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Epigenetics: The power of choice to influence your genetic expression through nutrition, exercise and a balanced lifestyle

Epigenetics: The power of choice to influence your genetic expression through nutrition, exercise and a balanced lifestyle
I

t's genetic! is a statement we all know. But is it really the case that genes are set in stone? No, it is not. Well, technically they are, but the expression of genes is not. According to Dr. Berg, only 5-10% of diseases are genetic and therefore inherited from parents. Epigenetics can positively influence gene expression and prevent diseases. You can inherit a favorable gene expression and pass the gift on to your children. So the next time you eat that cake or have that cigarette, think of your grandchildren. Here is your guide to make it work in your favor.

How does epigenetics work?

This short animated video by TedEd describes it beautifully: 

TLDW (too long didn´t watch) version: 

  1. DNA interacts with a multitude of molecules inside the cell
  2. These interactions either switch genes on or off
  3. Think about the DNA as a recipe book, these molecules interacting with the DNA decide what meal will be cooked and when
  4. Genes and DNA are expressed when they are read and translated into RNA. An essential function of RNA in the cell is the conversion of genetic information into proteins
  5. These RNA strings are then used as blueprints to manufacture proteins, the things we are made up of and can see, in the ribosomes
  6. Epigenetics discribes the improvement or inhibition of reading some compartments of the DNA into RNA, this process happens through chemical tags
  7. And here it starts to get interesting, because these chemical tags are influenced by external factor like diet, exercise, meditation, love, joy - basically lifestyle design

So the big question is, what switches on optimal health & wellbeing and what switches off disease & unease?

How do you influence the genes?

The epigenetic markers are influenced by our environment. Dr. Berg mentions nutrition (and the nutrients in it), time of food intake, temperature (hot/cold), stress, sleep, fitness, mood and age. It is difficult to say, what environmental factor contributes how, but some common sense can surely help to determine positive or negative effect. Example: Too much caloric restriction (e.g. anorexia): Not good. Sensible caloric restriction (e.g. intermittent fasting): Good. Here is a graphic to give you an overview, for which environmental factors you should filter:

Epigenetic modulation

Epigenetics: What´s the impact of High Intensity Training?

Even a single training session can trigger epigenetic changes. The more consistently you train, the more intense the effect. These changes on the genes are then also passed on, which means that the offspring either benefit from epigenetics or are burdened by it. Sport is especially important in old age, as the DNA methylation changes. AURUM 6 Minute Strength Training can help reverse the gene expression of the mitochondria of ageing muscle cells and reduce the biological age of the cells. This paper is especially interesting as it gives a good outline of the many positive effects of exercise as we age or as we try to age in style: "Towards ageing well: Use it or lose it: Exercise, epigenetics and cognition."

Notably, energy production in the cell is upregulated through regular intense exercise via an epigenetic adaptation. Which in turn has a lasting effect on cognition and synaptic plasticity. So you better finally book that free trial @AURUM than having forgotten your wallet in the fridge or your family dog in the motorway the other day.

What does nutrition do?

Sebastian Dietrich, sports scientist and founder of INEX and Live Better, divides the noutritious part of epigenetics into methyl donors (e.g. Foods rich in Vitamin B12: Low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese) - one can think of them as the building blocks for the afore mentioned chemical tags (methyl tags) - and nutrigenomic modulators, which directly interact with gene expression, without the detour via chemical tags.

Methyl donors are essential for a healthy body: they help to provide the body with methyl groups. We need those to produce and transport neurotransmitters, excrete and detoxify hormones, support the immune system, repair our DNA and place DNA methylation on our genes. This is important from an early age on: The lack of methyl during pregnancy can lead to insulin resistance and thus to diabetes in the later life of the child. These are some of the foods that provide the body with methyl: fish, spinach, leafy vegetables, meat and egg yolk.

Nutrigenomic modulators send information directly to our genes. This enables the direct modification of gene expression. Some can be found in these foods, among others: green tea, red wine, soy and garlic.

Now it is your turn: With what you have read here, how will you influence your genes in your favour?

Sources:

What is epigenetics in simple terms?

How much of your disease and health is genetic?

Epigenetik: Wie Sport unsere Zellen verändert

Epigenetik und personalisierte Ernährung

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