Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

How Learning Your Family History Can Benefit Your Health


Family history is precious to many people. Knowing your past is a great way to connect you to your culture, your ancestors, and even your living relatives. What most people don’t realize, however, is that learning about their history can help identify health issues before they present. If you’re curious about diving into your ancestry, here are some benefits it could have on your health. 

Food Sensitivities

The first issue that many people identify through learning about their history is food sensitivities. It’s estimated that around 20% of the world has some sort of food intolerance. While some of these are allergies, certain conditions can be hereditary. One genetic food sensitivity is gluten intolerance. The gluten protein found in many grains is the reason these foods stick together and become elastic. While there’s nothing wrong with this protein on its own, many people can’t process it properly. Knowing your family history can predict this type of sensitivity. 

Along with food sensitivities, family history can also help predict allergies. While parental allergies don’t automatically determine a child’s sensitivities, they can play a significant part. Food allergies can be passed down through families, just like any other food sensitivity. If your parents are allergic to peanut butter, chances are you will be too. Even adult-onset allergies may be predicted with ancestry tests. By learning your family history, you can know if you need an allergy or gluten intolerance test

Genetic Issues

Another benefit to researching your family history is learning about potential genetic issues. Health conditions like heart disease, strokes, and diabetes can run through family lines. While each of these disorders is influenced by your environment and overall health, your genetics will inevitably play a part. If you’re researching your family and you find a history of diabetes and early-onset heart disease, you can make lifestyle changes before these conditions set in. 

While family history can help predict genetic conditions, it’s not a certain sentence. Many people with family ties to specific illnesses never get them. On the other hand, people who have no relatives can develop conditions such as heart disease, sickle cell anemia, and diabetes. The main health benefit of researching your history through 1950 census records is giving yourself a head’s up. If you know you’re more likely to develop health issues due to genetics, you can take extra precautions to protect yourself and your family. By making lifestyle changes early, you can help prevent certain conditions from ever affecting you. 

Mental Health Issues

Finally, learning about your family history can help you pinpoint potential mental health issues. Problems like addiction, depression, anxiety, and personality disorders run in families. Many parents with these conditions pass them on to their children, and the line continues. While these mental health disorders have a genetic factor, they also have a massive environmental component. Parents with mental disorders sometimes affect their children inadvertently as a result of their illness. These children often develop similar conditions due to the environment where they grew up. 

Similar to genetic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, mental health issues can be cut off at the pass. When you know you’re likely to develop a mental disorder, you can practice better self-care, enroll in therapy, and surround yourself with a support system. That heads-up is a luxury many people don’t get before their mental health declines. Simply knowing you may develop mental health issues can help you prevent them. By diving into your family history and talking to your relatives, you can prepare yourself for the rest of your life. 

In summary, knowing more about your family has social and physical benefits. When you learn your family history, you may prevent illnesses from taking hold in your life through simple lifestyle changes. 

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