Nutrition science is dominated by the study of epigenetics since the completion of the Human Genome project in 2003. We realize now that disease … and health … is not dictated by our genes but is a complex interplay of genetics, lifestyle, and environment.
Everything we eat, drink, breathe, and touch talks directly to our genes!
The Human Genome Project launched in 1990. Researchers set out to identify and map human genes. By the time this project completed in 2003, they found around 20,000 genes. Since then, scientists and researchers have identified functional or control regions for DNA and linked these regions to biological processes.
Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity or behavior with no change in DNA sequence. This means that the change in gene behavior is not caused by a mutation but by a factor outside of the gene.
In medicine, we have been studying the links between genes and certain diseases or disorders. We know that genes are involved in diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders but no single gene or gene mutation has been identified. Chronic diseases are epigenetically influenced. Our genes lay the groundwork for our susceptibility for certain diseases. Our lifestyle and environment then influences gene behavior to increase or decrease our risk.
Epigenetic factors related to health include nutrition, stress and emotional trauma, exposure to toxins and infectious agents, physical activity, and sleep. We can choose behaviors that will decrease our risk of disease and promote optimal health!