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Our Genetic Heritage

Chiropractic and Your Genes

The genes you inherited from your parents determine all of your physical characteristics, such as your hair color and eye color. Your genetic heritage can also contribute to your personal interests, choice of profession, the activities you enjoy, and even your personality. Your genes are also very closely involved with your state of health and well-being.

Of course, there is much more to who you are than just your DNA. The 30,000 genes that are tightly packed into each of your cells is only the beginning point. The ways in which your genes are expressed are also very much affected by diet, exercise,  socioeconomic, and environmental factors. A significant part of the environment we tend to overlook is the nerve system - the guiding system of our internal environment.

If nerve signals are blocked or not flowing freely, gene expression may become disorganized and disordered. When the proper information repeatedly fails to get through, health begins to deteriorate. Chiropractic treatment can help to restore proper nerve system function, thereby helping to optimize both cellular function and normal genetic activity.

Species evolve over time as a way of attempting to better deal with their environment.  In many instances, our underlying DNA may stay the same, but our diet and other factors change the functional expression of our genes.  These functional changes are called "epigenetics" and can even be passed along through your genetic line. 

The overall objective for a species is survival, and as such, it develops various survival strategies over time.  For example, when a person is exposed to a time of great famine, their epigenetic strategy may adapt to this by changing the function of the DNA so that the body stores more energy as body fat.  That can help a person successfully survive a famine.  The problem arises when this epigenetic tendency is passed along and remains a survival strategy even during times of plentiful food supply.  In this case, a person who carries this epigenetic strategy to survive famine, by way of an overly thrifty metabolism, is at much greater risk for diabetes and obesity.

This tendency toward a thrifty fat-storing metabolism gets passed along to the famine survivor's genetic descendants - who then have a survival strategy (store more fat) that doesn't necessarily match up with their current environment and food supply.  If your DNA instructs your body to have a slow metabolism and store more fat, you are very likely to struggle with weight gain issues no matter how much you exercise or how few calories you consume.  In fact, not eating enough or going on a crash diet can make a person with these tendencies even more likely to store (as body fat) most of the calories they consume. 
In his book, Change Your Genetic Destiny, Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo labels this thrifty genetic group GenoType 2 - "The Gatherer".  Through his years of research and treating patients, Dr. D'Adamo has found six different "GenoType" (genetic archetype) groupings, each with specific strengths and challenges. He has also developed a unique diet and exercise plan for each type that is specifically geared to each group's genetic tendencies.1

Human DNA continues to evolve over time, although we remain personally unaware of the process. Our lives are short compared to the length of time it usually takes to notice significant genetic mutations in a species. By looking at archeological remains, we can see obvious differences in the average height and lifespans of today's humans compared to humans of 1,000 years ago. These are just two of the genetic changes that have occurred over the last millennium.

On an individual level we may not be able to alter our actual DNA, but we can often change whether or not we are affected by certain genes by changing our diet or other aspects of our lifestyle and environment.  This is the emerging science of epigenetics, which studies how the environment influences the expression of our DNA. 
We can make an effort to strengthen our bodies and to help ensure that our genetic and cellular processes are functioning at their highest level. Cells require the right fuel and the proper metabolic environment in order to function properly. So appropriate food in the proper quantities and the right amount of regular exercise are important. 2 Another very important factor is to make sure the nerve system is functioning optimally, because the nerve system coordinates all your body's activities. You can think of the nerve system as the conductor of your own personal physiologic orchestra - making sure that everything works together smoothly and efficiently.

From the point of view of genetics and evolution, an individual human being has an advantage if she is well and healthy. If such a person has children it is likely they will be healthy and well too, especially if she is well-nourished during pregnancy and able to avoid excess stress. She will pass on whatever genetic advantages she has gained, as will her offspring under the same optimal conditions. A healthy nerve system is vital in helping to ensure health and wellness. Chiropractic care helps your nerve system function at peak efficiency, doing exactly what it's designed to do.

Chiropractic treatment works by improving the biomechanical function of spinal vertebrae, which in turn improves the free flow of nerve signals throughout your body. These nerve signals work to coordinate the various body systems so that your cells are able to receive the appropriate raw materials they need to function properly.  Your cells can then accurately duplicate themselves as they divide, and genetic function can be optimized.

Proper flow of instructions and information transmitted via the nerve system helps to ensure health and well-being at the deepest levels. Your genetic advantage is passed on when you're healthy and well. Chiropractic care plays a vital role in making this happen.
1D'Adamo, Dr. Peter J.  Change Your Genetic Destiny (Originally published as The GenoType Diet in 2007, hardcover.) New York, NY.  Broadway Books, a division of Random House. 2009.
2Solomons NW: Developmental origins of health and disease. Concepts, caveats, and consequences for public health nutrition. Nutr Rev 67(Suppl 1):S12-S16, 2009