What does this mean?

The origin of the word is, of course, Greek and EPI means ABOVE, OVER. Thus, epigenetics means “over, above genes”.

Remember from our leptin, insulin posts, the following: Many say that genes and chromosomes are the most important molecules, however once born your genes pretty much just sit there and HORMONES TELL THEM WHAT TO DO.





And, the two most important hormones that deliver messages about energy and metabolism, to our cells/genes are insulin and leptin.

We have all heard comments such as “both my dad and mom were fat and I’ve just inherited their genes”. Same comment about cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc., etc.




Are bad genes really destiny or are they flexible, modifiable, even changeable? Well the answer lies in the groundbreaking field of “epigenetics”.

First, lets point out that the genes that we are born with which determine body frame, hair and eye color, and, unfortunately, disability, childhood diseases or even dying young are NOT MODIFIABLE. But these unchangeable genes represent less than 2 % of our genetic makeup.




Epigenetics is the study of molecular mechanisms by which our environment controls our gene activity. Epigenetics examines the factors and patterns that influence whether genes are TURNED ON, OR TURNED OFF. Are active or dormant. These patterns of gene expression are governed by the epigenome, which acts as a mechanism that tells your genes to switch on or off. The epigenome changes in response to signals. Signals come from inside the cell, from neighboring cells or from the outside world.

It is thought that the epigenome is effected by environmental factors like diet, stress and parental nutrition in such a way that it can make an imprint on genes that pass from one generation to the next. Thus, while each of us inherits our own unique, hardwired, unchangeable version of the genetic code, epigenetic factors such as lifestyle and DIET can radically change what our genes do.




We have a lot more control over our health than we think. We have always assumed that age-related diseases like high-blood pressure; heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, stroke and cancer were inevitable consequences of aging that our genes set the course and resistance was futile. But now, through the understanding of epigenetics, scientists have determined that THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

Recall, that in my previous post we said that aging is the disease and all the “diseases” listed above are actually the symptoms. What did we suggest? That you adapt a certain lifestyle to prevent this and let insulin put you on the right path. Don’t you think the parallel is striking?

You can change how your genes are expressed. Stress, diet, behavior, toxins and other factors may activate chemical (hormonal) switches that turn genes on and off and regulate gene expression.

Several studies have shown that changes in lifestyle cause changes in gene expression.

There are thousands of genes that render you susceptible to:

* Heart disease,

* Obesity,

* Diabetes, and

* Cancer.

But whether or not these genes are expressed, and blossom into disease, may be determined by how you live your life, what you eat, the toxins you are exposed to, the supplements you take, your beliefs and how you handle stress.

In summary, your genes are a predisposition, not a fate. So the ball is in your court.




Your lifestyle will determine the environment that

  • Turns on the “health” genes, and
  • Turns off the genes that predispose you to breast and prostate cancer, inflammation, oxidative stress, etc.

Epigenetic coding tells your genes to be expressed or not expressed. AND THIS IS COPLETELY CONTROLLED BY YOUR ENVIRONMENT AND LIFESYLE.

Most of you are probably wondering if epigenetic coding passes on to our children; YES. This is called epigenetic inheritance.

The bad news is that, for many years we were secure in our beliefs that, no matter what we did to damage ourselves in terms of poor lifestyle choices, it only affected us. Our children would be born with a genetic clean slate. THIS, UNFORTUNATELY, IS NOT TRUE. Epigenetic changes can be passed down for many generations. So the lifestyle choices you make today affect not only you, but also your children and grandchildren.

The good news is that epigenetic codings are potentially reversible. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE.

Your behavior now may change the course of your life and the generation to follow – and that’s a gift worth passing on.


See you all next week.




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