For Long Life Talk to Your Genes

by Steven Carney on September 5, 2014

This is post #110 on the site, about ways to talk to your genes through lifestyle, keeping you young and healthy all your life!

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If you want to stay young and healthy your whole life, free of most chronic disease, you can do so. All you need to do is learn to talk to your genes! No, I haven’t lost my mind, and no, I’m not crazy.

I’ve been researching and writing about genes, aging and lifestyle for a while (see my previous posts: Telomeres Genes and Aging, or Stem Cells Health and Aging, both linked below).

Some background

Genetic activity goes way beyond your hair, eye color or build. Thousands of genes regulate your metabolism and bodily functions every hour of the day. Many genes act as on/off switches based on the choices and decisions you make. And that gene activity is significant for determining your health, energy/vitality, brain and organ function, mood, whether you get sick or stay well, etc.

So by learning how to talk to (and love) your genes, you can have the life and future you desire, including great health, energy and sound sleep, often free of chronic disease and pain, well into old age. When you talk to your genes, they respond! And know this: Aging as we think of it is largely a myth. Experts say that about 80% of all chronic disease is not from inherited genes or age, it’s from lifestyle! We already know the secrets to a long, healthy life today!

So how do you talk to your genes? Do I mean that literally? Yes, in many ways, I do! As you will soon see, every decision you make affects your genes, cells and health, based on your nutrition, activity/exercise, stress levels, sleep and other behaviors. They all affect your cells and genes in ways large and small. How?

Genes become activated or silenced through a process of gene methylation and histones. For example, every meal you eat causes thousands of genes to spring into action! It’s the same for exercise, stress and sleep. The field of epigenetics has been researching these important connections for several years now. The findings will surely surprise you because the answers to most health issues are right under your nose!

Even more important is how lifestyle choices work synergistically as each lifestyle area relates to the others, affecting genes beyond those each area affects directly. That’s why a healthy, optimized lifestyle is so powerful! It can literally change your life and boost health from the bottom up, often in a matter of a few weeks!

Note: Like all my posts, this article is a summary of the many source links I include at the end. Please review those to get a more complete picture of this breakthrough material!

Let’s start with this short background quote from the site. It summarizes the effects of lifestyle on genes and gene activation (epigenetics) pretty well. See link below for full content:

Lifestyle and environmental factors can expose a person to chemical tags that change the epigenome. In other words, your epigenome may change based on what you eat and drink, whether you smoke, what medicines you take, what pollutants you encounter and even how quickly your body ages. . .

Most epigenomic changes are probably harmless, but some changes may trigger or increase the severity of disease. Researchers already have linked changes in the epigenome to various cancers, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and mental illnesses.

So your lifestyle choices really do affect your cells and genes in significant ways. And those lifestyle choices affect your health and quality of life for each lifestyle area, and each lifestyle area influences the other areas as you will soon see. This is really a tapestry of complex synergy, both remarkable and awe-inspiring! And it means that a series of small steps to improve your habits in key areas can give you big results and long-term benefits that no drugs can ever achieve!

Alternatively, it’s known that doing the wrong things day in and day out will degrade your cells and genes, increasing mutations (remember, you replace about a billion cells every hour), and triggering chronic health problems and diseases: excess weight/obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, digestive and hormonal problems, cancer, and a myriad of other problems.

This 2012 quote from an article called, Breakthrough study overturns theory of ‘junk DNA’ in genome also explores how active many genes are (beyond things like hair and eye color), as they help to manage your daily bodily functions (see link below for full content):

Up to 18% of our DNA sequence is involved in regulating the less than 2% of the DNA that codes for proteins. In total, Encode scientists say, about 80% of the DNA sequence can be assigned some sort of biochemical function.

There are additional ways that you talk to your genes (whether you realize it or not): activities, sleep, even thoughts and emotions all effect gene activity. High stress, being too negative or fatalistic about yourself or your future, or believing that age will bring health problems will actually lead to those realities unfolding.

Think about your genes and your health more personally, and treat your genes like the special helpers they are, like best friends or soul mates, because that how important they are to your health, happiness and longevity! And you have to do your share to keep your genes happy.

What areas of lifestyle talk to your genes?

