We can turn on our good genes

I hope that you had an AMAZING Thanksgiving holiday! If yes, there’s a good chance that you ate too much good food! And maybe you’re thinking now how to lose your holiday weight, and also wondering, too, why some of your friends did not gain as much weight as you did?

In my article a couple weeks ago I talked about nutrigenomics — the science of the interaction of nutrition with your genes. Knowing a genetic profile helps us to guide the correct lifestyle and nutrition choices for both disease prevention and for optimal health. However, we still do not have to totally accept any prognosis that’s based on our genetic results.

Yes, of course it can give us very valuable information so that we can act now to change and improve our lifestyle. But on the other hand, let’s say for example that f you have a certain type of gene that can increase your risk of developing a serious disease — you can still take action to prevent it developing, or even reverse an existing condition.

Genes are not our destiny anymore. So we can stop blaming our genes for inheriting conditions such as heart disease or cancer.

Epigenetics is the ability to turn genes on and off by changing our lifestyle, how we eat, how we act, the environment in which we live, how much stress we are creating, how we think, how we exercise, and who we interact with.

All of these factors interrelate through us, then signal to our genes and determine how they are going to be expressed.

So, in other words, epigenetics involves genetic control by factors other than our DNA sequence. Epigenetics has gained a lot of interest over the last decade. Although actually Conrad Waddington, the British biologist and geneticist, created the origins of epigenetics in the early 1940s.

He wrote a book called “The Strategy of the Genes” in 1957, and in it he wrote “There is no … reason which would prevent us from imagining that all the genes which eventually make up the assimilated genotype were already present in the population before the selection began, and only required bringing together.”

The word “epigenetic” literally means “in addition to changes in genetic sequence.”

That’s why the way that we live really will shape our life. If we understand what that really means, then surely we can be free from disease if we want to be. Just look at that word “dis-ease” for a moment — if you are at “ease,” you have no disease.

There is certainly not a delusion about the diseases that we have. The delusion, however, is where those diseases have come from.

There are plenty of guidelines on how to lead a healthy life — but they’re created and intended for the overall population, without understanding an individual’s needs.

So what should we do? We can personalize our lifestyle, diet, and exercise, and we can maximize our gene expression to turn on our good genes. Personalized lifestyle medicine and personalized nutrition are new terms that refer to an approach that’s centered around the individual’s needs.

This approach is needed to successfully manage and improve health outcomes, in addition to promoting safety of therapeutics and reducing the cost of managing chronic health issues.

There is no question that personalized lifestyle medicine and nutrition can influence our genes and provide solutions to so many chronic health problems.

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Ayda Ersoy is a nutrition and fitness director at The Diet Doc Hawaii. She can be reached at DietDocHawaii.com, Ayda@DietDocHawaii.com or (808) 276-6892.

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