“A cell cannot be in growth and defense at the same time.”
– Bruce Lipton, PhD
[read time 5 min]
For centuries it has been believed that you were born susceptible to a specific disease. I have heard many times from people, “My (insert family member) has this and that is why I have (insert disease).
Is that true? Are we predetermined to become sick? If that is true talk about unfair. Fortunately this is not entirely true. Researchers are finding out that the old way of thinking that genetics determine health is not the case in most instances. It isn’t our genetic makeup that determines our life trajectory, but our gene expression.
Gene expression is the most fundamental way a gene gives rise to an observable trait. An example is your eye color, skink color or even your ear shape. Regulation of this expression is essential in the organisms development. So if gene expression is the deciding factor in development what is the deciding factor in disease?
The answer was termed in the 1940’s. It is called Epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of genetic effects not found in the DNA of an organism. These effects are due to the external environment that switches genes on and off that affect how cells express genes. These alterations are not hereditary. These changes alter how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA. The epigenetic changes can last up until that cell’s death or they may last for multiple generations.
A January 2010 article in Time Magazine stated, “Epigenetics is proving we have some responsibility for the integrity of our genome…Before, genes predetermined outcomes. Now everything we do—can affect our gene expression and that of future generations. Epigenetics introduces the concept of free will into our idea of genetics.”
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. [LINK]
DNA is damaged by normal cell processes and other external environmental stressors. Our body must repair the damaged DNA in order to stay healthy and heal properly if we become ill. One way it does that is through DNA methylation. DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism used by cells to control gene expression. This process removes the damaged portions of the DNA code. Researchers have linked abnormal DNA methylation to several adverse outcomes, including human diseases such as cancer and tumor growth.
One way to estimate the performance of DNA repair is through levels of serum thiol levels. Individuals with chronic diseases have low levels of serum thiol. In other words, their body cannot repair DNA as well as healthy individuals. Besides having proper DNA methlyation one must reduce the damage caused by Oxidative Stress. Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants. Free radicals in the body have been linked to cancer, dementia, heart disease and premature ageing.
Currently there isn’t much research on treatments for correcting abnormal DNA methylation. One study shows promise using Escherichia coli and two human chemical compounds to help repair this important DNA process.[LINK] With the limited options currently, we must investigate further other means of restoring optimal function to our body when they show promise. One such way is through optimization of the nervous system.
There is a growing body of evidence that wellness care provided by doctors of chiropractic may reduce health care costs, improve health behaviors, and enhance patient perceived quality of life. Until recently, however, little was known about how chiropractic adjustments affected the chemistry of biological processes on a cellular level.
Two studies in particular have shown the benefits of a chiropractic adjustment on the celluar level. One study compared serum thiol levels in patients with an active disease, patients with musculoskeletal issues and patients who have been on a wellness plan. The findings were eye opening to say the least. Serum thiol levels were the lowest in patients with active disease as well as patients with initial musculoskeletal complaints. Asymptomatic subjects under chiropractic demonstrated higher serum thiol levels compared to the other groups. This study sheds light on the possibility of those individuals who use chiropractic adjustments for overall wellness may in fact age better. [LINK]
In another study, chiropractors collaborated with researchers at the University of Lund found that chiropractic care could influence basic physiological processes affecting oxidative stress and DNA repair. These findings offer a scientific explanation for the positive health benefits reported by patients receiving chiropractic care. [LINK]
It goes without saying that more research is needed for follow up to this study, but we are seeing some great benefits of chiropractic besides helping with your back pain. As more and more studies are being completed we will soon start to see the impact a healthy nervous system has on every aspect of our lives.