Genetics Loads The Gun, But Lifestyle Pulls The Trigger

When it comes to many modern diseases, genetics load the gun, but environment and lifestyle factors pulls the trigger.

Key Triggers that can contribute to conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, heart disease and some cancers include:

  • Refined/Inflammatory diet
  • Lack of Exercise,
  • Environmental toxins
  • Stress
  • Inadequate sleep

Most doctors treat diseases using medications to address symptoms.

Is this a misguided approach?

Why are these diseases occurring in the first place?

Lifestyle modification can be a powerful intervention to prevent and manage many of the diseases that are epidemic in Western cultures.

Here are Ten simple lifestyle modifications for preventing or reversing common diseases. If you follow them, you will have a better chance of keeping the “safety” secure on your genetic gun:


  1. Eat a colorful, plant-based diet.

This includes whole foods rich in macro, micro and phytonutrients (plant molecules). Aim for at least eight to ten servings of colorful fruits and vegetables every day, e.g. half of your plate.


  1. Balance your blood sugar.

Blood sugar imbalances can contribute to obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease, along with other comorbidities that can affect your brain, eyes and nervous system.

You can stabilize your blood sugar by eating adequate protein (1-2 g/kg body weight), healthy fats (Extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts and fatty fish), and healthy carbohydrates (vegetables and fruits), at every meal.

Avoid processed sugars and carbohydrates.

Exercise that focuses on increasing lean body mass such as resistance training is also a key as it affects Glut4.

Glut4 is the insulin-regulated glucose transporter found primarily in adipose tissues and striated muscle (skeletal and cardiac) that acts as a glucose disposal/regulator.


  1. Increase your fiber.

Work up to 50 grams of fiber per day. High-fiber foods include beans, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lower-sugar fruits like berries. Make sure to drink enough water to avoid gastrointestinal issues that can be associated with higher fiber intake.


  1. Avoid processed, junk foods.

This includes sodas, juices, diet drinks and refined grains. If you stick to the outer perimeters of the grocery store, most of these items will be out of sight (and hopefully out of mind).


  1. Increase omega-3 fatty acids.

Cold-water fish including salmon, sardines, and herring, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts are rich sources of anti-inflammatory healthy fats.


  1. Eliminate all hydrogenated fat.

Hydrogenated fats include: margarine, shortening and  processed oils. They are found in  many baked goods and processed foods like cookies and crackers. Use healthy oils instead like coconut oil (rich in medium-chain triglycerides), extra-virgin, organic, cold-pressed olive oil, avocado oil, organic sesame oil, and other nut oils.


  1. Avoid or reduce alcohol intake.


Alcohol can raise triglycerides, contribute to fatty liver, and create sugar imbalances. Too much alcohol can also cause inflammation, which is associated with heart disease and many other chronic diseases.

Alcohol consumed with meals tends to be metabolized slower and if consumed in moderation (1-2 drinks) along with a healthy diet (e.g. Mediterranean diet) can have some health promoting effects.


  1.  Detoxify your life


There are a number of environmental chemicals found in food, self-care products, cleaning agents and furniture, that alter the regulation of energy balance to favor weight gain and obesity.


These obesogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals derail the homeostatic mechanisms important for weight control, predisposing those exposed to weight gain, despite a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Consumer Guide to Chemicals:


  1.  Take control of your stress

Chronic psychologic stress can induce a chronic inflammatory process culminating in atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases.

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system and causes the release of various stress hormones which induce a heightened state of cardiovascular activity, including injury and  inflammation.

Stress can also adversely alter one’s lipid profile.

Ultimately, by reacting to stressors which are not life-threatening but are perceived as such, a stress/inflammatory response occurs in the arteries, which, if repetitive or chronic, culminates in atherosclerosis.


  1. Get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation can result in elevated high-sensitivity CRP concentrations, a marker of inflammation that has been shown to be predictive of cardiovascular morbidity.

An average adult needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep per night.

Other References

Ford, E. S., Bergmann, M. M., Kroger, J., Schienkiewitz, A., Weikert, C., & Boeing, H. (2009). Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study.Archives of internal medicine, 169(15), 1355.

Willett, W. C., Koplan, J. P., Nugent, R., Dusenbury, C., Puska, P., & Gaziano, T. A. (2006). Chapter 44. Prevention of chronic disease by means of diet and lifestyle changes (Table 44.2). Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. New York and Washington, DC: Oxford University Press and the World Bank.

Yusuf, S., Hawken, S., Ôunpuu, S., Dans, T., Avezum, A., Lanas, F., … & Lisheng, L. (2004). Effect of potentially modifiable risk factors associated with myocardial infarction in 52 countries (the INTERHEART study): case-control study. The Lancet, 364(9438), 937-952.


About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin