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How does Our Perception Affect Who We Are?

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Bruce Lipton, PhD says we perceive ourselves as an individual but in reality we are a community of over 50 trillion cells. When the leadership of these cells is not right, we get diseases, when it is good, we live in harmony. He says illness is NOT programmed into our genes but rather is how we perceive our environment.

How Food Affects Our Genes

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Epidemiologic studies suggest there are bad foods and good foods. BAD: red meat, processed meat, grilled meat, dairy, animal fat, partially hydrogenated fats. Good: Fish, fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains. The article goes on to say: “Foods with epigenetic effects include green tea, cruciferous vegetables, and grapes. Usually we hear about antioxidants and foods. Antioxidants are important but there are beneficial substances in foods called polyphenols which can affect genes. Of the polyphenols, different forms exist but flavonoids are the most highly cited for health benefits and are found in a variety of vegetables and fruits. Types of flavonoids include flavanols in tea, isothiocyanate in cruciferous vegetables, anthocyanidins in grapes and berries, flavonone in citrus fruits, flavonols in onions, isoflavones (genistein) in soy.” This is more confirmation of how important plant-based foods are for human development and health. The field that tries to form a link between epigenetic affects and diet items is called nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics is one of the main points of this BLOG.

DR OZ on OWN and Epigenetics

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Dr. OZ on Oprah’s new OWN network has been talking about epigenetics. He says: 1.5 million people were diagnosed with cancer and 600,000 died in 2010, in some cases up to 70% of all cancers can be prevented, he had a MD from Yale University that spoke about how some foods can prevent cancer 30% to 60% of the time. He listed the top 5 cancer fighting foods as tomatoes, carrots, oranges, strawberries and onions. He also said Soy and Salmon Protein gives cells power to fight diseases. It is becoming more evident in scientific and medical research that plant-based foods will help you stay healthy. We don’t need more pills with terrible side affects! Eat right and live long. Dr Oz states on his website: “While you can’t control which genes you pass on to your child, you do have some influence over which genes are expressed, affecting what features are seen in your baby (phenotype).  In fact, what you eat, breathe, and even feel can affect the long-term health of your child.”

Our Genes are Very Complex

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We are very complex creatures and the way our genes interact and function is very complex. Understanding our genetics and epigenetics is not easy. We have discussed that epigenetics works by using a chemical group called methyl. It is found in foods and is used to turn ON or OFF a gene or group of genes. Scientists have found three ways that epigenetics uses methyl to work:

1) RNA – RNA is a copy of one half side of a gene that exits the nucleus and in the outer cell is used to build a protein module. There are two types of RNA and depending on which one is selected at cell division determines if that gene is ON/OFF in the cell copy,

2) NUCLEOSOME – The Nucleosome is a structure used to package or bind our genes tightly so they fit inside the nucleus. Genes need to be unbound or unwound first before they can be replicated or used as RNA to build proteins. Histones do this job and in effect determine whether a gene or group of genes are ON/OFF at this time, and

3) DNA METHYLATION – Methyl groups can bind to the base of our DNA turning the associated gene OFF. Lack of the methylation turns it back ON. DNA methylation is easily copied during cell replication so not only does the DNA information get copied but epigenetic information does as well.

These 3 ways of manipulating epigenetics can work in unison and forms a very complex programming structure inside each cell of our bodies.

What do Baldness, Heart Failure and Cancer have in Common?

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Baldness and cancer are linked to Progenitor Cells, a kind of stem cell. Progenitor Cells are somewhere between a stem cell and a normal cell. Stem Cells have epigenetic markers unset so they are not a specific type of cell yet. Progenitor Cells have some epigenetic markers set but not all and can be quickly turned into a specific cell as needed. Another difference between the two is that Stem Cells can multiply indefinitely but Progenitor Cells have a limited number of reproductions. This is a very new area of research and is not well understood yet but Progenitor Cells are linked to both cancers, heart failures and to baldness. Some studies have shown that stroke patients with more endothelial progenitor cells had a better chance of avoiding repeat heart attacks. It was once felt baldness was due to a lack of Stem Cells. But recently scientists found men that have baldness have the same number as men without baldness. But the bald men have far fewer Progenitor Cells. Scientists are now looking for why these men’s stem cells stopped producing Progenitor Cells. Epigenetics is a powerful system at work inside each cell of our bodies. It is clearly affected by diet, stress, thought and environmental toxins. As these triggers reset our epigenetic codes, we move into possibly new areas of disease, mental illness and depression. It is imperative for us to both understand epigenetic triggers and to control them if we are to have a healthy and happy life style. Could we be witnessing the start of a new evolution from human into something else.

New Hereditary Mechanism – Epigenetics

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Dr Bruce Lipton, an American developmental biologist, said: “This new hereditary mechanism reveals how behavior and gene activity are controlled by an organism’s perceptions of its environment.  The fundamental difference between the old DNA genetic code and the new epigenetics is that the former notion endorses genetic determinism–the belief that genes predetermine and control our physiological and behavioral traits–while epigenetics recognizes that our perceptions of the environment, including our consciousness, actively control our genes. Through epigenetic mechanisms, applied consciousness can be used to shape our biology and make us masters of our own lives.”

Our Stem Cells Plan Their Future via Triggered Epigenetic Changes

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Stanford University Medical Center released a new development on stem cells on Wednesday December 15, 2010 called “Stanford study identifies multitude of genetic regions key to embryonic stem cell development.” This study shows that stem cells have areas of epigenetic triggers, called enhancers that will turn ON/OFF other genes in the cell. These areas are themselves turned OFF in a stem cell. As the cell moves into life it causes the epigenetic trigger necessary to turn ON these enhancers. They in turn causes other genes to be turned ON/OFF that will give the stem cell a type like muscle cell, heart cell, etc. The interesting part is these enhancers may be at a distance from the genes they control. This is similar to a computer program that sets internal switches while it is doing initial housekeeping preventing other parts of the program from running until housekeeping is completed. Once completed the switches are reset and the program can function normally. Programmers do this to prevent the routines from running prior to the complete setup of the program. This prevents errors and “bad” things from happening. Our cells seem to have similar safeguards. What do you think? Are we preprogrammed?

An Epigenetic Cartoon

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A short stop action film done for a school project shows how our DNA is wrapped around chromatin and then the chromatin is grouped into bundles that become a chromosome like the X chromosome in this film. Although two chromosomes are identical (identical twins) their epigenetics is different. This is another great example of a picture is worth a 1,000 words. What do you think?

Another Video on how epigenetics works