Are you a victim of your genes or a master of your future?
Do you believe your DNA is your destiny? People often say things like “high blood pressure/diabetes runs in my family” or “it’s in my genes” implying that it’s something you have no control over. And let’s face it, that’s what we were taught in school, isn’t it?
However we now know that genes are just blueprints, and that it’s our environment and lifestyle that determines whether our genes are turned on or off – expressed or not expressed. Epigenetics is the study of external or environmental factors that turn genes on and off and affect how cells read genes. Environment includes where you live, the climate, altitude, pollution, toxins, dust, damp, heating, etc. and lifestyle includes your diet, exercise, career, relationships, social interactions, hobbies…as well as your thoughts, beliefs and perceptions about life. All of this creates your internal environment.
So your DNA + epigenetics (environment & lifestyle) = YOU
While it may seem obvious that our diet or exercise is significant, what about our beliefs and perceptions? Perhaps that may be more difficult to take on board, so let me give some examples….
Many people I’ve worked with have a core belief of “I’m not good enough” (which may be conscious or unconscious) often accompanied by a fear of failure, a fear of being “found out” or a relentless (and exhausting) pursuit of perfection. This creates stress in the body – raised cortisol levels that affects which genes are switched on or off, and ultimately our health. Positive emotions, thoughts and beliefs will all have a positive effect.
Our thoughts about the work we do, our social interactions and relationships all trigger neuropeptides to be released in the brain, which travel around our body, attach to cells, passing information into the cell and it’s DNA, activating or deactivating genes. As a result of this protein, enzymes or hormones are formed and released from the cell. So if you have a stressful day at work, genes are subsequently switched on or off, with a corresponding rise or fall in protein/hormone levels. As a hypnotherapist, this is really exciting stuff – we already know that hypnotherapy alters the physical structure of the brain, but it would seem that it’s possible to affect our genes as well through the power of the mind. How amazing is that?
The old belief that you have no control over your genes makes us victims. The new understanding of epigenetics puts us firmly in control of our destiny. You CAN take control of how you live, how you think, what you eat and how you manage stress… which influences which genes are read or not read, ultimately determining our health.