After working as a journalist and political speechwriter for many years, I was able to pursue another of my passions when I was offered the opportunity to write a cookbook. That was the first of more than a dozen cookbooks and it marked the beginning of my serious interest in the health benefits of consuming nutritious whole foods. Several years ago, this interest took me in an entirely new direction when I discovered the work of epidemiologist David Barker. You Are What Your Grandparents Ate is based on 40 years of research into the field of science spawned by his research, which is known as the developmental origins of health and disease. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of studies are now showing that many of the risks for chronic diseases — including obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even dementia — can be traced back to your first 1,000 days of existence, from the moment you were conceived and perhaps even beyond to the experiences of your parents and grandparents.
Yes, you may be more susceptible to certain chronic illnesses due to your ancestors’ experiences. The good news is you can change this story. Emerging research in the field of epigenetics is showing that taking even small steps, like getting more exercise and eating more nutritious food, can help to reverse inherited vulnerabilities by changing how your genes express themselves. The end result is better health, not only for yourself but also for your offspring and their children, and likely for generations to come.