Basically, every decision you make and every action you take will either help or harm your cells and genes. You’ve probably heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” Well, there’s more! You are what you eat, what you do, what you feel, how you sleep, and what you think. Sound far-fetched? Read on and you’ll soon see the light! Here are key lifestyle areas to consider:

1. Nutrition: You are what you eat

This category includes foods, beverages, micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants) and spices as all of those can contribute to great nutrition, health and happy genes. Unfortunately, many people have significant deficiencies for a range of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, meaning your cells and genes don’t operate at their best. Herbs and spices can also help keep inflammation down and immune health up.

It’s been known for sometime that optimum nutrition from whole, healthy foods helps increase energy levels, brain function/mood, stress management, quality sleep, and a healthy life overall. That’s because healthy foods like veggies, whole fruits, and quality proteins digest more slowly, keeping blood glucose more stable (less ups and downs), and providing a fuller range of nutrients to your organs, cells and DNA.

Beverages like tea or coffee add unique anti-oxidants to help control cellular aging and inflammation. Water helps to hydrate and maintain the right fluid balance in the body. Overall, optimum nutrition is the foundation for a long, healthy life, including the well-being of your cells and genes.

On the other hand, junk and fast foods (often referred to as the SAD or Standard American Diet) will accelerate hormonal imbalances, inflammation, brain and mood problems and genetic mutations. One of the reasons people in the U.S. and other Western countries have such high levels of chronic health problems is that a high level of processed foods has been normalized into our culture; millions consume these unhealthy foods daily.

One 2011 study called, Feed your genes: How our genes respond to the foods we eat tested slightly overweight Norwegians at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The researchers came to the following conclusions (see Science Daily link below for full summary):

“We have found that a diet with 65% carbohydrates, which often is what the average Norwegian eats in some meals, causes a number of classes of genes to work overtime,” says Berit Johansen, a professor of biology at NTNU. She supervises the project’s doctoral students and has conducted research on gene expression since the 1990s.

“This affects not only the genes that cause inflammation in the body, which was what we originally wanted to study, but also genes associated with development of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, dementia, and type 2 diabetes — all the major lifestyle-related diseases,” she says.

Those processed foods are often designed and tested in big-company labs, based on the perfect blend of refined carbs, fats and salt to create the most addictive food possible (they want you to keep craving and buying). Those foods are often devoid of micronutrients and fiber, meaning they spike glucose quickly. Sadly, many people fall for the trap of the cravings and addiction these foods cause, and junk food is part of their daily routine. These foods are disastrous for health and will damage your genes.

What’s worse is that many of those foods are now made with Genetically Modified (GM) crops, including soy, corn, most veggie oils, tomatoes, potatoes, yellow squash, etc. These foods are made by splicing genes from critters like insects into crops (see my new post on GM foods: Myths and Deceptions linked below, including the shocking lack of oversight and regulation for these unhealthy Frankenfoods).

As those factory/fast foods are made, the original fiber and micro-nutrients are largely removed and severely degraded. In some cases, a few cheap vitamins are added back in (called fortification), used for marketing, so the food company can brag about how “healthy” their chemically-laden junk food is (additives, synthetic colorings, preservatives, etc.)!

Those foods lack the health-promoting capabilities of more whole foods like fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, olives and EVOO, quality proteins like natural chicken or wild-caught fish and seafood, and healthy beverages like green or white tea.

Processed carbs and GM foods tell your cells to glycate, making AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products), and your genes to degrade and mutate. It’s like tossing a drink in your boss’s face! Yikes! Only bad things come from that, like the junk foods covered above. They aren’t designed to help us nutritionally or support good health. You find those terrible foods in the center of most grocery stores (with fresher foods along the perimeter).

Processed and GM foods like sodas, juices, cookies, crackers, chips, cereals, snack cakes, granola bars, candy (except 70% or above dark chocolate), and other sweets, treats and snacks all wreak havoc with your hormonal systems, triggering blood glucose spikes and crashes, inflammation, heart disease, allergies, digestive problems, and those AGEs, known to degrade proteins and collagen throughout your body, adding more wrinkles, sagging skin, muscle and joint problems, etc.

