Here are a few examples:
- Eat plenty of folate-rich vegetables. Legumes like lentils, and vegetables rich in folate like spinach, parsley, romaine lettuce, broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower help our body meet its requirements for this essential nutrient. Folate plays an important role in methylation because it is required to synthesize S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e), the body’s main source of methyl groups. One of the most intriguing roles for folate-driven methylation is the benefit in helping to prevent certain types of cancers involving the pancreas, cervix, stomach, and mouth., , ,  Other powerful foods that have an epigenetic cancer-fighting effect include green tea and soy.
- Exercise regularly. Methylation levels have been found to change significantly after exercise. This includes genes involved in metabolism, energy production, fuel usage, muscle growth, the creation of new blood cells, and inflammation. It turns out these changes occur even after a single bout of exercise. Exercise intensity does appear to make a difference. Consider a program of High Intensity Interval Training involving short periods of very hard exercise (enough to make you feel out of breath) alternated by less intense recovery periods.
- Get enough sleep. Far from a time of inactivity sleep is critical for normal energy metabolism, tissue building and healing, hormone function, immune function, and the organization of memories. Having a good night of sleep depends, in part, upon the function of our internal clock which, in turn, is affected by gene methylation.
- Breathe clean air. Take time to enjoy a walk in the country. While many benefits arise from the availability of methyl groups for gene methylation city traffic exhaust may lower methylation.,  which has been associated with the risk of death from heart attack and stroke.
Humans have an advantage over cats, of course. As we begin to understand the complex science of epigenetics, we learn that we have the ability, in many cases, to manipulate the expression of our own genetic code. The challenge is to learn what exactly constitutes this healthy lifestyle in the setting of “in your face” marketing that too often sends contradictory messages. But when we do we can turn on the genes that benefit us and switch off those that potentially harm us allowing us to rise above our genetic destiny. While we can’t change our own eye color or hair color (at least not without cosmetic manipulation) any more than a calico cat can change her patchwork coat, we just might be on the verge of learning how to thwart disease and live life longer and better. We may not have nine lives, but if we have one long and vibrant one, well…isn’t that almost as good?