- HEALTH & NUTRITION
How your genes can change your future
Epigenetics is an emerging field of biology that has altered our understanding of genetics and human development. It highlights how environmental factors and lifestyle choices can impact gene expression, and influence health outcomes as a result.
Oct 10, 2023|
AT A GLANCE
- – Epigenetic changes start to take place as early as conception, with some researchers suggesting that we inherit certain epigenetic markers from our parents and their lifestyles.
- – As we age, our own environmental and lifestyle factors will impact our epigenome and for better or for worse, these epigenetic changes can have far-reaching consequences for our health.
- – Epigenetic changes can increase an individual's susceptibility to a range of health challenges.
- – Factors like our diet, exposure to environmental toxins, and everyday stress have the ability to introduce epigenetic changes.
- – As we age, our cells naturally accumulate epigenetic modifications which can subtly influence the way our bodies age.
- – Managing stress, limiting your exposure to environmental toxins, correcting nutrient deficiencies and supporting your cell health can encourage a healthy epigenetic landscape.
Oct 10, 2023
Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that don’t alter the underlying DNA sequence. Instead, these changes can switch genes on or off – which essentially determines whether a particular gene is expressed or silenced. During fetal development these mechanisms are important for maintaining normal cell growth, development, and differentiation into different cell types, but they also influence our bodies well into adulthood.
What types of epigenetic changes are there?
Epigenetic modifications include DNA methylation, histone modifications, and non-coding RNAs. The summation of these changes is called your ‘epigenome’. Just like everyone’s DNA is different, our epigenome is different too.
Our DNA is the genetic blueprint for us as an organism. It contains all of the instructions to create and regulate our body, which is a lot of information! Our DNA is coiled around special structures called histones to keep it protected from damage and condensed neatly (if it were laid out flat, each cell would have to fit six feet of DNA). These histones can be modified to be loosened and tightened as needed.
Even though each cell contains the blueprint for the entire body, it doesn’t need all of it, because most of our cells are highly specialized. This means that only a small portion of DNA in your cells needs to be active at one time. To switch off the unnecessary genes, the DNA is methylated to prevent it from being read and transcribed into mRNA and then proteins.
While mRNA is converted into functional proteins, non-coding RNA is not. Instead, non-coding RNAs are an epigenetic mechanism that helps to regulate the expression of mRNA. Different types of non-coding RNAs can act as signaling molecules that lead to DNA and histone modifications that can silence or increase gene expression.
These changes are influenced by factors like your lifestyle, environment, and experiences, shaping how your body functions and responds to the world around you. Because they have the ability to switch genes on or off, epigenetics plays a vital role in orchestrating how your body works and how it adapts to various challenges.
How does epigenetics impact our health?
Epigenetic changes start to take place as early as conception, with some researchers suggesting that we inherit certain epigenetic markers from our parents and their lifestyles. As we age, our own environmental and lifestyle factors will impact our epigenome and for better or for worse, these epigenetic changes can have far-reaching consequences for our health.
Susceptibility to health implications
Epigenetic changes can increase an individual's susceptibility to a range of health challenges. These modifications may lead to shifts in gene expression patterns that can impact overall health and well-being.
- Epigenetic changes can impact the way our bodies process nutrients.
- Our immune system relies on a complex interplay between numerous cell types and signaling molecules to detect and destroy invading pathogens. Maintenance of our T-cells (a type of white blood cell) is tightly regulated by DNA methylation and recent research shows that DNA methylation is implicated in various auto-immune diseases. Our brains are highly plastic and responsive organs that are susceptible to environmental influence. Negative environmental factors in childhood have been linked to epigenetic changes to the stress-related glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene that can lead to behavioral problems, and poor mental health outcomes in adulthood.
- Epigenetic changes in genes related to brain function can influence mood and cognition – and also contribute to the biological processes associated with aging, influencing longevity.
