6

votes

Who will win in the battle between lifestyle and genetics?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 07, 2012 at 9:00 PM

I don't see my dad that much but when I did the other day I noticed that his skin is not great, my mum's seems ok but i think she wears foundation. My own skin is not great also, quite a few bumps and spots which don't really bother me too much but the general skin quality seems low, it's kind of uneven and makes me look a bit ill. My brother also has bad skin but I'm the only one who eats paleo

So I've been paleo for a while though not entirely strict yet I've seen no improvement whatsoever in my skin, I take a multivitamin without iron but with zinc, I moisturise with olive oil now and again and that works well, i do a sort of scrub with sugar and olive oil and that seems to help a little and generally leave my skin alone but it doesn't seem to make any difference what I do.

So can diet and lifestyle ever overpower genetics? If I am perfectly healthy (which I'm not necessarily saying I am) why can't I have good skin? even if I had the perfect diet (for me) and perfect lifestyle/exercise etc can I ever 'beat' the genetics?

7cf9f5b08a41ecf2a2d2bc0b31ea6fa0

(4176)

on August 08, 2012
at 09:26 AM

what about thin skin under the eyes? could that ever be 'fixed' by lifestyle?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 07, 2012
at 10:04 PM

+1 and cue sound bite "genetics may load the gun but lifestyle is what pulls the trigger".

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6 Answers

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7
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on August 07, 2012
at 09:29 PM

I'm firmly in the lifestyle camp. What I mean by that is that while your genes determine your potential, your lifestyle affects the expression of those genes (epigenetics).

Your DNA is just a list of instructions for things, however whether or not those instructions are executed depends on your lifestyle. Here's my favorite example of this: http://jaeshealthmusings.blogspot.com/2011/07/twins-distance-runner-vs-sprinter.html

Also, people often fear many "genetic diseases". Huntington's Disease is one of those. People who have the genes for that are "almost certain" to develop the degenerative disease. However, there is evidence that the gluten antibodies are the trigger. That is, you can carry the genes for the disease, but if you never trigger them to be executed, you'll be fine. So controlling your lifestyle (or diet in this case) makes those genes not be executed.

On the positive side, by doing things like HIIT you can tell your body to execute other genes that promote muscle growth. Your DNA has lots of instructions, but only a very small proportion of them are ever executed.

So for you, your genetics and epigenetics may be primed for bad skin, but that doesn't mean you can't control that with diet. What kind of diet, I can't say, I have very little experience on the diet-skin axis, but I know Cordain has an e-book on that (I haven't read it though). Maybe buy that and see what it says.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 07, 2012
at 10:04 PM

+1 and cue sound bite "genetics may load the gun but lifestyle is what pulls the trigger".

7cf9f5b08a41ecf2a2d2bc0b31ea6fa0

(4176)

on August 08, 2012
at 09:26 AM

what about thin skin under the eyes? could that ever be 'fixed' by lifestyle?

2
81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on August 07, 2012
at 10:02 PM

The Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging (SATSA) was started in 1984. Starting that year and every 3 years after a questionnaire was sent to twins in the Swedish twin registry with over 2000 respondents. Over 76% have participated in at least 3 questionnaires. Data from SATSA can be used to study various aspects of aging. For example, the relative importance of genetic and environmental factors for individual differences in aging especially in cognitive and physical domains has been studied. A further main focus is to study changes within and across domains and which genetic and life style factors predict these changes (paraphrased from source).

Basically, they are finding that 75% of overall health and the effects of aging is lifestyle and 25% is genetics.

So the winner is lifestyle.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 08, 2012
at 08:10 AM

Think of the relationship between a trait and a gene in this way:

Genes establish a set of bounding parameters. Where you are within this set of parameters is determined by your environment.

With some traits the bounding parameters are extremely narrow and there is no effect from the environment - e.g. blood type and eye colour.

With other traits, such as body weight and intelligence, the boundaries are very broad and environment plays a far more significant role.

0
Medium avatar

on August 08, 2012
at 01:21 PM

There is a superb book by Steven Pinker called The Blank Slate dealing w nature v nuture. It points out many undeniable facts about genetic influences.

0
7e6644836cdbcbe2b06307ff7db92d31

(693)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:12 PM

Nature vs Nurture - great question.

Here's a guy who says it doesn't matter, the sum total of lifestyle and genetics will do what they do and there's nothing you can do about it...

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/04/0915161107

It's in PNAS, so be careful with the down votes (as if you really could).

0
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:02 PM

Accept that your epigenome is a loaded gun, and your lifestyle is the trigger. Your lifestyle cant change you. It reveals who you really are.

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