epigenetics, human genome, human potential, functional medicine

Fewer Genes Than a Grain of Rice–Our Genetic Story

Yep. As humans, we have fewer genes in our books of life than a grain of rice. Or a worm. Or many of God’s smallest creatures.

Does that mean we’re just puny and insignificant? Do we have far fewer options than we believed? Less wiggle room as our destinies unfold? Did the genome project leave us high and dry?

Not at all. In fact, the truth about our genetic legacy is just the opposite.

Let’s talk epigenetics for a sec.

Epigenetics means that it’s the gene—environment connection that determines our destiny, not the genes themselves.

Our genes—what few there are—express themselves differently depending on what they are exposed to. Think food, water, air, sleep, movement, stress, environmental toxins, love and connection, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, meaning and purpose—whew! That’s right—every aspect of the human experience changes gene expression.

What makes our design genius (compared to, say, a grain of rice) is that the unlimited interactions between our genes and the environments in which we live, make our potential absolutely infinite.

That’s right—infinite potential. Ours.

The take home for me is this: We have control. We get to define and direct our potential. Our genetic legacy is in our hands.

Small and insignificant? Think again!

Our genetic story—our book of life—is ours to leverage as we choose. We may not be able to control everything, but the promise of epigenetics is that solid lifestyle choices and healthy living unlocks our potential. Genetic expression is in what we do:

  • The food we eat and water we drink.
  • The light we let in and the air we breathe.
  • How we sleep and relax.
  • The way we move and hold ourselves.
  • What we do about stress.
  • How we avoid and manage environmental toxins.
  • The company we keep.
  • The love we express and receive.
  • How we think.
  • What we do with our emotions.
  • How we let curiosity, meaning, and purpose enliven us.

Wow—what power! What potential!

What’cha doing with your genes (all that potential you hold in your hands)?

Have a Beautiful day!


p.s. Did you ever believe you were destined to be just like your ancestors? Horror stories and all? Thank God for the science of epigenics! Your family legacy is not your destiny!

The genetic story is just one of the many stories that can get in our way as we navigate the big journey of our health and wellness.

I invite you to explore other common stories that can limit your healing potential by checking out my e-book, Big Energy: How We Bravely Reclaim Our Health, Our Potential, Our Lives–It’s All In Our Stories.

Sign up in the side bar to your right or on the home page to download your free copy.

I’d love to hear your stories!

From my Archives:

Karyn Shanks, MD. My Beautiful Self-Care Plan. 2017.

Karyn Shanks, MD. The Liftoff Foundational Intensive Nutrition Food Plan.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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