Tag Archives: genetics

Think you are destined to live out a set genetic destiny? Think again.

I am a big believer in the power of our thoughts – and the actions they create – to either make us healthier or sicker.  The environment is constantly acting on our genes to create our health status, and part of that environment is the quality of your thoughts.  Are your thoughts defeatist or hopeful in nature?  Are they leading you in the direction of a healthier lifestyle, or are they convincing you it’s not possible?

If you would like to be healthier  – who wouldn’t? – I think you will find that Deepak Chopra knows a thing or two about this.  His recent blog post is very encouraging, and much to my liking, also based on solid research about the human body.

The Magic of Genetics . . . Check out the ears!


Is this not cute?!  Admittedly, I am biased.  The big guy is my husband Peter, and the little one is Peter too (“Re – Pete”), his grandson.  This picture is now my screen saver.  It makes me smile every time I sit at my computer, which is often.

Ah, the magic of genetics. No one else in the family inherited my husband’s “elf ears” – notched and pointed (and, yes, they do stick out a bit).  When he was about 7 years old, his father told him they could be “fixed”, and he remembers never having thought about how they protruded . . . until then.  He never did “fix” them – good thing, because they are perfect as is.

Just like Little Pete’s.

Genetic effects on health are arguably even more interesting than general appearance traits like the color of our eyes or the shape of our ears.  As researchers look beyond the mere sequencing of our genes to more complex dynamic factors that interact with genes to either turn their activity on or off, it becomes even more obvious that lifestyle indeed does matter – a lot.

The food we eat is one of the most obvious ways of controlling the action of certain genes that affect our metabolism, ability to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, etc.  In other words, we are now learning through research on gene activity how poor eating increases risk for diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health issues.  That gives all of us much more power over our health than we ever dreamed possible in the past.

Exercise is another lifestyle factor that helps to keep our genes behaving in a way that promotes good health.  Amazing changes take place not only at the level of blood lipids, blood pressure, and body composition, but also at the level of gene activity.  I find this absolutely mind-blowing!  And exciting.  (See the recent report of a study done in Sweden – “How Exercise Changes Fat and Muscle Cells”.)

You and I can actually encourage our genes to “do the right thing”.  As if that is not amazing enough, a relatively new area of scientific study called epigenetics examines how many of these changes in genetic activity are actually passed down to offspring.  Wow – that’s what I say.  It just doesn’t seem to make much sense for anyone to assume that we are genetically destined to be unhealthy.  That is very good news for all of us.