Who or what determines our future? Is it us? Or God? Or perhaps it's some distant and intangible element of the universe? Is our current and future health simply just the tangible effects of our genes, or the natural process of evolution within our set of genes? Or perhaps our environment and the elements of our chosen lifestyle play a role? And if so, does this mean we must succumb to the level of health that we are then confined to the parameters of and that thereon becomes our existence? Is our life and our destiny pre-determined? Do we get to have a say in how it all pans out? And the million dollar question – is there a way we can change or control our future?

So many questions. But they're all questions we've no doubt asked ourselves at various stages in our life. And they're questions which demand an answer but that which have probably rarely delivered an answer that we're satisfied with. But the power that is hidden in the real answers, the ones that are scientifically proven and just, we simply could not put a price on. The good news is that the many layers of science hidden within the field of epigenetics may well be bringing to the surface the answers we've been longing for.

Is living in a cool wet climate making you sicker or making you have more vitality? Photo / Getty Images
Is living in a cool wet climate making you sicker or making you have more vitality? Photo / Getty Images

We know that we are scientifically proven to be unique – each of us bioindividual in our genetic make up (what we call our genotype). Who we are today is a product of our genes and the things that we've exposed our bodies to so far in life. This is what "epigenetics" is – the things that influence our genes from the outside. The body and face we see when we look in the mirror is a reflection of the genes that are activated at any point in time – this is what we call our phenotype. Our current phenotype gives us direct insight into our health status. What we see on the outside tells a story about our body on the inside at any point in time.

Epigenetics is about all the factors in our environment that encourage our genes to be switched on and working at full power, or switched off and dormant. This applies to both good and bad genes. That's correct – we have the power within us to determine which genes, be they good or bad, that are switched on or off as a direct result of what we expose ourselves to in our environment. How powerful is that!? A staggering 95 per cent of our genes are in fact malleable in this way. Our destiny, therefore, is literally in our own hands.

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So if it's our environment that triggers our health or lack of, then what exactly are the triggers? This is broad and wide, but in a nutshell it's personalised around the foods we eat, how those foods are prepared, the way we interact socially, the emotions we experience, natural light, warm or cool climates, air flow and wind, toxicity, the allergens around us, our sleep patterns, the way we exercise, how much we exercise, how we use our natural talents, the career choices we make, and the way we go about our day. It is all of those things. It's the way we do or don't do all of those things. And it's the way we structure all of those things. It's crazy to think that our job can be making us unhealthy, or the idea that too much social interaction can be bad for us – but these things can be very real, and have repercussions on the ways our genes are expressed depending on how or how much they exist in our life. We are each unique, and we respond to the elements in our environment in our own unique way – what might be good for one, may not be for another.

Let's heal our world by taking a step in the direction of personalised health. Photo / Getty Images
Let's heal our world by taking a step in the direction of personalised health. Photo / Getty Images

Epigenetics calls on many layers of intricate science to extract information on how our genotype is created as well as how our genotype can then be transformed into our phenotype according to the environments we commonly face in our lives. Anthropometry, embryology, physiology, endocrinology, molecular biology, neuroscience, chronology, geomedicine and more. By understanding how each of these sciences can contribute to the development of our body, and then to what we see in the mirror at any point in time, we can begin to extract ideas about how to live in order to experience our best health.

Epigenetics is our controllable variable and it empowers us with the ability to influence the outcomes of our own health, our own life. It's set to take centre stage in the world of health. There will be no more generic advice, no more one-fix cures all. There will soon only be smart health – powered by the science and information that we can derive from epigenetics. Platforms like ph360 which have had more than 15 years of scientific study and research into understanding the absolute individuality of every single person who lives will become our bibles – our health bibles, our happiness bibles. And having been witness to some amazing changes in clients who I've already exposed to ph360 I'm pretty invested in watching where this goes.

Is that piece of steak you eat your medicine or your poison? Is living in a cool wet climate making you sicker or making you have more vitality? Life can be great. We can experience greater health than most currently are. Let's heal our world by taking a step in the direction of personalised health.

■ Corinne Austin is a health coach and movement motivator (corinne@fitfixnz.co.nz )