Our Genetic profile is a blueprint for our growth, development, health, talents, and esthetic looks.
We all know that our genes and chromosomes are given to us at birth, are in each of our cells for our lifetime, and are contributed to by each of our parents. Our Genetic profile is a blueprint for our growth, development, health, talents, esthetic looks for the rest of our lives. Until recently medical science taught us that our genes that determine our future health are unalterable…..that those of us will many ill ancestors may be doomed to a life with the same diseases our parents or grandparents had, and that we cannot change our genetic inheritance. Often the reality of a very ill ancestral tree, called a family history in medicine, caused people to give up on becoming healthy in the face of many genetic illnesses they feel are set in stone. However, that belief is not true! In the recent past the discovery of epigenetics, the study of turning on and off the genes in our genetic blueprint.
In other words, we have learned that our genetic blueprint is not unalterable, and we can improve or worsen our future health through lifestyle changes. Epigenetics is literally the study of how genes can be turned on and off through environmental methods.
You may have noticed that your doctors usually ask you about your family history of diabetes, heart disease, cancer etcetera. They ask because they want to know what your inherited risk of
Diseases, because of the diseases your ancestors had. This method of determining your future risk of disease is a rather “blunt instrument” and not at all reliable, but until when DNA was discovered, it was all we could measure inherited risk. I still ask these questions of my patients for a different reason. I want to know what genes they MAY have been given from their parents so that I can advise them on how to decrease their risk of getting what their genes may or may not predict! How can I be so bold? It is the new findings based on EPIGENETICS that tells me that changing our food, exercise, nutrition, where we work and live, and how we deal with stress and how we control our habits like smoking and drinking can turn off genes we have inherited that can make us sick. This study is one that can save us from our predetermined genetic disease and family history, by turning off “bad genes” to prevent getting the conditions that can make your life miserable and short.
So how does this work? Humans have 22,000 genes in each of their cells that are combinations of the genetic material handed down from our ancestors, but genes can be turned on or off by our living conditions…our lifestyles. This finding in medicine is new and not generally accepted by all of medical science even though it has been proven to be true. We have a genotype and a phenotype. We can alter our genetic code by altering the DNA itself and turning off bad genes, which alters how the genes are expressed. Our genotype is the basic genes we inherited, and our phenotype is how we look and how our metabolism works, which is basically our genotype altered by our environment. We can literally make ourselves sick or well if we start early enough to “improve” our God given genes, by turning off the bad ones and making them work for us!
My personal example of both how we have a chance to get the good genes from our ancestors or our back, I have genes that were given to me by my ancestors that direct me to be obese and have heart disease, yet I am at my ideal weight and my arteries are completely clean. What happened? I had parents who battled obesity all their lives and they cooked in a low carbohydrate way and we did not snack on junk, instead we ate nuts and fruit. When I was in control of my eating in college, I strayed from the way I had been taught and I ate what everyone else did and gained weight, my thyroid stopped working and I felt terrible. A brilliant family doctor in Kansas City Missouri in the late 1970s advised me how to eat—low carb, high protein, no junk or desserts, almost no alcohol, moderate caffeine, and fruit and veggie snacks only. I spent a summer cleansing my body and lost all the weight I had gained and was thin again! I literally turned my obesity gene off! I follow this routine today or I can turn my obesity gene on again, however now I have developed habits for a lifetime that don’t include bad food.
There are many genes that can be turned on or off by living in a healthy manner. When my patients present with a challenging family history, but no obvious problems yet, we discuss lifestyle changes that can help them avoid the future their genes have predicted. This is the time to alter habits and lifestyle…before the damage is done.
A general example of how this works: If a patient has heart disease and stroke on both sides of their family it is important that she change her lifestyle to turn off the genes for heart disease and stroke by exercising daily, replacing lost hormones at menopause and eating a whole food Mediterranean diet with nutritional supplements that prevent inflammation and reverse the deposition of plaque on her blood vessels.
For those of you who have chosen to get a 23 and Me genetic profile, it is the cheapest way to determine the “weak points” in your genetic profile. 23 and me lists the mutations that cause the diseases that you are genetically at risk for. In this way you can concentrate of turning off the genes you did inherit and ignore the diseases that you are not at risk for that may run in your family. …Knowing your genetic soft spots allows you to concentrate on the diseases YOU are at risk for. Knowledge is key to being healthy and 23andme is an inexpensive way of finding out.
If you have not spent the $99 to get your genetic profile from 23andme, then you won’t be able to narrow the field of disease you might get in the future. Family history takes a look at your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles as well as sisters and brothers to determine which diseases you are at risk for and take appropriate action. Family history does not give you the diseases you are at risk for, just a choice of diseases that you may be at risk for.
My own example of diseases I am at risk for was enlightening. 3 out of 4 of my grandparents had adult-onset diabetes, but I did not get the genes for AODM. I did get the gene for obesity, yet I have been overweight when my hormones stopped working but have never been obese. I credit this to the healthy diet my mother trained me on and all the supplements she gave me to help my diet along. She was way ahead of her time. Because I started early with cleaning up my diet and exercise program I could “turn off” the obesity gene!
I also have atherosclerotic heart disease throughout my family history, but I do not have the gene for heart disease. My Cardiologist checked my Cardiac Calcium score at age 47 and at age 63 and he found that my heart vessels were completely clear! My cholesterol has always been high but NO atherosclerotic heart disease! He chalked it up to replacing my estradiol and testosterone with non-oral pellets since I was 47. Hormone replacement given at the right time and the right form of hormone (bio-identical vs synthetic) can turn off the genes and prevent heart disease!
My patients are looking for a way to prevent disease, reverse the changes of aging and lengthen their health span by lowering their health “age”. They embrace the belief that they can change the predetermined blueprint that they have inherited by replacing hormones that are deficient, eating a healthy whole food Mediterranean Diet, regularly exercising, replacing nutrients with supplements, and avoiding alcohol, sugar and inactivity.
You may think this method of regaining health is what your mother told you a long time ago, and maybe it is, but I have the #1 secret weapon, bio-identical testosterone pellets and estradiol pellets which stimulate the epigenetic positive changes in your health. Mom didn’t know about hormones or exactly how her advice worked, but she had the right advice for me that could make positive epigenetic changes in my DNA and turn off bad genes but only if I listened to her!
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This Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert and Author. www.BioBalanceHealth.com (314) 993-0963