How you ever wondered why sometimes identical twins turn out to be completely different people.
One may have heart disease and the other may be as healthy as a hoarse. This is all because of the psychology of nature vs. nurture.
Nature is when our genetics determine our behavior and personality traits, abilities to do things, are in or genes, passed from parent to offspring. Nurture is when our environment, upbringing, and life experiences determine our behavior. We are “nurtured” to behave a certain way. Sometimes, twins can have the the same nature and nurture aspects and still prefer different things. One twin might like singing and loves to play soccer, the other might love playing an instrument and cooking.
Why does this happen? How do we explain these differences given that the DNA is the same and for the large part their home environment has been the same too? Well, it turns out that some of these differences can be explained by a third very powerful influence on everyone’s life, besides nature and nurture. It is called Epigenetics. You might be wondering what Epigenetics is. You see, Epigenetics is the study of how living things change, caused by the modification of gene expression.
In this process traits can be turned on and off instead of the genetic code being altered itself. When a gene is turned off, its stops a person from being able to do a certain thing or have something that is apart of them. When a gene is turned on it makes a person have a certain trait. Genes that are turned on can be turned off. This happens because the presence of nature and nurture. This is because the environmental and upbringing exposures can change gene expression to affect what we look like and how healthy we are out how good our bodies function.
Genes can be turned off by tightening DNA around histones, loosening DNA is a way to turn genes on. Histones are the clusters of protein that DNA is wrapped around. This combination of histones and Dna is called Chromatin. Chromatin solves the problem of DNA accessibility. This is because there are epigenetic marks that sit down on our chromatin and can help instructed it whether to compact or decompact and those instructions can then affect how the cell reads the underlined genes encoded in the DNA. Epigenetic marks that compact, turn off genes and epigenetic marks that decompact, turn genes on or make them accessible.
There are quite a few examples of epigenetics and how they work. One example is demonstrated with mice.There are two identical mice that are the same age.
They look very different, but they are identical. What makes them look so different is epigenetics and how and what their mother ate when she was pregnant. They both have a gene called agouti. Mice are normally thin and brown but, when this gene is turned on a mouse become yellow and obese and they also develop life-shortening diseases like cancer and diabetes.
When the agouti yellow obese mice had babies, they also were yellow and obese. This wouldn’t have happened if the mother ate foods that contain “methyl donors”, then the babies would have been thin, brown, and healthy. Methyl donors that the mother eats can be incorporated into the pups DNA, which would mark the agouti gene. The Methyl group donors turned off the gene and its bad effects. Like obesity and a shortened lifespan.
This is an example of epigenetics and how environment and your behavior can change. Another example of epigenetics is through the study of honeybees. They have taught us that it is not just out genes, but what we are exposed to in our environment that also makes a difference by changing how our bodies work and what we do all throughout our lives. Honeybees le and hives and 99% of honeybees are worker bees. Worker bees in a hive are genetically identical.
This means the letters that make up a bees DNA are the same. Worker bees might have different roles in a colony because of how their genes are turned on and off. You may know that worker bees are nurses from the first 2 to 3 weeks of their life and then they will morph into forager bees. But, if the number of nurses decreased, then some of the forager bees turn back into nursing bees. This is happening because of the genes that are being turned on and off in the bee because of the environment.
You have to keep in mind that these bees are genetically identical, so it depend on how much the genes are being turned on and off. Animals, such as mice, bees and other insects have taught us lots about how epigenetics work. They have taught us that the environment can change how your life is in the future and how it can change the people around you too, such as future generations. We have always worked under the assumption that are genes were engraved or set in stone, that our genes were beyond our influence to what we do and how we behave in our everyday lives. But, now that scientist have researched and studied more about nature vs.
nurture and epigenetics, we can conclude that what we do can impact us in the future, but also our future generations. It is now safe to say that our health is influenced by our genetics and epigenetics. Environmental exposures can change gene expression to affect what we look like and how our bodies function. This can change future generations by the way your child looks and acts or if they develop a disease. What you do and eat can be incorporated into your offsprings DNA and they can become either healthy or even develop life threatening diseases all because of what you do and how your environment affected you.
The choices we make have a bigger impact than we ever thought before. We can start to nurture our nature and positively influence our epigenome for future generations. We can eat healthy foods such as leafy green veggies and whole grains and chance our nature, so our future offspring has a lessoned chance of developing diseases, which can cause a shortened lifespan. We can also avoid bad habits such as smoking, having stress, doing drugs, getting less than the recommended hours of sleep, or drinking alcoholic beverages, all of which are shown experimentally to impact our epigenome negatively. We should all take the chance and treat out epigenome kindly for the sake of our long term health and the health of our future generations.
Like what Bruce Lipton said, “Your children’s genes reflect only their potential, not their destiny. It is up to you to provide the environment that allows them to develop to their highest potential.”