By Janice Goveas
One always wants to know ‘How is Your Mother?’
We inquire about her health and looking after herself as well as she did look after you. So, what does your mother’s health tell you about what is coming your way?
Even though many of us look and behave like our fathers, we are genetically more aligned with our mothers – this is especially true for women than men. A complete medical history of our mothers is key to knowing what your future health looks like. Here are some ailments that are spotted in my mom and those of others.
1. Skin Disease
My mother always battled with skin disease. Mum’s skin disease was limited to joints, fingers, toes and the soles of her feet. So, if you are wondering predisposed to skin damage, you can take that as a ‘yes’. Developing skin allergies or even sunburn is related to your genetic predisposition connected directly to your mother’s skin condition. To avoid chances of sun damage, adopting a daily routine of sunscreen, generous use of vitamin E infused skin creams can keep these genetic effects showing up.
2. Digestive Complications
Many gastrointestinal diseases are inherited. Recent research has uncovered the genes responsible for many of these conditions. An irritable bowel syndrome has been reported to have a defined genetic defect. If your mother had a sensitive digestive system, it is best to steer clear from foods that cause bowel issues. Incorporating millets (bajra, ragi) into your diet earlier on in your life, is a good move to prevent digestive issues later in your life.
3. Body Weight and Bone Structure
Your mother’s body weight and bone structure can impact yours. Weight is dependent on the number of calories you consume, store and burn - this is dependent on both genetics and the environment. To date, more than 400 different genes have been implicated as causes of overweight or obesity - a handful appears to be major players. One way to avoid following the footsteps of your mother who might be overweight is to eat healthily and eat gut-friendly foods like millet, yogurt, almonds and using ginger and garlic in your food to aid digestion and reduce food cravings. Add exercise to the mix of a healthy lifestyle.
4. Vision Impairment
My mum always wore glasses from the age of 40. Very lately she was diagnosed with early-onset glaucoma. While we arrested glaucoma with eye drops, my next ailment could involve vision impairment. If I do not take care of my eyes, I might be the next candidate for glaucoma. Glaucoma is prevalent in families—so if your mom (or dad) has it, it is important to get it screened for it regularly. It might also help if you consciously reduce screen time, not read in a moving vehicle and eating healthy.
5. Fertility, Pregnancy and Post-Partum Depression
You might not imitate your mother’s pregnancy condition, but genetics plays a big role in your fertility – of getting pregnant and staying pregnant. Endometriosis seems to have a strong genetic connection. There are schools of thought that also link PCOS to genetics, but this again isn’t proven. Your mother’s pregnancy experience tells you how your pregnancy will proceed. A strong history of diabetes predisposes you to diabetes during gestation. If there is one thing that you must ask your mum about her pregnancy is about post-partum depression. There are studies to show that if your immediate family – woman, sister or aunt experienced PPD, you could be at a higher risk of experiencing the same.
6.Breast and Ovarian Cancer
Angelina Jolie going through preventive mastectomy because her mother died breast cancer, was highly responsible for creating awareness about its linkage to genetics. When Angelina underwent the mastectomy being a carrier of the BRCA1 gene, a lot of women became aware of the genetic tendency of these cancers and its genetic linkage. So, if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer it is important to talk to your doctor to evaluate your risk and take preventive action.
Diabetes is common in women, more than in men - believed to be partially inherited. The risk of developing type 1 diabetes is increased by certain variants of the HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA-DRB1 genes. Like type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is also inherited. Regardless of your mother had diabetes of any kind, and if you make healthy food choices all the time – you might want to dig into your family history to see if you are predisposed to it.
8. Heart Health
It is a myth that women don’t or have a lesser incidence of heart diseases. Genetic similarities in body weight, shape, the incidence of diabetes with your mother are indications that you might have a risk of heart disease as well. Heart diseases are one of the leading causes of death among women. You should be aware of genetic factors that could increase your family’s predisposition to heart disease.
Your mother could give you a migraine, genetically speaking. In 2010 a gene called TRESK was found to be directly linked to a common type of migraine. This probably makes some people susceptible to this condition. However, unless we know more, if your mother suffers from migraines then you can try reducing the risk by of migraine by exercising and sleeping regularly, managing stress, avoiding foods that could cause one.
10. Mental Illness
Mental illnesses are said to have genetic linkages. Certain genetic mutations related to depression only occur in women. If your mother had depression, there is a good chance that it could have been passed on to you. It is important to get therefore look for symptoms and get treatment if needed.
Once you have an answer to the question ‘How is Your Mother?’ take a moment to thank her for giving you a blueprint on how your health would progress as you age!