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  • GENETICS, EPIGENETICS & HUMAN BIOLOGY

    Genetics, Epigenetics, and Human Biology

    Dr. Hank Liers, PhD geneticsWe are entering a time in which new scientific tools are available that provide clear insights regarding the causes of poor health, as well as therapies that can be used to overcome health issues. Specifically, these tools include 1) our understanding and ability to characterize the human genome, and 2) advances in the science of epigenetics showing how environmental factors significantly influence the expression of genetics and human biology.

    For many years, my company (Health Products Distributors, Inc. – "HPDI") has been involved in Rejuvenation/Healing Programs which take multiple health modalities into consideration (for information on HPDI's Rejuvenation/Healing Programs, see Additional Resources below). Our programs have generally involved the following elements:

    1. Health-Building Nutrition
      Rejuvenation begins with nutrition in the broadest sense. That is, nutrition derived from healthy foods, superfoods, supplements, dietary nucleic acids, water and fluids, as well as via the skin. Establishing health-building nutrition is foundational to rejuvenating the body, mind, and spirit.
    2. Detoxification & Preventing Toxicity
      Individuals cannot fully experience rejuvenation without having effective means for removing existing toxins form the body, or for stopping further accumulation of toxins absorbed from foods, air, water, and skin. Such toxins include everything from chemicals in foods and water to the many toxins found in homes, workplaces, personal products, and just about everywhere.
    3. Building Powerful Immunity
      Building immunity is important for health because the immune system is the means by which the body defends itself. Yet, if the best defense is a strong offense, then having a strong immunity protects us in ways beyond just defense. Building immunity is accomplished not only by nutrition, but also by utilizing herbs, immune boosting supplements, and immune-enhancing protocols.
    4. Supporting Protocols
      Certain practices and protocols powerfully support rejuvenation. These protocols include exercise, massage, saunas/hydrotherapy,  yoga, acupuncture, meditation, and others.
    5. Attitude and Commitment to Becoming Healthy
      Attitude and Commitment are foundational to your rejuvenation/healing program because having total focused intention regarding your health is essential for success. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, establishing that intention perspective is a great place to start.

    ADDING GENETICS TEST TO HPDI REJUVENATION PROGRAM

    In the last few years, we have seen how healing and wellness programs can be significantly enhanced by adding genetics testing into the mix. In fact, we have joined forces with BodySync, a company with the most advanced single genetics test available. This test characterizes 45 different genes and gene variations. The Bodysync genetics test results are combined with basic lifestyle information provided by the patient to create a complete program customized for dealing with gene variations having either harmful or helpful effects.

    The insights gleaned by taking the BodySync genetics test provides new insights into reasons a person may experience health challenges that no other method can provide. The test results and action plan also provide information regarding genetic strengths, especially related to athletic performance and weight management.

    The NutriSync test from BodySync genetics

    HPDI now adds the BodySync genetics test to the list of key elements in our rejuvenation/healing programs. In fact, we are now introducing the BodySync genetic test along with consultations to our HPDI Reseller Associates—so that health practitioners (HPs) can experience the benefits of the test for themselves— and see how genetics consulting can be added to their practice. In addition, BodySync has selected HPDI as their preferred supplier of nutritional supplements supporting the recommendations provided in their Action Plans for individuals taking the test. It is exciting to be part of this breakthrough in the practice of genetic science.

    BROAD OVERVIEW OF GENETICS, EPIGENETICS, AND HUMAN BIOLOGY

    In order to give a more complete understanding of our program for attaining excellent health, we have developed a broad scientific overview of how all the key elements are related and eventually expressed as YOU.

    The diagram below provides a broad overview of genetics, epigenetics, and human biology with the goal of showing how the elements are interrelated. More discussion on the key elements is provided below the diagram.

    Genetics, Epigenetics, and Human Biology genetics

     

    GENOME

    The human genome is the sum of the body's DNA and is considered to be static for each individual—remaining the same over a lifetime. The human genome contains all the instructions needed to make the full range of human cell types including muscle cells and neurons. This includes all of the body's DNA, both the genes (the coding regions) and the noncoding DNA, as well as the genetic material of the mitochondria and chloroplasts.

    With the breakthrough in gene testing now available, it is possible to isolate relevant genes from a field of  approximately 20,000 different genes. These 20,000 different genes make up less than 2% of the total amount of DNA.

    It has been found that the underlying gene patterns can exhibit "genetic variations". Ultimately, genetic variations are caused by variations in the order of bases in the nucleotides in genes. New technology, such as that used in the BodySync genetics test, allows scientists to directly sequence DNA which has identified even more genetic variation than was previously detected by previous methods such as protein electrophoresis.

    Examination of DNA has shown genetic variation in both coding regions and in the non-coding intron (nonprotein-coding sections) region of genes. Mutation is the ultimate source of genetic variation, but mechanisms such as sexual reproduction and genetic drift contribute to it as well.

