Take Control of Your Immune Health—Right Down to Your DNA
Do you ever wonder why some people never seem to get sick?
Or how it’s possible that two adults, in the same environment, eating the same foods, even sharing the same cup (gasp!), can respond so differently to a cold or flu? One person gets the virus with all its awful symptoms, while the other person feels fine?
Most people would say it just depends on your immune system—ultimately, how ‘good’ it is. And it’s true: A robust immune system will ward off not only colds and flu, but other illnesses, like cancer. It’s our best ally for staying healthy, period.
But what exactly does this mean? And most importantly, how can we get there? Because as they say, there’s no cure for the common cold.
Or is there…?
Reclaim the Power of Your DNA
New research shows how specific genes impact the immune system. Even more exciting, researchers are showing how we can influence these genes—with simple methods—for optimal immune and overall health.
Most people understand genetics as the unique DNA you inherit from your parents—your personal code that dictates your physical traits: eye color, hair color, that signature grin.
Also, your genetics can determine what conditions you may be more susceptible to, including:
It was once believed that many of these traits were hardwired into our DNA, and therefore, unchangeable.
But as it turns out, that’s not necessarily the case. An emerging area of science called epigenetics explains why.
Epigenetics: Revolutionizing Health at its Core
This fast-growing field of research shows that certain genes, and the countless processes they control, can behave differently—depending on specific factors that essentially work to activate, or deactivate them. Like a light turning on and off.
The most exciting part? Many of these gene-influencing factors are right at our fingertips: Environment, diet, lifestyle…even our thoughts!
Researchers studying epigenetics are making groundbreaking discoveries, showing how we can “hack our DNA” with targeted foods, botanicals, therapies, and other stimuli, to turn on health-promoting genes, and turn off disease-promoting ones.
And immune health is one area where epigenetics can give us a quantum edge. Revolutionary findings in this field are showing how simple it can be to activate genes for optimal immune function.
Mind-Body-DNA: Yoga Activates Hundreds of Genes
One breakthrough study examined gene expression in a group of yoga practitioners, to see how yoga affects genes that control immune function. To answer that question, they took genetic samples from participants, both before and after their practice. They also took samples from people performing other relaxing activities, such as walking in nature and listening to calming music.
The results were impressive. Yoga practice resulted in beneficial changes in 111 genes that impact immune function. By comparison, the control activities altered 38 genes.
Food and Genes: Bright and Colorful
You’ve probably heard the saying, “eat your rainbow.” It’s excellent advice, since data shows that colorful fruits and vegetables pack more nutrients into each bite. Now, research on “epigenetic foods” gives us even more reasons to choose foods with bright pigments.
- One study from the Linus Pauling Institute showed that two plant-based compounds—resveratrol from red grapes, and pterostilbene from blueberries—worked with vitamin D3 to increase the expression of a gene known as “CAMP”. The CAMP gene plays a major role in human immune function, helping to boost immunity against bacteria, viruses, even cancer.
- Other research found that curcumin, the bright yellow active ingredient from turmeric root, also influences the CAMP gene to increase immune function.
- Another study says that Mom was right: Eating green vegetables can have a significant impact on immunity—especially at the genetic level. The study showed that green vegetables like broccoli activate a gene called T-bet. This gene boosts immune cells that protect the digestive tract from harmful invaders.
On the other hand, a standard “Western” diet high in saturated fats and sugars, and low in fiber, is shown to produce unhealthy changes in the expression of specific genes. These genetic changes can weaken the immune system and lead us down the path of chronic disease.
Medicinal Mushrooms: Immune Benefits on Every Level
Research on medicinal mushrooms continues to uncover some of the most remarkable health benefits nature has to offer. In addition to their potent antiviral and direct immune-boosting properties, new research shows how certain mushrooms can support healthy gene activity in the fight against abnormal cells.
- One study showed that the mushroom Phellinus linteus influenced anti-cancer genes, to enhance the body’s ability to control abnormal cell growth.
Rest Easy: Good Sleep Improves Gene Expression
Getting a good night’s sleep can be deeply refreshing—right down to our DNA. Research shows we should aim for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to allow the body to repair, detoxify, boost protective antioxidant levels, and much more.
New epigenetic research adds to the importance of good sleep. Studies show when we don’t get enough quality sleep, it promotes unhealthy gene expression that can accelerate aging, impair brain function and hinder the immune system.
Optimize Your Genetic Health—Naturally
The field of epigenetics is exciting and growing fast, with new information showing how we can take control of our health at the deepest, most fundamental level. With the right foods, nutrients, and practices, we can optimize genetic expression and overall vitality—naturally.