Look closely at a well-tended farm, where you can see row after row of healthy crops growing. If the soil is fertile and weather conditions have been good, you see that almost every plant is strong and healthy. The farmer did not go and pull weak plants — those rows of almost perfect crops grew that way because conditions were ideal and the plants responded. The farmer focused on providing the best possible conditions, knowing that the plants would respond and the crop would be excellent if provided the right environment. Had the farm been plagued by drought or excess moisture, the results would be quite different. Environment almost exclusively drives the crop health.
We are in an environment and made of that environment. The environment is made of many factors including diet, lifestyle, chemicals, electromagnetic fields and emotions to name a few. We are always responding to the environment and we can choose to control that environment, but we tend to place blame on our genetics rather than understand that the environment that we produce is what makes us healthy or not healthy. We know that some genetic factors make a difference in how we develop. Genetics may make some people more prone to storing fat, but everyone can gain or lose weight depending on their diet and exercise levels. Genetics are the starting point, but there is a huge range of variation with all genetics which responds to the environment. That is because most of the genetic code is inactive, but can activate as the environment changes.
Epigenetics is probably not a word you use often. You probably don’t say, “I think I’ll take a brisk walk today to alter my epigenetic response to sugar utilization.” But epigenetics are a part of everyday life. “Epi” as a prefix can mean “on top of”, so epigenetics happen on top of genetics. They don’t replace the genetic code, but work through it. Your full DNA contains a lot more information than is currently being used.
Look at what happens to an ordinary few sentences when we only express parts of them. Take the sentences above: “We are in an environment and made of that environment. The environment is made of many factors including diet, lifestyle, chemicals, electromagnetic fields and emotions to name a few. We are always responding to the environment and we can choose to control that environment, but we tend to place blame on our genetics rather than understand that the environment that we produce is what makes us healthy or not healthy.” Now, let’s only use some of the words in the sentences, and ignore others:
- The environment is made to control our genetics.
- Our genetics is what makes us unhealthy.
- Chemicals control what makes us healthy.
- The environment is always responding to our genetics.
Nothing was taken out of order. Most of the words were ignored, and only a few used. By changing which words are used, we totally change the sentence meaning. If we allow the order of the words to be shifted as well, we can further change the meaning:
- We understand that our genetics is what makes a healthy environment.
- We understand we are not to blame but the blame is our genetics.
- We understand that the environment, not our genetics, makes us healthy or not healthy.
This is what is happening with your genetic expression: there is plenty of information there to get many different reactions from the same genes depending upon which code segments are made active. Our cells can turn off certain code segments, and if they need to go further, they can rearrange the segments to make even greater changes in their actions. Some expressions bear no resemblance to others, yet they come from the same code.
Have you ever had calluses develop when you use a portion of your hands excessively? Nobody thinks that they suddenly got new DNA that makes calluses — instead they realize that they got calluses because of their environment, and they will go away when no longer needed. How about tanning in response to sunlight? We could make an endless list of epigenetic expressions. Your individual DNA does set some hard limits — for instance, you may be fair skinned and only be able to tan modestly compared with your friends — but we all have very wide ranges of epigenetic expression within our DNA limits. What science has discovered is that the limits of your DNA are much broader than expected, and your cells can do almost anything you can imagine and then some. We overestimate genetics, and underestimate the epigenetics that are affecting you to a much greater extent.
Live long and prosper
As you spend years invoking certain genetic expressions, you tend to mark your body. For instance, years of excess weight can wear down your joints and put strain on various organs. While you can always improve your health at any stage in life, the earlier you start, the better. You are building daily upon your existing foundation, which you have invested in over the years. Hopefully this encourages you to take wherever condition you find yourself in today and build a better foundation for your future. Epigenetics means you can “turn on a dime” and quickly change your cell function by changing your cellular environment, because cells have the ability to adjust very quickly as they rearrange their code.
