Epigenetics and Mental Health
Epigenetics is a relatively new area of science that has revolutionised our understanding of the brain and biochemistry. Studies in this area has led to innovative, new and organic ways of treating mental illness and health and has the potential to eliminate the reliance of psychiatric medication. Epigenetics specifically, is the field of genetics and the study of how genes are switched on and off. This area of study sheds new light on the nature vs nurture debate and shows that whilst traits and disorders can be genetic… environmental factors (eg. life experiences, diet, exercise, psychology) can play a part in determining genetic expression - in other words, the extent of which this is activated.
We inherit genes from our parents. Our DNA contains approx. 20-25,000 genes. For years it has been understood that we inherit many things through our genes - our looks, hair and eye colour, health conditions, psychological ill health, etc.
This may be true to some extent, but through years of study, scientists realised they could not determine many characteristics simply by looking at a persons DNA. They realised that environmental factors had a further impact on the expression of genes.
This takes place at the epigenome level.
To help understand this, I think of genes as a huge orchestra.
The epigenome is the conductor, deciding which parts of the orchestra (or your genes) gets to play or not, in other words, the epigenome determines which genes are expressed or not.
The musical score the conductor is following is essentially your lifestyle - including diet and nutrition. Lifestyle factors; exercise, your environment, what you eat, how you eat, the supplements you take, what you breath, what you perceive, think, feel, do and believe all contribute to the score. So basically, our epigenome and our genetic expression is altered by diet, nutrition and any supplements we take. Environmental factors, toxicity, oxidative stress and emotional trauma all affect this process too.
This relatively new area of clinical research and treatment is showing exciting possibilities in the treatment of many diseases including cancer, alzheimers, psychiatric disorders and more...
The latest findings in epigenetic research show that your epigenetic cellular activity can be modified by nutrition; by what you eat and drink, how you eat and drink and when - as well as via specific nutritional supplements.
Your cognitions, thoughts, feelings and beliefs also affect, and are affected by genetic expression. This highlights the absolute mind-body connection and how psychology is an importance influence on health and vice versa. Your lifestyle choices will affect your psychological and emotional health and your psychological health can influence your lifestyle choices.
Nutritional and Nutrient Therapy are vital parts of a relatively new model of epigenetics treatment and can improve your cellular activity for significant improvement in both physical, psychological and emotional health.