Doctors play a very important part in our lives. From the diagnosis of diseases to maintaining an overall good health, doctors have been an integral part of society. Right from the Vedic times, the importance of surgeons, medics and dieticians has been prevalent through the ages. Be it fasting on certain days, taking care of a sprained ankle, treating cuts and bruises, medicine and healthcare plays a pivotal role in all of them.
Looking back at when anyone is even born, the first nutrition is mother’s milk and the first line of defence at diseases is the immunity that one is born with. Immunity is a product of the genes that have been passed down from parents. Genes decide how well your body adapts to the environment and develops immunity towards foreign elements. Then, does it not make more sense to be more aware of your genes and how they contribute towards your well-being?
Genetic counselling and testing form an integral part of understanding inherited conditions and physical/mental abilities. Speaking of Indians, for the most part, people in India are resistant to most common allergies and common diseases. Likewise, people of African origin are built sturdy and can become great athletes. People in colder climates and those born at high altitudes have a physiology that is quite hardy. Look at any other demography and you will find certain advantages that they will be granted with. Genes lie at the core of it all. Genetic counselors help you understand the strengths and weaknesses that your genes provide.
Just like any doctor, a good genetic counselor is patient, listens to your concerns, understands your queries and offers the best advice meant for your better well-being. While the process starts with a simple consultation that includes your family health history, a genetic test helps identify recognised traces that can cause health complications that might have been inherited.
Based on certain markers, a genetic counselor can let you know if you have a rather high risk of developing cancer, any kind of heart disease or if you’re planning for a baby; advise you if your newborn can have possibly inherited complications. Since this is a proactive measure towards finding the chinks in your health, it helps you be better prepared for the future.
This begs a question. Can knowing more about genes prevent diseases like cancer and/or heart diseases? It is important to understand that genetic markers that can be a trigger for these diseases are mostly present in a dormant nature. Based on your lifestyle, diet, medication or environmental factors, these triggers can be activated. Thus, when you abstain from particular risk factors, there’s a high probability that you’d never have to worry about diseases like cancer or heart diseases. All that, with a simple genetic test that is done once and a few minor changes to your life. When it comes to prenatal genetic testing, you are better informed about the risk of passing on any kind of inherited genetic complication to your child. Your decision after that, whether to go forward with family planning or to look at other options, is better thought out.
It is important to understand how a car works in order to troubleshoot any complications. Genetic counselors understand how the basic constituent parts of the human body operate – the genes. That itself allows a degree of prediction of any kind of health complications. It goes without saying that such knowledge and understanding, combined with contemporary healthcare measures will be the future of holistic healthcare.