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CHANGING YOUR GENE


EXPRESSION FOR BETTER
HEALTH
How health issues develop

Introduction

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In this unit well cover:


Nature or nurture?
Genetic expression is modifiable
Your genes, environment and health
How health issues develop
Epigenetic influence
Changing your gene expression
Free radicals and antioxidants
Faulty DNA methylation
Nutrition and cancer-fighting genes

Introduction

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Continued
Environmental contaminants
Carcinogenic chemicals
Hormonal disruptions
Your genetic makeup
You are unique
Discovering your unique biochemistry
Additional resources

A question for you


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Think about this Who you are today


Is it the result of your DNA (nature)?
Or is it a consequence of your environment (nurture)?

Nature
(your DNA)

or

Nurture
(your
environment)

The answer is youre both!


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Nature

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(your DNA)

You
Nurture
(your
environment)

Your DNA
expression
changes constantly
as a result of your
environment and
your nutrition
(nurture).
The implications?
If you want to
positively influence
your DNA and
your health, focus
on your food
environment first!

Genetic expression is modifiable


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Genetic defects only affect 5% of the population on


average. The other 95% are genetically healthy.
Without changing the underlying genetic code, the
epigenome interacts with DNA and changes how some
genes are expressed.
The epigenome reacts to your diet and factors from your
environment throughout your lifetime.
The expression of your genes is modifiable. The way you
can change their expression is by changing the chemical
environment that your genes bathe in: from the foods you
eat to the supplements you take and the air you breathe;
from how stressed you feel to how and where you live.

Your genes, environment and health


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Your inherited
adaptive
capacity and
unique biological
advantages and
disadvantages.

Good health
implies a
successful
epigenetic
adaptation to
your environment.

Your genes

Your
environment

Your health

What you eat,


drink, breathe, do,
feel, think. Your
hormones. How you
live. Viral or toxic
exposure.

Lack of health
occurs when your
environmental load
surpasses your
genetic capacity to
adapt.

How health issues develop


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Your genes

Your
environment

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Your health

As you can see on the previous


page, your state of health is a
result of the interaction
between your inherited
adaptive capacity (your genes)
and your environment.

If your environment is problematic e.g. you eat badly


and live in a heavily polluted place, loaded with viruses
and toxins and you take little exercise and suffer from
acute psychological stress, you are highly likely to exceed
your ability to adapt and you may eventually develop
health issues.

Epigenetic influence
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Whatever health issue you have (allergies, diabetes, or


atherosclerosis), each is seen as what happens when your
total environmental load (meaning everything you eat,
drink, breathe, do, and think) exceeds your particular
genetic ability to adapt.
Instead of having only one possible genetic programme
running, you have thousands, if not millions, of possible
genetic expressions, determined by a huge range of
epigenetic factors.

Changing your gene expression


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The expression of your genes is modifiable. The way you


can change their expression is by changing the chemical
environment that your genes bathe in.
Genetic expression is changed by epigenetic tags, such as
methyl tags. By putting these tags on or by taking them
off, you activate or supress the expression of genes.
One cause of faulty methylation is damage caused by
free radicals or oxidants molecules that are being
constantly created in our bodies as well as being
generated in the environment by sources such as toxins,
sunlight, pollution, radiation, fried food, poor diet, and
smoking.

Free radicals and antioxidants


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According to geneticist Bruce Ames (University of


California, Berkeley):

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By the time youre old, well find a few million oxygen


lesions per cell.

As an antidote to this cell damage caused by oxidation,


our bodies create antioxidants to neutralise them.
We also get antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E
from our foods. Well cover these in detail in your course.
An imbalance between our oxidant exposure (cell
damage) and our antioxidant supply (cell protection) can
disrupt the methylation process, sometimes causing cancer.

Your antioxidant protection is key


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Environmental load and causes of oxidative damage

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DNA
damage

DNA
protection

Antioxidant protection and factors that counteract


environmental load and oxidative damage

Evolution in a toxic world


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Should we be scared of our modern environmental load?


