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We all had at least one science class using a petri dish in grade or high school. You know, the plastic sphere with the lid on it that housed bacteria? The things that really stunk up the room if left out too long?

This may have been the bane of your existence through puberty but could quite possibly be THE best teaching tool in having your kids put thought behind their health choices, not just regurgitate what you tell them.

It comes down to DNA versus environment. The research lab likes to glorify DNA but in the real world, it doesn’t translate. You had bacteria that you needed to grow in the dish. The bacteria and their DNA was always the constant in the equation. They never changed.

BUT that dish needed to provide certain requirements. It needed the right nutrients. It needed to be clean. It needed to have the right temperature for the bacteria. It needed the appropriate oxygen levels. And it needed a certain amount of time to grow. These are the real work variables in life that attribute to poor health outcomes.

What happened when you used a dirty dish? The cells didn’t grow. What happened when the temperature was off? Faulty cells. What if you forgot to add the nutrient solution? Duds. Change the variable, change the health of the cell.

We are no different. We’re just on a larger scale. Instead of 1 cell, we’re 100 trillion. Instead of a petri dish, we have variables in how we eat, move, think, relationships, exposures, experiences, and choices.

The next time your kid is sick, don’t blame him on being unlucky, look the real world petri dish. What environmental factors are off? What are they eating? How are they sleeping? Are their relationships building them up? Is there undue pressure to perform?

Their DNA is the constant in the equation of life. It’s the materials you provide when they are young and what they ultimately choose as they start having to make decisions that will determine their quality of health and life enjoyment.

Jerry Seinfeld said all the answers to life are revealed if you just ‘look to the cookie.’ With all the answers to health, ditch the cookie, and look to the petri dish.

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