    Genetic variation will result in phenotypic variation if variation in the order of nucleotides in the DNA sequence results in a difference in the order of amino acids in proteins coded by that DNA sequence, and if the resultant differences in amino acid sequence influence the shape, and thus the function of the enzyme.

    Genetic variations/base substitutions can change a codon to one that encodes a different amino acid and cause a small change in the protein produced. For example, sickle cell anemia is caused by a substitution in the beta-hemoglobin gene, which alters a single amino acid in the protein produced.

    Genetic variations can change a codon to one that encodes the same amino acid and causes no change in the protein produced. These are called silent mutations.

    Also, base substitutions can change an amino-acid-coding codon to a single "stop" codon and cause an incomplete protein. This can have serious effects since the incomplete protein probably won't function.

    In some genetic variations there may be a piece of the DNA deleted or inserted in a gene that may also lead to Present/Insertion or Deletion variation (INDEL). Since protein-coding DNA is divided into codons three bases long, insertions and deletions can alter a gene so that its message is no longer correctly parsed.

    When it comes to genetic traits, scientists look at genes and the locus where that gene or trait encodes on the chromosome. Since humans possess two copies of each chromosome, they also have two copies of each gene and locus on those chromosomes. Each of these trait-encoding genes (or loci) is called an allele. If the alleles match, the person is homozygous for that trait. If the alleles are different, the person is heterozygous for that trait.

    If a mutation occurs in just one copy of the gene then that individual is considered heterozygous. On the other hand if both copies of a gene are mutated then that individual is homozygous genotype. Many of these mutations can have undesirable health affects for an individual.

    BodySync's technology has helped to usher in the age of personalized nutrigenomics. The company has built its intellectual property and technology to support its vision of providing services in partnership with health care professionals (HP). BodySync's NutriSync (NS) genetics test consists of only the most well-researched genetic variations with direct applicability to actionable personalized health and wellness recommendations (most of which fall into the epigenetic category).

    The NutriSync genetics test has been based on evaluations of thousands of peer reviewed articles, published research papers, and human intervention studies, as well as extracting data of tens of thousands of DNA and self-reported lifestyle samples in its database.

    EPIGENOME

    The human epigenome serves as a bio-record of chemical changes that have occurred in a person's DNA and their histone proteins. Unlike the underlying genome which is largely static within an individual, the epigenome can be dynamically altered by environmental conditions. For example methyl groups from the diet can tag DNA and activate or repress certain genes as shown in the diagram below.

    The epigenome is involved in regulating gene expression, development, tissue differentiation, and suppression of transposable elements. These changes in underlying DNA and histone proteins can be passed down to an organism's offspring via transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. Changes to the epigenome can result in changes to the structure of chromatin and changes to the function of the genome.

    EPIGENETICS

    Epigenetics, on the other hand, is the study of changes in gene expression (active versus inactive genes) that do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence — a change in phenotype (the manifestation that is YOU) without a change in genotype — which in turn affects how cells read the genes. To be sure, epigenetic change is a regular and natural occurrence in our bodies, but can also be influenced by several factors including age, the environment/lifestyle, drug usage, and disease state.

    Epigenetic modifications can manifest as commonly as the manner in which cells terminally differentiate to end up as skin cells, liver cells, brain cells, etc. Also, epigenetic change can have more damaging effects that can result in diseases like cancer. At least three epigenetic mechanisms (two of which are shown in the diagram below) including DNA methylation, histone modification, and non-coding RNA (ncRNA)-associated gene silencing are currently considered to initiate and sustain epigenetic change.

    genetics epigenetics mechanisms

    ENVIRONMENT

    In this context the term "ENVIRONMENT" refers to all of the "external" influences we experience. In the diagram we list what are generally considered to be positive and negative factors contributing to our overall health.

    Some of these factors such as free-radicals and drug use affect our genome directly. Environmental agents such as UV light, ionizing radiation, and genotoxic chemicals (e.g. the drug thalidomide) can cause DNA damage. DNA damage is very frequent, occurring on average about 10,000 times a day per cell of the human body.

    These damages are largely repaired, but at the site of a DNA repair, epigenetic changes can remain. In particular, a double strand break in DNA can initiate unprogrammed epigenetic gene silencing both by causing DNA methylation, as well as by promoting silencing types of histone modification.

    The field of epigenetics is rapidly growing and with it the understanding that both the environment and individual lifestyle directly interact with the genome to influence changes in the way various genes are expressed. These changes may be reflected at various stages throughout a person’s life and even in later generations. For example, human epidemiological studies have provided evidence that prenatal and early postnatal environmental factors influence the adult risk of developing various chronic diseases and behavioral disorders.

    Also, research has also shown that a mother’s exposure to pollution could impact her child's asthma susceptibility and her intake of Vitamin D could change DNA methylation that influences placenta functioning. It doesn’t stop at the mother, however, as further studies support that the father has a hand in his child’s health and epigenetic marks, as well.

