Epigenetics

So what is epigenetics?
What are epigenetic mutations?
And what are the consequences?

Epigenetics  is the study of biological factors that can switch genes on and off. We all inherit basic genetic information from our parents, in the form of genes, in every cell of our bodies. However, not all the genetic information is expressed (utilised) in each individual.

There are about 20,000 genes – and these genes  provide instructions on how to make important proteins – complex molecules that trigger various biological actions. In other words, DNA gives instructions for various proteins to be produced inside the cell – and epigenetics influences whether or not those proteins are triggered.

Epigenetics in human health or diseases

Genetic mutations can be inherited, or genes can be influenced by factors such as what you eat, when you sleep, how you exercise, your lifestyle, your environment, your age and disease state. All of these factors can eventually cause chemical modifications around the genes that will switch those genes on or off over time.

Now, scientists are finding that exposure to chemicals such as the widely-used weed killer, glyphosate, could be responsible for damaging the health of future generations via inherited epigenetic mutations.

New and ongoing research is continuously uncovering the role of epigenetics in a variety of human disorders and fatal diseases. In certain diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, various genes will be switched into the opposite state, away from the normal/healthy state.

You should eat broccoli

The amazing thing is that you can do something about epigenetics. You can even counter the effects upon you of your parents and grandparents’ diets! Your genetics may, for example, predispose you to bowel cancer, in which case you would do well to eat plenty of broccoli.

 

Broccoli activates genes

There’s compound called sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables.  It has the ability to activate over 200 different genes. Broccoli will trigger genes that can prevent cancer development. This is a classic example of how diet can overcome a genetic predisposition to disease. It’s also a stunning example of the provision, in nature, by our Creator God, for our health!

So epigenetics encompasses the idea of how factors like diet can influence our genetic coding, and, ultimately, how those genes are expressed.

“Pinched” and malnourished

Just this morning a doctor friend wrote to me: “As I trundle through Dundee by bus I am touched by how “pinched” and malnourished the young people look. There is so much poverty and unemployment. How they need your nutrition advice Eileen!”

Back in 1993 – in my book ‘The Optimum Health Guide‘ I reported on a study by the Medical Research Council that concluded that “What a woman eats when she is pregnant may determine the disease that her offspring will die of well over half a century later, affecting not only her own children but her children’s children.”

From parent to offspring

We didn’t talk in terms of epigenetics back then. It was called “intercepted heredity“. Neither did we talk about the microbiome at that time. Nutritionists would talk about “intestinal toxaemia“.

Nowadays it is known that intestinal micotoxins produced by a disordered microbiome can react with DNA, causing epigenetic mutations –  changes in gene expression that are transmissible from parent to offspring – but do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence. Cancer is just one consequence.

White flour pasta

And this is what my doctor friend could see when she wrote “I am touched by how “pinched” and malnourished the young people look.” Their grandmothers’ poverty diet of white sugar, white bread and margarine has now been replaced by pasta made from refined white flour (no different to white bread), sugary drinks and snacks  and unhealthy fats in processed food – all equally conducive to intestinal toxaemia or a disordered microbiome as their grandmothers’ diets were. Only now the situation as been exacerbated further by the use of antibiotics.

And so we have constantly increasing statistics for disturbing disorders that are affecting our children and young people. Disorders like asthma and autism, allergies, eating disorders, chronic fatigue – and many, many more. So what can we do to reverse the situation and restore health?

 

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all:
the earth is full of your riches
“. (Psalm 104:24)

 

More pages coming soon

 

In the meantime see:- 

Food For Thought Recipes – for information on
how to deal with a disordered microbiome though diet