We are all aware of inheriting physical characteristics, allergic conditions and even the propensity to develop similar illnesses to our parents, but how many of us realise that those genetic traits can be switched off?
Epigenetics literally means the ‘control above genetics’ and it is one of the most exciting and promising frontiers of modern scientific research. The adage of nature (genetic makeup) versus nurture (human behaviour) assumes that only one side of the argument is correct. What if both nature AND nurture combined, are responsible for the multitude of differences exhibited by our family members and indeed, the whole of mankind.
Our bodies spend every moment of every day, reading sequences of codes within the DNA inside our cells, to produce new proteins. We are protein factories. The scheduling and frequency with which each of those proteins is produced, relies on the presence or absence of collaborating cellular chemicals. If a controlling chemical is changed, then the production of the corresponding protein can be sped up, doubled in quantity or even halted altogether. In other words, we can change the way our genetic code is used by altering our nutrition, emotional behaviour and our exposure to environmental toxins.
Think of it like this. Our parents donated code that combined to form a basic operating system which enabled us to be born. As we grow, our parents provide us with overlaying software in the form of nutrition and love. With each learned emotion, our bodies are flooded with neuropeptides that can alter the way that cells behave. Our food preferences also provide access to other chemicals which can modify the way in which our genes are expressed. Conversely, negative emotions, poor nutrition and contaminants can thus cause disadvantageous gene expression. It is becoming increasingly clear to scientists that these modifiers are also passed down to offspring along with each genetic blueprint.
At last a scientific community that believes we can be more than the sum of our DNA. A group of researchers who are determined to remove the root cause of disease rather than exploit the financial gain in cures. All we need now is for politicians to catch up with these advances and enable a healthier work-life balance for our whole society.
Until then, we will all have to rely on an apple a day and meditation apps to soothe the ill effects of road rage on the daily commute for the sixty hour working week.
Sam Nash is the author of the sci-fi conspiracy thriller, The Aurora Mandate. Release date TBA. You can find her at https://www.samnash.org or on Twitter.com@samnashauthor or Facebook.com/samnash.author