As granny used to say to explain your behaviour, “It’s in your genes, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Well, granny was only half right. There is something you can do about it – change your lifestyle.
Medical researchers have recently discovered that changes in our lifestyle not only create changes that we know about – our weight, blood pressure, heart rate, liver function and so on, but that those changes also reach deep inside us – to our genes, the parts of us that we pass along to our children.
This discovery was made after a study of participants in a year-long intensive diet, exercise, and stress-management program, designed to reduce heart attack risk. It turned out that the successful participants not only lost weight but they also showed positive changes at the molecular (genetic) level.
The participants in the study ranged in age from the mid-40s to early 70s. Their lifestyle-change program consisted of:
- A very low-fat vegetarian diet (<10% of calories from fat).
- 180 minutes/week of moderate aerobic exercise.
- One hour of stress management each day.
- Weekly group support sessions.
Mind you, as more research is being conducted in this area, you may find that there are other lifestyle choices emerging such as, for instance, instead of following a low-fat regime, get to know the difference between good fat and bad fat, and in choosing an exercise program, you may find that high-intensity and low rest exercises are better for you than moderate aerobic exercises.
But no physical lifestyle change will work for you if your mental lifestyle is not in sync. Meditation can be very helpful, but even that will fail if a negative mindset is holding you back. Surround yourself with people who resonate with positive vibes and above all, listen to your body. What we do and what we think can influence our gene expression!