When people think about genes, they tend to apply the words "good" or "bad" to them. Depending on how your life is going, you might thank your genes or feel victimized by them.
Yet this kind of thinking seriously misrepresents how genes work.
Only about 5 percent of disease-related gene mutations are fully penetrant, the term geneticists apply when a gene directly causes a disorder. Otherwise, 95 percent of genes linked to disorders act as an influence. They can sway one way or another, depending on other factors.
In other words: Biology doesn't dictate your destiny. You have many choices, because "other factors" include a vast range of influences, including diet, exercise, stress management, and emotional events.
These influences don't change the genes you were born with, which remain the same all your life. Instead, what changes is genetic activity, meaning the hundreds of proteins, enzymes, and other chemicals that regulate the cells. As the cells thrive, so does the entire body, and so do you.
In our new book, Super Genes, we discuss how to make the best choices in six areas of your life: diet, stress, exercise, sleep, meditation, and emotions.
With our approach, we aim to overcome the chief problem with lifestyle changes: compliance. Millions of people have read all the information on positive lifestyle changes and resolve to carry them out — only to find after a while that they've lapsed back into their old habits.
So here, we give you a menu of easy choices in each of the six areas that affect your genes, asking that you stick with each small choice before you move on to more difficult ones: