Does heredity dictate our future?


Does heredity dictate our future?  (What motivates me to prioritize my health, and how do I make it work. Part 1)

Any one who knew us could say that my mother and I were attached at the hip.  In the last few years of my father’s life, when distance separated us, we spoke on the phone most every day.  Sadly, I lost both of these wonderful people to cancer at ages 57 and 66.  Much too young, I think!  

When we look at our family history, most of us can list several ailments that have plagued our loved ones.  Does heredity dictate our future?  I don’t think it does.  At least, I hope not!  Surely, heredity plays somewhat of a role, but as many functional medicine specialists are currently proving, my predisposition is not necessarily my destiny.

More often than not, we are raised eating the same as the people in our household.  Likewise, our tribe, if you will, guides our diet and lifestyle choices, and in turn, we tend to develop similar habits.  Doesn’t it makes sense then, that we walk into comparable health issues?  For example, research has proven that children of obese parents have an 80% chance of becoming obese themselves.  This is a sad and staggering statistic!  Some will still argue that it's inherited, but it appears to be largely due to food choices, eating habits, and the importance placed on physical activity.  A study by the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that "Genetic factors likely play some role in high blood pressure, heart disease, and other related conditions. However, it is also likely that people with a family history of heart disease share common environments...the risk can increase even more when heredity combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cigarettes and eating an unhealthy diet."  More and more, health organisations such as The Canadian Diabetes Association and the Mayo Clinic are reporting similar findings; that healthy living plays a major role in disease prevention.

I think it's well worth taking a look at food and lifestyle choices of our tribe before deciding that we are doomed for the same fate.  Of greater interest to me as a nutritional consultant, is to study the lifestyle choices of people who have managed to avert the ailments of their relatives.

My health struggles started from a very young age, and it was only by making changes as an adult, that I began to understand that food played a direct role in my health.  That was my “aha” moment!  That was the moment when I began to connect the dots and realize that I do have some control over my destiny!

Just to be clear, I am in no way saying that I'm exempt from illness and disease, for, as we all know, there are no guarantees in life.  I do, however, believe that I can reduce my odds by making better choices and by living a healthier lifestyle.  My diet is nowhere near perfect, but it's 110% better than it's ever been.  I have tons of energy to do the things I love to do, so, at the very least, I can feel great while trying to stave off disease.

It saddens me to hear people say that there is nothing they can do about their health, that it’s hereditary.  As the saying goes “one reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain.”  I have a lot to gain!!

This is Janice, inspiring change