Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Why try? I have bad genes!

I enjoy being able to answer questions from the readers of Today’s Christian Living magazine in my “Ask Dr. Walt” column. Here’s a recent Q&A about preventive medicine:

Dear Dr. Walt

I read your column and enjoy it, and you’re always harping on us readers to improve our health. But, my family has really poor genes. Everyone in our family has died young. I guess I will also. So, why not just enjoy the ride?

– Genetic Disaster in Georgia

Dear Gloomy,

I’m so glad you asked. It turns out researchers now know that a long, high-quality life is NOT solely a result of good genetics. Sure, genes are important, but even more important are the decisions we make about our daily lifestyle habits such as sleeping, nutrition, exercise, work, leisure, meditation, prayer, reducing stress, and improving relationships.

About 20 years ago, some experts believed that as much as 70 to 80 percent of what controls our lifespan was related to our lifestyle, not our genes. In other words, genetics only accounted for 20 to 30 percent of an individual’s chance of surviving to old age.[i]

However, a 2018 study in the journal Genetics reported that “genes accounted for well under 7 percent of people’s life span, versus the 20 to 30 percent of most previous estimates.”[ii]

So, enjoy the ride! Just do it in a healthy manner that will increase the quality and quantity of your life!

Dr. Walt



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