Here is a quote from my recent post on GM foods (also called GMOs). It’s from the Web MD site (see link below for full content):

Experts say 60% to 70% of processed foods on U.S. grocery shelves have genetically modified ingredients. The most common genetically modified foods are soybeans, maize [corn], cotton, and grapeseed oil. That means many foods made in the U.S. containing field corn or high-fructose corn syrup, such as many breakfast cereals, snack foods, and the last soda you drank; foods made with soybeans (including some baby foods); and foods made with cottonseed and canola oils could likely have genetically modified ingredients. These ingredients appear frequently in animal feed as well.

Many health experts now say that 80% or more of processed foods are GM foods as the list keeps growing. And in the millions of years we’ve been alive, our bodies were never designed to process so much refined sugar, inbred/GM wheat, other GM foods and processed carbs/foods. These “foods” will kill you, slowly and consistently, causing your DNA to degrade, mutating your genes, and increasing chronic disease like cancer.

Here is another stunning quote, also from my GM foods post linked below. It’s from the Institute for Responsible Technology as they outline the shocking lack of FDA oversight of GM foods (Note: I broke into 2 paragraphs for easier reading, see link below for full info and article):

Most of the health and environmental risks of GMOs are ignored by governments’ superficial regulations and safety assessments. The reason for this tragedy is largely political. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, doesn’t require a single safety study, does not mandate labeling of GMOs, and allows companies to put their GM foods onto the market without even notifying the agency.

Their justification was the claim that they had no information showing that GM foods were substantially different. But this was a lie. Secret agency memos made public by a lawsuit show that the overwhelming consensus even among the FDA’s own scientists was that GMOs can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects.

Did you know? Wheat, grains and sugars (processed foods) can contribute to numerous health problems, including atherosclerosis, inflammation, auto-immune problems, type-2 diabetes and cognition/mood problems down to a cellular level. Here is an eye-opening quote by Dr. Davis, from his Wheat Belly blog (see link below for full content):

Let’s be clear on this: Grains and sugars CAUSE type 2 diabetes. Wheat is the worst of all grains and therefore wheat causes diabetes. (Wheat also causes type 1 diabetes, by the way, an entirely different, though VERY disturbing, conversation.) Let us count the ways:

1) The amylopectin A “complex” carbohydrate of wheat, given its unusual susceptibility to digestion by the salivary and stomach enzyme, amylase, raises blood sugar to sky-high levels. You know my line: Two slices of whole wheat bread raise blood sugar higher than 6 teaspoons of table sugar. (And, no, it does NOT mean eat white bread!)

2) High blood glucose damages the delicate pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin, a process called “glucotoxicity.”

3) Following consumption of highly-digestible carbohydrates, such as the amylopectin A of wheat, the process of liver de novo lipogenesis causes a flood of triglyceride-rich liver lipoproteins like VLDL particles to enter the bloodstream. This damages the pancreatic beta cells, a process called “lipotoxicity.”

4) Repetitive high blood sugars, such as that developing after a diet rich in “healthy whole grains,” via an uncertain cascade of events, leads to insulin resistance, that places greater demand on the pancreas to produce more insulin.

5) Insulin resistance triggers the accumulation of visceral fat: muffin top, love handles, or wheat belly.

6) Visceral fat is inflammatory fat that worsens insulin resistance.

Many supplements are also important for gene and DNA health (vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants), but there isn’t the space to cover all that material here. For more about those connections see my links below on Telomeres and Stem Cell posts, as well as earlier posts on Vitamins for Health, Magic Minerals Parts 1-2, and Aging and Antioxidants.

So there’s a brief overview on nutrition and how optimum nutrition can talk to your genes and keep them (and you) healthy, whereas processed and junk foods cause genetic degradation, faster aging, physical decline and disease. And I’ve covered nutrition in many, many posts on my site. Feel free to browse additional posts about nutrition, foods and nutrition myths to discover more.

2. Activity and exercise: You are what you do

Like nutrition, activity and exercise also affect genes in important ways. By staying active as you age, you will keep your metabolism, hormones, weight, brain, fitness and health at a higher level. Like nutrition, activity and exercise talk to your genes in direct ways!

Overall, exercise helps to increase heart rate and blood flow, which brings more oxygen and nutrients to your organs, cells, mitochondria (the little power plants in your cells) and genes. It also keeps your muscles strong and toned, and your joints flexible.