    Although our epigenetic marks are more stable during adulthood, they are still thought to be dynamic and modifiable by lifestyle choices and environmental influence. It is becoming more apparent that epigenetic effects occur not just in the womb, but over the full course of a human life span, and that epigenetic changes could be reversed. There are numerous examples of epigenetics that show how different lifestyle choices and environmental exposures can alter marks on top of DNA and play a role in determining health outcomes.

    The environment is being investigated as a powerful influence on epigenetic tags and disease susceptibility. Pollution has become a significant focus in this research area as scientists are finding that air pollution could alter methyl tags on DNA and increase one’s risk for neurodegenerative disease. Also, adequate amounts of B vitamins may protect against harmful epigenetic effects of pollution and may be able to combat the harmful effects that particulates have on the body.

    Diet has also been shown to modify epigenetic tags in significant ways. The field of nutriepigenomics explores how food and nutritional supplements and epigenetics work together to influence health and well being. For example, a study found that a high fat, low carbohydrate diet could open up chromatin and improve mental ability via HDAC (histone deacetylase) inhibitors.

    Other studies have found that certain compounds within the foods we consume could protect again cancer by adjusting methyl marks on oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes. Ultimately, an epigenetic diet may guide people toward the optimal food regimen as scientific studies reveal the underlying mechanisms and impact that different foods have on the epigenome and health.

    RNA/PROTEIN

    Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymeric molecule essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation, and expression of genes. RNA and DNA are nucleic acids, and, along with lipids, proteins and carbohydrates, constitute the four major macromolecules essential for all known forms of life.

    Like DNA, RNA is assembled as a chain of nucleotides, but unlike DNA it is more often found in nature as a single-strand folded onto itself, rather than a paired double-strand. Cellular organisms use messenger RNA (mRNA) to convey genetic information that directs synthesis of specific proteins.

    These protein molecules are the "workhorses" of the cell carrying out all the functions necessary for life. For example, enzymes, including those that metabolize nutrients and synthesize new cellular constituents, as well as DNA polymerases and other enzymes that make copies of DNA during cell division, are all proteins.

    PHENOTYPE

    Your phenotype is a description of your actual physical characteristics. This includes straightforward visible characteristics like your height and eye color, but also your overall health, your disease history, and even your behavior and general disposition. Do you gain weight easily? Are you anxious or calm? Do you like cats? These are all ways in which you present yourself to the world, and as such are considered phenotypes.

    However, not all phenotypes are a direct result of your genotype; chances are that your personal disposition to cats is the result of your life’s experience with pets (epigenetic) rather than a mutation in a hypothetical cat fancier gene.

    Most phenotypes are influenced by both your genotype and by the unique circumstances in which you have lived your life, including everything that has ever happened to you (epigenetic). We often refer to these two inputs as “nature,” the unique genome you carry, and “nurture,” the environment in which you have lived your life.

    HEALTH AND DISEASE

    Your phenotype expresses who YOU are in a multitude of ways and in particular shows your strengths and weaknesses regarding health, mental abilities, and athletic performance to name a few. By incorporating genetics and epigenetic tests and controlling your environment in positive ways your strengths can be expressed more easily and your weaknesses minimized!!

    CONCLUSION

    I have provided an overview of how genetics testing provides new scientific insights into many health issues that have previously not been well understood. An overview of genetics, epigenetic, and human biology has been provided that shows the overall relationships of these topics. Hopefully, the rationale is clear for adding genetic testing into programs that provide protocols for more successful healing regimens.

     

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    HOMOCYSTEINE GENETICS – COENZYME B VITAMINS

    REJUVENATION PROGRAM SERIES

    Rejuvenation Program Part Ten: The Yoga Program

    Rejuvenation Program Part Nine: Acupuncture. Supporting Protocols Part Four – Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

    Rejuvenation Program Part Eight: Massage. Supporting Protocols Part Three – The Massage Program.

    Rejuvenation Program Part Seven. Supporting Protocols Part Two – The Magnesium Chloride Program

    Rejuvenation Program Part Six. Supporting Protocols Part One (garlic, hydrotherapy, and sauna therapy programs).

    Rejuvenation Program Part Five. Beyond foundational supplements. Seven enhancement supplements that supercharge your health. CoenzymeQ10 and/or Ubiquinol, Myo-Mag, Hepa Plus, Nascent Iodine, Echinacea, Immune-Assist™.

    Rejuvenation Program Part Four. The role of foundational supplements (multivitamin, Vitamin C / antioxidant formula, Rejuvenate!™ superfoods) for health.

    Rejuvenation Program Part Three. Health building nutrition and the role of dietary nucleic acids (RNA, DNA, nucleosides, and nucleotides).

    Rejuvenation Program Part Two. Foundational elements in the HPDI Rejuvenation Program: 1) Attitude/Commitment, 2) Detoxification, 3) Preventing Toxicity, 4) Health Building Nutrition, 5) Building Powerful Immunity, and 6) Supporting Protocols.

    Rejuvenation Program Part One. Introducing the HPDI Master Rejuvenation Program and its foundational elements. The importance of Attitude/Commitment.

     

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