Monday, August 9, 2010

But It's My Destiny! (or is it?)

With nutrition comes the classic debate: nature vs. nurture. Is your health and the way you look determined more by your genetics or your habits? The nature camp would say that your genetics is your destiny and there is little you can do to control it. The nurture camp would say that habits and lifestyle largely affect your health and appearance. So which is it?

Pictured above are German twins, Otto and Ewald. As you can see, one is physically larger and healthier looking than the other. So why is this picture so important? Because genetically, Otto and Ewald started out identical, but clearly their lifestyle and habits affected their appearance. Essentially, they were able to CONTROL their genetics! There is actually a name for the study of this: epigenetics. By having different lifestyles, you can majorly affect your "gene expression," and change your so-called Destiny. 

To give you an example of this, let's look at alcoholism. Many people would say this is an inherited disease, but what happens if an "alcoholic" never has alcohol? Yes, genetically they may be predisposed to alcoholism, but if alcohol is never introduced into their system, the disease would not manifest itself! Too skeptical of even this analogy? Take the scenario of a fair skinned person and dark skinned person at the beach. Who is going to sunburn quicker? Obviously the fair skinned person, due to genetics. But let's keep that person indoors, or put long sleeves on them, and all of a sudden they have changed how their genes are expressed!

The same idea can be applied to Type II Diabetics. Diabetes occurs when a person can no longer manufacture insulin which controls blood sugar levels. A Standard American Diet (SAD) messes with blood sugar levels so much that a record number of people are diagnosed with Diabetes every day. If one were to stay away from grains, sugar, and starches, the disease would most likely not manifest itself because the stimulant is not present, just like alcohol to the "alcoholic."

It's amazingly sad that people will essentially "give up" effort to eat well because they think it's their "destiny." Just imagine a person saying "Well, it's my destiny to be an alcoholic so I might as well drink as much as I can." You would probably be outraged if this were a friend or family member. The same should be true for those choosing to let "destiny" control their health. Anyone with Diabetes in their family history (or obesity, or heart disease, etc etc) needs to realize that they DO have control over their future and yes, it might need some extra effort compared to others around them, but I hope they see that it's worth it. Some people need a little more vigilance when it comes to diet, just like a fair skinned person needs to be more vigilant about the sun.

For those who are new to this blog or wondering how to start, check out: How to Be Healthy 101

1 comment:

  1. my destiny is in the choices I make in each and every moment....thanks Chris!


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