Exercise is critical for healthy blood pressure, stable weight (or weight loss), and will keep you strong with good stamina. Exercise also helps lower stress hormones, improves immune function and leads to more energy and sounder sleep.

Like optimum nutrition, exercise helps to activate health genes while silencing disease genes. So exercise helps to prevent chronic problems like high BP, inflammation, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, autoimmune problems, cancer, dementia, etc. I exercise almost every day and I’m more fit than I was 20 years ago! And it’s not hours/day, it’s minutes/day!

Many people forget that even as you age, you need to keep moving and remain active. Make it fun! Your body doesn’t work well if you’re sedentary, like most couch potatoes tend to be. Exercise also activates many genes, from hundreds to thousands, and helps keep telomeres longer for your cells, adding to a longer, healthier life!

This 2014 quote from the Texas A&M site called, It’s in the Genes: Researchers Explore Connections Between Genetics and Exercise covers several important reasons why exercise is important and its effect on genes (see link below for full content):

“One thing we’ve focused on in the last 30 to 40 years in the area of exercise, and particularly with aging, is the notion that people are really suited to being active throughout their entire life span.” said John Lawler, professor and director of the Redox Biology and Cell Signaling Lab. “We have the genes of hunter-gatherers, and that really hasn’t changed much in 40-100,000 thousand years. So, it means that nearly every day, we should be active.”

Inactivity also turns on genes that can lead to or are associated with chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart disease, type II diabetes—all the things we’re trying to avoid.

And these paragraphs from a 2013 study, showing how exercise can affect thousands of genes. It’s from MedPage today, from an article called, Exercise Alters Gene Expression in Fat Tissue (see link below for full article):

The researchers focused on 485,577 different DNA methylation sites throughout the genome, and also looked at mRNA [messenger RNA] expression — to see how genes were being transcribed — in 21,014 genes.

All the men had significant improvements in VO2max [oxygen capacity], diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate, and HDL cholesterol, as well as significant declines in waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, even though body mass index (BMI) and weight didn’t change significantly.

In the genome-wide analyses, they found 17,975 CpG sites that showed changes in DNA methylation in adipose tissue after exercise. Most of the sites (90%) exhibited very small changes, so Rönn and colleagues narrowed their focus to the 1,009 sites that had much larger changes in methylation (a range of 6% to 38%).

Remember that methylation is the process of gene activation so what they are saying is that exercise activated many genes and they showed many positive benefits in BP, oxygen capacity, heart rate, cholesterol, and fat loss.

And this 2014 quote from PlosOne, regarding a human study on exercise called, Acute Exercise Leads to Regulation of Telomere-Associated Genes and MicroRNA Expression in Immune Cells, showing how exercise leads to longer telomeres (the DNA endcaps that help cells to live longer and avoid mutations), see link below for full content:

In conclusion we have shown that 30 minutes of cardiorespiratory exercise is sufficient to elicit an upregulation of key telomeric gene TERT [telomerase reverse transcriptase] mRNA and the downregulation of TERF2IP mRNA. We also showed the differential regulation of 56 miRNAs, including miR-186 and miR-96 which have potential transcriptional influence on telomeric gene transcripts. These results may provide a mechanistic insight into pathways via which exercise of appropriate intensity may mediate improved telomere homeostasis and physical health.

I could add pages more but there are more areas of lifestyle to cover. Suffice it to say, exercise and activity have direct effects your genes. Exercise can activate health genes and silence disease genes. So be active every day for 15-30 minutes. Even simple things like walking, gardening, yard work, biking, running, playing with kids or pets, Yoga, etc., are all helpful activities. Talk to your genes with exercise and keep them, and you at your healthy best as you age!

3. Stress levels: You are what you feel

It’s been known for sometime that stress, especially chronic stress that arises from a bad boss, faltering relationship or other source is especially hard on our bodies, mood and health. And like nutrition and exercise, chronic stress (meaning it’s ongoing) affects your health on a genetic level.

