Health starts very early - with our grandparents. Hardships can activate genes that leave the body more resistant to famine, but then may leave a future grandchild more at risk for obesity when food is readily available. How we are parented also leaves patterns of behavior that can affect our communication with other adults and with our own children. More direct factors such as alcohol use prior or during a pregnancy also can leave lasting changes in a child's physical and mental health.
The seeds of health are planted by our parents and even our grandparents in both our genetics and in how we are raised as children. The health and stress level of our grandparents can affect whether genes are active or not in our parents and in the genes of our mother's eggs which are formed when she was a baby.
This is called epigenetics: a gene may be active and encoding the production of proteins that affect the body in some way; or inactive, in an off position with no production of proteins. Depending on the type of proteins it may be better to have a gene in the off position. Some proteins may be inflammatory rather than beneficial. Our risk of obesity and other health factors can be affected by our grandparents lives through these epigenetic changes, as well as more directly by our parent's lifestyle.
Stress and toxins such as alcohol can affect the development of the newly conceived baby. The use of excessive alcohol by the father during the few days prior to the infant's conception can increase risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the pregnant mother's use of alcohol throughout the pregnancy is recommended to be minimal, no more than one serving per week or less.
Parenting and attachment styles can affect a child's physical and mental health:
How we are raised as infants and children also can affect our trust levels and approach to life as adults. Fearful and anxious or open and curious about new adventures may be somewhat innate but can also be affected by the type of interaction we had with caregivers or other adults or older children when we were infants and toddlers. Interactive communication such as a game of Peek-a-boo can help the infant learn that the world responds and is a fun and friendly place.
Lack of interaction can leave the infant under-stimulated and uninterested in the world. Controlling or angry or rapidly changing interactions might leave the infant fearful and anxious. Which may affect physical and behavior later in life. As an adult these behavior patterns may affect business or personal relationships and goals for work or hobbies. Change can be possible but recognition of the underlying differences in trust or anxiety is needed and then a lot of practice is needed, using new ways to communicate with oneself and with others. Physical symptoms might include a more difficult time coping with stress and may increase risk for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other stress related conditions.
Therapy can help, especially with role play of the new ways to communicate, and videos and workbooks are available for cognitive and behavioral techniques. Dialectical Behavior Therapy works with cognitive and behavior techniques to help when mental and physical symptoms are present. See Attachment Styles and Dialectical Behavior Therapy for more information, Crisis Hotlines and other therapy techniques and relaxation methods are also listed: Glossary, effectivecare.info.