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

The Problem With Counting Calories

In American culture, we have become so focused on counting calories that we don’t pay any attention to what we are actually putting into our bodies. We’re all guilty of it. We see those yummy packaged cake rolls that say “50% fewer Calories” or that cereal bar with the “light” frosting, or only “100 calories”. This seems too good to be true! I can eat my favorite guilty pleasure foods without increasing my calorie count?! Why not!?

Sadly, it’s far too good to be true. Where you gain in one area, you sacrifice in another, and with these types of “calorie-saving” foods, you sacrifice REAL nutrition.

Humans didn’t even start counting calories until we started processing our foods. There was no need. Even 40 to 50 years ago we were still eating REAL food, not synthetic, processed “food”. For those of you who like numbers and charts, below is a link from businessinsider.com showing 11 charts comparing the consumption of food over the past 50+ years. My favorite chart is the last one – #11. It links the start of the obesity epidemic to the publishing of low-fat dietary guidelines. We ate food that was digestible by our bodies and obesity was not an issue. As soon as we started processing and adding refined sugars to our food, the rate of obesity, heart disease and certain cancers increased. Our bodies are not meant to eat these processed, boxed, fake foods! According to Joe Rigonlas:

“The correlation between obesity and disease with the consumption of things like refined sugar, grains and processed vegetable oils is crystal clear. Simply put, we have evolved to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. When your diet is centered around basic foods like veggies, fruits, quality sources of protein and natural fats, there’s no need to count calories (or “points”). These foods will nourish you and naturally make you feel satisfied making you less likely to over-eat. More importantly you become healthier as your body begins to learn how to run on this better source of fuel for energy rather than relying so heavily of sugar.”

Counting calories will work to an extent, but if you want to drop the size of your waist, and build a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, you must first drop the processed foods. I tell all my clients to get rid of the scales and stay away from “diets”. You aren’t likely to succeed with them and even if you do, you’ll likely struggle to maintain that combination of weight and lifestyle. If you are serious about getting healthy, start by eating REAL food. Below is a diagram called the “Real Food Pyramid” that shows what your daily food consumption SHOULD be. Your body will pay it forward by trimming inches from your waist, giving you more energy, and putting you in a better mood!

Paleo-Food-Pyramid (1)

I tell my clients to give yourself a 30 day trial when making a significant lifestyle change. That’s how long it takes to “retrain the brain” and build new habits. Be patient with yourself and know it’s okay if you falter at first – but stick with it and you’ll see the results you desire.

So stop. Stop counting those calories. Throw out the weight scale and start eating REAL food.

http://commack.patch.com/groups/joe-rignolas-blog/p/bp–dont-count-your-calories-make-your-calories-count-4a6201f4

http://www.businessinsider.com/whats-wrong-with-the-modern-diet-charts-2014-2

Is Sitting the New Smoking?

Until just recently, if you exercised for at least 60 minutes a day, you were considered physically active. Now, new research suggests it is entirely possible to meet current physical activity guidelines while still being incredibly sedentary. Furthermore,  that simply the act of excessive sitting increases your risk of disease and even death, even with regular exercise. In the same way that smoking is bad for you even with regular exercise, so too is the simple inaction of sitting.

Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol levels, and increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. One recent study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV with those who logged more than four hours a day of recreational screen time. Those with greater screen time had:

  1. Nearly 50% increased risk of death from any cause!

  2. 125% increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack!

I think it’s clear that sitting for too long is bad for us, but with many desk jobs or jobs that require a lot of driving or flying, what are we to do? What options do we have?

Here are some ideas to help:

  1. Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.

  2. If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.

  3. Walk laps with your colleagues for meetings rather than sitting in conference rooms.

  4. Make sure to take “standing breaks” every 30 minutes throughout the day.

  5. Walk around your house during the commercials of your favorite television show.

Movement is the key to health. Breaks, even as short as one minute, can make drastic changes in how you feel and prevention from a number of illnesses.

So stand up already!

Sources and More Info:

http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/the-health-hazards-of-sitting/750/

http://www.runnersworld.com/health/sitting-is-the-new-smoking-even-for-runners?page=single

http://www.mayoclinic.org/sitting/expert-answers/faq-20058005