SUMMARY: This post explains the disease epigenetics process because most think your genes are your destiny. That is actually not true. You are more than the genes you inherit from your parents! Genes predispose you to the disease (~66% of “you” is determined by your genetics), but the remaining 33% is influenced by epigenetic changes to the genes, and that is one mechanism through which disease is triggered, [Mellor, 2015 University of Oxford Podcasts]. That is why they study DNA identical twins having discordance for the same disease — they find epigenetic differences [Insights from Identical Twins] [NovaScienceNow, Epigenetics] While it is often unknown if epigenetic differences are a cause or a consequence of disease, many studies are providing evidence suggesting a potential role for epigenetic alterations in the pathophysiology (e.g. Type 2 Diabetes, asthma, brain disorders and neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s, autism, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, colon and other cancers, Parkinson’s, ALS…). The bottom line: Even though you might be “predisposed” to disease (e.g. you have a genetic pre-disposition tendency to Alzheimer’s, anxiety, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and cancer — any disease with epigenetic involvement which seems to be all of them) you can STOP and REVERSE the epigenetic changes that trigger disease by modifying factors that affect epigenetics such as nutrition, stress, toxicity, exercise and drugs. [Mellor, 2015 University of Oxford Podcasts] [NIH, NICHD] [Moosav et al 2016] [Szarc vel Szic et al 2015] [Wopereis et al 2014] [Hartzell et al 2012] [University of Utah, Nutrition & Epigenetics] One whopping impact of these factors is to pierce the disease epigenetic process by altering the microbiome. The microbiome is what makes identical twins, not identical! And it’s the microbiome consequent metabolites (which is where over 70% of our immunity resides) that can change epigenetic mechanisms (like methylation and histone modification — NOTE: I won’t be “teaching” these mechanisms, I will however explain enough that you can EASILY understand the concept) which have onward effects including triggering or reversing disease in those predisposed. What this means is that you actually have a say in if you turn on or off genes with consequent trigger (or reversal) of disease. The recognition that environment, not genetics, is the primary driver of health and disease carries a strong message of personal empowerment and responsibility. Thus, included is a special section — EPIGENETIC EXPERT SUGGESTIONS FOR EATING FOR YOUR EPIGENOME! BAM — they sound a lot like those therapeutic diets I teach and blog about! Don’t be duped. A lot of disease is preventable — [WHO] says over 80% of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes AND over 40% of cancer! From the grim stats below, if you don’t already have disease you likely will and sooner than you expect! A balanced lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, exercise, & avoiding exposure to contaminants, may in the long run create a healthy epigenome. [TedED, What is Epgenetics? -Carlos Guerrero Bosagna.] Time to empower yourself to use epigenetics modifications to keep or move yourself off diseasespan!
SUMMARY: Why Must You Understand Epigenetics? Because epigenetics is the real driver of your health status, and diet plays a major role in gene expression (aka epigenetics), at least in this post’s animal study! Mention this fun fact at holiday gatherings as others notice and comment — good and bad — about your favor of healthy whole foods with resist of the nutritionally empty and microbiome harming options! Epigenetics is a big word but it simply means the process by which your genes are turned on or off (aka expressed) in good or bad ways. You already know, diet pre-selects “who” comprises the gut microbiome. This post shares the University of Wisconsin-Madison mouse study which found that the molecules produced by the microbiome (aka metabolites) tells our genes what to do (turn on or off). This study looked at two diets: a carbohydrate rich diet (one rich in plant carbohydrates similar to fruits and vegetables humans consume) and pitted it against the Western, Standard American Diet (SAD) (think high in simple refined carbs, added sugars, and unhealthy fats — this is found in most all home cooked, grocery prepared, and restaurant meals as they use convenient processed ingredients). Their results showed the plant based diet yielded a more rich microbiome which in turn, produced metabolites that seemed to favor host-microbe communication as they chemically communicated with cells, including cells FAR beyond the colon (the liver and white fat tissue), to dictate gene expression and health (metabolic — insulin, lipid to name a few) in its host. In contrast, the metabolites of the SAD did not provide this communication likely because it was MISSING the necessary metabolites to do so! If you think this is awkward party talk, what is even MORE AWKWARD is feeling others watch what you eat so that they can learn what foods express their genes best! You’ve worked hard to learn microbiome. I am in awe and proud of you. Now it’s your turn to pay it forward and teach others by doing!