Are you ready for a DNA make-over that's guaranteed to help you get slimmer, stronger, happier and overall in great shape?
It's called Epigenetics, a cutting-edge new science that studies how our gene expression is influenced and changed by a whole host of factors--from diet, exercise, and mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation - to environmental factors and lifestyle modifications as well.
Epigenetics is known as the science of change. The word "epigenetic" literally means "in addition to changes in genetic sequence." Although the DNA code that we're born with may not change throughout our lifetime, new scientific research now shows that the way this code is expressed actually does--offering real opportunities to take charge of our health and overall wellbeing, positively impacting our ability to prevent illnesses and increase longevity.
We all know that exercise improves our health in so many ways-- by making us fitter, happier and boosting our immune system to prevent disease--but how exactly do our genes benefit from exercise?
For some time now scientists have known that gene expression directly responds to exercise by some genes becoming more active or a bit quieter, but until recently scientists were unsure how. However a recent study conducted by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm may have found the answer.
Our DNA is amazingly complex and dynamic, with gene expression constantly turning on or off as a direct response to the myriad of biochemical signals that are received from the body. As genes are turned on, they express proteins that prompt physiological responses elsewhere in the body. These Epigenetic changes occur through a process scientists call DNA Methylation.
DNA Methylation is an important epigenetic modification involved in the regulation of numerous biological processes. In DNA Methylation, newly formed methyl groups, comprised of carbon and hydrogen atom clusters cling to the exterior of a gene like microscopic barnacles on a ship's hull, making the gene more or less able to receive and respond to biochemical signals from the body, including signals sent while exercising or other biochemical responses to changes in the environment and lifestyle. Of course these changes in our genes can be both positive and negative.
Exercising and eating a healthy diet, for instance, is extremely supportive to positive gene expression, but being exposed to high levels of mental stress or environmental toxins on the other hand definitively is not, adversely affecting our health and risk for disease.
Using the latest technology in gene analysis, researchers at the Karolinska Institute found that even a small amount of regular daily exercise changes the fat storage levels of cells, which in turn affects epigenetic gene expression in many profound and diverse ways--including changes in more than 5,000 sites on the genome -- particularly in genes known to play a role in energy metabolism, insulin response, inflammation, and those linked to a heightened risk of developing obesity or diabetes.
For those unlucky enough to inherit unwanted or unhealthy DNA patterns, emerging new health techniques based on Epigenetic discoveries like this could reset not just your workout, but the expression of your DNA as well.
Leading edge scientists are rapidly shattering the dogma and proving false the notion that we are all stuck with the hand that the genetic cards have dealt us. In fact, we actually have a tremendous amount of control over how our genetic traits are expressed and quite literally have the ability to change this expression at any time in our lives.
Remember, not only does exercise, diet, environment and mindful living improve our overall health and wellbeing, but it also helps us express our best genetic selves, and getting started is as easy as getting our DNA in shape one workout at a time.
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