Nutrigenomics: The Impact of Non-Genetic Inheritance
There is no doubt or lack of research stating that genes impact our health. We realize now that genes are heavily influenced by environmental and dietary factors. These genes are referred to as non-genetic inheritance.
Genes & Their Environment
Health care is evolving from treatment-based to preventive-based. With this, understanding genetics and an individual’s genomes is highly essential as many chronic health conditions can be reduced or prevented with an adjustment to their diet. Our genes undergo specific changes based on what we experience. Our day to day factors such as stress, diet, and exercise can all alter the expression of genes. This is one theory that is being explored as a driving force in human evolution. As the environment changes around us and the dietary components we consume continue to become more genetically modified and less related to the foods our ancestors ate, we are seeing a gradual increase in disease.
This observation should not be taken lightly as we are uncovering the research and knowledge to make a difference in us and our future generations. The first epigenetic changes that increase our susceptibility to certain chronic diseases begin in the womb. A mother’s diet is directly correlated to the childs risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, heart disease due to obesity, and insulin resistance.
Not only in-utero but throughout life scientists are observing DNA methylation and its connection to environmental factors and triggers. Many of these changes that trigger genetic expression have the ability to be controlled by evaluating our environment. Researchers used to believe that genes were set in stone from the moment of conception, but now are realizing that genes provide an overall plan, but the pathway is modified by the environment.
For more information regarding genetics and diet interactions, see below research article:
“Nutritional genomics holds the promise to revolutionize both clinical and public health nutrition practice and facilitate the establishment of (a) genome-informed nutrient and food-based dietary guidelines for disease prevention and healthful aging, (b) individualized medical nutrition therapy for disease management, and (c) better targeted public health nutrition interventions (including micronutrient fortification and supplementation) that maximize benefit and minimize adverse outcomes within genetically diverse human populations. ” -Stover PJ
Genes & Disease Prevention
It is still clear that genetic predisposition enhances the chance of an individual developing cancer if they inherit those genes, but it should be heavily noted that the percentage of the individual actually developing that cancer is determined by lifestyle factors like nutrition, stress, and if they smoke. If an individual eats food that has been genetically modified, indulges in excessive alcohol consumption, smokes, and does not exercise regularly, their percentages of developing cancer and expressing that gene is significantly higher. We have the technology and the capability to assess what foods and environmental factors positively or negatively impact your genes based on the specific gene you have.
An example of a report from DNA Life below shows the genetic markers looked at:
Genes & The Central Nervous System
The central nervous system is one of the most complex systems in the body. When damaged, it is the responsibility of the central nervous system to respond by coordinating a healing process. With this, the body undergoes inflammation, headaches, and more.
The central nervous system is responsible for more than sending signals to the brain and controlling other bodily functions. In fact, the central nervous system is involved in many chronic health conditions as it is responsible for responding to abnormal information and inflammation. The central nervous system is a key player in keeping the body at homeostasis.
It is important to note that our genetic material is combined into 23 pairs of chromosomes. The section of a chromosome that assembles a protein (made from amino acids) is a gene. Genes have nucleotide bases and these bases/combinations are what create our DNA. When there is damage to a base the DNA becomes altered. Damage to a base and DNA can occur with exposure to radiation, free radicals, and chemicals. Understanding the chemicals and sensitivities you have is a key aspect in removing these toxins to create better DNA methylation.
When restoring the optimal function of DNA methylation the first thing you need to remove is stress. Stress increases the methylation cycle which is not always good. When stress is increased, so is the body’s utilization of B12 and methyl folate. Additionally, with increased stress, you are creating neurotransmitters which require SAMe production. For the breakdown of these neurotransmitters, you require more methyl folate. It creates a constant loop that creates blockages in the methylation process.
When the human body senses that we are safe and relaxed, our cells and body promote growth and proper maintenance. However, when under copious amounts of stress our body becomes protective and acts out of defense and survival mode. This causes our body to look for sources of energy in other places and put maintenance of the body on hold, eventually leading to increased inflammation, dysfunction, and ultimately disease.