For example, stress raises cortisol and adrenalin, which trigger the “fight or flight” response. But when it’s a bad boss or faltering relationship with a friend or loved one, it’s hard to run away or fight. So the stress gets internalized, prolonging hormonal imbalances, lowing immune function, increasing anxiety and depression, and other physical changes (digestive problems, food cravings, eating disorders, anger, being short tempered, etc.).

One 2012 study on older subjects in their 60s called, Dynamic changes in DNA methylation of stress-associated genes (OXTR, BDNF?) after acute psychosocial stress concluded the following (see link below for full study):

These findings contribute to the understanding of epigenetic mechanisms in general, but may also have clinical significance in the future: We found that psychosocial experiences are linked to immediate epigenetic modifications in a sample of subjects with early adverse experiences. This could have clinical implications regarding the etiology [origin] of mental and stress-related disorders, as well as of general medical conditions.

Ever notice that after you’ve been stressed for a few days, you tend to get more colds, flu or other health problems? Studies have shown that hundreds of genes are affected by chronic stress and can even shrink key areas of your brain! One study from 2014 found that immune cells were adversely affected by stress. It’s called, Stress Affects Expression of Inflammatory Genes in Immune Cells, and is published on the JAMA site (see link below for more details):

Immune cells in humans and mice under stress demonstrate increased expression of genes that activate inflammation and decreased expression of genes that suppress inflammation. . .

So as expected, stress disrupts immune function as it increases systemic inflammation (even when you don’t have an infection) and silences genes that help to turn off the inflammatory process (inflammation is known to drive many chronic illnesses from heart disease to arthritis to diabetes to cancer).

And here’s a 2011 quote about how relaxation can help activate health genes and improve heatlh. It’s from Harvard Medical School and is based on a study of young adults. It’s called, Relaxation response affects gene activity, from Harvard’s Stress Management Special Health Report (see link below for full content):

The genetic changes associated with the relaxation response were identified several years ago. A study examined the effects of the relaxation response on certain sets of genes and found that the relaxation response can turn certain genes on and off. The genes were involved with controlling how the body handles free radicals, inflammation processes, and cell death. While further research is needed to confirm these findings, the study has enhanced the credibility of the connection between mind and body, and could have important implications for how diseases are treated.

So again, we see insightful research that supports the connections between lifestyle and genes. And lifestyle synergy is also important. For managing stress, it’s important to optimize nutrition for your individual needs (especially the right vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants), and include exercise and relaxation periods to help reverse the harmful effects of chronic stress on health and genes. And getting quality sleep also plays a key role for stress and health, as you will see below.

4. Sleep and genes: You are how you sleep

Many of us know that sleep is important for health: to rest the body, process learning and memory and to help with maintenance and repair. But sleep goes beyond those basic functions, and is necessary for broader health effects, including immune function, physical and mental performance and yes, genetic and cellular function.

During quality sleep, you also reset your hormones (including insulin and stress hormones) fat storage and weight (too little sleep can lead to hormonal imbalances and weight gain). Sleep also affects your mood and outlook, as well as your ability to cope with stress and your chances of developing chronic diseases. Sleep can also help to lower pain levels.

This 2013 quote from Psychology Today called, Lack of Sleep Disrupts Our Genes covers a study on sleep and gene activity. It tells a similar story to the previous sections on nutrition, exercise and stress. The researchers found that again, hundreds of genes were affected by a lack of sleep, and sleep deprivation increased immune problems, inflammation, metabolic problems, etc. (see link below for full details):

New research may offer some important insight into how sleep affects heath. A new study indicates that poor sleep can significantly disrupt and inhibit normal gene activity, in hundreds of genes. The genes affected help to govern broad and important biological functions, including stress, the immune system, inflammation, metabolism, and circadian rhythms. A team of researchers led by scientists at England’s University of Surrey examined the influence of sleep on gene function, and found that a week of low sleep altered the activity of more than 700 genes. The study was collaborative effort among specialists in sleep science, genomics, physiology, and bioinformatics.

A lack of sleep does have adverse effects on genes and that can explain why too-little sleep contributes to chronic diseases. Other studies have found similar results. This 2013 study on over 1,800 pairs of twins explores how less sleep affects weight, especially weight gain/obesity. It’s from an article called, Study links lack of sleep to genes affecting obesity, from the Consult site (see link below for article):

“When the twins slept greater than nine hours a night, only about 30 percent of their body weight was due to genetic factors,” he said. “Conversely, when the twins slept less than seven hours a night, 70 percent of their body weight was due to genetic factors.” This suggests that short sleep creates a permissive environment for the expression of obesity-related genes.”

