We inherit our genes from our parents, that bit we can’t change. What we now know is that just because we have a genetic predisposition, this is not the automatic default.
For example if you carry the APOE4 gene, you then have a genetic predisposition to Alzeimers. Does this mean you will definitely get Alzeimers. Absolutely Not! The thing is that scientists have made great inroads into the whole area of epigenetics lately and this new science is facinating.
So what are epigenetics and why are they so important. Think about it, we have all heard stories of the 80 year old that smokes 20 a day or drinks a glass of whiskey daily and they are hale and hearty. Why is this? Are they the lucky ones? Did they get the dream gene combination?
Well, yes and no. The thing is just because you have a genetic predisposition does not mean it will kick in. How can that be? We now know that genes works in combination with our environment and also our lifestyle.
Lifestyle factors include:
- Our food choices, how much we eat and even the hours that we eat
- Whether we exercise regularly or not
- Our sleep habits
Environment factors include:
- Where we live
- The chemicals we come in contact with daily from our beauty products to our gardens
- Stress and how we manage it – for example, a loved one becomes ill, you get harassed at work, you catch a virus etc.
All of these things impact our health and in combination can act as a trigger to activate the genes we carry. We get to make our lifestyle decisions and while we can’t control all choices in our environment, there are certainly some that we can influence. Bottom line is that our day to day choices play a major role in switching genes on and off.
Genetic health testing identifies the genes you are carrying and also the predisposing factors. This can be so empowering because you can then make informed choices about your health through the day-to-day lifestyle choices that you make.