I had breakfast with an 80-year-old man this morning. He was a biochemist in an earlier life. He had both his hip joints replaced not long ago. He told me his father also had worn out hip joints, but that surgery wasn’t available way back then.
I asked him what he thought caused it. He told me it was genetic. He expected to get it. I asked a few more questions and soon became aware I was not connecting with him. He felt he had inherited his father’s predisposition and there was no other reason.
Each of us has the DNA given to us by our parents. It is the map for our future. Think of your genes as your hardware. You have control of 95% of what your genes can do. Your lifestyle choices can alter between 4,000 to 5,000 different gene activities. The software to operate your body is a bit different – not as fixed as you might think.
Genes can be turned on and off by chemicals containing methyl groups. This methylation process can activate or shut down a gene’s potential function. Your DNA wraps around a protein, a histone. The tightness of this wrapping allows access for the methyl groups to attach to your genes.
The methyl groups and histone wrapping control your genes – the software, so to speak. If a histone wraps your DNA tightly, the methyl group cannot access a gene to turn it on or off. You have control over the software operating your genes.
This has been proven in many studies with identical twins separated at birth. Your lifestyle choices affect the software that runs your future health. One twin might develop mental disorders, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer rheumatoid arthritis and the other may not.
Diet, sleep and exercise regulate methyl groups. Your thoughts, relationships and stress can also modulate methyl groups. Your lifestyle choices can turn on or off genes that affect your health. These modified genes become the basis of your children’s and their children’s future health.