Of all the parts of yourself that you wanted to change, you probably never though that your DNA could ever be one of them. Researchers at the Karolinska institute in Sweden have put forth some research which will surprise many as they suggest that DNA molecules can and do change structure when triggered. Though the underlying DNA code remains the same, the molecules manifest themselves differently in response to exercise, both chemically and structurally.
This change is known as an epigenetic modification, this means that the appearance and presence chemical marks on the sequence of A's, G's, T's and C's which make up DNA. The DNA was examined in study participants after a burst of intense exercise. The marks were most significant in the DNA which is involved in triggering muscle tissue adaptation to exercise. Shortly after the burst of contractions, the muscle cell DNA showed fewer markers.
The experiment was done with muscle tissue in lab dishes, and not on actual participants. Juleen Zierath, the lead researcher, went on to explain that the presence of caffeine elicits the same response as exercise does. The researchers do not recommend switching a cup of coffee in place of exercising, but do mention that athletes who drink coffee while training may be onto something bigger than previously expected.
This research also shows that human genomes are much more versatile and adaptable than we often believe. The phrase "you are what you eat" is applicable here as well. Eating and using our bodies elicits an immediate response to adjust and prepare to what its been dished.
Zierath points out that exercise really is like medicine, getting a healthy preventive dose for several of the body's essential systems. For those who can't exercise, the researchers discuss further research which can be done on the healing effects of medicines which use caffeine.
Romain Barrès, Jie Yan, Brendan Egan, Jonas Thue Treebak, Morten Rasmussen, Tomas Fritz, Kenneth Caidahl, Anna Krook, Donal J. O'Gorman, Juleen R. Zierath. Acute Exercise Remodels Promoter Methylation in Human Skeletal Muscle. Cell Metabolism, 2012; 15 (3): 405