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We have long been told that genes affect our lives; and that they are predestined; but the science has found they can be influenced, even changed by lifestyle and habits.

Decades after the European famine during the Second World War, when researchers analyzed Dutch medical records, they could spot the effects of prenatal exposure to famine. In 1944 people in Holland experienced severe hunger. On average, they consumed only around 500 calories per day. Thousands of children were born underweight, and more than 20.000 people died of malnutrition. Children who survived the famine were more prone to developing health problems even 20 and more years later. Children of those children — born decades later in a well-developed country — were still significantly underweight. Scientists were amazed. It looked like the DNA of the famine victims, and their children's DNA got “scarred”.

It is still being researched how, but science has proven we can affect our and our descendants' lives with good or bad habits. The relatively new medical field called epigenetics has shown that you are not only what you eat or drink; you are also how much your mother worked out or loved you, your father's stress and your grandfather's beer and tobacco.

Can T'ai Chi Change Genes?

T'ai Chi Ch'uan — in English speaking areas often shortened to T'ai Chi or Thai Chi — is a Chinese martial art based on mild and calming moves known to promote energy flow throughout the body. This is the main reason T'ai Chi has become popular all over the world as a form of recreation and an exercise to achieve longevity. Its practice and theory evolved together with several Chinese philosophical movements like Taoism and Confucianism, and that's why Taoists call it “the elixir of youth”. Some medical institutions use this mind-body discipline as a therapy to heal many diseases.

A combination of T'ai Chi and cognitive behavioral therapy helped combat stress and insomnia — and the expression of pro-inflammatory genes also fell significantly.

Much of a person is involved and recruited in every movement, and that's why this discipline is considered to be a symphony of perception, consciousness and sensations. It is extremely exciting, while at the same time very relaxing. T'ai Chi challenges your predetermined ways of being, your mind, physical self, and relationships with others. So as other sports, it promotes growth. But unlike the majority of sports, the most important use of T'ai Chi is for health purposes. It reaches deep inside and allows stripping away a person's armoring, and opens up all the closed places of our being. The basic philosophy of T'ai Chi is to help open ourselves and become more powerful. It might be paradoxical, but it's proven to work.

A study from 2012 conducted with 237 female T'ai Chi practitioners older than 45 years has shown that T'ai Chi helps combat a lot of medical conditions like hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and depression. It affects the quality of life by improving flexibility, respiratory problems, sleep quality, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular fitness and respiratory problems. It also helped women to ease the menopausal symptoms and stress.
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