With the upcoming gift-giving season, we can remember that longevity is a gift we can give ourselves every day, not just for the holidays. We all have a genetic blueprint in our DNA, which indicates whether we might have a tendency for chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, fibromyalgia, dementia and arthritis.
The thing about it, though, is that just because it is in your DNA does not mean it is your future. Epigenetics, the study of genes, involves two important terms – genotype and phenotype. Very simplistic definitions of genotype and phenotype are what is in your genetics and what is actually present. So, for example, say you did genetic testing, and it shows you have the genotype for diabetes that puts you at risk for diabetes. Still, you do not have the phenotype for diabetes because your labs and testing do not indicate you have diabetes. In a nutshell, this is the concept of epigenetics: that there is more to developing disease than having a gene. There are certain environmental factors that can turn on and turn off genes resulting in a phenotype that either matches your genotype or does not.
This is powerful information. As I tell my patients, just because it runs in your family does not mean you will get a particular disease. To counter genetic tendencies, you can create a lifestyle to help keep those genes from turning on and becoming your phenotype. Not everyone wants to or can do genetic testing, but for many of these diseases, the interventions that make the significant effects are similar. Here are a few things you can do to keep your chronic disease genes turned off:
- Get 7-9 hours of good, quality, uninterrupted sleep a night
- Eat a whole-foods, mainly plant-based diet
- Get a minimum of 5 minutes of high-intensity exercise three times a week
- Reduce sedentary activities
- Walk after meals
- Do a minimum 12-hour fast daily
- Make sure you are getting adequate Omega 3s in your diet
- Eat plenty of greens (aim for 10-12 cups a day)
- Take sugar out of your diet
- Take alcohol out of your diet
- Socialize (responsibly) and laugh daily
- Have your meals with other people
So, for the person who has everything – and everyone else on your list – feel free to give them a beautifully wrapped copy of this article.
Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season.
Dr. Fayssoux is an integrative primary care practitioner with Ohm & Oot Wellness Medicine in Rancho Mirage and can be reached at (760) 469.9900. For more information, visit www.KinderfayssouxMD.com.