Junk DNA or Lost Treasure?

There is a new field emerging in science with many names, some of which are epi-genetics, nutritional genomics, or nutri-genomics as one F.S.U. alum coined.  I prefer the term epigenetics as it leaves room for influences other than nutrition.  Perhaps our genes aren’t written on a stone double helix from birth.  Perhaps there are a multitude of things that are misunderstood about our genes.  One example, in my opinion is the “junk DNA.” Junk DNA may very well be a storage facility of parts ready to manufacture future genes.

Let me start by explaining what I learned junk DNA is in my college Biology class.  In order to understand that, you must understand what DNA is along with its components.  If you want to skip the following, I understand.  The rest of the article shouldn’t be lost on you.

Nitrogenous Bases – one of five molecules: Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Cytosine (C), Thymine (T), and Uracil (U).

Nucleoside – formed when a nitrogenous base bonds with a sugar called ribose (in RNA) or deoxyribose (in DNA)

Nucleotide – formed when a nucleoside bonds with 1 to 3 phosphate groups

Nucleic Acid – made up of several nucleotides (a polymer)

Base Pairs – A and T pair up while G and C pair up.  T is replaced with U in RNA.

DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid – a very long molecule formed when the base pairs of many nucleotides match up to form a double helix.  Each step in the ladder is a base pair and each side of the ladder is the sugar-phosphate backbone.

Sugar-phosphate backbone – the sugar (deoxyribose or ribose) and phosphate groups that make up the sides of the DNA ladder or the strand of RNA.

Gene – a segment of DNA that codes for one or more specific proteins and each protein may have more than one job.

Junk DNA –  the non protein coding part of DNA, about 98.5% our human DNA!  This DNA is preserved much more than protein coding DNA from generation to generation, meaning our non coding DNA is very old.

RNA, ribonucleic acid – much like DNA, but it has ribose instead of deoxyribose, a U (uracil) in the place of T (thymine), and is for the most part, single stranded.  There are many types of RNA, but they have to do with translation and transcription, which is a huge part of our gene expression (what the gene actually does).

A word about RNA (it’s safe to start reading again)

My theory is that some types of RNA, specifically regulatory RNA, or some other unknown protein, could go into the non-coding part of our DNA and rearrange the pieces to form new genes.  Several challenges then arise such as how to get it to do that and how to control it to help us.  Well, I am not a geneticist and although if I ever do go back to college it will be for a PhD in Nutritional Genetics (or epigenetics), I do not know if such experiments would be humane or yield optimal results.  I certainly don’t want to be one of those scientists creating animal human hybrids under the table.  I believe that our bodies were designed intelligently and that they function at a more complicated level than we could ever imagine.  I believe that if one gives his or her body the proper tools it can repair itself and reach an ideal potential.

Now back to the junk DNA

It could be compared to a filing cabinet full of ideas that aren’t able to come to fruition now because the circumstances surrounding us aren’t supportive of them.  I have a huge collection of thoughts saved in my computer and only recently gained the platform to turn them into published articles.

Think of all the women getting tested for the breast cancer gene.  The presence of this gene does not mean that they will get breast cancer but that their genetic makeup holds that potential.  That breast cancer gene could be turned on or off (a term called “expression,”) depending on regulatory proteins and according ot my theory, the environment of the body, which could include nutrition, radiation levels, magnetic fields, or any other unknown influence.  That is what I believe junk DNA is:potential.  I believe junk DNA is not junk at all, but perhaps a scrambled or unlocked physical potential that could be good or bad, depending on the cards (DNA) we are dealt and environment we are in.  A hand of cards can play out a number of different ways, depending on what is drawn and what is disposed of throughout the game.

In a conversation with a molecular biologist working for the University of Chicago, the term “genetic,” was explained to me very clearly.  Genes are blueprints that have the code for a protein and those proteins commit acts or become tissues but our genes and their expressions are affected by our environment.  The genes we inherit from our parents are representations of the genes they inherited and the environment of our parents’ bodies throughout their life up until we were conceived.  The same pattern passes on to our children and continues in later generations.  Even in the old testament of the bible there is a passage talking about how one’s actions can punish three to four generations of children thereafter (Exodus 34:7).  Was this just a number pulled from the sky or was this a statement made by someone who perhaps understood how our genes really work?

With all the genetic testing going on today, many people are making decisions based on possibilities instead of realities.  I don’t want to make any health decisions for anybody but I do want you to realize that we can control much of our environment.  Ironically, an argument that one of my professors gave, a PhD in Biology and a supporter of evolution, when I asked “Why haven’t humans evolved into a new species yet after all of this time?” was that humans have too much control over their own environment to have to adapt and  evolve. She also mentioned that we would evolve if some small part of our population were to inhabit a different environment.  That would change the gene pool.  That is a striking admission that environment affects genes, since gene mutations and population survival make up that theory.

So now you know how I feel about health and the level of control that we as people may really have over it.  While some people are born with unavoidable structural certainties, others are victims of reversible diseases that have more to do with gene expression.  And gene expression may have more to do with our environment and choices than many would like to admit.  These choices may not just be yours.  There are many who are making choices for you or taking them away entirely.  We want to help you outsmart them by using science for good instead of profit.

At Eden Cultures, we pose the challenge:

Why not maximize our physical environment to bring out the best in our genetic potential?

This is not to be confused with the eugenics agenda!  Eugenics is the idea that certain people shouldn’t reproduce because their genes are “set.” This is actually the opposite viewpoint.  If we remove toxins and provide nutrients then our genes are not set… at least that’s my theory.

Heather Davis

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