Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
20 Feb

What I Mean by “Reprogram Your Genes”

From time to time I’ll get a comment from a skeptical reader that says something like, “I don’t think it’s possible to reprogram your genes through diet/lifestyle. Of course our genes are set at birth and our DNA, or program, is copied into every cell of our bodies. You cannot modify or reprogram your genetic code.” I’d like to address this misunderstanding.

One of the best ways to illustrate what I mean by “reprogram your genes” is to use the analogy that Duke University’s Randy Jirtle, Ph.D., uses in the following videos. Think of your genome as being like computer hardware. If you were to program your computer you wouldn’t be changing the hardware, rather, you would be changing the software that tells the computer what to do. So just as we talk about reprogramming or programming a computer and don’t suggest that the hardware itself has changed we likewise can talk about reprogramming our genes without suggesting that the genes have changed. In the case of genes what we are really changing is the epigenome. To quote Dr. Jirtle, “the epigenome would be like the software that tells the computer when to work, how to work and how much.”

Luckily for us our genes are not our destiny. We have immense control through lifestyle behaviors to turn some genes on and other genes off for desired physical results. Watch these videos for it to all come together if it hasn’t already.

There are multiple future possible versions of you. It’s up to you to decide which version you will become. It’s up to you to make lifestyle choices that direct genes toward fat burning, muscle building, longevity and wellness, and away from fat storing, muscle wasting, disease and illness.

This is what The Primal Blueprint is all about. It’s why the sub-title of my book is “Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health and Boundless Energy”. And it’s what we talk about (either directly or indirectly) day-in and day-out here at Mark’s Daily Apple. We tend to focus on the practical, but epigenetics is at the heart of why we do what we do. Living like Grok just happens to be the best starting point for directing gene expression.

So my tip to you today comes straight from the lips of Madonna: Express Yourself.

Hat tip to MDA reader Sam for the videos.


You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. As the voice over says something about the choices we make and being responsible about what we pass to our children, the last scene shows the mother feeding her twins at McDonalds! AHHHHH!!! Yummy trans fat fries washed down with some tasty High Fructose Corn Syrup yogurt. Just thinking about that hurts my Epegenomes.

    jimbojazzbo wrote on October 26th, 2010
  2. I understand the concept of epigenetics–barely. I’m not a biochemist. The Nova video makes it sound like expression is fixed. It doesn’t say anything about changing the fat mouse’s diet to turn it into a skinny one.

    Is there really any evidence that a primal diet will change one’s epigenetics? If so, where?

    I’m not saying that a primal diet won’t work, I’m just questioning the mechanism. Does it really take “gene reprogramming” for a low-carb diet to cause a move away from an insulin-dominated metabolism?

    Sparge wrote on December 22nd, 2010
  3. Here is an excellent website on epigenetics and nutrition from the University of Utah. It offers some actual examples and explanations – http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/nutrition/ (the site also has tons of info on all sorts of genetic topics).

    David Madden wrote on January 14th, 2011
  4. Thanks, David. Unfortunately that doesn’t really answer the question. Everything on that page talks about a parent’s or grandparent’s diet modifying the epigenetics of the offspring except this quote:

    “For adults, a methyl deficient diet still leads to a decrease in DNA methylation, but the changes are reversible with resumption of a normal diet.”

    But nothing I’ve seen indicates that the agouti gene can be retroactively suppressed. And I’ve found no evidence of any specific epigenetic changes that can be caused by switching to a primal diet.

    So there may be something there or there may not. The power of the primal diet could just be that our bodies work better when the insulin mechanism isn’t overloaded.

    Sparge wrote on January 14th, 2011
  5. Has there ever been a double blind placebo controlled study(s) to back up the claim that The Primal Diet will reprogram my genes? The Primal Diet is a FAD, complete with its own program of powders and pills. All based on the ancient art of vitamin formulation techniques found in a cave in Southern France.

    Mark wrote on February 1st, 2011
  6. This is AMAZING and I TOTALLY GET IT. I have identical twin daughters. Genetically they are the same, yet one was born with a genetic heart defect. The specialists at the university hospital where they were born got into an argument about whether it was because of something they were exposed to in the womb or if it occurred naturally and why. I was in good health, had never smoked or consumed anything bad yet it happened. They still don’t understand why. But she is fine now and its myself that I’m working on. Great stuff!

    Rebecca wrote on April 28th, 2011
  7. 232788 beers on the wall. sck was here

    a232788 wrote on October 29th, 2011
  8. That was so interesting, ive always thought to myself about this, I’ll checked it out further now

    just bought marks 21 days transformation book, should be interesting when it arrives!

    thanks for all your work!!!

    James

    james wrote on December 11th, 2011
  9. Very interesting! Hopefully they have just scratched the surface of this research.

    Ryan Allie wrote on January 26th, 2012
  10. hey hey hey …

    madonna wrote on January 28th, 2013

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