Take a Chance, Make a Change, and Breakaway

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Take a Chance, Make a Change, and Breakaway


I am a baby less boomer, and will eventually become an elder orphan, defined as an older person who is single, lives alone, and has no children or family member who is able to act on his or her behalf in handling health, legal and financial Issues. I am the youngest of two siblings, and while I am sure they will assist me in any way they can when and if the time comes, they are both married and may have husbands to tend to. I certainly have and plan on continue to grow friendships, but taking care of someone in their elder years is really testing a friendship. It’s something I think I can count on, but definitely will not make the assumption that I can depend on. I absolutely don’t see this as anything worrisome or to panic about, but I do see it as something for which I need to prepare. How? By taking the best care of myself as possible and breaking away from unhealthy habits.

Which is what brings me to Kelly Clarkson’s song “Breakaway”. While she is crooning about finding a bigger and better world for herself, this post is about creating a healthier life for yourself, breaking away from poor habits, and not allowing the genes you were born with to determine your health outcome. You can only depend on yourself in the long run, and if you can’t take care of you for as long as possible, then you are no good to yourself or others. We can break away from harmful habits that may affect our genes and our futures.

Take smoking as an example. Evidence shows that smoking produces poor health outcomes; molecularly speaking, the carcinogens in cigarette smoke directly impact the molecules in our bodies. The growth of cancer is triggered by mutating our anti-cancer genes, rendering them ineffective. How can we make positive inroads on our genetic makeup? According to an article in The Atlantic (November, 2011), “eating well can ‘turn off’ the genes that put one at higher risk for heart problems”. Also, by exercising, stem cells are persuaded to become bone and blood cells rather than fat cells.

In one study referenced in the article, those who ate more raw fruits and vegetables reduced their risk of heart disease, regardless of the fact that they carried copies of the gene increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Simply (well, maybe not simply, but easy to do) by changing what and how we eat, you can feel better and alter your genes, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease in the long term.

Exercise, according to the article, has been shown to benefit heart and vascular health, as well as possibly delaying Alzheimer’s, and extending lifespan. Researchers are finding that exercise may partially function by affecting the expression of our genes. In one study, mice running on a treadmill for as few as an hour three times a week, had stem cells that became blood-producing cells of the bone marrow instead of fat cells. Gianni Parise, a researcher, states that “Exercise has the ability to impact stem cell biology. It has the ability to influence how they differentiate.”

So…..break away…..from unhealthy habits…..and to a walking path towards a grocer who offers great raw fruits and vegetables. Do what you can now to ensure a chronic-disease free (or at least one with less complications) older age. Even if you are married with a millions kids, family and friends, you’ll do them a greater service, too, by being healthy. Download “Breakaway” onto your phone, and do it!