Genetics Load the Gun, Environment Pulls the Trigger

Genetics is the study of our individual heredity. Including the traits, characteristics and unfortunately sometimes the disorders and diseases passed between generations. Science is still discovering all that is genetics -and there are many studies still happening all over the world to better understand how our genes work. Over time, we have learned that not only are our physical traits hereditary but often our personality traits are, too.

Somewhere, woven into the strands of our DNA, our ancestral fears, traumas and triumphs still exist.

Great. As if we didn’t have enough to deal with – now we have our great, great grandmothers crippling anxiety of spiders on top of our own fears, We may never know where our personality traits come from since they are likely a mix of various ancestral genes rolled into our own, but we can use this knowledge to our advantage when it comes to our health. Our genes greatly influence our physical and mental health, but they aren’t the only factors at play.

There’s a newer theory out there that studies the expression of our genes, called EPIGENETICS. This theory basically means that we have more control over our genes than we have ever realized before. Not in all cases of course – there are unfortunately some genetically inherited disorders and diseases that are expressed without the opportunity of prevention.

While our heredity, family line and genetics load the gun, it is our environment and lifestyle that could actually pull the trigger.

What can we do?

Well, for starters we can look at our vices. We are all experts at inserting little vices into our lives to help us cope with the hard stuff. Some vices are slip ups. Some vices grab on and never let go. The first step to eliminating any bad habit is awareness – and awareness comes in stages.

You may already be able to name your vices and maybe even why you use them, but there is likely an underlying issue that you haven’t acknowledged. A deeper hold that keeps you going back. This is the next level of awareness. You need to address the root cause of your coping skills in order to change them. Every time you overcome an unhealthy habit – you are shifting your body’s genetic makeup.

Discovering the internal root of your coping mechanisms may take more than just your own acknowledgement. It’s hard to feel our feelings. You may need to talk with a friend openly and honestly about it, try journaling, or maybe even seek out a therapist who can walk you through it.

Here are some ideas that you can do today to influence your internal lifestyle and environment:

  • Want to be healthier?
    • Order a meal service that brings healthy options to your door instead of hitting up the drive-thru.
    • Get a fitness watch and set step goals and calorie goals – with reminders.
    • Ask for help. Sometimes the accountability of someone else is the only thing that will keep you coming back.
  • Want to drink less?
    • Take a different route home so you don’t pass the liquor store or gas station you always swing by for alcohol after work.
    • Stop at drink number three instead of ten.
    • Ask for help. Have a friend cut you off. Sign up for AA and book an Uber in advance. Pay for it in advance, too.
  • Want to quit smoking?
    • Quit buying cigarettes. Don’t even step foot into a gas station.
    • When you wake up in the morning – tell yourself “today, I am not a smoker.” Write it down. Text it to someone. Do this everyday.
    • Ask for help. Use a quitting program. Call a certain person every time you have a craving.
  • Want to feel less stressed or anxious?
    • Set a boundary with someone who always brings you down.
    • Say no when you want to, instead of saying yes when you don’t.
    • Go for a walk or run when you feel anxious instead of sitting in it and letting it take control.
    • When you’re done with work for the day, be done with work for the day.
    • Ask for help. Schedule alone time. Hire a sitter – even for that 2 hours a week. Find something you love and do it often.
  • Want to reduce the negativity in your life?
    • Write your inner dialogue down – then ask yourself if you would talk to a friend the same way? Or when you start your negative self talk – try replacing “self” with “child.”
    • Spend an entire day making yourself point out one good thing about everyone you see. Or write down 10 things you’re grateful for at the end of each day. You’ll notice how much your mind begins to shift when you are focusing on what you’re going to write about.
    • Ask for help. Read a positive self-help book. Listen and repeat positive mantras each morning.
  • Want to stop over-spending?
    • Leave your wallet in the car and take cash into a store so you can only spend what you planned.
    • Use the cash envelope system. When it’s gone – it’s gone.
    • Ask for help. Hire a financial adviser or a budgeting coach. You’ll end up saving money in the long run.

Our external lifestyle choices also have power and influence over our epigenetic expression. By making a few small changes in our daily lives – we can be a part of our own positive cell re-generation and avoid some of the foods and environmental factors that feed cell de-generation and disease.

I know its hard. When you are diagnosed with something like cancer, diabetes or heart disease – it can be really hard to acknowledge the fact that you had anything to do with it. That reality just hurts. Nobody wants to admit they’ve messed up, even to themselves. Whether you have any kind of diagnosis or not – you can change the trajectory of your life TODAY.

It is not too late and you are not incapable of change.

The hardest part of change – is asking for help. We have to admit what we don’t know – to ourselves and to others in order to move upwards. I promise it will only sting for a moment. You’ll be thankful for the sting, eventually. So where do you start? What can you actually do externally to make a progressive positive impact on your gene expression?

Here are some ideas:

  • Learn about your family’s genetic history. Talk to your family members, visit them, order a genetic testing kit or an ancestral kit and start learning where you came from. Read about your family’s disease history and learn what those diseases are, how they’re caused and what you can do about it.
  • Consider your own childhood. What habits did your family have when you were growing up that may be negatively influencing the habits you bring to your own household as an adult? You have permission to raise your family differently and it doesn’t have to mean your parents did it wrong. Hopefully – they would rather you learn from their mistakes, than repeat them.
  • Get a check up. Start where you are. Get baseline numbers and meet with a doctor that will help you go deeper and learn more – try a functional medicine doctor or naturopathic doctor.
  • Look at your diet. There’s no reason to panic! Practice living by the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time you make good choices and eat well. The other 20% – well that’s just life and we have to accept the learning curve and the failures along the way as part of the process.
  • Clean up your diet. Cut out processed foods. They contain so many ingredients that just aren’t food! Our bodies become over-loaded with these ingredients that they can’t break down. They then store them in ways that harm us.
  • Get more nutrients. Your body is made of nutrients and it needs them continuously to keep everything in check and to function properly. Even if you don’t cut out the bad – add in more of the good!
  • DRINK. WATER. Your body is 50-65% water. It is by far the MOST important thing you can do for health. If you don’t like it – guess what – you can still drink it.
  • Learn how to sleep. If you aren’t sleeping well – you aren’t healing well. Half of our body cycles happen while we sleep. Our organs detox. Your brain washes out the clutter. And it starts way before you close your eyes. A calming, dimly lit evening routine will help set you up for sleep success.
  • Eliminate the toxins. This one is way easier than it used to be – there are so many options to replace your daily products with non-toxic, naturally derived ones. Read the ingredients. Learn what the bad ones are. Check out the Think Dirty Shop Clean App here to see what’s in the products on your shelf right now!
  • Get outside. Natural Vitamin D is essential to the well-being of the human body and mind. Get in some exercise. Release some energy. Protect yourself from the sun – then get out there!

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”

Jim Rohn

It’s no secret that the humanity is struggling. Cancer, auto-immune disease, heart disease – these were practically unheard of just a few generations ago. When are we going to take ownership as a human race for our own outcomes? We are all somewhat responsible for the state of our own health and the health of the world as a whole. Be your own health advocate. Healthy doesn’t have to be hard – just do it in your own way. There is no one way or right way. There’s no perfect diet or secret to success. You take small steps, you incorporate small change – and then one day – you thank yourself for the gift you might have never had.

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