Nurture these Six Domains to Determine Your Destiny!
Welcome to the dog days of summer, reader—is it hot and muggy enough for you out there yet? I live and work in the DC area, and last weekend the temperature held steady in the low eighties—and the humidity levels did too. Around noon, I stepped away from my home office to take a walk around the neighborhood. The heat and humidity bore down on me like a soggy blanket. Of course, I didn’t fully appreciate this until about midway through my jaunt. But, funnily enough, it wasn’t my body that registered the discomfort first—it was my emotional state. I started feeling irritability rise up from my gut into my chest. Suddenly, all around me, I saw problems: an unmanned water hose, wasting water drowning a garden bed of flowers (after weeks of almost continuous rain, no less!). Cars driving too fast, and pedestrians walking too slowly. Only after a few minutes did I realize I was dehydrated and lightheaded. Suddenly, my irritation made sense. Aha, I thought to myself, the mind/body connection strikes again!
The “mind/body connection” is something we all recognize to some extent: it’s that phenomenon that makes our body feel hot when we’re mad, that sends a shiver down our spine when we are scared, that makes our thoughts foggy when we’re sick and makes our mood joyful when we eat our favorite foods. If you’ve ever wondered dreamily about how our minds and our bodies seem to play off each other and connect to and complement one another, then you’re in for an exciting few weeks as we dive into our new series: “DNA… Nurture Your Nature”. As with our prior DNA series, (“DNA: I Am Who I Am… or Am I?”), “Nurture Your Nature” centers around a genetic test that provides actionable information—this time, Genomind’s Mindful DNA test, and will analyze how your genes play a direct role in determining your future health and wellness. But, as discussed in last week’s blog, whereas “I Am Who I Am… or Am I?” and the Genecept Assay focused on fast-acting precision medicine through insights gained from your genes related to brain cells and their synaptic connections, this new series is all about exploring preventative health options tailored to your genetic code, to help you take control of your destiny and improve your Healthspan.
And the mind/body connection is at the front and center of it all.
Mindful DNA and Systems Biology: Your Mind/Body Connection Unveiled
Let’s return for a moment to my opening anecdote. In scientific thought, explanations regarding our physical health status tend to fit into one of two categories: They can be reductive, or they can be holistic. A reductive explanation to my overheated, dehydrated discomfort would suggest that overheating made me lightheaded—and that my consequent mood may or may not be related, but really doesn’t matter. A holistic explanation would very much take into account the possibility that my physiology tampered with my mood—and my mood tampered with my physiology. The prior DNA blog series was underpinned by the concept of the biopsychosocial model: a very holistic way of exploring our mental health. This series will be underpinned by systems biology, aptly defined as “a holistic approach to deciphering the complexity of biological systems that starts from the understanding that the networks that form the whole of living organisms are more than the sum of their parts.”
When it comes to your personal genome, systems biology suggests a two-way street: Just as your genes can impact the organ-systems at play in your body, so too can your bodily processes have an impact on your genes. This process through which your external environment and internal physiologic environment can interact with the DNA to alter your genetic expression on a cellular level is known as epigenetics: and in “Nurture Your Nature,” we’ll be taking a close look at how small changes can make a big impact on your wellbeing.
The Systems that Determine Your Health… and the Genes that Determine the Systems
Keeping in mind systems biology and the mind/body connection, Mindful DNA and “Nurture Your Nature” groups 32 genes into six domains, or systems: Cognition and Mental Acuity; Sleep; Stress; Cardiometabolic; Inflammation; and GI/Immune. The genes are separated according to which system they impact most. Some genes affect multiple systems, while others influence just one—but each of these six domains is deeply interconnected and related to one another.
Mindful DNA analyzes the gene alleles found within each domain and categorizes them into three categories: “risk” (conferring increased vulnerability to disease), “wild-type” (average), and “resilient”. Most genes fall into the “average” category—but we all carry genetic mutations that either predispose us toward disease (risk), or they predispose us towards protection from disease (resilience). Thankfully, in today’s world of daily scientific breakthroughs, we are not bound by our genome—thanks to our knowledge of epigenetics, we can impact our health at the cellular level through non-prescription lifestyle changes (diet, supplements, and so on). And Mindful DNA gives us the precise knowledge we need to pinpoint our problem genes and act now to promote or suppress them the way we want.
The goal of Mindful DNA is to give individuals the tools they need to modify their “risk” gene expression to achieve “average” gene health status, and their “average” gene expression to achieve “resilience” gene status, through habits known to effectively target and change the expression of each analyzed gene. These habits may include taking supplements or vitamins, changing your diet, getting into an exercise or meditation regimen, exposing yourself to more sunlight and less toxicity in your surrounding environment, and more.
Every single gene of the 32 genes analyzed by this genetic test relates back to how you feel – to your mental wellbeing. Why? Because if the trillions of cells in your body are not well, it’s extremely difficult for you to feel good and find happiness. In other words, emotional pain is directly related to the health and well-being of each and every cell in your body – all 32.7 trillion of them! Depression, memory loss and other cognitive decline, and loss of executive functioning can all be traced back to genes categorized in these six domains—and in our upcoming series, “Nurture Your Nature”, we’re going to give you the tools you need to take control of it all, to power better health without medication.
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