- Have you ever wondered why two people can eat the exact same foods and experience completely different weight gains and losses?
- What about those espresso lovers who can have two double shots before bed and sleep like a baby?
These, as well as a variety of other reasons behind the differences that exist between us all, can be uncovered with personalised DNA / Nutrigenetic testing and analysis.
Knowing your unique set of gene variants can be extremely empowering.
Having your DNA analysed helps you unlock your genetic potential.
You will gain the understanding of the way your genes express themselves and how best to adjust your lifestyle, enabling you to take control of your health and wellbeing.
Get to Know Yourself
Having your DNA tested lifts the veil off your genetic blueprint and gives you a ‘behind the scenes’ view of what makes you unique and how best to unleash your health potential.
My patients find this to be an extremely helpful tool. They say it gives them a deeper understanding of their biological make-up and helps to highlight the possible areas needing more support.
What is Genetic Variation?
Did you know that 99.9% of our DNA is exactly the same in all of us?
We differ from one another only by 0.1% of our genetic material or genome.
That 0.1% difference that makes us unique is what is termed ‘genetic variation’.
These variations are very subtle differences in our genetic coding that not only determines our hair, eye colour and other traits, but they also influence our susceptibility to certain health conditions and other idiosyncrasies.
Epigenetics and Gene Expression
Once the test has uncovered your gene variations needing more support, I will need to look at the way your genes express themselves – this is known as ‘Epigenetics’.
I use this ‘epigenetic’ information to create a plan that outlines all the diet and lifestyle changes that need to be put into place to improve the way your genes express themselves. This is called Nutrigenomics.
The genes you’ve inherited from your parents can’t be changed. However the function of your genes can be modified or controlled by your environment.
Nutrigenomics is the science that explains how your environment (diet and lifestyle) interact with your genes and alter their expression.
In other words, there are elements in your food and your environment that ‘talk’ to your genes.
So, depending what you just ate or drank, what exercise you just did, or how well you slept, certain signals will be sent to your genes which will be used as instructions to switch on certain parts of your DNA and switch off other parts.
For example, eating something healthy, breathing fresh air or doing exercise will switch on certain genes that are involved in many things including cell immunity and protection, whereas eating junk food, drinking excess alcohol or smoking will switch off those protective genes and switch on the genes that can damage the cells and cause inflammation.
You may have heard that saying “your genes are not your destiny”.
What this means is that if you have inherited a particular predisposition, it can still be modified by the choices you make.
Gene Variants and Predispositions
There are a number of gene variants that have been associated with certain predispositions and susceptibilities.
Examples of some areas of susceptibility include:
Weight management – Your DNA influences your appetite, your taste preferences, how quickly you burn calories, how fat is stored, snacking and emotional eating.
Healthy aging – Genes involved in maintenance of the cell and of its basic metabolism, DNA repair, inflammation and the management of free radicals all have a strong impact on cellular aging and hence dictates your immunity, your longevity and how well you age.
Heart Health – Some genes affect the regulation of cholesterol, triglycerides and other lipids in your blood. While other genes influence the way your kidneys respond to salt and hence your blood pressure.
Vitamin and Mineral Utilisation –Your levels of certain minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc, as well as vitamins such as folate, and all the other B Vitamins, Vitamin A, and D play a huge role in (amongst many other things), DNA synthesis and repair, red blood cell formation, immune and brain function as well as foetal development.
Hormone Metabolism and Fertility – There are specific genes that are associated with the breakdown of your hormones e.g. oestrogen, progesterone, luteinising hormone, thyroid hormone. They affect the balance of your hormones in relation to for example period regularity, fertility, menopause, and whether you are inclined to experience PCOS or Endometriosis.
Detoxification – There are numerous genes governing the way your liver breaks down, metabolises and detoxifies all chemical compounds. These can be from food, medicines, or toxic environmental substances.
Mood and Cognition –Some gene variants can impact the function and breakdown of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, adrenalin. These can influence your memory and cognition as well as your mood e.g. anxiety, depression.
Once I’ve analysed your genetic predispositions, I will design a personalised program for you. If you follow this guidance, you will direct your genes to ‘switch on’ the protective, health regulating parts of your DNA.
How to feed your genes for improved health
Out of about 600 different gene variants that I analyse, here are a few examples
that I might feel need addressing:
- MTHFR is a gene that is involved in folic acid conversion to methyl folate.
A variant in this gene may predispose you to heart disease, migraines, certain mood disorders as well as fertility and pregnancy related issues such as recurrent miscarriages and the possibility of spina bifida.
If you have this gene variant, amongst other things, I would advise you to eat a healthy, balanced, wholefood diet with plenty of foods rich in folate such as green leafy vegetables, cooked beans, lentils, berries, sunflower seeds.
I would also suggest you do exercise every day and if you are planning a pregnancy, to take a folate supplement.
- APOE, NQO1, MnSOD are just three of many other genes that play an important role in cellular health. Their role is to monitor the immune status of each and every cell in your body.
They are involved in detoxification and metabolism of environmental toxins, hormones and reactive oxygen species (chemicals that speed up cellular aging). Variants in these genes may contribute to age-related disorders including memory, cognition, as well as immunity, inflammation and longevity.
If your DNA report shows you have these variants, I would suggest well researched herbs and / or supplements that upregulate the action of these genes and hence induce cellular detoxification and promote longevity. I would also give you dietary and lifestyle advice to improve your antioxidant status.
- ADIPOQ, FTO, PPARG genes are involved (amongst other things) in weight management.
Variants in these genes might indicate whether your body is more likely to regain weight after dieting; whether you are likely to struggle with maintaining a normal BMI; how excess calories are stored in your body; how sensitive your body is to insulin and your risk of type 2 diabetes.
These gene variants might lead me to suggest certain types of exercise that may be more beneficial for you as well as the appropriate diet and supplements that would help you feel healthier and maintain a healthy weight.
Your very own Personalised Health and Nutrition Plan
As an Integrative Naturopath, qualified in DNA/Nutrigenomic analysis, I am able to help you understand the role your unique genetic variations can play in your health.
I will create a plan that is personalised and easy to incorporate into your life.
Once you’ve done the test, I will analyse about 600 different gene variants. I will tailor your report according to the appropriate diet, supplements and lifestyle factors that optimise your genes for improving all aspects of health, fertility, aging and emotional wellbeing.
This kind of personalised health plan will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. Hopefully, with all that self-knowledge at your fingertips, you will always make the right decisions regarding your health.
Joanne Lipinski is an Integrative Naturopathic Practitioner who is qualified in DNA analysis.
She uses only those accredited, TGA registered DNA testing companies that produce accurate testing panels with sound research and evidence-based ratings.