What is Epigenetics? Before I answer that question lets elaborate a little bit on why its discovery is so important.
Many people put a lot of emphasis on the believe that genes determine human behavior. Such limited view through history has been partly responsible for many atrocities committed. The believe that one race can be better than another or that one particular person is predisposed to behave a certain way because “it’s in their genes” is erroneous. The limited belief that genes determine your behavior is nothing but theory and doctrine; they can influence to the extent you let them.
As Konstantin Erikseni said, “We are free to make decisions that impact our lives and those of others. … Our beliefs can change our biology. We have the power to heal ourselves, increase our feelings of self-worth and improve our emotional state.”
A question which has puzzled humanity since its origins has been whether or not we really have control of our lives and if so how much control do we really have?…particularly when it comes to your health.
In the past those who studied Molecular Biology believed in the old dogma that information is transferred in only one direction and sequentially. The problem with such belief is that it leads to absolute determinism, which of course leaves a person to feel powerless to change.
Epigenetics has proven the old belief to be false; therefore making it obsolete.
You have tremendous control over how your genetic traits are expressed; from what you eat, think and the environment you live in to the realization of your goals and dreams.
What does Epigenetics stand for? “Epi” means above, therefore Epigenetics means Above Genetics. Now let me explain this a little bit more….
Our bodies are made of cells, inside those cells there is a nucleus. The nucleus is made of Chromosomes and inside the chromosomes there is DNA. As you may already know DNA is our blue print for life.
Our DNA blue prints are completely finalized at the moment of conception and they don’t change throughout our time. These blueprints determine our default future physical characteristics such as whether one will be male or female, how tall we might grow, what our hair or eye color will be, etc.
However our genes don’t always do what they supposedly have to do and although our DNA blue print doesn’t change, the packaging around it can. The packaging would consist of Methyl and Histone groups. These groups sometimes switch off the gene, therefore stopping it from acting according to plan.
Another way of saying it is, that each cell membrane’s receptors pick up various environmental signals and this mechanism controls the reading of the genes inside your cells. Your cells can choose to read or not read the genetic blueprint depending on the signals being received from the environment; as a result things change!
Epigenetics studies these changes, how these changes affects us and how it can affect our children as we pass our DNA. As I was reading and researching on Epigenetics I came across a great example to easily explain what I just wrote here:
Imagine having a blue print full of sticky notes. There you are standing in front of these blue prints given to you by one of the best architects and it says “this was the plan originally, however don’t build according to plan, make these changes instead”…When you modify something you change the whole outcome.
Another example would be to think about identical twins but think about twins being separated at birth, these identical twins have the exact same blueprint. Now imagine those twins having experienced completely different lives. One had a happy, stable life; healthy physically and mentally. The other had to fight to survive, had experienced malnutrition and lots of metal and physical stress; drug abuse, etc.
Now imagine seeing both of them after 30 or 40 years, you would see the differences. They would have manifested physically and mentally. More so there would be changes at an Epigenetic level. What I mean is both blue prints would still be identical, however the overriding cellular activity would have changed how those genes expressed themselves permanently.
Epigenetics is a new science but it shows how changes can affect not only the individual, but that of his or her children/grandchildren and beyond. Things like stress and diet seem to have a tremendous effect on how the genetic blueprint operates, for example a stress pregnant mother could be impacting the gene of her grandchildren.
Epigenetics is a fascinating new science; one am sure has much more to teach us. The most important thing it has taught us so far is that your emotions regulate how your genes express. It’s demonstrated that the environment your genes respond to also includes your conscious thoughts, emotions and unconscious beliefs.
We are far from Newtonian physics here; the old belief that the body was a biological machine living in a mechanical universe; Quantum physics exposed the flaws of Newtonian physics as quantum physics showed us the invisible immaterial realm is actually far more important than the material realm. What it means is–your thoughts shape your environment far more than physical matter.
At the end, all this goes to show you are not controlled by your genetic makeup, instead your genetic readout; the ability to help control which genes are turned “on” and which are turned “off” is primarily determined by your thoughts, attitudes, and perceptions!!!!