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Nature vs. Nurture: Which Plays the Bigger Role in Health?

Everyone is the product of both their genetic makeup and their environment. These two factors are not mutually exclusive and actually work together.

A big part of who we are, and a lot of the things we are likely to do and have, can often be traced back to our unique genetic makeup. But does our environment play a role in forming our identities, too?

Ever since ancient times, people have always wondered whether internal or external factors are more important in the growth and development of an individual.

The truth is that everyone is the product of both their genetic makeup and their environment. These two factors are not mutually exclusive and actually work together.

Genetics and the Environment

Genes lay our own personal blueprint and determine most of our traits and characteristics. Our genetic codes can be found in every cell of our bodies and contain instructions that are essential in keeping us alive.

Environment, on the other hand, refers not only to our physical habitat but also the factors that we are consistently exposed to. And this is only the external environment. In genetics, there is also what we call the internal environment, which refers to the cells that contain genetic material and our bodies, where these cells are.

With this being said, we encounter countless stimuli each day, such as the intake of food and temperature changes, which influence our development. Our genetic material is susceptible to these stimuli, and there are even some interferences that can directly affect parts of our genetic code, duplicating them, moving their position, or even removing them completely.

Some of these changes are insignificant, while some result in crucial outcomes, which can either be beneficial or harmful.

For example, through a DNA test, an individual can get a comprehensive report detailing their medical genetic predispositions. This means that a person can be susceptible to some diseases like cancer. However, being constantly exposed to the sun’s rays, an environmental factor, can also greatly elevate a person’s risk to develop skin cancer.

Similarly, some people might have the genetic predisposition to develop conditions like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. But genetics is not the sole factor when it comes to health. A person who is genetically predisposed might not get these diseases in their lifetime by changing their environment, particularly their nutrition and physical behaviour. On the contrary, a person who is not genetically at risk may find themselves getting these conditions because of environmental factors.

In other words, having unfavourable genes when it comes to health does not mean you will definitely get sick, and the opposite is also the same. In order to manage your health more effectively, consider both genetic and environmental factors to create a nutrition and exercise plan that targets your specific needs.


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