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Will Science Find Cures or More Drugs?

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The science of epigenetics has two parts:

1) Understanding the methylation process down – studying the types of methylation and understanding which genes are turned ON/OFF. Then associating that gene with a disease or disorder. This is an important step in finding how triggering our genes affects us as humans.

2) Looking upward from methylation to better understand which external environment signals caused it. Was it caused by diet, stress, toxins, or some other environmental influence. This is critical to solving the problem of disease and illness.

Most of the scientific studies I have read are focused on the first and look to build a drug to trigger the gene. The second has the promise of curing the illness by changing our environment. There is a real danger in building drugs that trigger epigenetic responses. The system is vastly complex and probably is based on a series or group of epigenetic triggers. The second above, gets at the heart of what is wrong with our society and has a free solution that involves only our free will.

I urge the scientists to look both ways and try to really solve the puzzle from cause to effect. Nutrigenomics is doing this and I applaud all the scientists involved in that study. What do you think?

Are You a good Mother?

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Anne Hart wrote “How to Talk About Smart Foods”. She defines Genomics as a branch of genetics that researches genomes. “Nutrigenomics studies the relationships and interactions between nutrition and genomics. Epigenetics and nutrigenomics work together to help find the smart foods that are healthier for your body so that you can tailor healthier foods to your body’s metabolic and genetic type.” She also defines Smart Foods as “Smart foods are foods you select that work healthier with your individual genetic signature, genetic expression, and body type that is the metabolic and molecular way your body is put together that you inherited. The science is in its infancy. Smart foods include most plant-based foods and certain fish or seafood-derived oils, green tea, and some plant-based food extracts and monounsaturated oils.” We have spoken about nutrigenomics a lot in this BLOG. Each time I search for more information, I keep finding references to plant-based foods as being good for you. Smart foods, essential needed for a healthy life and well-being. I guess my grandmother and mother were right. “Eat Your Vegetables”. It is that simple, eat more fruit and vegetables. They will make a difference. We see our society eating less and less plant-based foods and at the same time disease is rampant, health care is breaking down and we are building more and more hospitals. This is not the answer nor is a magic pill. Do your self a favor; adjust your diet to include mostly plant-based foods. Experiment with different types. Experiment with different ways of cooking them. Enjoy eating and enjoy your health and life.

Is Stress Bringing You Closer to Death’s Doorway?

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We have been talking about the influences of diet on your epigenetics and how it can affect your health and well-being. Diet is just one factor. The university of Utah says “The genome dynamically responds to the environment. Stress, diet, behavior, toxins and other factors activate chemical switches that regulate gene expression.” We have all been aware that being exposed to toxins can be bad for your health. Today let’s talk a little about stress. Our modern society puts us all in stress’ path. Our work environments are stressful. In tough financial times like these there are less in the labor force to do more work. This is very stressful. Our children can be stressful. Our marriages can be stressful. Divorce is stressful. Loosing a child in any way is stressful. Loosing a friend or family member is stressful. As we age more people we know die. This is stressful and reminds us of our mortality. Getting sick or being told we have a short time to live is very stressful. Without a doubt we all have more stress than early man and woman had.

The American Psychiatric Association annual meeting, scientists spoke of a link between epigenetics and depression. They said, significant stress can influence epigenetics. Dr. Gavin is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago-College of Medicine. He completed his residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he participated in the Adult Psychiatry Neuroscience Research Track. He is currently a research assistant professor at the Psychiatric Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Gavin’s research utilizes clinical and basic cellular models to uncover epigenetic abnormalities in schizophrenia. Epigenetics is the study of the environmentally modifiable and often heritable means by which genes are regulated. Examples of these mechanisms include histone modifications and DNA methylation. His current project attempts to discover whether abnormalities exist in DNA de-methylation in schizophrenia postmortem brain samples.

Stress, like diet, is a key to our health and well-being. We all need to take steps toward better diets and less stressful environments. Find a yoga class or practice meditation to lower your stress. It may extend your life. It certainly will give you a better quality of life.

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