In America and across the world, we are suffering from an epidemic of chronic illness. From diabetes to autoimmune disorders, to hypertension, to cancer – the rates are staggering.

 

A large part of the population seems to have accepted this, due to the fact that certain illnesses seem to “run in their family”. But what if I told you that most people who suffer from “genetic” diseases – thus concluding that their illnesses was unavoidable, are actually wrong?

Integrative and Holistic cultures know well that illness is often the culmination of numerous diet and lifestyle choices, as opposed to genetics – and the Sunnah confirms this as well.

 

Your mental and emotional health, stress level, career satisfaction, relationship quality, diet, level of creativity, exercise level and self – care all carry infinitely more weight than genetics, when it comes to whether you’ll be stricken with a serious illness.  This is not something that is openly talked about in traditional medical circles, but increased awareness can literally save millions of lives and billions in health care costs.

 

And although it’s not openly advertised (this would cut into health-care profits), research into the field of Epigenetics in recent years has proven that in truth, only 5% of illness is caused by our genes. This means that in actuality, only a small number of illnesses are truly unavoidable. A novel fact, right?

 

So why are so many of us sick?
Now don’t misunderstand – we do each have genetic markers and “predispositions” for certain conditions and ailments. However, merely having a genetic predisposition, or being more inclined toward a certain illness is not enough to make it manifest in your life. In order for a genetic predisposition to be activated, it requires a trigger. And researchers are finding increasingly that the most common trigger is stress, exhaustion, and emotional disruption – with diet bringing up the rear for many conditions.

 

An Epidemic of Stress

 

Although we enjoy many modern advances, we live in arguably one of the most stressful periods in recent human history. And not necessarily due to world events or large scale oppression, but more so the steady, unyielding, drip of stress and overwhelm that has come about as a result of our hyper-connected, online, and on the go realities. Additionally, many of us are juggling demanding careers, dealing with marital discord and family rifts, and taking on a tremendous amount of responsibility – with little to no self-care build into our schedules.

 

Is there any wonder why we’re suffering from the highest rate of chronic illness ever?

 

When you look at what stress does to the body on a purely physical level, it’s clear that living with constant overwhelm, deadlines and stress is slowly poisoning us.

 

Recent research has shown that not only do the hormones released by stress cause inflammation in the body, reduce the effectiveness of your immune system, and cause the erosion of systems and organs – but it literally hinders the process that is responsible for regulating internal inflammation (the root cause of most disease). In a nutshell, acute and prolonged stress turns off your body’s self-healing mechanism.

 

High levels of stress not only break down your body’s defenses, but also encourages illness. Add to that the fact that when we’re stressed out or on the move, we rarely eat well, get enough sleep or are careful to maintain our emotional health. This further stimulates and promotes the development of disease and illness.

 

Taking Control of the 95%

 

If disease manifestation is 5% genetics and 95% environmental (stress, relationships, diet), then that is a very empowering equation. It means that we don’t have to buy into the “It runs in my family” story, and instead can work to make conscious, intelligent decisions that can positively impact our health and well-being.

 

In one of the central lessons in The Self{ish} project, sisters are presented with this information as asked to answer a specific question – “What do you need in order to heal”?

 

We often know (or can identify with a little digging) the sources of stress, discontent and overwhelm in our life. However, we’ve often grown accustomed to the discomfort – “comfortable being uncomfortable”. But what if you decided to empower yourself to completely upgrade your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health? What would need to be in place in order for that to happen?

–> For some it may be scheduling a specific day or time in which to focus on self care.

–> For others, it may be reigniting the passion in your marriage.

–> For many it will be pursuing long-abandoned dreams, committing to reach their full potential.

–> And for many, it will include setting boundaries, eliminating toxic people, and committing to protect their emotional space from stress and discord.

 

What this looks like – the quest to own that 95%, will be different for each person. However, it all starts with asking yourself the question – “What do I need in order to heal”.

The answers may surprise – and liberate you.

 

 

In health and Iman,

~Khadija

P.S. In your life – what is the 95% made up of? It is things that are energizing or healing, or situations and people who are contributing to illness, stress and emotional baggage?

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