It’s a question that keeps scientists and health professionals arguing between themselves, what affects our health more – is it our lifestyle or our genetics?
Many would claim that our lifestyle is the biggest contribution to the chance of us developing a critical illness.
Yet, why then, is it possible that a fit, healthy person can contract illnesses associated with lifestyle choices. Do our genetics simply map out our fate from the moment we are born?
Well, in a part yes, our genetics are linked to diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. However, knowing that these diseases run in your family, and most likely your genes, doesn’t mean that your fate is sealed.
True, you should accept that your family history means that your genes will most likely have a dormant epigenetic trait for that disease. But, the word to focus on here is dormant. Think of the gene in question as having an on/off switch, with the lifestyle you lead contributing to how likely that switch is to turn on.
A healthy lifestyle often comes with connotations of being boring, when many simply want to live their life to the full. Yet this needn’t be the case, as a healthy lifestyle is more about moderation than saying no to everything.
That means that yes, you can enjoy things like junk food and alcohol on occasion, the key is that you don’t indulge every night, saving these treats for the odd night out.
Many guides to a healthy lifestyle will also tell you to start young, and this is sound advice. However, don’t believe that you can’t turn around your lifestyle at any age.
By adding more vegetables, fruits and grains to your diet as well as exercising, will help improve your body no matter what age you are or the lifestyle you’ve led up to then. Even better, exercise doesn’t mean you need to join an expensive gym; simply walking more is enough to help keep you body healthy and happy.
Having a family history of a disease doesn’t just affect how we live our life though; you may also find that you are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a life insurance quote, as many companies take your family history into account when calculating a premium.
So you should compare insurance policies offered by several different companies. It may also affect premiums for private health cover too. Although, you should keep in mind that if you do believe yourself to be more likely to contract a disease due to genetics, then good private healthcare cover means that if you catch these illnesses early, you’ll be equipped to fight it with experienced professionals and be able to skip NHS lines. Indeed, many specialists can see you within days rather than the months you may have to wait with public health services.
So, in the great argument of genes over lifestyle, keep in mind that no matter what is written into your DNA, think of a healthy lifestyle as a sort of armour for your body. It will help keep that switch set to ‘off’, and if you aren’t predisposed to any diseases from your family history, a healthy lifestyle will help protect you from contracting these diseases as well. Plus, if bad luck prevails, and one of these diseases does affect you, your healthy lifestyle will have ensured that your body is in the best condition it can be to fight that disease.
(Photos and text provided by Publi-Web-LT)