Many people think their genes control their destiny. While we have no control over the genes we inherit, we CAN alter how those genes are read. And, how they are read, has a huge role in making us who we are.
The science of epigenetics has changed the way we look at the impact of how we live our lives on HOW WELL OUR LIVES ARE LIVED. The same applies to our pets. Watch this interesting PBS video for a better understanding of how very powerful we are in controlling our genes.
Our diet, lifestyle, and emotions can change how our genes are expressed and the diseases to which we are susceptible. These factors can directly and indirectly turn on and off the switches that control various chemical reactions in the body. The result is alterations in which genes are expressed and in how those genes are expressed – this is called epigenetics.
As an example, identical twins are born with the exact same genetic profile. At the time of birth, their genes are nearly identically expressed. However, as they grow older, their individual genetic characteristics (expression) begin to shift and diverge as the influence of epigenetic factors accumulates. In other words, the chemical tags that control their genes have been shown to change over time and they no longer have identical genetic expression!
This concept is important in understanding disease. For example, the silencing of critical genes can turn normal cells into cancer cells or normally functioning heart cells into malfunctioning heart cells. We have the potential to cure these diseases by changing the instructions given to the cells. By so doing, we can make cancer cells normal again and damaged heart cells function.
The bottom line. We inherit our genome, but are responsible for our epigenome. Our epigenome influences our health. Our epigenome, like our genes, are passed on to our children. While our children are unable to alter their genes, they can alter their genetic expression (epigenome) through diet, lifestyle, and emotions. Therefore, we have the power to interrupt generation after generation of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other conditions by changing how we live our lives. The same is true for our pets.