For any of you who have, or have had little kids, you will know that the question “why” can become very tiresome. I remember one of my kids was in the habit of asking ‘why’, even before I finished responding to the previous question.
- Why is the sun yellow?
- Why is the sky blue?
- Why do birds sing?
- Why are there rainbows?
- Why does it rain?
- Why…? Why…? Why…?
I checked out the research. Apparently, children ask the question ‘why’ up to 73 times per day. Nice to know my kids are ‘above average’. 🙂
It's not only kids who ask WHY
Not so long ago my youngest son turned 15. It feels like an anniversary for me too. 15 years ago, around the time he was born, my own personal journey into nutrition and genetics began. It started with asking WHY. One of my older children was experiencing quite significant health challenges at the time. I wasn’t happy with simply receiving an explanation of WHAT – i.e. the medical diagnosis. I wanted to know WHY. The medications recommended for his condition weren’t effective in treating his symptoms. In fact, there were numerous unpleasant side effects. I figured if I understood the WHY for his health challenges, then there may be something concrete that I could do to help him and make a difference in his symptoms.
The deep dive
I spent many months diving into understanding the biochemistry of neurotransmitters. As a matter of fact, I read many books and spent hours on the internet trying to figure it out. This gave me lots of ‘leads’, but it would take me several more years to unravel what was actually going on. All the while I was experiencing my own health issues. The challenges we were both experiencing lead me to questions that didn’t have readily available answers back in 2003. These answers are, fortunately, more accessible these days.
The clues in my family tree
One of the answers to my WHY question laid in my family tree. There were many examples in my paternal family line of people experiencing health challenges. I noticed these especially in the areas of mental health and addiction. This led me to the work of some ground-breaking Doctors who were studying genetics, and its impact on mental health. My kid’s challenges were not specifically in the area of mental health but were neurological. Though not the same, I figured they were both connected to the brain, giving me motivation to keep researching. What I discovered is that our genetics play a role in determining where our health ‘Achilles heel’ lies. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all know where our health ‘Achillies heel’ is!
The power that comes from WHY
The great thing about understanding the WHY is that it provides us with knowledge. It can highlight areas in our lives where we can make changes. For me and my family, we needed to work on factors that contributed to epigenetic expression. We wanted our good genes to be working well, while also minimising the impact some of our more ‘dodgy’ genes play in our health.
The study of epigenetics and nutrigenomics (the study of nutrients, and their effect on genetic expression) are still in their early days, but research already carried out helps us understand the impact diet and lifestyle have on our genes at an epigenetic level.
Here are a few other blogs posts on genetics that you might be interested in: