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Epigenetic switches

More than 3,000 epigenetic switches control daily metabolism

Friday, December 28, 2012 by: Katherine Leonard MS, NC
Tags: epigenetic switches, metabolism, DNA

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(NaturalNews) Circadian rhythms do more than just make us sleepy at night. These rhythms affect our individual organs, even our genes. Circadian cycles affect nearly every living organism, including plants, bacteria, insects, and humans. In fact, there are over 3,000 epigenomic elements that regulate the circadian cycles of about 15,000 genes in humans, specifically genes in the liver.

The liver is one of the most important organs of the body, it is responsible for over 13,000 biochemical reactions, regulating everything from filtering ingested food, detoxifying harmful chemicals, producing glycogen (stored glucose) and synthesizing compounds like cholesterol.

Scientists have determined the specific genetic switches that synchronize liver activity and the circadian cycle. These findings provide insight into the mechanisms behind chronic health conditions such as high blood sugar and high cholesterol.

Genes in the liver that are involved in metabolizing substances like fat and cholesterol turn on and off at different times of the day. This means that the time of day affects how someone's metabolism functions.

Chromatin, protein complexes that package DNA in a cell's nucleus, are the switches for these genes. Their activity is regulated by the "epigenome," which is a set of molecules that communicate with genes and regulate how many proteins the genes should make, and when to make them.

What and when you eat is now proven to determine when a particular gene turns on or off. For this reason, the epigenome is very important for healing the body and supporting wellness.

What does this mean for you?

The most important take-away message is to not eat at night before bed. The body has evolved to make glucose at nighttime, to sustain bodily functions while asleep. Overeating at night, one of the more common times to relax and eat, increases the body's blood glucose levels. The excess glucose can be damaging to organs and blood vessels.

While our genome is out of our control, our epigenome, the molecules that control gene expression, is in our control. What we eat and drink, when we sleep, and what environment we live in
does heavily influence our epigenome. We have the power to control the expression of our genes, and therefore we can heal our bodies and promote wellness just by making simple lifestyle changes.

Sources for this article include:


About the author:
Katherine Leonard is a Holistic Nutritionist and naturopathic medical student with a passion for supporting people regain their health by reducing exposure to environmental toxins and transitioning to a nourishing and health-promoting lifestyle. Katherine has particular interest in helping women prepare their bodies for pregnancy. She has a master's degree in Holistic Nutrition and is currently enrolled in a 4-year doctorate degree in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University.

Katherine believes that optimal health is achieved through organic whole foods, a toxin-free environment, stress management, and physical activity. Her passion is to design personalized programs to help others live nourishing lifestyles.

For more information and to sign up for a complimentary 15-minute consultation,
visit www.holistic-nourishment.com.
Follow her on Facebook: facebook.com/HolisticNourishment
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhytoNutrition

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