Dirty Genes: How to Change Your Genetic Destiny
Many people blame their genes for poor health, chronic conditions, or less-than-perfect physiques. But did you know that your genes are actually not as all-powerful as that?
While you can’t rewrite your DNA, the way that your genes function can be highly influenced by your lifestyle and the choices that you make. This is referred to as epigenetics: the way that environmental factors influence how your genes are expressed.
Your genes can either be turned ‘on’ or ‘off.’ What makes the decision to flip these switches? Anything from the diet that you eat, the nutrients that you consume, how your body processes stressors, how often you’re physically active, how well you’re sleeping, and whether or not you’re exposed to secondhand smoke—just to name a few! These factors and more determine your gene expression.
While you can’t control every aspect of your gene expression, you do have a major say in many of these factors. Dr. Ben Lynch, the founder of Seeking Health and author of the national bestseller Dirty Genes: A Breakthrough Program to Treat the Root Cause of Illness, frequently says that your genes are not your destiny.
“Your genes are not your destiny.” — Dr. Ben Lynch
You can’t change the way that you’ve been made, but you can influence how your genes communicate with each other and how they interact in your body. Ultimately, your genes can be dirty or clean, or somewhere on a spectrum in between. Dirty Genes will help you learn which symptoms are signs of dirty genes and how to optimize your unique genetic potential.
What is a Dirty Gene?
When you’re formed as an embryo, your entire genetic blueprint is created when 23 chromosomes from your mom and 23 chromosomes from your dad are fused together. That’s what determines your hair color, blood type, and what genetic variants you will have.
However, what it won’t tell you is how your genes will behave. Just like a light can be turned on or off with a switch, your genes can be activated or dormant based on a complicated system that regulates how your genes are expressed.
When your genes are expressed in a negative way, this is what Dr. Ben Lynch calls having a “dirty” gene. It needs to be scrubbed or cleaned up so that it will work in a cleaner way. Dirty genes are often at the root of health-related symptoms and even some health conditions. Changing your lifestyle can affect how well your genes work.
Your health improves when your dirty genes have been cleaned up. This is why your genes do not determine your health destiny.
With that said, it is possible for your genes to deliver some challenges in life. For example, when you are born with a genetic variation, it may cause your gene to work at a reduced rate. In essence, this is a “born dirty gene.” You can be born with dirty genes that will always need some level of compensation to help them function properly.MTHFR is a good example of this. Your MTHFR gene plays a major role in the methylation cycle by converting folate into its active form of methylfolate. Methylation governs nearly every biochemical process in your body. Slow or ‘dirty’ methylation is associated with high levels of blood pressure, histamine, homocysteine, gallbladder stagnation, and imbalanced neurotransmitters. Even if you live a healthy life, your methylation cycle may still need extra support.
By offering extra support, you can achieve the same results as if your MTHFR gene were born clean.
Similarly, you can have a clean gene that starts behaving dirty. This can be due to environmental toxins, a poor diet, stress, or lack of exercise. However, a dirty gene can be cleaned by removing the aggravating factors, resulting in clean genes once again.
If this sounds complex, think about the fact that you can have many genes behaving dirty at the same time! When one gene is dirty, it can also influence the way that others function. This cascade effect can result in any number of health issues.
Here’s the good news: when you get a gene cleaned up, it can influence other genes positively. By addressing the health of your genes, you can finally take full control of your health.
Your Super Seven Genes
If you consider that you have something close to 30,000 genes in your body, it could start to get overwhelming. (1) Dr. Ben Lynch has discovered that there are really only a handful of genes that have a major impact on the overall health of the body. These seven genes are big players in your overall wellness and how you feel in your day-to-day life with regards to energy, mood, focus, and more. He calls these genes the “Super Seven.”
Your Super Seven genes are really the only genes you need to consider (at least initially) when you are working towards optimizing your genetic destiny.
Each of the Super Seven genes has its own unique profile and characteristics. Most people have more than one that’s acting dirty. So, if all of your woes don’t seem linked to one dirty gene, like MTHFR, it’s likely that you’re struggling with a related dirty gene. This is where many people are surprised. They discover they have an MTHFR gene variant on their StrateGene® DNA Report or another genetic test. They start taking methylated nutrients. But that doesn’t fix all their problems. That’s because you need to clean your other genes, too!†
Here’s a basic intro to each of the Super Seven genes. If you’re wondering where to start, you can click here to take the Dirty Genes Quiz and find out which of your Super Seven genes are acting dirty!
Summary: The Super Seven Genes
- MTHFR (the mother of all genes): This gene initiates the body’s ability to methylate. Methylation is an essential process that affects the body’s overload response, natural inflammatory processes, brain chemistry, energy production, immune system function, detoxification, antioxidant production, cellular repair, and genetic expression. Basically, it’s the mother of all problems when it isn’t working right. That’s because it has a hand in so many crucial processes in the body. Perhaps the most important role it plays relates to epigenetics and whether or not your genes are turned “on” or “off.”
- COMT (mood/hormones): This gene plays a big role in determining how your brain influences your personality and mood. It can affect whether you’re focused, upbeat, and energetic or whether you’re laid back, calm, or down. It also has a strong influence on how the body handles estrogen, an important hormone in both women and men. In women, it’s vital for regulating the menstrual cycle and fertility. In men, estrogen is necessary for healthy sperm, metabolism, heart health, and even bone density. When estrogen levels are too high or too low, it can increase the risk for serious health problems. If your COMT gene is too fast, you may have issues with focus, memory, concentration, mood, and motivation. If your COMT gene is too slow, you may have issues with calming down, anxiety, stress, sleep, and high estrogen which can contribute to issues such as PMS or fibroids.
- DAO (sensitivity): This gene exerts a strong influence over how sensitive you are to the world around you, particularly toxins and food. This gene can impact your body’s response to histamine which is found in food, beverages, and the environment. Histamine can also be produced by microbes in your gut, which can influence how sensitive or allergic you are to foods, as well as how pronounced your reactions might be. Histamine intolerance can be related to a dirty DAO gene.
- MAOA (brain/mental health): This gene has a strong influence on both mood swings and appetite, specifically carbohydrate cravings or emotional eating. It helps regulate levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain—crucial neurotransmitters that control things like mood, energy levels, mental alertness and focus, as well as addictions, confidence, and even your ability to sleep. If your MAOA gene is too fast, you might have carb cravings, difficulty staying asleep, or frequent feelings of sadness. If your MAOA gene is too slow, you might have difficulty falling asleep, headaches, irritability, symptoms from drinking wine or eating histamine foods, trouble relaxing, or prolonged anxiety.
- GST/GPX (detox): These two genes have a strong influence on the body’s ability to collect chemicals and heavy metals and get rid of them. When they aren’t working as they should be, you can experience detox dilemmas, where your body becomes more toxic than it should be because it simply can’t take the garbage out. If your GST/GPX genes are dirty, then your glutathione levels are likely low. Because it plays a significant role in detoxification, low glutathione levels can lead to a reduced ability to eliminate harmful compounds. If toxins accumulate in the body, you might experience smell sensitivity, chlorine and deodorant intolerance, fatigue, brain fog, early graying of hair, and erratic moods.
- NOS3 (heart issues): This gene can impact the production of nitric oxide, a major factor in having healthy blood flow and blood vessel formation. Nitric oxide production is essential for many aspects of your health. In a nutshell, it’s what allows blood, nutrients, and oxygen to travel to every part of your body to be utilized. If your NOS3 gene is dirty, you may be unable to produce sufficient nitric oxide. As a result, your blood vessels don’t dilate sufficiently and your platelets can become sticky, which can lead to blood clots.
- PEMT (liver/cells): This gene impacts your body’s ability to make phosphatidylcholine, a vital compound that is needed for cell membranes, brain development, bile flow, liver health, and the health of your nerves, brains, and muscles. If your PEMT gene is dirty, you may not be able to produce sufficient phosphatidylcholine. As a result, your cell membranes can lose their integrity and the numerous bodily functions can’t proceed smoothly.
How Do You Clean Dirty Genes?
If you are starting to realize that you likely have dirty genes, don’t panic! Yes, it can be a lot, but the good news is that the process of cleaning your genes is the same, whether you have one dirty gene or 100! You don’t have to do something wholly unique for each one. Simply follow the protocols outlined below (and discussed in detail in the book Dirty Genes) with some minor individual tweaks for your personal situation.
Phase 1: The Soak and Scrub
The first phase of cleaning your genes is known as the Soak and Scrub. This will take place over the first two weeks. During this phase, you’ll learn what your genes need to function best and how to best support their well-being.
