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5 Ways to Change Your Genetic Destiny with Nutrigenomics

5 Ways to Change Your Genetic Destiny with Nutrigenomics

You ordered your DNA test, sent in your sample, and got your results. Digging through the information, you noticed that some of your genes were measured as ‘slow’ and some as ‘fast,’ and while you understand what slow and fast mean, you’re not quite sure what to do about it.

First of all, congratulations on taking the first step towards understanding your genes and susceptibility risk factors better. Many people never do, and they live their life accepting that chronic disease is just part of their life journey. They think their genes are to blame, and more importantly, that there's nothing they can do about it.

It’s true that your genome, which includes all your genetic material or DNA, does play an essential role in who you are. It can also provide great insights into the potential weaknesses that may exist in your health. However, your genes do not have to dictate your health destiny.

You can control your gene expression and, thus, your genetic destiny using the power of epigenetics and nutrigenomics.

Genetics 101

Your genes are made up of four nucleotides, namely thymine (T), cytosine (C), adenine (A), and guanine (G), which make up the 'steps' of your DNA ladders where two nucleotides are paired together. You will see these on your StrateGene® report as the T's, C's, A's, and G's mentioned with your genes.

A good example of nucleotides is the infamous MTHFR gene. In particular, the single nucleotide polymorphism MTHFR C677T, one of the most studied types of MTHFR mutations along with MTHFR A1298C. A 'normal' MTHFR 677 gene would be MTHFR C677C. In this case, the C (cytosine) was exchanged for a T (thymine) which then changes the function of MTHFR C677T, making it somewhat slower. We call this a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism or SNP for short.

These DNA ladders, made up of negatively charged nucleotides, twist around positively charged protein molecules called histones. They are attracted to each other like magnets and organized in structures called nucleosomes, with about 150 pairs or 'steps' of these DNA ladders wrapped around eight histones to form an octamer.(1, 2)

As these fold onto each other to form chromatin fibers, they become more condensed or scrunched up to eventually form tight coils of chromosomes. This enables them to fit inside the nucleus, storing your genetic information inside your cells for replication and transfer to your future children. When this information is ready to be replicated, the chromosomes will unwind to replicate their genetic sequence.

The human genome includes all the DNA sequences for humans or alleles. An allele is a specific variation of a gene. If there are three other variations of a particular gene, then that gene has four alleles that may all behave differently. DNA testing determines which allele you have for that gene to see if you match the 'normal' allele that 80 percent of the population has, or if you have one of the other varieties and what that may mean for you.

This information never changes and determines your genotype.

DNA Methylation and Your Epigenome

At times, your chromosomes have to unwind from their tight structures in order to replicate information. This happens during cell division when your cells divide to make more cells for events such as cellular repair, healing, or pregnancy. But in general, you do not want your DNA to be unwound and exposed all the time. The more your DNA is exposed, the higher the likelihood of errors occurring. This is where DNA methylation comes in. (3)

Certain epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation, have the ability to change your epigenome. Your epigenome refers to and includes all the structural changes made to chromatin and all the chemical changes made to the histones and nucleotides as part of methylation. In short, your epigenome is all the structural and chemical changes made to your DNA via methylation. Your epigenome determines your phenotype at birth, meaning what color your eyes or hair will be, how tall you'll grow to, and what you'll eventually look like.

DNA methylation also adds a methyl group to the 5-carbon of the cytosine nucleotide ring to form 5-methylcytosine, known as the fifth base of DNA, although a methyl group can also be added to the adenine nucleotide. In this way, methylation can change your genes’ activity without changing your genetic sequence by 'silencing' genes that are often involved in the development of chronic disease. DNA methylation typically suppresses gene transcription or keeps your DNA coiled up in the nucleus instead of exposed. The more your DNA is exposed, the higher the likelihood of errors.

Remember that your DNA sequence or genetic information never changes, but you can change your genes’ epigenome.

This process of DNA methylation is controlled or regulated by a family of enzymes called DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) that require another methylation product called SAM (S-adenosyl-methionine) to function properly. (4)

What is Epigenetics?

Epigenetics refers to the study of heritable changes in gene expression that do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence. Gene expression can change the way a protein is made, but epigenetic changes affect how genes are turned 'on' or 'off.’

This is important.

