- Kate Mihevc Edwards PT, DPT
Stop Blaming. Start Changing
I like to blame my parents as much as the next person, but it’s time we stop blaming them for everything- especially our genetics. Yes, we get half of our DNA from each parent, and we don’t get to change the DNA we have. The environmental and behaviors choices our parents and grandparents make can impact how our genetics are expressed. BUT we also have the power to change how our genetics are expressed based on our choices.
Epigenetics is the study of how environment and behavior change the expression of our genes. Epigenetics alters how genes are transcribed not the actual genes. In the last several years we have learned that we do have more power over our genes that we initially thought. Genes can turn “on” and “off” based on how we live our life, how much we exercise, what we eat, environmental pollutants, how stressed out we are, the amount of alcohol we consume our thoughts and our beliefs.
If you aren’t excited, then you better get excited! This is mind-blowing and empowering stuff.
This means that just because the genetic marker for breast cancer, cardiac disease (like my ARVC gene), diabetes, neuromuscular diseases, or mental illness is in your DNA it doesn’t mean you will necessarily end up with the disease. You get to make choices that can make it less likely.
For example, eating more fruits and vegetables can help reduce the likelihood of cancer because of the increased folic acid and vitamin B. Molecules in foods such as curry, black grape seeds and green tea have been associated the reduction in Alzheimer’s disease. Moderate exercise has been shown to increase neural proliferation in areas of the brain such as the hippocampus which is associated with learning and memory. We also know exercise decreases cardiovascular risk. Chronic stress in early life and beyond cause changes in the brain that can lead to mood disorders but finding ways to decrease stress might reverse these changes.
So, what does this mean for you? Step into your power and start changing how you view your health. Wellness is a journey, and you can change your path by making simple choices.
If you choose to slow down and take care of yourself it has a positive impact on your genetic code. Practices such as yoga and meditation are two of many ways to begin making changes and possibly reverse damage that stress can causes on how your genes are expressed. Start by focusing on your breath for 2-3 minutes a day and every few days add 30 seconds. All you have to do is BEGIN.