The genetic lineup you inherited from your parents is not the same as the one they received from their parents, since gene expression changes according to what the body is currently doing. Thus, the decisions we make today literally cause our DNA to adapt. We previously discussed those who, after fighting obesity, appear younger and healthier in subsequent years than they did previously, despite the fact that they have become older. At the level of genetic expression, this is also true. The lifestyle choices we make affect us all the way down to the cellular and genetic levels (this will be covered at more length in an upcoming entry).
Many are surprised to learn that our genes began in our grandparents. The decisions they made, the foods they ate, their level of activity, and even their chemical exposures or consumptions shaped the DNA they handed down to their children—our parents. Then, the lives of our own parents contributed further to shaping these factors through the same elements: food, lifestyle, activity, etc. Some elements aren’t as easily controlled, such as exposure to pollutants or sunlight and fresh air, which can derive from one’s regional situation or employment setting. However, the DNA our ancestors nurtured and passed to us is the genetic heritage we receive. In turn, we handle this precious commodity for a while in our own bodies before passing it on to our children. As we live and make decisions, our genetic genome continues to change and update according to the way we live and everything we expose our bodies to. Then, we hand this down to our own children.
This is both very good and very, very bad. Many people eat the way that they want with the assumption that they are the only one they might be hurting. This is wrong if there are children in their future. When people allow their bodies to be exposed to excessive chemicals or poor nutrition, or if they indulge in using illegal drugs, excessive alcohol, or tobacco, they are placing telltale marks on the genome that will become part of their children’s inheritance. The good news, however, is this: Over the course of our lifetime, we are each rewriting our own DNA. We have the power to strengthen our children’s ability to live long and healthy lives.
When we make good decisions, our resilience improves. This is why someone who is inactive or obese can make a decision for better health and experience an empowering physical overhaul just by changing diet and activity. It is, of course, hard at first, but by starting healthier habits, he or she is rewarded with a literal, physical change. If you decide you want a more muscular physique, you can begin to work specific muscles, and the body will undergo a metaphysical realignment. Your BMI (body-mass index) will improve, fat percentage will decline, and lean tissue will bulk up. In a different way, you can decide to make healthier dietary choices, and eventually, your taste buds will begin to crave healthier foods. (We’ve all probably known someone who notes such a difference following an intentional change in lifestyle). As a result, “hereditary” inclinations such as being predisposed to obesity or diabetes will begin to realign genetically, allowing you and even your future children better health. We can’t emphasize enough that it is your responsibility to make wise decisions with your body, because you are literally constructing the genes that will be building blocks for the next two generations.
[Often,] people don’t know…that our DNA can adapt to the dietary changes we implement in our own bodies. These changes can then be inherited by our children. Dr. Mercola made this alarming statement about the possibility that what we’re eating will cause our children to suffer:
It’s now well known that dietary changes can prompt epigenetic DNA changes that can be passed on to future generations. For instance, pregnant rats fed a fatty diet had daughters and granddaughters with a greater risk of breast cancer. It could be that we are just now starting to see these types of generational effects showing up in humans, caused by our grandparents’ and parents’ penchant for processed foods. If that’s the case, then we have even more incentive to make drastic changes, and soon, because the disease trends we are now seeing are only going to get worse as much of the processed foods consumed today are not even food based! So who knows what kind of genetic mutations and malfunctions we are creating for our future generations when a MAJORITY of our diet consists of highly processed and artificial foods. As it stands, 90 percent of foods Americans purchase every year are processed foods![i]
Knowing that what we eat can change the physical traits we hand down to our children literally means that the health that’s been granted to us is our responsibility to pay forward to our children. They deserve it, and they’re counting on us for it.… It is important that we take care of our own bodies for the sake of our children and our grandchildren, yet unborn, just the same way that we would adjust the way we are feeding the ones who have already been born.[ii]
In the same way many parents and grandparents strive to leave a monetary inheritance to their children, it’s important not to overlook hereditary health; in fact, it is likely the more important of the two!
The Word “Terminal”
This entry wouldn’t be balanced if we were to ignore the likelihood that some of you (or a loved one) are diagnosed with something that a physician called “terminal.” We’d be shortsighted if we didn’t acknowledge the fear, vulnerability, and intimidation you face when you hear that word. Unfortunately, life is filled with questions that are difficult to answer, and the questions that pop up during times when we receive a grim diagnosis are some of them. In such situations, we pray God will grant complete and miraculous healing, while offering this book in the hopes that the information will bring the utmost quality to each forthcoming moment of life.
Often, people don’t understand why when, after claiming healing in the name of Jesus, they aren’t physically relieved of their pain. Maybe they even pass away. At these moments, life seems cruel and unjust, administering pain on the undeserving or innocent (especially when the patient is a child). Some even wonder if they didn’t pray hard enough or show enough faith, punishing themselves for what they perceive to be a lack of miraculous intervention on God’s part. Adding insult to injury are those who take the following scriptural passage out of context: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Many times, when a loved one dies from a terminal illness, those left behind suffer the grief of feeling that healing was promised, but not delivered. Often, anger at God is an outlet for this intense pain.
We realize that this is a delicate subject, as being (or having a loved one) diagnosed with such a disease brings emotional devastation. When people look to passages such as the one from 1 Peter mentioned previously, the physical healing that does not occur leaves many wondering if God has abandoned them in their hour of need. Some comfort may be taken from the verse that immediately follows that one: “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). The second verse gives insight to the previous. The healing referenced is that of being delivered from sin. As sad as death is to accept in this earthly realm, it is comforting to understand that ultimate healing has been purchased by Jesus, and it is bigger than the curing of our bodies within this realm. Because of His sacrifice, we have been given restoration in the next life: that of joining Jesus in Heaven. We have a sure and certain hope in this healing, and we can look forward to a body that does not become ill:
For we that are in this tabernacle [of earthly flesh] do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed [relieved of our earthly bodies], but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life… Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord…We are confident…and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:4, 6, 8)
Essentially, we’re explaining that while we seek a cure in this life, those who face terminal illness often believe they must swallow the bitter pill of exclusion from this Scripture, as though, for some reason, they missed out on these promises. It helps to understand that these verses explain that God has purchased us a wonderful future, but for some, the next life comes sooner than it does for others. The most beautiful part of our healing is that true wholeness begins when we enter the presence of God at the end of our earthly lives. We are assured that God, Himself, personally rights all wrongs and promises us we will never know pain or sorrow again:
God shall wipe away all the tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
Even as we write these pages, we’re praying for you, the reader, that this book will offer hope and comfort throughout your search for healing.
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As We Move Forward
The upcoming entries have been written to illuminate some essentials that exist in natural creation to help our bodies align with good health. Some of these concepts may seem overly simple at first, but they are effective—and, better still, they’re available to nearly everyone, free of charge. What is surprising about each is that scientific information links these elements to good health, and their deficiencies to illness. These are liberating concepts that empower us to chase well-being within our own resources, since they’re accessible to everyone and are placed here as a gift from our Father in Heaven. When we really study each of these resources and see the ways that—even from a scientific standpoint—they can bestow good health on the human body, it’s exciting to see that we’re not captive to a certain income bracket, region, or demographic to pursue good health. God has placed it here, within His own creation, for the taking.
Lifestyle and Fundamental Essentials
We have stressed the vital need to decide not to adopt the label of an illness as an identity. We’ve emphasized how important it is to feel empowered to shed the stigma associated with diagnoses. However, equally necessary is understanding that we don’t intend to present any one supplement or regimen as a miracle cure-all. Instead, there are basic principles we can follow that will unlock the doors to greater overall wellness. Just as our bodies are made of substances from the earth, they likewise need elements from the earth to survive. When we understand that there are essentials we need to properly handle in order to obtain good health, we will find that we have much influence over maintaining vibrancy—merely by modifying our lifestyle.
These are necessary components for our ability to thrive. They may appear optional to those of us who live a busy lifestyle, but it must be emphasized that they are not for those who hope to enjoy optimal well-being.
It’s highly unusual to hear anyone complain that he or she has too much time, money, or energy. In fact, quite the opposite: A vast majority of those in our society say they feel they’re continually running low on these resources. Many even live out a vicious cycle that is deficient in all three areas. We need more money, so we work more. This results in a shortage of time and energy, which compromises both our physical and emotional well-being. Additionally, when we’re busy and exhausted, we may then begin to pay for time-saving conveniences (such as fast food), which further compromise our overall health and don’t replenish a frazzled body and mind with necessary nutrients.
