Monday, January 24, 2011

Epigenetics - there's more to the weight story than DNA

Last week I followed the comments (that ran to several hundred) posted by the readers of The Sydney Morning Herald in response to the research that I mentioned January 19. Many of them were finger-pointing, there were accusations of sloth and gluttony, amongst many more balanced and reasonable. Clearly weight management is an extremely emotive issue, but it’s also a very complex one. Hormones, toxicity, and stress are contributing factors along with the more obvious issues of a sedentary lifestyle and over-supply of under-nutrition. But it’s the epigenetic effects that are really emerging as key factors - with new evidence indicating that the current epidemic of childhood obesity, is in part linked to the high fat diet of the father-to-be. 

So I’ll get on my soapbox again - ‘epigenetics’ literally means beyond genetics and it’s exciting research! About 20 years old and exploding, it has turned conventional genetic ‘wisdom’ on its head. It simply means we can no longer hold our DNA entirely responsible for our weight issues or our heart disease or our diabetes or whatever. We might have a genetic tendency to these or other conditions, but there is additional imprinting that can be both negative or positive, and there are triggers that can switch a genetic variation off or on. 

What preconception care endeavours to do is to remove any of those negative triggers and ensure that the positive ones only (and that includes positive mental and emotional effects) are the ones that will ensure the healthiest possible egg and sperm and the healthiest possible environment for the developing embryo and in that, the opportunity for the child (and grandchild and beyond) to enjoy optimal physical and mental health! As some wit said - wait until you've had your children to eat, drink and be merry!

No comments: