"Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things." Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Monday, October 22, 2007

Are You a Slave To Your Genes?

Are You a Slave To Your Genetics?

The BBC News wrote an interesting article entitled Diet Choices 'written in genes'. The article cited a recent study conducted by Kings College on the inheritance of eating habits via genes. The results suggested that 41-48% of a persons leaning towards one of the food groups was influenced by genetics.

What stuck out at me was the conviction of one of the researches in saying:

We have assumed that our upbringing and social environment determine what we like to eat. This has blown that theory out of the water.

The genetic predisposition card has been used many times, perhaps unwittingly, to show or accept limits. In the BBC article for example how could 41-48% influence be the "biggest" determining factor? What about the other 52-59%? The intention of the research itself is not questioned, but the portrayal of the information. When we try to find an absolute cause, or when we fictitiously put one cause against another, i.e., nature vs. nurture; we submit our intellect to an archaic logic that does not bode well with education.

A multiplicity of variables almost always is at work with any result or effect. Take your body structure for example, or your natural muscle tone. You naturally are born with a genetic "template", however, you also are born with a mind that can adapt itself. If I were to submit myself to the body I was born with, and everyone else did the same then health clubs would not exist. We already know that we are born with a physical inheritance. What's more important is the question "how can I change the things I want to improve of my genetic inheritance?"

Studies involving physical change of a person's body are numerous. Many of these other studies would seem to contradict the genetic bias. For example, studies have been done on individuals with Multiple Personality Disorder. In some of these cases a persons physical features would change in accordance to the personality being expressed at the time; things such as eye color, voice, even cases involving illnesses such as diabetes (producing insulin or not depending on personality). The "biggest" cause in these studies seem to fall on the subject's "belief". This also follows what is commonly referred to as the placebo affect.

From the history of high achievers the "biggest" factor contibuting to habits, decisions, results, and effects seems to come from beliefs. Tom Platz, a legendary bodybuilder and business man now, is a case in point. Tom's genetic inheritance included skinny legs, narrow shoulders, and low muscle tone. Tom went on to record the most massive muscular thighs in the history of bodybuilding; as well as winning many bodybuilding titles throughout his career. He attributes this success to his "will" his desire to become a great bodybuilder. He developed a belief in his ability to change his physique according to his ideal; he sought the necessary informational resources, and with guts and determination molded his ideal body.

Genetics is a great modern day scapegoat for almost everything. However, if we want something other than mediocrity we take it upon ourselves to find a way to create our results...not leave them to inheritance. I good book on how the mind effects genetics is presented by Dr. Ernest Rossi in The Psychobiology of Gene Expresssion.

Angel Armendariz

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