Determining How Much Genetics Affect Your Health: The Debate of Nature vs. Nurture
For decades, people have debated the concept of nature vs. nurture, and how elements in our lives affect our health. The main question that people want to know is “What affects you more – lifestyle factors in childhood and throughout your life, or genetics?” Many people think that genetics are the greatest factor, and inheriting damaged or flawed genes means that solving health problems are out of our control. However, research dating as far back as the 1930’s has shown that nurture, specifically diet and nutrition, greatly affects who we are and the level of our everyday health.
In the 1930’s it was Dr. Weston Andrew Price, a dentist, who started searching for an answer to the question, “Why do those in modern civilizations so often get cavities?” He wondered if cavities were really a genetic problem that occurred mainly in the cultures of civilized whites, or were there other factors that affected the development of cavities? Dr. Price’s research with looked at indigenous groups from various locations around the world, and he found some very interesting answers to these questions.
Swiss Alpine Village Children Diet and Health
At one point towards the beginning of his travels, Dr. Price paid a visit to the Loetschental Valley located in the Swiss Alps. In this village, he found people who ate the foods that nature gave them, and these people had “neither physician nor dentist . . . neither policeman nor jail.” In the villages where the people still followed a native diet of whoel grains and dairy products, Dr. Price discovered that children had healthy teeth and good health overall. There were some villages, such as St. Moritz, where some of the children were fed processed foods such as canned fruits and vegetables, white flour products, and sugary sweets. The children in these areas started to experience problems with their teeth and health.
Of course, most people would assume that these children experienced more cavities as a result of the sugar consumption. But Dr. Price found that the children also had problems with other dental issues such as bad formation of their dental arches, which led to crowded teeth. These dental problems were not present in the generation before them. Here’s just an example:Based on this information, Dr. Price asserted that the children’s problems were not due to heredity… simply because the parents and grandparents of these children had fully-formed dental arches as well as minimal health problems in general. Instead, Dr. Price attributed that the changes in the people’s health was related to to the changing diet of these mountain village people.
Diet of the Scots in the Outer Hebrides
During the next stop in his travels, Dr. Price visited the Scots in the Outer Hebrides, islands which is located off the coast of Scotland. In this area, the native people’s diets focused mostly on oats and oatcakes, some dairy products, as well as abundant portions of fish from the sea. Dr. Price found that even within the same generation, heath can be greatly impacted by diet.The photo above shows two brothers, because of relationship they share more DNA with one another than with any other human beings on the planet – including their parents. Even though there was an overlap of “nature” or genetics, these brothers have experienced different “nurture” and it has affected their health. The brother on the left is less healthy, and he insisted on eating processed foods made with white flour and drinking sweetened coffee. In comparision, the older brother on the right followed a diet that focused on eating and drinking the native products of the land that his parents had always fed him.
Because their genetics are so close, we can see that genetics did not have as much of an impact on health as nurture did in the form of food. These two brothers did the same work and lived the same lifestyle, the only difference was the foods they chose to eat on a daily basis! Even though nutritional difference may seem small, they can really make a big difference in overall health!
You Can Choose a Healthy Diet
We know that there is some truth in genetics, since we have seen that physical and even personality characteristics have be passed from older generations to younger generations. But, you will be misled if you believe that the sole influencer of our health is genetics. In fact, this belief takes away much of our responsibility and ability to impact our own health nd the health of our children by making healthy choices.
Understanding how much food can affect humans brings many people to a place where they ask the question: What can I do to help my family experience fuller, richer, healthier lives? Making these choices can be simple if you have the right information, and the details are contained in the book Healing Our Children, which is packed with even more information and research about how to make the right choices to raise healthier, happier children.