Healthy Lifestyle Habits: As Important as Your Genes?

HeConnection-HeS-LifestyleHealth-e-Solutions comment: Dr. Julie T. Chen is board-certified in internal medicine and fellowship-trained and board-certified in integrative medicine. She incorporates various healing modalities into her practice. Here she talks about just how important healthy lifestyle habits are to your genetic expression. As you will see, it is difficult to overstate the importance!


There’s a long-standing debate about whether genetics are more important than the environment in our overall health. The simple question of nature versus nurture, however, is too simplistic, and while scientists and doctors understand the two are in fact deeply interwoven, we are just on the brink of discovering how much our DNA affects our health – and also how much our lifestyle affects our DNA.

In 2009, a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on a study of 1,034 complete pairs of twins from Denmark and Finland. The objective of the study was to examine the genetic variation of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and percentage body fat in relation to physical activity and protein intake.

A study like this has huge implications. This study suggests what we eat and what we do, as in level of physical activity, can help us determine our health. It’s not just a matter of genetics. The results of the study confirmed previous findings, and the researchers were able to conclude that physical activity and diet do have a noticeable and significant effect on your weight, despite your genetic predisposition.

While the impact of a protein-rich diet on weight is still uncertain based on this study, the effect of exercise on weight [and concomitantly on diabetes risk] is clear. Using complete pairs of twins, we were able to have a better understanding of the role that physical activity has in reducing weight and percentage body fat.

With regards to genetics, things get a little more interesting in this study. High levels of physical activity were associated with a significant reduction in genetic variation. What this means is evidence strongly suggests high levels of physical activity can modify the expression of the genes responsible for predisposition to obesity. This further supports a previous study that found an increase in BMI due to the rs9939609 polymorphism of the FTO gene in sedentary individuals, but not in physically-active individuals.

The excuse, “It’s genetic,” may no longer apply to our health, at least with regards to [chronic disease], our weight and waist circumference.

Since 2009, myriad studies support the theory that lifestyle and diet have an effect on one’s genetics and health. We’re gradually gaining an understanding of how our genes are expressed and the control individuals have over them through lifestyle and diet choices.

As with many other aspects of our lives, it’s important that in the realm of health, each individual practice the ancient Greek aphorism: Know thyself. If you know you have a family history or genetic predisposition to obesity, heart disease, [diabetes] or other conditions, you have a choice (to a certain degree) in how that gene is expressed.

While you may be genetically inclined toward certain medical conditions or physical traits, your choices in lifestyle and diet can influence your risk of developing those attributes.

As technology becomes more accessible, it’s become easier for individuals to attain in-depth DNA reports in addition to their family history. Knowledge is power, and understanding both your genetic makeup and lifestyle is key. At the end of the day, what your genetics say about you can be adjusted and altered depending on factors in your life such as diet and exercise and other lifestyle habits. So, if you are concerned about any disease patterns that seem to run in your family, first see your doctor about it for testing; but then adjust your daily habits to promote the good and not the bad. That means eat healthy, get plenty of rest, find time to relax and make sure to incorporate exercise into your daily life.

HeS-Better-Health-Brighter-Days-Natural-Lifestyle HabitsThe #TypicalWesternLifestyle is killing us with chronic diseases, and you can help lead the way in a healthy new direction. We have seen our two boys with type 1 diabetes grow and thrive since January of 2008 when we started on this journey with the Health-e-Solutions lifestyle.  You can travel this road better equipped than we were! Our Recipe e-Books provide alternatives to the typical high-carb, low nutrition foods that are standard fare for the typical western diet. Our Home Study Course teaches you how to implement the Health-e-Solutions lifestyle in a #PracticalLivableSustainable way for better #BloodSugarControl and thriving health. It will save you so much of the time and effort we spent learning, studying and experimenting to find the healthiest way possible to #MasterDiabetes. Our support services can make the difference between success and failure during your transformation. And our Natural Solutions will take you deeper into practical application and underlying research. We think it can form the foundation for a natural, way to better #ControlDiabetesNaturally – all types of diabetes, even (and especially) type 1 diabetes.