Impact on aging
As we age and progress through life, our cells naturally accumulate these epigenetic modifications. These changes can subtly influence the way our bodies age – impacting physical and cognitive processes. The evolving landscape of epigenetic research is shedding light on how we might age and what factors could influence our overall longevity.
- Epigenetics are behind the subtle (or not so subtle) changes that take place as we age, from graying hair to fine lines and reduced mobility.
- Epigenetic modifications have the potential to help or hinder our cognitive experiences as we age, influencing memory formation, learning capacity, cognition.
But the good news is that recognizing the influence of epigenetic changes on our health empowers us to get proactive, and take charge of our well-being. Epigenetic changes are increasingly responsive to environmental factors and lifestyle choices.
Cellular aging and how MitoQ helps
Find out what the research says about aging and how MitoQ can help.
Environmental factors and positive health outcomes
Our environment has a significant impact on our epigenetic landscape. Factors like our diet, exposure to environmental toxins, and everyday stress have the ability to introduce epigenetic changes – causing a ripple effect that influences our biology and affects everything from cellular function to gene regulation. Understanding the way that our environment can influence genetics can help us make informed decisions about our lifestyle choices.
How to support healthy epigenetic changes and influence better health outcomes
Epigenetic markers on DNA can be affected by positive and negative influences. From supportive relationships and increased opportunities for learning to environmental toxins and stressful life circumstances. These influences leave a mark on our genes and affect how easily our genes are switched on or off, and whether these changes are good or bad - they can be temporary or permanent. But the research suggests that there may be ways to reverse negative changes to promote positive health outcomes, and that embracing a healthy lifestyle can help us take control of our health and longevity.
Studies show that prolonged exposure to stress can cause epigenetic changes, indicating that limiting stress can have a profound influence on the behavior of genes.
- Stress of all kinds has the ability to switch our genes on and off
- When stress occurs overtime, it can also lead to inflammatory responses that can influence specific genes.
- Stress has been shown to shorten telomeres (the protective caps on the end of your DNA).
But the good news is that stress is manageable, and effectively supporting stress can have a profound influence on our overall health. Practicing mindfulness, supporting the nervous system with good nutrition and living an active lifestyle can help relieve stress can support healthy genetic changes.
Get environmentally conscious
Environmental factors have a huge influence on your epigenetic landscape, and doing your best to mitigate these factors where you can, will help to support positive health outcomes. You can do this by reducing your exposure to environmental toxins and maintaining a non-toxic living environment (opting for natural, toxin-free cleaning products, limiting your exposure to harmful chemicals in skin and body care products, and opting for spray-free fruits and vegetables).
Fuel your body the right way
The field of nutritional epigenetics is still evolving, but research suggests that some specific dietary changes may positively support epigenetic regulation. These include:
- Eating a balanced, wholefood diet (avoiding processed foods).
- Eating to support methylation: foods that support DNA methylation include B vitamins like folate, B6 and B12.
- Antioxidants: eating plenty of colorful, antioxidant rich foods can help protect our cells and may support epigenetic regulation.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: found in fatty fish like salmon, omega-3 fatty acids may positively effect DNA methylation and gene expression.
Support your cells
Maintaining healthy cells is crucial for epigenetic regulation. Our DNA essentially provides the instructions for how a cell functions, and it’s at the core of cellular biology. When cells are functioning optimally, they are better able to follow the epigenetic processes necessary for normal development and overall wellbeing. But when cells are stressed, they can disrupt the body’s epigenetic landscape. Maintaining healthy cells is fundamental in supporting epigenetic regulation and ultimately – our health and longevity. Healthy cells = strong epigenetics.
Great health starts with your cells
MitoQ Pure is a world-first antioxidant molecule that supports cellular health for boosted energy, faster exercise recovery, and better aging every day.
The future of epigenetics
Epigenetics demonstrates that our genes are not our destiny, and that we can take control of our health by making small changes to our lifestyle. So far, the research also suggests that the best strategy to support long-term health and positive health outcomes, is to build strong foundations from the beginning – aka helping younger generations grow up to have a healthy epigenetic landscape.
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