We get a lot of who we are from our parents or family tree. Maybe it’s our dad’s nose, our mom’s hair color, or that personality trait we saw in them when we were kids that we swore we’d never do when we grew up. The point is, we chalk a lot up to genetics, including our health, and often we feel that we can do nothing about it. Yet, out of all the above attributes, it may stun you to learn that through a healthy lifestyle, we actually do have the ability to manipulate or even turn off genes that put us at risk for afflictions like diabetes or heart problems.
Understanding Genetic Function
It’s important to know that while our biological make-up may predispose us to certain conditions, genetics do not determine everything. For example, genetics do not determine how muscular you’ll be all your life or how the muscles themselves work. Every human body is different from another. In last week’s blog, for instance, we discussed how fat can collect in the belly for some, and around organs in others.
The same goes for building muscle. If you take two people and put them on the exact same wellness regimen, they could have different results based solely on their genetic road map. While one person may build muscle through squats, calf raises, wall sits, or lunges, the other may get better results through weight training, using dumbbells, or power lifting.
Therefore, you should never be disappointed if you mirror someone else’s workout routine and do not produce the same results with weight loss or muscle definition. What works for some may not always work for others.
What Research Says
Knowledge about the ability to change our genes is always growing. Here’s what we know right now, through various studies:
• Exercise can persuade stem cells to become bone and blood cells, rather than fat cells.
• Eating well and living a healthy lifestyle can “turn off” the genes that put some people at a higher risk for heart issues.
• Food, chemical exposure, activity, and social environments can all alter our health at the genome level.
• We have the ability to undergo genetic testing, to know if we carry copies of specific genes.
We should never assume that we are under the thumb of our genetic make-up. In fact, because we have the power to manipulate and change them by living a healthy lifestyle, genes should be more scared of us than we should be of them! Nothing is guaranteed, but the right choices can assist in stacking the deck against health issues that may have plagued our family tree in the past.