What Is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is derived from the greek word ‘epi’ which means outside of, or above/on. So while Genetics refers to the gene sequence, or DNA code, Epigenetics refers to all the external factors that influence how and when each gene is expressed.
In the broadest sense, this refers to our environment and lifestyle – our climate, our stress levels, the foods we eat or the exercise we do all these have the potential to effect the expression of our genes, and our ultimate health.
In it’s most specific context, it refers to functionally relevant changes to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence – such as DNA methylation and histone modification, each of which alters how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence or genetic code.
In other language, your DNA doesn’t change in it’s code, however some genes turn on, and others turn off depending on the environment. For example, when you train in the gym, your muscles get stronger. Your DNA of your muscle tissue is the same, but certain DNA is now turned on to create muscle growth. When you stop training, these genes turn off, and so your muscle stops growing or getting stronger. The environment is what shapes your DNA and how it functions.
Why Is It Important?
One of the most important discoveries of modern science is that we now know that
“our genes don’t determine our future”
– if we can harness the power of our epigenetic influences then we have the potential to control the future of our health.
This concept has led to the Epigenome Project and thousands of international studies that are providing exponential insight into correlations between our environment and lifestyle and our health or disease experience.
How can you measure or quantify Epigenetics?
The concept of harnessing Epigenetics refers to the discovery of which environmental and lifestyle factors will optimally influence your gene expression – or switch your ‘good’ genes on and your ‘bad’ genes off. This is often realised through forced trial and error by individuals with unsuccessful management of chronic health issues, or even in those proactive about their health looking to avoid disease.
There are now some advanced personalised health tools starting to emerge in the marketplace that are able to quantify your phenotype, which is a measure of your genes once they are expressed – simply put, how you look and feel. ph360.me is the world’s first personal health app that quantifies your gene expression and provides insight into the epigenetic factors that can influence your optimal health and wellness.