October 29, 2009
Posted: 07:04 PM ET
LKL Web Exclusive
By Dr. Deepak Chopra
The best thing that could come out of the debate on health care reform won't be the passage of a bill in Congress. It will be a shift in personal attitudes. Health care happens one person at a time. So let me speak personally to you. If you want the best possible health for yourself, the most important thing you can do today is talk to your genes.
I doubt that any doctor has ever made that recommendation. All of us, including medical students, were led to believe that genes are fixed. The ones we are born with don't change; new ones cannot be added. Those facts remain the same, but there's a huge story being overlooked. Genes have no effect unless they are switched on, and when you switch on beneficial genes, every cell in your body benefits.
Recent research by Dr. Dean Ornish and his colleagues has shown that adopting positive measures including exercise, meditation, and diet creates beneficial changes in five hundred genes.
This single finding could revolutionize your health, because what it means is that every bite of food you eat, every step on the treadmill, every moment of deep relaxation is talking to your genes. And your genes talk back by sending chemical signals to every cell indicating how your life is going.
Genes are alert, and when you change anything in your life, they respond.
Nothing is left out. Your cells are getting chemical signals right now that tell them if you are in a good or bad mood. They know if you ate trans fats at lunch, if you are in love, or if you inhale polluted air.
Now is the time to take advantage of this breakthrough by talking to your genes in a new way. Forty years ago it was an uphill battle to convince Americans that smoking was dangerous, but eventually attitudes shifted and a major health risk was dramatically diminished. At present the big risks are just as controllable. They include obesity, sedentary living, and stress.
Start to talk to your genes about these issues. This isn't just another call to get you to exercise, meditate, and diet. Those are all good things, and yet most people ignore them. Why? Because despite their best intentions, people are conditioned by old habits. Your body can't break those habits on its own, but it can become your ally.
To win your body over, take a walk when it's beautiful outside, devote five minutes to meditation or stress management, nourish yourself with healthy food, and above all, be aware that the power to change rests with you. Small beginnings can lead to major results once you know that each step is like a conversation with your body. Your genes are listening. Tell them something good as often as you can.
Deepak Chopra is the author of over 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current bestseller, "Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul," available now at http://www.deepakchopra.com.
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