Our health is something that can be a big mystery to all of us, including me, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find the answers to our health problems. Everything we do and don’t do has an impact on our health. From the amount of physical activity we get to the foods we eat, everything has an impact.

With more and more people being diagnosed each day with some sort of chronic disease, such as Type II diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc., it is no mystery, at least to me, why much of our society has these problems. My conclusion from personal experience and study has shown that it is primarily because of our external environment and how we live our lives–our lifestyle–and not just solely based on our genetic predispositions (for the most of us).

Far too often are “bad genes” one of the main excuses for all of these problems people develop. This word is critical because it is something that a person is not born with right away, but rather acquires over a substantial amount of time in his or her life. A person may say “I’m obese because I have a family history of obesity,” but a statement like this is more of an excuse than a substantial conclusion to why this has happened. Although such family genetic lineage does play a component into why we may develop certain health problems and diseases, what people fail to realize, however, is that our lifestyle and external environment has so much more to do with our health than any one gene determines.

Science is now starting to explore the possibility of our lifestyle and external environment influencing and even altering the the way our genes function. According to an article from The Atlantic, for example, states that  people who had a pair of genes associated with high risks of developing heart attacks who ate a “Western diet” (fired foods, sugar, meat, eggs) had about double the risk of developing a heart attack in contrast to those same people who ate a “prudent diet” (raw veggies, fruits, nuts, dairy). In addition, the same article also explores studies done that show how stem cells in rats who exercised regularly developed into “blood producing cells of the bone marrow, rather than fat cells.” These notions are also supported by Dr. Mark Hyman when he states in his article that “the most important thing you do to control your genes everyday is eat well.” His article goes on to state that your genes can turn “on or off” depending upon the type of foods you eat resulting in different genome expression (this field of study between food and genes is called nutrigenomics).

In addition, an article called “Balancing Life-Style and Genomics Research for Disease Prevention,” written by Walter Willett, a Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard University, states: “we have been able to identify modifiable behavioral factors, including specific aspects of diet, overweight, and inactivity, and smoking that account for over 70% of stroke and colon cancer, over 80% of coronary heart disease, and over 90% of adult onset diabetes” (source). With these chronic diseases consisting much of the mortality rate in the United States, it is nice to know that it can be prevented through smart lifestyle choices. I know that there are unfortunate situations in which people have innate medical conditions that really can’t be cured at this time, but that doesn’t mean they and the rest of us can’t live life in a way that supports disease prevention.

I believe that we can control our own destiny, including our health, and that means every action we do has an impact. Before you have your next meal at McDonalds, or wherever junk food you eat, think this to yourself: “do I really need to eat this?” If you answer yes, just know that you are not taking control of your genes, but rather helping them malfunction. So, be smart and live healthy and happy.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment below sharing more research, studies, and just your thoughts on the subject.

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