Understanding genetics and lifestyle | The Manila Times

Genetics and lifestyle — the play between nature and nurture. What will be your approach?

“My husband who is 43, has type 2 diabetes. Runs in the family eh.”

“Once it’s in your genes, you will definitely have it. It’s genetic.”

These are just some of the common (mis)conceptions and perceptions on how people view genetics. Most of them share how they are resigned to it and just live with the consequences by not necessarily adjusting their lifestyle but by ensuring they get all the medication they need to manage their condition brought by their genetic predispositions.

Wikipedia defines genomics as an “interdisciplinary field of biology focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping and editing of genomes. A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes.” In this case, it is true what they say, “knowledge is power.”

Knowing one’s genetic profile gives a tremendous level of insight in terms of health and illnesses, pharmacogenetics (how does your body respond to drug therapy, instead of doing a trial and error process and going back to your doctor if you develop symptoms post drug intake) and nutrition, making you absolutely in control, rather than just be resigned to your genetic fate.

Dra. Queeny Berris, founder of Exactmed Clinic who does genome profiling, further adds, “Knowledge could be a tool instead of a dead end as knowing your genetic predispositions makes health management more precise and effective.”

As such, you can truly exercise and decide on what is right for you based on your genetic predispositions, and take advantage of several options to make food work for you.

In a nutshell, this is where lifestyle comes in. Your lifestyle consists of your diet, environment, movement and other external/internal factors that you bring with you in your day-to-day living.

There’s a popular adage that says, “your genes load the gun, your lifestyle pulls the trigger,” which I couldn’t agree more. It absolutely debunks the myth that you have no choice once it’s in your genes.

Of course can choose between triggering it with what you are exposing your body to; and preventing it by ensuring you avoid such triggers. To a certain extent, it is a half-full/half-empty glass type of conversation.

As an example, a person who is able to confirm via genome profiling that he is genetically predisposed to Type 2 diabetes (acquired) now has a choice whether to (1) continue eating white rice and other sugar loaded food and wait for his doctor to prescribe him his medicine and review his disposition on such medicine (i.e., will his body respond well or not); or start changing his lifestyle to ensure his blood sugar remains within normal levels.

It is the combination of nature (genetics) and nurture (lifestyle) that will ultimately have to come into play as far as health management is concerned.

In the end, we now have a way to be informed which then helps us to make more informed decisions moving forward, and enables us to avoid the helplessness predicament.

I also recently got myself a copy of Philippine Herbs: For Healthy Cooking, Common Cures, and Concoctions supported by the Aboitiz Group and with Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan (ex DoH secretary) as one of the contributing writers. I thought it was interesting that we have a natural remedy for anti-diabetes, among others. I am sharing it below with credits to the writer for everyone’s appreciation. It is good alternative to think about if one is genetically predisposed to diabetes.


(ABCD – Ampalaya, Banaba, Camote/Kamote and Duhat)


7 leaves of ampalaya (bitter gourd)

3 leaves (as big as a palm) of banaba (queen crepe myrtle)

7 leaves of camote/kamote

3 leaves (as big as a palm) of duhat (Java plum)



1. Boil the ingredients in 6 glasses of water over a low flame for 15 minutes. Do not cover.

2. Strain the mixture to get the liquid and divide into 3 doses.

3. Take morning, noon and afternoon.

Note: Use ceramic, glass or stainless steel cooking pots only.

The author may be reached at [email protected] or follow her at Instagram @kaycalpolugtu and @aplateofbahaykubo.

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