Maybe you remember when people used to say, “I’ll party now, but I’ll clean up my act before I have children.” This worldview might seem reasonable enough at first but, did you know that the life choices you make now can affect your children long before they are ever conceived?
In fact, the diet of your grandmother’s grandmother is actually impacting you to this day.
Why is epigenetics important?
In the past, it was believed that your genetic code was like an immovable object. But now we know that the quality of lifestyle and diet can either increase or suppress parts of your genetic code. This genetic code can be passed on for generations and generations. Research confirms that if we have nutritional deficiencies in our lineage, our offspring might not be as healthy.
Studies have shown that some enzymes for alcohol digestion are more or less apparent in some lineages. This leads to an increased risk of death and addiction. Could we then find a similar correlation in nutrition and could this be a link to common digestion and allergy issues?
The offshoot of a dietary allergy is the inability to digest certain forms of food. Is this an epigenetic example? (We all have that one friend who eats anything they want without showing a bit of wear) The usual culprits are sugars, glutens, and dairy– but some of these products are so widely used that they’re hard to avoid altogether. So what should you eat with this in mind?
What is Epigenetics and How Does it Work?
Long before kids are a twinkle in your eye, you can take genetic tests such as those offered by companies like 23andMe to learn your ancestral and genetic composition. After you have a picture of where you came from, you can understand what ancient crops and livestock were available in those areas and isolate your diet accordingly.
The other way to do this is to keep a diary. Notice what visible changes happen over time when you eliminate one of the big 3 offenders from your diet (dairy, glutens, sugars). How do you look? How do you feel?
One important change you can make to your diet right now is to make sure you are getting your food as fresh as possible. Once a plant or animal is killed for food it exists in a state of decay. The laws of Thermodynamics state that energy is never created or destroyed, only transferred. By buying food that is as close to the harvest date as possible, these nutrients are passed to you instead of the earth.
We’ve only just begun to learn the implications of epigenetic inheritance and the ripple effect it has in all aspects of life. It’s wise to at least be aware of the echoing impact diet can have on our linage. The clearest correlations seem to be in regard to malnutrition so make sure both you and your partner have had a diet of variety that closely mimics what your great-great-grandmother might have eaten. This kind of diet can prepare your body and your genes to be as healthy as possible long before you think of having children of your own.