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What health characteristics do women inherit from their mothers?

Happy (early) Mother's Day! We all owe our mothers gratitude for their love and support. But should we also be thanking them for our clear skin, superb gut health, and toned shoulders? Find out which health characteristics women inherit from their mothers and which things you (unfortunately) cannot blame on your mom.


You got it from your momma


1. Metabolism


If you and your mom are constantly lamenting about how hard it is to lose weight, it could be because you share metabolic characteristics. There are two types of fat in the body - brown fat and white fat. Brown fat, aka adipose tissue, aka “good fat” can actually help you maintain a healthy weight over time. It works by burning calories while heating your body.


There are certain genes that dictate the development of brown fat and those genes are inherited from mother to child. So, if you have a higher level of brown fat and can easily maintain your weight, you have yet another thing to thank your mother for. Alternatively, if you have a lower level of brown fat and a higher level of white fat (usually inherited from dad) you may struggle with weight maintenance. The good news is that lifestyle choices are much more likely to help you with weight maintenance than inherited characteristics.


2. Wrinkles


Signs of aging are largely dictated by damage to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). And guess what? mtDNA is composed of genes from your mom. If you inherit mutated mtDNA from your mother you are likely to see that in the form of early aging signs like gray hair and wrinkles. However, lifestyle choices like smoking and diet can also impact your hair, skin, and nails. Sun exposure specifically can have a big impact on how your skin ages.


3. Allergies


Women can pass allergies to babies while they’re still in the womb! In fact, there are a lot of maternal behaviors that impact a child’s health during infancy and even into young adulthood and adulthood. If a mother has allergies it does not guarantee that the child will have them but it does raise the likelihood. Genetic factors have been linked to food allergies as well as seasonal allergies (pollen) and pet hair. So, if you and your mom both share an allergy to strawberries and cats - that’s not a coincidence.


Other things you may inherit from your mother:

  • Ability to build/maintain muscle mass

  • Age of puberty

  • Susceptibility of developing acne

  • Gut health including gastrointestinal disease

Things to keep in mind


Genetics are fascinating. And it’s fun to think about which qualities we inherit from our parents. But when it comes to health, most things are a combination of genes and lifestyle. Even your risk of breast cancer is not entirely tied to your mother’s history. This is good news! It means that keeping yourself healthy can reduce your risk of disease. Exercising, eating well, and wearing sunscreen will do wonders for you regardless of the genes your mom passed along to you.


Moreover, think about all the other things your mom taught you or supplied for your environment that allowed you to be healthy. Think about the good (or bad) behaviors she taught you in regards to healthy living. What can you learn from those examples? Nature and nurture play a role in our health.


Enjoy your Mother’s Day and be well! If you want to read more blogs like this one, subscribe to the blog on the homepage!

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