”An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” – English proverb with Welsh origin
Lifestyle is defined by Cambridge dictionary as someone’s way of living, the things that a person or particular group of people usually do.
Our lifestyle is how we live, and, to a certain extent, it reflects who we are. A lifestyle can also reflect our attitude or our personal values. The concept of lifestyle includes different factors like diet/food habits, physical activity, working habits, stress, behaviour, way of consumption, …etc
The idea behind this column is to compare different lifestyles and to highlight the impact of our lifestyle to our health and to our ecosystem in oder to facilitate lifestyle choices and to increase awareness.
Today, in our modern world, we talk a lot about the so called unhealthy lifestyle : poor diet, smoking, alcohol consuming, drug abuse, stress and so on. There is also a lot of noise regarding the digital evolution that the overuse and misuse of new technology will threaten the physical and mental health of individuals…
Given the progress in science, a lot of literature has been been published to evidence that lifestyle factors may affect human health via ”epigenetics”.
I am no scientist, my understanding of the term epigenetics is that it is the study of changes in organisms brought about by the modification of gene expressions, rather than by the change of the genetic code in the form of DNA.
The “epi” in epigenetics is derived from the Greek word meaning “above” or “over.” Epigenetics is defined as the study of any process that alters gene activity without changing the DNA sequence. More simply, as defined by whatisepigenetics.com, it is the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off.
Epigenetics is a relatively new branch of genetics. The term appeared in the 1950’s when it was used to denote the way that genes interact with the environment, in order to produce each individual phenotype. Although the field of epigenetics is in its infancy and there is still much to learn, so far the evidence shows that there are many fundamental lifestyle factors that can alter gene expression.
I personally find this field of epigenetics exciting and at the same time I do not want to be over optimistic. I do not want to particapte in the debate of whether or not we can change our genes or change our brain or change our destiny, I just want to highlight the importance of our lifestyle.