The Lettuce Inn

Where Lucy discovers the truth about food...and other stuff too!

08 November 2011

Is our health is determined by diet and lifestyle or genetics?

This is a topic I have discussed with others from time to time and most have argued in favour of genetics.  But is this just a way of blaming our health on our ancestors without taking responsible for ourselves?  Just because my family may have a history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc, does that mean I am automatically predisposed to these conditions, or can my diet and lifestyle reduce or eliminate these risks altogether?

Personally I have found it more empowering to believe that our own diet and lifestyle is what affects our health.  Just because our ancestors may have eaten poorly and didn’t look after themselves, doesn’t mean that we can’t live a life full of health and vitality.

One of the ways our parents have influenced our health is with the food they fed us during our childhood.  Having discussed with people what they ate as a child and looking at what they now eat as an adult, there seems to be a strong connection between the two.  I know for myself, as a child I was fed a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and home cooked meals.  Whilst I did move to an unhealthier diet for a while once I gained control over my food choices, that only lasted a few years.  After becoming a bit of a hypochondriac and ending up with a drawer full of drugs, I changed my ways, ate much better, and my health benefited as a result.

Scientific studies show:

1.   Whist we all inherit genes from our ancestors, factors such as environment, diet and lifestyle choices can influence how our genes behave - meaning we have control over our health! 

2.   We can no longer assume that age related diseases such as arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart disease etc are inevitable consequences of ageing that we must just accept and deal with.

3.    Whilst we are all still susceptible to disease, whether we end up with a disease is determined by how we live our life, how we eat, the toxins we are exposed to, the supplements we take, our beliefs and how we handle stress.

Another reason to look after ourselves is for our children’s health.  Whilst our children inherit our genes, and over the course of their life influence their own health, as children they look to us for guidance.  It is up to us to make healthy diet and lifestyle choices so we can pass these onto our children, who will then pass them onto their children etc. 

We have a big responsibility as we can significantly impact the health of our future generations.  We cannot eat fast food in front of our children and expect them to eat fruit and vegetables.  It’s never too late to make healthier choices for ourselves, and in turn teach our children how to make healthier choices.  Your behaviour now may change the course of your life and generations to follow.

How will your future generations eat?


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