Everyday Epigenetics: From Molecular Intervention to Public Health and Lifestyle Medicine

Martha R Herbert, MD


Epigenetics, which refers to changes in which genes are turned on or off rather than to the genetic code itself, helps us understand that we have much more power over our health and well-being than we could have imagined when everything was thought to be determined by our genes.  Although it is possible to design drugs to impact genetics, the path to truly proving safety and efficacy is long.  Meanwhile, right now we can change our epigenetics through everyday choices such as eating high nutrient density food; avoiding junk food, allergens, toxicants and infections; getting plenty of exercise and sleep; minimizing stress; and nurturing each other better.  These evolutionarily tried and true approaches have documented impacts on epigenetics.  They can help us avoid disease, reduce disease severity and promote recovery.  The serious chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, autism and cancer can all be impacted greatly by addressing epigenetics through presently available everyday changes. Public health and economics as well as each person’s desire for the best possible life all dictate that we promote these affordable and practical everyday epigenetic interventions.

We are moving from the age of genes into the era of epigenetics.  This means that we are recognizing that even with the same set of genes – the same set of genetic coding – there are many different options for how things turn out, because there are many ways that influence how genetic code is expressed, spliced, or not expressed.  Now more than ever we know it is not solely our genes that determine our bodies, brains and health – many other factors contribute as well.

[N A J Med Sci. 2013;6(3):167-170.   DOI:  10.7156/najms.2013.0603167]


epigenetics, europlasticity, lifestyle intervention, nutrition, nutrient, diet, microbiome, stress, exercise, sleep, health promotion, public health

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