Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Epigenetics is a new science that started in 2001 during the end phase of The Human Genome Project.  Epi means upon or above and demonstrates the meaning that the control of health is not in the genes as it was hypothesized in the 1950's.  1951 was the first time that the amino acid sequence for insulin was discovered and the concept of genetic engineering or manipulation first began.

Scientists continue to chase this concept through research projects trying to interfere with genetic expression.  However, they are missing the most important component to gene expression:  signaling from the environment.

The signal is vitally important to the expression of genetic potential and dictates whether a gene is expressed or silenced.  Signals are growth hormones, hormones, RNA, etc. that are sent to a receptor on the cell membrane in order to activate the appropriate proteins or DNA to complete the biochemical reaction that is necessary or that is being asked because of the signal.

Nutrients, beliefs, thoughts, and emotions are all components that impact or influence the signal that is sent to the cell membrane.  Our thoughts, thus, do not simply exist in our mind, but are involved in a cascade of genetic and chemical reactions that either build health or bring destruction to our bodies.

It is vitally important that we have the proper understanding of genetics and epigenetics because it will impact our health.  If I believe that genes control the outcome of my health, I will take a drastically different approach to my lifestyle and health than if I believe that every thought, emotion, belief, nutrient, and toxin impacts the expression of my genetic potential.  If genes do dictate my health outcomes, having radical surgery performed to prevent the expression of a breast cancer gene would make sense.  However, if my lifestyle, beliefs, and environment dictate whether this gene is expressed or not, then I can take a more proactive approach to controlling my internal and external environment and may never experience the expression of a breast cancer gene.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mystery of Belief

         Epigenetics is the study and science of how genes are turned on and off in the body based upon the environment, nutrition, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs of the person.  After the Human Genome Project showed that genes were not as involved in the health outcomes of people as we first thought, epigenetics is a fascinating science that brings hope that our genes do not determine our health outcomes; rather, we are the architects and designers of our own health.  

         In my Nutritional Therapy practice, I notice that my clients who are more optimistic, hopeful, and happy are able to heal.  My clients who project negativity, hopelessness, and unhappiness tend to struggle more, but are able to pull through if they are willing to change their approach to life and their perspective.  In fact, a study at Harvard from 1946-1981, demonstrated that people with a negative outlook developed disease at a significantly higher rate than those with an optimistic attitude.

        “The simple truth is, happy people generally don't get sick.  One’s attitude toward oneself is the single most important factor in healing or staying well.  Those who are at peace with themselves and their immediate surroundings have far fewer serious illnesses than those who are not (Bernie Siegel, M.D.).”

         Our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs are continually feeding scripts to our body which help to either build health or destroy health at the cellular level.  What are your thoughts on a daily basis?  What are your emotions on a daily basis?  And how is this affecting your health?

         I remember a close friend of mine sharing with me that she believed the stress in her life would cause her to develop cancer.  She did develop cancer many months after this belief solidified in her subconscious.  Was it the belief that instructed her body to develop cancer?  Or was it the financial and relational stress in her life as she had declared?  Or a combination of the two?  
         Health and lack of health prove to be much more complicated than eating 1 apple a day and exercising a few times a week.  We have a myriad of thoughts, emotions, beliefs that affect us in ways that we may or may not be aware of.  
        The interesting thing that Dr. Siegel discovered through his research is that loving oneself and others actually increases killer T-cells, which are involved in a healthy immune system.  Even our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs during and after a diagnosis is so important to the prognosis of our recovery.  

         In light of any diagnosis, there is an emotional trauma and a grieving process that we go through either consciously or subconsciously.  My clients who have a diagnosis or have a child with a diagnosis benefit greatly from processing how they feel, think, and believe regarding this diagnosis.  Therapeutic counseling, prayer, and visual imagery tend to help tremendously in resolving the trauma of a diagnosis and freeing the person to approach the healing process from an emotionally stable place instead of a place of trauma.    

         My background in counseling and pastoral ministry I rely heavily on when working with clients who have been diagnosed with cancer or who have children diagnosed with autism.  It is very challenging to implement a healing plan when emotions are stuck in a place of being paralyzed from trauma.  Children are so sensitive that they intuitively perceive their parents emotions and can even take on the emotions of their parents regarding a diagnosis.  This hinders the healing process and the ability to stay proactive and motivated to bring healing tools into the life of the child.  

         In fact, in some cases of diagnosis, Deepak Chopra, MD, frequently observed rapid regression in health after a diagnosis “almost as if the person was dying from the diagnosis.”  Your belief about cancer, heart disease, or autism will affect how your body is able to heal or stay stuck in a cycle of crisis and trauma.  It is completely normal to start in a place of trauma, but to move to a place of resolving the emotional trauma and grief so that healing can be more possible.  

