How Much are Your Genes Truly Responsible for Your Health and Looks?
The study of the human genome is progressing in spades, yet we still understand very little about it. It’s true, however, that genes have an impact on many areas of our lives. Appearance is definitely one of those areas and the most basic genetics course explains to everyone how exactly we inherit our parent’s traits, such as hair and eye color.
But while the blueprint of our appearance and, to some extent, health is encoded into our genes, there are other factors that affect them as well. This means that if you use the “I have my mother’s lean body type so I can eat whatever I want” as an excuse, you should prepare to lose that figure after a few cakes washed down with Coke. No genetic predisposition can save you from the consequences of poor diet choices, lack of exercise, and a variety of other factors that also have an impact on your appearance and health.
What Your Genes Can and Cannot Determine
A few years ago, there was this myth that genes control human lives to the extent that there’s barely any free will left. Some researchers were saying that nearly everything is determined by genetics, not only appearance and recognized genetic disorders but also things like religion, propensity for violence, intelligence, and even the choices people make in everyday life.
However, more extensive studies of the subject managed to disprove the majority of those claims. At the least, they didn’t find enough evidence to support those, admittedly, rather unbelievable claims.
And yet, there is no denying the fact that genetics impact human beings on a deep level and somewhat determine both our looks, health, and inclinations. But the important thing to understand here is that your DNA isn’t the only factor that counts. This matter becomes more prevalent now that the popularity of at-home genetic testing kits is on the rise.
Unlike specialized tests performed by medical labs, which determine specific mutations that lead to the aforementioned recognized disorders, the direct-to-consumer testing kits are very simple. However, they are the ones that claim they can predict predispositions to various health issues as well as help enhance your looks by, supposedly, translating the data coded into your DNA.
This is the exact kind of test that might claim you inherited a lean body type and high metabolism that will prevent you from becoming obese. Moreover, they also claim that they can use the same techniques to predict the risks of cancer, diabetes, and other serious health conditions. And people believe those claims, which can lead to a disaster if you don’t understand the truth about the impact of genetics on your health. And that truth is that in the vast majority of cases, genes will lose to the environment, diet and lifestyle choices. For example, not having some specific cancer risk that your home DNA testing kit can measure doesn’t mean a person can’t develop that same cancer if they consume and are exposed to various carcinogens.
It’s as simple as that. And your appearance follows the same rules.
For example, there are some studies that prove that genes have an impact on your skin health. Therefore, it’s true that some people are born with “bad skin”. In essence, it’s their “default setting” and changing this will be extremely difficult because the majority of treatments for, say, acne is based on removing the underlying cause. Of course, it’s impossible to do this when that cause is your genes.
But does this mean that having a genetic predisposition to a certain issue, be it in looks or health, make it impossible to cure it?
No, it doesn’t! You simply need to be more dedicated and develop a treatment that will fit your personal situation best.
How You Can Defy Your Genetics with Some Simple Changes
Diet and exercise are your two main weapons in fighting “bad genes”. Unlike the messages coded in your DNA, they can affect your body directly and help you transform it into the exact shape you want.
Are you apple-shaped with a genetic predisposition to obesity?
Start a healthy diet with an exercise routine that combines cardio and resistance training for no less than 200 minutes a week and those genes won’t have any chance. Because in the end, they are “blueprints” that only show what you might become. It’s you, with your direct control over “building materials”, who decides what exactly you will become.
It’s true that if you are genetically predisposed to certain conditions, you’ll need to work harder in order to avoid them. This means you can’t allow yourself that extra piece of cake that so many others can indulge in without consequences. However, you know it and, therefore, you are prepared for making this one extra sacrifice to ensure you get to keep that healthy and lean body you are proud of. In this regard, genetic tests do help. But remember that they aren’t infallible and that the absence of risks in the test results doesn’t mean you can make unhealthy choices.
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