Christian Long

Dean Ornish: Your Genes Are Not Your Fate

In TED Talks on April 11, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Reflection by BETH A.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Dean Ornish:  Your Genes Are Not Your Fate

The field of medicine as altered the way we live our lives dramatically in the last 10 years. With so much research being done, especially in the field of genetics and Neurogenesis, there was bound to be a breakthrough-and this is just the beginning of it.

Ornish begins his talk about factors that affect brain size. The bigger our brains, the more susceptible they our to learning and retaining information. When you do certain activities or eat certain things, neurons travel to your brain and the more neurons means that your brain might actually increase in size.

Ornish showed a list of things that increase and decrease brain cells:

The things that caught my attention were moderate alcohol consumption and Cannabinoids, which are found in marijuana.

This is surprising considering in my biology classes I have always been told that alcohol kills brain cells, but now they increase them?

I look around on the Internet, and I found that moderate consumption of certain types of alcohol can actually be beneficial. For instance, it is said that a couple of glasses of red wine a day is actually good for your heart. Now, new research is coming out for seniors, that if they drink, it can actually reduce their chances of having physical problems, such as walking. Now, light to moderate drinking is classified at consuming less than 15 glasses a week, and less than 5 drinks per day.

Promoting drinking isn’t exactly what a 10th grader should be doing, which I, nor Ornish, is trying to do.

“I’m simply the messenger”, said Ornish when referring to the very tender subject of Cannabinoids. There is a medical marijuana out there that has been treated for inflammatory bowel disease (including both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), migraines, Fibromyalgia, and related conditions. It has also been shown to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries by exhibiting antispasmodic (suppress spasms) and muscle-relaxant properties as well as stimulating appetite.

Yet again, I’m not saying that we should legalize marijuana here in the United States, but some states have legalize the medical marijuana, but the recreational use of marijuana is still illegal. For those that decrease brain cells, well there’s no shocker there. There are just the usual offenders that we are told to avoid by our doctors.

When Ornish stated how changing your lifestyle can allow you to age slower, I was a taken aback a bit.

Then he goes on to say how doing this can also reverse heart disease. Now that really surprised me. Yet, now that I think about it, it doesn’t surprise me as much.

Recently, I wrote a post-Bill Davenhall: Your Health Depends on Where You Live.

In a way, what Ornish and Davenhall are saying kind of go hand-in-hand. Changing your lifestyle can reverse the effects of heart disease and aging, as does choosing your location. Also, because of these lifestyle changes, your genes can be affected. In a recent study, it was found that due to better lifestyle changes, you can actually promote the “good” genes, or the disease-preventing genes and turn of the disease-promoting genes. Due to these new findings, I’m excited to see that the future can hold, and maybe eventually we will be able to turn off all of our unwanted or disease-promoting genes.


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