This past Sunday at church, the message was about legacies. Previously the pastor had talked about what type of legacy you want to leave with your children: like a legacy of service or a legacy of prayer.
But this week we talked about what things we DON'T want to leave with our children. The things in life that we push aside and don't realize are affecting future generations because we didn't "deal with them" in our own generation. These can be things that started with us or things that were "passed down" to us from previous generations.
The whole time I was hearing this message, all I could think about was health. What a HUGE opportunity we have with the future generation to deal with our "sick care" model and transform how we approach health! We have the power to teach our young people how to preventatively care for their health, to fuel their bodies in a way that they won't need to be on multiple medications and in a constant state of stress in order to live. To thrive, not just survive.
I cannot tell you the number of times I've been in a new patient exam and had someone tell me they have a condition that is hereditary. Yes, genetics dictates our bodies, but your genes are directly affected by what you consume, how active you are, and tons of other lifestyle factors. Things like neck and back pain are also something I hear a lot of people attribute to genetics.
The reality of the matter is that the habits you learned from those who raised you are often the cause of the issue. My favorite examples are cooking and tv:
1. If your mom and grandma were both overweight and you're overweight as well, it might be less genetics and more that you all bake and eat a lot of sweets.
2. If you have always had low back pain and your dad, his dad, and his dad's dad all have low back pain, it is probably not that you have a genetic predisposition to back pain but that you all watch tv on the couch sitting with the same posture.
Those examples are super general but many times a patient will list "hereditary conditions" that are directly influenced by their lifestyle whether that's because it's a habit that affects their body physically or their gene expression is being impacted by their personal care products.
What if we worked on ourselves now so that our unhealthy lifestyle habits are not something we leave our children to deal with?
This is two-fold: For one, if a healthy lifestyle is a priority now we are less likely to need our children to care for us as much when we are elderly. I definitely don't want to burden my children with health conditions I can change now! Second, we already have good habits in place so our kids grow up living a healthy lifestyle and they're not having to fight with habits ingrained in them from childhood. I grew up in the '90s - those pop-tarts and toaster strudels for breakfast definitely did a number on my blood sugar control. I know my parents weren't intentionally feeding us foods that were going to make me struggle with blood sugar but I did have to re-learn how to approach breakfast as an adult. My kids won't have that issue!
It's time now for us to change every habit we can to make our kids' lives easier, so I've come up with a list of things to get us started:
1. Make movement a part of your day. Take a family walk or have a dance party. Any movement is good movement, make it an enjoyable event.
2. Read labels. Knowing why we avoid certain foods or ingredients helps to make choices less difficult. Try learning together to make it a family affair! Say no to foods with a lot of added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and dyes as a start and research from there.
3. Learn to manage stress and prioritize rest. We live in a busy society but we do not have to be the constantly frazzled, mixed up messes that we see glorified by hustle culture. It is a choice to say no, let yourself rest and teach yourself to come out of the fight or flight state our bodies spend so much time in.
4. Fix your sleep. Make a family wind-down time in the evenings where electronics take a break and you either do something as a family or have individual quiet time. Teaching our brains to "turn off" is more important than ever because of the continuous influx of stimuli our phones provide.
5. Prioritize spinal health. Unfortunately, as much as we may try to avoid micro- and macro-traumas to our spines, we will always battle with subluxation. If we get our kids started young with adjustments and spinal hygiene we stand the chance that they won't suffer from the same conditions we have! Imagine if you'd never had a headache because your cervical spine has the appropriate degree of curve and you don't have forward head posture! It's so much easier to maintain an already near perfect spine than it is correcting decades of misalignment, degeneration, and dysfunction.
How are you changing "inherited" health habits for the betterment of future generations? I'd love to hear from you in the comments here or on my social media pages! Search Dr. Tiffany Jones and look for the Liberation torch. 🔥
Dr. Tiffany is a chiropractor at Liberation Chiropractic & Wellness in Mobile, AL. Her passion is corrective chiropractic care for all ages that goes beyond just aches and pains to restore the spine to the best condition possible so that her patients' bodies may function properly.