I was curious about my genes, just like you might be. With the knowledge I have about nutrition and natural health, I wasn’t afraid of my genes, but I wondered…are my genes my destiny?
Looking at my genetic report from 23andme.com was like reading a story about myself. It described so many things that I had come across in other ways. Things like why I have vitamin deficiencies even though I’ve eaten a good diet and have taken supplements. Things like why I didn’t do well on a vegetarian diet after a while – turns out I’m a poor recycler of vitamin B12, and I don’t convert beta-carotene into vitamin A very efficiently.
The reason I think looking at your genes is so important for everyone in the long run, is because it can really help you get to your optimal health and avoid pitfalls. When you look at your genetic SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), and in particular when you also look at nutritional testing through a company like Spectracell, you can determine the level you’ll need to supplement to compensate for your genes. As you monitor that, and make adjustments, you’ll continue to be optimally nourished.
Genetic SNP testing can also tell you your potential risks for certain diseases that may develop down the road. If you find that you have markers for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, or blood clots, for instance, you can be proactive in identifying risk factors and apply natural prevention strategies to make those things much less likely to actually happen for you.
In my case, I have a handful of genetic variations that predispose me to getting blood clots. I’m so thankful that this is something I found out in my 30s, because I’ve learned that I can monitor my platelets through blood testing, and take special fibrin dissolving enzymes that help prevent blood clot formation. If I hadn’t learned about this, I might not know until I suffered a severe problem like deep vein thrombosis or stroke.
Recent research has demonstrated that it’s not genetics that predetermine the way we are, but the environment. The new science of epigenetics has shown that we are born with a huge choice of genes, most of which we never use. Our genes are covered by special proteins and these communicate with the environment and decide what genes to use. So, it’s the environment that predetermines our gene expression.
Diet is the most important environmental factor for gene expression! You can’t go wrong with a nutrient dense whole foods diet. In this day and age it probably isn’t enough to cover all of your nutritional bases. You can figure out the details by looking at your genes and nutritional testing together, but diet will provide a solid foundation from which the other corrections can be made.
The most important thing to know about genetic SNPs is that they have an on and off switch, and you have control over many things that will flip that switch. For example, our genes only account for 5-10% of our cancers, and the other 90% of our risks are from environmental, diet, and lifestyle factors.
The reason genetic testing is becoming so important to people who are doing things like the GAPS Diet, is because it can answer questions about why you’re struggling to heal, or if you’ve hit a plateau, it can help you understand how to get to the next level with your unique nutritional needs. It’s also extremely helpful for people who are really sensitive to allergens or have more life-controlling mood or mental health issues.
The most economical way to learn about your genes is by getting complete genetic testing from a place like 23andme.com, and then having your data interpreted by an online service like Genetic Genie or NutraHacker, or by a practitioner like myself who is trained to understand it.
It turns out that our genes aren’t our destiny, they’re more like a map showing all the different turns our life could take. It’s up to us to take charge of our health and take the direction that leads us to our best and most vibrant health.