The DNA sequenceis what’s tested for on DNA tests such as StrateGene®. These are your 'fast' and 'slow' genes that you were born with, and they never change. Imagine your genes being like the blueprint for a building. If the blueprint is complete with no mistakes, the building will be built according to the specs for the use it is needed for. If there are parts missing on the blueprint, the building may end up looking different. RNA are the workers that help to build the building according to the blueprint's guidelines. RNA binds to the promoter region on DNA and then makes a temporary photocopy of the blueprint to determine which materials they are supposed to make for the building or the enzyme.

You can't change your blueprint.

If we want to use this same analogy to explain epigenetic mechanisms, imagine a fire going through your building. The 'fire' includes all the epigenetic mechanisms such as inflammation brought on by poor dietary choices, infections, environmental toxin exposures, and even chronic stress or over-training. These epigenetic mechanisms have the ability to change gene expression, which means they can make your genes faster or slower even if your blueprint is perfect. If your blueprint wasn't perfect to begin with, and your materials were of poor quality, and now you have fire damage, well, you see what we're getting at.

Constant 'fires' will also increase demand for new buildings to be built to replace the damaged ones. RNA now has to work faster to make photocopies of the blueprint to get the process started, and with this urgency comes the increased risk of errors which changes the DNA sequencing and what the building ends up looking like.

While you can't change your blueprint, you can prevent fires, put out fires, and repair the fires’ damage with the right tools.

Your genes can change their expression depending on your lifestyle, various environmental factors, and the dietary influences that you are exposed to. A particular gene may be affected, or a cluster of genes in a specific biochemical pathway, making the whole pathway 'dirty.’ These influences are changeable over time, making epigenetic influences a constantly morphing and critical factor in how genes express themselves.

What is Nutrigenomics?

Nutrigenomics is the study of the effects of specific nutrients or nutraceuticals on the expression of your genome and risk factors for chronic disease. Simply put, nutrigenomics looks at the relationship between dietary factors and how your genes and dietary nutrients interact at a molecular level. It helps to determine which nutritional requirements may be most important for your unique genetic makeup.

What does this mean?

All genes encode for an enzyme, and these enzymes require specific cofactors and substrates to work correctly, which depend on a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Cofactors generally refer to micronutrients which include vitamins and minerals that we get from nutritional sources such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, along with amino acids obtained from protein sources such as eggs, meat, fish, and poultry. For an enzyme to perform its job of converting things in your body, it requires specific nutrient cofactors that act as the ‘key’ that turns the enzyme ‘on.’

The concept of nutrigenomics was born out of a need to consider noncommunicable diseases and related metabolic diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular disease, from the perspective of how nutrition (or a lack thereof) affects the expression of clusters of genes involved in inflammation and possibly reduced lifespan. Certain nutrients have been shown to regulate metabolic pathways via genomic interplay, which means that a lot of what we do affects our genome. (5)

The concept of metabolomics should really be included here as well, considering that metabolites produced from metabolism also affect genetic expression.

Eat Right for Your Genes - Nutritional Considerations

Getting the nutritional requirements from your diet or supplementation needed for optimal enzyme function is very important in keeping the wheels of your biochemistry moving. Suppose your diet is suboptimal or looks more like the SAD (Standard American Diet) that most citizens in developed Western countries follow. In that case, you are likely to end up with nutritional deficiencies that will impact your enzymes’ ability to function at optimal levels.

Nutrition directly affects your ability to achieve your best health now and in the future. That’s why the right dietary choices are so important for healthy aging.

Genetic polymorphisms occur when small changes are made in the original DNA structure, which may then change the shape or function of the enzyme it encodes for.  This can make your enzymes function 'faster' or 'slower,’ which has nutritional consequences, as these enzymes may need more or less specific cofactors or substrates to slow them down or speed them up.

Nutrigenomics is certainly a field that is fast growing in personalized nutrition and medicine. The main premises of nutrigenomics are:

  • For individuals with certain genetic makeups, diet may be a key influencer in preventing chronic diseases.
  • Certain dietary substances may play a role in changing the structure of the gene, or its expression, making it 'faster' or 'slower.’
  • By looking at our genetic makeup and adapting our diets accordingly, we may swing the pendulum closer to health.

Nutrigenetics and Your Diet

Nutrigenetics refers to the study or the relationship among genes, diet, and health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. A really cool study was conducted a few years ago by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology on how to feed your genes. (6) They asked the question: “If your genes could tell you what they wanted, what would they say?”.

Their results indicated that genes prefer a diet of one-third carbohydrates, one-third protein, and one-third fats. The researchers found that neither a low-carb or high-carb diet was good for gene expression, but that the low-carb diet was better and at least heading in the right direction. As soon as the diet reached higher than one-third carbohydrates in a meal, it would activate genes that stimulate metabolic inflammation.  These are genes involved in inflammation and chronic metabolic disorders such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

In essence, their research found that in choosing what we eat, we also decide to provide our genes with either medicine or weapons that cause disease.