Summary: The Soak and Scrub
- Evaluate your intake and output. For everything (food, supplements, activities, thoughts) you’re going to ask yourself: is this making my genes work more or less? If you make your genes work too hard, then you continue the dirtying process. During this phase, you want to decrease any extra work that your genes have to compensate for.
- Evaluate your diet. When it comes to food, now’s the time to tune in to how you feel. If a food creates symptoms, like bloating or indigestion, then that food is making your body work harder. During this phase, take a break from foods that lead to extra work. It is helpful to track what you eat each day and how you feel throughout the day. This allows you to start making connections between your food and symptoms. Specific dietary recommendations are shared in Dirty Genes. Be mindful to stop eating when you’re 80 percent full. Overstuffing your stomach makes your digestive system work harder. Soak and Scrub is about decreasing the work your body will be doing, even during digestion.
- Evaluate your emotions. Tuning into your emotions is part of this phase, too. When you feel overloaded, overwhelmed, and overburdened, that affects how your body works—yes, even down to a genetic level.
- Evaluate your lifestyle. You’ll also focus on things like establishing a healthy bedtime, being aware of how supplements affect you, and taking note of your mood throughout each day. These observations can be essential in getting to the root of pesky health issues.
Soak and Scrub isn’t a diet per se, but during this two-week phase, you’ll pay attention to what you’re eating, how you’re moving your body, how you’re resting, and basically everything else that is part of living. Your genes respond to all of this. It’s empowering for your health and psyche to take the time to stop and listen. Your body can tell you a lot!
Phase 2: Spot Cleaning
The Soak and Scrub sets you up for the next phase: Spot Cleaning. These next two weeks are about implementing what you’ve learned from the Soak and Scrub. You will continue to tweak and optimize using your findings from the first phase. For example, did you notice any digestive issues you’d like to support? Sometimes it can be as easy as adding digestive enzymes before your meals, eliminating gluten, or supporting your microbiome with probiotics to start feeling a lot better!†
After you’ve tuned into your genes for another two weeks, you’re going to notice things about yourself that you’d never been fully aware of before. While each of the Super Seven Genes needs slightly different protocols for balance, your body as a whole needs this dedicated time for you to be aware of the little messages it’s sending you every single day.
The Soak and Scrub is one of the best ways to ensure your genes are staying clean all year long.
You can read Dirty Genes to get the full Soak and Scrub protocol, but it’s a good idea to make it a normal part of your wellness routine, once or twice a year. This is one of the best ways to make sure your genes are staying clean all year long.
Resources for Optimizing Your Genes
Let’s be clear, first of all, that optimizing your genes is a lifelong process. Seasons of life will require more or less support, hormone changes will alter what your genes need, extra work or relationship challenges may deplete you faster.
Being in tune with your body by optimizing your genes is a gift that you continually give yourself. Your health will remain strong when you learn how to pay attention to what your body is saying. This allows you to make faster course corrections. The best way to optimize your genes is with the right knowledge. After that, it’s all about what you do with the knowledge that can change your life.
The best resources that have been designed to support your journey toward optimal health are right here:
- Read the book Dirty Genes.
- Listen to the Dirty Genes podcast.
- Get genetic testing to identify your unique SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms, or genetic variations).
- Interpret your results with the StrateGene® DNA Report to learn what your unique genes need to thrive.
- Consider supplemental nutrients in bioavailable forms. Dr. Lynch recommends following the pulse method for most supplements. †
- Further your education with Dr. Ben Lynch’s Dirty Genes Course.
- Work with a qualified healthcare practitioner who is well-versed in epigenetic health to guide you even deeper into optimizing your wellness plan.
The Bottom Line
The Dirty Genes approach is one that empowers you to take full control of your health. You’re not a victim of bad genes. And you’re not at the mercy of a doctor telling you what medicine you need to take to “fix” your problems. Even if you are born with dirty genes, it does not mean you have a greater susceptibility to illness or issues. Thanks to epigenetics and nutrigenomics, you have the power to change your genetic destiny.
YOU are in the driver’s seat of your health. The map for your journey is written in your genes!
Dr. Ben Lynch wrote Dirty Genes to help you understand your genetic makeup so you can make educated decisions each and every day. Dr. Lynch firmly believes that yes, knowledge is power, and it can also be one of the most powerful medicines.
‡ This information is for educational purposes only. No product results are implied.