In nursing school, I remembered learning about modifiable and non- modifiable risk factors that contribute to disease. I would complete in depth case studies and I would list out all the risks factors which could impact why or how my patient became diagnosed with a multitude of problems. Typically, the case study patient would be a Caucasian male, in his 40s-60s, with high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, depression, and hypothyroidism. He would suffer from fatigue, insomnia, headaches/migraines and gastrointestinal complaints. His diet would often consist of fast food, fried food, processed foods, and little to no vegetables. He also would thrive on sugar, soda, and alcohol and he absolutely hated to exercise. His family history would state that his mother also had diabetes, and high blood pressure, and his father had depression and alcoholism. His sister would have hypothyroidism.
Question 1. What are the modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors associated with the patient?
Answer: Modifiable: diet, exercise, alcohol consumption. Non-modifiable: gender, age, race, family history/ genetic predisposition
Right? Wrong. Absolutely wrong. Years ago, I would have answered that genetics were non-modifiable. Now, I know better. I am so tired of hearing patients say, “Well, I have a family history of blah, so that is why I have blah.” NO. You suffer partly because you are using your genetics as a scape goat. Guess what? While your genetics play a part in your health, they can be manipulated. Your genes can be turned off and on, and this can impact your health greatly. This is great news for everyone out there who wants to take control of their health and not use genetic predisposition as an excuse to be unhealthy.
I absolutely love running genetic test on patients. Genetics is just one of the many pieces of the health puzzle. I use a few different labs to help patients figure out their genetic code and I love empowering people to know that they can use their genetics as a tool in their “ultimate health” toolbox. While you can’t change your DNA, you can change how much of an impact certain genes influence your overall health. Stay tuned, and I’ll help you figure out how.