Have you made yourself a victim of heredity? Do you believe that your life is predetermined by your gene pool and you have little if any control over what happens to your health? If so, you're not alone.

This common, current belief is called "Genetic Determinism" and big pharmaceutical companies have a huge stake in it.

Blaming our genes for being overweight, unhealthy and mentally challenged/depressed is a favoured way of excusing and convincing ourselves that we can't do anything about the conditions we currently find ourselves in - that our genes are to blame.

Unfortunately, we're living a lie. Pointing fingers outside of ourselves will never be the answer to changing and improving our lives. All this type of attitude accomplishes is to make us irresponsible.

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The truth is, continuing genetic research tells a different story.

A diet high in carbohydrates can turn on genes that are linked with inflammation. Photo / Getty Images
A diet high in carbohydrates can turn on genes that are linked with inflammation. Photo / Getty Images

Genes are not fixed and set when we're first conceived. Genes are mutable and changeable, putting us in control and making us responsible for our mental, physical, emotional and even spiritual health.

That means the way we live our lives; our lifestyle habits are the real controlling switches when it comes to how our genes act. Our thought processes (positive or negative), choice of foods, toxins (chemicals and pesticides), stress, exercise and exposing our bodies to destructive substances like tobacco all play major roles in pushing our gene switches towards health or away from it.

For example, a diet high in carbohydrates can turn on genes that are linked with inflammation, while omega-3 fatty acids are empowered to positively affect more than 100 genes!

Not surprisingly, sugar is a bad guy. It not only provides us a glut of wasted calories that eventually get stored as fat, but the genes associated with fat storage are negatively affected as well, causing us to store more than we would otherwise.

On the other hand, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower as well as onions and garlic are good guys and kick your tumour suppressor genes into action, fighting cancerous tumours. Simply consuming these foods supports your body's ammunition against these tumours.

A diet including omega-3 fatty acids can positively affect more than 100 genes. Photo / Getty Images
A diet including omega-3 fatty acids can positively affect more than 100 genes. Photo / Getty Images

Epigenetics, a relatively new science, studies genes. This promising new science studies cellular and physiological traits that are responsible for turning gene switches on and off, defining how our cells read those genes.

Dr Bruce Lipton, a renowned stem cell biologist and author of "The Biology of Belief," and "Spontaneous Evolution," examined the principles of quantum physics and how it could be integrated into understanding how cells process information.

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His research revealed that "the outer layer of the cell is essentially an organic computer chip that operated like the brain of the cell."

He discovered the environment, which operated through the membrane, was empowered to turn genes on and off, essentially controlling the behaviour and physiology of the cell.

Epigenetics empowers us. It reveals that we are simply an extension of our thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, toxic substances, exercise (or lack thereof) and everything we put into our bodies, not just a biological machine as Newtonian science would have us believe. I

t means we are not controlled by genetic makeup. Whatever genes are turned on or off is primarily determined by our perceptions, attitudes, thoughts and actions!

Without a doubt, these rapid advances in understanding how our genes operate and affect our bodies and health has proven to be a huge blessing as it has allowed us to proactively beat diseases like cancer, lose unwanted body weight/fat we thought we destined to hang onto, and enjoy a boost in overall health.

Bottom line: We are not a victim to our genes, unless we choose to be. We can control how our genetic traits are expressed by paying attention to our thoughts and altering our environment and our diet to include the right foods.

It's called preventive medicine. A healthy, active lifestyle, positive mental attitude and limited exposure to toxins encourages our genes to express positive, disease fighting behaviours.

It's time to drop the victim mentality and the "I can't change it so why try" attitude and take advantage of these new, exciting and revealing gene studies so that you too can live a happy, healthy life. Once we take responsibility for our current conditions, we are empowered to change them. Not before.

■ Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.