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Are your genes your destiny?

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Are your genes your destiny from a health perspective?

Put simply, the answer is no. However, I see so many people who say something to the effect of,

“My dad had heart issues, so I’ll probably get heart isssues”

“My grandma and mom had a thyroid disease, so I’ll probably have a thyroid issue long-term”

This just simply is not true. With very few extreme exceptions (e.g., sickle cell anemia) most chronic health conditions are at most 33% genetic and the other 67% comes from lifestyle choices.

A famous example of this is that you can have genetically identical twins one of which has schizophrenia and the other of which does not so it quite literally cannot be purely genetic.

A helpful way to think about this is the saying that “Genes load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.”

So someone could have a copy of the ApoE4 gene, which has been studied for high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s, but that does not mean they will have high cholesterol or Alzheimer’s. It means there’s a greater likelihood that those things will happen but only if the environmental influences like poor diet, lack of exercise, poor sleep, excess stress, etc. contribute.

Genes are not destiny from a health perspective.

That’s great news, because that means there’s a lot you can do to improve your health with nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, etc.

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