I'm a health nerd. There's no way to explain it. I love reading anything to do with health. My dream job would be to read neurological research papers and get paid for it. Just reading. And reading. And reading.
I love health books, and Ted Talks, and Podcasts that have to do with health. I love NPR's "The Hidden Brain" and I find Temple Grandin absolutely inspiring and fascinating. Every new thing I learn about the brain only underscores how amazingly generous Hashem has been with us.
And then I learned about epigenetics. Equally as fascinating as neuroplasticty and just as fun to say:) Another one of Hashem's wonders that science has disovered. The possibilites are endless. What we will see in medicine and science in the next ten years will amaze us.
Epigentics is " the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself." In other words, our genes are not who we are. How our genes express themselves is who we are. (Actually who we are has a whole big spiritual answer, but we'll talk more about that later!). And we can alter that expression through science, meditation, exercise, and proper nutrition to name a few things.
Basically, epigentitics is the study of how we can effect the communication between our genes and our cells. How cool is that?
In laboratory settings the results have been fascinating.
MIT scientists have made huge discoveries in how to introduce specific molecules into cells to interfere with cancer cells.
In a different study, scientists have conducted experiments with rats on how to turn off their obesity gene (the agouti gene). By altering the diet of the rats they were able to turn off this gene in the rats offspring. All mammals possess the agouti gene. Yup even humans. What a mother eats can effect her child's gene expression. Great, an extra reason to have some good 'ol fashioned jewish guilt.
Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger. The choices you make can aid or suppress the expression of certain genes. How do you make the best of this and help your body?
Firstly, don't stress because stress isn't good for you! Research has indicated that stress can actually undermine your healthy lifestyle choices. Studies have shown that meditation changes the quality of your DNA for the better. I'm a huge fan of daily mediation. Check out www.jpthink.com for my favorite meditations. Think positive thoughts. Cultivate real emunah and use it. Your head is the first place to make healthy.
Be involved in your community. Research has proven time and time again that people who live within a strong and connected community have higher quality of life and better health. "Volunteer, host shabbos meals (yes, even if you are single),and find a community where you can put down roots and enjoy living, giving, and interacting.
Make intelligent food choices that support cell reproduction and give your body the nutrients it needs to do it's job. It's true that you are what you eat. When you eat an apple, the bite you took is broken down with your teeth and your body is filled with the molecules from that apple which it then uses to build your cells. Do you really want your cells to be made from some greasy french fries and a coca cola?
I can't finish this post without mentioning the positive effects of consistent exercise. It effects your whole body, from your brain throughout your cells. The right kind of exercise increases circulation, promotes healthy cell reproduction, decreases inflammation, and balances your bodies chemicals.
All of these habits are part of a whole health picture. They need to be balanced and they all need to be present. Yes, all of them. There are no shortcuts to good health, but there are habits of good health. Once you incorporate these habits into your life, you will have more energy, better emotional balance, and increased resiliance to illness and disease.