Discover your health drivers
Many individuals talk about their genes when it comes to their health, and there is an explosion in genetic research and DNA testing, with a trend towards people mapping their entire genome to better understand their health risks. When you look at both ends of the health spectrum – chronic disease and health longevity, although genetics play a role, the drivers take place at the level of cells and messenger molecules.
In the words of the Nobel-prize winning neuroscientist, Eric Kandel, ‘Genes are not deterministic; they do not operate in a vacuum. Genes are the servants of the environment’. This can be explained in layman’s terms by the saying, ‘it’s not the cards you’re dealt that matters most, it’s how you play them’.
We all have a genotype, which we cannot change – that was determined by our biological parents. However, our phenotype is the interaction between our genotype and our environment. In terms of the environment, research is showing that there are different categories of environmental choices that we make that have a significant effect on our phenotype – which, over time, determines our physical and mental health.
Over the coming blogs I will discuss what I call the ‘Big 5’ environmental choices that we make on a daily basis, which are:
1. How much (and at what intensity) you choose to move on a daily basis.
2. What you choose to eat several times every day.
3. What environmental toxins you choose to expose yourself to.
4. How you choose to deal with the stressors in your life.
5. A range of psychosocial factors in your life.
The bottom line is that the choices you make every day add up over time, to powerfully influence your physical and mental health. We have all influenced our current phenotype and continue to do so – and my next six articles will show you how to make smarter choices, to create a better phenotype for yourself.