I (Joe) had a friend who attended Financial Peace University courses offered by a local church, which featured American author, businessman, public speaker, and financial advisor Dave Ramsey. My friend was hoping to get good pointers on how to manage her finances, but throughout the course, found some principles that applied to life as well. She learned that we should always allocate a certain percentage of our money as a tithe or offering, and put another percentage into savings.[iii] Furthermore, the course emphasized that if we’re unable to do that, then we are living outside our means, since it’s a sure thing that life will throw us an emergency that we won’t be able to afford if our day-to-day living takes all our income to the very last penny.
This seemed reasonable, but was even more interesting when my friend told me that in studying her own finances, she had learned something new about herself: She managed her time and energy the way she handled her money. In other words, she had bills that claimed every dime of her income, leaving no room for the unexpected. In the same way, she found she had scheduled each and every moment of her day, leaving no room for the unexpected. Every day, from the minute she woke up until late at night, her time and energy were completely booked up with appointments, work, kids’ soccer games, church obligations, and other commitments. There were no pockets of “free time,” for simply sitting and winding down…resting, recharging. Even when she explored whether she had what many would call “me time,” she found that activities she had thought she engaged in for personal enjoyment were really obligations.
After this reality check helped her honestly assess her practices, my friend began to eliminate things that drained her finances, her time, and her energy. As she created a “buffer zone” around her budget and her schedule, her general anxiety levels deescalated because three of her most valuable resources—her time, money, and energy—weren’t always tapped to their very limits. This is a good example of a mistake that many of us make: We don’t leave ourselves any reserves where issues of finances, time, and energy are concerned.
In my work, one of the first things I try to teach people about altering their lifestyle is a principle I call “creating space.” This applies to our time, money, energy, and anything else we feel we’re running low on. When we run at break-neck speed from the moment we wake up to the instant we crash at night, we damage our health in many ways, and we leave ourselves no grace period for when we sense the need some down time to repair.
First of all, our bodies are not the same machine twenty-four hours a day. Throughout the cycle of a day, we’re wired with surging and ebbing strengths and weaknesses, meaning we’re unable to perform the same tasks with the same vitality at any point in time, on demand. We all have an internal clock called the circadian rhythm (more on this in an upcoming chapter), which dispatches certain chemicals and hormones at different times of the day. In other words, as we go about our routine activities, our bodies experience peak times for alertness and energy. Whenever we can, we should schedule business or other activities during those optimum times. Along the same note, there are lulls during this cycle when our bodies are attempting to tell us to rest. Again, if possible, it’s probably a good idea not to schedule high-level activities during those “down times.” It’s necessary that we pay attention to these dips, because this time of inactivity allows our bodies to heal, rest, and even create and circulate chemicals and hormones that help facilitate metabolism, detox our systems, and get the vital sleep we need, among other things. For those who are constantly on the go, signals of drowsiness are the body’s requests for respite. Unfortunately, we often ignore these cues or counter-attack with sugary snacks, caffeinated coffee, or worse—toxic energy drinks. Such tactics deprive us of our capability of sustaining sustain good health long-term, and they sabotage our ability to listen to what our body is saying.
Let me guess: You just laughed a little. Easier said than done, we know!
Creating space in our schedule usually fosters (to borrow Dave Ramsey’s terminology again) a “snowball” effect that allows us to begin to relieve overcommitment in other areas as well.[iv] Think about this: If you were to cut just one commitment each week and set aside that time for rest and silence, what would happen? First of all, the rest your body is deprived of would be somewhat recompensed. Then, the free time might find you deciding to take a walk and enjoy the outdoors, which would yield several benefits: Your body would receive vital nutrients from the sun and the outside oxygen (more on this later); it would have the opportunity to engage in invigorating and refreshing activity (again, more on this later); and you wouldn’t be spending the money you might otherwise have spent had you been in the “rat race” where you’ve likely made it a habit to spend money. And the chain of positive events doesn’t stop there. You might think about using that extra time to prepare a healthy meal at home for dinner that night rather to picking up something expensive, fast, and unhealthy. The home-cooked meal will give your body better nutrition and avoid ingredients that sabotage your health. Perhaps you might feel the energy to dig out an old board game (remember those?) and enjoy some electronic-device-free time with your family. You might seize the quiet time to pray or meditate, which have their own physical and mental health benefits (more on that in a bit), and, while you’re in supplication or thought, you might finally receive mental clarity on an issue that’s been bothering you with your family or at work.
