Epigenetics – Are you destined to your genetic fate?

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I know enough people who believe they are destined to live with their chronic pain, disease, depression, heart disease, obesity, etc.  But what if that wasn’t true?  What if you could influence your health and your genes are NOT your destiny?

The process of turning your genes on and off is known as epigenetics.  What does this mean?  This means that you can influence your genes and your health!  How you ask?  We can influence and change our genetic destiny through a combination of diet, supplements, stress relief, sleep, and reduced exposure to environmental toxins.  How cool is that?!

That means genetics is just a piece to our health puzzle and we need to invest more into our personal diet and lifestyle.  The human genome is very complex so I’m just going to touch on a few points regarding this topic.  Your genes can have a type of variation known as a SNP (pronounced “snip”) which is short for single-nucleotide polymorphism.  These represent a slight variation or abnormality in various genes.  We all have them.  Some SNPs don’t affect us as much as others, however some can make a huge difference in our health – and even in our personality!

Here are some examples from Dr. Benjamin Lynch, the go-to guy on genetics, that I may or may not have a nerd crush on.  Just joking, but I look up to this man and his work in genetic research and his passion for helping others, especially those of unborn children.  People with SNPs in the MTHFR gene can create a host of health problems – everything from irritability and obsessiveness to birth defects and cancer.  The key word here is can create, because if you remember you can influence your genes through diet and lifestyle. As said by Dr. Lynch, “SNPs in the COMT gene can lead to workaholism, sleep issues, PMS, problems with menopause, and again, cancer, along with boundless energy, enthusiasm, and good spirits.”  Here’s a good time to point out that many SNPs have an upside as well as a downside.

After having my genetics tested and seeing my specific SNPs, I’ll admit it was overwhelming and quite honestly, I don’t recommend it for everyone.  Why?  Because once again, you can have SNPs that you are born with however they may not be causing you any symptoms because your diet and lifestyle are supporting them.  Or you could have been born with clean genes that your diet and lifestyle are ‘dirtying’ and causing symptoms that wouldn’t show up on a genetic test.

Personally, identifying my SNPs was an aha moment. It explained why during college I would get super focused and could study for hours on end (almost obsessive), become irritable and frustrated without warning, and had troubles falling asleep.  I felt less patient but also more determined.  It also explains why I am very sensitive to chemicals and fumes.  I cannot walk past Bath and Body without getting a headache from the smell.   It is nice to understand how my genetics have the potential to make me feel a certain way but know that I have the tools to influence them in other ways.  In hindsight, college influenced my dirty genes with high stress, little sleep, and eating cheap and fast food.  No wonder my symptoms were heightened during that time.  With the knowledge I have now, I am empowered to take charge of my health.  I may have times where I start feeling those things again – when my genes get dirty – but I’m in tune with it and am able to clean them up as soon as it starts.

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Are your genes making you sick?  As Dr. Lynch would ask, are your genes dirty?  Do you need to clean them up?  Symptoms can vary greatly and maybe some of you have even been offered drugs to medicate the symptoms such as antibiotics, painkillers, antacids, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications – without much attention to the underlying issues that are causing those symptoms.  The root cause of most of the conditions people struggle with are from their dirty genes.

I would love to help guide you in the right direction and address your specific symptoms to tailor a unique treatment plan for you.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

In good health,

Dr. Stephanie

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