“To walk on the water, you first need to know where the stones are.”
It’s no longer argued that genetic testing offers solutions that significantly contribute to achieving better health and well being of each individual. Our genes hide many of our body’s secrets and the knowledge of our personal characteristics can lead to adjustments in our lifestyle, positively affecting the quality and longevity of our lives.
The emphasis is on the relationship between genes, nutrition and lifestyle in determining health and wellness. My mission has been to facilitate as the bridge between the art of molecular technology and DNA testing, and offering simple solutions with powerful results to my clients.
Understand your genes, eat right for your health
Gene expression profiling can create significant improvements in disease profiling and diagnosis based on genetic disposition. Recent technological advances in this area enable personalised medicine, where physicians provide patients with tailor-made treatment plans to fight diseases. Patients with cancer, cardiovascular diseases or neurological disorders stand to benefit most from these developments, since these conditions manifest differently in each patient.
Very soon it will become a normality to have access to interpretable genetic profiles, and is a recognised way to boost our awareness and encourage personalised preventative care.
The Gene variation or Phenotype range from your eye colour to your susceptibility to certain diseases, the way your body metabolises fat or your character traits, such as: your mood, your predisposition for travel or even if you are more likely to cheat on your partner! It’s all in your genes!
It’s true that some people can eat whatever they want and not put on weight, others smoke and drink all their lives rather excessively and not get into trouble with it; while other individuals will – this is all due to genetics.
It’s vital to point out however that your genes are not your fate! Diet, lifestyle and your environment have a great impact on the expression of those genes; therefore personalised dietary, lifestyle and an adequate supplement strategy tailored to your genes can prevent you from possible degeneration and optimise your health.
But which are the most studied and important Genes I should know about?
Now we will look at the ‘7 Keys of Biological Process’ that are crucial to your health, in addition to the genes and their variation which you should know about in order to optimise your health.
The 7 Keys of Wellness
HEART HEALTH AND ESSENTIAL FATTY ACID
Heart health depends on a complex balance of environmental, dietary and genetic factors. Certain genes influence LDL and HDL cholesterol levels; higher levels of LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and lover levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol are associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
Certain Gene variation can tell us more about any fatty acid imbalances, or Genes like the APOE gene will tell us more about how we respond to toxins, or what our antioxidant requirements are to prevent us from cardiovascular diseases.
Meet the APOE Gene
Individuals with the E4 variation of APOE genes are at a 40 to 50% higher risk of cardiovascular disease, because they are more responsive to toxins such as cigarettes, alcohol or pollution; in addition to the total amount of fat in their diet – specifically saturated fat. Those individuals should therefore reduce their total dietary fat intake, promote the ‘good’ fat (MUFA), increase their antioxidant intake and reduce their oxidative stress (alcohol, cigarettes etc.).
You will think it obvious, but it is especially important and relevant for those people who have an E4 variation to make the recommended changes.
METHYLATION (DNA REPAIR)
Methylation is the process of DNA repair. B vitamins provide the building blocks to grow our cells, which are constantly being renewed. Believe it or not that your lungs are no more than 6 weeks old!
B vitamins found mainly in Folates protect our DNA from the wear and tear of our daily life. This regenerating process (Methylation) is crucial to avoid any degenerative related diseases or unwanted gene mutation directly linked to all sorts of cancer.
Although B vitamins are only required in small amounts, they are vital for Methylation and producing new DNA.
One Gene that has recently been talked about a lot is the MTHFR gene (not short for a swear word!).
This is due to the production or function deficiencies of this enzyme which have been associated with an increased risk of complications such as: myocardial infarction, strokes, venous thrombosis, several types of cancer, congenital defects, inflammatory bowel disease and several neuropsychiatric conditions. In practise, MTHFR function is an important predictor of predispositions to chronic disease states, and interventions aimed at optimising MTHFR function can often be preventative.
Therefore, if we know of any deficiency we can increase the folate intake (mainly leafy greens) in our diet and provide supplementation to switch the gene back on for optimal function.
