Until very recently, the prevailing theory in the scientific community held that the DNA in our genes themselves is solely responsible for gene expression as it applies to health and disease formation. In other words, good health is the result of healthy genes and bad health stems from damaged genes. And while the makeup of the DNA in our genes certainly plays a critical role, it is not the only mechanism at work.
There are more than 3 billion DNA sequences in the human genome, but there are only 20,887 protein-coding genes in each cell of the body, equivalent to 2% of the whole genome. The number of genes is similar to that of simple life forms such as a fruit fly or even a microscopic roundworm! So what about the other 98% of the genome, the so-called “junk DNA”? Clearly it has a major role to play in making us who we are.
In September 2012, findings published from a large-scale federal project involving 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the world provided an answer. It turns out that both junk DNA and the DNA packaging material act as genetic switches, the epigenome informing the genome which genes to turn on and off. It is a complex system that acts like a dimmer for lights, controlling which genes are used in a cell, when they are used and how much they are used, and determining whether a cell becomes a skin cell, a liver cell, a neuron, etc.
Epigenetics – Switch to Better Health
Researchers in the field of epigenetics are studying mice as well as humans to determine how gene expression is affected by environmental factors and lifestyle choices. What they’ve learned is helping them explain differences that can appear over time in identical twins, and more broadly, in the general population. A growing body of evidence suggests that a wide variety of illnesses and behaviors may be linked to these epigenetic switches.
So what does all of this mean? “It means you have more control over your health than you think you do,” says Dr. Alfredo Galvez, Lead Scientific Advisor at the Missouri Plant Science Center. “Most of the changes affecting your health don’t occur in the genes themselves; they happen in the epigenetic switches. And that’s great news! While you can’t reverse a gene mutation, you can influence epigenetic switches through lifestyle choices.”
Diet is Central to it All
Quality nutrition provides the fuel for healthy cell function. Lunasin is the first nutritive compound clinically shown to promote optimal gene expression in cells through an epigenetic mechanism of action. And no other products optimize bioactive lunasin like Reliv’s LunaRich® line of products.
How Does Lunasin Work?
Lunasin gets inside the cell and binds to chromatin in the nucleus. Chromatin is DNA (the genome) wrapped around DNA packaging material called histones (the epigenome). Histones are the main protein components of chromatin, acting as spools around which DNA winds. Modifications to specific tags in histone tails are important in gene regulation. Lunasin binds to these histone tails to affect gene expression.
In the epigenome, lunasin performs two functions:
• prevents enzymes in histones from turning on unhealthy gene expression
• activates enzymes in histones that promote healthy gene expression
The result: healthier cells and better health outcomes for you.
Multiple pathways = multiple benefits
Lunasin influences the epigenome in multiple cell types, so its effects go beyond individual pathways or individual genes. Each epigenome in each cell type is different. If lunasin affects the epigenome in a particular cell type one way, it will affect the epigenome in another cell type another way. That’s how it can provide multiple health benefits:
• Cholesterol management
• Inflammation reduction
• Antioxidant benefits
• Improved immunity
• Overall cellular health
• And the list keeps growing…
“I believe epigenetics holds the key to the future of healthcare,” Dr. Galvez says. “Rather than focusing solely on preventing gene mutations via drugs, which target a specific pathway and a specific gene, we need to also explore the multiple pathways and multiple genes that can be influenced through proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices.
“And no other company is advancing the nutritional possibilities of the emerging field of epigenetics like Reliv. We are in the middle of a revolution in nutrition and we are all witnesses. The most exciting part is that we’re really just getting started!”