This 2014 study had similar outcomes as it talks about how a lack of sleep increases the risk of early death. It’s from an article called, Interrupted sleep affects your genes and includes a strong gene, disease and early death connection (see link below for full details):

In a light-controlled sleep lab, Dijk postponed bedtimes by four hours a day until study participants were out of sync with their normal biological clock by 12 hours. (So they were sleeping during the day instead of at night, as they did before the study.) The goal in doing so was to emulate working a night shift or the experience of jet lag.

After evaluating blood samples, the researchers noted decreased gene expression, which can affect the body’s circadian rhythms and other functions such as stress level, metabolism, inflammation and immune response. In recent years, more sleep studies have found that shift work, late nights and ambient light correlate to everything from depression to early death.

So again, you can see how these lifestyle areas overlap, and how a lack of sleep can add to metabolic problems, inflammation and immune response issues, as well as stress and mood problems.

The article also mentioned that over 40% of U.S. adults lack adequate sleep (a figure I’ve seen in other places). If you include all the areas covered so far (poor nutrition, inactivity, high stress and poor sleep), it should be obvious to medical people that we have a sick society, even if people don’t yet have obvious symptoms of disease in their earlier years, say 40 and under.

The poor lifestyle habits many people have are degrading their heath every day, disrupting cells and genes, corrupting and mutating them. Over time, these breakdowns add up, leading to more mutations, metabolic and organ break downs and disease. So it’s not age per se that ages people or causes chronic disease, it’s decades of accumulated harm and the effect of “a thousand cuts” to your body, cells and your DNA.

By now, it should also be obvious that these lifestyle areas are all related and can directly affect each other and all the genes they affect as well. These key lifestyle areas can work for or against you and your genes, so it’s important to know and understand how to get your genes working for you, not against you!

5. Emotions and beliefs: You are what you think

Believe it or not, thoughts, emotions and beliefs also have effects on health and genes. Yes, what you think affects your body in direct and significant ways! Remember the synergy I mentioned at the beginning? This is a full-circle process where each area affects all the other areas and what you think or feel about them and your health can make your health and life better or worse.

For example, the SAD I covered earlier (a diet of junk/processed and fast foods) will disrupt brain function and mood, increasing depression and anxiety, leading to mood problems and more negative thinking. Likewise, a lack of activity makes the brain and body sluggish, and lowers energy. Stress triggers hormones and emotions like fear, anger, frustration, or rage. And a lack of sleep can exacerbate all those problems, increasing their intensity, leaving you off balance and less able to cope or perform at your best. All of those problems can increase negative and fatalistic thinking and emotions.

This recent quote provides a good overview as it connects thoughts, responses and resulting physical changes. It’s from an article called, Beyond the genes: Are your emotions making you sick? And relates some insights from Dr. Dena Churchill about how our thoughts talk to our body (see link below for full article):

New discoveries are finding the limitations of the tangible and admit to a greater force of influence. We are no longer held captive by our genetic code but empowered to affect gene expression by changing our thoughts, beliefs and emotions.

The mind is the interface between the spirit and the body. It has an amazing capacity to integrate the abstract intuitive intelligence into the tangible body. . .

A “fight or flight” example illustrates the mind-body connection of our thoughts controlling our physiology in the short term. If I even think about seeing a rattlesnake, my pupils dilate, my heart rate, blood pressure and breathing increase, and there is increased gastric acid in my stomach. . .

The brain releases neurotransmitters and neuropeptides that are delivered to the cells. The mind talks to the body. But did you know that the body also talks back to the mind? Dr. Candace Pert, Nobel researcher, references these “molecules of emotion” that may hold a tissue memory.

And this 2013 quote from a study on how a sense of well-being can affect our health. It’s from an article called, Positive Psychology Influences Gene Expression in Humans, Scientists Say as it explores different types of positive emotions and their effects on immune function, inflammation and disease (see like below for full article):

People who have high levels of what is known as eudaimonic well-being — the kind of happiness that comes from having a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life (Mother Teresa) — showed very favorable gene-expression profiles in their immune cells. They had low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes.

