Epigenetics and the Influence of Our Genes

epigenetics, genes, generations

Written by Jordan

April 12, 2017

“Genetics load the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger.” Caldwell Esselstyn

Do our genes have an influence on our health?

You might have heard many people around you say, ’My Mum’s overweight, so that’s why I’m heavy too, it’s in my genes’ or ‘My dad had a heart attack at 45, so now I’m prone to heart disease too.’

Is this really what’s happening or is there something much bigger at stake? Let’s start off by looking at our genetics. Our cells are the working units of our bodies which receive instructions to carry out activities from our DNA, which is made up of over 3 billion nucleotide bases. Within the 3 billion bases, there are over 20,000 genes. Our genes are specific sequences of these bases that provide instructions within our bodies to make important proteins that carry out our bodily and life functions.

So what is epigenetics and what does it mean for us?

 ‘Epigenetics is a mechanism for regulating gene activity independent of DNA sequence that determines which genes are turned ‘on’ or ‘off’ either in a particular cell type, in different disease states or in response to a physiological stimulus’ 1.

epigenetics, switching off genesPut simply epigenetics affects how our genes are read by our cells. They can literally become dormant ‘turned off’, like flicking off an electricity switch, or become active ‘turned on’.

Certain circumstance in life can literally cause genes to be expressed or silenced over time. Our environment and lifestyle plays a massive role in effecting our genes. What you eat, where you live, who you interact with, when you sleep, how you exercise, your work and stress levels in your life.

All of these factors affect our genes, the relevant proteins that being made in our bodies, and how we perform and feel.  When the body is dramatically out of balance and in a ‘disease state’ such as cancer, Alzheimer’s heart disease or an auto immune disease, the genes will be switched into that  state that represents that particular disease in the body, and away from the natural healthy state.

Another analogy is to think of your body like a Christmas tree, and at a flick of a switch you might have flashing white lights, or a sequence of other colours.

In this insightful TEDx talk, Cortney Griffins provides an explanation about epigenetics, the importance of your environment, your diet and your emotional states and how we develop as human beings.


For example, our bodies have certain genes called tumour suppressor genes. The job of these genes is to protect cells from becoming cancerous. If they aren’t working effectively they are ‘turned off’ resulting in cancerous cells. Scientists are now making progress to reverse toxin epigenetic markers within the body and restoring cells to their original nature.

Genes play a part but in fact it’s how our genetic information interfaces with our environment that is vital. In other words, the choices that we make determine how our genetic story unfolds. Our choices really do matter.

The main factors that define how nature and nurture relate to one another are:

  • food and nutrition
  • hydration
  • relationships
  • stress
  • emotions
  • pollution and environmental influences
  • our upbringing
  • a purposeful and fulfilling life

You can positively influence your epigenome by eating healthier food, exercise daily, avoid stress factors etc.

This video also explains epigenetics in a nutshell,

Epigenetics ends the separation of mind and body and understands that there is an on-going subtle relationship where one is always influencing the other. What we are doing to our bodies is influencing our minds and what we are thinking in our minds is influencing our bodies.

Think well, eat well, and exercise daily, and your body won’t break down and need new parts.

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