Family health history, genetic predisposition, and mental health concerns are important in understanding our own mental and physical health. Although most of our health is under our control, with healthy living, diet, and exercise, there are some things out of our control. Knowing about the health issues that come before us gives us a roadmap to follow as we move through the aging process. Hopefully, it helps us maintain our health through the years, and to be ready for anything that we can anticipate in the future.
What to Look for in Your Family Health History
Hair color, eye color, and freckles are not the only things that are passed down through a family lineage. You can track many different risks for diseases as well.
Family history will give you insight into:
- Occurrences of disease that does not usually affect one gender or another
- Occurrences of disease at an early age, or earlier than usually expected
- Occurrences of disease in more than one relative
- Patterns of disease or health concerns
You can learn about your family history by asking questions about major medical concerns, causes of death, age of disease and age of death, and ethnic background of your family members. Pay attention to the history of your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, and any children in the immediate family. You can also utilizer services that trace true lineage using DNA samples if you are not able to access concrete information from relatives.
Outside Factors that Affect Health
Other familial factors can also potentially impact your health including lifestyle, childhood exposure to smoke, drug use, etc., and food choices. Much of our lifestyle is determined by cultural norms and family tradition, and that is often difficult yet critical to overcome. If you are raised on heavy creams, excessive sugar, high fat, and little vegetables, you may want to consider changing the pattern as you grow into adulthood. Making changes to your family’s diet and exercise choices by discontinuing unhealthy practices in your own family may seem like a big undertaking, and it will take work to recondition your body to incorporate health living, but it is worth it.