Have you ever wondered if your thoughts shaped your biology? Or, if you could change how your body and mind work by changing the environment around you? Or perhaps, if you could be limitless?
It was assumed for years that even before we are born, our whole life’s blueprint was already determined by our DNA. Indeed, it might be true that our DNA carries our genetic code (nature), but the environment where we were brought up in (nurture) also has a tremendous impact on who we are today.
Studies on epigenetics by Dr. Daniel Stickler and Dr. Bruce Lipton have revealed that lifestyle, meditation, social life, diet, patterns of sleep and upbringing can influence how our genes behave in your body. Even if our genetic code is determined by our DNA, there is a degree of freedom to optimize our body and health.
In plain English, epigenetics is the biological study of the mechanism that can switch our genes ‘on’ and ‘off’ to adapt to the environment. The best way to understand epigenetics is to think about identical twins. They have the same DNA but can grow up to have completely different personalities, health issues, traits, and aptitudes. This happens because of epigenetics.
Geneticist Courtney Griffins, explains in a TED Talk that each cell in our body contains about 6 feet of DNA structures. To be able to fit within the cell size, DNA wraps around it. Because it is wrapped around the cells, DNA is unreadable. The epigenome is the function that tells the cell what parts of the DNA to read, and subsequently, which proteins should be produced by the cells. Very much the same way as the conductor of an orchestra.
Scientists are working on drugs that could chemically turn ‘on’ genes that have been turned ‘off’, which made the cell unhealthy. According to Courtney Griffins, those drugs can change the genetic marks of the cell that allows tumor cells to become healthy again. Instead of killing the cancer cells, these therapeutic approaches restore the cell to its original form.
This promising new treatment can potentially be used in other diseases that are affected by aberrant Epigenetic marks, such as diabetes, asthma and Alzheimer’s.
Though studies in epigenetics are still premature, it has already endeavoured to provide answers to some questions of whether or not we can influence our epigenomes by using meditation, yoga, exercises and a healthy diet. Dr. Bruce Lipton in his book Biology of Belief says that cell behaviour is affected by our thoughts. He covers how the field of epigenetics is helping us understand how our thoughts can influence the chemistry of our body.
Dr. Daniel Stickler says that by eating healthier foods, exercising, avoiding stress, meditating, and sleeping well, we can potentially be the best version of ourself. By providing the best conditions possible to our body and mind, we can change epigenetic marks on our cells.
Dr. Bruce Lipton goes even further to say that our perception of the environment changes our genetic activity. In other words, our thoughts can manipulate our genes. Changing genetic marks are not done by just one thought, but by a repetition of thoughts and behaviours. If a behaviour happens frequently in the body, it becomes routine, and the body will start acting on its own automatically.
If aberrant Epigenetic marks are responsible for auto-immune diseases, cancer, tumours, and diabetes are created by stress and an unhealthy environment, would a healthy environment, free of stress, be able to create epigenetic marks that could potentially be beneficial to our body?
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