genetic testing - the key to personalised nutrition?
Genetic testing has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years and has started to lead the way into finding the perfect diet for everyone. By testing your genes you can unlock the way to find out how your body works and achieve optimal health. I have been very excited about genetic testing and what it can tell us since the beginning of the year when we touched on the subject as part of my course. Since qualifying I have done further study and had my own genetic profile analysed. So what did I learn and how can it help you?
What does the test involve?
I used myDNAhealth to take and analyse my profile. The test was simple and easy to use. I wiped a swab around my mouth for a minute, feeling a bit like Emilia Fox in Silent Witness taking a sample from a potential criminal! Then I simply placed the swab in a container and sent if off in the envelope provided. I also filled in a health and lifestyle questionnaire online so that myDNAhealth could analyse my diet and lifestyle choices alongside my genetic information to highlight any areas of concern or things I need to address.
So what do they test for?
This type of testing helps you to determine how well you metabolise caffeine, fat and sugar. How well your liver detoxifies and how you respond to food cravings. Whether you have a need for nutritional support in certain areas such as folate, B vitamins, magnesium, iron or vitamin D. It also tests the most suitable form of exercise that will help you perform to your best. I think it's important to state that any genetic testing should always be undertaken under supervision of a nutritional therapist who can help you understand the test and knows your case history.
In a recent webinar I watched with Dr Rangan Chatterjee from BBC's Doctor in the House, he stated that "If you know your genetic data you have the ability to manipulate your diet and lifestyle to maximise the genes you've been born with." This is so true. Although we can't change our genes, we can certainly use food and lifestyle to maximise the hand we have been dealt.
What did I learn?
After a couple of weeks I received my results and it's been very interesting tweaking my diet to implement changes and see what works best. What didn't surprise me was that I'm sensitive to sugar and need to avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. I always get the best results when I avoid sugar and I'm working on completely cutting it out from my diet again. I also have poor detoxification and so need to make sure that I avoid toxins - luckily my diet is pretty good in this area (lots of dark, green leafy vegetables and avoiding alcohol and processed food) - but it's given me an awareness that this really is an area I need to be strict in to avoid potential problems in the future. It also highlighted that I have poor oestrogen metabolism, which I was already aware of from a recent stool test I undertook. This means I need to increase my intake of cruciferous vegetables and fibre and avoid charred meat and BPAs from plastic bottles. It also highlighted that I needed more antioxidant support in the form of colourful fruit and berries - that should be easy to implement!
Other areas it looked at were nutritional needs. Apparently I have an increased need for magnesium - this might explain my poor sleep on occasions! I also have an increased need for vitamin B6, B12 and dietary folate. This is interesting as I have been taking a supplement with B6 and B12 since the beginning of the year and have noticed a huge difference in energy, and a massive dip in energy when I don't take it! I also have very poor vitamin D receptors. This surprised me as I thought having pale skin meant that my receptors should actually be quite good at picking up the sun. I recently tested my vitamin D levels and they were adequate – so I know to continue eating sardines, eggs and getting out into the sun for at least an hour a day!
With regard to exercise it said I was best suited to a mix of cardio and strength, which is what I currently undertake so that's good. However it also stated that I would struggle to lose weight with exercise alone and that a good diet was more important for me. Apparently my beta-receptors on my fat cells don't work very well, but a caffeinated drink 30 minutes before exercise might help to unlock the beta-receptors. Luckily I found out I'm a fast metaboliser of caffeine and I have now started drinking coffee again 30 minutes before exercise!
Would you like to find out your genetic profile?
If you would like me to help you unlock your genetic profile or you have any questions, then do get in touch via my nutritional consultations page. Finding out your genetic health is like finding the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.