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October 2005 after the first frost and summer grasses had turned brown.  The growth of winter grasses was delayed by the drought.

Are Chronic Diseases Hereditary?

Column #136

It’s common knowledge that children tend to inherit their parents’ health issues. Doctors expect us to get the same diseases as our parents. Insurance forms ask about our parents’ health when making our health risk assessments. Does this mean chronic diseases are hereditary?

Most of us know people whose health issues followed that of their parents. They even seemed to die with the same chronic diseases at about the same age. So this reinforces the idea that chronic diseases and longevity are hereditary.

With the anecdotal evidence and the words of professionals, should we be doubters?

Yes we should because chronic diseases are not caused by heritable genetic disorders. Genetic disorders are a change, or mutation, in an individual's DNA sequence. Mutations can be due to an error in DNA replication or environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, exposure to radiation, or a long trip in outer space. All heritable genetic disorders are outliers to the norm that are expressed physically and/or mentally. Many genetic disorders have names such as Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis, Down’s syndrome, etc.

Genetic disorders may start immediately with conception, a little later in the development of a fetus or child, or develop over time from an abusive lifestyle or a poison such as radiation. There are three variations of genetic disorders.

1. Single gene disorders involve defects in one particular gene, usually with a straightforward inheritance pattern.

2. Chromosome disorders are caused by changes in the number or structure of the chromosomes.

3. Multifactorial disorders are caused by changes in multiple genes, in reaction with environmental and lifestyle factors such as diet or cigarette smoke.

Chronic diseases fall in the later category. They are body failures caused by abuse, the most frequent being a bad diet. Yes they overlap with genetic issues, but are created by one’s actions and not their inherited genes. Also, many chronic diseases can be turned off and on with changes in the diet which means they are not permanent like heritable genes.

It’s estimated that only one in ten Americans has what is called “rare diseases.” There are more than 7,000 distinct rare diseases of which about 80 percent are caused by faulty genes. So it’s safe to say that the bodies of most people are not prone to fail from heritable genetic faults.

If our parents bombarded their bodies with improper food and/or a harsh environment, then if we do the same we shouldn’t be surprised when we follow in their footsteps. But on the flip side, if we feed ourselves properly and strive to live in a healthy environment, our outcome will most likely differ significantly from our parents who weren’t as careful.

The green leaf is the foundation food for animal life. Spinach for instance has all nutrients in their proper balance to support life. All animals with the green leaf at the bottom of their food chain have, like spinach, the same dense, diverse, and well-balanced nutrients required to support life.

When the human diet deviates from having the green leaf at the bottom of the food chain that introduces nutritional deficiencies, excesses, and/or imbalances. That negatively impacts genes, nerves, brains, and immune systems which can lead to a body failure which will be diagnosed as a particular chronic disease.

There’s a long list of chronic diseases that are created and suppressed with diet change. For one, sailors on long voyages developed scurvy even though they were well fed. It was a simple case of a vitamin C deficiency. Therefore scurvy, a deadly disease, can be reversed or prevented by adding foods containing vitamin C (such as spinach) in the diet.

The bottom line is that understanding which foods and other environmental factors are best for maintaining the body may be far more important than hoping to alter our genes in order to cure or prevent chronic diseases.

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

Don’t miss these links for additional reading:

Genetic Factors Are Not the Major Causes of Chronic Diseases by Stephen M. Rappaport

Genetic Predisposition to Disease from Autoimmunity Research Foundation

What Percent of the Population Has a Genetic Disorder? By Global Genes

Scurvy and Fatty Acids by Ted Slanker

It All Began in the Sea . . . by Ted Slanker


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