They’ve all taken a stand for ALS this week by participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (view a collection of the best celeb challenge videos here). You’ve probably seen dozens of videos of friends taking the challenge on Facebook and Instagram, standing stunned in the aftermath of an ice bath—and you might have also wondered what all this actually has to do with ALS.
And perhaps, just maybe, you’ve wondered what ALS is in the first place.
Here’s a fast rundown: ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s a motor neuron disease, which causes loss of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain stem.
Translation: ALS patients progressively lose the capacity to control their physical movements, facial expressions, and eventually even their breathing. Tragically, the disease typically leads to death within the first 5 years after its diagnosis.
Feeling a bit more eager to join the challenge? We are. But still—what about the causes of ALS, and its cure?
Researchers have found that ALS is influenced by approximately 5% genetic and 95% epigenetic factors (Eva Feldman, University of Michigan). That means that even if you carry the gene that expresses in the brain as ALS, there is a large possibility you may not contract the disease. What’s less understood is which external environmental factors may lead to the ALS gene’s expression.
The epigenetic factors that seem to be most responsible are exposure to certain environmental toxins, such as agricultural chemicals, pesticides, insecticides, neurotoxins, cigarette smoking, and exposure to electromagnetic fields, among others (Nature Reviews Genetics, November 2009). Reading a list like that, it’s hard not to feel at risk: Unless you live in a bubble, chances are you face at least occasional exposure to WiFi networks, pesticides, and the occasional non-organic fruit or vegetable. So how can you do your best to ensure that the external influences on your DNA keep you healthy, rather than in danger?
You can find out which epigenetic factors will support your health best and put them into practice. A Personal Health tool like ph360 can tell you what to avoid in order to maintain optimal health in body and mind. The healthier you are, the more opportunity you will have to help others, as well.
As with ALS and many other conditions, carrying a gene is only part of the picture.
So the next time someone mentions the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, show your support not just by participating and donating to those researchers on the epigenetic frontier searching for a cure, but also by helping your friends and family take charge of their own health.
Because that’s what all those celebrities really have in common: The desire to see the people they care about most truly thriving.
Share ph360 with them today—and make sure you don’t miss out on the Lifetime Membership we’re offering for a limited time only for only $97. Join us today, and stay proactive about your health and the health of those you love.