How many of us think of the New Year as a time to find or create that better version of ourselves? Watch TV for any period of time and you’ll see an increase in ads for weight loss programs, giving up sugar programs, and self-care programs and apps. There is something about the opportunity of a clean start that is appealing to the human mind. It represents infinite possibilities. It creates hope.
I don’t know about you, but my time and energy are limited. Life is demanding and we frequently have to choose how to spend our time. If you spend it on exercise or working on changing something in your diet, you want to see results. (I do, too!) That becomes the challenge in the health world – most things do not change quickly. But what if you could target activities and changes in diet specifically for you and your unique genetic composition, increasing the potential for better and faster outcomes? That is exactly what epigenetics does.
Epigenetics combines the knowledge of your unique genetic information, biochemistry and the impacts of your food and drink choices, stress level and exposures to environmental pollutants to inform a personalized health plan for you. It is an actual look at how your body functions on a cellular, hormonal, and neurotransmitter level which allows a targeted approach to achieve your health goals. We can use epigenetics to improve anxiety and depression, to increase energy levels, and to improve how we respond to stress. Epigenetics is great for disease prevention and health optimization, too.
One quick clarification, I am not talking about changing the actual genes with which we were born and this is not genetic counseling like you might experience if you have a family member with breast cancer or colon cancer. Think of this more as another tool in your general health toolbox, although most providers are still not very comfortable with incorporating epigenetics into their practice.
A provider that uses epigenetics as one of their tools will likely need you to be comfortable with genetic testing. While genetic testing is not a requirement to incorporate epigenetic fundamentals into your health routine, it does help target strategies. Testing may look like a standard kit from 23andme or ancestry.com or, if you have concerns over privacy, there are a number of private labs out there who do similar testing. The raw data from 23andme or ancestry.com is then plugged into a program like StrateGene by Dr. Ben Lynch or Sterling’s App by MTHFRSupport.com and you then have a report in hand which is rich in insight into your health. With testing, there are two hurdles to be aware of: 1.) insurance generally does not cover the cost of these tests (check with your provider about potential options, especially for a single test like MTHFR), and 2.) interpretation of these tests can be quite overwhelming!
The magic of epigenetics is working with a provider who has expertise in creating a personal plan for you using that report and your personal health story. Dr. Melissa at Grace Integrative Medicine has advanced training and practical experience in epigenetics, both from her personal health journey and that of her clients. If you are looking for a new approach to your health-related New Year’s Resolutions for 2020, give us a call. Happy New Year, Everyone!