It's a Sunday afternoon and you're at one of your family get-togethers. You look around at your relatives mingling, conversating and laughing while they enjoy the buffet lunch that your aunty made with love and the mbuzi choma that your uncle makes so well. You're excited about tomorrow. It's a Monday and the beginning of a new week and a new chapter for you. You've decided to finally get back into shape and even have the cash ready to finally pay for that gym membership you've been postponing. But as you look around the room you notice something else. Most of your family - your parents and siblings included - are all different shades of overweight, and with a sense of sad resignation you decide that being overweight is just something that's in your genes and out of your control.

Before you give up on your resolution allow me to introduce you to today's word of the day - Epigenetics.You see even though you might carry certain genes, gene expression isn’t a destiny, more like a set of possibilities and epigenetics are the factors that control how our genes are expressed. Think of your genes as a sleeping giant. Epigenetics are the everyday choices we make that can determine whether or not we wake the giant. Meaning, you might come from a long line of ‘chubby’ people and carry what you refer to as ‘fat genes’ but you have control over what to eat for dinner, or whether to put on your running shoes and go for a walk or a run.

The same applies to diet-related diseases, the likes of type 2 diabetes which is slowly becoming a health epidemic. Although genes are a major risk factor, there are lifestyle changes you can make to lessen your risk of developing the disease and what you eat is a big part of that. When consumed in excess; refined sugar, refined carbohydrates and trans fats have not only been linked to adult-onset diabetes but also an increased risk of heart disease and obesity.

The good news is that almost all of us have the power to make daily choices that promote our health and well-being and choosing a foundation of healthy foods and exercising regularly goes a long way towards keeping us healthy and fit.

Eat better. Live better.