We are all familiar with genes and DNA. We inherit certain genetic characteristics from our parents and other ancestors. You may have your father’s nose, your mother’s eyes or your grandmother’s body type. It was believed that whatever genes you inherited, you were stuck with. So if there was a genetic predisposition for diabetes or cancer that ran in your family line, it was believed you were doomed to get that disease.
Research has proven that this is not the case. We are not just the sum of our genes. The field of epigenetics has shown that things like lifestyle, relationships, stress, nutrition and environment can switch certain genes on or off. So if you have a predisposition to diabetes it doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop this disorder. You can effectively switch off that gene by the diet and habits you choose to practice. Just because all the men in your family died young with heart disease, it doesn’t seal your fate. That’s great news!
So I think of epigenetics as sort of a translator. If you are in a foreign country and don’t understand the language, someone who speaks both languages can translate for you so that you understand. Epigenetics acts as an interpretor of certain factors, determining how they will influence genes and ultimately health.
New research is showing that these epigenetic modifications can also (like genetic predisposition) be inherited by children and even grandchildren! This research shows we not only inherit our parents’ genetic code we also can inherit certain “instructions” that determine which genes are expressed or not expressed.
So the efforts you make to create healthier habits may not only positively impact your life, but the lives of your children and grandchildren. I don’t know about you, but that is very exciting to me. If you ever needed motivation to make better choices, this could be it.
It is a fact that a mother’s nutrition level at the moment of conception can influence the way her child’s genes are interpreted. Her diet can change the expression of genes in her unborn child. It now seems that those lifestyle habits and environmental influences can also be passed down through generations.
I find this information very encouraging. If you were to believe that whatever your DNA was programmed for was what you would have, it would make you a victim. You would be at the mercy of your genes – good or bad. But even if your parents or grandparents didn’t have the best genes or habits, you still have control over what you do and that can influence your genes – positively or negatively. The choice always ends up with each of us.
Here’s to making positive, life-enhancing choices for yourself and your family.
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