As we age, we wonder if we will be affected by memory loss and cognitive problems. We sometimes see our older loved ones going through cognitive decline, and chalk it up to old age. Again, we forget the powerful effects of epigenetics. We can stave off many of the problems that typically occur with older age with a good lifestyle. Unfortunately, we are seeing the opposite occur all too often, with cognitive decline even showing up for some people in their 50’s, as the typical American lifestyle degenerates.
Published in PLOS Medicine, researchers at Duke Kunshan University in Jiangsu, China studied an extremely aged population group (ages 80 to 113) of 6,160 participants. Typical of the medical community which expects genetics to be a primary factor, they were looking for the impact of a particular gene known as “apolipoprotein E (APOE) ?4″, long considered to be a risk factor for cognitive impairment in older adults. And they did confirm that presence of this gene suggested a 17% increased risk of cognitive impairment. But the study compared those with an unhealthy lifestyle to those in the study group with good body weight, plenty of physical activity, and a good diet and found that the healthy lifestyle lowered the change of cognitive impairment by 28%, regardless of the APOE genetics. They found that a healthy lifestyle was the dominant driver of cognitive health, regardless of genetics.
This study showed a 17% genetic impact. Other studies show a similar percentage genetic impact. A historical data study published in The Journals of Gerontology of 53,003 Alpine dwellers isolated a 15% genetic correlation. A large database study of 86 million publicly available profiles published in ScienceMag also suggested 15% impact. That leaves about 85% to other factors, and all of the other factors can be summed up as “the environment.” Your mental and physical environment is driving your development as you grow and your stability as you age.
Let’s consider the future and look at longevity. We want to live longer and better. To do so, we have to pay attention to today so we can make a better tomorrow.
Look closer at the sentences we rearranged. Notice that they still follow certain rules that make a proper sentence. I could rearrange the last sentence words to say, “that environment blame healthy understand not that.” That’s just meaningless. Epigenetics does not scramble the DNA code: it rearranges segments based on certain rules. This makes epigenetic reactions largely predictable, such as cancer cells developing resistance to chemotherapy. The epigenetic rearrangement rules limit how many ways the epigenetic expressions can occur, just as there are limited rearrangements you can make from a sentence while still getting a grammatically correct result. Eventually the cancer will find the right rearrangement to resist the drugs, as it tries combination after combination to discover what works, while following the “rules” as it does so.
Epigenetics can work to your advantage. Get more exercise, and you get stronger. Take any positive health step, and your body responds positively and predictably. We can say with confidence, regardless of your genes, that you will lose weight if you make certain dietary changes, because we know how your cells will react over time. Just as we can predict the progression of disease cells, we can predict the reaction of healthy cells. A program of progressively improving your cellular environment will have predictable outcomes of health — regardless of your genetics. If you are experiencing health challenges, it’s time to change your internal environment, and the predictable adjustments of epigenetics will follow. If you want longevity, if you want a future of good health, and if you also want to feel better now, start today.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Did you understand the PLOS study? Let me restate it: even though this gene causes a 17% increased risk of cognitive impairment, those with good body weight, plenty of physical activity, and a good diet lowered the change of cognitive impairment by 28%, regardless of the APOE genetics. If they had the gene or did not have the gene it did not matter — the healthy lifestyle was the dominant driver of cognitive health, regardless of genetics. This is saying what you do is more important than your genes. Look at the genes just as a foundation of a house, but you can build any house you want. You can make a house of strong brick to resist the wind, or you can build one of cardboard which will blow away because you did not spend any time building properly a house that would last. So your foundation does not define you or your health. When the doctor says that you have cancer don’t think you have a bad foundation, but instead think that you have not spent the time to build a strong and enduring house. The beauty is that every cell in your body is constantly being renewed and if you decide to build a stronger house (and put the energy and effort into it) then this can be achieved. The house is your cell and if you invest in proper diet, exercise, sleep and being still, listening to who you ARE not to who you appear to be, you can change any outcome.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.