Cancer, diabetes, obesity ...: How to influence our genes to protect themselves?
The food we eat, the air we breathe and our daily behaviors can affect the genetic inheritance inherited from our parents. This is called epigenetics.
It is indeed possible to muzzle bad genes or, conversely, to stimulate good genes. These changes can persist throughout life, but can also be passed on to future generations. If a man smoked during his teenage years, his son will be more likely to become obese because tobacco has fueled genes that promote overweight. " Genes account for 25% in disease onset and epigenetics account for 75% ", adds Professor Gilbert Deray, head of the nephrology department at the Paris Hospital La Pitié-Salpêtrière and author of Choose your genetic destiny (Fayard ed.) Adopting a good lifestyle counteracts our genetic frailty. And can avoid setbacks to our descendants ...
How to reduce your risk of cancer?
Junk food multiplies the risk by unfolding small areas of our chromosomes that control inflammation. Similarly, toxic components of tobacco disrupt approximately 7,000 genes.
In practice. To sharpen your protective genes, opt for green tea in its natural form: 3 cups a day minimum. In the kitchen, decorate your dishes with turmeric.
Have at least 3 hours of physical activity a week. Walking, running or swimming " stimulates the longevity gene SIRT1, which regulates many other genes involved in cancer, especially breast cancer ", says Professor Gilbert Deray, and of course, stop smoking!
How to protect yourself from diabetes and obesity?
By swallowing the same number of calories, some people take a lot more weight than others. A recent Swedish study by the Karolinska Institute has shown that an individual is not overweight if his grandparents experienced famine between 8 and 12 years. But if his ancestors went through a period of food abundance at this age, the risks of obesity and diabetes soar. Fortunately, the genes of obesity can be silenced with proper lifestyle.
In practice. Take 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day to beat the wrong genes.
Bet on the Mediterranean diet (lots of vegetables, little meat and sugar), because " In particular, it tempers the FTO gene, which increases the appetite ", says Professor Deray.
Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night: The genes that orchestrate sleep cycles play a role in triggering diabetes.
How to reduce susceptibility to stress and depression?
The traumas of childhood or experienced by previous generations can damage the genes that produce the hormones of well-being. This is the case of bomb victims and children of survivors of Nazi concentration camps, more vulnerable to depression. Their cortisol level, the stress hormone, is higher than normal and their immunity much lower.
In practice. Tai Chi, yoga and mindfulness meditation help manage stress by modulating genes that control cortisol synthesis. Reading also has a major therapeutic effect. " It reduces by 67% the rate of cortisol ", says Professor Deray.
3 tips for making good genes
1) Listen to music
A Finnish study suggests that listening to Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major increases the activity of 27 memory-friendly genes and mutes 18 destructive genes. " There is no ideal music, says Professor Deray. Choose the one you like. The discovery of new music at least once a week stimulates the plasticity of your brain ".
2) Cultivate optimism
It enhances the activity of immunity genes and increases life expectancy by limiting telomere erosion, which is responsible for cell aging. " Positive mood decreases risk of heart attack by 15%, dementia by 30%, stroke by 39% and infection by 52% ", says Professor Gilbert Deray.
A study from the University of California (USA) showed that non-coded baby mice have DNA alterations in the brain and are left with multiple copies of the same gene, which can impair their development and increase the risk of depression in adulthood.
Read also :
⋙ Heart disease: 7 risk factors and how to protect yourself
⋙ Hereditary cancer: which cancers can have a genetic origin?
⋙ Early risers or late-eaters? It's our genes that decide!