DNA Testing: Working With Your Unique Biochemistry
In the field of genomics, we love the saying “you’re what your grandmother ate!” as it pretty much sums up the idea that genetic variations and DNA have a hereditary tale. If you make poor choices throughout a lifetime such as smoking, excessive drinking, chronic stress, poor diet, no exercise and toxic exposure, this will add significant pressure on a specific gene or SNP (pronounced “snip”), causing it to mutate.
If all members of a species have the same set of genes, how can there be genetic variation?
Each gene that can currently be tested and is well-researched in term of it biological function can have various alleles. Some alleles or genetic variations have no impact on the way that gene expresses itself and encodes. However, some alleles or genetic variations can have a low to high impact of the gene’s expression. These are the ones that you should take notice of and provide optimal support.
Your genetic variations are inherited from your parents, and your grandparents. However, the genes or SNP’s (pronounced snips) that can be tested today can be influenced by their environment (i.e nutrient, toxicity, lifestyle). There are reasons why genetic variation exists between populations, and research has shown that this can be due to a major environmental event in a generation that then is passed down to the next. A study in 2015 provides gives us insight into how genetic changes stemming from the trauma suffered by Holocaust survivors can be passed on to their children, the clearest sign yet that one person’s life experience can affect subsequent generations. This has been called “epigenetic inheritance” – the idea that environmental influences such as smoking, diet and stress can affect the genes of your children and possibly even grandchildren.
The idea is controversial, as scientific convention states that genes contained in DNA are the only way to transmit biological information between generations. However, our genes are modified by the environment all the time, through chemical tags that attach themselves to our DNA, switching genes on and off. Recent studies suggest that some of these tags might somehow be passed through generations, meaning our environment could have and impact on our children’s health.
Something many people want to know is whether they can change their genes, in order to spare their offspring from the same health issues they had. In short, the answer is yes. However, research has indicated a chronological moratorium on this type of “intervention”. It would seem that if we find out what our unique genetic variations are in childhood for the key genes tested, then we can “intervene” with targeted, better nutrition, environment and lifestyle choices BEFORE we plan to conceive. This holds true for both men and women.
However, if you find out what your genetic variations are after 40 years old you will not be able to change that genetic expression, but you will be able to silence it by ensuring that you provide it with the key nutrients that it requires for optimal functioning. It is important to remember that you are unique.
You DNA and biochemistry is unique.
This means that what is good for everyone may not be good or best for you. We call this personalisation from your DNA up. Determining your own genotype for the key genes that can be tested today will provide you with a roadmap as to where you need to focus your health choices. It will provide you with insight to where you carry a genetic variation that predisposes you to certain lifestyle-related chronic diseases. The results of your DNA test will indicate whether you have the potential for type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, inflammation and oxidative stress, certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, mood disorders, cardiovascular diseases and obesity.
Your result will reveal where you have a less than optimally functioning genetic pathway.
The magic really starts once you know this because you will them be empowered to focus your nutrition, environment and lifestyle choices to provide optimal support to a specific biological area. Having information about your unique genotype will empower you to prevent going down one or more of the chronic disease paths listed above.
In essence, I always tell clients to view DNA testing as a great starting point in their journey to becoming healthier. It’s a once off test that you will refer back to throughout your life. See your report as a personalised tool in helping you to take the guesswork out of your daily health choices.
Who is the author?
Marguerite is the Co-Founder of JOINCIRCLES. She is a qualified Speech, Hearing and Lang Therapist and a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach. She is currently reading for Genetic and Genomics Certificate Program at Stanford University.
Want to find out more?
If you want to work smarter and not harder when it comes to your fitness regime, a DNA test can also help you build the optimal plan for life. Click on the link to find out how your DNA and fitness are linked and why understanding what’s in your genes can help you tremendously.