Wellness

Un-natural Selection: The Genetic Survival of the Unfittest: Part 2

 

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The journey of our health is much more complex than genetic programming. What makes each of us unique is the interplay between the environment and our genes.

Certain genes can have serious shifts to our health, but as we learned in Part 1, what’s more, important is our epigenetics which turns good and bad genes on or off. External factors such as our thoughts, stress, social connections, our diets, physical and mental activity, microbiome balance, and exposure to toxins are switches which trigger the genes and determine which proteins are expressed.

2010 paper published in Science Magazine reviewed the idea of the exposome. Which is essentially a measurement of all the exposures of an individual in their lifetime and how those exposures affect health. An individual’s exposure begins before birth and includes environmental, physical, and emotional stress.

If the current boiohacking trends continue, we can expect intriguing discoveries in fields that study lifestyle. Epigenomics, exposomics, nutrigenomics, microbiomics and toxigenomics will be at the forefront of solving our current disease dilemmas.

Genetics Rewired

When we are first born, we inherit one set of genetics from each of our parents. It is expected that our genes will behave in the same way as they did for our parents. There are times when a gene is passed down that isn’t a perfect copy. This usually takes many years to alter our genetic makeup, but when this occurs, it is called a gene mutation. We have now learned that most common diseases are caused by a combination of gene changes, lifestyle choices, and our environment.

I didn’t start diving into learning about genetics and epigenetics until after I had my first child. I suffered from anxiety, thyroid, and depression, my child had a tongue tie, and I was diabetic. These were all common symptoms (among many others) that indicated that my MTHFR gene was not being epigenetically expressed properly.

MTHFR Mother of all Methylation

The MTHFR gene is getting a lot of attention lately, and rightly so. It holds the instructions for a process called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This is an enzyme that helps our bodies convert folate (vitamin B9) into the usable form methylfolate. This process is called methylation. Without folate, our bodies wouldn’t be able to make red and white blood cells in bone marrow, convert carbohydrates into energy, or produce DNA and RNA.

Methylation is a biochemical process that has a significant impact on many reactions in the body that regulate the activity of the cardiovascular, neurological, reproductive, and detoxification systems. When the MTHFR gene isn’t coded properly because there is a mutation, the body cannot convert folate for use and it may build up and have toxic effects. Each of the bodily systems suffers from a poorly expressed MTHFR gene, and it is estimated that between 50-60% of the population has some form of the mutation.

How Well Do You Wear Your Genes?

Though important, the MTHR gene is not a standalone gene.

Our genetic makeup is complex and as a race, the human genome hasn’t changed much over the years. So why do we suffer from an increase in diseases? What is making our genes strike out?

Processed foods, unprocessed emotions, toxin overload, poor detoxification, and untreated subluxations are taking a huge toll on our health and the health of future generations. We are all changing our gene expression by the things we are exposed to daily, for better or for worse.

Since an individual’s exposome begins before birth, the environment that we are grown and developed in is shaping our health from the very beginning. Advances in medicine that were once aimed at improving and saving lives, may be responsible for our decline in health.

In the United States, around 10 percent of women are estimated to have difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant. Yet, as infertility rates increase, our health rates decline. Often having trouble conceiving is treated as the issue, when, infertility can be a symptom of an underlying health condition. If we are really striving for true health, we should first look to improve the health of mothers before they conceive.

As more babies are being conceived artificially and nearly 30% are born via caesarian section, science is beginning to connect the dots that the stress of artificial conception, poor health during pregnancy and a caesarian may alter the activity of genes in the baby. Add that to the Standard American Diet, Wifi, pesticides, vaccines, social stress, sedentary lifestyle, and emotions and you have a recipe for a diseased society.

Read my blog post Stress and Your Unborn Child: Lessons from the Womb

The solution is not treating one individual or specific gene. It’s not just taking out one sensitivity from our diet or eating the next trendy super food. The whole collection of interacting elements that determine health and disease needs to be addressed. Thoughts, stress, social interactions, diet, physical activity, gut microbiome, and exposure to toxins are all at play and influencing our genetic expression.

Just because you have inherited something doesn’t mean that you can’t optimize your genetic expression. Genes can become our protectors and our partners, or they can become a direct target for pollutants and toxins thus producing illness and disease.

To learn more about stressors that play a key in our genetic expression, read my blog post The Three T’s.

Click here to get my free eBook The Foundation of Wellness to get a head start on your journey to true health or schedule an appointment here.

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