Epigenetics: Be careful of pseudoscientific babble

Epigenetics is certainly one of the hottest topics in the field of medicine at the moment. And it’s an area that we at The Healthier Life are very excited about because it opens up so many possibilities that not only can help us explore how to age younger but give important clues to how we can live healthier and happier lives.

Despite all the positive and promising research in support of epigenetics, there are unfortunately some sources that are trying to turn this emerging field of medicine into something of a “genie in a bottle”. Some even claim that through the power of positive thinking you can halt diseases like diabetes and even cancer right in their tracks.

I’m the last one to dispel the benefits of cultivating a positive attitude, but to make claims like this is a bit irresponsible and it depletes the value of the very real science behind epigenetics.

The idea that environmental aspects or lifestyle choices (and changes) can possibly influence biochemical triggers that affect how our genes express themselves is fascinating. Several epigenetic studies have shown how a lack of sleep, eating sugary foods and being under constant stress can change epigenetic patterns, such as DNA methylation, which could impact our health and other crucial biological processes… but I don’t know about any epigenetic studies showing that mind power alone can change the course of disease.

For me, the science of epigenetics makes perfect sense and to take advantage of all its potential benefits the first step is to take control of your own health – and that in itself requires a change in attitude. And when you do so by making positive changes, the key is to stick to those changes and to stay consistent in all your efforts to live a longer and healthier life: sleep enough, avoid all forms of processed food (including refined and added sugars), follow a healthy and balanced diet (like the Mediterranean or Paleo diet), exercise regularly and keep your mind active.

As much as there is research showing that practicing mindfulness can benefit your health in numerous ways, sitting somewhere on a rock “thinking” yourself healthy won’t do you any good if you don’t do the groundwork… and stick to it.

To a healthier life,

Thomas Smith