Scientists Observed Epigenetic Memories Being Passed Down For 14 Generations
Scientists found how our minds affect our biology, mainly through the study of epigenetics, which is a branch of science that looks at inherited changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression!
Scientists stopped looking at DNA as the only determinant to control human biology. Now, specialists are searching for ways to understand what controls our DNA and the search led them to the mind.
The genetic instructions from our DNA are passed down through generations. Moreover, recent discoveries show that the environment we live in could change our genetics, which then continues to pass the new genetics through future generations. Scientists from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in Spain conducted this ground-breaking study.
Environmental Genetic Changes Passed Down Through Generations
The study used genetically engineered nematode worms that carry a transgene fluorescent protein, enabling the worms to glow under ultraviolet light. That way, the scientists could determine how many generations the environment could leave a mark on genetic expression. They placed the worms in different containers where they could control the temperature of their environment. The scientists then examined how the heat and the cold affected their ability to glow.
In the colder containers (20° Celsius), the worms exhibited weak activity, and they barely glow. However, when the same worms were placed in a warmer container (25° Celsius), the transgene in the worms became more active, shown by the worms’ bright glow. After that, the scientists took the glowing worms from the warmer containers and put them back in the cold containers.
Surprisingly, the worms kept glowing meaning that they maintained an “environmental memory” from the warmer containers, which allowed the transgene to continue active even with the change in the environment.
The interesting fact was when the worms had offspring, and the environmental memory was passed on to their babies for seven generations, allowing the babies to glow even though they have never experienced the warmer climate.
To further test their epigenetic capabilities, the researchers maintained five generations in a warmer climate of 25° Celsius and only then took their offsprings from them, and placed the babies in colder temperatures. Amazingly, the worms that were taken when babies from the warmer containers, had highly active transgene for 14 generations.
“Worms are very short-lived, so perhaps they are transmitting memories of past conditions to help their descendants predict what their environment might be like in the future,” revealed co-researcher Tanya Vavouri from the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute in Spain.
This study moved fast because the 14 generations studied only took about 50 days. Nonetheless, this study brings us closer to understand how genetic change based on environmental conditions might pass down in other species, including humans.
Other Research on Epigenetics
Another research showed how our environment could affect the development of our children and our grandchildren. A study conducted by Rachel Yehuda, an epigenetics researcher with interest in the intergenerational effects of trauma and her colleagues examined the consequences of trauma survivors and their offspring. Their conclusions pointed that the descendants of Holocaust survivors have unconventional stress hormone profiles compared to that of the average human being.
Holocaust survivors had low levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that supports recovery after trauma. However, unlike their parents, the children from Holocaust survivors had higher levels of the cortisol-busting enzyme. This level of cortisol was developed in-utero, say scientists. The enzyme is typically present in higher levels in the placenta to shield the fetus from the mother’s circulating cortisol. The Holocaust survivors could have had low levels of this enzyme in the placenta during pregnancy, which exposed the offspring to more cortisol than usual, and therefore developed high quantities of the enzyme to protect itself.
Dr. Bruce Lipton is also a prominent researcher in the field of epigenetics is a cellular biologist, and he showed how our emotions and overall health could regulate gene expression. He said: “Medicine does miracles, but it is limited to trauma. The AMA protocol is to regard our physical body as a machine, in the same way, that an auto mechanic regards a car. When the parts break, you replace them—a transplant, synthetic joints, and so on—and those are medical miracles.”
“The problem is that while they have an understanding that the mechanism is not working, they are blaming the vehicle for what went wrong. They believe that the vehicle, in this case, our bodies, is controlled by genes, ” Dr. Lipton adds.
“But guess what? They do not take into consideration that there’s a driver in that car. The new science, epigenetics, reveals that the vehicles—or the genes—aren’t responsible for the breakdown. It is the driver.”
To summarize, our lifestyle, environment, and our brain are responsible for our general health. This can be applied to many illnesses, including cancer. “It used to be that we thought a mutant gene caused cancer,” Dr. Lipton revealed, “but with epigenetics, all of that has changed.”
“I placed one stem cell into a culture dish, and it divided every ten hours. After two weeks, there were thousands of cells in the dish, and they were all genetically identical, having been derived from the same parent cell. I divided the cell population and inoculated them in three different culture dishes.”
“Next, I manipulated the culture medium—the cell’s equivalent of the environment—in each dish. In one dish, the cells became bone, in another, muscle, and in the last dish, fat. This demonstrated that the genes did not determine the fate of the cells because they all had the same genes. The environment determined the fate of the cells, not the genetic pattern. So if cells are in a healthy environment, they are healthy. If they are in an unhealthy environment, they get sick.”
Louise Hay explains in her book, You Can Heal Your Life, the same thing that Dr. Lipton is talking about. She fought cancer and the way she cured her disease in only six months was using a combination of visualization, affirmations, nutritional cleansing, and psychotherapy. According to Hay, cancer is the manifestation of deep pain, longstanding resentment, secrets, hatred, and grief.
Dr. Lipton compares our body, which contains fifty trillion cells, to a skin-covered petri dish. If you move your body from one environment to another, it will alter the composition of the ‘culture medium,’ the blood. The blood’s chemistry is mainly impacted by the chemicals released from your brain. Brain chemistry can adjust the composition of the blood, based on your perceptions of life.
The perception of any given thing, at any given moment, can influence the brain chemistry, which, in turn, affects the environment where your cells reside and control their fate. In other words, your thoughts and perceptions have a direct and overwhelmingly significant effect on cells.
A study made at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing examined a group of meditators and a group of non-meditators and discovered that meditating could have long-term benefits, including increased mental and cellular health. As a result, meditation may be able to decrease the risk of several health problems.
It is clear that the environment and the mind can have a substantial impact on human biology, which could continue to influence future generations. The exact amount remains unclear. However, epigenetics helps to understand the mind’s relationship to the body.