One of the most interesting things I heard about recently happened to be learned while I was at Paleo F(x). I’m sure you’re stunned, right? While listening to the Express Yourself Panel discussion (all about genes vs. epigenetics) the idea that epigenetic changes that occur in our bodies now, can contribute to genetic changes in our children.
That’s mind blowing to me.
Not just have an effect on our children, which I have known about, but contribute to genetic changes! Yikes.
My first reaction was shock, then horror set it. ‘I’m already messing up the kid I don’t have yet’.
How do you not go to that place? How do you NOT freak out about the damage you may or may not be doing to future generations? I certainly did. In this day and age, there are so many ways to know how a certain variable affects us. Want to know if you tolerate caffeine? There’s a test for that. Want to know if you have the MTHFR mutation? There is a test for that. Want to know if you digest fats well? There is a test for that also. With all these answers about how our environment is affecting US, it’s understandable that we freak out about how those answers will affect our kids.
It’s therefore just as easy to freak out about our own lives. How we go digging for answers in every possible place, get every test done, want every result. But at what point is our pursuit of health making us more sick? Genetic testing, blood tests, tests for every organ in your body, do we ever stop? My point isn’t that they are useless. Or that the pursuit of health and answers isn’t worthy. All of these tests and paths will give plenty of helpful and useful information. But if we let ourselves fall down the rabbit hole of diagnosis, are stressing constantly and focusing on what is ‘wrong’, what is right about our bodies slips through the cracks. What is ‘wrong’ will always be in the forefront and getting the attention. What is ‘wrong’ may soon become who we think we are. By forgetting to appreciate what is actually functioning ‘normally’, we miss an amazing opportunity. An opportunity to relish in what our bodies are capable of and what they are doing for us. I know that for many of us, it can feel like our bodies are hardly doing ANYTHING right. We often find ourselves saying (I do it as well) that our bodies are broken, failing or damaged. Yes, some parts may not be functioning at the most optimal level that we want, but according to it, it’s doing the best it can. So why not appreciate and honor that?
As I sat in my chair after the discussion was over, I thought more about it. I realized that I was getting a ‘bit’ ahead of myself, by worrying already about my future children and their health. Granted, that is a noble cause to fret about, but probably one that doesn’t have to plague my mind just yet. I’ll give that another year or two. Yes, it is accurate that what I do now, will affect my children To Be Determined later, but I don’t have to stress about it now. If I make choices that are aligned with what I need, and what is best for my body, then I (and my future offspring) can’t go wrong. And that is true for the me a few years down the road, when those future children are a little more immanent. There are absolutely things that I can and will be doing differently during that time, including eating a variety of good protein sources, vegetables and fruits, making sure my stress levels are low, and making sure I have put myself in the best place hormonally that I can. All of these things I am doing now anyway, so I should, and hope to be doing alright. But it’s nothing I can stress myself over.
And after all, the healthiest cultures in history had no idea about any of this information. They turned out ok.
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