“We are not victims of our genes, but masters of our fates, able to create lives overflowing with peace, happiness, and love.” – Bruce Lipton.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been told I look just like my mom. That I’ve got her mouth and eyes. I’ve also been told I act a lot like my father. I have his temper and his sense of adventure.
Our whole lives we’ve heard people make comments about our genetic expressions.
So when DNA was discovered – only a short 64 years ago – it seemed to make sense of something we already innately knew. That there’s a piece of us passed down from generation to generation.
And isn’t it alluring to think we’ve found the secret to human identity?
DNA seemed to have the potential for decoding our individuality and the promise of ending disease.
Maybe you could point to a gene and say, “See? That’s why I’m depressed.”
We jumped on this concept way too fast and somehow have remained there – even though all science is pointing away from the idea that your DNA is the key to why you are the way you are.
We now know – through epigenetics – that you have immense control over your genetic expressions. More than we’ve ever realized before.
And yet, so many of us hold on to the idea that we are our genes. Collectively we’ve become victims of our DNA.
This is a mindset that needs correcting, and fast!
We now know that we are able to change our genetic expressions through environmental inputs. There are a series of chemical tags on our DNA (our epigenome) that determines which genes are turned up, down, on or off.
This is super important because it means we aren’t simply expressions of DNA but dynamic and powerful beings. We are influenced by habits, diet, life experience, our childhood, social influences, community, the environment, and probably hundreds of other factors not yet considered.
Don’t let this overwhelm you – epigenetics is inspiring!
It means that you have a chance to rewrite your health, life, and future.
Epigenetics also means that having a “genetic predisposition” does NOT equate genetic expression.
Just because your dad had Alzheimer’s or your mom had breast cancer this DOES NOT mean you are doomed and a victim of those genes.
Only one percent of disease and illness are caused by genetics. And yet people still give DNA an unwarranted amount of authority over their lives.
You have an immense amount of power to influence your life, and more than on a superficial level – it’s possible to impact your genetic expression on a biological level.
What is Epigenetics?
Even if you aren’t a “science person” and the term epigenetics is making you cross-eyed – hear me out.
This is the key to how you can change your life and stop being a victim. Simply by being aware of epigenetics, you can gain more control over your life.
Each cell in your body is wrapped in a cell membrane. Cell membranes are the regulators of your body. These membranes control which molecules are allowed in and out of your cells. These molecules have the ability to turn genes on, off, up or down.
Epigenetics is the study of how your physical characteristics change, depending on how your cells read your genes. Your physical characteristics are influenced by your epigenome – the collection of chemical tags on your DNA.
Some of your genes are being read and therefore expressed as character traits. But then there are other genes that aren’t being read and therefore are not expressed.
And unlike DNA which remains relatively the same throughout your life, your epigenome can be changed through environmental factors.
I like to think of epigenetics as translations of a book. When books are translated into other languages there are multiple variations of the original story. When you translate a book, it isn’t precisely word for word because languages aren’t exactly translatable.
Each language carries history and connotations – this results in translated variations (your genetic expression), which is written by the author (you and your cell membranes) using the original story (your DNA).
Our languages are packed with underlying culture. Similarly, our genetic expressions are influenced by life experience.
Even though we are 99.9 percent identical in our DNA, we are seven billion wonderfully unique translations of a similar story.
What Influences Your Genetic Expression?
There are thousands, millions, probably billions of factors that influence your genetic expression. And so far we’ve only scratched the surface.
- Your thoughts – Your thoughts are beyond powerful, they can directly impact your genetic expression through the release of hormones and chemicals. I believe a parallel awareness of this is occurring – through the explosion of interest in mindfulness and meditation.
- Medications – American’s lead the world in pharmaceutical consumption even though we are only 4.4 percent of the global population. Yikes. We know medications impact the epigenome, it’s just a matter of time until we discover exactly how.
- Diet – Food really is medicine. Your diet directly impacts your epigenome and what genes are expressed. The field of nutrigenomics is a growing and inspiring field.
- Stress levels – Stress impacts cortisol levels, a potent hormone. If you work in a high-stress environment it’s a good idea to counterbalance this with relaxation techniques.
- If you felt loved growing up – Positive and negative experiences are carried with you into your adult life. BUT through epigenetics and awareness, you have the power to positively change negative impacts.
- Economic factors – Socioeconomic status and concern have been shown to influence your epigenome.
- Exercise – How often and how much you workout impacts your epigenome – but you might be surprised that this doesn’t mean working out harder and faster, which has been shown to negatively impact hormone levels.
- Environmental factors – Studies have only just begun identifying chemicals that alter the epigenome.
- Your gut microbiome – The most important DNA in your body isn’t your own. Your gut microbiome is the collection of genes of the 40 trillion microorganisms in your gastrointestinal tract. It’s being called your ‘second brain,’ because its role in your life is that important.
Let this list inspire you!
It means that you have the power to change your biology through beliefs, lifestyle choices, managing stress levels, and more.
You now know that you aren’t a victim to your DNA.
You now know that you have the power to influence your life, more than you probably realized.
Your DNA doesn’t control your destiny – this is an antiquated idea that needs to be squashed.
Your DNA is a dynamic roadmap consisting of a series of paths you get to choose throughout your life. You can change the narrative of your life through everyday choices.
Don’t Just Survive – Thrive!
Since the discovery of DNA – the supposed solution to remedying illnesses – disease has skyrocketed.
And why is that?
Many believe that when we discovered DNA and gave it the undeserving omnipotent power over our destinies, it contributed to making people sick.
We’ve seen through the placebo effect the power of thoughts. So it’s no surprise that by believing you’re doomed to develop the same diseases as your mother or father, you could contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Being aware of epigenetics means opening a world of opportunity for yourself. This new knowledge might seem overwhelming but it doesn’t need to be. Make little life improvements a few at a time and can unleash your full potential.
Challenge everything you’ve been told about yourself.
If you’ve been told you’re shy, smart, dumb, anxious, sad, creative, un-artistic, or anything else that’s become an identifying trait (especially if these were told to you by your parents as a child) – challenge the hell out of it. Because our brains and bodies are incredibly dynamic.
The concept of epigenetics means you can view your body and mind as your own personal experiment.
Give your brain and body the credit they deserve and choose to make life happen for you, instead of to you.