Epigenetics

Have you ever wondered why some family members develop chronic diseases or cancers while others do not?  Or why identical twins are not exactly identical? The answers to these questions are not completely answered by modern medicine. New research is showing that expression of our genes comes down to the food we eat, the thoughts we think, and the environment we live in. This is a form of biology known as epigenetics.

A history of epigenetics.

Epigenetics was first theorized by Dr. Bruce Lipton, a research scientist and former professor at the University of Wisconsin. He shares his revolutionary findings in a growing field of epigenetics in his book, The Biology of Belief. Using a simple petri dish filled with stem cells, Dr. Lipton showed that the health of these cells were influenced by the medium (a.k.a. environment) they were exposed to (Ly, 2017, n.p.).

According to Rachale Rettner, senior writer for Live Science (2013), “Epigenetics means “above” or “on top of” genetics. It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes “on” or “off.” These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells “read” genes” (n.p.).  Every living organism on earth has its own specific genome. This is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including genes, found in every single cell of that organism. Each individual DNA sequence is a conglomeration of their parents, yet unique to that individual. According to Dr. Lipton’s research we may not have control of our genetics, but we can control how they’re expressed.

Controlling your genetics.

So what are these environmental factors that can affect the expression of our genes? Simply put, they are the choices we make in life: what we think, how we feel, foods we eat, relationships we make, how stressed we are, etc. All of these things influence our perceptions of the world and thus how our genes are expressed (Ly, 2017, n.p.).

What’s more, your genes aren’t just expressed through what you eat, what you drink, or how much you exercise. According to epigenetic principles, as seen in an article in The Telegraph by Chris Bell (2013) your genetic expression might also be associated with your parents’ behavior. What your mother ate, how much your father drank, and even what your grandmother smoked may affect your genetic expression. Thus, the expression of your kids’ own genes may be shaped by the choices you make and environment you live in (n.p.).

An example Bell gives of this was observed in the Netherlands (2013):

Towards the end of the Second World War, something unprecedented happened in modern Europe: a famine. The Allies’ attempt to push across the Rhine in September 1944, had failed. The Nazis had blocked towns across the western Netherlands for over six months, leading to food shortages. This became known as the Dutch Hongerwinter. Each person only had 580 calories of food per day. Over 22,000 people died from malnutrition, and thousands of babies were born underweight.

When researchers analyzed the Dutch medical records decades later, they noticed that the infants who survived were more prone to health problems. But they also found a curious anomaly. These children’s own children – born years later, and well fed – were also underweight. The famine had, it seemed, “scarred” the victims’ DNA. (n.p.)

This emerging research on epigenetics highlights why it is so important to make choices with wellness in mind. Life is not completely predetermined by our genes. Genes are no longer a crutch or an excuse. Just because your father had heart disease or your mother had diabetes, doesn’t mean that you have to. The environment you place yourself in and the corresponding affect on your genes is what determines our life outcomes. And not just our life outcomes, but the life outcomes of your children and grandchildren. This graphic shows a great representation of the epigenetic life from before conception into maturity and how not only our environment can have an affect, but how our parents environment can affect our life.

Epigentics-web1

What to do about it.

In the following weeks, we will discuss how to change our environment for better outcomes based on actual human genetic needs. It’s time to start taking control of your environment and nutrition now if you want to lead a long, healthy life, and give that sort of life to your children as well.

 

Sources:

Bell, C. (2013, October 16). Epigenetics: How to alter your genes. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/10369861/Epigenetics-How-to-alter-your-genes.html

Ennis, C. (2014, April 25). Epigenetics 101: A beginner’s guide to explaining everything | Cath Ennis. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/science/occams-corner/2014/apr/25/epigenetics-beginners-guide-to-everything

Ly, J. (2017, December 07). Can We Change Our Genes? Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jess-ly/can-we-change-our-genes_b_6306046.html

Q&A with Dr. Alfredo Galvez. (2013, November 25). Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://blog.reliv.com/2013/11/25/qa-with-dr-alfredo-galvez/

Rettner, R. (2013, June 24). Epigenetics: Definition & Examples. Retrieved August 26, 2018, from https://www.livescience.com/37703-epigenetics.html.

 

 

Testimonial -Ruth Eckert

I first started seeing Dr. Melinda in early 2015.  Before that, I saw a chiropractor in St. Joseph & an acupuncturist in Overland Park.  I had heard wonderful things about Dr. Melinda – and it turns out they are all true!  At my first visit, Dr. Melinda took a great amount of time to go over my medical history, which at that time included numerous prescriptions for allergies and a history of lower back, neck and daily facial pain.  Dr. Melinda gave me my Wellness Plan at my second visit and suggested trying the Paleo food plan – she thought I may have food allergies in addition to seasonal allergies.

