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Epigenetics | Why Your DNA Is Not Your Destiny | The Interface Between Nurture And Nature
Date: September 06, 2016 | LiveScience.com | Epigenetics
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Epigenetics | Why Your DNA Is Not Your Destiny
The Interface Between Nurture And Nature
September 06, 2016
Ten years ago, when researchers completed the first map of all the genes of human beings, the immense undertaking promised to revolutionize the field of molecular medicine. It did, but something was still missing.
By sequencing the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA, scientists were able to glean new information about genes and how they are expressed. Yet there were hints that something else might be controlling which genes are turned on and off, said Jean-Pierre Issa, director of the Fels Institute for Cancer Research and professor of molecular biology at Temple University in Philadelphia.
"When the human genome was sequenced, some scientists were saying, 'That's the end. We're going to understand every disease. We're going to understand every behavior.'" Issa said. "And it turns out, we didn't, because the sequence of the DNA isn't enough to explain behavior. It isn't enough to explain diseases."
In the 1950s, an English developmental biologist named Conrad Waddington suggested that something was working on top of the DNA sequence to modulate gene expression. Scientists who advanced Waddington's hypothesis began investigating whether experiences or a person's environment could trigger genetic changes. This work came to be known as epigenetics, and it suggested that human development was not completely hardwired in DNA.
Epigenetic changes are biological markers on DNA that modify gene expression without altering the underlying sequence. Researchers have found that environmental factors — such as trauma, stress and even diet — can activate epigenetic changes.
Although genes are mostly hardwired at the moment an egg is fertilized by a sperm, epigenetics suggests that DNA may be more susceptible to change than was previously thought.
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Our DNA is amazingly complex and dynamic, with gene expression constantly turning on or off as a direct response to the myriad of biochemical signals that are received from the body and our environment, including a whole host of factors—from diet, exercise, and mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation – to environmental factors and lifestyle modifications as well. New groundbreaking scientific research in Epigenetics has shown that although the DNA code that we’re born with may not change throughout our lifetime, the way this code is expressed actually does—offering real opportunities to take charge of our health and overall wellbeing, positively impacting our ability to prevent illnesses and increase longevity.
We all know that exercise improves our health in so many ways-- by making us fitter, happier and boosting our immune system to prevent disease--but how exactly do our genes benefit from exercise? For some time now scientists have known that gene expression directly responds to exercise by some genes becoming more active or a bit quieter, but until recently scientists were unsure how. However a recent study conducted by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, may have found the answer-- it's a process scientists call DNA methylation.
In DNA methylation, newly formed methyl groups, comprised of carbon and hydrogen atom clusters, cling to the exterior of a gene like microscopic barnacles on a ship’s hull, making the gene more or less able to receive and respond to biochemical signals from the body, including signals sent while exercising or other biochemical responses to changes in environment and lifestyle. Of course these changes in our genes can be both positive and negative.
Exercising and eating a healthy diet, for instance, is extremely supportive to positive gene expression, but being exposed to high levels of mental stress or environmental toxins on the other hand is definitively negative, adversely affecting our health and risk for disease.
Using the latest technology in gene analysis, researchers at the Karolinska Institute found that even a small amount of regular daily exercise changes the fat storage levels of cells, which in turn affects epigenetic gene expression in many profound and diverse ways—including changes in more than 5,000 sites on the genome — particularly in genes known to play a role in energy metabolism, insulin response, inflammation, and those linked to a heightened risk of developing obesity or diabetes.
For those unlucky enough to inherit unwanted or unhealthy DNA patterns, emerging new health techniques based on Epigenetic discoveries like this could reset not just your workout, but the expression of your DNA as well. Design your DNA to what you want and like. Change your genetic destiny. Yes you can.
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For all the latest news in Epigenetics and ground-breaking science, visit:
LiveScience.com and pick up a copy of
The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance by Nessa Carey.
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Source: Date: September 06, 2016 | LiveScience.com | Epigenetics
Posted In: QDNA®, Epigenetics, Gene Expression, DNA Cell Memory, Genetic Inheritance, Biology of Belief
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