Have you ever wondered why the exercise routine that worked for your friend didn’t work for you? Or the latest diet craze seems to have the opposite effect on your health?
Enter the age of personalised health. And gene tests are helping us get there.
To help you better understand the benefits of genetic testing and why these are considered the future of personalised health, we did a Q&A with our founder, Jean Brazendale. Not only is she our founder but, she’s a dietitian and expert in the field of nutrigenomics.
Why would someone consider starting on the journey of genetic testing?
Many people make health decisions based on generalised recommendations without ever truly understanding their bodies. This means that so much time is wasted following diets that make no difference to your health and money is wasted taking supplements that you may not even need. We know that the same diet that works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for another. A DNA test gives you the opportunity to make better health choices for YOU and optimise your health by better understanding your personal diet, lifestyle and supplement requirements.
Another thing to consider is that our genes don’t work in isolation. They work with each other and within the environment of your body. Our daily food choices, supplements, exposure to toxins and stress levels all impact that the way our genes function.
Health is a daily choice, and a DNA test can help you make the best choices for YOUR body.
Can you explain exactly what DNA is?
DNA is a molecule containing all the instructions that make each of us completely unique. It is responsible for passing on genetic instructions from parents to their children. Your DNA is like a book of instructions or a building plan for your body. Under a microscope, you will see that DNA looks like a twisting ladder, where four different chemicals called nucleotides, pair up to make the rungs of the ladder. Groups of nucleotides make up genes. Genes determine things like how tall you are and what colour your eyes are. DNA is stored in chromosomes. We inherit 23 chromosomes from our mother and 23 from our father. These chromosomes are completely random so cannot be predicted. That is why we all look and function differently.
Can you tell us a bit about the field of nutrigenomics and why it’s so important, especially considering the future of personalised health?
So, here’s an interesting fact, did you know that genes can be switched on and off like a light switch, based on dietary and lifestyle choices?
Nutrigenomics helps us understand which genes we want to switch off or silence, as a way to improve our health and wellbeing. Sometimes we can’t switch them off entirely but like a dimmer for a light bulb we can reduce the strength of them. Genes provide the instruction for making proteins so if we switch off the instruction then the particular protein will be reduced or not made. This is how we can reduce the impact of genes that are particularly harmful.
When having your DNA tested, what type of ‘bad news’ is one likely to get? And how ‘bad’ is it really?
The results of medical genetic testing is different as it can confirm or exclude a suspected genetic condition or assist with determining an individual’s risk of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. For example BRCA1 gene variation for breast cancer risk.
How does one do a DNA test?
Either a finger prick or a simple swab sample taken from the inside of your cheek. It is painless and can even be done yourself in the comfort of your home. It’s then sent off to the laboratory to be analysed.
And what type of information does one get after your genes have been analysed?
It will look at a variety of factors like your diet, with guidance on what to eat to manage your weight. Your overall health, personalised diet, supplement and lifestyle recommendations for optimal health. Your unique nutrition strategies to prevent diseases and manage oestrogen dominant disorders. It gives guidance on how to improve your sports performance and reduce risk of injury. It will give you a personalisation of your skincare regime and reduce the visible signs of aging to promote youthful skin.
Lastly, it will help you find out more about your mental health and your genes impacting addiction, anxiety, depression and cognitive decline.
How do I know which supplements are right for me?
During the review of your genetic test results with a qualified healthcare practitioner, they will give you advice on which supplements you should be taking, and in what dosages.
The gene results will guide this process and give valuable insight into dietary changes, supplement requirements and lifestyle changes to promote optimum health.
VitaGene has collaborated with two genetic test companies in South Africa to produce supplement guides for practitioners to assist them in making the best product recommendations for their patients.
How would someone really benefit from having their genes tested?
The most important benefit is a unique and targeted approach to diet and supplementation based on the individual’s genetic results. This provides clarity while removing the unnecessary information we are constantly bombarded with.
The guesswork is removed and one can be confident in knowing your own long term solutions for health. This includes being able to reduce the risk of chronic disease.
All the patients I have worked with over the years have found the experience very rewarding and empowering.
To sum things up:
Gene variations are not a sign of illness. Variations are quite common in healthy individuals. In fact some variations are beneficial. Genes are like diamonds and last forever! The key is to identify your genes and adjust your diet and lifestyle to match your specific needs for optimal health and prevention of disease.
A genetic test provides you with valuable insights into individual priority areas that should be considered for optimal health.
Personalised nutrition is the future and it is available to us now.
At VitaGene we offer two brands of nutrigenomic tests.
3X4 Genetics has one test that includes 160 genes and 36 pathways to help you understand what your body’s unique needs are.
DNAlysis offers a range of DNA panels that cover a broad spectrum of health concerns or priorities which you can combine depending on your requirements.
The goal of both companies is to help you personalise your diet and lifestyle decisions for a longer, healthier and better life.
More information on these genetic tests can be found over here.