See how this mall alteration in your life can yield regularly scheduled, extremely beneficial fruit?
And, by applying this principle to other areas in your life, such as finances, you can improve your well-being and increase your ability to be able to set some funds aside to help with emergencies or even preventative, natural healthcare. By applying this to your energy, you’re making a statement about the priority of your health. This is a hard one, because often people who mean well feel they need to carry certain torches (“If I don’t do it, who will?”). Think of all the church volunteers who do as much as they do because there is a lack of other workers. This is a chronic problem, and we understand. But, in many cases, nobody will step up until an exhausted worker still carrying that torch finally lays it down. We simply must give ourselves permission to prioritize our own health. If we don’t, we risk developing chronic illness, which will likely remove us from a variety of tasks anyway.
We don’t just encourage you to free up space in your schedule; we believe it’s vital to create space in our minds, which makes more room for God. How can we hear His voice when we’re our thoughts are constantly running? God instructs us to wait upon Him (Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 40:31) and to listen for a still small voice, even in the wildest storms (1 Kings 19:11–13). How can this take place when we can’t even stop long enough to hold one full, uninterrupted conversation with a friend? Or when we have a six-month-old stack of unread mail beside our front door. How can we hear what God is saying to us now?
We are far too busy, and it’s wrecking our spiritual, psychological, familial, and physical health. We must learn to create space.
Creating space in our lives leaves time for joy and faith to take seed and sprout within our minds. It allows us to have peaceful intervals wherein we can develop positive thought patterns that begin to anticipate God’s work in our lives. It becomes inspiring when we realize that we have a choice in whether to run ourselves ragged or realize that we have the power to put healthy boundaries around how we spend our time, money, and energy.
You may be thinking: That’s sounds very well, but there is nothing I can cut! You may believe that’s true, but surely, you can find some way to trim back. Keeping this thought on a strictly hypothetical note, if you were to find out you had a chronic (or God forbid, even terminal) illness, what obligations would you remove from your schedule, finances, or other area of your life? Many of us believe we need much more than we do. Likewise, we believe the activities we spend our time on are much more necessary than they sometimes are.
We challenge you to start with one easy step: Look carefully at your lifestyle and determine what small adaptation you can make to achieve greater simplicity. How can you manage your time to create more space for your own well-being? One adjustment will likely have a ripple effect throughout your entire world, creating relief in other areas as well. This, like so many other statements in this book, proposes a healthy change that you can start immediately, and it likely comes free. However, the benefits will be (literally!) immeasurable in the long run, and we fervently petition that you begin to create room in your life as soon as humanly possible.
As you’re evaluating how you spend your time and other resources, we ask that you assess your level of joy—an element of life that has immense influence on your well-being. Joy, in fact, is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) and is like a medicine to the soul (Proverbs 17:22). If joy is lacking, try to find out why. We believe a deficiency in joy can potentially be as dangerous as the insufficiency of many essential nutrients. Because the mind is so powerful in the role of our overall wellness, it stands to reason that peace, contentment, and happiness are indispensable on our journey to good health.
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[i] Mercola, Joseph. “How to Wean Yourself Off Processed Foods in 7 Steps.” Mercola Online, 1 July 2010, https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/01/wean-yourself-off-processed-foods-in-7-steps.aspx. Accessed 18 Dec. 2017.
[ii] Horn & Anderson, Timebomb. Pg. 77–78.
[iii] “Tithes and Offerings: Your Questions, Answered.” Dave Ramsey Online. 2020. Retrieved March 16, 2020. https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/daves-advice-on-tithing-and-giving.
[iv] “How to Get Out of Debt with the Debt Snowball Plan.” Dave Ramsey Online. 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020. https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/get-out-of-debt-with-the-debt-snowball-plan.