How to stack the odds against bad genes by 62%

Which has the biggest impact on how long you’ll get to live — your genetic inheritance or your lifestyle choices?

If you’ve inherited a genetic predisposition to a shortened lifespan, it can be hard to shake the feeling that the cards dealt are just not in your favor.

You might think “game over” because there’s nothing left to do.

But research is proving that no matter what your genes say, you have the power to change how they impact your health and longevity…

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Genetics versus lifestyle: A side-by-side comparison

Plenty of studies have looked at how a healthy lifestyle can improve longevity. Many have also examined the effects of being dealt bad genetic “cards.”

But they haven’t compared the two side-by-side — until now.

A collaborative t study from universities in China and the University of Edinburgh in the UK looked at both genetic risk and lifestyle simultaneously to analyze their effect on longevity.

Study participants were a group of more than 350,000 adults who had participated in the UK  Biobank study between 2006 and 2010. 

The participants were asked about their diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol intake, body shape, and sleep duration, and grouped into three tiers based on their responses.

Then they were also split into three groups based on their polygenic risk score, a statistical calculation based on the presence or absence of multiple genomic variants, without taking environmental or other factors into account.

The study followed these people for an average of thirteen years — and the findings were clear…

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Healthy living beats genetics more than half the time

The researchers found that genetics alone can raise the risk of early death by 21 percent, but…

  • An An unhealthy lifestyle featuring poor sleep, lack of exercise, processed foods, cigarettes and alcohol was also linked to a 78 percent greater risk of dying early — regardless of someone’s genetic
  • People with both an unhealthy lifestyle and a genetic predisposition to a shorter lifespan were twice as likely to die during the study as those with a lower genetic risk but better lifestyle habits.

But here’s the real kicker…

Those who chose a healthier lifestyle — not smoking, exercising regularly, eating well and getting enough sleep — were able to offset their genetic risk for a shorter lifespan by 62 percent.

In other words, a healthy lifestyle beats genetics way more than half the time.

Lifestyle choices that add years to your life

So the choice is clear: practice healthy lifestyle habits or face the consequences. It’s easier than you might think…

These eight healthy practices can not only rewrite your genetic destiny as far as heart disease (still the number one killer in the U.S.) but also slow biological aging to add as much as 6 years to your life.

You can probably guess what some of them are: not smoking, sleeping enough, and eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in processed foods (the Mediterranean diet is your best choice).

The exercise part is often what holds people back. I always advise walking as a great way to ease into fitness. In fact, it doesn’t take that many steps to live longer. And you can get them in short bursts throughout your day.

And if you’re looking to avoid many of the pitfalls of aging that can shorten lifespan, watch out for nutritional deficiencies, particularly vitamin D, found to have a significant impact on brain health and longevity, and vitamin K2 which fights a common contributor of unhealthy aging.

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A Healthy Lifestyle Could Offset Genetic Risk For Early Death by a Hopeful 62% — Science Alert

Genetic predisposition, modifiable lifestyles, and their joint effects on human lifespan: evidence from multiple cohort studies — BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine

Years of life lost — National Institutes of Health

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.