Just as you have one car, one set of DNA genetics that you inherit to last you an entire lifetime, you also inherit the epigenetic changes to your DNA. The extent to which your mother or father, or grandparent’s DNA were methylated is passed down from generation to generation. You in turn will pass down the extent of epigenetic methylation that your DNA contains. While you cannot change your DNA, you can change your epigenetics. I am always reminded of the line in the movie A Knights Tale when I think about epigenetics. When John Thatcher tells William that yes, you can change your stars. Your DNA is the lot in life you were cast genetically, but epigenetics allow you to change your stars. Equally important, IF you change your stars, and bypass mutations so that your epigenetics function properly, then this change will be passed on to future generations.
This is an important concept and helps to highlight why the Methylation Cycle is so important to health and well-being and plays a role in so many health conditions. The DNA that is part of your editing system (your epigenetic system) is part of a well known nutritional pathway. This is wonderful on the part of Mother Nature, that a system that is so critical for health is amenable to bypassing mutations through natural supplements and is a well defined system so we know where the accidents are on this highway to health and how to detour around them. This epigenetic system puts methyl groups on our DNA. While the DNA itself cannot change over our lifetimes, the positioning of the methyl groups on the DNA can, and those groups help to affect the activity of that DNA. The placement of these methyl groups on the DNA is something that is passed down from generation to generation. If you change your own stars, if you start to bypass mutations in your Methylation Cycle then you make a positive difference for the next generation. Unlike your DNA which you inherit and you cannot change, you have a second chance when it comes to epigenetics. Many families have a history of autism, bipolar disorder, stroke, Parkinson’s. The mutations in the DNA that may predispose you to these conditions are inherited as are the methyl groups attached to the DNA that alter its function. By supporting healthy Methylation Cycle function in your body you open the door to changing the methyl groups that are attached to the DNA, changing the inheritance pattern of epigenetics and changing your stars and that of your future generations.
The genetics that predispose to imbalances in the Methylation Cycle come from both parents. And the epigenetic changes to that DNA are also inherited from the father, the mother as well as grandparents. There are approximately 25,000 genes in your body. DNA has two strands, like a ladder with two long supporting pieces that are held together by the rungs. One of those support structures comes from each parent, so it is easy to see how both the mother and the father contribute equally to the DNA of the child. And why, if for instance your child has autism or ADD that I am suggesting that both parents may also have predisposing imbalances in their SNPs for their own Methylation Cycle.
Simply by the small modifications made to these 25,000 genes, these epigenetic tags increase the patterns of DNA to 50 to 100 times its actual size.
Epigenetics helps to explain how identical twins, with the same DNA can have very different health conditions that are related to the extent of their methylation. The appearance of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (lupus) in one of two identical twins, has been tied to differences between the two in terms of their DNA methylation.
It is well known that diet and nutrition can affect epigenetics and health. A classic experiment to demonstrate this fact used genetically identical sets of mice that were given specific nutrients during pregnancy. The mice who received nutrients that are part of the Methylation Cycle had pups with normal weight and healthy brown fur. The genetically identical mice who lacked methylation support had pups that were obese, had greater health issues and lighter fur. Using genetically identical animal models it is clear that diet and nutrition are able to influence epigenetics.
Since epigenetic changes to the DNA are influenced by nutrition it might be a little more difficult to envision how the epigenetic influence can come from both parents. Unlike the inheritance of DNA and SNPs where each parent contributes one of the supporting structures of the DNA ladder It would seem logical that only the mother who carries the growing child, would play a solitary role with respect to the epigenetic aspect.
However, when it comes to epigenetics it is not just about the mom! Recent studies have demonstrated that epigenetic changes in sperm are carried forward transgenerationally. Thus it is not just the mom, or the dad but even the grandfather that can influence the pattern of epigenetics. This research found that both the eggs and sperm from even great grandparents could be passed on to their children and grandchildren by a process called transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. So that the way in which we methylate our DNA, how our Methylation Cycle functions and is impacted by diet and toxins alters not only our health but the health of our descendants. When I say that thinking about the Methylation Cycle is something we all need to be concerned about, I truly mean all of us.
Environmental toxins also have the capacity to negatively influence methylation. Such that your diet, exposure to toxins, as well as your genetics and inherited epigenetics all play a role in your susceptibility to health conditions. Toxins create a catch 22, as they impair methylation and the degree of DNA methylation in turn plays a role in your susceptibility to environmental toxins. This again emphasizes that there are a number of factors that come into play to create a perfect storm of nonideal health.
It is not just about the car you were given in this life. It is also about the way you drive that car, how well your personal mechanic for that car functions and the type of fuel and environmental elements that car is exposed to that determine how long and how well your car will survive. Your car for life is your DNA. Your mechanic for life is your epigenetics. If your mechanic is nonfunctional, then no matter how lovely a car you were given at birth and no matter how carefully you drive and maintain that car it is going to slowly accumulate mechanical issues over time without a mechanic. On the other hand, if your car is well maintained with regular visits to your personal mechanic, then even if your car has some weaknesses it can last a lifetime.