How much of our health is determined by genetics? The common misconception is that our genes control everything from our behaviors to whether we are healthy or develop disease.
In some cases this is true. Conditions such as cystic fibrosis and hemophilia are heavily influenced by genes. However, in the majority of cases, genes only count for 5 to 15% of the risk for developing a chronic disease. The truth that people, and even physicians, rarely talk about is that health is more greatly impacted by the personal choices you make every day. Instead of attempting to treat disease symptoms through medications prescribed by a physician, YOU can reclaim control of your health. You can stay healthier and feel better through lifestyle choices such as stress management, smoking cessation, proper nutrition, exercise, and building healthy personal relationships.
Our genes interact with each other and the environment. Health issues such as obesity, heart disease, poor mental health, and autoimmune diseases are not caused by a single gene. Multiple genes are involved and health is an outcome of how those genes interact in the environment that you create for them based on your daily habits.
Here are the environmental factors that can increase your likelihood of optimal health:
- Eating more than 9 servings each day of non-starchy vegetables and berries
- Engaging in daily physical activity (such as walking 10,000 steps every day)
- Maintaining your vitamin D levels
- Keeping stress hormones at normal levels using stress management techniques
- Keeping close ties to family and/or friends
- Lowering the levels of toxic compounds stored in body fat and in the brain