In this interview Kate Forbes and I speak about epigenetics and how the environment can affect our epigenetics and ultimately our health.
Kate is a naturopathic lifestyle coach and part of the work she does with her clients is to explore how environmental factors may be impacting on the body’s ability to restore itself back to good health. In this episode, Kate brings her understanding and experience around genetics, diet and the microbiome and explains simply the role of epigenetics in our health outcomes.
What is epigenetics and why should we want to understand more?
- It’s great to start here because this is the root of our health, individuality, our uniqueness and importantly understanding what our genes are and how they express.
- It’s important to know that we are not coming from the old model of biology anymore where the gene is the brain of the cell and tells the body what to do. Whilst there are certainly illnesses around the expression of genes or silenced genes but it’s also the epigenetics, the environment that the gene is in that causes it to express or be silenced.
- The food we eat, the waste we eliminate, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the thoughts we think may all influence our epigenetic environment.
- The implications of this is that we’re no longer stuck with this blueprint that cannot be changed.
- Epigenetics means that whatever we’ve done to day-to-day to get us into the conditions of disease, we can radically alter these conditions and therefore influence our genes to express differently.
Further note to concept of epigenetics not covered in interview:
Research has shown that genes can be switched on our off by several chemical pathways. This does not change the actual sequence of our DNA but the signals created by the environment may result in epigenetic modifications and these modifications can lead the genes to alter their expression. Some of these expressions may be temporary but others may be more permanent. We also know that this is also part of the mechanism in the manifestation of disease.
How does epigenetics influence our genes?
- Let’s take toxic waste – if we don’t eliminate regularly, we are going to have toxic waste build up in our system and that’s going to give signals to your body and the body will respond to these signals. If the detoxification pathway is for example being blocked or overloaded, it’s going to create a different environment within the body than if that pathway is working well.
- This in turn will affect the genetic expression which then impacts on how well our cells function.
- The gene is not the brain of the cell, the mitochondria are. The mitochondria are responsible for creating energy and we want these mitochondria to work optimally. Nutrients from the food we eat will affect how well these mitochondria are able to function.
What things can we do today that will have the most positive impact on our epigenetics?
- We need to look at the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the thoughts we think and the waste we eliminate as therein will lie the clues as to what (if any) changes we need to make to improve our epigenetic environment.
- So what is important is for example, to be having a bowel movement everyday and teaching our children to do so as well; drinking clean high quality water; dense bionutrition – as organic as possible, as free from preservatives as possible, a little processed foods and as fresh as possible, and if you can tolerate to ensure you’re getting green leafy vegetables in etc. These are the little easy changes that can be made.
- And as soon as within 3 weeks of making these changes, vitality improves, clarity of mind improves.
- When it comes to the air we breathe, unfortunately that’s been compromised. It’s compromised by pollution (eg. fuels, sprays, smoke, chemicals) and now with all the sterilizing and sprays being used as well. This is compromising our microbes, it’s causing anaerobic bacteria to grow, so we want to make sure we bring in a support. For example, activated oxygen (liquid drops), walk in nature, bringing plants into our environments that we work and live in to help clean our air. And we want to clean our air as naturally as possible, not only for our world but also to help the world.
- And the most important is grounding – taking your shoes off and walking outside and making sure that every day, you defrag. This means getting rid of all the electromagnetic smog that we live in all the time as well as our anxiety and stress.