I would be extremely cautious however about the quality or food which is labelled Folic acid. It is mainly processed food, as they are using a ‘cheap’ version of Folic acid, which will undermine the ability to metabolise the conventional nutrient (folate).
If you have one of these genetic defects (polymorphism is the scientific term), then your capacity to produce methyl-folate is reduced by 30%. This doesn’t mean you have a 30% capacity to utilise methyl-folate, it means you have a 30% ability to produce it. Meaning, if you are taking folic acid and you are not eating leafy greens, you may be in trouble (especially if you have MTFHR).
If you have two copies and you are homozygous, your capacity to produce methyl-folate is reduced by 70 – 80%. Meaning you will have serious issues if you are not eating leafy greens.
It doesn’t mean we are all in trouble if we are eating leafy greens, but much of our food is now subjected to chemical sprays and is genetically modified. Food is transferred thousands of miles in boxes or by plane and is picked far too early. Soil is becoming depleted, resulting in fertilisers having a high nitrate level, which is causing problems too…High quality supplements therefore, may be the added solution to optimise this gene.
It is important to know where you stand and to make the right choices. Once you have the information and can apply it, you become more empowered.
Many companies have used the ‘Detoxification concept’ to falsely entice you to buy new ‘detox’ products. Once again, there is unfortunately no quick fix. Detoxification is a process and an everyday occurrence, starting with the food you eat. The detoxification process has two phases.
The first phase involves enzymes know as ‘activators’; they activate the substance that needs to be removed, allowing the next phase to proceed. The enzymes that take over from phase 1 are called ‘excretors’ because they catalyse reactions leading to the excretion of toxins from the body. These enzymes bind the chemical compound glutathione to the ‘active’ toxins from phase 1, making them water soluble, so they can be excreted through sweat or urine. Decreased activity or deletion of these genes has been associated with cancer and other diseases.
Once again, certain genes related to detoxification will determine your ability for these processes to run smoothly or not.
One important gene is GTSM1, when the absence of the enzyme undermines your body’s ability to detox; therefore there is a higher risk of certain types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases or even lung deficiency (especially in smokers).
It can also lead to greater levels of free radicals, increased fatigue and slower recovery from exercise. Consuming cruciferous vegetables such as: broccoli, cauliflower, other members of the cabbage family, as well as Allium vegetables (garlic, red onions etc.) can promote enzyme activity. Bioavailable DIM as a supplement can be added to improve this crucial bodily process and switch it back on to work optimally.
Inflammation is a normal immune response in our body. It is an essential step that allows tissue to heal. It works a bit like a fire fighter in the body. However, if the genes are not switched off then chronic inflammation problems will arise. This is a direct cause of a myriad of degenerative diseases, obesity, heart disease and arthritis (amongst others), which have all been associated with low-grade inflammation.
Meet the IL6 Gene
Certain genes like the IL6 genes will determine your body’s ability to switch this process on and off. If deleted, you will be more prone to inflammatory conditions, which many of us are prone to get. The individual with a deletion may experience higher levels of inflammation after a heavy training session; therefore a longer rest period between training sessions may be required, compared to others who have an optimal variation.
An anti-inflammatory diet with powerful nutrients found in turmeric and ginger etc. are usually sufficient to minimise the collateral effects of low-grade inflammation. Stress management is also required for the busy bee, as well as adequate supplementation and recovery.
Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals, which are a normal by-product of the body’s energy generating biochemical processes. Think of it like a car, when fuel (petrol) is burned to create energy, the by-product is the CO2 released by the exhaust – it’s the same process. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules and can damage DNA, proteins and cellular membranes, as much as the CO2 is damaging our atmosphere’s membrane.
Anti-oxidants are free radical scavengers that interact with free radicals to ensure it’s no longer a reactive molecule. Anti-oxidants are found naturally in the body in the form of enzymes, but can also be consumed in a wide variety of foods, especially found in fruit and vegetables, as well as green tea and red wine.