Yes and no.
The truth is that were surrounded by environmental
chemicals and carcinogenic compounds.
Theyre inevitable.
In her book Evolution in a Toxic World, toxicologist Dr.
Emily Monosson argues that our world has always been
toxic. Yet, we thrived and evolved as a species.
This is because our innate antioxidant protection
mechanisms and detoxification systems are remarkable
and continue to evolve day after day to keep us alive!

Increase your antioxidant protection


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In our Detox Specialist advanced course, we dive into the


science of toxicology, genotoxicity, and the bodys natural
detoxification pathways in more detail.
Of course, you can do things to minimise the burden of
your environment, such as drinking filtered water.
However, the key to prevent degenerative diseases such
as cancer is to enrich your DNA protection mechanisms
with antioxidant foods (which well cover in detail in your
course) and activities that promote the relaxation
response, such as yoga, which are proven to reduce
oxidative stress (read more HERE).

Faulty DNA methylation


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According to genetic scientist Dr Adrian Bird from


Edinburgh University:

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1 in 4 gene changes that cause human disease can be


attributed to methyl groups on our genes.

So, it is vital to know about another way of keeping your


DNA methylation on target.
That involves boosting your intake of vitamins B6, B12,
folic acid, and other key nutrients that well cover
throughout your course.

Nutrition and cancer-fighting genes


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Deleterious or faulty methylation occurs when methyl


dimmer switches land on and shut down certain cancerfighting genes.
However, certain nutrients can prevent deleterious
methylation, in particular antioxidants.
Take for example epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the
main polyphenol (a type of antioxidant) found in green
tea. The first study that demonstrated that a consumer
product (green tea) can help prevent cancer was in 2003.
The researchers proved how EGCG: a) inhibits faulty
methylation and b) reactivates cancer-fighting genes.

Environmental contaminants
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Some of the most damaging factors in the environment


are pesticides and other toxic chemicals that we are now
constantly exposed to from birth or even before that.
Just how extensively they have colonised our bodies was
vividly illustrated by a report from the conservation
charity the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), published in
2004.
The WWF tested 47 members of the European
parliament and found that, on average, they each carried
41 synthetic chemicals in their blood, including, in many
cases, the banned pesticide DDT a suspected cause of
breast cancer.

Carcinogenic chemicals
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Another WWF report found 350 contaminants in breast


milk, including flame retardants, DDT and dioxins.
Some of these highly carcinogenic chemicals are still in
widespread use.
Many of them, such as nonylphenol found in paints,
detergents, lubricating oils, toiletries, spermicide foams
and agrochemicals, among other substances have an
effect similar to that of oestrogen, a hormone that
encourages cell growth.
The abnormal overgrowth of cells triggered by oestrogenmimicking chemicals like nonylphenol can lead to cancer.

Hormonal disruptions
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Hormone-disrupting chemicals can activate genes, but not


necessarily in the right way.
Eventually, they can change the way our biology works,
depending on how much of them you are exposed to, and
how receptive your cells are to them.
For example, as we said before, the oestrogen-mimicking
chemicals can trigger an overgrowth of breast or prostate
cells, leading to cancer.
But as with harm from oxidants, certain foods provide a
way to reduce the damaging effects. Such foods are
those high in antioxidants, which well cover in-depth.

Your genetic makeup


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Each one of us is genetically


and biochemically unique.
Although you cant change
your DNA, you can certainly
change its expression by
modifying your environment,
with your nutrition being a
large part of it!

You are unique


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Experts agree that we all need variety in our diets.


But many disagree about other issues such as how much
water to drink throughout the day, or whether or not you
should eat regular mini-meals.
Their theories are all missing a huge part of what
nutrition is really about:

You as an individual.

Discovering your unique biochemistry


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Most health experts tell you what to eat without any


reference to age, constitution, gender, size, genetic
makeup, lifestyle, climate, or geographical location.
The problem with this is that what works for you, may not
work for somebody else, including someone in your own
family with similar genetics!
So, what you need to always remember is that each person
has very specific needs for his or her own health.
For that reason its key that you find out what those specific
needs are. Thats why our panel of experts have
developed health assessments and programme planners
that will help you discover such needs and how to tailor
your/your clients nutritional plan around these.

