How to change your genes—for better or worse

You know how much I hate excuses.

Yet when it comes to health—and especially obesity—everybody’s got one. But by far the most common is the notorious gene pool: “I’m big boned.” “I have my mother’s thighs.” “Everyone in my family is overweight.”

I’ve heard them all before. (And I’ve used them myself more than once, too.)

But I need you to understand there’s absolutely no basis whatsoever for any of these statements. Not because your family history doesn’t affect your health. (No one is going to argue that.) But because the choices you make on a daily basis are what really dictate your fate.

And as recent research shows, this is especially true where type 2 diabetes is concerned. Before I share it with you, though, let me first explain an important point about genetic influence—namely, that it has less to do with your genes, and more to do with how those genes manifest themselves.

You see, in order for genes to influence your health, they require “expression.” This distinction is the basis of a new field of study called “epigenetics.” Epigenetic changes are what determine whether those deadly obesity, heart disease, diabetes genes rise to surface… or if they stay silent.

But unlike other hereditary markers, epigenetic changes aren’t carved in stone ahead of time. And they can be reversed, too.

In fact, all sorts of daily factors—like your diet, your activity level, or exposure to environmental toxins—can lead to epigenetic changes. And these epigenetic changes can either protect you from a lifetime of chronic illness. Or as this recent study shows, they can send you to an early grave.

A team of researchers looked at insulin-producing cells from both healthy and diabetic subjects. And their analysis showed that, among the diabetics, roughly 800 genes showed epigenetic changes—over 100 of which altered the expression of “diabetes” genes.

So what does this mean? In a nutshell, this finding shows that your diabetes risk isn’t written in your genes from the start. Quite the opposite, in fact.

According to the lead author, this study “shows that epigenetics is of major significance for type 2 diabetes, and can help us to understand why people develop the condition.” And she had me, right up until she ended her statement with this little gem:

“This [finding] also opens the way for the development of future drugs.”

Really? We’re talking about type 2 diabetes here. A disease that, as I mentioned yesterday, is entirely preventable through focused lifestyle changes, like smart eating and regular exercise.

The fact of the matter is that it’s the choices you make every day that really make or break you where any disease is concerned. Ultimately, you’re in control of your life and your health.

And no matter how far gone you think you are, it’s never too late to turn things around.



“Epigenetic changes could explain type 2 diabetes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2014. <>.

“Genome-wide DNA methylation analysis of human pancreatic islets from type 2 diabetic and non-diabetic donors identifies candidate genes that influence insulin secretion.” PLoS Genet. 2014 Mar 6;10(3):e1004160.