Genes & Physical Medicine/ Chiropractic
When visiting a chiropractor, many come due to pain. Pain is a signal that is sent to the brain via the nervous system. The first source of pain beings at the receptor. The receptor is usually connected to a source of inflammation. Next, the receptor passes the signal to an afferent neuron. A primary afferent neuron is influenced genetically. Third, a synapse is a small gap between the first afferent neuron and the one the signal will be transported to. Next, the second afferent neuron brings the signal to the brain to announce “pain”.
Sensitivity to pain is impacted by norepinephrine making the pain we feel more sensitive or strong. Genetic differences in each individual are connected to pain and the electrical threshold our neurons possess. Those who suffer from more inflammation brought on by diet and environmental factors, tend to have more pain and chronic health conditions.
A detailed explanation relating human genes to chiropractic care can be seen below:
Genes, Inflammation & Chronic Health Conditions
Inflammation is the driving force behind many health conditions. We can see that when inflammation is elevated in the body the systems begin to misfire and chaos begins to arise. An example of this can be seen with food sensitivities. When you ingest food, the protein is not always seen as good. When this happens our body misidentifies this protein and builds up antigens to it, as if it were a virus. Every time this food is eaten from there on out, these antigens attack releasing more and more inflammation markers. Eventually, you build up a sensitivity to this food.
When this begins to happen frequently we notice a relationship with the gut. The gut is comprised of tight junctions who allow food and nutrients in or out to the bloodstream. These tight junctions become inflamed with food sensitivities and the regulation of molecules in and out of the gut becomes a free-for-all. With this, inflammation is now being triggered all over the body causing bowel discomforts, bloating, headaches, trouble sleeping, joint pain, fatigue, and more.
This relates back to inflammation-causing excess stress on the body. As previously mentioned, excess stress is not good for genetic expression and negatively impacts these factors, increasing our risk for disease.
At our clinic, we check patients’ inflammation and food sensitivities with diagnostic lab tests. A specific example of the food sensitivity profile we use from Vibrant Wellness along with a GI Effects Sample Lab by Genova revealing inflammation markers can be found below:
Everything we do impacts our health for the future. Preventative medicine is where the future is heading and we have the opportunity to enhance our genes to better benefit us. Every morning when you wake up, it starts with what we put in our mouths. In simple terms, from the kitchen to the genes, it is all connected. Our cells and systems are working together and extremely fast all the time. Being cautious of our surroundings and ingredients is how to positively impact your genetic coding for the future. Start by reducing stress to influence proper methylation, having regular chiropractic adjustments to calm inflammation and ensure the central nervous system is properly functioning, removing additional toxins by switching to organic grass-fed foods and natural cleaning products, and feeding your genes.
Our genes and their expressions are so important. Feeding your body and your genes the nutrition they need makes a huge impact on overall health. A great way to start your day off right is by bringing it back to the kitchen. A smoothie for breakfast has the potential to shift your genes in the right direction and provide the proper fuel your body needs for disease prevention and reduced inflammation. My son was born early via c-section, now almost 2 years old, and has struggled with his microbiome ever since. To properly feed his genes and microbiome and give his gut the best fighting chance, I make a smoothie for both of us every morning. Our smoothies vary but always include a pre-biotic, a pro-biotic, a vegetable (spinach and carrots are my favorite flavor enhancers), flax seeds, greek yogurt, and a combination of fruit (strawberries and bananas are a fan favorite). This fuels our brains, our gut, our genes, and reduces inflammation in our systems. It is never too early nor too late to start positively impacting your genes. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Stover PJ, Caudill MA. Genetic and epigenetic contributions to human nutrition and health: managing genome-diet interactions. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(9):1480‐1487. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.06.430
Wassung, Keith. “Human Genetic Potential and Chiropractic .” Vortala.com, 0AD, cdn.vortala.com/childsites/uploads/1819/files/HUMAN-GENETIC-POTENTIAL-AND-CHIROPRACTIC.pdf.
Chirotrust. “Chiropractic and Pain Science, Genetics, and Physiology .” Chiro, 4 May 2017, chiro-trust.org/advanced/chiropractic-pain-science-genetics-physiology/.
Lipton, Bruce H. “Mind over Genes: the New Biology – LivingNow Magazine Australia.” LivingNow Magazine, 16 Dec. 2016, livingnow.com.au/mind-over-genes-new-biology/.