Epigenetics 2017-09-14T15:12:59-04:00


The human genome is our DNA code. This code is unchangeable. However, scientists have discovered that the second layer of our DNA structure – the epigenome – can be changed. Our epigenome is influenced by environmental factors such as diet and stress. For example, environmental factors send signals to our epigenome. These signals can turn on or turn off specific genes. Therefore, the expression of our genes can actually be changed by experiences with the environment. This is great news for individuals who are at risk of developing mental health issues due to genetic vulnerabilities.1

Now that we know that our biology is not written in “genetic stone”, we can change the way we/our children interact with our environment as a way of preventing illness and disease. Therefore – the message is this: our genes do not predetermine or “cause” us to develop mental or physical illnesses, they simply lay out possibilities that may occur, if we encounter the right (or wrong) environmental signals. Conversely, by changing our environment and the way we interact with it – we can decrease our risk of developing mental health issues.

Video About How Epigenomes Can Be Influenced by the Environment

1Genetic Science Learning Centre, University of Utah Health Sciences. (2014). Epigenetics. Retrieved from http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/