If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times. “It’s genetic” has become the number one excuse, bar none, for everything we have wrong with us. Cholesterol, heart disease, depression, obesity, you name it. Of course we have genes – we are physical. We have bodies. There is a physical mechanism for everything, without exception. We may not have found them all, but we will someday. With that in mind, how do you think of yourself? Are you a sack of chemicals which just happens to produce feelings and thoughts? Just because we can see how something functions, does not mean we understand why. The genetic / biochemical model is just a model, one of many countless models man has invented to try and explain himself. It is no more or less valid than any other model, but it is just a model. Like any model, it reflects only the beliefs and perceptions of the time and culture we live in.
But let’s pretend for a moment that genetics is absolutely true. That there is a cholesterol gene which lays the groundwork for our cholesterol levels. The reality of genetics is that there is still the concept of gene activation. This means that what we do affects the expression of our genes. Yes, we have genetic limits. I will never run 20 miles in an hour or jump 10 feet off the ground. But I can train to run faster and jump higher. No one meets their genetic limits, ever. This means we never meet our full potential. I have not once had someone tell me that their cholesterol was high, when I did not feel that diet and exercise and stress reduction would help. I am routinely told, in the case of high cholesterol, that dietary changes were made and did not work. In my experience, these changes are typically minimal, uninformed, and short term. How else would it generally be, when every message to the individual is “you tried, now take the drug”?
Yes, some things are constitutional. We use this term in Chinese medicine to denote that which is from our nature, versus that which comes from life. Genetics is really the science of the mechanism of expression, and does not itself address this very important issue. But we mistake the media version of science for the more thoughtful academic form, and thus the issue becomes confused. The fact is, we have some ability to alter most things related to our health. There is no personal empowerment, and no personal responsibility, in the loose usage of genetics. Without these, we lose our humanity. The gift of illness is that it helps to teach us this. When we no longer participate in our own healing, we lose something much greater than elevated cholesterol readings.