First of all, I think this is a great idea and well done for doing it. Secondly, I am not a student, I have just been wondering about this for a while.

On to my question: Is it possible for someone to change/affect their DNA makeup through direct action on their part? For example, if someone is genetically predisposed toward obesity, can they alter this by being having a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly and in doing so, prevent these characteristics from being passed on to their descendants?

I am sceptical that this is possible, but it would be nice to have this confirmed.

Thank you and I am looking forward to your answer,

Kind regards,

Johan Barnard

Hi Joahn,

I would say that you wouldn't be able to alter your DNA makeup through living a healthy lifestyle. Your DNA is refered to as a 'fingerprint' it is the basis of what makes you. The only way your DNA code changes is through mutations that occur during DNA replication. Mutations are extremely common and only rarely do they manage to change the function or type of a gene.

Gene expression can be altered (not all genes in your DNA are expressed at once  or constantly expressed- most processes in the body are a balance of different gene expression). Genes are switched on and off, this allows your body to respond to the environment and I expect the expression pattern of some genes can be altered depending on your diet, however, the genes your DNA codes for would remain the same.

People may have different views on this question and I think there is probably more than one way of answering your question but I hope that helps and makes sense!!