It’s Not Just DNA

Epigenetics: It’s Not Just DNA

There was a time when medical science believed that our DNA, an inescapable genetic code, was our blueprint set in stone forever, but it’s not just DNA.

In the 1940s a British embryologist coined the term as “the interactions of genes with their environment”. Today scientists know that because of epigenetics our DNA is not our human destiny.

Research has been taken one step further to know that the changes in gene activity do not involve alterations to the genetic code, but do get passed down at least one successive generation. These patterns of gene expression are governed by the cellular material called epigenome. These epigenetic “marks” tell your genes to turn on or off or speak loudly or whisper.

Therefore, it is through these epigenetic marks that environmental factors such as diet, stress, toxic exposures and maternal nutrition (microbiome) can be imprinted on your genes and passed down from one generation to the next.

So environmental toxicity can cause abnormal gene expression and trigger changes in our DNA by turning our genes on and off. This means that environmental stressors or exposures can cause a biological response in humans by changing our gene expression. What is even more mind-boggling is that these epigenetic marks that change gene expression can be passed down or inherited through many generations.

DNA Methylation

Epigenetics factors such as DNA methylation play an important role in the regulation of gene expression. When environmental exposures alter the DNA methylation, gene expression is changed.

For example, environmental exposures have caused an abnormal gene expression which has resulted in the increase of a very widespread genetic mutation called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). Altered DNA methylation is an important feature to look at in genetic mutations.

According to the study on the Association of MTHFR Gene Variants with Autism, 98% of children with autism carry at least one copy of the MTHFR genetic mutation.

This means that there is a defect in the methylation process which lowers the level of glutathione (master antioxidant) in the body affecting the body’s ability to excrete toxins efficiently.

Consequently, these defects in the methylation process affect the child’s ability to have appropriate speech, language and auditory processing, focus and concentration, social interaction and reading comprehension.

Are Epigenetic Changes Permanent?

No, they don’t have to be.

The good news is that if we address the environmental factors by changing our personal lifestyle and reducing environmental stressors, we can change our gene expression.

Such changes would include:

  • Maintaining a good healthy nutritional diet with includes fermented foods to improve the microbiome
  • Reducing the stress factors in our lives
  • Removing environmental pressures
  • Eliminating the toxic exposures
  • Detoxing the toxicity from our bodies
  • Supporting our immune system with nutritional supplementation

By making many of these changes, scientists feel that over time the epigenetic marks will eventually fade and that the DNA will begin to revert back to its original programming. Healing can be a very empowering experience. We influence our genetic expression and also the genetic expression of generations to come.

Sources & References

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Tobi, E., et al, DNA methylation as a mediator of the association between prenatal adversity and risk factors for metabolic disease in adulthoodexternal icon. Sci Adv 2018; 4:eaao4364.