Nature Vs. Nurture: What Has a Bigger Effect?
By: Sia Minhas, contributing writer
For years, it has been debated whether our environment or our genetics builds us as human beings. Today, we delve into the effects of both our mental and physical health and how each one has served and will serve an important role in your life.
Nature represents our genetics, it is what we are made of. There is a spectrum to what extent people believe nature affects us. Nativism is the ideology of believing that nature is the only factor that affects us. People who identify as a Nativist believe that all behaviors are simply innate and we were born with them. Noam Chomsky is a great example of a Nativist. He is an American linguist who believes everyone was born with an innate knowledge of language. Nature does have a substantial scientific effect on us physically and mentally. Eye color and hair type, are examples of things we inherit through genetics. However, there are things science cannot assign either genetics or environment to. For example, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is caused by the consumption of alcohol a mother drinks during her pregnancy, which is a mixture of genetic and environmental factors that causes the syndrome. As a result, the child is left with severe physical and mental defects. This is multifactorial, meaning many factors can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
Nurture is our environment, it is our surroundings. It can create a lasting impact on us. People who are exposed to destructive behavior in childhood may exhibit it as they grow older. Our environment can affect us physically as well, identical twins who live different lifestyles in regards to eating habits, exercise, and vices such as smoking will be affected in appearance. Identical twins who live in different states like Florida and Alaska will be affected by their state’s climate, air quality, weather, and more. These environmental factors can be within or out of our control. This article delves into how each can affect our mental and physical health as well as tips to help you out.
Effect on Mental Health
Mental illness can be a product of many factors. Similar to the multifactorial conditions of FAS, there are external and internal factors that will affect mental health. Many mental illnesses tend to run in families such as schizophrenia, ADHD, bipolar disorder, major depression, among others. However, our environment can affect our mental health as well. Experiencing racism, homophobia, and sexism can cause mental health issues. Poverty, trauma, and abuse can also attack our mental health.
Effects on Physical Health
Our physical health is equivocally important, and our genetics can affect that as well. Diseases, such as diabetes, do tend to run in families. Although there isn’t much we can change about our genetic code, we can make changes in our environment. Living a sedentary lifestyle can make someone more prone to disease. Eating healthy is also an environmental factor that is affected by your social class, where you live, and the way you choose to eat. Being at home all the time has forced me to partake in almost every food trend from whipped coffee to vegan bacon (yes, I put vegan and bacon together, no, I am not ashamed). If you want something healthy and easy to make I recommend sweet potato chips, the perfect alternative to the salty snacks we all know and love. This recipe from Delish is perfect! There are also lots of articles on food on the Teen Health nutrition page!
In any capacity, both genetics and environment affect us as human beings. Familial diseases, mental health issues, and more affect people in different ways. There is no true answer to what determines us more. These issues are as complex as us but these tips can help break those cycles and keep us healthy and happy.