Robyn C. Del Negro, MD, a board-certified physician, has been practicing conventional-based western medicine since 1993. She completed a post-MD multi-year fellowship at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine and received specialty training with the Institute of Functional Medicine. Dr. Del Negro loves empowering her community to embrace healthy behaviors and optimize wellness.
Your DNA holds the genetic blueprint for everything that makes you unique. A 2019 MIT Technology Review study revealed that over 26 million people have taken DNA tests. I personally took a DNA test to ward off as many future health catastrophes as I could. However, genes by themselves do not completely dictate our health fate.
Today, medical research into genes and DNA centers around how behaviors and environment change the way genes work, or epigenetics. The body expresses genes differently (turning on or off) based on what you’re experiencing (ie. meditation, a good night’s sleep, exercise). While behaviors and environment don’t physically change DNA, they do change how cells “read” genes. DNA methylation, the addition of a chemical cap to the DNA molecule, is one example.
Methylation is happening in every cell of the body 24/7. Through research, we understand that (1) certain foods regulate methylation, (2) certain foods contain nutrients that the body uses for methylation, and (3) lifestyle practices foster healthy DNA methylation.
Being unaware of nutrition, toxic burden, or stress exposure can cause DNA methylation imbalance. Researchers believe that Alzheimer’s, obesity, heart health, diabetes and depression have epigenetic and DNA methylation roots.