153782682Do you take after your mom, and are “big boned”? Do you curse your genes for not fitting into those jeans? Maybe your whole family is overweight, and you fear that your genetic “disadvantage” will forever keep you from looking the way you want

There is a common misconception that our inherited genes determine every aspect of our lives. But new research has shown that this is not the case, as we once thought. While you cannot change your genetic makeup, you definitely have control on how it ultimately manifests itself and influences your life. Our genetic inheritance influences our physical features and how our bodies respond to different stimulus and environmental triggers. But ultimately, it is your diet, activity level, lifestyle habits and your environment that determine how large your fat cells are, how efficiently your metabolism functions, what your weight is, how you look, and how your feel.

Basic Genetics

We are all born with unique genetics, which codes for our height, eye color, hair color, etc. It is the expression of genes that gives us these traits. It was once thought that we are born with a certain gene sequence that determines every aspect of an individual. For example, if your father had high blood pressure, then it would have been inevitable that you would as well.

However, years of research has found that we actually have a personal influence on the expression of our genes. Our lifestyle choices actually have the power to turn certain genes ON and turn other genes OFF, which can completely alter our health, our well being, and how our bodies behave and function.

Research has discovered certain nutrients and lifestyle activities that have the power to influence how your genes express themselves, effectively turning them on or off:

  • Exercise
  • Quality and quantity of food
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol and drug consumption
  • Stress
  • Environmental factors such as quality of air and water

Almost all of these factors are within our own personal control. For instance, we know that vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower activate genes that promote detoxification, which decreases the risk of certain cancers. Green leafy vegetables, which contain folate, influence positive blood flow and brain health. Regardless of what your genetics tale tells, by making lifestyle modifications, eating healthy and moderately, and by exercising, you are not only changing the way you look and the way you feel — you are actually changing your DNA, and are influencing the genetic code that you are passing down to your children! This, in turn, decreases risks of associated diseases in your genes.

Minor Changes for Major Results

The obesity crisis booming among North Americans is a good indication that most of us live on the high end of our genetic weight range. With most of us, genes do not directly cause obesity, but they do predispose us to becoming obese in the environment of our current lifestyles. By determining which of your lifestyle habits, your choices, and which elements in your environmental might be culprits of your “genetic” problem, you can take your genetics into your own hands and alter them, leading to weight loss and a healthier, happier You.

While some people may be genetically predisposed to gaining weight, there is no genetic reason why we all cannot take our health into our own hands and achieve our ideal, healthy weight. No matter what your genetic inheritance might be, don’t let your “big bones” be an excuse to become complacent about your “genetically destined” state of health and your weight. It is no secret that weight loss is hard, and most people who have lost a significant amount of weight may not have been successful the first time around.  It may take time to find a healthy diet and lifestyle that enables you to lose weight and keep it off — but it is possible, and even probable, if you try to incorporate these lifestyle changes:

  • Control your portion sizes
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Cut down on alcohol
  • Avoid processed foods and refined grains
  • Cook with lean meats
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid sugary drinks
  • Be more physically active

Although you cannot change your genetic makeup, you can choose to be fit, maintain a healthy weight that is right for you, and look fantastic by taking care of yourself.