21 Nov Understanding Epigenetics and the role it plays in your health?
Ready to get your science geek on? It’s time!
For years we’ve been taught that you can’t change your DNA. Until recently studies have begun to show a very different story. In the last ten years, scientists have been studying what is known as epigenetics. You may be asking what epigenetics is? Here’s a simplified definition. The website “What Is Epigenetics” states; that Epigenetics is the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off.
To further explain, an analogy might be if you think of the human lifespan as a very long movie. The cells would be the actors and actresses, essential units that make up the film. DNA would be the script-instructions for all the actors to perform their roles. Subsequently, the DNA sequence would be the words on the script, and individual blocks of these words that instruct key actions or events to take place would be the genes. The concept of genetics would be like screenwriting. So, the idea of epigenetics, then, would be like directing. The script can be the same, but the director can choose to eliminate or tweak certain scenes or dialogue, altering the movie for better or worse.
Epigenetics, essentially, affects how genes are read by cells, and subsequently how they produce proteins.
Certain circumstances 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). The most important things for us to know is; our genes are influenced by what we eat, where we live, who we interact with, do you get enough sleep, how much stress do you have in your life, how much exercise are you getting and even aging. All of these cause chemical modifications around the genes that will turn those genes on or off over time, either switching them into a normal healthy state or into an environment for disease.
After much research and once I understood what epigenetics is and the importance of taking care of myself, my life began to change. I started looking at what kind of foods I was eating, was I getting enough sleep, how much stress I was feeling in my life and how much exercise was I getting?
I am here to help you on your journey to living a healthier life free of disease and today I want to share with you some great ways that I have learned to reduce my stress.
5 great ways to reduce your stress.
- Exercise / Movement – Exercise or just moving your body everyday helps boosts your sense of well-being, self-confidence, lowers symptoms of mild depression and anxiety, improves your sleep and improve your overall mood. Take your dog for a walk around the block. Set a timer on your phone for a few times a day and take a dance break at your desk (this is a great stress reliever). Whatever feels good and easy to you. If you are setting goals to high to achieve than you are defeating the point of reducing your stress.
- Essential oils used in Aromatherapy – Aromatherapy has been shown to relieve symptoms of stress when used regularly. Essential oils improve both our mental perception and our physiological response to stress. If you need an emotional boost aromatherapy relieves, irritability, nervousness, reduces anxiety and feelings of sadness, negative thoughts and fatigue. When diffused or used topically aromatherapy can improve our mood and help us sleep better.
- Laughter /Spending time with Family and Friends/ Your pet. -Laughter improves your health and draws people together which can trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, reduces stress, rebalances the nervous system, boosts your immune system, inspires hopes, connects you to others, keeps you grounded and even adds years to your life. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow and diffuses anger. There is a reason that the video of the guy falling on a banana peel went viral. Overall, laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides.
- Learn to say No -Learning to say “no” is an essential for our health and well-being. People asks us every day for things, our time, our energy, our attention, our praise, our agreement and our advice but when is it ok to say “NO?” How many times do you say “yes” when you have so many other things you need to do? I know it is hard to say no sometimes, but I like to say if it isn’t a “HELL YES”, then it is a “HELL NO”. Saying no to others means saying “yes” to yourself. Saying “no” gives control back to you, you’re driving the car, your making decisions about what’s best for you and best of all you’ll have more time to have more fun and do the things that are important to you.
- Mindfulness – Deep Breathing/Meditation/Progressive relaxation/Massage/Soothing Music- What do all of these practices have in common? They are all ways for you to experience a relaxed state of being. Each practice can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance which benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Doing one or more of these practices, can help you gain a new perspective on stressful situations and help you manage your stress, increase your self-awareness, keep you focused on the present, reduce negative emotions, increase imagination, creativity, patience and tolerance. The health benefits include, reducing anxiety, chronic pain, depression, high blood pressure, sleep problems and tension headaches.
I am offering a free “Are you ready to let it all go?” 5 day challenge in my private Facebook group Living a Fulfilled Life starting Sunday Dec 3rd. I invite you to join me for the challenge! We will be diving more into letting stress go. At the same time I will walk you through the process of how to discover other factors that are holding you back.
** More information about epigenetics can be found here.