There are thousands of articles online about epigenetics. I found this one to be easy to understand, and will help hopefully explain this new breakthrough discovery and why it’s not only important to people suffering from RLS, but for people suffering from any condition.
Epigenetics tells us that whatever hand we believe we’ve been dealt … is changeable.
Here’s the article by Marilynn Preston of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune…
The Apple Watch was announced this month with a timeless and bold statement: “Apple Watch is going to greatly improve the way we keep track of our activity and change the way we look at fitness.”
Change the way we look at fitness? Wow, oh wow. Of course I want to write about it instantly, but I can’t because I ended last week’s column with this bit of cleverness: “Come back next week for more happy, hopeful signs that the Healthy Lifestyle Revolution is taking hold and changing our DNA.” I promised. I’m obligated. I feel I must keep my word but now I realize it’s a mistake to end a column with a promise because it keeps me from being seduced by the moment. So epigenetics it is. I’ll write about the Apple Watch next week.
“Epigenetics … is perhaps the most important discovery in the science of heredity since the gene,” writes David Shenk, author of “The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ Is Wrong.”
Epigenetics is the next step, the new frontier, the science of changing the way your genes express themselves. Genes can express themselves as disease, or reversal of disease, and the big news is you have much more control over that than you think — if you ever think about your genes at all.
“Basically, epigenetics demonstrates how environment and behavior choices can influence our genetic code,” says Dr. Theri Griego Raby, one of a growing number of doctors who see how epigenetics can play a huge role in disease prevention and well-being.
Contrary to what many of us learned in school, “genes are not fixed predetermined blueprints passed from generation to generation,” Dr. Raby writes, based on the latest epigenetic research.
“Instead, our genome contains at least 4 million ‘switches’ that can be turned on and off by life experiences and environmental influences.” Life experiences! Environmental influences! That’s where you come in. Scientists now have evidence that lifestyle alone — your choice to smoke, to eat real food, to be physically active — can alter the epigenetic markers that sit above your DNA. The above ones have all the say, not just for your lifetime but affecting future generations.
I’m wildly oversimplifying, but think about this: Your healthy lifestyle today can predispose your kids and grandkids to greater wellness and a longer life, even before they are conceived! Of course, they then have to make the choices to influence their own genetic code.
It’s fascinating stuff.
So let’s delve a bit deeper.
“Epi” is a prefix that means “above.” Epigenetics looks above the double-helix 25,000-chromosome genetic code and sees another level of influence: the cellular material that sits on top of the genome and outside it.
On top and outside. Get a picture of it. Paint it a color you like.
That “on top” and “outside” cellular material is called the epigenome. Scientists aren’t prepared to say how many epigenome marks there are, but the number is well into the millions. Your genes are your genes, but these epigenetic marks tell your genes to switch on or switch off, to express themselves loudly or go mute.
If you can manage to mute your colon cancer gene, let’s say, by exercising more and eating clean, real food that doesn’t come in plastic, you’re managing your epigenome in a healthy way.
As the biologists like to say, the genome is the hardware, and the epigenome is the software.
And to a large extent, you are the epigenome software programmer in charge. It’s not all fixed and predetermined. Your choices really do matter.
“How we sleep, the types and levels of stress we experience, the type of foods we eat, toxin exposure, alcohol, and lack of exercise can all alter our genetic makeup during gestation, early development, and throughout adulthood,” Dr. Raby says.
“For example, consuming foods rich in gene-altering methyl groups like non-genetically modified soybeans, red grapes, or green tea may protect against disease by deactivating detrimental gene ‘switches.’ ” Enough for today. I welcome you to research more on your own, but know this: Your DNA isn’t your destiny. There is wiggle room, and the sooner you start to shake things up, the better.
Marilynn Preston is a fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues. She has a website, marilynnpreston.com, and welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com.