Your genes load the gun, your lifestyle pulls the trigger – understanding your genetic makeup

You may have heard the saying… Your genes load the gun, your lifestyle pulls the trigger… Genes don’t determine your destiny, your lifestyle does that! But understanding your unique genetic makeup will help you live the lifestyle to best support your health.

Even if you have undesirable genetic variations, and we all do, if you eat well, pay attention to your genetic weaknesses and live a healthy lifestyle, those genes may not be actually switched on. The key though is knowing what your unique genetic weaknesses are.

I offer DNA testing in clinic and have been asked by patients whether it is beneficial and how it changes their treatment program or supplemental regime?

The best way to answer this is to share what my DNA test revealed about me and how the results were relevant for me :). For some background, if you haven’t read my story yet, check it out here

With a history of autoimmune disorders, vitamin D levels are something I monitor closely. Vitamin D deficiency may make people, like myself, more susceptible to auto immune conditions.

Not surprising, in my case, my vitamin D genes were totally switched off. No matter how much sunshine I get, my body cannot convert pre-vitamin D to the active form of vitamin D.

Normally I would only recommend vitamin D as a short term measure to correct deficiencies. Through DNA testing, I can identify whether you, like myself, require long term, daily supplementation. Something I was only able to discover by testing my DNA and gene expression.

While I may have suspected a vitamin D genetic variation, B12 on the other hand was a surprise. B12 supports normal function of the brain and nervous system including the formation of red blood cells, creating and regulating DNA. Every cell in the body literally depends on vitamin B-12!

In my case I discovered I have two of three possible gene variations that prevent B12 absorption and increase the risk of IBS / IBD. Had I known that I had a genetic weakness in this area, perhaps I would have changed my diet ( limited or avoiding eating gluten and dairy ) long before I started experiencing symptoms and got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis?!

I also tested the gene variations which have been associated with common hormonal problems, including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), ovulatory dysfunction, testing for the progesterone function, estrogen clearance and thyroid function and disorders.

In my case I have a genetic variation that is associated with altered thyroid function and increases the risk for hypothyroidism. Once again, this comes as no surprise with me being diagnoses with Hashimotos shortly after being diagnosed with IBD.

Thyroid disorders have been linked to combination of genes, and environmental factors such as nutrient status, radiation exposure and infections. Having identified that I have these genetic variations allows me to make sure I prevent nutrient deficiencies in nutrients like iodine and selenium.

While DNA testing may sound daunting, It’s not all bad news though! Fortunately, in my case, I have no associated genetic risks of PCOS or ovulatory dysfunction and have a healthy and normal progesterone function and estrogen clearance! My test also showed that my vitamin A metabolism was functioning properly with necessary enzymes to convert beta-carotene to retional. Fortunately associated with a reduced risk of age related macular degeneration.

Using DNA testing I can test for genetic variations related to mood and cognition, methylation, detoxification, antioxidant enzymes, hormone balance and function, along with nutrient absorption, transport and metabolism.

We are all genetically unique and all have different genetic variations. Not all bad, not all good, a genetic mixed bag with different strengths and weaknesses for everyone. The power of DNA testing is that it allows me to identify your genetic “weaknesses” and to modify your diet and use that information to structure a personalised program accordingly!