Our bodies have a genetic weakest link but that does not have to determine our fate. Now that we know tongue-rolling is not solely determined by genetics, let’s look at the biggest myth of all: our genes determine what diseases we will get during our lifetime. Genetics certainly is one factor but we have so much more control over our health than we give ourselves credit for. I hear it all of the time, “Such-and-such disease runs in my family so I will get it too.” This is not completely accurate and needs to be understood so more people can have a longer and better quality of life.
Instead of getting lost in the details of one particular disease, let’s take a step backward and look at autoimmune diseases in general. Dr. Tom O’Bryan states that autoimmune diseases are the leading cause of death because there is an autoimmune element to diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Autoimmune diseases are common. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease and the prevalence is rising. That is a staggering amount of people. Instead of believing the myth that genetics is solely responsible for this fate, why not try to understand the current science that can help us rise above it.
“The number one cause of getting sick and dying is autoimmune in its initiating phases and what fuels it to keep going. Heart disease and cancer are autoimmune in their initiating phases.” – Dr. Tom O’Bryan
Autoimmune basically means that your immune system is attacking your own tissue. Classical ones like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis are only three among the over 80 currently named autoimmune diseases. Remember that cancer and heart disease have an autoimmune element to them. The mechanism that starts off all of these diseases is mainly autoimmune related.
“Autoimmune diseases result from a dysfunction of the immune system. The immune system protects you from disease and infection. Sometimes, though, the immune system can produce autoantibodies that attack healthy cells, tissues, and organs. This can lead to autoimmune disease.” – National Institutes of Health U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The genes that you have does not mean you are going to get that disease. It means that you are vulnerable to that disease. It is the autoimmune mechanism that starts all of these diseases. It is the autoimmune mechanism that activates your genes to turn on a particular disease. The foundational mechanism for almost every disease starts with your immune system being activated. It turns on your genes that cause the diseases. It is the mechanism that is activating these genes that matter the most. I cannot say this loudly enough; it is not the gene that necessarily causes the disease, something has to activate that gene and it is usually an autoimmune mechanism.
We are vulnerable to our weakest links, our genetically determined links. Whatever our genes are, that is our weakest link. So, how do we have any control? Epigenetics helps us understand how we have some control over the diseases that we may or may not get. It involves a modification of gene expression.
“The word ‘epigenetic’ literally means ‘in addition to changes in genetic sequence.’ The term has evolved to include any process that alters gene activity without changing the DNA sequence, and leads to modifications that can be transmitted to daughter cells.” – NCBI; Epigenetics: The Science of Change
Epi- Prefix is taken from the Greek that means “on, upon, at, by, near, over, on top of, toward, against, among.” Simplistically: epigenetics means we can rise above our genes. Epigenetics has proven that we have some control over turning on those particular genes that will turn on a particular disease, our weakest link. When we have the realization that we have some control over the diseases that we get, we are empowered to take responsibility for our health.
Understanding what is initiating our autoimmune response is the next step. If we do not pull on the chain, the chain won’t break. We can control initiating the autoimmune response so we do not get these diseases. There are three things that initiate autoimmune response: 1. Having a specific gene for that disease. 2. An environmental trigger that breaks the weak link (turns on the specific gene). 3. Leaky gut (intestinal permeability).
Having a gene for that disease
Simply stated, you either have the genetics for a particular disease or you do not. Testing is the most accurate way to find out. The test results help to motivate us to specifically act against biomarkers. As we are retested after taking action, we see that our efforts toward good health make a difference in keeping those specific weak link genes turned off so we do not get those specific diseases that we have a vulnerability to because of our genes. Testing is meant to be empowering.
A person’s genes in combination with infections and other environmental exposures are likely to play a significant role in disease development. An environmental trigger is anything that is outside of your body that goes inside of your body that can cause any type of problem. Food, beverages, medicines, air, pollution, chemicals, stress, are general examples.
Leaky Gut (intestinal permeability)
Our digestive system is approximately 20-25 feet in length. It is designed to be impermeable. With our diet, lifestyle, and environment it creates tiny holes that allow food and other particles to escape, going into the bloodstream, lymph system, etc. creating immune issues. When this goes on long enough we end up with autoimmune diseases. Dr. Tom O’Bryan explains this very well in this video: Video: Dr. Tom O’Bryan Leaky Gut | Betrayal Documentary Series. Don’t spring a leak, get educated!
Since autoimmune disease is a likely problem we may encounter in our lifetime, it is vital that we understand what we are able to control instead of believing that our fate is sealed by our genes. Working on our immune systems is the easiest way to take charge of our health. By the time you are feeling poorly you most likely are on the autoimmune path. If you are feeling well, time to take charge of your health to spare yourself from going down this path. If you already are feeling poorly or already have one or more diseases, it is not too late, time to learn and fight to get things changed.
Where are you with realizing you have some control over the diseases you may or may not get? If this is new to you, are you ready to learn more? Are you taking care of the body that you were given?
Maribeth Baxter, MBEC
Donations accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.
HEALTH COACH DISCLAIMER Health/Wellness coaching is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. It is not intended to substitute for the advice, treatment and/or diagnosis of a qualified licensed professional. Trained Health Coaches may not make any medical diagnoses, claims and/or substitute for your personal physician’s care. As your health/wellness coach I do not provide a second opinion or in any way attempt to alter the treatment plans or therapeutic goals/recommendations of your personal physician. It is my role to partner with you to provide ongoing support and accountability as you create an action plan to meet and maintain your health goals.