Genomic testing has become foundational to a personalized approach to optimal wellbeing. Information about an individual’s unique genomic makeup can inform choices about their specific medical and lifestyle decisions. By seeking out genetic testing, customized therapeutic advice for lifestyle, nutrition/diet, exercise, nutrients/supplements, etc., can be determined for your individual needs.
Understanding Genetics: The Basics
Our DNA is a long chain of molecules tightly coiled into two copies of 23 different chromosomes. Along this chain there are portions, called genes, which provide the information needed to make particular proteins. A gene can be broken down into a string of ‘base pairs’, of which there are only four – guanine, cytosine, adenine and thymine. Importantly, the sequence of the repeated base pairs provides the design by which proteins are made. Essentially, a gene is the genetic information that details the blueprint for building proteins; when the details are altered, so too is the capacity for the proper functioning of that protein.
Examples of the proteins encoded within your genes include: enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, receptors, immunoglobulins and cytokines.
The dynamics of the production of these specific proteins types (i.e., how much of each protein is produced, when they are produced, and how efficiently they perform their tasks), collectively contribute to what makes you unique. Importantly, understanding the genetic underpinnings of these factors can provide insights into the state of your body and can often determine areas of potential functional inefficiencies before unwanted symptoms emerge.
Why get tested?
Genetic screening as a means to individualize therapy is a growing field of study. Since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2000, it has become evident that, for the majority of disorders, our genes do not determine our health in an absolute sense. In fact, everyone has errors or “defects” in their genetic code and some of these are even protective against certain diseases. On the other hand, some genetic errors place people at greater risk for disorders. However, whether or not a person with that gene develops a certain disease depends on their individual lifestyle and environmental factors (including nutrition). There is a vast amount of information linking a particular kind of genetic error (called SNPs) with disease risk. Identifying certain SNPs allows for a pinpointing of individual genetic risk and protective factors. By targeting the specific biochemical pathways affected by defective genes, we now have the capacity to intervene before symptoms even start.
Your personal catalogue of SNPs is your very own genomic fingerprint and contributes to your uniqueness as an individual.
Across the lifespan, almost everyone can benefit from genetic screening and the customized treatments that were unavailable a decade ago. We now live in an era where generic health advice is nearly obsolete. By reading what’s in your genes, your treatment plan will support biochemical pathways where they are most impaired, allowing for optimal physiological functioning.
Conditions where genetic screening is most beneficial:
- Mood disorders: Depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings
- Broad or confusing symptoms: Multiple chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, IBS
- Cardiovascular risk: Family history of strokes, embolisms, heart attacks, clots, hypertension
- Infertility and pre-conception care
- General health promotion and disease prevention
- Anyone with a strong family history of disease
Major areas that are assessed with genetic testing:
- Liver detoxification function: phase 1 and 2
- Alcohol metabolism
- Neurotransmitter production and breakdown
- Mitochondrial function (energy production)
- Alzheimer’s Disease risk
- Parkinson’s Disease risk
- Cancer risk
- Cardiovascular disease risks
- Allergy potential
- Celiac disease risk