Shattering the Myth of Immutable Genes with Dr. Pamela Peeke

Dr. Pamela Peeke for On Human Flourishing

For a long time, scientists considered genetics to be the predisposition of a person’s health. In other words, whatever genes a person was born with, determined if that person would develop a hereditary disease, addiction or obesity. New scientific studies have shown that genes are not determinant of a person’s wellbeing. The lifestyle choices a person makes including exercise and eating habits can deactivate the genes that originally would have lead to disease.

Genetics Do Not Define Health

“You thought DNA was your destiny,” said Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM. The science shows that lowering stress hormone levels through exercise and Cortisol levels through therapies like yoga, are the keys to tapping into your good genes. This comes first; everything else is epigenetics, according to Peeke.

The term Epigenetics refers to any process that alters the activity of a gene, without altering the DNA sequence to which that gene belongs.


“We found out that the mass majority of these genes actually have what I kind of call a dimmer switch. We can activate or deactivate the gene based upon our environment.” –Dr. Peeke

Changing Your Destiny

Referencing the genome project conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Peeke asserts that you can alter your destiny by accessing the methyl donors, which dampen genes. The methyl donors are accessed through repeated practices that work against bad genes. Failure to practice proper nutrition and exercise routines can apparently have the reverse effect:

“Genetics may load the gun, but epigenetics pulls the trigger.” –Dr Peeke

Because epigenetics can go two ways, Dr. Peeke tells the audience of On Human Flourishing to “assume the vertical,” when it comes to physical activity. And for complete wellness, people can use their minds to set the tone for their overall wellbeing. In closing, Dr. Peeke asks, “When’s the last time you checked in with yourself?”

(i) Epigentics: The Science of Change, Bob Weinhold. Environmental Health Perspectives 2006 Mar; 114 (3): A160-A167