Have you heard of the term epigenetics? We think it’s one of the most empowering, coolest words! It is a relatively recent, revolutionary scientific study of how your behaviors, choices and environment can impact your genes. Pamela Peeke, assistant director at the University of Maryland, says that our genes have a sort of dimmer switch attached to them, and we can turn them up or down in either direction. In other words, just because you have a predisposition for a certain condition–maybe one your mom or dad or siblings have–doesn’t mean you’re on that same course and that the same condition or illness is inevitable for you. And the opposite holds true. You hold a lot of power in your hands, literally and figuratively. The choices you make over time add up, and we think that’s super exciting. The best news of all? It’s never too late to make changes and steer your ship in a different direction (so to speak), no matter how old you are. You can turn on and off genes by making some surprisingly simple adjustments to your daily routines and habits.
Peeke breaks this concept down simply by thinking of how you affect your genes in three big “M” ways: through your mind, muscle and mouth. And some fascinating studies reveal the way this works.
Via your mind: Research show that regular meditation lowers inflammation in the entire human body. So what you think actually can affect your expression of inflammation–the underlying cause of almost all disease.
With your muscle: Peeke’s team led a study that had people who had a high expression of an obesity gene walk a total of one hour per day, for a total of six months. At the end of the experiment, that one intervention decreased the expression of that gene by 40%! How incredible is that? This activity essentially sends a new message to your body, saying “reduce body fat” instead of “obesity!”
And through your mouth: Smiling through human connection–even with strangers–and choosing high-quality, unprocessed foods and simple cooking can literally change the genes that promote inflammation in the body! You don’t have to become a gourmet cook–just creating some simple homemade meals can shift so much.
We know that epigenetic changes affect future generations. In mice studies, researchers can see intergenerational effects of trauma. In the Dutch Hunger Winter during World War II, 20,000 people died of hunger and most were surviving on just 500 calories per day. The next generations had increased risks of depression and nutritional effects as well.
There is a lot more to be discovered about epigenetics, but in the meantime, know that you have the power to change your destiny. And we think that’s something to celebrate (maybe cheers to with a glass of cold-pressed green juice or Cambiati-style shake?). Schedule a breakthrough session to learn more about this exciting field.