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The big question: is it possible to live normally with genetic issues? Are there any good instances of people who have overcome adversity?

Yes, in many circumstances. Someone with diabetes or heart disease, for example, can still lead an active lifestyle and stay in terrific shape if they are prepared to take the necessary measures. According to a University of Missouri study, there’s even some indication that strength training (weight lifting or bodybuilding) can help our hearts cope with stress better. Other research indicates that frequent exercise minimises the likelihood of insulin resistance worsening and so shortening your life.

Remember that genes do not determine fate. While we are born in a way that renders us more vulnerable to certain disorders, there are numerous things we can do to reduce the harm they bring, such as:

1. Maintaining physical and mental health

While exercise will not change your genes, it will make it less likely that you will become ill in the first place. This is because exercise reduces stress on the body, preserves muscle mass, and optimises hormone levels, all of which minimise the risk of heart disease and obesity-related disorders. Even short workouts have been shown to be successful; in one research of 12 persons with high blood pressure, 20 minutes of exercise three times a week for six months brought their blood pressure back to normal.

2. Controlling bad habits

While this will not address the underlying issues, it will assist you avoid forming an addiction and mitigate the damage. Those with a family history of alcoholism, for example, may have fewer levels of natural alpha-receptors in their brain or less dopamine. This renders individuals more vulnerable to addictive behaviours such as drug use or alcohol consumption. By keeping your body healthy, getting adequate exercise, and not exceeding your daily calorie intake, you can reduce the amount of harm that these unhealthy habits can do.

3. Risk reduction

If you can prevent putting yourself at risk for illnesses caused by genes, do so! If you have a genetic variant that affects your cholesterol (such as having few LDL receptors), you should avoid a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t, but there are some things we can change to make our lives easier.

For example, because of genetics, I have low LDL receptors (the amount of cholesterol absorbed by my body), therefore I avoid eating eggs and dairy on occasion because they contain more than double the amount of cholesterol found in meat. This does not imply that you should completely avoid good sources of protein such as chicken or steak! I’ve only recently learnt to sprinkle them over salad instead of eating them with anything greasy like cheese or sauces.

4. Risk reduction through behaviour

In addition to genes, your environment has a significant impact on your health. For example, the ozone layer is diminishing, exposing humans to more hazardous UV radiation. This was OK when we were young because our skin protected us from the majority of it! Things aren’t that simple now, thanks to wrinkles and weakening skin, which makes finding a good sunscreen even more vital.

Our food supply is also at risk because vitamin shortages caused by improper farming practises (such as the use of pesticides) will weaken our bodies’ ability to function correctly over time. When vital nutrients aren’t metabolised properly, we can gain weight and put an extra strain on our hearts. Organic foods help us avoid this while also enhancing our overall health.

The Last Words

Pollution and stress, which are both linked to heredity, are two more risk factors that we can regulate. For example, the ‘Warrior gene’ is associated with an increased risk of having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as violent behaviour. When faced with difficult situations in life, such as my friend’s, you have a choice in how you react – even if you have a hereditary tendency.

Given that genes aren’t the only factor, why not accept that things may have been far worse for you? Nobody knows what will happen next, so appreciate what you have today! We’re all human, and it’s natural to feel weak when your body doesn’t always react the way you want it to – but there’s nothing wrong with being strong. I know many of my patients are proud of what they’ve accomplished, and I’m confident you will be as well!


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