Can We Still Blame Our Genes?

A slightly belated Happy New Year!  First, thank you to all of you that have sent me emails saying you miss my posts.  Because of my radio silence I have spent the past year learning, teaching, more learning, working with clients and more learning.  

One of the topics I have spent time researching this year is… What controls our genes? Is it all a result of DNA or do our lifestyle choices play a role? It’s not uncommon to hear people say the reason they are sick is because of their genes, and in fairness that’s what we’ve been taught and programmed to believe. However, we now know that is no longer true. Epigenetics, as a simplified definition, is the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off.  The term “epigenetic” explains the way that genes interact with the environment to produce each individual phenotype as opposed to the genetic code in the form of DNA. For example, you may be a healthy child, however, if you suffer abuse and chronic stress, you could develop anxiety and depression as an adult, so your health and life have been altered by your environment and not your genes.

According to Bruce Lipton, PhD and author of a book that everyone should read called, “The Biology of Belief,” 90% of illness and disease is lifestyle and 10% is genetics.  DNA is not your identity nor your destiny. That means that health is personal responsibility.  This is not to place blame.  It is not our fault as there are many factors that influence us, such as advertising, marketing and peer pressure.  However, knowing that we have the power and control is great news.  Its liberating, empowering, and you can start from this moment to change. 

The ancient system of Ayurveda says that our cells have wisdom and our thoughts and beliefs influence our life and health.  The problem is that It’s not that easy to control your thoughts without a practice.  Buddhists believe that the road to happiness and peace is being mindful.  A calm mind translates to better health. I highly recommend bringing mindfulness mediation to your daily life.  It is a game changer.  In addition, we must look at our diet.  We all know that eating healthy is important.  Many people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and eat better, however, I don’t think it is taken seriously enough.  Diabetes type 2, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, can all be controlled with lifestyle.  Even if you need to take medication you can lower the dosage through lifestyle. An anti-inflammatory diet void of processed and refined food, sugar and bad fats over time will transform health. If you can’t afford organic food, eat non-organic vegetables and fruit, nuts, seeds, grains. Both dairy and gluten are fine provided they are good qualify (all dairy should be organic) unless you are lactose intolerant or have celiac. 

Let’s not forget moving the body.  Try to make exercising fun.  It can be in the form of dancing, gardening or even cleaning the house (if unlike me you consider cleaning fun).  Walking twenty to thirty minutes per day is all it takes.  Start with that and then add some resistance training and yoga or tai chi which helps both mind and body.  You must exercise, even if it’s just walking.

The studies are clear…good nutrition, the right and adequate exercise, and daily stress reduction will put you on the road to lasting good health and happiness. 

To sum it up I leave you with three of my favorite quotes:

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 B.C.

Eat Food. Not Too much. Mostly Plants 

Michael Pollan, renowned food expert and journalist

Will is that which changes thought into energy

Paramahansa Yogananda

Yours in health & happiness,

Maria

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