Now, in this very moment, what you are experiencing is the culmination of everything you have agreed to believe. Belief touches every part of life and guides the thoughts you think, the words you say, and the decisions you make.
What you believe affects, not only your perception, but your biology, your physiology, and even matter itself. Belief creates your personal reality: a unique worldview where often what is true, is true only for you. Belief is much more than what we think is true. Belief created your personal reality, a series of filters that you interpret the world through.
Often, the beliefs that hold us back are limiting agreements based in fear. When you are aware of your beliefs, you can live with clarity, authority and purpose. But when you are unaware of your deepest beliefs, they can keep you trapped in worry, regrets, emotional reaction, conflict with others and negative self-talk.
Agreements you made long ago, are in this moment, more powerful than you can imagine. Do you tell yourself, “I can’t”? Do you believe you will succumb to a disease because members of your family have? Do you believe health comes from without (such as from a pill), rather than from within your own body?
“Do you have more faith and belief in a spoonful of Medicine, than the power that animates the living Universe?”
Let me try to dispel some beliefs that hold so many people back, keep them sick and make them antagonists to their own health and well-being. Let me talk to you a bit about genetics and its role in your overall health.
Genes, genetics and DNA
Your genes are found within your cells, and they dictate how you inherit specific traits from your parents, grandparents, and so on down the line. They determine things like which part of you looks like your mother and which part resembles your father; whether you are predisposed to being overweight, near-sighted or to develop Alzheimer’s later in your life. Your genes are made up of DNA, which is the building blocks of protein and provides the hereditary material of which you are made. In other words, genes and DNA make up our genetics.
Over the past decades there has been an internationally collaborative research program known as the Human Genome Project (HGP). The HGP was able to map out all of the human genes, and thus gain a deeper understanding of how human beings function. As a collective these genes are known as the “genome.” The full genome sequence was completed and published in 2003.
It was once believed that our genetics dictated our health; that is, if one were genetically marked for something like a long life or cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure, as examples, then they were predisposed to succumbing to those diseases, for better or worse. However, that all changed with the discovery of the human genome and later epigenetics.
What is Epigenetics?
Epi means “above” and so epigenetics means “above” genetics or “on top of” the genetic code. It is the study of how modification or changes in gene expression changes living organisms and beings. Because of this field we now know that while our genes themselves remain unchanged, their expression is changeable via external modifications to DNA, which, in turn affects how cells read genes and can then turn those genes “on” or “off.” Epigenetics shows us that our genetic code merely presents us with our health potential; not an absolute dictate of events now or to come. So even if Alzheimer’s or autism or cancer runs in your family, such devastating diseases need not affect you specifically.
The epigenome is made up of markers (like a language) that tell genes how to act, how to express themselves, and how to change over time. While all cells in the body share the same DNA, they express themselves differently, some becoming bone, muscles, eyeballs, livers, toenails, tumors and so on. This happens because cells, tissues and organs have certain sets of genes that are “turned on” or expressed, as well as, other sets that are “turned off” or inhibited. The epigenetic markers, which are above the DNA, can be passed on from cell to cell as cells divide, and from one generation to the next. So changes you make to your epigenome can be passed along to the next generation, thereby potentially halting a disease that has run in the family for generations.
How much control do you really have over your own life in general, and your health in particular? These questions have puzzled many since the beginning of time. But, the study of epigenetics is offering some answers that put true control within your reach, and according to some scientists, changing your health may be as “simple” as changing your habits, thoughts and beliefs.
What this all means is that you are not controlled by your genetic makeup. Instead, your genetic readout (which genes are turned “on” and which are turned “off”) is primarily determined by your lifestyle, thoughts, attitudes, and perceptions!
Bad Genes, Bad Luck or Bad Lifestyle?
The major problem with believing the myth that your genes control your life is that you become a victim of your heredity. In this belief system, since you can’t change your genes, it essentially means that your life is predetermined, and therefore you have very little control over your health. The new science, however, reveals that you control your biology, and this places you in the driver’s seat, because if you can change your habits and your perceptions, you can shape and direct your own genetic readout.
