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Cardiovascular Disease is Not All in the Genes

The benefits of physical fitness extend to those at high genetic risk of CVD.

A study in the U.K. followed almost 500,000 adults for an average of 6 years. At baseline participant's physical fitness was determined by a variety of tests. Researchers found patients with high cardiovascular fitness had a 49% lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) when compared with those who had low fitness--even when they carried a high genetic risk for CVD.

PositiveTip: Maintain a high level of physical fitness to compensate for genetic risks of CVD!

A Mother's Diet Changes Baby's Genes

Pregnant woman holding an Apple

A healthful diet during pregnancy results in a healthy baby.  This is common sense and universally known to be true.  But research has discovered that a woman’s diet at the time of conception can permanently impact the genetic code of her baby.  

The genes of the baby are forever changed by mom’s diet before and during pregnancy.  Mother’s diet has direct implications for health outcomes of the next generation. 

Contrary to common sense, the mothers with a lower protein diet and the least weight gain during pregnancy had the most favorable genetic pattern in their children.  So, mother’s diet not only contributes to healthy growth of the unborn child, but it permanently affects the genetic make of her child for his or her entire life.

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Short Sleep Messes with Your Genes

Nearly one-third of America gets less than 6 hours of sleep per night.

Insufficient sleep is associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease risk, and even cognitive impairment. However, the mechanisms behind these effects remain somewhat ambiguous. In analyzing the whole-blood RNA of human test subjects, British researchers have recently found that 711 genes were up- or down-regulated by insufficient sleep after only 7 days with insufficient sleep. The genes they studied are associated with circadian rhythms, sleep homeostasis, oxidative stress (inflammation), and metabolism (obesity). 

PositiveTip: Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health. How much sleep are you getting?

Obesity Gene Switched Off by Exercise

In 2007, the FTO (fat, mass, and obesity) gene was discovered which predisposes humans to develop obesity. This obesity gene is found in about 75% of people from Europe, and African Americans but only 44% of Asians.

People with one copy of the FTO gene have an increased risk of obesity of 30%. A person with two copies of the FTO gene have a risk of obesity of 70%. Dr. Ruth Loos recently did an analysis of dozens of studies that included over 200,000 individuals. 

Some of the people who exercised regularly—the equivalent of walking for 30 minutes 5 days a week—turned off their obesity genes. There was an across the board 30% reduction in obesity for those who exercised, no matter how many copies of the FTO gene they had. 

Diet Controls Genes for Heart Attacks

Heart disease kills more people than any other disease. Major causes of heart attacks include cigarette smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. You can also inherit defective genes from your father or mother that will increase your risk of having a heart attack. 

You can control what you eat but your genetic make up is beyond your control. This turns out NOT to be true. 

A large study screened a population of 8000 Europeans, Chinese, South Asians, Arabs, and Latin Americans for genetic defects on chromosome 9 in the p21 region. They looked for four specific defects in a single DNA building block (single nucleotide polymorphisms).

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Diet and Lifestyle Change Can Significantly Affect Genes

Good and bad genes can be influenced by what you eat and how you live.

A study was conducted to determine whether a pure vegetarian diet, exercise and stress management could modify the progression of prostate cancer. After one year, those following the program showed significant improvements in weight, abdominal obesity, blood pressure and blood fats. The research found that over 500 genes changed function -- some were turned "on" and others turned "off" in favor of controlling the cancer. We all have bad genes and are exposed to cancer-causing agents, but our lifestyle and diet can determine whether those genes are activated.

PositiveTip: Are you helping to turn "off" cancer genes by choosing a vegetarian diet and exercise to lower your risk of cancer?

Genetic Defect Causes Promiscuity and Infidelity.

Justin Garcia and a team of researchers at Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, have just published a study showing a genetic basis for human sexual promiscuity and infidelity. This is the first study of its kind.

DNASexual promiscuity is noncommittal sexual intercourse with non-monogamous partners, or a “one-night stand.” Sexual infidelity was defined in this study as any physical sexual activity with someone besides one's current self-identified committed relationship partner, or “cheating.”

(In the Christian community infidelity would be more narrowly defined as sexual activity with anyone other than the person to whom you are married.)