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Your Genes / Illness

I’ve heard, way too often, “my mother/father/grandmother/grandfather, etc. had (insert illness) so I’m destined to have it too”.

I’ve heard, way too often, “my mother/father/grandmother/grandfather, etc. had (insert illness) so I’m destined to have it too”.

This, my friends, is not actually true.

Even if a condition like heart disease runs in your family, you can do a lot to break the pattern.


Because only 7% of gene expression is due to genetics, the other 93% is lifestyle.

You have a 93% chance of breaking the cycle of illness!


Epigenetics is the study of how our behaviors and our environment cause changes that affect the way our genes express themselves.

Epigenetic changes do not change our DNA, but they can change how our body reads a DNA sequence,

And how our genes express themselves.

Research shows that, yes, some genes do lead to disease, “but for most people, a healthy lifestyle trumps inherited risk”

There are more than 100 types of genes that play a small role in a person’s risk for heart disease, “but by far the biggest factor is lifestyle”.

The same goes for diabetes.

You may be wondering why this is, I know I was, so I read all the mind numbingly boring research so you don’t have too.

This is what I found:

Most of this has to do with our microbiome AKA, gut flora - the bacteria in our gut.

We have trillions of gut bacteria in our gut made up of about one thousand different species, represented by 5,000 distinct bacterial strains.

Everyone's gut microbiota is different.

You don’t have the gut flora of your ill-fated ancestor.

Our gut flora does many things it extracts nutrients from food, metabolizes drugs, makes vitamin K and biotin, and serves as a protective barrier against intestinal infections.

Our gut flora also communicates with our immune system.

The main factors that affect your personal microbiome are age, diet, environment, genes, and medications (particularly exposure to antibiotics, which can deplete gut bacteria).

Many studies have found the microbiome may hold the key to everything from “weight gain to mood”.

Research conducted at the Weizmann Institute of Science provides evidence that “the connection between the microbiome and overall health is more important than previously thought”.

Their research found that our genes play only a 2% part in the expression of the bacteria in our microbiomes.

Research out Israel looked at the connection between the microbiome and cholesterol, weight and glucose levels. It found that “the association with bacterial genomes was at least as strong, and in some cases stronger, than the association with the host’s human genome”

(A genome is a set of genetic instructions.)

"We cannot change our genes, but we now know that we can affect - and even reshape - the composition of the different kinds of bacteria we host in our bodies.

So the findings of our research are quite hopeful; they suggest that our microbiome could be a powerful means for improving our health."

Research out of Harvard found “Our results suggest that specific microbes in the microbiome may be important in regulating host gene expression in the gut and that microbes can induce changes in the expression levels of a large number of genes.”

It has been found that many diseases, ranging from autism, schizophrenia, inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer and cystic fibrosis may all be related to human gut microbiome composition.

At this point you may be wondering how to influence your microbiome for the better.

And, the answer is pretty easy, make healthy lifestyle choices for yourself.

Healthy, whole foods will nourish the microbiome by feeding bacteria.

Exercise has been shown to increase the number of beneficial microbial species and enriching microbial diversity.

Meditation helps regulate the stress response which helps to maintain a healthy gut-barrier function.

Sleep deprivations can lead to negative changes in the gut microbiome, so get some sleep.

Alcohol can lead to a disrupted gut barrier.

Fried foods are high in fat which is difficult to break down.

Digesting fat requires a high level of enzymes and digestive juices putting a strain on the digestive system while delivering none of the important nutrients your microbiome needs to stay healthy.

Sugar can keep good bacteria from colonizing in the gut.

Ultra-processed foods can change gut flora and lead to inflammation.

Change is hard.

We can do hard things (thank you #GlennonDoyle)

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