There is an age old debate over whether health and longevity are due to genetics or environment. In other words, is it what we inherit or what we do that matters most? That’s one of those impossible questions like, “which blade of a pair of scissors is the most important?” Obviously, it is the interplay between the two that accounts for the results in both cases.
If I were to rate the importance based on my observations and clinical experience, I would generally say that health and longevity are 75% due to genetics and 25% attributable to what we do. That’s the only way I can account for people like George Burns living to be 101 years old while puffing on a cigar, and a person like fitness guru Jim Fixx dying at 51 years of age. To the point, two different people can do the exact same things and they will have a different health history and die at different times, demonstrating the power of genetics. On the other hand, you can have two identical twins, even clones, and if they do different things they will have a different health history and die at different times, showing the power of what we do. Whatever the actual percentages are, the fact is we can’t do much about our genetics, therefore the 25% becomes our 100%, because it’s the only thing we can do anything about. We need to do everything we can to maximize that over which we have control, such as diet, exercise, sleep, and our outlook.
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