In Younger You by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, she dives into the science and research she and others have led to uncover how to improve epigenetic expression and essentially turn back your biological clock. She calls this “the science of hope.”
Intro to Epigenetics
What is Epigenetics, you might ask? Epigenetics is defined as heritable changes in gene expression that are not accompanied by changes in DNA sequence. It’s actually the expression (or suppression) of genes. Sort of like the software (epigenome) that runs on your computer’s hardware (DNA).
This is a huge shift from what was previously believed to be. Thanks to the Human Genome Project, we learned DNA does not dictate disease. In fact more than 95% of all disease is diet and lifestyle related. This spurred greater research into the epigenome.
The things that alter your epigenome include diet, lifestyle, toxins, pathogens, stress, trauma, and sedentary behavior. All of these things, and more, can add methyl groups to helpful DNA (suppressing them) and remove methyl groups to the not so helpful DNA (letting them express themselves).
The awesome thing is that most disease in the body (as well as rapid aging), is not embedded in the DNA, it’s an epigenetic expression which can be changed! This is pretty amazing if you think about it.
Younger You Program Highlights
Unlike other research programs, Dr. Kara Fitzgerald’s Younger You program focuses on diet, lifestyle, and detoxification and not on expensive pharmaceuticals. She shows how changing diet, lifestyle, and detoxing can help improve DNA methylation which can stop symptoms of autoimmunity and allergies.
Here are the top tips she shares in her book on how to improve DNA methylation, reduce disease symptoms, and roll back the biological clock.
Younger You Exercising
This doesn’t have to be intensive – gardening, walking, dancing or bike riding are all it takes to tick the box on your requirement for exercise. 30 to 60 minutes, 5 to 7 days a week. Movement acts like an epigenetic nutrient by turning bad genes off and turning on genes we want activated. Start by doing something you love then, as you feel ready, explore more intensive movement that you find enjoyable.
Younger You Stress
Improving stress response is vital to improving epigenetic expression. Meditation just happens to be one of the best ways to improve stress response. Dr. Kara recommends twice-daily meditation sessions of 10-20 minutes. I love Insight Timer, which is free however there are numerous apps available, as well as YouTube channels. If you prefer breathwork, you can replace mediation with this.
Younger You Sleep
Sleep is fundamental in DNA methylation. Dr. Kara recommends at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Sleep includes several phases: Light Sleep, Deep Sleep, and REM. Deep sleep in the most restorative of the sleep cycles. This is when your body cleans, rejuvenates and repairs itself. This is especially important for the brain’s detoxification process. Deep sleep should comprise of at least 20% of your total sleep time – 1 to 1.5 hours for a 7 to 8 hour sleeper. You can learn more about my favorite ways to improve sleep here.
Younger You Toxins
Many environmental toxins directly damage the DNA and more have been shown to negatively alter DNA methylation. Toxins accumulate beginning in utero and throughout life via environmental exposures and foods. Environmental toxins fall into several categories including carcinogenic, neurotoxic, endocrine disruptive, genotoxic (DNA disruptive), impact fertility and can cause developmental issues. If you’d like to learn more about your environmental toxin burden and how to detox from them, you can order an at-home Environmental Toxin Test here. My favorite, go-to resource to reduce my exposure is www.ewg.org which has a number of helpful databases that you can refer to for everything from foods, to bath and body, to cleaning products.
Younger You Cuddling and Community
It’s a hard time to talk about connecting with others right now, but this is vital in supporting DNA methylation. When you enjoy physical contact (even with a pet), your body releases oxytocin. This helps lower blood pressure, improves glucose tolerance, helps you cope with stress and recover from trauma, and more. You can also get a hit of oxytocin by making eye contact, sharing a meal, volunteering, listening to music, and getting a massage.
Younger You Diet
Because Dr. Kara goes so deeply into this, I’m going to give you the highlights. You’ll just need to get her book to read all the details! Food is medicine! Firstly, she recommends getting rid of highly inflammatory foods including gluten, dairy, processed sugar (including fake sugars) and alcohol. I know this can be a tall order so you might start out slowly if these are common in your diet. Next, filling up on veggies, nuts, seeds, unprocessed animal/fish proteins, and herbs such as rosemary and thyme. She includes an option for vegans and vegetarians as well.
Younger You by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald is amazingly comprehensive. However, if you’re interested in exploring Epigenetics beyond the book there are a couple of options you might explore.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald’s clinic runs a 3YY program which follows along with Dr. Kara’s intensive program from the book. This program is virtual and includes testing your biological age twice (before and after), an app to track nutrition, one-on-one nutrition counseling and supplements (greens powder and probiotic). They also offer a la carte options so you can pick and choose what you’d like.
Want to learn what foods, nutrients, pathogens and/or toxins may be holding you back from optimum genetic expression as it pertains to your immune system and overall wellness? I run Epigenetic Hair Testing to help do just that. From this test, you’ll see the top 5-6 things that negatively affect your epigenetic expression and then receive a personalized 90-day plan to help correct those. I have a remote at home test as well as in person option if you’re in the Seattle area!
This article is provided for education purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure disease.