Health & Wellness
Nature versus nurture: Better wellness with DNA expression control
Unquestionably, every law enforcement officer and their loved ones can benefit from maximizing the probability of a long and healthy life.
By Isabelle Sauve
Currently, the overarching societal perspective is anchored in the belief that we all carry a genetic inheritance/individual characteristic gene structure (DNA), which is mainly responsible for who and what we are. This has predetermined the course of our lives, including our abilities, weaknesses, sensitivities and susceptibility to disease. We are also led to believe by many pharmaceutical companies that conventional medicine is the way to fix “deficiencies” with which we were born. However, this view is increasingly being challenged.
Over the past 10 years, research on genetics explains that we indeed carry a certain degree of hereditary makeup that cannot be changed; however, this complex DNA only represents a low percentage of our overall genetic pre-determination. While the actual sequence (or underlying code) of our DNA cannot be changed, the manner in which our genes are read by our cells can indeed be modified. In other words, the expression of our genes can be modified by our actions and environment. This scientific discovery is called epigenetics.
Epigenetics is a complex topic with countless exciting possibilities. This article provides a brief overview of the subject, hoping to courage readers to keep an open mind and discover more on the topic.
In a very simplified manner, epigenetics is the study of biological mechanisms that switch genes on and off. Dr. Joel de Rosnay with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology describes it as a revolution. Health professionals have believed this concept for a long time and can demonstrate it scientifically today. Epigenetics is in what we eat, where we live, our relationships, sleep patterns and physical activity. It is about what we do and what we are exposed to.
Epigenetics proposes everything we do affects the expression of our genes. Furthermore, it says humans are fundamentally a reflection of the life they live and the lifestyle they adopt. With about 20,000 genes in our body composition, the ability to turn them on and off presents significant possibilities.
The prospect of purposefully shifting the expression of our genetic makeup is exciting, particularly with respect to disease prevention and reversal, increased immunity and resilience, overall health, and life expectancy. It opens the doors to a biological revolution.
Changing the expression of our genes can have an impact on numerous health circumstances — Alzheimer’s, obesity, etc. It opens the doors for programming and changing the human body over the course of a lifespan. To a large degree, it implies everyone is responsible for their own mutation and adaptation.
Research indicates a change today can also have positive impact on the next generation and their subsequent offspring. It implies that by improving the expression of our genes, we are strengthening the genes of generations to come. This has profound meaning with respect to human evolution and health.
Thousands of species, including humans, have evolved slowly over thousands of years. Epigenetics is suggesting a much shorter timeframe is needed; changes can happen over the course of one single lifespan.
An interesting example can be drawn from honeybees. Every colony selects a bee from the hive to which they offer royal jelly, the very best and purest nutrition. While this “queen” bee shares genetic makeup identical to the others, she typically grows larger, stronger and enjoys a longer life span. Queen bees are also the only ones gifted with the ability to reproduce, while the others become sterile. So what we put in our bodies has substantial potential implications in terms of health, reproduction and life quality/expectancy.
Epigenetic studies show that we can turn curative medicine into preventative medicine. We have control over a large part of our DNA expression, hence over the possibility of disease prevention and cure.
This has repeatedly been shown with type 2 diabetes. With proper diet and physical exercise, the disease can be prevented. For those already living with the disease, it can be controlled and even reversed with tailored nutrition and exercise, as well as stress and rest management.
Doing the right things in terms of wellness — including relationships and taking pleasure in life — now has larger implications. The choices we make have a significant impact on our bodies. Be in charge of your health and take control of the expression of your DNA.
Isabelle Sauve is a 10-year OPP veteran currently with the Emergency Response Team (ERT) at the Almaguin Highlands Detachment in Burks Falls, about 300 km north of Toronto. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.