Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviour and environment influence and affect the way your genes work.
Epigenetics determine whether genes are turned on or off and can influence the production of proteins in certain cells, ensuring that only the correct proteins are produced. For example, proteins that promote bone growth are not produced in muscle cells. Patterns of epigenetic modification vary among individuals, different tissues within an individual, and even different cells.
Epigenetics makes you unique. Even if 99.9% of our genome is identical there are still genes that differ. This is why some of us have blonde hair or darker skin. Why some of us hate the taste of eggplants. Why are some of us more sociable than others. Why some respond well to low volume exercise. Why some find it easier to adhere to diets or have more success with one diet. The different combinations of genes that are turned on or off is what makes each one of us unique.
Epigenetics control your genes through:
A) Nature: this determines a cell’s specialization (like skin cell, blood cell, hair cell, liver cells, etc.) as a fetus develops into a baby through gene expression or suppression and
B) Nurture: which is environmental stimuli that can also cause genes to be turned off or turned on.
Epigenetics therefore explains how the genes we have inherited are either expressed or suppressed in our lives. There are various factors through which this stimulation happens. Stimuli in our environment and lifestyle factors affect your epigenetics that conveys information to your genes; the result of this is either the expression or the suppression of specific genes. These lifestyle factors have the potential to influence epigenetic marks on DNA and ultimately, health outcomes.
Here are some of the factors that influence gene expression:
- Nutrients: What food we eat
- When we eat and when we don’t eat (fast)
- Movement: exercise type, intensity and duration
- Sleep and wake cycles
- Radiation, toxins and pollution
- Substances like alcohol, drugs, prescription medication and smoking
- Temperature and sunlight
- Thoughts and emotions (mind-states)
These different factors will have a different effect on each individual and makes sense as we all experience varying results from engaging with our environment.
This is highly individual as no other person on earth has your DNA. This also explains to us why there are such variations within certain poplutions. Why people respond differently to the exact same experience, nutrition, exercise, stress or other environmental input.
When things go wrong
Errors in the epigenetic process, can lead to abnormal gene activity or inactivity, this can cause genetic disorders. Conditions including cancers, metabolic disorders, degenerative disorders and ageing have all been found to be related to epigenetic errors.
Cell division or mitosis is a fundamental process for life. During mitosis, a cell duplicates all of it’s contents and splits to form two identical daughter cells. This process is critical to sustaining life and health. When mitosis is not regulated correctly, health problems result.
A variety of genes are involved in the control of cell growth and division. Tight regulation of this process ensures that a dividing cell’s DNA is copied properly, any errors in the DNA are repaired, and each daughter cell receives a full set of chromosomes. This cycle has checkpoints, which allow certain genes to check for problems and halt the cycle for repairs if something goes wrong.
If a cell has an error in it’s DNA that cannot be repaired, it may undergo programmed cell death also called apoptosis. Apoptosis is a common process throughout life that helps the body get rid of cells it doesn’t need. Cells that undergo apoptosis are recycled by a white blood cell called macrophage. Apoptosis protects the body by removing genetically damaged cells that could lead to disease, and it plays an important role in the development of the embryo and the maintenance of adult tissues.
Disease and ageing results from a disruption of the normal regulation of the cell cycle. When the cycle proceeds without control, cells can divide without order and accumulate genetic defects that can lead to tumor formation.
Fortunately there is an enzyme in all cells, which acts to restore the abnormal DNA strand back to normality. This enzyme or factor is referred to as P53. It’s core function therefore is to recognize the abnormality and correct it. If this cannot be corrected it will initiate apoptosis. Therefore P53 maintains DNA integrity.
There are however factors in the cell that suppresses the workings of P53. These inflammatory agents are called NF-kB and STATS. These are stimulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines that are associated with chronic negative or destructive mind-states.
This illustrates how negative mind-states can give rise to disease. It is widely accepted that most non-communicable (lifestyle related) disease, which include cancer, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes etc), and neuro-degenerative (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Motorneuron disease etc) disease all have a strong inflammatory component.
Ageing is a normal process linked to specific patterns and changes in the epigenome. Understanding and harnessing epigenetic mechanisms and the epigenetic clock may enable us to slow down or delay human ageing. DNA damage and the body’s inability to repair it as we age is ultimately what cause disease, accelerated ageing and ultimately death.
What you can do
With all of this collective knowledge and insights into your underlying biology and psychology we are now able to take preventative steps and intervene, giving you the opportunity to minimize and or delay the effects of disease and ageing.
Thriving is not about life extension and living to the age of 150 but about giving yourself the opportunity to have more health span, the part of your life during which your health and well-being is optimal. To enhance the quality of your life today and to prolong the period of good health you can experience tomorrow.
The intervention is based on our two assessments then followed by lifestyle recommendations and neuro-coaching. This eliminates guesswork and years of trial and error on your journey to optimal health and vitality.