrition when making their food choices.
So, DNA is not your destiny if you eat, breathe, do and think well!
Give your body the best chance to stay healthy for a long time!
And if you are not sure where to start, please feel free to reach out!
Until then, yours in health,