Genetic Testing

Unveiling secrets to your health

 

Genetic testing has been around for a while and since the late 1980’s global research into genetics has been exponential. After 15 years of collaborative research, in 2003 the human genome project finally finished the sequencing process of over 90% of human genes. Since that time, genetic research has expanded into many areas including research that can reveal risks of illness based on an individual’s genetic and chromosomal presentations

 

Our genetic blueprint offers a unique insight into how our body functions in specific ways. Through this research process a subsidiary branch of genetic research has studied the interaction between nutrients and genes. Coined ‘Nutrigenomics’, this field of research has revealed the importance of nutrients in key body processes, many of which are genetically determined. As such, we can utilise nutrients to counter some of the inherent genetic risks an individual might have on a particular biochemical pathway in the body that is connected to an illness.  For instance the APOE4 gene has strong links to dementia so knowing that you have a mutation on this chromosome can give you a crucial heads-up and you can choose to adopt a lifestyle and health plan that can help to mitigate risk of this disease.

Genetic testing used to cost thousands of dollars but over time the cost has come down considerably.  We now have access to much more affordable genetic tests that can reveal our risk. It is critical when exploring this arena that we don’t get lost in the forest! It is important to understand that genes are not solely in charge of our body and how it functions. Using the example above of APOE4 gene, not all people with a defect on this gene go on to develop dementia. While the risk is higher, it is not absolute. The way our body interacts with different things in our environment is the key to many aspects of our genetic expression. This is such an important and empowering thing to know and we don’t have to feel like sitting ducks waiting around to manifest a preordained genetic disorder.

Our genes are responsible for basic processes, but the role of environment in influencing how our genes operate is often overlooked. The great thing with nutrigenomics research is that it hands back power to us. We now have the capacity to see what increased risk we may have of a certain illness through what our genes tell us, but we also have the options to change our lifestyle or take key supplements to support optimal health and potentially minimise the impact of the gene issues. Knowledge is power when it comes to genetic testing.

Pic: National Cancer Institute

Public interest in genetic testing and processes such as methylation (MTHFR) has been largely driven by podcasts and social media health advocates and “biohackers” who unpack the importance of these gene pathways in health outcomes. But we have come a long way from understanding a handful of genes and we now have a more comprehensive understanding of this field of research. Genetic testing used to not only very expensive but also difficult to interpret.  The good news is that with the increased research some new and much more affordable genetic tests are available that give great overviews and reports by looking at the specific genes involved with various functional processes.

As naturopaths we like to support body function and optimise how the body does things such as detoxification, digestion, cellular repair, energy pathways and metabolism. These tests look at these processes as well as the nutrients involved, which enables us to develop a supplement plan that is specific to your unique blueprint. You might have low or high requirements for certain minerals or vitamins, so we can utilise this info to your advantage.

A range of My DNA Comprehensive tests can now be ordered through Nutripath Functional Pathology Lab. Costing between $200-250, these practitioner only wellness reports give us a great overview of many of the key aspects of body function and health and enable a unique wellness plan to be developed.

Tests involve a simple and non-invasive salivary swab and results take 2-3 weeks. At which point a naturopathic consultation can be booked to go over the results and work out your individual health and wellness plan.  Two examples* are listed below:

  • The comprehensive DNA Comprehensive Health Report covers an extensive 92 genes, and 113 SNP’s across: Digestion, Energy, Hormones, Stress & Cognitive Performance, Inflammation, Athletic Performance, DNA Protection & Repair and Detoxification. COST $250
  • The My Comprehensive DNA Wellness Profile  of 45 genes known for Fat Burning & Weight, Power VS Endurance, Appetite & Cravings and Stamina for improvement of overall health and wellness through positive lifestyle changes. Personalised diet and exercise plan provided. COST $200
So as you can see, the world of genetics and testing is a complex one. However, it is also highly interesting and when we remember to frame it correctly, it can give us knowledge, power and motivation for maintaining healthy habits for a long and disease-free life.

* Please contact Karen if you wish to have one of these above gene tests done.

 

Top Photo by Google DeepMind