5 Things Affecting Your Genes You’ve Probably Never Thought About

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By Lilla Bessenyei

Many people seem to believe that the destiny of your health is written in your genes. More and more information is coming out to prove that you have the freedom of choice, including ow you “teach” your genes to express themselves.

Yes, believe it or not, your health is not a “genetic lottery.” Your DNA has an influence on your health, but that sums up around 10% of the whole picture.

Your environment and your lifestyle have a MUCH bigger impact on your overall well-being than you may have thought.

About two decades ago, scientists thought that if they collected enough knowledge about the human genome, they would be able to find the cure for every disease. After the Human Genome Project was finished though, they realized that there’s much more to discover. Yes, all of your features are written in your genes, but whether they’re active or not… that’’s a whole nother story.

Every single cell in your body holds your entire genetic roadmap, however, your body is made up of many different types of cells.

How can it be that your cells are all completely different from each other, yet all contain the same information?

The answer can be found in epigenetics – and the mission to explore the mechanisms of gene activation and inactivation. Your cells vary in their active and inactive gene sequences. Liver cells have distinct genes turned on and off while the skin cells do not.

At this point, you’re probably curious about what things have an influence on your DNA. Well, everything can have an impact on it, but I’ll list the top 5 most influential  factors for you here.

1. Diet

Needless to say, you are what you eat. The nutrients from your food can enter, manipulate and even modify your metabolic pathways. This includes gene activation and inactivation.

TIP: Eat more raw fruits, vegetables, nutrient dense foods and drink more fresh pressed juice (the greener the better). It’s that simple.

2. Sleep

Every human being has a built-in clock, which is called your circadian rhythm. This is controlled by various parts of the brain. The circadian clock controls copious physiological processes like hormone secretion, metabolic pathways, wake and sleep cycles, body temperature, blood pressure, etc.

Sleep is the part of the day when your body makes major recoveries. Your organism is able to repair damaged genes. If you don’t get enough quality sleep, you miss this process. Disrupting your circadian cycle can cause metabolic and cardiovascular diseases as well.

TIP: Get more quality sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours each night and try to go to bed by 10pm. The hours between 9pm and 12am are particularly valuable.

3. Your Mind

Besides the fact that you are what you eat, you are what you think as well. Both sides are equally important. Your mind can control, activate and deactivate your genes depending on your mood. Your genes respond to the meaning and the need.

When you see someone or something, hear good or bad news, talk or think, EVERY little act has an influence on your genes. Just think about the feeling you get when you see something beautiful in nature. Your mood is improving and your endorphin genes are activated. Or when a baby is born, the mother’s oxytocin genes are activated. These genes weren’t active until the need appeared.

TIP: Try to see the best in everything. Being positive will give you positive results.

4. Exercise

Physical activity is crucial for your health. It’s a powerful tool to turn on your good genes. Beside this, it also boosts your mitochondria.

A recent study claims that exercise can boost and modify those gene’s expression, which play important roles in insulin response, muscle inflammation and energy metabolism.

TIP: Move your body at least 20 minutes each day and increase as you get comfortable. Try new workouts and find something you like! Exercise should be fun so grab a friend and get movin’ together. Bonus is you can find something that gets you outside in the fresh air.

5. Stress

Stress is one of the biggest enemies of your immune system and optimal health. Scientists discovered that long term stress can lead to changes in behavior and metabolic pathways. Stress hormones, like cortisol, can modify gene expression in the brain.

TIP: Practice different stress relieving techniques until you find what works best for you. Meditation, exercise, deep breathing, talk therapy, music, dancing… there are so many modalities to help balance your body and leave you feeling calm and happy.

BONUS TIP: When it comes to weight management, Dr. Mark Hyman said it best: “If you want to fit into your jeans, you have to fit into your genes.” Honor what your body is telling you and set yourself up for success for the long-term.

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Lilla Bessenyei, Pharm.D.
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Lilla Bessenyei, Pharm.D.

Lilla Bessenyei is a pharmacist and writer. It has been through her own experience that she realized that health and happiness start with what you put in your body and mind - including your thoughts. She is an avid researchers and has learned a lot about health and medicine. In her studies, she found that cultivating healthy emotions were just as important (if not more so) as a healthy diet. She is a fitness junkie, enjoys the numerous benefits of a vegan diet and enjoys helping people discover true health and happiness.
Lilla Bessenyei, Pharm.D.
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