New year – new science

Your environment can change your genes  >  The hot therapy topic in 2019 will be epigenetics. This is the study of genetic changes that are not caused by a change in our DNA sequence.

The idea is that if we can change certain key choices, such as our stress level and diet, it is equivalent to writing notes in the margin of your genome. In the future therapist may learn how to flip a DNA switch to support and protect our health.

Epigenetics is closely related to the more established neuroplasticity, which is founded on the belief that we can change how our brain operates. There is plenty of spare capacity to direct our health towards healing and wholeness!

Both these lines of research overturn the traditional belief that we are born with a fixed genetic blueprint that determines our traits, health and behaviours. Epigenetics sets out to demonstrate that our DNA is more of a switchboard than a blueprint.

If this is true then it is argued that our environment and life experiences can trigger on-off mechanisms in our genetic switchboard. The challenge is to find out how the mechanisms by which genes become expressed or silenced can influenced to overcome problems, such as stress and depression.

The epigenome has been heralded as a key missing piece of the etiological puzzle,”says a Tonic therapist. “The discover opens the door for understanding how development of psychological disorders may be influenced by the surrounding environment, in concordance with the genome.”

It is a long way off yet, but it is an interesting concept. So behavioural epigenetics could be the buzz term in therapy in 2019.

Research explanation > Epigenetic gene regulation involves changes other than to the sequence of DNA. It includes changes to histones (proteins around which DNA is wrapped) and DNA methylation.

These epigenetic changes can influence the growth of neurons in the developing brain, as well as modifying neuron activity.

To learn more, read Pamela Peeke’s book ‘The Hunger Fix’.

2 thoughts on “New year – new science

  1. Avril T. Asprey says:

    Early life experiences have a profound and long lasting effect on physical and mental health. The work to identify the primary causes of this have significantly benefited from studies of the epigenome. For the uninitiated, there is a dynamic layer of information associated with DNA that differs between individuals and can be altered through various experiences and environments.

  2. Eric R (Swansea) says:

    Understanding the mechanisms involved in the initiation of epigenetic states is vital. Thus it must be appreciated that epigenetics in psychology provides a framework for understanding how the expression of genes is influenced by experiences and the environment.

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