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January 20, 2020 — 20:27 PM
Any one gene is just a single factor in your genetic profile—let alone in your entire personality. But your genes do shape your personality, and when your genes off or, as I like to say, “dirty” (due to environmental, diet, or lifestyle factors), they can affect your mood in different ways. To give you some idea of how your genetic profile might help shape your temperament, here are some quick personality sketches that I’ve observed in conjunction with the seven key genes when they’re dirty:
Some days you’re blue and depressed, while other days you’re anxious. On good days, your focus is great and you get stuff done. On bad days, you have performance anxiety, a hair-trigger temper, and/or headaches—or maybe you just feel grumpy. After eating a salad you tend to feel great, but you’ve never paid attention to that because, after all, it’s just a salad.
Man, you’re on fire! ADHD?—not in this house. You’re cranking away on several projects and already eager for the next one or five. As you lie down to sleep, you’re still cranking away. After tossing and turning, you finally doze off, dreaming of tomorrow’s tasks. Tomorrow arrives. Coffee is needed. Once again, you’re off and running. You put pressure on yourself, and if you’re not accomplishing what you need to, anxiety sets in, so you focus harder to get everything done. And you do get it done.
Your colleague makes fun of you for working overtime on a particular project, and you snap at her. As usual, you’re quick to be irritated. In addition, sometimes you have an extreme sensitivity to pain and can be plagued with headaches.
Look at that blinking light! Did you see that dog over there? Man, I wish I could read a book, but I just can’t focus. You’re always jumping from one task to another, and it’s hard to get much done. Friends have suggested that you might have ADHD. You also love shopping and buying new things!
The problem is, you feel great buying them, but the next day the “shopping high” wears off, and you find that you need to buy something else or you start feeling blue. It’s getting expensive and time consuming. Oh—and hugs! They’re awesome! The more hugs you get, the better you feel.
You are so tired of not knowing what you can and can’t eat. One meal you’re good, and the next you feel awful: throbbing head, irritable mood, sweaty body, racing heart, itchy skin, bleeding nose. Perhaps you’ve even spent a ton of money on food allergy testing—and found nothing! So frustrating. You keep limiting your foods one by one in hopes of identifying the culprit, but it’s a never-ending battle.
Ever since you figured out that chemicals and smells make you feel sick, you’ve been on a mission to get rid of such stuff from your home. That neighbor of yours is using scented dryer sheets—again! Those give you a headache within seconds. Your friends wonder why you’re such a clean freak. But you know that you’re tuned in and sensitive to these things because you have to be.
Carbs. CARBS! Pleeease, get me some of those! Your grocery cart looks like you work for the grain and chocolate industry! You feel so great eating carb-laden foods. You know you shouldn’t, but when you don’t, you feel blue. The problem is, eating carbs picks you up only for a moment or two; then you crash.
So what do you do then? You eat more carbs. You try diet after diet, but they just make you feel depressed. You’re sick of gaining weight, but you feel stuck in that pattern. You don’t want to be on antidepressants, but you feel like you can’t keep going this way.
You’re easily startled and quick to become anxious or irritated. You can become aggressive and later feel bad for overreacting. You just can’t seem to help it. You always have to watch out for headaches, especially when you eat cheese or chocolate and drink wine. Falling asleep at night is always tough, but once you do, at least you sleep soundly through the night.
You’re freaking out. Your dad, uncle, grandma, and grandpa all had significant heart problems when they were around fifty years old, and now you’re getting there. Your doctors check your heart and say it looks okay—but are they checking everything they need to, or are they missing something?
Your hands and feet are constantly cold, but your doctors say that’s nothing to worry about. You need answers, because this family history is weighing on you.
Ever since you switched to a vegan or vegetarian diet, you’ve felt just a bit off. Your mind isn’t as sharp, you’re forgetting things, and you’ve got aches and pains all over your body. As an omnivore, you felt good overall, though you did have some aches and pains.
Your liver felt heavy then, and it still does—just under your right-side ribcage. Fatty foods just don’t sit right with you either. Now your doctor has said that you have gallstones and need to have your gallbladder taken out. No! There must be a way to save it.
While these specific scenarios differ from person to person, think of them as personality sketches for those genes. If you align with any of these moods, it may be worth it to check if any lifestyle or environmental factors could be making your genes “dirty.”
Excerpted from DIRTY GENES by Dr. Ben Lynch, reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright 2018.
The views expressed in this article represent one expert’s take on this topic and may not be representative of mindbodygreen’s perspective. The information here is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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