Your Genes are Not Your Destiny

The important message for you is that your genes are not your destiny. 

If you haven’t read Dr. Ben Lynch’s book ‘Dirty Genes,’ please do so, as it explains this primary concept in detail.

The reality is that none of us have perfect genes. We all have 'fast' and 'slow' genes, but we don't all necessarily suffer the metabolic consequences or the chronic disease that our genetic SNPs or polymorphisms on our blueprint say we're supposed to. The reasons for this lies in nutrigenomics, nutrigenetics, and epigenetics as described above. In my clinical experience, I have seen many patients with an MTHFR SNP/polymorphism who did not express it when looking at lab results, and plenty of people without MTHFR SNPs/polymorphisms that did express it and who needed to supplement with bioactive folate. Most, if not all, were due to epigenetic factors such as infections, poor dietary choices, or environmental toxin exposure, where, once removed or improved, corrected the gene expression as per follow-up testing, without using supplements to replace the hole that MTHFR SNPs/polymorphisms left.

5 Ways to Change Your Genetic Destiny with Nutrigenomics and Epigenetics

What this all boils down to is the fact that your genes are not your destiny.

You have the ability to regulate your gene expression, for better and worse. You can make the wrong lifestyle choices and end up with genes that express in a way that is conducive to chronic disease, or you can make epigenetic modifications by changing your lifestyle and building the strongest and safest building that your blueprint allows you to build.

Here are five ways you can start rewriting your genetic destiny today, using the principles of nutrigenomics and epigenetics. [1] Know your blueprint. Find out what your genetics are. Know which of your genes are 'fast' and which ones are 'slow.’ Order a StrateGene® DNA Kit. Your genes never change, and they can give you great insight into who you are as a person and why you may react to things the way you do, whether these be environmental factors or emotions. But they don't have to define you. [2] Learn your SNPs. See which of your genes have polymorphisms or SNPs and whether these changes in your genes are making them 'faster' or 'slower.’ Look at the micronutrients needed to make the enzymes coded for by the gene’s function. Consider the macronutrients required to initiate these reactions.  Nutritional deficiencies in these key nutrients may make slow enzymes function even slower.

[3] Consider your nutrigenomic factors. What does your diet look like? Are you eating a lot of processed carbohydrates or foods that may affect your gene expression? Do these processed foods contain synthetic folic acid that may affect MTHFR expression, for instance? Some nutrients like bioavailable vitamin B12 are only obtainable from animal proteins, so those following mainly plant-based diets need to ensure they are getting enough vitamin B12 for methylation needed to keep disease-causing genes switched ‘off.’

[4] Address epigenetic factors. Identify and address the epigenetic factors that are affecting your genetic expression and current health status. This includes things like acute or chronic stress, mold exposure, dysbiosis, diet, sleep, and many other lifestyle and environmental factors in your life

[5] Find a qualified healthcare practitioner. Have you read the Dirty Genes book and done all the basics, but are still struggling with some aspects of your health? Work towards finding a qualified practitioner who can help you decipher the complexities of genetics, epigenetics, and nutrigenomics to get you on the pathway to health.

The Bottom Line

It is crucial to understand how much influence you have on reaching your genetic potential. You can reduce risk factors for chronic illness no matter what your genetic blueprint looks like. You can control your gene expression and thus your genetic destiny using the power of epigenetics and nutrigenomics.

Getting the nutritional requirements from your diet or supplementation needed for optimal enzyme function is very important in keeping the wheels of your biochemistry moving. Knowing which of your genes are 'fast' and which ones are 'slow’ is also critical to customize your approach. You can see which of your genes are ‘dirty’ and need support by taking the StrateGene® DNA Kit, designed by epigenetics and nutrigenomics expert Dr. Ben Lynch.

The reality is that none of us have perfect genes. We all have 'fast' and 'slow' genes, but we don't all necessarily suffer the metabolic consequences or chronic disease that the genetic SNPs or polymorphisms on our blueprint say we're supposed to. The reasons for this lies in nutrigenomics, nutrigenetics, and epigenetics as described above.

Want to learn more? Check out Dr. Ben Lynch’s book ‘Dirty Genes,’ which gives you the tools you need to start rewriting your genetic destiny today.


  4. 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81656-6
  5. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2018.1481797

† This information is for educational purposes only. No product results are implied.

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