Science is a wonderful thing! Thanks to scientists, today we understand so much more about how our world works than we did 50 years ago, and our knowledge continues to grow at exponential rates.
Epigenetics is a fascinating field of biology (genetics specifically), which has implications for our health and that of our future generations. According to epigenetics, who we are as individuals is dependent on more than the DNA passed on to us by our parents and grandparents. Our environment and the impact it has on the DNA is of critical importance. So the nature-nurture debate continues with epigenetics.
The following is a definition of epigenetics provided by Rachael Rettner, a LiveScience Senior Writer (accessed March 22, 2014):
“Epigenetics literally means “above” or “on top of” genetics. It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes “on” or “off.” These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells “read” genes.”
We can’t do justice in explaining epigenetics! So, please read the following two excellent sources. In the first article, the author, Robert Lamb, does a great job of providing a simple, and interesting explanation of this complex field:
The following link is from the University of Utah, Health Sciences, and it is a comprehensive site that contains videos, articles and interactive ‘games’ for understanding epigenetics and the research in the field:
What’s the bottom line for living well?
- Physical activity
- Exposure to toxins
- Other behavioral factors related to socialization
The good news is that you have control over the above listed factors! You can influence your health and wellness (linked to your epigenomes) by eating well, being active, reducing your exposure to toxins (like smoking), and managing your stress.
In addition, your social environment is important. Create positive emotional health by building meaningful relationships around you. Keep in mind that you are also influencing the wellbeing of your children through the positive and loving environment you create for them.
What do you think of the findings in epigenetics? Please leave us your comments.