Genes & Epigenetics affect health

Genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger

Epigenetics - we are not simply what our genes say we are.

This page has the potential of being loaded with very technical jargon and going on and on. My purpose here is to inform you of the wide range of effects that our genes, and possibly even more importantly, our epigenetic can have on our health, or lack thereof. My guess is that if you’re reading this page you are fairly familiar with what genes are and the difference between genes and epigenetic’s.

If not, here’s the technical definition of epigenetics… “ the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.”
Most people are familiar with what genes are, these are basic building structures are genetic code that our parents gave to us. Half from our mother and half from our father. The most recent scientific estimates say that if you took the DNA of one cell and stretched it out it would be approximately 2 m long. If you took all the DNA in all cells of our body it is estimated that the DNA would be about twice the diameter of the solar system. That is a LOOOOOT of information to pack into a very tiny area.

Many patients on a daily basis will come in with a laundry list of complaints and one of the first thing they often say is that my parents cursed me with bad genes. That’s why I can’t… Lose weight, get healthy, why got cancer, why my stomach is a mess, and many other issues.
I’m telling you and research is showing that we can change what our genes express. You are not cursed with bad genes. They may not be optimal, but we can work with that.

Broken down into very simplistic terms, the defense between genius and epigenetic’s basically means that we have the ability to turn on and turn off certain genetic expressions. We are not just destined to a certain fate based on genes. However, lifestyle will dictate how those genes are expressed.

A very accurate saying that describes the relationship between genes and epigenetics is…” that genes load the gun and environment pulls the trigger.

Just because we have the genes that predisposed to certain disease doesn’t necessarily mean we will get that disease, how we live our life and whether we choose to pursue a healthy lifestyle of exercise, diet, vitamins and supplements, and exposure to certain toxins can have more of an effect our health than the actual genes themselves.

This is not to say that all genes can be turned on and of, certain genes will undoubtedly lead to certain diseases. The important thing is what you do with your genes. You can change if are you active in pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

There are many different labs that can provide you with a genetic profile of what your particular SNPs are and this can sometimes lead us in certain directions regarding your health. One of my favorites is

One of the most common SNPs or genetic variations floating around the integrative and functional medicine world right now is the MTHFR gene. There are many different variants that one can have and even more combinations of those variants. The main thing is if you are homozygous or heterozygous (don’t worry about what it means for now).

Interpretation of theses genetic profiles can very very difficult and time consuming, but they can have a huge effect on someones health or sickness.

There are many doctors that think that if you have the MTHFR gene you are doomed and that this genetic SNP is the very bane of your pain and suffering. If you could just fix the MRHFR SNP you will be fine.

While this may certainly be true in some cases, I find it is rarely the only stick in the fire so to speak. It’s only a piece of the puzzle in most cases.

It probably contributed to the development of whatever health issue you are dealing with, but unless it’s really severe or you have really stressed your body in some way, my opinion and experience shows that it did not solely cause your issues. That being said, many times it doesn’t always matter what got you to the point you are at today. What matters is that you are there now and we have to deal with it.

In the case of epigenetics and in particular MTHFR, if you have a chronic issue that will not resolve no matter what you have tried, and you have an MTHFR genetic variation, you will not get better unless you change and your address your specific genes.


Many symptoms that we develop often are just the tip of the iceberg.

That can be scary to many people because they often know that something more serious may be going on. Our goal is to look at the entire person, including their genetics, and achieve healing all in all systems and not just the one that is shoeing symptoms.


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Dr. Craig Mortensen
151 N. Kraemer Blvd., #115
Placentia, CA 92870

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