Health – Is it nature or nurture, or both?

Nature, nature, or both?

As a result of decoding the human genome, scientists have been intrigued to discover that we have about 20,000 genes. Far fewer than the predicated 100,000 that would have explained the variety of health and disease processes that can afflict the human body.

The conclusion has been that the environment both inside and outside the body alters the degree to which each gene functions, and for how long.

What this means is that we are not doomed to the fate predetermined by the genetic material handed down to us from our parents. There are some syndromes that have a large genetic component and produce terrible diseases.

For the majority of us though this is not the case. The good news for those of us with family histories of disease developing with age, is that we may be able to significantly alter the chances of them occurring by paying close attention to lifestyle and our emotional states.


The term EPIGENETICS has been coined to describe the factors outside the classic genetic code that affect our health. It has been a theoretical school of thought since the 1960 and 70’s and tied up with the nature/nurture debate concerning health and disease.

The concept of epigenetics is that environmental conditions are relayed to the cells of the body through chemical signals in the blood. The chemical signals are produced by the immune system, nervous system, organ or tissues, or even a toxin or parasite. These interact with the cell membrane and lead to changes in the activity of particular genes sequences and the cells reaction to the environment, in other words they influence genetic expression.

As a hypothetical example, a young woman who becomes pregnant in an environment of domestic violence will influence her own, and her developing baby, with stress hormones.

Her own genetic expression may lead to future disease development, and the developing child will most likely have their genetic code tweaked so that they come into the world ready to cope with the home environment. A possible result is a child who is aggressive in nature, and athletic, but more able to defend itself in a physically and mentally challenging world.

Our personal environment

Epigenetics may give us the chance to influence our own genetic expression by manipulating our personal environment. Imagine yourself as your own Bonsai tree, with diligent attention, regular pruning, a supply of optimal nutrients and a supportive, but challenging emotional environment, your cells can repair damaged DNA segments, and be influenced to express genes that will enhance your immune function and general adaptability.

For some, this may seem a leap too far, or too much of an effort. However if your purpose in life is to strive for improvement in yourself, your family and community, the place you need to begin is with the self.

It is a philosophical decision, do you become a victim to the world around you, and blame it on your parents and genetics, or do you accept the challenge to dance with the environment, and play the dealt cards to your advantage. When you remain healthy you can work, help your family and support your community and world in general.

Sunderland ChiropractorAbout The Author

Greg Lees founded the Sunderland Chiropractic Clinic in 1998 and draws clients from all over the Tyne and Wear area.

Find out more about Greg’s work by visiting his GoToSee profile page here


Visit his website

Submit an Article Submit your article

Related articles & videos

Do not copy from this page - plagiarism will be detected by Copyscape. If you want to use our content click here for syndication criteria