As we grow and develop, very specific chemical reactions activate and deactivate parts of our genome at strategic times and in specific locations, essentially turning our genes on and off. Epigenetics is the study of these processes and the factors that influence them.
So why care about epigenetics if it is only in your cells? What could you possibly do to affect your DNA? It turns out that what you eat, where you live, how you react, when you sleep, if you exercise, and even how you age can affect epigenetics. Depending on your behavior, chemical modifications can occur on your DNA that can turn genes on or off over time. These genetic modifications can help keep you healthy; or in certain diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, these modifications can cause specific genes to turn to an unhealthy state.
However, epigenetics is reversible. For example, someone who changes their unhealthy diet to a drastically healthier one will alter their epigenetics in a positive way. With an estimated 21,000 genes, the number of different combinations of genes being turned on or off is enormous. Once we are able to map every single cause and effect of each different combination, and then learn how to reverse a gene’s state to keep the good while eliminating the bad… think of the possibilities! We could theoretically cure cancer, slow aging, stop obesity, and so much more. Bottom line – pay attention to your decisions as to what you eat, where you live, how you behave, and where you go because these decisions can affect your DNA!