Appendix: Chromosomes, genes and DNA


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Chromosomes are made up of genes.


Genes are made up of DNA.
The terms genes and DNA are typically used
interchangeably.

Additional Resources
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DNA Is Not Destiny: The New Science of Epigenetics.


The coming age of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics.
Full cited study: Tea Polyphenol ()-Epigallocatechin-3Gallate Inhibits DNA Methyltransferase and Reactivates
Methylation-Silenced Genes in Cancer Cell Lines.
Mediterranean Diet Helps Offset Bad Genes. Study
Shows Mediterranean Diet Boosts Heart Health in People
Genetically Wired for Poor Heart Health.
Can you change your DNA to look younger? The Health
Sciences Academy.
Using evolution to understand pollution. Harvard Gazette.

Recommended Textbook

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Evolution in a Toxic World: How Life Responds to Chemical


Threats. (Recommended, not mandatory).
Toxicologist Emily Monosson traces the evolution of lifes
detoxification systems and presents cutting-edge science
on how environmental stressors alter gene expression.
She explores the development of chemical defences such
as antioxidants, metal binding proteins, detoxification,
and cell death. As we alter the worlds chemistry, these
defences often become overwhelmed faster than our
bodies can adapt. But studying how our complex internal
defence network currently operates may allow us to
predict how it will continue to evolve and protect us from
both existing and novel chemicals.

Test your knowledge!


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TRUE or FALSE?

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Your physical characteristics are entirely


determined by your DNA

TRUE FALSE

Who you are is determined by both your


DNA and your environment

TRUE FALSE

Your DNA expression remained fixed for


life

TRUE FALSE

Epigenetic tags, such as methyl tags,


switch genes on and off

TRUE FALSE

Test your knowledge!


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Complete this graph:


Nature

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(your
_________ )

You
________
(your
environment)

Test your knowledge!


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Complete the below:

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Your ________
adaptive
capacity and
unique biological
________ and
___________.

Good health
implies a
__________
epigenetic
adaptation to
your __________.

Your genes

Your
environment

Your health

What you ____,


drink, _____, do,
feel, ____. Your
hormones. How
you ____. Viral or
______ exposure.

Lack of health
occurs when your
environment load
________ your
genetic capacity
to ________.

Test your knowledge!


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TRUE or FALSE?

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Genetic defects affect 95% of the


population on average

TRUE FALSE

The epigenome reacts to your diet

TRUE FALSE

Supplements cant change genetic


expression

TRUE FALSE

Psychological stress can trigger health


issues

TRUE FALSE

Test your knowledge!

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Complete this sentence:


Whatever health issue you have (allergies, diabetes, or
atherosclerosis), each is seen as what happens when your
total ______________ load (meaning everything you
_______, _______, _______, _______, and _______)
exceeds your particular ______________ ability to
______________.
How many possible genetic expressions can you have?
One
Millions

Test your knowledge!


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Whats the role of epigenetic tags?

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Faulty methylation is

Test your knowledge!


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Whats the consequence of an imbalance between our


oxidant exposure and our antioxidant supply?

Whats the role of antioxidants?

Test your knowledge!


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Whats the effect of free radicals on cells?

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Whats EGCG?

In which ways can EGCG help prevent cancer?

Test your knowledge!


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What do environmental contaminants have anything to do


with your health?

Whats the main health risk of oestrogen-mimicking


chemicals?

How can this risk be mitigated?

Test your knowledge!


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My unique biochemistry is important because

Your key takeaways


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What are your key learnings, takeaways, or discoveries


from this unit? List a minimum of 3:

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1.

2.

3.

Idea Bank
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This is your place to take notes, make observations, sketch, plan, and think about ways to
apply your new insights to your health and the health of those you help. Start writing away!

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