We send our body messages every day.
I'm not talking about those messages we generate when we look in the mirror and assess what we see — although those are certainly important to consider.
I'm talking about the information that we relay to the trillions of cells in our body (an estimated 37 trillion to be more precise) every time we make a lifestyle choice. Ever since scientists sequenced the human genome over a decade ago, they have been confirming an astonishing fact — the genes that shape our appearance, behavior, and well-being are not our destiny. Genes contain information that directs our cells how to behave - but only if the genes are "turned on". How and whether our genes express themselves is intimately linked with our environment and our behaviors.
The field of epigenetics studies how factors "above the genes" (epi = "above"), affect how genes get turned on. Research is revealing how traumatic events send messages that "tag" our genes and affect how they are expressed — and that those tags can get passed from one generation to another. The good news is, we can also create healthy genetic changes with our behavior. Meditation, for example, has been found to remove "tags" associated with inflammation, a known driver of biological aging and chronic disease.
The field of nutrigenomics studies how nutrition and naturally occurring compounds send messages to our genes. One type of message, called Nrf2 Activation, has generated a lot of excitement because this particular pathway turns on more than 500 genes that have been called "survival genes". These genes regulate processes that impact our ability to make our own antioxidants (to counter free radicals that damage our cells); reduce inflammation (that is linked to chronic disease and cellular aging); make more mitochondria (which provide energy for cells to do their work well); and deal with toxins (which can damage cells and cause disease).
These processes are so important to our health, that a 2015 study out of Washington State University named Nrf2 activation as possibly "the most extraordinary therapeutic and most extraordinary preventive breakthrough in the history of medicine." There are a number of nutritional and lifestyle factors that activate Nrf2, and it can also be activated by a daily supplement that I use and distribute called Protandim.
Tom Rath, well-known well-being expert and science author, has been a champion for spreading the word about how our daily choices affect our health. Rath has a rare genetic condition that causes him to easily generate cancer. Because of this condition, he has dedicated considerable time to studying the science of wellness and targeting the behaviors that reduce health risk. In his best-selling book, Eat Move Sleep, Rath promotes many of these behaviors. Not surprisingly, many of the common-sense health behaviors that our elders taught us now have solid scientific evidence behind them. Grandma was on the right track!
Our current environment is challenged with increased toxins — not just physical ones, but mental and emotional ones as well. As people committed to well-being, we must address this challenge from both sides — reducing the toxic messages to our bodies wherever possible and increasing the positive messages that optimize health and healing.
What about you? What strategies are you using to send your body healthy messages? Please share your wisdom in the comments below!
To learn more about how to use nutrigenomics to optimize your well-being, please check out my seminar: "A New Wave in Wellness"!