This new science also reveals that you are in fact an extension of your environment, which includes everything from your thoughts and belief systems, to toxic exposures to chemicals and pollution or exposure to sunlight, exercise, and, of course, everything you choose to put onto and into your body.
How to change the epigenome to Change your Health
Because we now know that the behavior of our genes is not dictated by our DNA sequence alone, we have become empowered for change. In fact, many diseases and conditions—including obesity, heart disease, obesity, some cancers and autism (for example)—have already been linked in scientific studies to specific epigenetic or developmental epigenetic changes. “Some of these changes are genetic mutations that are passed along in families. Some are mutations that happen randomly or because of environmental factors. And some are epigenetic changes caused by physiologic and lifestyle factors.
We are now certain that not only do lifestyle factors and environmental toxins make us feel ill by way of a biological overload of toxins, alcohol, stress, sugars, drugs and so on, but these factors actually leave chemical markers on our DNA that change the epigenome. This is important because it tells us, beyond a doubt, that our environment (pollution, radon, overhead lighting, noise, stress), and our lifestyle choices (smoking, drug and alcohol use, consumption of genetically modified foods, chemical toxins) have a direct effect on how our genes express themselves.
So what you eat, what you drink, whether you smoke, whether you exercise, how long you sleep, if you harbor stress or negative emotions, what type of medication you take over what length of time, and so much more has a direct influence on the changing of your gene expression for the worse… or for the better. Therefore, dropping the weight, kicking that smoking habit, exercising, sleeping eight hours per night, reducing stress, eating organic whole foods and avoiding alcohol and sugar, taking nutritional supplements, can all change your genetic predisposition for obesity, inflammatory diseases and cancers by changing how our genes express themselves at the epigenetic level.
The more you do something that supports wellness, the more you are able to influence and create positive change in your own genetic expression, or turn off the genes for disease. The adverse is also true. So if you do have a biological predisposition to a specific diseases, then living in a way that negatively impacts your genes can trigger the markers that can switch on the bad genes and turn off the good ones. You see, if you are genetically marked for a disease, you need not trigger its potential by switching that gene on. You can, in fact, avoid its expression altogether by positively marking your epigenetic code with healthy lifestyle habits that support suppression of that gene expression.
Epigenetics has proven what natural wellness therapies have espoused all along: that the environment and your lifestyle choices affect your health. Having proven it, epigeneticists now know how this happens and are finding ways to direct research into areas that directly address to epigenome.
A Healthy Lifestyle Supports Healthy Genetic Expression
Did you get all of that? Isn’t it excellent news? You are in control of your genes … You can alter them for your lifetime and even your next generations lifetime, depending on the foods you eat, the air you breathe, the thoughts you think and how well you take care of the body you live in.
You can begin to do this on your own, long before you manifest a disease. By leading a healthy lifestyle, with high quality nutrition, exercise, limited exposure to toxins, regular Chiropractic care, and a positive mental attitude, you can encourage your genes to express positive, disease-fighting behaviors. This is what preventive medicine is all about.
What it’s not about, is taking any one particular nutrient or supplement to fix one specific “part” of your biological machinery. While I help my patients to balance hormones or fix a specific problem with nutritional supplementation and diet, once those issues are “fixed”, keeping the balance comes from continuing with a proper organic diet, support from a good multivitamin, drinking plenty of water, avoiding sugar, managing stress, getting good sleep and so on. Otherwise, they may return to the state of imbalance they originally presented with. The same is true of Chiropractic Care. Having your spine adjusted not only reduces pain and muscle spasm, it boosts immunity by stimulating production of t-killer cells. Better alignment (through Chiropractic adjustments) of your joints staves off inflammation and arthritis, and better posture actually improves your concentration, not just your sports performance. This is why I receive Chiropractic care on an on-going basis and recommend this same maintenance care to all my patients. The more people become willing to embrace this simple truth, the healthier everyone will get.
If you need help finding your way back to health or support in changing lifestyle choices so that you can live a healthier life, I am available to help you through Health and Lifestyle Coaching sessions, Weight Loss, Functional Medicine, Chiropractic & Acupuncture services which are all geared towards getting you well and keeping you that way for a lifetime! Just call (239) 243-8735.