         I remember after being diagnosed with PCOS, I went through a process of grieving.  After I grieved, I processed through the diagnosis, I was ready to heal.  I had all the symptoms of PCOS.  Now, I have none of the symptoms of PCOS.  My physical healing started when I healed emotionally, spiritually, and when I was able to believe that healing was even possible.  The answers and solutions came quickly after my belief was solidified.  

         How about you?  Do you have a diagnosis?  Does your loved one have a diagnosis?  Where are you at in the grieving process?  Are you stuck in trauma?  Find someone who you can talk to and who can help you through the trauma and grieving process.  This will help tremendously and increase your body's ability to heal and recover fully.  Believing with you for the best possible outcome, 

       Megan E. Van Zyl

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brain Detox

Join me in a detox.  It is not the type of detox that you would expect.  I love detoxing.  I love juicing and helping my body to rid itself of toxins.  I love the feeling of healing when I am extra tired, draining toxins out of my sinuses, and in essence a mess of healing.  It makes me realize how much I am exposed to toxins on a daily basis without realizing it.  It makes me realize how much my body loves to clean up when it is given the proper support to do so. 

One type of detox I think that we could all benefit from beyond a detox of toxins in the body would be the toxins that we expose ourselves to every day by the way that we think, react, and emote.  We can all benefit from detoxing negativity from our systems. 

Have you ever been in a situation where you are feeling negative, feeling sorry for yourself, and enjoying every minute of it?  Have you ever been in a situation where you have been completely annoyed by someone who has a seemingly unending supply of optimism and positivity?

I used to be that type of person.  I lived with a roommate for 4 years during college and after college who was spunky, happy all the time, and gushing of positivity.  I found it completely annoying and distruptive to my own daily grind of sarcasm, negativity, and cynisim.  I loved to wallow in my feelings and move through my feelings to the point of nausea to myself and everyone around me. 

I was studying psychology and human developmental counseling.  It was important for me to be in touch with my feelings.  It was necessary for me to feel all my feelings and everyone else’s feelings around me.  I wanted to grab hold of everyone’s feelings and help them to be okay with the blue emotions, the emotions underneath the iceberg, the emotions that everyone else tried to avoid.  I wanted people to embrace depression, hopelessness, fear, anxiety, sadness, rejection, in the belief that be feeling these feelings they would lose their power and that as quickly as the emotions come, they would leave and lose their power over your psyche. 

Unfortunately, this didn’t always work.  Sometimes the depression stuck for months on end.  Sometimes the pit of hopelessness kept growing instead of being filled in with hope.  And connecting with other people’s emotions didn’t always work as well.  I would find myself feeling all my feelings, everyone else’s feelings, and wondered why my friends called me “Melancholy Megan.”  To review, melancholy means sad, depressed, downhearted, miserable, down, low, glum, gloomy, unhappy, despondent, dejected, dismal, and on top of it all, the opposite of cheerful.

Yep.  This was me.  Melancholy Megan.  I embraced the adjective and wallowed in the pits.  People did love to talk to me (they still do).  Because I helped them get in touch with their feelings.  However, I was not happy, I was not cheerful, and I was not positive.  

And positive people irritated me.  I caught a whiff of their spunky, happy go lucky jump out of bed at 5am with sheer joy attitude, and I wanted to throw up.  I found them oblivious of reality, out of touch of their feelings, and completely fake. 

And I found myself living with a friend who embodied positivity and joy.  And we could not stand being around each other.  She could not stand my negativity and cynisicm to the same degree that I could not stand her Pollyanna zest for life.

We had to change to survive.  She had to become more real and I had to become a titch more positive and hopeful for this living situation to work.   She picked the room that faced the sun so that it would wake her up good and early for her morning prancing and I picked the room that faced the moon so that I could journal about all my feelings from the day and about the reality of orphaned children in Northern Africa.

Looking back on that experience, it is beyond hilarious to review where we were at in our lives.  After 4 years of living together, I was the most positive I had ever been in my life and my friend was becoming more and more real with her emotions and perception of reality.  She was able to be sad for a day or two and she survived.  I was even able to be joyful and positive for a few days in a row without losing touch with reality.  It was surprising and pretty amazing. 

Every now and then, I need to remember what I learned from my friend and this year I decided to intentionally do a brain detox.  I am going to fine-tooth comb through my negative thought patterns and find a path of more positivity.  Join me in this detox.  We are starting by writing down all our negative thought patterns that are hindering us in our success and passion.