How Your Family’s Health Affects Yours

August 19, 2016  |  
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We like to think that we are in control of our health—that if we eat well, exercise regularly, avoid drugs, only drink moderately, take our vitamins and manage stress that somehow we buy a ticket to lifelong good health. And while those habits should certainly be a part of most people’s lifestyle, they cannot eliminate our genetics; they can only try to overcome them. Many doctors will tell you that you can overcome your genes, and they’re right, so you shouldn’t panic if you discover that a painful or life threatening condition runs in your family. Be grateful that you have that information, so that you can get ahead of it early in life. Many women, unfortunately, don’t look into their family’s medical past until they already have a health problem. That’s tragic since your family is a plethora of information on how you can avoid problems. Here is how your family’s health affects yours.

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Image Source: Shutterstock.com

Depression

There is a reason doctors ask you if there is a history of depression in your family. It’s because there is a correlation between people who come from depressive parents and people who develop depression. There are, in fact, genes that can predispose a person to develop depression.

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What can be done

If your mother was depressed, it probably is because of circumstances in her life. Maybe she went through a divorce or a serious trauma. You were likely exposed to that, and that put you under quite a bit of stress as well. If you didn’t confront that when it came up, it could turn into a depression later. If this applies to you, consider seeing a therapist to address any unresolved problems.

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Migraines

Women with migraines can usually find that their mothers had migraines, too. Certain genes have been found to boost one’s chances of getting migraines.

 

 

 

 

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What can be done

Ask your mom what caused her migraines, and at what time in her life that she had them. Her triggers might be the same as yours, so you can try to avoid those. You may also get the good news that your mother only had migraines for a few years when she was younger. This news can relieve some of the stress you’re going through now, and stress can be a migraine trigger.

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Eating disorders

Studies have found that certain genes can make a person more likely to develop an eating disorder. The genes exist in a brain pathway that affects how often people crave food. When mutated, the genes can make a person not want food.

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Image Source: Shutterstock

What can be done

If your mother or anyone in your family has struggled with eating disorders, try to be conscious of your own eating habits. Eating disorders are a slippery slope and sometimes, stopping just one unhealthy habit can prevent a larger scale problem.

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Diabetes

If your immediate relative has type one diabetes, your can be up to 100 times more likely to develop this type yourself. That being said, the risk is lower if it is your mother who has diabetes, rather than your father.

 

 

 

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What can be done

Anyone who has a parent with type one diabetes should take extra precautions to follow a healthy diet and avoid too much fat and sugar, as this can put the body’s insulin needs over the edge.

 

 

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Obesity

A person whose family member is obese is two to eight times more likely to become obese. Research has also found that there is a high occurrence of people carrying the obesity-related gene, living in households with habits that can cause non-genetic obesity.

 

 

 

 

 

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What can be done

Unfortunately, people become very attached to the food on which they’re raised, and people can fear that by eating drastically different from their parents that they are offending their family. If your mother or other family members are obese, don’t be afraid to be the person who breaks the pattern by creating a different type of environment for yourself than the one you grew up in.

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Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a more commonly inherited disease than many other conditions that somehow get more press. One in every 400 people can inherit high cholesterol from a family member.

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What can be done

Don’t believe that cholesterol should only be monitored after a certain age. People in their late teens can suffer from high cholesterol if it runs in their family. If high cholesterol is common in your family, you should eat a diet and lead a lifestyle as if you already have high cholesterol, to combat it.

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Heart conditions

High cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity are all conditions that predispose someone to heart conditions. So if any of those conditions run in your family, you could be susceptible to heart disease.

 

 

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What can be done

If you are predisposed to heart disease, then you should not smoke, and you should limit your intake of fatty foods, salt, and sugar. A high fiber diet can help cut cravings for each of those foods, and has been linked to promoting heart health.

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