Several important studies have arrived on our ever-increasing reading list in the past year. They all emphasize the same thing: If you decide to make certain simple choices each day, your health can be that of someone 20 or even 30 years your junior.
You are, in a sense, a genetic engineer. Sure, you might only have a vague idea of what DNA and genes are, but your food and other choices determine which 1,500 or so of your 22,500 genes are producing proteins or are dormant. And those proteins you produce? They determine whether you have inflammation or pain or accelerated arthritis or cancer.
You are a genetic engineer by whether you exercise, what you eat, whether you manage your stress, whether you smoke and if you live near a freeway.
Let’s take a look at some of these studies. In one study, over 190,000 people made five lifestyle changes:
- Healthy food choices and portion control (they avoided simple sugars and saturated fat, focusing on healthy fats and complex carbohydrates).
- Regular exercise.
- Engagement in cognitively stimulating activities.
- Avoiding tobacco exposure.
- Moderate alcohol intake (seven drinks or less per week for women, 14 or less for men).
The results? Participants reduced their dementia risk by 60 percent irrespective of their genetic risk. This means even if you have the worst genetic risk for late onset dementia, you can still reduce your risk by 60 percent by making certain lifestyle changes.
In another study of over 40 million deaths in nearly 200 countries, we learned that diet choices were more important than tobacco use or hypertension when it comes to death and disability risk. The study linked poor diet quality to nearly 11 million deaths globally in 2017, which translated to 22 percent of all deaths among adults that year.
The lead author of this study said it wasn’t just a matter of people eating too much junk food, which is common in wealthy nations like the U.S. Instead, many deaths were caused by what we were not eating enough of—things like nuts, seeds, fiber, fruits and veggies.
These studies show how important it is to be in charge of your own health. You can start significantly reducing your risk of dementia and other chronic diseases right now by making simple, daily choices that prioritize your well-being.
Your diet, stress management, toxin exposure, physical activity and social engagement choices make you an accomplished genetic engineer. Go ahead and add some walnuts and fruit to that evening salad and some veggies to that lunchtime salmon burger, and you’ll be building a stronger genetic foundation before you know it.
Related: Health Secrets of the 8% Club
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
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