We inherit many health factors from our parents and grandparents. Our health inheritance is in our genes, and depending on how we care for our health, we could develop one of these familial conditions that would change the quality of life, or shorten life, even end it. The following diseases have a familial component, meaning they can be passed on from generation to generation: Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, arthritis, asthma, birth defects, cancer (breast, colon, lung, prostate, ovarian, and other cancers), diabetes, depression, heart disease or sudden heart attack, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, pregnancy losses ( stillbirths and miscarriages), stroke or blood clots. But there are definitely steps each one of us can take to challenge this health inheritance.
The American Folklife Center, American Society of Human Genetics, Genetic Alliance, and the Institute for Cultural Partnerships have joined together and created A Guide to Family Health History. Supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this PDF file, here, outlines what elements make up and affect your health inheritance.
FIrst you need to know your family health history.
- Meeting and talking with your nuclear family and your extended family–cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents–will help you discover what health problems run in your family. You might also be surprised to find longevity in your family. That’s good news.
- Just being with family makes you aware of the physical traits—eye color, hair color, and height—that you directly inherited or passed down to your children.
- You will also discover what chronic diseases your relations have. That’s very important and could be a wake-up call for you. Because you need to challenge that inheritance and keep from developing diabetes, for example, if it runs in your family.
- A Guide to Family Health History helps you determine your potential for future health problems like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
- But the bottom line is meeting your inheritance challenge. If you know and understand your family health history, you can reduce your risks by making changes to your lifestyle, your habits and behaviors and thus improving and maybe extending your life!
And there’s an APP FOR THAT!
Though I keep a file and a journal about my family health history, there are many ways to store such information, a Family Medical History app being one of them. There are also applications for remembering pills and charting the health of your children and grandchildren. WebMD has a personal health manager. With a little effort, you can discover what you inherited and how you might work to avoid developing a disease. (If you were adopted, there are roads you can travel to discover significant health history. It’s a personal choice.)
Follow these steps to stay well; work to avoid developing a negative in your health inheritance:
1. know your family health history and share it with every doctor or health professional you see;
2. keep up with health screening;
3. maintain an exercise program; you might have to check with your doctor first;
4. eat a healthy diet; use Create Your Plate for healthy carbohydrate intake;
5. check your body mass index (BMI) and determine if you need to lose weight; losing weight helps prevent developing many negative conditions including diabetes and arthritis;
6. every day do something that’s just for you–gardening, walking, reading, listening to music, playing cards, cooking; feel good about yourself;
Whatever you do, don’t take the title of this post and reverse the meaning–because if your parents and grandparents had incredibly good health and you are challenging that inheritance BY NOT TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF, don’t. Don’t squander your good health. Because you know what? Chances are it won’t work. Take care of that inheritance and it will pay you back over and over again.
Again here’s the link to the A Guide to Family Health History
Thanks to Google Images