Written by: Heidi Jennings, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Genetics is something we are either blessed with or cursed with, right? We might take delight in praise about our beautiful eyes or wrinkle-free skin, our height or glossy hair. We thank our mother or grandfather or whoever was responsible for bestowing their gifts upon us.
Then there are the things we’re not so fond of – our big ears, crooked teeth or short arms. Maybe Mum or Grandpa weren’t so generous after all.
And what about all our health issues that have suddenly appeared in middle age? Surely our ancestors are to blame for all of those, too?
How many times have you heard somebody say they are concerned about getting cancer or dying of heart disease or developing Multiple Sclerosis because that’s what their father or aunt or grandmother succumbed to? Or this little nugget, “Being overweight is in my genes so I’m stuck with it.”
Stop right there. Just because you may have been born with certain genes that make you susceptible to a certain disease, doesn’t mean you’ll end up with it. It’s actually your lifestyle choices that will determine whether you develop that disease up to 95% of the time.
Your destiny is not determined by your family history, contrary to what conventional medicine might be telling us.
A relatively new and fascinating field of medicine called epigenetics studies the control of gene activity. In simple terms, it’s the study of how your lifestyle choices and behaviours can influence the way in which your genes work and how they are expressed.
For example, twins separated at birth have the same DNA sequence but will end up with different diseases dependent on their choice of lifestyle. If the father of these twins died of a heart attack and each twin inherited 50% of their DNA from either parent, they would have inherited some susceptibility that they would follow the same fate as their father. Even with exactly the same DNA, one twin could die of a heart attack while the other lived a full and healthy life – all depending on their lifestyle choices.
Lifestyle choices such as following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, not smoking, keeping stress levels down and drinking little or no alcohol can effectively ‘turn off’ the ‘dodgy’ genes you inherited from your parents.
The field of epigenetics is pretty exciting because it empowers us as individuals to know that we are in control of our health. We are not destined for a chronic disease just because a family member or two developed it.
By making sensible choices around our lifestyle and behaviours, we can influence our gene expression.
So the next time someone tells you about their health destiny based on genetics, you can reassure them that they are not doomed and can in fact take control of their health.
And while you’re at it, tell them to stop blaming Grandpa.
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Heidi Jennings, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Heidi Jennings is a Holistic Health Coach specializing in Plant-Based Nutrition. After a health crisis left her bedridden and disillusioned with conventional medicine, she embraced a holistic approach to help her heal. She now runs her business alongside her husband Steve, and together they deliver holistic coaching programs to their clients. They specialize in chronic pain, anxiety and depression, stubborn body fat, menopause symptoms, autoimmune dysfunction, and sleep issues by focusing on the five pillars of health; nutrition, exercise, gut health, sleep, and managing stress. Heidi is also a guest speaker and the author of ‘From Living Hell to Living Well’. Her mission is to change the lives of 500,000 people around the world by empowering them to take control of their health and happiness.