Our genome is our genetic material, our DNA. There are many genes that are not expressed. E.g. a person can carry the gene for gluten-sensitivity and not be gluten-sensitive.
The ‘exposome’ is the new term for the collection of factors that affect which of our genes will be expressed. E.g. gluten sensitivity may not occur until a stressor causes the gene to be ‘turned on. ‘
The ‘exposome’ description has been widened from just a chemical affecting the human population to include many biologically-relevant factors such as chemical exposures, medications, foods, nutrition, viruses, bacteria, injuries, surgeries, and psychosocial stressors affecting organs, tissues or cells.
It is good news for us that scientists are going to focus on how to measure some of the exposures that we have and then try to connect to the illnesses that occur. Since 1996, we in the Health Pursuits Study Group have been observing factors that may be causing us trouble on a more personal level.
When we are having a worse day or week, we run through a list of factors. We apply our critical thinking to our self care. Of course, if it is a medical emergency then self care is not the option, but with many ‘off’ days, it is. Here is my list of questions to ask myself.
Did I move in ways that might cause trouble, e.g. lifting too heavy a grocery bag or twisting to pick up something? (I have adhesions and scar tissue but that’s a topic for a blog shortly.)
Did I eat something that might be problematic, e.g a restaurant meal that could contain foods to which I am sensitive??
Did I forget to take the nutrients that keep me perking along – for instance my calcium/magnesium?
Did I have a chemical exposure, e.g. a trip with too much car exhaust or an event where there were scented products, or did I bring something new into the home?
Was I in a moldy or dusty environment or did the weather change to increase the amount of mold, dust, pollen, etc. in the air?
Was I exposed to a virus or to bacteria that might be causing the trouble?
Too many things to do, too many demands, too many upsets? Too little sleep?
Or, as usual two or three of the above.
Then, depending on identifiable factors, each of us has developed strategies which can both confirm the source and aid recovery.
Once you know your movement patterns and weak areas, targeted exercises can help. I once aggravated a bulging disc merely by sneezing, just before a long-awaited trip. By doing the special exercise for that disc (ELDOA for T3-4), I was able to go on the trip and heal the injury.
Food and mold reactions can often be ameliorated by an electrolyte solution (e.g. Alka Seltzer Gold which is sodium and potassium bicabonate) or by vitamin C every hour until the inevitable occurs.
Using a compartmented tray which holds a week’s worth of nutrients can help keep me on track. If I introduce something new to the regiment, I pay attention to any unusual effects.
I deal with chemical exposures with a homeopathic (petroleum) or extra of my specific vitamins or detoxification strategies.
Virus? Perhaps extra zinc, a homeopathic or ginseng (as in Cold FX.) Bacterium? Perhaps one-a-day garlic and/or extra probiotic. Vitamin C as well.
And sometimes, I just have to exercise my ability to say no to things and rest.
Each of us has to search out and find the supports that will help us recover as quickly as possible. First we have to recognize the factors likely to bring us down. Maybe this new term will help us recognize our own personal ‘exposome.’