A few years ago when I was finishing up nutrition school, I did an internship with a company called dnaPower. This is a North Vancouver company (local back when I lived on the west coast) that specializes in genetic testing for genes related to nutrition, fitness, and overall wellness.
While working there I had my genes tested because I was interested to see if what I had discovered about my body throughout the years I had been using food to heal was reflected in my genetic results.
The results confirmed the intuitive knowledge that I had gathered through many years of trial-and-error. Overall, I learned that:
- I tolerate carbohydrates well and have an increased need for protein.
- I don’t metabolize saturated or monounsaturated fats well, something I had discovered throughout my elimination protocols.
- I have some variation in genes that code for gluten tolerance. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and several other cereal grains. This explains why I respond better to a gluten-free diet. Research suggests that gluten-containing grains have high levels of ATIs (amylase trypsin inhibitors) which often lead to an inflammatory response.
- I have variations in the genes that code for lactose digestion, In fact, almost 70% of the adult population is unable to digest lactose properly. This can lead to a host of inflammatory responses and is why I have avoided dairy for the past 5 years.
- Aside from food, my dnaPower results indicate how well I process different vitamins and minerals. For example, I don’t process B6 well at all. This likely explains why I had horrible all-day sickness during my first trimester of pregnancy, even with increased supplementation of B6.
- I am unable to detoxify and eliminate estrogen properly and require additional antioxidants to protect against reactive oxygen species. This has helped me support my detox pathways through adequate hydration, consumption of organic produce when possible, and additional liver support.
- I have variation in genes that code for an inflammatory immune response, which helps explain why I have a predisposition to inflammatory arthritis.
- I require active forms of B12 and folate in order to metabolize these vitamins correctly. This was important for pregnancy because I needed an active form of folic acid and not the generic form commonly found in most prenatal supplements. See my previous blog post all on that here.
While I had come to most of the above conclusions through many elimination protocols and trial-and-error with nutrition over the years, these results helped to verify my intuition and can be useful if you do not want to take several months or years experimenting with food.
Individuality is something that is not always considered when we think of nutrition. A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works when using food as a tool to feel better.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many different types of diets that work for some people, but not others? For an in-depth discussion of different anti-inflammatory protocols see my previous blog post. Part of the answer lies in our genes.
Nutrigenomics is the study of genes that impact our relationship with food. By testing our unique genetic blueprint, we can understand how well we metabolize different macronutrients, such as carbs, fats, and protein and which micronutrients (vitamins/minerals) we may require more of for optimal health.
This is the science that dnaPower tests use. The testing at dnaPower targets a number of genetic variations, scientifically proven through research to impact health. This information provides insight into everyone’s unique genetic code and how it responds to nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle factors. Our DNA is what connects us as a species, but it is also what distinguishes us as individuals. We are 99.8% genetically identical and 0.2% genetically unique.
We are also learning that our unique genetic code is not static. The science of “Epigenetics” indicates that the environment – essentially everything that our genes come into contact with, influences their expression. We can essentially turn certain genes “off” and “on” depending on nutrition and lifestyle choices. This is powerful because it means that even if we have a certain genetic predisposition, we can use food and lifestyle to change our gene expression in a positive way.
Knowing our unique genetic code can help to determine which aspects of nutrition and lifestyle to focus on to best support our genes!
So, what exactly is a dnaPower test and what does it involve? It’s actually very simple! You take a cheek swab and send it in the mail to the testing laboratory.
Which results you get are based upon which testing option you choose. There are 2 main options:
- Diet Power test includes:
- Genes involved in the metabolism of macronutrients and micronutrients.
- Genes involved in regulation of cholesterol and insulin, along with body mass index.
- Genes involved in sensitivity to alcohol, caffeine, gluten, lactose, salt, and sugar.
- Total Power test includes:
- All of the results from Diet Power, along with several other testing areas to give the most information for your individualized plan.
- Genes related to fitness: how suited you are to endurance vs. power/sprint activity, how well your body maintains ligament/tendon/muscle strength and repair, how your body regulates blood pressure, energy, and oxygen uptake during movement, along with cardiovascular health and stroke risk.
- Genes related to overall health, such as those associated with methylation, detoxification, inflammation, and hormone health.
What can results tell you?
The benefits of a dnaPower test are that they can give you almost immediate access to your individual genetic information to help you tailor your personalized nutrition plan to your needs.
What the information CAN tell you:
- What areas of health you should focus on for optimal health.
- Some changes that are likely to have an impact on your gene expression.
- Combined in a consultation with me, the information can be used to develop an individualized nutrition + lifestyle plan to get you feeling better fast!
What the information CANNOT tell you:
- Exactly which foods to eat
- Exactly how to exercise
- The chances that your genes will define your health and predict future outcomes
Adding a test to your client package?
If you’re interested in this testing, reach out to discuss the simple ordering process and how the test can be used with your current nutrition plan.