Studies show that a big part of your genome that is also highly functional, changes significantly over your lifetime. A fifth of your DNA can change significantly in just 5 months during toddlerhood.
How do genes change?
Our DNA is hard to mutate. We hear about mutations a lot, but our cells are really good at repairing or simply avoiding any mutations. Nevertheless, we have millions of cells, and if not careful mutations can still occur and you never know if one mutation can cause a lot of trouble. So, it is always a good idea to stay away from mutagens.
But, something more adaptable is affecting you and your genes. That is your epigenome. Your epigenetics, the changes in the proteins that regulate your genes, work like dials and switches, turning up, down, on and off genes everywhere in your genome. This is something normal, but also something we are still studying.
What do epigenetic changes do?
A lot of things. Proteins that affect gene expression, can respond to cell signals, like hunger, pain etc. There are mechanisms that respond to hormones, for example when a woman is pregnant or during puberty. There are also mechanisms that are affected by diseases. All those mechanisms can affect the epigenetic control of your cells and thus your health.
This isn’t a bad thing. It is just how the body works. So many things can change in the epigenetic mechanisms of a cell, that researchers have still a lot more work to do until we can say for sure how anything affects our epigenetics. We do know though, that obesity and diet can cause epigenetic differences. Obese mothers, according to studies, tend to give birth to babies, that are epigenetically predisposed to obesity.
How do we fix epigenetic problems?
For now we are not sure. CRISPR variants have been successful in the lab, and have changed epigenetic markers in cells, but in vivo, in live animals and humans things may be different. What you should do by learning all those facts, is to make sure you live healthy.