Inflammation seems to underlie all sickness, linked to everything from depression and Alzheimer’s to gastrointestinal disorders and heart disease, but the term “inflammation” is very broad and sometimes misunderstood. Genetics plays a major role.
If in balance, the body and all its processes – including the immune system- works effortlessly and harmoniously towards a common goal: to heal, survive, and even thrive. But, when something in the body shifts off-balance, (due to either inside or outside triggers), an instability is created and the ripple effects set off a cascade of events that eventually, if left unchecked, manifests as disease.
We do need some inflammation though.
Here are some statements about inflammation you may not have heard before:
- Inflammation is an essential component of a healthy immune system.
- The body generates inflammation in response to infection or an invading virus or bacteria, in order to destroy the dangerous invader.
- Inflammation is protective by design. If we successfully suppressed all inflammation in the body, we will not survive.
Inflammation is a perfectly good thing until it goes haywire.
Misguided or rampant inflammation is present in every one of the major chronic diseases of aging —heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and more – as well as in all auto-immune conditions like Crohn’s, Hashimoto’s, auto-immune arthritis and MS for example.
In less severe (and often more mysterious) cases, unbalanced inflammation can manifest as brain fog, irritability, aches and pains, digestive discomfort, aging skin, mood swings, memory-loss, lethargy, fatigue and more.
Inflammation and Genetics: What makes inflammation go haywire?
Our body is highly responsive to our environment. More specifically, our DNA is constantly interacting with things like nutrients, toxins, stressors, and anything else we come into contact with.
These external influences, or “environmental” impacts as they’re often referred to, literally switch genes on or off, and can have either positive or negative effects on our health, depending on our specific genetic variations.
Inflammation is personal.
Small variations in our DNA – even just a single “misspelling” in a gene (known as a SNP) – can influence how sensitive we are to the triggers of modern life.
How your body responds to toxins and carcinogens for example, is largely determined by your genes. Certain genetic SNPs affect things like the bioavailability and metabolism of important anti-inflammatory micronutrients (like Vit D, A, B12, folate, omega-3, and more). Other SNPs directly and indirectly affect how we metabolize fats in our diet (influencing circulating LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, obesity and cardiovascular risk).
These are just a few examples of how the outside (nutri) and inside (genetics) worlds are constantly interacting to create the landscape of who we are (and whether we stay healthy, or not).
There are certain genetic variations associated with an increased inflammatory response.
Knowing if you have the “pro-inflammatory” variants of the genes involved in inflammation can be very empowering information to have.
Here are some of the key-player genes involved in inflammation:
IL1, IL6, TNF alpha, APOE, FUT2, HO-1, TIMP4, CRP, CYP1B1, CYP1A1, ENOS, FUT2, TIMP4, MNSOD, PPARA, and more.
Genes don’t work in isolation. The body is a complex, inter-connected organism.
Thanks to Nutrigenomics, we know how to “manipulate” our genes using nutrients and lifestyle strategies.
At 3X4 Genetics we take a system’s approach to SNPs and consider how your genes work together in cellular pathways that control processes like inflammation.
So if you are genetically more prone to high inflammation, you can:
a) avoid common inflammatory triggers (see Infographic 1 above) and
b) use proven powerful nutritional modulators to alter gene expression in your favor (see infographic 2 below).
Decreasing inflammation is the number one way to slow the aging process and increase longevity.
If you’re genetically prone to high, misguided inflammation, there are a lot of personalized choices you can make to down-regulate the expression of inflammation in your body.
A 3×4 genetic test can help you find out more about the link between inflammation and genetics in your body.
This article was originally written by Klara Mudge for 3X4 Genetics.