Do you know your genetic destiny?
This isn’t just about resembling your great, great, great grandmother. It’s about understanding how your genes will respond, and thus change, due to experiences and factors in your life. And understanding how it happened in your ancestors’ lives that helped shape yours today.
Peering into epigenetics is a bit like taking agency in a realm where we previously assumed we had none (hi, DNA). While we can’t significantly change our genes in real time (like, we can’t go from brown eyes to blue), we can understand what factors will change certain genes and how they will respond to those stimuli.
We tapped Registered Dietitian, Brontë Grooms, otherwise known as The Gene Hacker, to explain this complex notion.
“Genes tell us how well our body operates, whereas epigenetics tell us what our body loves and hates. Epigenetics allows us to identify how our genes predictably respond to our environment and daily choices. Think of it as chemical switches that can
turn genes on or off.
“With the study of epigenetics, we now have insight into which genes have modifications that can control the production of proteins needed for all body functions.”
“When we know which genes we have through genomic testing, we have the opportunity to modify their behavior with targeted nutrition and lifestyle changes,” Brontë says. (hello, biohacking)
But also—hello, generational awareness. Our genes come from a long lineage, and all those lines have had experiences that impact how our genes respond. Ever heard of intergenerational trauma?
“In recent years, there has been ongoing research on how social influences such as family dynamics, chronic stress, and trauma influence health trajectories like aging, chronic disease, behavior, and emotions. Our spiritual life—thoughts, feelings, and emotions—control our gene expression, whether good or bad,” Brontë explains.
“What has been intriguing about this body of research is that epigenetic reprogramming and imprinting from psychological consequences of our environment can pass down to subsequent generations. Most importantly, families with intergenerational trauma may experience a higher rate of disease and poor health outcomes because of inherited epigenetic factors. This emphasizes how important a healthy environment is while raising a child because social stressors can lead to adaptive traits in the next generation,” Brontë says.
But don’t be discouraged by this. We can break out of patterns and take the power of change into our own hands
“Although knowing our genetic blueprint helps us create a personalized plan, a gene test isn’t necessary to biohack our epigenetics. There is a plethora of studies that indicate which targeted food ingredients and lifestyle modifications are helpful for everyone’s genes,” Brontë assures us.
Examples of epigenetic switches include:
Breath, movement, sound, prayer, chanting, and lovemaking are tools to help with
ongoing stress. Through these practices, it is easier to let go of attachments that define
us through our past. At a cellular level, these activities alter our nervous system by bringing
oxygen to our tissues and balancing stress hormones.
Choose whole foods—including plants and pasture-raised meats—that are organic and
seasonal as much as possible. Foods with the most benefits include cooked tomatoes,
alliums (garlic, leeks, and onion), crucifers (broccoli, radishes, cabbage, and
cauliflower), spices, and Mediterranean herbs.
Moderate exercise increases the production of endorphins like oxytocin and dopamine
while lowering the toxic load through sweating.
Exposure to toxins and free radicals leads our genes to make more mistakes. Avoid all
products with environmental toxins and known endocrine disruptors such as BPA,
phthalates, parabens, plastics, pesticides, heavy metals, and tobacco smoke.
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