The DNA Myth
By Jerry Brownstein
Ever since the DNA molecule was discovered in 1953, conventional science has been focused on the theory of ‘genetic determinism’ which says that your genes control every aspect and characteristic of physical life. They tell us that if you have the gene for a certain disease or condition then it is highly likely that it will manifest at some point in your life. The culmination of this gene-centered materialistic viewpoint was the search for the ‘Holy Grail’: the human genome. By 1990 scientific methods had progressed enough for the launch of the Human Genome Project (HGP) which sought to sequence and identify all of the genes in the human body. Remember that the basic assumption behind this research was that genes control all of an organism’s traits, so logically the more complex the organism the more genes it would have in its genome. It was estimated that the human genome would have over 100,000 genes.
To get warmed up the scientists started by sequencing the genomes of simple organisms, and they found that microscopic bacteria had up to 5,000 genes, while small worms had around 23,000. This was consistent with their logic that the complexity of the organism was directly correlated with the number of genes in its genome. However when they sequenced the far more complex fruit fly they found that it had only 18,000 genes – less than in the simple worm. This was totally unexpected – and caused some consternation – but they soldiered on. As it turned out, the paucity of genes in the fruit fly was nothing compared to the grand surprise that the genome of homo sapiens... the very pinnacle of evolution... has approximately 22,000 genes. That’s right – we have about the same number of genes as a miniscule worm.
Obviously the complexity of an organism is not correlated with the number of genes in its genome, so what does that mean for the theory of genetic determinism? Clearly our inherited genes play an important role in our physical development, but is it the dominant role that conventional science still tells us that it is? What if the real truth were otherwise? What if it could be shown that we actually have the power to influence the actions of our genes? These are the findings of the relatively new science of epigenetics which literally means “above genetics”. Mounting evidence has proven that the way genes express themselves in our bodies is not predetermined by our DNA, but is in fact controlled and modified by our lifestyle choices and by our perception of the world around us. Every cell in your body has the exact same DNA in its nucleus, but the genes in that DNA cannot do anything by themselves – they are merely the plans or blueprints for creating changes in your body. These gene “blueprints” are activated by the environment that surrounds the cells, so if we change the environment we change the way our bodies work. One important way that we can control that environment is by eating healthy food, avoiding toxins and exercising. This sends chemical signals to your DNA telling it to choose gene “blueprints” that promote health and well being. So modifying your diet and lifestyle can help to manage the way your genes act, but perhaps the greatest influence on the behavior of your genes comes from the way you perceive the world around you.
Remember, it is the environment surrounding your cells that chooses which genes will be activated. Your brain is always sending chemical messengers (hormones, peptides, etc.) that influence that environment, but it is your perception that tells the brain which types of chemicals to release. When you are feeling positive emotions such as joy, gratitude and love your brain floods the body with dopamine, endorphins and other beneficial chemicals. These “happy hormones” travel through the blood to all of your cells instructing the DNA to activate genes that strengthen your immune system and keep you healthy. By contrast, when your perception causes you to feel stressed or fearful the brain releases “Flight or Fight” chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones instruct the DNA to choose genes that shut your body down in order to prepare it for danger. This weakens your immune system causing physical problems and illness.
Thus our perceptions create much of the chemical environment that activates our genes, but the story does not end there. The latest research has shown that every emotion that you have sends vibrations throughout your body, and these vibrations also influence which of your genes will be activated. Emotions that are linked to fear and stress activate genes that lead to illness while those associated with joy and peace promote good health. Once again it is your perception, as reflected in your emotions, which creates the vibrations that affect the behavior of your genes.
Interesting proof of how this works comes from scientific studies which have shown that our DNA actually changes shape according to the way we feel. When we are feeling positive emotions like love, peace and compassion our DNA responds by relaxing and unwinding its strands, and this strengthens our immune system. However, when we have negative feelings such as fear, anger or hate our DNA contracts and tightens thus weakening the immune system. What is really amazing is that these effects occur even when your DNA is separated from your body. In recent experiments DNA samples were taken from the people being tested and brought to another location some distance away. The participants were then exposed to emotional stimuli and their DNA in the distant location reacted instantly – opening when their emotions were positive, and contracting when they were negative. The vibrations created by your emotions are so powerful, and so connected to your DNA, that they cause it to react even when separated from your body by a great distance. Think about that the next time you get angry!
For over 60 years we have been led to believe that we are powerless victims who must meekly accept the genetic cards that we have been dealt, but those days are over. Merely having the gene related to some illness or condition does not mean that we will suffer that fate because genes by themselves cannot initiate changes in our bodies. Epigenetics has empowered us with the knowledge that our thoughts and feelings, as colored by our perceptions, have a great influence on which genes will be activated. This means that we are the co-creators of our own health with the power to affect the behavior of our genes simply by transforming our perceptions. Every moment presents us with the opportunity to make conscious choices that can shape our physical reality, and when we choose to fill our thoughts and feelings with positive emotions our bodies respond with vibrant health and vitality. •