What is epigenetics: A brief explanation

For anyone new to the science of epigenetics, this fast-developing field in medicine that is literally busting all the myths around how we can control the way we age, could sound like a very complex process. And to be honest it is, but the basic premise of epigentics is quite easy to get your head around.

So, to help you make sense of epigenetics, here’s a quick crash course in the biological and biochemical processes involved in genetics and epigenetics:

1. Cells are the fundamental working units of every human being. Their activities are programmed by DNA (what each cell does is determined by DNA).

2. Human DNA is made up of approximately 3 billion nucleotide bases, which are divided in four main types – adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. Within the 3 billion bases, there are about 20,000+ genes.

3. Genes are specific sequences of bases that give instructions (DNA programming) on how to make important proteins that trigger various biological actions and functions.

4. Epigenetics affects how genes are read by cells and this affects how they produce proteins.

5. Certain circumstances and factors in life can cause genes to be silenced or expressed over time. In other words, they can be turned off (becoming dormant) or turned on (becoming active). This on/off “switch” is controlled by epigenetics.

6. Epigenetics are influenced by what you eat, where you live, who you interact with, when you sleep and even how you exercise. All of these factors can cause chemical modifications that either switch genes on or off over time.

Some of these epigenetic changes can also be inherited. This means that the epigentics of your parents that were determined by how they lived, ate, slept and exercised for example can be passed onto to you.

7. The great news is that epigenetics can be reversed. This means that by triggering these genetic on/off “switches” you can potentially change the course of your health, your life and how well you age.

I know this all still sounds very technical, but an easier way to understand epigentics is to think of it as being a film director. Your cells and genes are the actors and by directing them (with the right environmental conditioning, healthy eating and regular exercise, to mention a few) you can literally change the course of your health for the better and rewrite the story of your life.

To a healthier life,

Thomas Smith