Does disease follow thought lines and not bloodlines? Are you a victim of your DNA?
Events that take place in the first three months of development, a stage when the foetus is really very small, can affect an individual for the rest of their life.
what is epigenetics?
Epigenetics can be defined as the set of modifications to our genetic material that change the ways genes are switched on or off, but which don’t alter the genes themselves. Crucially, this means that we are finally starting to unravel the missing link between nature and nurture; how our environment talks to us and alters us, sometimes forever.
As a simplified definition, it is the study of mechanisms that will switch genes on and off.
The “epi” in epigenetics is derived from Greek and means atone, to, upon, over or beside.
Huge areas of biology are influenced by epigenetic mechanisms, and the revolution in current thinking is spreading further and further into unexpected areas of life. Some interesting examples to get you thinking are:
- Since queen bees and worker bees are genetically identical, why are they completely different in form and function?
- Why is it that humans are comprised of trillions of cells within hundreds of complex organs and microscopic worms are comprised of only thousands of cells, yet we have the same number of genes?
- Why do identical twins already begin to diverge epigenetically during development in the uterus?
Nessa Carey states that there is no debate that the DNA blueprint is a starting point. A very critical starting point and absolutely necessary, without a doubt. But it is not a sufficient explanation for the sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, complexity of life. She further states that if the DNA sequence was all that mattered, identical twins would always be absolutely identical in every way. Babies born to malnourished mothers would gain weight as easily as other babies who had a healthier start in life.
In terms of Bob and Kyle, referred to in my mail, Kallmann syndrome also affects a person’s sense of smell and even though only Kyle’s sexual development was impaired, both Bob and Kyle had an impaired sense of smell. Both, in fact, have Kallmann syndrome. Why is Kyle’s case so much more severe? It is considered highly likely that the differences are epigenetic in nature.
Often epigenetic changes occur in response to our environment – the food we eat, pollutants we are exposed to, even our social interactions. Epigenetic processes occur at the interface of our environment and our genes. Some epigenetic changes, including those induced by environmental factors, are not erased; they are transmitted to the next generation. This is known as the “transgenerational epigenetic effect”.
This goes against the idea that inheritance happens only through the DNA code. It means that a parent’s experiences, in the form of epigenetic tags, can be passed down to future generations.
Think about DNA as the script and epigenetics as the director. The script could be the same but the director can alter the movie for better or worse. After all, Steven Spielberg’s finished product would be drastically different to Woody Allens for the same movie script, wouldn’t it?
words and DNA expression
Thoughts and words are electrochemical events taking place in your nerve cells, producing a cascade of physiological changes. There are thousands and thousands of receptors on each cell of your body. Each receptor is specific to one peptide, or protein. Our emotions release their own flurry of neuropeptides. Those peptides surge through the body and connect with those receptors which change the structure of each cell as a whole.
Where this gets interesting is when the cells actually divide. If a cell has been exposed to a certain peptide more than others, the new cell produced through its division will have more of the receptor that matched with that specific peptide. So if you are bombarding your cells with peptides from negative thoughts, you are literally programming your cells to receive more of the same negative peptides in the future.
Apologies for the brief “dive” into biology but it was a necessary precursor to ensure you understand that you are speaking to your genes with every thought and word you express. Your thoughts and words do not alter the genes you were born with. What changes is your genetic activity, meaning the hundreds of proteins, enzymes and other chemicals that regulate your cells.
There is a huge amount of research on this topic for those that are interested, but what I wanted to share in essence is that your genetic activity is at least partly influenced by your thoughts, words, attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs.
Dr. Bruce Lipton states that the moment you change your perceptions is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body.