We are what we eat (apparently) as well as ourgenetics define our success in training to meet health and fitness goals according to some "experts". In that case why do we bother? We bother because we have more control over your life that these findings would suggest, something that is backed up by the study of epigenetics.
Those knowledgeable about genetics and all things cell-related will tell you that epigenetics is the study of (in basic terms) how environmental factors can alter genes (effectively activating them and switching them off) and more.
What does this mean is practical terms? It means that if you have a genetic family history of for example weight gain / obesity you may, if you make significant, and the right changes to your environment be able to break away from that historical trait. This strand of science theorises on the effect of the environment (internal and external) on your health and well-being and suggests that making changes may switch on genes that will help you and mute those which won't.
What changes can you make to really make a difference?
External Environment Changes
These are harder to control than internal changes because you may not always have a say in the environment around you, for example where you work. Stress from this external environment can have a knock-on affect on many of your body's functions, not least your thyroid.
Being aware of your environment however is the first step to realising that you can in part control it, be that through reducing stress in various ways and importantly through building and maintaining a strong support group.
Internal changes are somewhat easier to control and examples of these include:
- Avoiding trans fats
- Avoiding chemical and additives in food, for example preservatives or colours
- Minimising or avoiding altogether refined sugars (which cause insulin spikes amongst other not so great side effects)
- Do not use containers, cutlery or bottles made from materials contain BPA. These have been linked to the leakage of hormones which may cause or contribute to the causes of cancer and other diseases.
- Go organic, avoiding chemical coated or artificially bulked foods, those injected with antibiotics and more. Be aware of what you are allowing into your internal environment so that you don't contaminate it
- Ensure that you are receiving the right amounts of the essential and recommended vitamins and minerals, via your diet and or through supplements where appropriate.
- Look to balance your diet with appropriate servings of proteins, carbs, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Low carb diets are recommended although low carb does not mean no carb as the body still needs what carbohydrates offers (and you will likely crave them if you cut them out altogether.
There are many things that you can control within yourself and around you and the balance of these is what those researching epigenetics suggest will help you to alter your genetics favourably. While this is far from an exact science or even proven via long term research results (yet) it makes sense and epigenetics aside (it being a bonus) all of these recommendations which focus around your awareness of yourself will help you live better.