The SOD2 enzyme destroys the radicals produced within cells. There is evidence that people without the variant, and with a lower consumption of fruit and vegetables have an increased risk of developing disease, including the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
Food rich in antioxidants help in supporting the eradication of excess free radicals in the body. Food rich in antioxidants include: all purple, red and blue grapes, blueberries, aubergines etc. Fresh beetroot juice in particular can have a dramatic effect on nitric oxide production. This should help to preserve vascular health and you should find considerable exercise benefits go hand in hand with a cup of fresh beetroot juice pre-workout. Adding antioxidant supplementation, due to the depletion of our food as a result of mass production and other environmental factors is such that food alone is usually not enough to meet our nutritional requirements.
INSULIN RESISTANCE OR SENSITIVITY
The insulin resistance syndrome is a term used to describe a combination of medical illnesses that have a common link – abnormalities in how the body utilises insulin to metabolise sugars. These diseases include: obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and heart disease. With insulin resistance, the body’s cells have a diminished ability to respond to actions from the insulin hormone, which under normal conditions would remove glucose from the bloodstream by regulating entry into cells.
Clustering of type 2 diabetes in certain families points to a strong genetic background for the disease, however environmental factors such as obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are usually required to unmask the genes.
Meet FTO or the "Fat Gene"
FTO SNPs [Single nucleotide polymorphism] have the greatest effect on your susceptibility for obesity and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. FTO has also been identified as a candidate gene contributing to childhood obesity. Carriers of the ‘high risk’ or a deletion of the FTO gene are more likely to succumb to impulsive hunger pangs and prefer high-calorie foods.
Knowing about this gene gives us more information about whether or not some people may have a genetic predisposition towards becoming overweight or obese and why.
Carrying this single genetic variant however is not a guarantee that a person will become overweight or obese, or that they cannot eat a healthy diet. It does not mean that it is inevitable, nor does it show that some people are genetically unable to resist impulse eating. The power lies in information and developing the right preventive habits.
Osteoporosis is a complex disease characterised by decreased bone mass, deterioration of bone tissue and an increased risk of fractures.
Having reached 18 years old, I had suffered more fractures than the majority of people sustain within a lifetime. My friends were never surprised to see me turning up with another broken finger, fractured ankle or ribs. Whilst being very active had played a role, I was not surprised to discover when I had my first DNA profiling to find out I was at high risk for bone and tendon injury. The difference is that if I knew this earlier, I would have adapted my diet and training to prevent it. Strength training, a Vitamin D and calcium rich diet, in addition to a rehabilitation exercise routine at least twice a week would have been helpful before thinking of jumping buildings while doing a Parkour or developing a strong passion for martial arts. The good news is that the doctors always told me to go and live in the sun, to avoid the pain caused by my injuries when I retire…I’m definitely up for that!
The VDR gene is associated with Vitamin D3 levels in the blood. Vitamin D3 is involved in maintaining appropriate calcium and phosphorous levels in the blood, as well as providing immune support.
If any delation it is recommended to increase bone density through strength training to achieve favourable muscle growth and bone density. Studies have associated this genotype with higher glucose levels in sedentary individuals and exercise was shown to normalise this.
Having information about your genes can give you a real insight where to tackle to significantly improve your wellbeing. All genes have been studied meticulously and tailored dietary, lifestyle and supplementation intervention have also proved to be very efficient in improving certain conditions.
While certain diseases and conditions remain a puzzle in terms of actual medical treatment, being proactive and focusing on the right way in terms of prevention is much more powerful and efficient. Being ‘in the know’ will definitely empower you in making the correct choices.
The reality is that my clients aren’t usually very surprised to discover the results of their DNA profile, as most of the time they have already experienced a few of the ‘symptoms’.
Having the right information about you is half the battle. The real challenge is to implement the tailor made habits into your daily life. This is a bit difficult for most of us, but once established, the results and benefits within our daily life becomes quite remarkable – reaching our full potential and living our lives the real way.
I urge you to discover what key areas you should work on, and step-by-step implement correct habits one at a time. I can guarantee you, that this will vastly improve you health and you will reap the benefits over the long-term.
Take control of your health now, find out more
[ gene deletion, deficiency, or deletion mutation is a mutation (a genetic aberration) in which a part of a chromosome or a sequence of DNA is missing. Deletion is the loss of genetic materia]