Is Our Health Determined By Our Genes?

Dr. Frank Lipman
Huffington Post

Your mom had breast cancer, dad had high blood pressure. Seems inevitable that you’re headed for both — or are you? Are bad genes really destiny or are they flexible, modifiable, even changeable? The answers — and the roadmap to a longer, healthier life — may lie in the ground-breaking new field of “epigenetics.”

What’s Epigenetics?

Epigenetics is the study of molecular mechanisms by which our environment controls our gene activity. Epigeneticists examine the factors and patterns that influence whether genes are turned on or off, are active or dormant. These patterns of gene expression are governed by the epigenome, which acts as a mechanism that tells your genes to switch on or off. The epigenome changes in response to signals. Signals come from inside the cell, from neighboring cells or from the outside world.

It is through the epigenome that environmental factors like diet, stress and prenatal nutrition can make an imprint on genes that pass from one generation to the next. Bottom line: While each of us inherits our own unique, hardwired, unchangeable version of the genetic code, epigenetic factors such as lifestyle and diet can radically change what our genes do.

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