Epigenetics is the study of how the environment, on many levels, influences all people and how this impact directly relates to the physical, emotional and mental states of wellbeing. In fact, 98% of all of our daily lives (the way that cells, tissues, organs, systems and person express daily) is impacted directly by the person’s epigenetic environment and nutrition!

Epigenetics and You

Why do some foods cause health problems and others make us healthy? How does stress impact our long-term well-being? Why is it that the older we get, the more likely it is that age-related illness will strike us? Unlocking the secrets behind these and other questions has the potential to revolutionize life as we know it. The emerging field of epigenetics is aiming to do just that.

The importance of nature versus nurture has long been disputed. It cannot be denied that environment greatly influences how a child grows and develops, nor can it be denied that our DNA is the blueprint that makes us who we are. Epigenetics merges these two seemingly contradictory lines of thought to explain how environmental factors cause physical modifications to DNA and its associated structures, which result in altered functions.

Genetics is changing the practice of healthcare.  Nutrients can reverse or change epigenetic phenomena such as DNA methylation and histone modifications, thereby modifying the expression of critical genes associated with physiologic and pathologic processes, including embryonic development, aging, and potential to cause disease. 

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Nutrition & the Epigenome

Unlike behavior or stress, diet is one of the more easily studied and better understood environmental factor in epigenetic change.

The nutrients we extract from food enter metabolic pathways where they are manipulated, modified, and molded into molecules the body can use. One such pathway is responsible for making methyl groups - important epigenetic tags that silence genes. For example, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain isothiocyanates, which are able to increase histone acetylation. Soy, on the other hand, is a source of the isoflavone genistein, which is thought to decrease DNA methylation in certain genes.  The polyphenol compound found in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate has many biological activities, including the inhibition of DNA methylation. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric (Curcuma longa), can have multiple effects on gene activation, because it inhibits DNA methylation but also modulates histone acetylation. 

Chemicals that enter our bodies can also affect the epigenome. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a compound used to make polycarbonate plastic. It is in many consumer products, including water bottles and tin cans. Controversial reports questioning the safety of BPA came out in 2008, prompting some manufacturers to stop using the chemical.

As we better understand the connections between diet and the epigenome, the opportunity arises for clinical applications. Just as mapping our gene variations gives us a window into our personalized medical needs, so might a profile of one's unique epigenome.  Epigenetic changes are involved in the development of many illnesses, including some cancers and neurological diseases. As cells become malignant, or cancerous, epigenetic modifications can deactivate tumour suppressor genes, which prevent excessive cell.  Because these epigenetic modifications are reversible, there is great interest in finding dietary sources that might undo these damaging changes and prevent the development of the tumor.

Formed through a lifetime of experiences beginning in the womb, our epigenome may provide a wealth of information about how to eat better. The future of nutrigenomics is where healthcare providers take a look at your methylation pattern and design a personalized nutrition plan.

We all know that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is healthy for our everyday life, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it might be much more important than that, having significant implications for our long-term health and life expectancy.

The science of hair analysis

The scientific basis of hair analysis is simple: when new hair cells are forming in the hair follicle, they take in traces of substances going through the blood stream of the individual. As hair grows, the new cells push out the older ones, and as cells come out of the bulb, they die and harden - and thus create a long lasting record of whatever was in the blood of the person when they were forming.

Besides the hair stand itself, the sebum that coats the hair (from the sebaceous gland connected to the hair follicle) also contains traces of the drugs and minerals flowing through your body. And if the root or the root sheath is attached to the hair, it also provides a DNA record.

Hair can thus keep a more long-lasting record of what passes through the body of an individual than either blood or urine – the body fluids which are usually used for such tests. Each hair lives about 5-6 years before it falls off the scalp.

The testing I provide for Hair Analysis is Cell-Wellbeing. Personal epigenetic indicators can be highlighted for any individual with only four strands of hair, using the Cell Wellbeing S-Drive system that returns a comprehensive ‘Optimized Wellness Nutritional Plan’.