Personal Genetics 101: Knowing Your Genes Can Save Your Life

Knowing your genes is not an excuse — to blame your parents or grandparents for your health, weight, food preferences, etc. It is, however, a chance for you to understand how to eat, exercise, and supplement to optimize your health (what nutrients does your body tend to run low or need more of). Knowledge is power and knowing your personal genetics can save your life.

Here are some life saving (and some just interesting) questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • Do you know what medications might cause problems specific to your genes?
  • Do you know if your body needs more protein or if eating too much animal-based protein migpersonal geneticsht cause a unique set of problems?
  • Do you know whether or not your children should have an adjusted vaccine schedule in order to prevent vaccine injury due to an inability to handle a high viral load at one time?
  • Do you know whether or not you need specific nutrients during pregnancy to prevent a miscarriage or birth defect?
  • Do you know if certain food additives or chemicals are shutting down your metabolic pathways?

Each of the above questions (and many more) can be answered by understanding the unique set of genes that you inherited.

Genes do not equal disease. While some diseases run in families, most are not predestined. Many diseases (obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.) have a genetic basis — you can inherit a gene that puts you at greater risk. But having the gene does not predispose you to actually getting that disease! Epigenetic influences (the food we eat, whether we exercise, chemicals we are exposed to, etc.) are even more important than which genes we have. We can literally choose to live in a way that will keep a gene from expressing.

Genes do not express alone. Generally speaking, when our genes begin to cause symptoms, something has gone on in our bodies that has triggered them to do so. For instance, we may have been under chronic stress, had a chronic infection, a vitamin or mineral deficiency, or other. And when a gene begins to have difficulties, it often affects the other genes as well. If one starts to back-fire, use up too many nutrients or create oxidative stress, it can create a cascade of problems with other genes. That is one reason why it is important to know not just one or two genes that are commonly considered with regard to one disease or another, but to have a larger view of your personal genetics.

How To Learn More About Your Genes:

Step 1: Request a Genetic Test Kit. 

Thanks to the Human Genome Project and many innovative labs, there are now tests that you can order and conduct from home that will allow you to know your personal genetics. Asking your doctor to test you for 2-4 genes can cost up to $500. Testing is available for as little as $99 that will show you thousands of genes.

My favorite at home gene testing is through 23andMe. Order a kit now. It takes anywhere between 4-6 weeks to get your raw data back.

PLEASE NOTE: when you do order a kit, there will be warnings that they do not provide “health-related information.” That is true. Similar to a lab not sending you the direct results of your blood test, you will receive access to your “raw data.” There are some additional steps you can take to understand the significance of your personal genetics.

Step 2: Create a Personal Genetics Variance Report

There are several online services that you can connect the your raw data from your personal genetics and create a variance report. These reports are not all-inclusive, but do contain sets of genes that a particular company felt were important in tracking and maintaining your health.

Here are several potential online sites that you can use to create a variance report:

  • LiveWello – for $19.95 you get access to a standard variance report (that includes genes having to do with allergy, clotting factors, detox, gluten intolerance, IgA, IgE, IgG, methylation, mitochondrial function, other immune factors, sulfotransferase, thyroid, and tongue tie) as well as genetic tools and the ability to run specialized reports.
  • Genetic Genie – for a suggested donation, you can have access to a methylation and detox report of your genes.
  • Promethease – only $5, but it does not provide a variance report, give you a lot of information, some of which contradicts itself and some that contradicts information found consistently on other reports.
  • MTHFRSupport/Sterling’s App – for $20 you receive a standard variance report (that includes information pursuant to eye health, detox, tongue tie/cleft palate, methylation, allergy/mold, IgE, IgA, IgG, clotting disorders, thyroid, celiacs/gluten intolerance, mitochondrial function and sulfonotransferase genes).
  • Know Your Genetics – free, with a limited number of genes available on the report.
  • NutraHacker – for $23 you can assess your carrier status for major disease and receive a list of potential supplements that you might want to take (but many of which contradict each other).

WARNING: the above descriptions are just my opinion. Many people have used and like each one, so you get to choose! At this time, my favorite is LiveWello, as you get the most amount of information for your $20 and it allows you and/or your physician to dig for more data if desired.

If you followed the steps above, you now have a small clue as to your personalized genetic code. There are numerous Facebook groups and websites where you can learn additional information about your various Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs – pronounced “snips”) and there are doctors, like myself, that offer genetic consultations where we discuss what it means to have various genes in combination and how you can eat, exercise, supplement and otherwise live to help reduce chances of adverse genetic expression.

Stay tuned! The next piece will cover…how to do more extensive research or Personal Genetics 201.

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