After several chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture sessions, plus converting to the Paleo lifestyle, I was able to stop using numerous nasal sprays & other prescription medicines. I now know what my “trigger” foods are, and I feel great!  My  allergist & ear/nose/throat doctors are amazed that I am no longer visiting them several times a year for infections.  Both have told me they are encouraging their other patients to try chiropractic and acupuncture.  My previous chiropractor had told me I have arthritis in my lower back – but after Dr. Melinda’s adjustments I rarely have any lower back pain.

If anyone is skeptical about trying acupuncture – give it a try!  It is painless – and I consider it a 20 minute nap.

Ruth Eckert

Testimonial – Myra Harwood

Growing up on the farm I always wanted to be out working with my older brother and my dad. I was also very competitive in sports. Both of those things meant various injuries to my joints and my back. When I was about 22, I suffered a significant injury to my right leg, hip and lower back while serving in the Navy. Additionally, I have been a nurse for over 25 years and we all know the work of a nurse takes it’s toll on the back, knees, hips and shoulders. After years of punishing my body I came to a point that I could no longer do the work I loved in the ER. It was simply too painful to continue. I had been to various chiropractors for 30 years. I had done physical therapy and had my back and hip injected but nothing worked long term. I also suffered from headaches and seasonal allergies that have gotten worse each year. Much to my dismay, in 2010 I had to take a nursing job that did not involve all the physical work as well as a job that could accommodate my absence due to severe headaches that occurred at least monthly.

unnamed (1)

In August of 2014 a friend told me about Dr. Melinda at Trusted Care Chiropractic. I made the appointment that changed my life. First I was welcomed in like a dear friend by Erin. Then Dr. Melinda took an extensive health history. Then she performed a physical evaluation unlike any I had ever had before. Dr. Melinda developed a holistic plan of healing, recovery and maintenance for me and we set to work. I had chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture treatments and exercises to do at home. I was also encouraged to eat better, stay well hydrated and walk every day. The positivity in the office really makes me want to do better and be better! Plus they work very diligently to get everyone worked into appointments.

By December of 2014 I was able to return to the ER full time! I can meet and exceed all the physical demands of the job. I rarely have a headache! On those rare occasions the headaches are not nearly as intense, they are no longer accompanied by debilitating nausea and they may last an hour or so, not up to an entire day. My hip pain has been completely resolved and my back is better than it was in my 30s! I continue to get adjusted and receive acupuncture about every six weeks. The treatment I receive at Trusted Care Chiropractic has given me back the job I love and tremendously improved the quality of my life! I will always be grateful to Dr. Melinda.

– Myra Harwood

 

Acupuncture Testimonial

“I had spent almost two years with Achilles tendon and calf pain, which prevented me from doing many things I loved.  It was a constant nagging pain that I had resigned myself to having to live with… then I met Dr. Melinda.  She told me about acupuncture treatments and her belief that she could improve my situation. After treatment from Dr. Melinda my pain is gone.  I have started running again, something I didn’t think I’d be able to do.  Dr. Melinda took the time to fully understand my situation, did an excellent job of explaining the process and made sure I was comfortable and relaxed as she worked.  Dr. Melinda’s acupuncture treatments are amazing and my quality of life has dramatically improved.”

 –Karla Kautz

Acupuncture & Weight Loss

I have had a number of people come to me and ask if acupuncture can help with weight loss. I ask them if they remember the saying for smartphone applications, “There’s an app for that” – just like with apps, there’s an acupuncture point for that. So yes, weight loss is one of a wide range of conditions that may be assisted with acupuncture treatments.

The acupuncture points used in weight loss are mostly found in the ear (aka auricular acupuncture). Auricular acupuncture is used to reduce the stress and anxiety that can trigger overeating, reduce cravings and help balance the digestive system. These specific points in the ear also help your metabolism to function optimally, food to be digested properly and nutrients to be absorbed correctly.

Although acupuncture can play a helpful part in losing weight, it is most important that the person be holistically dedicated to the cause. A well-rounded approach including a healthy nutrition plan and increased physical activity is also vital to the overall weight loss plan!

If you are interested in trying acupuncture, come visit us at 310 Commercial St, Atchison KS, right across from the YMCA or call 913.367.5103 to schedule an appointment. Hope to see you soon and be well!

Check out these websites for more information on auricular acupuncture and how it can help with weight loss:

From Livestrong – Auricular Acupuncture for Weight Loss

From the Dr. Oz Show – Acupuncture and Weight Loss