However, people who had relatively high levels of hedonic well-being — the type of happiness that comes from consummatory self-gratification (celebrities) — actually showed just the opposite. They had an adverse expression profile involving high inflammation and low antiviral and antibody gene expression.

And this insightful quote from 2012 that outlines the complex ways our thoughts, beliefs and emotions affect us, along with resulting biochemistry and gene interaction. It’s from an article called, How Your Thinking Affects Your Health Part 1 of 3, by Dr. Larry Berkelheimmer (as always, see link below for full article):

Every change in your emotional state leads to a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitter substances, and can effect changes in the shape, voltage, and biochemistry of cell membrane receptors, and those changes influence gene expression. Neuropeptides, hormones, enzymes, and dozens of other agents are directly affected by our emotional state. There are neural, endocrine, and immune pathways through which thoughts, beliefs, images, and attitudes can affect gene expression, and affect cell proliferation as in cancer.

Emotional awareness and self-expression can affect which genes get turned on or off at any given time. The significance of physiological stress resulting in alterations in cell membrane function is that necessary substances may not be able to enter or exit cells at the appropriate times. For example, oncogenes get turned on with greater frequency by emotional suppression or repression, thereby increasing the odds of developing cancer.

So you can see that thoughts and emotions do have direct and significant affects on your health, right down to your genes! And those responses go both ways, as emotions affect genes and genes affect health and the brain, which in turn responds again. And you can probably see how important it is to remain positive and confident, looking forward toward the future and the life and health you want. Why not go for the gold?

If you’re still not sure, here a quick story about my past and how I overcame a significant health issues with hypnosis.

Many years ago, I had terrible allergies that lasted all year. I was tested and sure enough, I had allergic responses to a broad range of allergens: pollens (grass, trees, weeds), dust, dander, mold, mildew, etc. Almost every possible allergen was covered. And my friends all knew it as I blew my nose and had itchy, watery eyes all the time.

The allergy doctor I saw after the test (who was wiser than most) showed me pictures of pollens, spores and dust particles. Interestingly, many looked like objects from another world with complex shapes and bright colors. He told me that we all breathe these particles all the time and yet most don’t get the sneezing, watery eyes, and cough.

He said they think stress plays a major role, including stress in childhood. In essence, your body and mind create a link between pollens and spores and harmful events when these things aren’t a threat. Like stress, it’s a perception that can lie deep in the psyche and connects to the immune system via a histamine response to flush the perceived threatening particles out.

So I did self hypnosis every day for 2 weeks and those terrible allergies, the ones that drove me and all my friends crazy for years, went away. I have almost no reaction any more and it’s been 20 years!

That’s how powerful your thoughts and emotions are! And if you do have an illness, it’s important to accommodate the emotions and beliefs about your health as you focus on healing, lifestyle and helping your genes. As a Holistic coach, I always focus on the whole person and I’m there to provide support and encouragement on your journey to wellness, including your emotions and outlook. And now you know why coaching works. I help to support you on your journey, to hang in there and keep your thoughts positive, focused on the future and what can be, helping you to change your genes to be more healthy!

In closing

I’m sure there will more research in these areas in the future but I think we can already see that every decision you make is not simply a decision with an impact connected to that decision. The areas of lifestyle above, along with the synergy of lifestyle behaviors, literally determine your health, life and whether you will live a long and happy life, or one filled with disease and early death.

As a Holistic Health and Wellness Coach, I can help you chart a path toward optimum health and longevity through lifestyle choices that fit your needs, without drugs and their related side-effects. As a coach, I help you focus forward on the person you wish to be so you can achieve a healthy and happy future. The decision to feel great and live long is yours to make.  .  .your destiny awaits!

Feel to drop me a line with questions at: or comment below.

Helpful Links: 

Exercise links:

Stress and genes:


Emotions and genes: l

A new video about how the brain gets rid of its waste during sleep, including amyloid proteins:

A new study explores aging, depression, disease and genetic changes based on a lack of methylation:

© 2014 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now



Anonymous September 8, 2014 at 3:21 PM

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Arche September 10, 2014 at 1:52 AM

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