Inspired living

5 ways genetics affect our growth and development

Genetic factors play a large part in physical growth and development. Over the past decade or two since the human genome was mapped, researchers have made major advances in the field of genetics, especially the links between nutrition, our genes and wellness/disease. There are a number of ways in which genetics affect our health and wellbeing, including visual experiences, diet, epigenetics, insomnia and national health.  

How our genetics affect our visual experiences

One of the first ways that infants interact with their environment is through their eyes – what they see. Before they can even crawl or reach for things their visual interactions are shaping their world. These visual experiences directly affect cognitive, emotional and social processing and influence learning opportunities – ultimately influencing the way children develop. A majority of the studies on tracking eye movement have investigated the common features that drive attention but in new study lead by Indiana University investigate the differences between individuals and whether they are influenced by genetics.  

Diet to fit your genes

Improving your health can be a journey of soaring highs and frustrating lows. We usually set out on this journey motivated, full of hope, with a specific goal such as weight loss or increasing energy levels. We tend to depend on a one-size-fits all strategy, such as the latest diet, exercise routine or supplement, to get into shape. Yet for the most part we ignore the cellular basis of our health that makes us unique: our genetic blueprint and how this interacts with diet and lifestyle.


The genetic make-up of happy nations

"Happiness" is such a buzz word these days that it is being studied in all manners and forms. There are regular global happiness surveys and in a new study data from some of these surveys has been analysed and an interesting link has been found between genetic make-up and national happiness levels.  

Your guide to understanding epigenetics

Since cracking the human genome, academics and researchers are reconsidering the nature-versus-nurture debate. The question is whether individual traits are determined by our DNA (nature) or by the conditions of development (nurture). Increasingly, the debate is turning towards nurture — more specifically, the environment of DNA in both our ancestors’ cells and in the contemporary cellular environment where it is replicated. It is increasingly evident that the base pairs making up DNA are not the only way genetic information is passed on. The environmental influences on DNA, including toxin exposure and restricted or excessive caloric intake, help to shape the individual profoundly. The new discipline providing evidence for this shift is known as epigenetics.  

Is insomnia in your genes?

A few sleepless nights can play havoc on our mind and body - from lethargy and fatigue to frustration and anxiety.. It can affect our concentration levels and productivity and leaves us feeling grumpy and upset. While short-term insomnia stems from changes in our normal routine such as Travel or stress, and resolves itself, long-term chronic insomnia lasts for a long time and can play havoc on our physical and mental health. Often dismissed as a condition which resides purely in our minds, insomnia is one of the most common health complaints that doctors come across. Even after treatment, poor sleep remains persistent in many people.