Are we a product of Nature or Nurture?
This is an age old question which is usually asked in relation to our personality traits and physical characteristics. Are we who we are because of DNA and genes inherited from our parents or because of our physical and emotional experiences?
Of course, the answer is ..... BOTH!
Giving that 'nature' (our inherited DNA and genes) is basically our 'hardware', how can 'nurture' influence us? Did you know that genes have the ability to switch on and off? However research shows that they cannot do this by themselves - something in the environment has to trigger gene activity. This is known as epigenetics, which is more like our software, telling our genes what to do and how to act. Think of 10 people with exactly the same laptop - they would all push different buttons and input different information, giving completely different output.
Your gene activity is constantly altered by 'environmental' factors such as:
what you eat, drink, breathe and touch
how you feel
what you do
what you think and believe
how you live
what you perceive (whether real or imagined)
This is the good news and the bad news - it means WE have the ability to influence our genetic ‘expression’, or the way our genes act. So, even if your genes predispose you to certain health conditions, from cancer to obesity, it is possible to counteract or suppress those genes' activity by improving diet and nutrition, habits, how you live, and even emotional health. This does beg the question whether 'inherited' illness or disease is bound to be our fate. Research is showing that sharing some genes with our family and the SAME environment (similar to a different laptop but with the SAME input) is more likely to produce the same health conditions, than sharing the SAME genes with a DIFFERENT environment (same laptop, different input).
Scientific research has found that genetic defects only affect 5% of the population - the other 95% are genetically healthy and therefore have the basis for good health.
In a nutshell, our health will suffer if our 'environmental load' is greater than our genetic capacity to adapt. For example, if you live in a heavily polluted area, and don't get enough essential nutrients from your food to counteract the damage this causes, you are far more likely to get ill. This is why identical twins that have exactly the same DNA and genetic make up can be quite different in later life.
This short video explains more: https://youtu.be/us-f9epWuuA
In my next blog I'll be talking about Free Radicals and Antioxidants and how these can alter our gene activity and ultimately your health.
"Take care of your body - its the only place you have to live"