Family History: The Loaded Gun
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
If you knew you were destined to develop a chronic, life-altering medical condition – would you accept and wait for it to hit? Or would you do whatever you could to prevent it from happening?
When considering health conditions, family history is valuable information. “It’s in the GENES”. Just because you may be predisposed to a particular health condition, doesn’t mean you should accept it with an open invitation. These GENES are like having a loaded gun… harmless, until someone pulls the trigger. It’s important to know how lifestyle and environmental factors are the culprits who pull that trigger.
“GENES are like having a loaded gun… harmless, until someone pulls the trigger. It’s important to know how lifestyle and environmental factors are the culprits who pull that trigger.”
Lets take type two diabetes mellitus (T2DM) for example. It’s a hereditary condition meaning if your father had it, chances are you’re likely to develop it. If your grandmother had it, chances are you’re still likely to develop it too. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It is predicted that by the year 2031 3.3 million Australians will have T2DM. But let’s not lose all hope here. Some simple lifestyle modifications can PREVENT you from developing the condition. The sooner you make changes, the less chance of developing it.
What is it?
Diabetes is a disorder of the metabolism. How food is processed is linked with blood glucose control and energy production. After food is digested, glucose floods into the blood stream where it travels to cells who utilise it for growth and energy. Importantly, insulin is required to get the glucose from the blood stream into the cell. Diabetes can occur when there is not enough insulin being produced, or cells refuse to acknowledge insulin knocking at its door trying to get glucose in (Insulin resistance).
What will happen?
Having glucose roaming freely in the blood stream is like letting a raging bull loose in a China shop… Havoc! (also referred to as advanced glycation end products (AGEs)) Leading to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, gangrene, erectile dysfunction, glaucoma.. the list goes on. The same also applies for the autoimmune type one diabetes mellitus (T1DM). Therefore the genetic predisposition simply sets the stage for the environmental or lifestyle factor to initiate the destructive process.
“The genetic predisposition simply sets the stage for the environmental or lifestyle factor to initiate the destructive process.”
Other than genetics T2DM risk factors include:
High blood pressure
Increased hip-to-waist ratio
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Lack of exercise
Dietary triggers associated with T2DM include:
High intake of refined carbohydrates (anything white.. bread, pasta, rice, sugar etc)
High intake of trans fatty acids (Most packaged foods…cakes, biscuits, doughnuts, microwave pop corn, pies, fried foods..etc)
Low dietary fibre (fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes)
Low intake of antioxidants (Raw nuts and seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables)
Other triggers for autoimmune conditions such as T1DM to consider:
Chemical or free radical damage (oxidative stress)Viral infectionFood allergyPoor gastrointestinal healthNutritional deficiencies (especially Vitamin D & Vitamin A)Nitrates (Most smoked and cured foods….ham, hot dogs, bacon, smoked salmon etc)
Avoiding potential triggers and preventing associated risk factors can ultimately reduce the chance of developing the condition that was handed down to you. T2DM can be reversed – therefore it’s never “too late to start” making necessary changes to prevent future complications.
“…it’s never too late to start making the necessary changes to prevent future complications.”
We’ve only touched on diabetes here as it’s one of the leading preventable conditions in Australia. You may not have diabetes in your family. Lucky you? Or perhaps thank your family for not passing on a ripped pair of genes :)
Other health conditions still certainly apply. Conditions associated with the heart run in my family – Atrial fibrillation, myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke. This led me to investigations with a cardiologist who picked up on Left Ventricle Non-Compaction (LVNC). Although I have not experienced any complications with this, maintaining a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle is crucial to keeping it that way.
During both Naturopathic and Nutritional consultations I will ask you for a detailed family history as this will help to determine the treatment. Get in touch for more information on preventing hereditary conditions.
Prevention is key.
The Matakana Naturopath