My biweekly blog had a temporary hiatus, for which I owe an explanation. Life, as it often does, became a whirlwind; then Chanukah happened. However, the primary reason behind my absence is the preparation for an immensely thrilling presentation!

Next Thursday afternoon December 28th, I’ll be addressing my colleagues at the NEFESH International Conference [HERE] on a captivating and cutting-edge theme. My talk, “Nature + Nurture + Now! Hacking Mental Health Through Epigenetics,” delves into a fascinating field – Epigenetics. The word Epigenetics is a combination of the prefix, “epi,” meaning above or beyond, and “genetics,” pertaining to our inherited gene sequence. This concept refers to influences beyond genes that can either activate or silence genetic material, ultimately impacting a person’s health and wellbeing. Our DNA is not our destiny. We can change predisposing factors. For instance, just because a person’s father and grandfather died before the age of 57, it does not mean he will. (*My 75-year-old, vegetarian husband, who is so fortunately married to me 😃, is the son and grandson of such men who unfortunately, never became septuagenarians.)

In simplest terms, “Epigenetics is the interaction between an individual and their environment, altering gene expression.” (Cohen, et al., 2017)

Recent research sheds light on how factors within our environment, even spanning previous generations and the prenatal environment, exert lasting effects. For instance, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can predispose a child genetically toward anxiety or depression. Although epigenetic modifications may bring about negative effects, our understanding of these concepts has led to a more precise approach to individual treatment, termed “Precision Medicine” and even more refined through a new field, “Pharmacoepigenetics.” This innovative field combines the fields of pharmaceuticals and epigenetics to ensure people receive medications suitable for their epigenetic systems, preventing over or under medication, or the need for frequent medication changes due to side effects that might be able to be known about before through examining the genetic predisposing factors.

We all have the power to positively influence our epigenetics. If we improve in various areas of our lifestyle, we can literally change the expression of our genes, and feel better on many levels. One of my mentors, Dr. Mitchell Gaynor (ob”m) said, ““Everyone should mind (one) what they eat and (two) what’s on their mind. Because food and stress can affect genes controlling immunity, weight, and detoxification.” To get started, consider using my “NOGA Wellness Solutions – Wheel of Wellbeing.” [HERE] Each wedge around the wheel gives another potential benefit for epigenetic improvements! By gently improving, and “tweaking” up in the various areas, (movement, environment, mind, diet, stress management, sleep, social connections, and spirituality or altruism, you can have a direct benefit to your epigenome! You don’t really need to do a lot at once, as matter of fact, it’s often detrimental and self-sabotaging. Little incremental steps is the safest, healthiest, and most likely apt to stick. Remember, with neuroplasticity, the key is continuous repetition, even if only in very small increments. [HERE] As Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

I eagerly anticipate sharing here post-conference. Remember, your DNA isn’t a closed book. You can enhance your genetics through epigenetics. Wishing you a healthy and enriching journey in understanding your epigenetics.

We love hearing from you, please feel free to leave your comments below.

With Gratitude,

Rus Devorah

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